JESUS LIVING IN MARY:
HANDBOOK OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT
POPES/BISHOPS

Summary
I.	France and Gallicanism during Montfort’s lifetime: 
	1.	Montfort’s sensus fidei; 
	2.	Montfort’s "Roman spirit;" 
II.	Montfort’s Relationship with the Pope and Bishops: 
	1.	Bishops Montfort met; 
	2.	An evaluation: 
		a.	Montfort’s obedience; 
		b.	Montfort’s persecution. 
III.	The Pope and the Bishops in Montfort’s Writings.
IV.	Relevance of Montfort’s Obedience to Popes and Bishops.

"When Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort . . . came to this august city of 
Rome, to venerate devoutly the tomb of Blessed Peter, he learned from 
our predecessor pope Clement XI . . . that he was destined to preach the 
truth of the Gospel, not to the foreign nations as he had wished, but 
rather to regenerate Christian practice in the heart of his own country. 
This is why, submitting quite willingly to this invitation, Louis-Marie 
Grignion de Montfort returned to France, and during his life left no 
stone unturned in responding by energetic apostolic activity to the 
invitation and plan of the Sovereign Pontiff."1 It is with these words 
that Pope Pius XII began his homily on the occasion of Montfort’s 
canonization on July 20, 1947. This article may be considered a 
commentary on the words of the Holy Father.

 

I. FRANCE AND GALLICANISM DURING MONTFORT’S LIFETIME
1. Montfort’s sensus fidei.
To understand Montfort’s ecclesial attitude—which entails his attitude 
toward the popes and the bishops—it is necessary to recall the 
incredible struggle between the opposing forces of "Ultramontanism" and 
"Gallicanism,"2 which existed in the Church from the Council of Trent 
down to Vatican I. The former looked toward Rome and the Holy See, the 
latter looked to the church of France. St. Louis de Montfort was well 
acquainted with these movements. He was richly endowed with a sense of 
the faith and gifts of the Spirit that guided the disciples of Christ. 
This guided him to recognize the primary role of the pope and the 
bishops.
2. Montfort’s "Roman spirit."
In Montfort’s time France was troubled by the controversy surrounding 
Jansenism and Gallicanism. Church doctrine "was the root and foundation of 
Jansenism’s moral notions and, at least indirectly, of its attitude toward 
discipline;"3 however, Jansenism did not consider infallible, nor 
consequently binding, the judgment of the Church on the theses held by 
Jansenius in the Augustinus. In the best of cases it hid behind an 
"obsequious silence" which precluded inner assent to the Roman decrees. In 
1705, the year before Montfort’s Roman pilgrimage, the Bull Vineam Domini 
of Clement XI rejected the theory of the Jansenists. Thus it is true that 
in the west of France, evangelized by Montfort, people still lived in the 
beneficent atmosphere of the Pax Clementina (1669) until the beginning of 
the eighteenth century, when the conflict rekindled. But it is also true 
that, "we would fall into the opposite mistake were we to refuse to 
consider the undoubted repercussions of the Jansenist struggle on Louis’s 
career, sent back as he was to the heart of the Gallican Church, furrowed 
with rebellion."4 Montfort never let himself be won over by Jansenist 
ideas: "Jansenism, away with you!" (H 139:55). As for the Gallican 
controversies, which accompanied the Jansenist ones in the eighteenth 
century, "a complex frame of mind, defiant of Roman authority, jealous of 
its own independence, very attached to its own ways, faced with State 
interference, was then quite widespread in France."5 "It cannot be said," 
observes G. De Luca with a touch of irony, "that in the France of that day 
there was an excessive devotion to the papacy."6

 

II. MONTFORT’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE POPE AND BISHOPS
The study of Montfort’s relationship with the hierarchy will first 
examine, in chronological order, the Popes and Bishops Montfort 
encountered, followed by an attempt to evaluate the often strained 
relations between the missionary and those in ecclesiastical authority.
1. Bishops Montfort Encountered.
a. Henri Bazan de Flamenville, Bishop of Perpignan (d. 1721). 
Around 1693–1694 Montfort was his collaborator in the evangelization of 
the footmen of Paris. It was he who ordained him priest on June 5, 1700.
b. Antoine Girard de la Bournat, Bishop of Poitiers (d. 1702). 
