Monday, March 3, 2014

Statue high up

The man in this statue never came to India, but his influence certainly did. That is not surprising, because his work and scholarship is also reputed to have influenced four holders of the Holy See across centuries. Louis-Marie Grignion was born in Brittany on January 31, 1673 and his early upbringing pushed him towards the clergy. Through some difficulties and twists of fate, he found himself appointed as the librarian at Saint-Sulpice, which gave him access to almost all the available books on spirituality. He was drawn to the role played by the Virgin Mary and through his studies and later works, became the originator of what later became recognized as Mariology

It was this work that influenced 4 popes across the 20th and 21st centuries: Leo XIII, Pius X, Pius XII and John Paul II. All four of them furthered the position of the Virgin Mary through their encyclicals and it is recognized that all of them were keen students of Mariology. It was during the time of Pope Pius XII that Louis-Marie was canonized, in 1947, and came to be known as Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. 

St Montfort's influence was not just at the levels of the papacy; it worked at other levels as well. He established several organizations in his lifetime and inspired the setting up of several others later. One such was the Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel, who have been instrumental in setting up several schools across the world. In Chennai, the Montfort Brothers took over the Anglo-Vernacular school in Santhome from the Archdiocese in 1954. It has since been known as the Santhome Higher Secondary School - and the statue of St Montfort looks over all the students as they enter the gates. On the other side of the pillar, it is his inspiration, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who casts her gaze over the students inside the school!

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