Today is a special day for FMSI, on January 2, in fact, the founding of the whole Marist family occurs, it was 1817 when Marcellino Champagnat founded the religious Institute of the Brothers of Mary.
Marcellin Champagnat founded, on January 2, 1817, in Valla (France), a lay religious Institute, or religious Institute of brothers, with the name of Little Brothers of Mary. He conceived it as a branch of the Society of Mary.
Our origins were modeled by the attentive relationship between a young rural priest and a group of boys who lived in a time of great social turbulence. The priest’s name was Marcelino Champagnat, the young people were Juan María Granjón, Juan Bautista Audrás, Juan Claudio Audrás, Antonio Couturier, Bartolomé Badard, Gabriel Rivat and Juan Bautista Furet. They became our founding community of La Valla.
Simple men without training, lived with great simplicity and unity. His day was spent learning to read, write and teach, and working with his hands to sustain himself financially. They lived in the midst of people and shared their fate.
They were discovering, more and more deeply, the presence of God in their midst and they learned to trust in Providence. Together they cultivated the thirst of Jesus and the desire to follow him in the style of Mary. They developed love for Mary as a sure means of centering their hearts on Jesus. They encouraged each other to help the needy.
Like Mary, when she set out with alacrity towards the hill country, they went out each week to the surrounding villages to make Jesus known and loved. They cared for poor children and welcomed them into their home.
This way of living the gospel was a reflection of the character, values and spirituality of his guide, Marcellin Champagnat. His spirituality was deeply influenced by his own personality. His first disciples remembered with affection the Marcellin whom they had known: open, sincere, determined, courageous, enthusiastic, constant and equable. His whole life was the testimony of a person who tended to the practical, an active man and full of humility. This enabled him to extract from a variety of sources a simple and realistic spirituality.