In April 1701, Montfort told him about "the attraction he had for 
working for the salvation of the poor" (L 6). The bishop "rather curtly" 
thanked him for the information (L 6). Later, Bishop Girard, impressed 
by the petition addressed to him by the management of the local 
poorhouse, called Montfort back, spoke to him "more calmly," and ordered 
him to write to his spiritual director, Fr. Leschassier, to ask him to 
decide what should be done (cf. L 6). Toward the end of August 1701, the 
bishop wrote to Montfort in these words: "Father, those at the poorhouse 
continue to want you with them . . . I even think that Mme. de Montespan 
was kind enough to write you about this. But now I think I owe it to you 
to write to you myself that their desires, together with what Fr. 
Leschassier took the trouble to tell me, lead me to believe that God 
wishes you at their side, if your bishop [the bishop of Nantes] is 
willing."7 Louis Marie felt that he had no inclination "to withdraw into 
his shell" (cf. L 9), and the letter from the bishop, spokesman for the 
poor, was possibly the long-awaited sign. Thus, without much delay, he 
went to Poitiers on October 20, 1701. Bishop A. Girard greeted him "with 
open arms" (L11), and offered him room and board at the seminary "while 
waiting for hospital authorities" (L 10; cf. L 11). In the meanwhile, he 
taught "catechism to the poor beggars of the town with the approval and 
the help of the Bishop" (L 10). He made himself poor with the poor, as 
he himself wrote to Fr. Leschassier on November 3, 1701: "I explained to 
the Bishop that even in the poorhouse I do not wish to be separated from 
my mother, Divine Providence, and with this in mind I am happy to share 
the meals of the poor and to have no fixed salary. The Bishop agreed 
heartily to this and offered to act as a father to me" (L 10). "The 
Bishop, unable to resist the insistent appeals of the poor any longer, 
allowed [him] to go to the poorhouse shortly after All Saints Day" (L 
11). Once there, with the bishop’s consent and that of the whole 
administration (cf. L 11), Montfort served the poor in the refectory and 
went round the town begging for something extra for them (L 11). With 
the approval of the bishop he gave a conference each week to thirteen or 
fourteen schoolboys who were the elite of the local Jesuit school (cf. L 
11). But in the poorhouse there was "a quick-witted girl who is the 
craftiest and proudest girl I have ever met" (L 11). For this reason, 
Montfort wrote to Fr. Leschassier on July 4, 1702, "I am afraid that 
Bishop de la Poype, like his predecessor, has been greatly deceived by 
her, because he was too credulous. If you judged it proper you could 
warn him about this" (L 11). 
c. Jean-Baptiste de Saint-Vallier, Bishop of Québec (d. 1727). 
Montfort’s relationship with this missionary bishop, alumnus of Saint-
Sulpice, is described by De Fiores: "The affinities of temperament and 
spirituality of Bishop de Saint-Vallier and Montfort explain the deep 
friendship that existed between them and attested to by first-hand 
sources. The bishop of Quebec intervened on behalf of Montfort: 
recommending his sister to the future Bishop of Poitiers, Antoine 
Girard, praising his behavior, acting as a mediator in order to avoid 
the destruction of the Calvary of Pontchâteau. When he asked to leave 
for Canada, probably in September 1700, Montfort did not fail to think 
of Bishop de Saint-Vallier in whom he would have found understanding and 
help for the accomplishment of his vast missionary plans."8
d. Jean Claude de la Poype de Vertrieu, Bishop of Poitiers (d. 1732). 
"A generous and very spiritual shepherd,"9 he received Montfort like a 
father who at the end of the summer of 1702 returned from Paris to 
Poitiers. Giving him discreet assistance, he allowed him to attempt a 
complete reform of the poorhouse and to admit, among the poor, Marie 
Louise Trichet. 
But in the spring of 1703, the position of the young chaplain became 
unbearable. "Louis reacted severely to the indecent behavior of a boy, 
which released a storm of complaints, and the bishop who had been 
misinformed acted on impulse. Tired with this priest who put him in such 
an awkward position, he forbade him to say Mass," although "once the 
situation was clarified, not in a few days but a few hours, the 
prohibition was rescinded." After this "harsh action of the good 
bishop,"10 around Easter 1703, Montfort set out for Paris where he 
passed through a veritable calvary of rejections. Yet it was to this man 
of God that Fr. Madot, delegated by the cardinal of Paris, entrusted the 
reform of the hermits of Mont Valérien.
