200th Anniversary since the foundation of the Institute of the Marist Brothers

200th Anniversary since the foundation of the Institute of the Marist Brothers  

This year marks 200 years since the foundation of the Institute of the Marist Brothers by Marcellino Champagnat, the young vicar of the Parish of La Valla in France, proclaimed a Saint by Pope John Paul II on 18 April 1999. His history takes us back to post-revolutionary France at the end of the 18th century when during the Restoration there was a need to address the national crisis concerning schools by boosting and strengthening the education and catechesis of young people whom the French Revolution had abandoned to a future without promise. Thus, Marcellino, ordained a priest in 1816, having a deep sense of God’s presence in his life and nourished with an unwavering trust in Mary and her protection - from whose name the "Marist" community he founded originates - began his intensive work in the field of education. His conviction that "to educate young people well, you need to love them" pervades the Marist educational style whose characteristics are a constant but discreet presence among young people, simplicity, family spirit, and love at work, all in the style of Mary. The Marist Brothers are present today in over 80 nations worldwide, but especially in the missions with one thousand formation centers, over three thousand religious brothers and around six hundred thousand students, following in the footsteps of the Founder, spreading the Christian message through the education of children and young people. The postage stamp produced for the occasion by Patrizio Daniele for the Vatican Philatelic Office depicts a close-up of Marcellino Champagnat and in the background the table of the first community of brothers at La Valla surrounded by laypeople and religious brothers serving children. The statue of the Virgin Mary, called the Good Mother by Saint Marcellino, recalls the Marian inspiration of the educational activities carried out by him.