SAINT LOUIS-MARIE de MONTFORT (1673-1716)
priest, missionary and founder
Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort’s life is inseparable from his efforts to promote genuine devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church. “Totus tuus ego sum (I am all yours)” was Louis-Marie’s personal motto. And due to the deep devotion which our late Holy Father had for our Blessed Mother, Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II, adopted “Totus tuus” as his own episcopal motto.
Today, the Church honors this saint whose life of faith has influenced the lives of so many other faithful souls since his death.
Louis Grignion was born on January 31, 1673, in the Breton village of Montfort, close to Rennes in northwestern France. At a very young age, he possessed a strong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and was profoundly devoted to the Blessed Virgin, especially through the Rosary. He took the name Marie at his Confirmation.
Louis-Marie manifested a love for the poor while he was at school and joined a society of young men who ministered to the poor and the sick on school holidays. When he was nineteen years old, he walked 130 miles to Paris to study theology, gave all he had to the poor that he met along the way and made a vow to live only on alms [the charity of others]. And as an adult, he identified himself by the place of his Baptism instead of his family or surname, Grignion, thus the name Louis-Marie de Montfort, although there were many who still referred to his surname.
After being educated by the Jesuits and Sulpicians, he was ordained a diocesan priest in the year 1700. When he was thirty-two years of age, he found his true vocation which was preaching, and he thereafter devoted himself to preaching in parish missions throughout western France. His years of ministering to the poor prompted him to travel and live very simply.
In his preaching, which attracted thousands of people back to the faith, Father Louis-Marie recommended frequent, even daily Holy Communion, which was not the custom at the time. And he also preached about living one’s life in imitation of the Virgin Mary’s ongoing acceptance of God’s will for her in her own life.
Father Louis-Marie founded the “Missionaries of the Company of Mary” (for priests and religious brothers) and the “Congregation of the Daughters of Divine Wisdom” (for religious sisters), who cared especially for the destitute and the sick. During this work, he began his apostolate of preaching the Rosary as an authentic Marian devotion.
His apostolate earned him disfavor in several dioceses in France. As a result, Pope Clement XI conferred upon him the title and authority of “Missionary Apostolic”, which enabled Father Louis-Marie to continue his apostolate preaching about Mary everywhere and to everyone.
His book True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin has become a classic explanation of Marian devotion which presents to the reader Father Louis-Marie’s greatest contribution to the Church and to the world – “Total Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary”.
He died in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, a town in western France, on April 28, 1716, where a basilica has been erected in his honor and where his remains are interred. Father Louis-Marie de Montfort was canonized a saint by Venerable Pope Pius XII on July 20, 1947. The cause for his declaration as a Doctor of the Church is now being pursued.
We commemorate his feastday on April 28.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org, newadvent.org and wf-f.org/StLouisdeMontfort)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Pastors ~ missionary)
“God of Mercy, You gave us Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort to proclaim the riches of Christ. By the help of his prayers, may we grow in knowledge of You, be eager to do good, and learn to walk before You by living the truth of the Gospel.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”