St. Louis Marie Grignon De Montfort is the founder of the Society of the Brothers of St. Gabriel. Montfort School, Naya Raipur and over 150 other schools in India are run by the Brothers of St. Gabriel.
St. Montfort was born in 1673, and died in 1716 – just 43 years. But in that 43 years he accomplished what most people would not in a hundred years. He was a poet, a writer, a painter, a musician , a sculptor, a missionary and the founder of three Religious congregations and many pious associations. His greatest contribution to the Church’s holiness is his great devotion to Mother Mary as beautifully written in his ‘Treatise on the True Devotion to Mary” and his “Treatise on the Love of the Eternal Wisdom’, apart from many other passionate writings on Mary and Jesus. For him, there is no Jesus without Mary. The way to Jesus is trough Mary, with Mary, in Mary and by Mary.
Another aspect of his spirituality is his love of the cross. For him accepting the crosses and difficulties in life is the sure sign of God’s love for us and our love for God. The kind of man that he was, so passionate for Jesus and for the poor and the suffering, it must have been difficult for less holy people to live with him. It may not be an easy thing to live with saints because they constantly keep challenging us to achieve greater heights in everything we do. So he had many enemies too. He would embrace all his sufferings, humiliations, insults, rejections, false accusations and failure with the same love with which Jesus embraced his cross. He would often say ” No cross, what a cross”.
What distinguishes him from many others is that he was very passionate about whatever he did , whether it was his love for Jesus and Mary, or whether it was his love for the poor and the sick, or whether it was his love for the poor abandoned children which forced him to educate them especially in Religion and Catechism. He was so convinced and so passionate about his love for Jesus and Mary, and serving them through the poor, the sick and the abandoned, that he would go to the extremes, and nothing on earth would deter him. We would say he had a ” one-track-mind”. No looking this side or that side, or still less no looking back. “God Alone” was the motto of his life.
When he left his home for the first time to join the seminary, on the way, he came across a bridge, called the Sesson bridge, at the end of which he found a poor old man in rags and shivering. He stopped his horse, got down from the cart, took out his coat and hat and clothing and gave them to the beggar and took on the beggar’s clothes and reached the seminary in rags. At the Sesson bridge , he was saying good bye to all worldly possessions and taking upon himself the life of Jesus who possessed nothing but the Heavenly Father. By doing what he did, he was cutting himself off from the world and all its possessions and attractions in a very radical manner, and following Jesus.
It may not be far from the truth if we say that he died so young because his passion for his mission of serving the poor and the sick made him neglect his own health. There are instances in his life when he would be found attending to the sick or the beggars in the open street at midnight in the extreme cold weather of France. Once he found a sick dying man in the street around midnight; he picked him up and carried him on his shoulders and went knocking at the doors of houses crying ” Open to Jesus. ” For Montfort, this sick, dying man was Jesus. “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did it to me”. His love for these people was such that he would go to anybody to get some material help for them, even to people who insulted him. Once he was invited for meals to a rich man’s house, and he landed up for the meals with a dozen or more of poor, hungry people to the discomfort of the host.