“ The spirit of Mary is something most delicate and profound, obtained only through sustained meditation and prayer. ” - Jean Claude Colin, Founder Marist Order

Further reading


On the New Zealand Marist website, (Marist Library): Maristica Publications

Jean-Claude Colin (Founder of the Marist Fathers)


A founder in an era of revolution and restoration: the early years 1790-1836

Donal Kerr

Jean-Claude Colin grew up in the shadow of the French Revolution. His father sheltered the local priest and had to hide in the woods of Beaujolais while his mother and her young family suffered continuous police harassment. Both father and mother died before the boy was five years old. More than a decade later, the police arrested jean-Claude believing that, like his fellow-seminarian, Jean Vianney, later the Cure of Ars, he was dodging the draft for Napoleon’s Spanish wars. Later again, angry Bonaparatist mobs threatened the seminary in Lyon where he was studying. Only the arrival of Austrian and Piedmontese armies restored order. Jean-Claude was ordained a year after the battle of Waterloo, when a long period of Restoration in Church and state began. He had grasped, however, that a new world had begun and a new approach, not restoration, was what was needed.

With a group of twelve young men – he pledged himself to found a new religious congregation. Like the Society of Jesus in the age of Renaissance and Reformation, this new society, while taking its name and spirit from the Virgin Mary, would address the problems of the post-Revolutionary world. In 1836 Pope Gregory XVl asked Jean-Claude to undertake missions to the vast area of the South Pacific from New Zealand to the Marshall Islands, from New Guinea to Tonga and beyond. His ready acceptance brought papal approbation for the priests’ branch of the Society of Mary and propelled it and Colin on to the wider world stage.

Donal Kerr (1927-2001) an Irish Marist priest, was professor of Ecclesiastical history at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth. He is the author of Peel, Priests, and Politics: Sir Robert Peel’s Administration and the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, 1842-1846,(Oxford University Press, 1982); ‘A Nation of Beggars’? Priests, People and Politics in Famine Ireland, 1846-1852, (Oxford University press, 1994); The Catholic Church and the Famine,(Columba,1996)


Towards Christian Maturity in the twenty-first century

In this book Fr. Arnold looks not so much at Mary but along with her, in the same direction. He starts by tracing, from the biblical texts, the important stages of Mary’s life from the annunciation and birth of Jesus, through his public ministry, to the cross and resurrection. He suggests that each Christian is called to become receptive to God as Mary was, in silence and prayer, and to learn from her how to bring Christ to other people and allow their relationship with Christ to bear fruit in everyday life. This includes looking at the passion experience of Christ and Mary and finding there a reflection on the painful transformation processes which we as Christians have to go through, like John of the Cross’s Dark Night of the Soul.

A third stage shows how this process of growth can develop within the community of believers, the church. Examples from history show that, in order to grow both internally and externally, the church had to go through painful processes of transformation and suffering. The author is deeply convinced that this is what is happening today, and his hope is that in this way we will come to new life.

The final chapter is a concluding meditation on the theme of the book by means of contemplation of the image of Mary, Salus Populi Romani,in St. Mary Major’s Basilica in Rome, which is illustrated on the front cover.

Fritz Arnold sm, based in Rome, is Vicar General of the Marist Fathers.


A Basic Guide

This leaflet is an outline guide for individuals and groups who are Marist according to the spirituality lived in the Society of Mary. The name Marist is a family name belonging to a great variety of groups: the four religious congregations: Marists Brothers, Marist Sisters, Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary, Marist Fathers and Marist Laity.


An explo​ration of Marist spirituality

Craig Larkin

“There is a certain way of living the Gospel that has never ceased to attract me: the way Mary lived it, as understood by a group of people called Marists. This is the story of those men and women who last century committed themselves to what they called ‘The Work of Mary’, and began a movement which still thrives today. It is also the story of what makes today’s Marists think, judge and act”.(Craig Larkin).


The People of God and the Work of Mary

Laurence Duffy and Charles Girard

This book is addressed to everyone interested in the Marist spirit and in the way people live it, thus to the general public and particularly to those Marists living in “secular society”, as well as to Marist religious, those Sisters, Brothers and Fathers who share with them the spirit of Mary. (page viii).


Surviving letters and Futuna Journal
Texts translated and presented by William Joseph Stuart & Anthony Ward.

This work presents in a careful English translation the greater part of the surviving writings of St. Peter Chanel (1803-1841), a priest of the French diocese of Belley, then one of the founding members of the Society of Mary. In 1836 he set sail with the first band of Catholic missionaries to begin the evangelization of Western Oceania. After four years of frustating work among the people of the Polynesian island of Futuna, he was martyred in 1841. His letters and journal not only show Chanel as an engaging and dedicated young man, but also piece together a fascinating picture of life in what Europeans saw as a tropical paradise, at the period of the first sustained contacts between Europeans and the local people.


The Story of St. Marcellin Champagnat 1789-1840

Ned Prendergast

‘The Heart That Knows No Bounds’ is the story of a young boy born in troubled times and without the advantage of an education who dreamed as a teenager of becoming a priest and who dedicated his life subsequently to the establishment of a congregation of teaching brothers who would give to hundreds of thousands throughout the world the educational advantages he himself did not have. It is the story of a young heart that knew no bounds and of improbable achievement against insuperable odds. It is the story not so much of a born saint as of an unlikely lad who grew to become one.

Ned Prendergast is a teacher at Marian College, Ballsbridge, Dublin.



A Provisional Sketch
Patrick A. Corcoran

“These early years and the men who made them have a very special quality. It is the era of the pioneers, and the exploration of frontiers.”(Foreword)

A Short History of the Society of Mary

1854 to 1993

Philip Graystone

Jean Coste’s Lectures on Society of Mary History,published in 1965, were originally planned to cover the history of the Society up to 1961, but they stopped at 1854. The need for an overall survey of the Society’s history has long been felt and is now filled by Father Philop Greystone, former provincial of England. This small volume is a brief history of the Society of Mary from 1854, when Julien Favre became its second Superior General, until 1993, when the present General, Joaquin Fernandez, commenced his term of office.

The Age of Mary

Maristica 1

Jan Snijders

The Age of Mary by Jan Snijders takes up the themes of; Creative Fidelity, The End of Time- the Present Age, Instruments of Divine Mercy, Hidden and Unknown, A Tree with many Branches and God Alone.

A Book of Texts for the study of marist spirituality

Edwin Keel.

a book of texts – for the study of marist spirituality by Edwin Keel is a collection of English translations of texts, structured around the three symbolic moments of Fourviere, Cerdon and Bugey, which the Constitutions of 1988 offer as the framework for Marist Life. It is for the reader to meet Colin and ther other founders and early Marists in their own words, and to let those words open up new paths of insight, of feeling and of action.


Finding the Way Envisaged by Father Colin, Maristica 4.

Frank McKay

Frank McKay THE MARIST LAITY, Finding the Way Envisaged by Father Colinbegins by giving an Historical Overview in the first chapter. In successive chapters he considers the Vision, Principals for Action and Strategies for the development of the Marist Laity in line with that envisaged by Father Colin.


Anthology of Historical Sources

Charles Girard

Charles Girard’s,Lay Marists, Anthology of Historical Sources,published in 1993, is a collection of documents on the origins and early development of the lay branch of the Marist project. It is for the use of all those who would like to study its spirit and history. The texts have been selected to illustrate the thought of Jean-Claude Colin on the laity within the Society of Mary.

For copies of any of the above publications contact your nearest Marist Community or An Turas