Our First Century: 1817-1917

Our First Century: 1817-1917
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by Henri Lebon, SM
245 pp.

This thorough review of the first one hundred years of the Society of Mary is very well written.  Father Lebon has managed to capture (in a concise manner) the founding spirit of the Society of Mary while retaining the historical rigor demanded by such an endeavor.  His accounts of Father Simler are particularly moving, and it is clear that working with Father Simler as Head of the Office of Instruction affected him deeply.

Lebon does a marvelous job of painting a vivid picture of life in the Society of Mary from its inception through the generalate of Good Father Hiss.  Lebon’s liberal quotation of primary sources throughout the text makes the reader feel as though the first and second generation of Marianist priests and brothers are speaking across the ages, and lends an intimate ambiance to the piece.

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    All of those early years were full of the fervor of the foundation. The members lived by the spirit rather than by the Rule, of which nothing yet existed except the first outline. By his conversations with his children and, when they were separated from him, by his constant correspondence, the Founder was truly the soul of the Institute. In spite of his great age, he preached the exercises of the retreat each year to the religious assembled in that villa of St. Laurent, which had been the cradle of their vocation. And when they were dispersed across France, he did not hesitate to go repeatedly to visit their houses in order to direct them in the practice of their duties and to urge them on in the exercise of their
    apostolate. . . .

    How wonderful it was when the Good Father [Simler], surrounded by his Assistants, occasionally approached his children during recreation periods, placed himself in their midst, and spoke to them of the family. These hours passed too quickly, but they will never be forgotten. It is there that generations of religious were formed who have carried a deep love for the family through all the Provinces and transmitted it to their successors, together with the pure spirit of the Society.

  • Read the Table of Contents



    1. Good Father Chaminade. The Foundation (1761-1817)
    2. First Developments (1818-1845)
    3. Generalate of Good Father Caillet (1845-1868)
    4. Development of Works in France
    5. First Works of the Society outside France, in Europe and America
    6. Good Father Chevaux (1868-1875)
    7. Generalate of Good Father Simler (1876-1905)
    8. Expansion of the Society Throughout the World
    9. The Missions
    10. Last Years of Good Father Simler. Trials and Hopes (1901-1905)
    11. Good Father Hiss (1905-1922)

    Historical Tables and Information

    Analytical Table of Contents