In the meanwhile things in Poitiers were changing. In two letters, now 
lost, Bishop de la Poype asked Louis Marie to return while at the same 
time the residents of the poorhouse were clamoring for Montfort, their 
"angel" and "venerable shepherd." Louis Marie then returned to Poitiers 
where the bishop supported him and the poor loved him. Yet in a very 
short time new jealousies cropped up in his regard. "He sought counsel 
from Bishop de la Poype who had not withdrawn his confidence and who 
evaluated objectively the chaplain’s untenable position."11 Finally, 
Montfort shook the dust from his feet, and left the poorhouse for good. 
The Bishop then gave him lodging in the House of Penitents and Montfort 
had his first encounter with missionary work.
When the missionary was preaching in the church of Our Lady of 
Calvary, Father de Villeroi, one of the vicars general of the diocese, 
reprimanded him publicly, expressing disapproval of one of Montfort’s 
personal initiatives. "Louis Marie got down on his knees. His face was 
ashen and expressionless. When the other man withdrew, he said merely, 
‘My brothers, we were ready to plant a cross at the door of this church. 
It was not God’s will. Our superiors were against it. Let us plant it 
then in the midst of our hearts.’"12 The following day the church was 
full. Father Révol, another vicar general, friend of Louis Marie’s, and 
the Bishop-elect of Oloron, went into the pulpit and thanked Montfort 
with great feeling, with the explicit purpose of repairing the damage 
done. But the news of what had happened at Our Lady of Calvary had 
already reached Bishop de la Poype. Although he appreciated and 
understood Montfort, and had granted him generous protection in other 
difficult moments, he now felt obligated to sacrifice him to keep the 
peace. Father de Montfort "had barely begun to preach a retreat to the 
Dominican nuns of Sainte-Catherine when a letter reached him containing 
the order of the Bishop to leave Poitiers immediately. The blow was a 
hard one for Louis Marie, not only because of the break with the now 
familiar atmosphere but because this new ordeal cast a thick shadow over 
the most precious ideal of Father de Montfort’s life: the preaching 
ministry."13
He then decided to go to Rome to "see Peter" (Gal 1:18). Before 
leaving he wrote a letter to all who had profited from the missions he 
preached: "If God preserves my life, I will pass by here again, and stay 
for a while subject to your illustrious Bishop, who is so zealous for 
the salvation of souls and compassionate with our failings" (LPM). Back 
from Rome, Montfort showed up in Poitiers, but his presence sounded so 
loud an alarm that an order came from Bishop de la Poype asking him to 
leave the town without delay. Montfort took refuge in a religious house 
for six days of prayer. He then left Poitiers for good and made his way 
to Brittany.
A few years later he was again in Paris looking for vocations for his 
Company of Mary. Before going back to La Rochelle, he met in Poitiers 
with the first two Daughters of Wisdom, Marie Louise Trichet and 
Catherine Brunet. The next day Louis Marie received an "invitation" from 
Bishop de la Poype to get out of Poitiers within twenty-four hours.
e. Pope Clement XI (d. 1721). 
In the beginning of 1706, five years of difficulties came to a head. Not 
knowing what God was doing with him, Montfort expressed to Clement XI 
his availability for whatever ministry the Pope wished. "Louis Marie 
asked to be sent into the Church by the Church."14 The conversation he 
had with Clement XI was decisive in Montfort’s life. "Father, you have 
in France a large enough field for your zeal. Go nowhere else, and 
always work in perfect submission to the Bishops of the dioceses to 
which you will be called. Because of this God will bless your labors." 
The Pope conferred on him the title "apostolic missionary" and 
graciously blessed a small ivory cross that Louis Marie presented to him 
and that he would later attach to his pilgrim’s staff.
f. Vincent-Francis Desmaretz, Bishop of Saint-Malo (d. 1739). 
In 1707, after a short missionary experience with Dom Leuduger, Louis 
Marie withdrew to the Saint-Lazare hermitage near the town of his birth. 
Bishop Desmaretz of Saint-Malo, known for his Jansenist sympathies, 
listened to the rumors circulating about the apostolate of the reclusive 
priest. It was said that Montfort opposed an exaggerated sense of 
autonomy on the part of the local clergy, and had spoken against the 
canons of the Cathedral, etc. Louis Marie was therefore forbidden any 
form of ministry in the diocese of Saint-Malo.
When he was ready to withdraw, there was a dramatic turn of events. 
