The Founder of the Brothers of St. Gabriel
One of the great Saints whose mission appears verified and on the increase as the years pass and as we find ourselves amid the latter times, Saint Louis Mary de Montfort can now be recognized as a prophet and an oracle of God for the sanctification of the Church which must resist the foretold evils of this period. Author of a Prophetic Prayer Requesting the Apostles of the Latter Times, he is also the ardent apostle of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin and the Saint of love for the Cross of the Lord, as we see from his Letter to the Friends of the Cross and his entire life of missionary activity.
Born at Montfort-la-Cane near Saint-Malo in 1673, he was the oldest of eight children. He studied with the Jesuits and at the age of nineteen went to Paris to enter the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice. His poverty was aided by the charity of benefactors, and after five years, during which he edified the Seminary, he was ordained a priest in 1700.
Destined to be the target of a siege of crosses, he began to experience the first ones when he went to Nantes to aid a good priest of that diocese and found a serious infestation of Jansenism there. He returned to Paris afterwards to assist one of his sisters to enter religion there, then went to Poitiers, where he became chaplain of a hospital for the poor. His zeal transformed the sick of that hospital into a community of saints; and there he established the kernel of his future Congregation of the Daughters of Wisdom. He found many other channels also open to his fervor.
Saint Louis Mary at a given moment desired to go as a missionary to New France, but the Holy Father Clement XI committed to him the vast mission of preaching in his own homeland under the bishops of France. He was commissioned to teach Christian doctrine to the children and the people, and reawaken the spirit of Christianity through the renewal of their baptismal vows. At Dinan he joined a group of missionaries and taught catechism, for which mission he had a special attraction. He could not neglect the poor, and organized a group of virtuous ladies there to take care of them.
He continued preaching in the west of France, placing before the eyes of all listeners the very source of our Redemption through the erection of large crucifixes and Calvaries. He became the target of calumny for the angry Jansenists against whose erroneous notions he preached; certain young libertines also grew irritated against him. He was poisoned; though this did not kill him, his health was seriously undermined. His enemies succeeded in influencing the bishop of Nantes to cancel the benediction of a large Calvary which had been under construction by the people for a year. The bishop required the demolition of the man-made hill which they had labored to prepare for it, transporting stones and dirt in wheelbarrows. Saint Louis Mary’s enemies had told him it contained secret chambers for conspirators and evil-doers.
With patience Father de Montfort bore all his trials: “Blessed be God; I have not sought my glory but only that of God; I hope to receive the same reward as I would had I succeeded.” He was a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic and taught the Holy Rosary everywhere, converting many heretics. Before he died at the age of forty-three in April of 1716, he had organized his Company of Mary at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre, where he was buried and where his remains are still in profound veneration.
Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Gu'rin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 15.