VENERABLE BRETHREN AND BELOVED SONS.
When Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, whom, by the Guiding Spirit of the Holy Ghost, we have just honored with the title of Saint, came to this hallowed City to venerate the Tomb of Peter, he learnt from our late predecessor Clement XI that he was not destined, as was his wish, to preach the Gospel in foreign lands but rather to bring back his own country to the true Christian way of living.
Obeying wholeheartedly the instructions given him by the Holy Father, he returned to France and throughout his whole life did everything he could to carry out the wishes and counsels of Rome. The Apostolic Pilgrim covered the length and breadth of his native Brittany several times—on foot—visiting towns, cities, villages and out-of-the-way hamlets; and wherever this Apostle of Divine Truth, this keen propagator of virtue went, he brought about a complete renewal of Christian life: disputes were settled, discords reconciled, enmities suppressed; the smoldering embers of faith were rekindled and charity yielded most copious and salutary fruits.
Those who propagated error, very often under the, guise of truth, always found in him a tireless and strenuous opponent; he fiercely opposed all who popularized erroneous pious practices or who upheld doctrine contrary to the teaching of the Church. As a result of his labors the integrity of Catholic Doctrine was safeguarded and the Catholic Faith shone not only in the minds of men, but also in private and public life alike.
The rule of life he had drawn up for himself and which he followed to his dying day, he bequeathed, as a sacred heritage, to the two Religious Congregations founded by him. And it is true to say that if these Congregations strive to follow him in his footsteps, which in fact they do, if they emulate his powerful love of God and neighbor, and like him honor the Virgin Mother of God with an ardent love, if they imitate his profound humility, his love of poverty, his passionate love of prayer, then there can be no doubt that like their Father and Founder, they will be working out, in the best possible way their own salvation and helping in that of their neighbor.
In this hour of rejoicing, there is no need to exhort you to imitate him in all his religious life . . . the facts speak for themselves. Let us simply recall to mind how he succeeded in converting so many souls, bringing them back to a life of penance and the practice of virtue, how he managed to make so many journeys, and how he triumphed over heavy opposition and the difficult times in which he lived.
All these things, Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons, are easy to understand when we consider his burning love for Christ, his fiery, solid and true devotion to the Mother of God. For him, God was all; for him nothing was more preferable, nothing more pleasing than to see Him in all things and to know Him and love Him in all things; his one wish was to follow the will of God and to devote himself entirely to the spreading of His glory. His sermons reflected the love of God that burned within him; he preached with such force and clarity as to draw all men to him in one sweep, and win them over from error and vice to truth and penance, from indifference and lukewarmness towards divine things to zeal in the salvation of souls . . .
But not only his spiritual sons but all Christians have a duty to follow his example, especially in these days when Faith languishes, morals are offended and deplorable discords abound . . .
May the image of this Saint shining and resplendent in the eyes of men enter into their minds and hearts and teach them once again that they were not created for the things of this earth but for heaven; may it be an incentive to all to follow the divine precepts, to practice fraternal charity, and finally, to be masters of virtue so that with the help of God's grace they may one day enjoy the everlasting happiness of heaven. Amen.
Allocution of the Holy Father,
Pope Pius XII
MONTFORT, A SIGN OF CONTRADICTION.
Welcome to you, dear Sons and Daughters, gathered together here in such great numbers to witness the glorification of Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, a humble Breton priest who lived in the time of Louis XIV. His was a short life, a life amazingly active and rich in fruits, yet it was a singularly turbulent one. Misunderstood by some, highly praised by others, he was thus set before the world as a sign of contradiction: “in signum cui contradicetur” (Luke ii, 34). Posterity has made him popular, thereby unwittingly reforming the common appreciation of those who lived in his day, but over and above the verdict of men, the supreme authority of the Church has just raised him to the dignity of a Saint.
MONTFORT, ESSENTIALLY A BRETON.