Msgr. Hindré, pastor of Bréal, had come to see Bishop Desmaretz for the 
precise purpose of having Father de Montfort preach a mission in his 
parish. Surprisingly, the Bishop responded affirmatively.15 In the 
spring of 1708, Bishop Desmaretz came back to the town of Montfort. 
"This time his speech was unambiguous and terse. He forbade Louis Marie 
to preach outside of parish churches, including in the prohibition the 
hermitage chapel [of Saint-Lazare]."16 
g. Gilles de Beauveau de Rivau, Bishop of Nantes (d. 1717). 
After leaving Saint-Malo, Montfort went back to the diocese of Nantes, 
where he preached with remarkable success during 1708–1709.
During the mission at Pontchâteau he launched the idea of a monumental 
Calvary. After more than a year of work everything was ready for the 
dedication. However, on September 13, 1710, Montfort received a message 
from the bishop forbidding him to proceed to the blessing of the Calvary 
scheduled for the next day. Montfort left immediately for Nantes on foot 
to plead with Bishop de Beauveau. He was unsuccessful in getting the 
prohibition rescinded, which had come to him like a bolt from the blue. 
Late in the morning of the following day, Louis Marie was back at 
Pontchateau. The missionary informed them that on orders of the local 
Ordinary, no blessing would take place. Bishop de Beauveau had concealed 
that the real reason for his prohibition was that he had received an 
order from the King to destroy the Calvary. Although he tried to defend 
the missionary, the Bishop felt Montfort’s behavior was imprudent. While 
he was preaching a mission at Saint-Molf, Father Olivier, one of his co-
workers, came to him with a letter from the bishop forbidding Montfort 
any ministry whatsoever in the diocese of Nantes and ordered him to get 
far away from the Calvary of Pontchâteau, never to return. Louis Marie 
returned to Nantes to speak with the bishop, who finally decided to let 
him know that the order for the demolition of the Calvary had come from 
higher up. He marveled at Montfort’s calm and told his vicar general: 
"Father de Montfort has to be either a great saint, or an arrogant 
hypocrite!" Montfort spent the next eight days making a retreat at the 
house of the Jesuits in the city. He said nothing about what had 
happened, and there was nothing in his behavior that gave any indication 
of his distress, even though he had burst out in tears when first 
informed of the Bishop’s demand to destroy the entire site of the 
immense calvary.17
h. Étienne de Champflour, Bishop of La Rochelle (d. 1724) and Jean-
François Salgues de Lescure, Bishop of Luçon (d. 1723). 
After the drama of Pontchâteau, these two pastors opened "the doors of 
their dioceses to the missionary, who from this point on would be 
carrying with him a collection of prohibitions and limitations in the 
ministry. For the first time he met two genuine shepherds, especially 
Bishop de Champflour, who were to show him constant and unfailing 
consideration. Holy prelates like the bishop of Poitiers and prudent 
ones like the bishop of Nantes, while keeping their esteem for Louis 
Marie, allowed themselves to be influenced by opinions adverse to the 
missionary. Both the bishops of Luçon and La Rochelle remained loyal to 
him."18 The favor the bishop of La Rochelle showed Montfort did not 
falter when faced with enemies who accused Louis Marie: "Three canons 
well versed in theology were commissioned by Bishop de Champflour to 
check Louis’s preaching and they upheld his orthodoxy. From this moment, 
the bishop gave him his complete confidence."19
On the subject of free schools for boys, a project very dear to St. 
Louis Marie’s heart, he met with Bishop de Champflour and had lengthy 
discussions with him in the spring of 1714. In the beginning of 1715, on 
the verge of completing the foundation of the girls’ schools, Montfort 
wrote to Sister Marie Louise of Jesus and Sister Conception: "I have 
spoken several times to His Lordship, the bishop of La Rochelle, about 
you and about our plans and he thinks you ought to come here and begin 
the work we want so much. He has rented a house for the purpose until 
another house can be bought and suitably furnished. . . I am writing you 
on behalf of the bishop, so keep this confidential" (L 27). On April 22 
1716, Bishop de Champflour paid a pastoral visit to Saint-Laurent-sur-
Sèvre, where Montfort was preaching his last mission. "Louis was moved. 
