la Mennais, Jean Marie Robert de, ven.
LA MENNAIS, JEAN MARIE ROBERT DE, VEN.
Religious founder; b. Saint-Malo (Ille-et-Vilaine), France, Sept. 8, 1780; d. Ploërmel (Morbihan), Dec. 26, 1860. Jean, the brother of Hugues Félicité de lamennais, was ordained in 1804. After serving as curate and teacher, he retired because of ill health to La Chesnaie, a country home belonging to his family. There he guided his brother toward ecclesiastical studies and collaborated with him by doing the research for Reflexions sur l'état de l' Église en France au XVIIIe siècle (1808) and Tradition de l'Église sur l'institution des évêques (1814), and the translation for Guide spirituel (1809). In 1814 Jean became secretary to Bishop Caffarelli of Saint-Brieuc and then vicar-general of the diocese. He was also active in organizing and conducting parish missions and in starting confraternities. In 1819 he founded a group of teaching brothers that joined in 1820 with another group, founded also in Brittany in 1816 by Gabriel deshayes, to form the brothers of christian instruction of ploËrmel. Until his death Jean administered this congregation and the Daughters of Providence of Saint-Brieuc, which he founded in conjunction with Marie Anne Cartel (1818). Called to Paris in 1822 as vicar-general of the grand almoner of France, he participated in the nomination or transfer of some 40 bishops, but repeatedly declined to accept the episcopal dignity for himself.
After returning to Brittany (1824) La Mennais centered his educational and other apostolic activities in Ploërmel. He founded the Priests of St. Méen (1824), which soon became the Congregation of St. Peter, and placed his brother in charge of it (1828). Félicité's apostasy terminated the brief existence of this congregation and caused Jean unwarranted humiliations as well as personal sorrow, but it did not curb his apostolic labors. He guided François Mazellier with his congregation, which fused with the marist brothers in 1841. He acted also as adviser to Jacques Dujarié and Basil moreau in the founding of the Holy Cross Brothers. His cause for beatification was introduced in 1911 and the antepreparatory congregation on his virtues was held in 1946.
Bibliography: a. p. laveille, Jean-Marie de La Mennais (1780–1860), 2 v. (Paris 1903). a. merlaud, Jean-Marie de La Mennais (Paris 1960).
[e. g. drouin]