Let me, in the first place, welcome you pilgrims from Brittany and the Atlantic seaboard. You claim him as one of your own, and rightly so. Breton by birth and by his early education, Montfort remained a Breton at heart and by temperament, in Paris, in Poitou and in Vendée: and so he will remain everywhere he goes and that right up to the time of his death. Even his missionary hymns are typical of this. By his pious ingenuity, which might easily have been less successful in a more critical and more quizzical age, he succeeded in setting religious words to the popular tunes of his native country. He is a Breton by his piety and his deep interior life, by his extreme sensibility and natural reserve not altogether free from scrupulosity, which unthinking youths and even some of his religious Superiors mistook for uncouthness and eccentricity. He is a Breton by his unswerving rectitude and by his blunt outspoken manner which were considered excessive by more accommodating and more pliable natures and taxed as absolutism and intransigence.
Watching him on the sly, surprising him in his dealings with the children and the poor, seeing and hearing him as he taught the humble and the ignorant, not a few people were surprised to discover, under the somewhat harsh exterior of a nature he had heroically mortified and molded, the treasures of a rich intelligence, of unbounded charity and of delicate and tender kindness.
At times, certain people have thought it possible to point out the complete contrast between St. Louis-Marie and St. Francis de Sales. In so doing such people have shown themselves to be only slightly acquainted with the lives of the two Saints. That there are differences between them is certain. And this, precisely does away with the wrong idea that many people have of thinking that all the Saints are just so many identical copies of a certain type of virtue all molded on the same model. Such people seem to be completely unaware of the battle which Francis de Sales had to wage against himself in order to temper his naturally harsh character and of the exquisite gentleness with which Louis-Marie taught and helped the humble and the lowly. But neither the smiling amiability of the Bishop of Geneva nor the severe austerity of the Breton missioner shielded them from the hatred and the persecutions of the Calvinists and Jansenists. On the other hand, however, the gruff impetuosity of the one and the patience of the other in the service of Holy Mother Church gained for both of them the admiration and the devotion of the faithful.
The outstanding characteristic of Louis-Marie, the one which marks him as being essentially Breton, is his unflagging perseverance in the pursuit of that saintly ideal, the only ideal he ever had: that of winning over men's souls to God. In the pursuit of this ideal he brought into play all the qualities with which nature and grace had endowed him. This he did, in almost every sphere of activity, with such great success that he is in all truth the apostle “par excellence” of Poitou, of Brittany and of Vendée. Quite recently one writer was able to state without any exaggeration that “the Vendée of I793 was the work of his hands.”
MODEL FOR PRIESTS
Welcome to you priests from every rank of the hierarchy, you who carry in your hearts that care, that anxiety, that “tribulation” mentioned by St. Paul (ii Cor. i, 8) and which today, almost everywhere is the common lot of any priest worthy of the beautiful name of “Shepherd of Souls.” Like thousands of your brethren in the priesthood you raise your eyes with pride towards the new saint. In his example you find confidence and zeal. By the high esteem in which he held his priestly vocation and by the heroic fidelity with which he lived up to that calling, he has shown the world the true type, often so little known, of the priest of Jesus Christ. He has shown what such a priest is capable of doing for the pure glory of God and for the salvation of souls, yes, and even for the salvation of society when he devoted his whole life to it unreservedly, unconditionally and unstintingly in the full spirit of the Gospel. Do not be afraid to look upon him, do not allow yourselves to be put off by his outward appearance which does not flatter him. His is the only beauty that matters—that of a soul all shining and burning with charity. In him you have an eminent model of priestly life and virtue.
THE PRECIOUS BIRTHRIGHT OF THE MONTFORTIAN CONGREGATIONS
Welcome to you, members of the religious families of which Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort was the Founder and Father. During his life and even up to the time of his premature death you were nothing more than an imperceptible grain of wheat. That grain, however, was hidden away in his heart as in the bosom of a fertile soul, it was dilated by the nourishing sap of his superhuman self-sacrifice, of his superabundant merits and of his exuberant holiness. And now that seed has germinated and grown; it has developed and thrown out its roots far and wide. The cruel winds of persecution have been unable to make it wither, violent persecutions and legal interference unable to stifle its growth.
Dear Sons and Daughters, remain faithful to the precious birthright bequeathed to you by this great Saint. Such a magnificent birthright merits that you should continue in the future, as you have so well done in the past, to devote to it unstintingly your labors, your sacrifices and your life. Show the world that you have truly inherited his tender love for the humble and