It was a bit like receiving his bishop in his own house. A rare 
opportunity was given him to show his loyalty and gratitude to the 
shepherd who had given him asylum and who had been a father and a friend 
to him the last five years. What turn would Father de Montfort’s life 
have taken if he had never met Bishop de Champflour? We understand the 
missionary’s excitement and his generous desire to have a celebration 
for his guest."20 The saint died six days after the bishop’s visit. In 
his will of April 27, 1716, Montfort left the bishop of La Rochelle and 
Father Mulot his personal property and mission books (W). 
i. Monseigneur Le Pileur, Bishop of Saintes (d. 1726). 
On his return trip to Paris via La Rochelle, Montfort stopped in 1713 
to preach in the parish of Vanneau in the diocese of Saintes. He was in 
the middle of the mission when the bishop, unfavorably informed about 
the missionary, withdrew from Montfort the right to exercise his 
ministry. Only the intervention of the pastor succeeded in keeping the 
mission from being interrupted.
j. Monseigneur Turpin de Grissé de Sanzai, Bishop of Rennes. 
In the spring of 1714, Montfort took a trip to Rouen where he wanted 
to meet his friend Blain. He made a long stop at Rennes and asked the 
bishop for permission to preach, but to no avail. He ended up by making 
an eight day retreat with the Jesuits.
k. François Rolland de Coètanfao, Bishop of Avranches (d. 1720). 
After leaving Rennes, Montfort continued on to Avranches, arriving 
there on August 14, Assumption Eve. "The next day he presented himself 
to the bishop with the testimonial letters of Bishop de Champflour, but 
he met with a bitter surprise. The bishop forbade him to say Mass, and 
this on Mary’s solemnity. A desperate ride on a horse rented for the 
moment brought Louis Marie outside the inhospitable diocese. He arrived 
before noon at Villedieu-les-Poêles in time to beg the bewildered pastor 
to allow him to celebrate Mass."21

 

l. Monseigneur François de Nesmond, Bishop of Bayeux (d. 1715). 
"The next stopping place (after Avranches) was Caen in the diocese of 
Bayeux, which was hosting its bishop, François de Nesmond. After the 
recent refusals he had met with, Louis found in this prelate a fatherly 
welcome and an invitation to stay in the town to exercise his 
ministry."22
2. An evaluation.
a. Montfort’s obedience. 
Montfort always worked in complete compliance with the bishops in the 
dioceses to which he was called; it is not known of any time that he did 
anything contrary to their orders.23 His obedience was never a mere 
"obsequious silence." Obedience, seen in the light of God’s will, caused 
Montfort’s initiatives to mature "through the unpredictable changes 
between the great deeds and the weaknesses of the Church in its 
historical expression";24 it also made his own missionary activity all 
the more zealous without ever allowing that holy inner freedom to fade 
out. Like any disciple of Christ, "he learned obedience in the school of 
suffering" (Heb 5:8). "This man, who at Saint-Sulpice learned to obey . 
. . had continually to risk anew the confrontation of his charism with 
the institution in a painful tension of unity."25 In this sense, it also 
appears that there was a development in Montfort’s attitudes. The day 
after one of the most frustrating experiences Montfort ever had, the 
demolition of the Calvary of Pontchâteau, Pierre des Bastières said: "I 
thought I would find him overcome with sorrow . . . But I was quite 
surprised when I saw him happier and more content than I who needed 
consolation more than he did."26
b. Montfort’s persecution. 
How then can it be explained that a great number of the bishops Montfort 
encountered made him leave their dioceses like a priest in disgrace? If 
it is true that "the fate of some saints in their lifetime is one of the 
darkest mysteries of the Church,"27 it must also be acknowledged that 
these difficulties with the hierarchy are almost impossible for the 
biographer to explain. "Looking at all the solutions attempted," said 
Henri Daniel, "without any one of them being fully satisfying, we might 
wonder whether it is simply beyond solution. Yet however disturbing it 
may be, it is of such significance that we have to face up to it and not 
minimize it . . . several of the ecclesiastical authorities [who 
expelled Montfort] are rightly remembered with veneration."28 The same 
author then proposes his own solution according to which none of the 
measures taken by the bishops against Montfort could be attributed to 
doctrinal differences or to Jansenist intrigue. He adds that logically, 
judging him from the outside, Montfort must have seemed to be a great 
saint, or perhaps a hypocrite.
