Grignion de Montfort, Louis Marie, St.
GRIGNION DE MONTFORT, LOUIS MARIE, ST.
Founder of the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (Montfort Fathers) and of the Daughters of Wisdom, influential Marian author; b. Montfort-la-Canne, France, Jan. 31, 1673; d. St. Laurent-sur-Sèvre (Vendée), April 28, 1716.
A childlike devotion to the Mother of God was characteristic of Montfort's life from the outset. At confirmation, he took the name of Mary and later dropped his family name, wishing to be called Louis Mary of Montfort. He studied with the Jesuits at Rennes and then at the Sorbonne and Saint-Sulpice. During these years, Montfort became familiar with the French school of spirituality and, as he himself declared, read nearly all of the books that treat devotion to Our Lady. He was ordained at Paris, June 5, 1700, and, in 1710, he was received as a tertiary in the Third Order of St. Dominic.
In the brief 16 years of his priesthood, Louis de Montfort fulfilled a career of founder, missionary, and writer. Two years after his ordination, Montfort organized the nursing and teaching congregation of the Daughters of wisdom. In 1705, he founded his missionary congregation of men, the montfort fathers. Having been named a missionary apostolic by Pope clement xi, Montfort spent the greater part of his priestly years as a traveling missionary, preaching retreats and missions throughout western France.
Montfort was also the author of numerous works inspired by the needs of his apostolate. He composed more than 23,400 verses of hymns and wrote the rules for the two communities he founded. Among his other writings are The Love of the Eternal Wisdom, The Secret of the Rosary, and The Secret of Mary. However, Montfort's renown as an author and theologian is due primarily to one of his manuscripts, which was discovered in 1842 and called The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary by its first editors. The title is a misnomer, for the work is actually a fuller explanation of what Montfort calls The Love of the Eternal Wisdom, the greatest secret of achieving union with Christ, a tender devotion to Mary. He explains that the foundation for devotion to Mary is her role in the economy of salvation as mother and queen. That total consecration accompanies the formal and active recognition of the role that Mary plays in human lives, a recognition that entails the renewal of baptismal promises. Montfort advocates the surrender to Christ, through Mary, of the value of all good actions, past, present, and future, so that they may be used in any way God wishes. Following the authors of his times, he terms this consecration "Holy Slavery of Love," a slavery devoid, of course, of pejorative connotations. pius xii sums up the praise of the Church for Montfort's doctrine when he describes it as "burning, solid, and correct."
Louis de Montfort is buried in the basilica dedicated to his honor at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre. He was beatified in 1888 and canonized on July 20, 1947.
Feast: April 28.
Bibliography: j. grandet, Vie de messire Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (Nantes 1724). l. le crom, Un Apôtre marial (Tourcoing 1946). g. rigault, Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort (New York 1947). p. j. gaffney, "The Holy Slavery of Love," Mariology, ed. j. b. carol, 3 v. (Milwaukee 1954–61) 3:143–161. l.-m. clÉnet, Grignion de Montfort: le saint de la Vendée (Paris 1988). l. pÉrouas, Grignion de Montfort et la Vendée (Paris 1989). l. sankalÉ, Avec Marie, au pas de l'Esprit: Le secret de Marie de saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort lu aujourd'hui en paroisse (Paris 1991). b. guitteny, Grignion de Montfort, missionnaire des pauvres (Paris 1993). r. laurentin, Dieu seul est ma tendresse (Paris 1996).