Timeline: 200 years of history
- Birth of Jean-Claude Colin, Saint-Bonnet-Le-Troncy, central France.
- The first inspiration to found the Society of Mary given to Jean-Claude Courveille at the Marian Sanctuary of Le Puy in Velay, France..
- On July 23, in the chapel of Our Lady at Fourvière, Lyons, a pledge is made by young priests and seminarians to found a society of Mary. Jean-Claude Colin, curate to his brother in the parish of Cerdon, begins to write a rule for a Society of Mary.
- The first community of three priests is formed to preach missions in the Bugey district. This period also sees the beginnings of the Marist Sisters, Marist Brothers and lay groups.
- Fr Colin is elected the superior of the group of priests and seeks Rome’s approval for his foundation.
- In January, Pope Gregory XVI entrusts the missions of Western Oceania in the South Pacific to the new group of Marist Fathers. Pope Gregory XVI approves the Society of Mary in April. On September 24, the first twenty Marists, including Marcellin Champagnat, elect Jean-Claude Colin as the first Superior General and make their religious profession. On Christmas Eve, the first group of Marist missionaries, including Bishop Pompallier and Peter Chanel, leave for the missions in the South Pacific.
- Death of Marcellin Champagnat.
- Peter Chanel is martyred on April 28.
- Fr Colin resigns as Superior General, succeeded by Fr Julien Favre.
- First foundation in Ireland
- First foundation in USA.
- The definitive rule for the Society, written by the Founder, is approved.
- Death of Jean-Claude Colin, November 15.
- Anti-religious decrees in France lead to the formation house being set up in other parts of Europe.
- First foundation in Rome.
- Foundation in Differt.
- Beatification of Peter Chanel. Establishment of the Provinces of England & Ireland, New Zealand and America.
- Establishment of the Province of Oceania.
- First foundation in Germany.
- Expulsion of religious from France leads to the second dispersal of communities of French Marists, including the General Administration.
- Persecution of the Church in Mexico until 1914; Marists are expelled.
- Approval of the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary as a religious congregation.
- 1918. The first World War
- Erection of the Province of Germany
- Erection of the Provinces of Washington and Boston.
- The translation of the General Administration to Monteverde, Rome.
- First foundation in Canada.
- 1939. Spanish Civil War, 10 Marist fathers killed in odium fidei, as well as many other priests and religious including many Marist Brothers.
- Erection of the Province of Australia.
- 1945. The Second World War – Many Marists are killed or made prisoners of war.
- Erection of the Province of Netherlands.
- First foundation in Africa.
- First foundation in Japan.
- First foundation in Peru.
- England and Ireland become separated Provinces.
- The canonization of St Peter Chanel.
- Erection of the Province of Spain.
- Erection of the Province of Mexico.
- Erection of the Province of San Francisco.
- 1965. The Second Vatican Council takes place bringing renewal and change to the universal Church.
- In October 1965, the Second Vatican Council makes a call for renewal of religious life. Erection of the Province of Canada.
- General Chapter of Renewal, Rome.
- Formation of the one Province of France.
- Marist foundation in Pakistan (until 1983).
- Erection of the mission districts of Brazil and Philippines.
- General Chapter completes the new Constitutions of the Society of Mary.
- Approval of the new Constitutions by the Holy See.
- Erection of the mission district of Africa.
- Erection of the mission district of Peru-Venezuela.
The mission in Oceania
Fr Jean-Claude Colin, the founder of the Society of Mary, was strongly convinced that the Society was called “to do great things” and to work “in any corner of the world”.
When, in 1836, the Society of Mary received from the Holy See the responsibility of evangelising Oceania, Jean-Claude Colin, freshly elected Superior General, started sending missionaries. Between 1836 and 1849, 15 groups left France to go to the missions in Oceania: New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinee, Fiji islands, Wallis et Futuna, Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa and New Zealand.
The mission was undertaken with great spiritual conviction and human courage. Many of the Marist Missionaries recorded what they observed, they kept their logbooks, they said how they were received, they stated the difficulties they met and they recorded the works they undertook. Their vast collection of letters and logbooks are conserved in the Society’s General Archives in Rome. They have been and still are an important source for historians and anthropologists studying the cultures on the Islands in the South Pacific.
In 2009 the Society published “Lettres reçues d’Océanie”: a critical edition with annotations – 10 volumes – containing 1365 letters written by the Marist missionaries to the General Administration of the Society of Mary between 1836 and 1854.
Marist Places of Origin
With “The Marist Places of Origin” we refer to places in France which are significant for the story of the founding of the Society of Mary by a group of French Marists and its founder, Fr Jean-Claude Colin.