G. De Luca seems to join Henri Daniel in his "judgment of Solomon" 
when he writes, "Today we do not think we have to defend any 
eccentricity of Louis Marie’s. We do not accuse his accusers, but we do 
not think we have to excuse the saint. . . . He received public 
condemnations and prohibitions from the civil and church authorities. He 
was hunted down like a dog, he was held up to ridicule as a pretender, 
pitied and shunned like a fool. He was never cowed by such adversity and 
stayed calm, obedient, courageous and smiling. The strength of his own 
temperament changed into this new strength, the strength of 
gentleness."29
The judgment of Cardinal Tedeschini on those who did not understand 
Montfort and persecuted him seems more severe. "His enemies, these 
sterile Christians who tolerated neither adherence to the head of the 
Church nor a breath of love in the holy ministry, opposed him every step 
of the way and along with them, all those people who were influenced by 
calumny or led on by the corrupt. And among their number, unfortunately, 
as with Christ, there were not lacking certain Church authorities who 
were ill-disposed toward him, whose names I would rather not recall, and 
who took no account of the immense services Montfort rendered to 
people’s souls. On many occasions they did not hesitate to inflict on 
him the most painful suspensions for a priest, those that concerned the 
sacred ministry. They were misinformed, set against him, and God 
permitted them to do what they did; they undoubtedly intended to achieve 
a greater good. Despite all this Montfort bowed to their authority with 
humility and docility."30
The words of Daniel-Rops in regard to Montfort are à propos: "It was 
not inappropriate that the Christianity of the grand siècle be reminded 
that the theology of the Beatitudes is not one of human prudence, and 
that there is no more violent scandal than that of the cross. . . Louis 
Marie Grignion de Montfort was a loner in his time, a kind of 
unpredictable bastion of the religious life, totally outside the austere 
and rather conformist norms in which the ideal of priesthood was firmly 
set at the time. An eccentric if you will, but there have been a number 
of eccentrics in the Church who nevertheless played an important rôle in 
its life. . . . Even better, he was a fool for God."31 This is an 
explanation that pleased Grandet and Blain, the first biographers of 
Montfort. Grandet appeals to God’s law of the history of salvation (cf. 
1 Co 1:27) according to which He chooses certain saints and makes them, 
through the outpouring of the Spirit, "men of a new species," to "combat 
the false wisdom of worldly men by the apparent folly of His gospel."32 
"As a man of the absolute," De Luca adds, "Montfort lived as he 
believed."33 Montfort’s absolute obedience to the Gospel, then, 
basically explains why he was misunderstood and persecuted during his 
life.
While accepting this Gospel explanation, Montfort himself is obliged 
to add another more human one. He candidly acknowledged to Blain the 
"eccentric" ways that he came by "naturally" and which brought him the 
privilege of humiliation.34 Yet he is well aware that beyond the bounds 
of nature, every Christian life, when taken seriously, and every genuine 
proclamation of the Gospel are inseparable from the Cross. Suffering 
becomes a source of a fruitful apostolate. He admits this himself to his 
"very dear sister," Sister Catherine de Saint-Bernard, in a letter that 
has nothing pathologically self-centered about it: 
"I have forever to be on the alert, treading warily as though on 
thorns or sharp stones. I am like a ball in a game of tennis; no 
sooner am I hurled to one side than I am sent back to the other, and 
the players strike me hard. This is the fate of the poor sinner that 
I am and I have been like this without rest or respite all the 
thirteen years since leaving St. Sulpice. However, my dear sister, 
thank God for me for I am content and happy in all my troubles. I 
think there is nothing in the whole world so welcome as the most 
bitter cross, when it is steeped in the blood of Christ crucified and 
in the milk of his holy Mother. Besides this inward happiness, there 
is the great merit of carrying the crosses. I wish you could see 
mine. I have never had more conversions than after the most painful 
and unjust prohibitions" (L 26).

 

III. THE POPE AND THE BISHOPS IN MONTFORT’S WRITINGS
Montfort recognized in the "Bishop of Rome" (H 142:2) the "Vicar of 
Jesus Christ, / An organ of the Holy Spirit" (H 147:3). From this he 
draws conclusions: "Believe Jesus in His Vicar, / In all that touches on 
faith, / And take what he says as Pope / As an oracle and certain law" 
(H 6:50); "I believe what the Holy Father says, / Despite the shrewd 
hounds of hell, /He is my leader and my light, / I see nothing, he sees 
most clearly" (H 6:57). In his methods for reciting the rosary Montfort 
recalls the "faith and obedience to the pope as Vicar of Jesus Christ" 
(MR 16). And to justify the form of devotion to Mary he fosters, the 
saint appeals to the bulls and indulgences accorded to it by the popes 
(cf. SM 42) and to the "great indulgences of Gregory XV" (TD 160). He 
mentions "the different popes who have approved this devotion" (TD 163), 
adding that "no pope has condemned it" and that "it could not be 
condemned without overthrowing the foundations of Christianity" (TD 
163). Montfort also names the pontiffs who were devoted to the Holy 
Rosary: Pius V, Leo X, Gregory XIII, Julius III, Innocent III, Urban 
VIII (cf. SR 80, 93, 132). It was to Blessed Pius V, canonized on May 
12, 1712, that Montfort dedicated his Hymn 147. Montfort’s missionary 
work and his religious foundations constitute an act of obedience to the 
mission received from Clement XI in 1706. Saint Louis Marie stipulates 
that his missionaries should have people renew their baptismal promises 
in accordance with the order received from the pope (RM 56). They were 
to recite the Roman breviary (RM 31).
In evening prayer Montfort includes an act of faith: "My God, I firmly 
believe all that the Catholic, Roman and Apostolic Church believes and 
teaches, because you, the sovereign Truth, have revealed it" (NP 14). 
Montfort also urges obedience to the bishop, shepherd of the local 
Church, not only by his example but in his writing as well: "With regard 
to the government of the community they [the Daughters of Wisdom] obey 
the bishop" (RW 54). In a parallel way the missionaries of the Company 
of Mary "will obey the bishop of the diocese to which they belong, the 
Vicars-General and other ecclesiastical superiors who represent the 
bishop" (RM 22).

 

IV. RELEVANCE OF MONTFORT’S OBEDIENCE TO POPES AND BISHOPS
Obedience to the Holy See is intrinsic to Montfort spirituality. The 
same can be said of all Catholic schools of spirituality; yet, because 
of Montfort’s staunch fidelity to Rome while in the midst of Gallican 
tendencies among the French hierarchy, respect for the papal Magisterium 
is even more pronounced in his heritage. Moreover, Saint Louis Marie’s 
recourse to Pope Clement XI to resolve a fundamental crisis in his life 
is also a significant sign, not only for the communities he founded, but 
for all who follow his steps. He alludes to the famous dictum, "Roma 
locuta est, causa finita est," not only concerning pronouncements ex 
cathedra but in regard to the ordinary Magisterium of the pastor of all 
the faithful (cf. H 6:50, 57). His teaching appears to be an early 
rendition of the famous text of Vatican II: "Loyal submission of the 
will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic 
teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex 
cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be 
acknowledged with respect, and that one sincerely adhere to decisions 
made by him, conformably to his manifest mind and intention" (LG 25; cf. 
CCC 892).
Benedict XV, on the occasion of the bicentenary of Blessed Louis Marie 
de Montfort’s death (1916), summarized this aspect of Montfort 
spirituality in a handwritten letter to the Father General of the 
Montfort family: "Among the reasons that make your two communities 
(Company of Mary and Daughters of Wisdom) so respected, we mention two 
that are of special importance, that were left to you as an inheritance 
by your founder: reverence for the apostolic see and devotion to the 
Virgin Mary. A very enlightening proof of such a devotion . . . is the 
fact that your members have been in the first rank of those to be 
relentlessly ill-treated by both the Gallican and Jansenist heretics 
because they seemed so attached to the Roman pontiff and for the same 
reason they had to suffer all sorts of acts of cruelty during the French 
revolution. . . . Furthermore, these two elements [reverence for the 
apostolic see and devotion to the Virgin Mary] are closely 
interconnected: the person who truly loves Mary, being incapable of not 
loving Jesus—for through the intermediary of the Mother we go directly 
to Jesus—must for this reason have attachment and devotion to the Vicar 
of Christ."35
The bishops who expelled Saint Louis de Montfort from their dioceses, 
whatever their motives, have become witnesses to the saint’s joyful 
obedience. Although he believed that at times he was treated unjustly 
and did not hesitate to lay his case before them hoping for a change of 
decision, he obeyed when he lost his appeal—not begrudgingly, not 
bitterly, but bolstered by a week’s retreat to strengthen him, lovingly 
praising God for the occasion of such a cross. At times his reputation 
was clearly damaged by well-intentioned but irresponsible superiors, and 
the claims of his detractors that he was a fool were thereby 
strengthened. Instead of curling within himself in discouragement and 
self-pity, these so called failures became occasions of incredible 
growth. There is little doubt that it was his deep faith that endowed 
him with this ability. Saint Louis de Montfort is clearly an example to 
contemporary Christians and, in a special way, to many preachers and 
theologians who, at least in this regard, feel a close affinity with 
him.
A. Rum

 

Notes:
(1) Pius XII, "Homily on the occasion of the canonization of 
Louis-Marie de Montfort (7-21-1947)," in AAS 39 (1947) 330. (2) G. 
Martina, La Chiesa nell’età dell’assolutismo, del liberalismo, del 
totalitarismo. Da Lutero ai nostri giorni (The Church in the Age of 
Absolutism, Liberalism, Totalitarianism: From Luther to Our Times), 
Morcelliana, Brescia 1974, 364. (3) Ibid., 332. (4) B. Papàsogli, 
L’homme venu du vent. Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Bellarmin, 
Montréal 1984, 247. English translation: Montfort, A Prophet for Our 
Times, Edizioni, Monfortane, Rome, 1991. (5) G. Martina, La Chiesa, 187. 
(6) G. De Luca, Luigi Maria Grignion de Montfort. Saggio biografico, 
Edizioni di storia e letteratura, Rome 1985, 203. (7) Quoted in OC, 25, 
n. 1. (8) De Fiores, 251. On Bishop de Saint-Vallier, cf. Anon., 
Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier et l’hôpital général de Québec (Bishop de 
Saint-Vallier and the Gereral Hospital of Quebec), Darveau, Québec 1882;  
T. Ronsin, Le Bx de Montfort et Mgr de Saint-Vallier (Blessed De 
Montfort and Bishop de Saint-Vallier), in Messager de Marie reine des 
coeurs 30 (1933) 271–76. (9) Papàsogli, 167. On this bishop cf. G.-J.-C. 
Paulze-d’Ivoy de la Poype, Un évêque de Poitiers au XVIIe siècle, Mgr 
J.-Cl. de la Poype de Vertrieu (A Bishop of Poitiers in the 17th 
Century: J.C. de la Poype de Vertrieu), Poitiers 1889. (10) Papàsogli, 
173–74. When Montfort’s biographers speak of the "prohibitions" to which 
he was subjected, they do not mean to say that he received some 
particular ecclesiastical censure that is defined by the word 
"interdict": cf. the note of Cardinal Villecourt in A. Pauvert, Vie du 
vénérable Louis-Marie Grignion e Montfort, Oudin, Paris-Poitiers 1875, 
643. (11) Papàsogli, 228–29. (12) Ibid, 228-229. (13) Ibid, 230. (14) 
Ibid, 231. (15) Ibid, 272. (16) Ibid. (17) On the drama of Pontchâteau, 
we have given a summary here of pages 297–300 of Papàsogli. (18) 
Papàsogli, 307. (19) Papàsogli, 310. On this bishop cf. A. de Lantenay, 
Étienne de Champflour, évêque de La Rochelle, avant son épiscopat. 
Mélange de biographie et d’histoire (Stephen de Campflour, Bishop of La 
Rochelle Before His Episcopate: Both Biography and History), Bordeaux 
1885; L. Pérouas, Le diocèse de La Rochelle de 1648 à 1724 (The Diocese 
of La Rochelle from 1648 to 1724), Sociologie et pastorale, Paris 1964, 
256–397. (20) Papàsogli, 411. (21) Papàsogli, 368–69. (22) Papàsogli, 
369. (23) Grandet, 339. (24) Papàsogli, 178. (25) Papàsogli, 231. (26) 
Grandet, 304. (27) I. Silone, L’avventura di un povero cristiano (The 
Adventure of a Poor Christian), Mondadori, Milano 1968, 181. (28) H. 
Daniel, Saint Louis-Marie Grignion e Montfort. Ce qu’il fut, ce qu’il 
fît (St. Louis de Montfort: Who He was and What He Did), Téqui, Toulouse 
1967, 12. (29) De Luca, 237, 233. (30) Card. F. Tedeschini, Discorso 
inaugurale in lode di San Luigi Maria di Montfort  (Inaugural Discourse 
in Praise of St. Louis Marie de Montfort), (December 8, 1948), Typ. Pio 
X, Roma, 28–29. (31) H. Daniel-Rops, L’Église des temps classiques. Le 
grand siècle des âmes, Fayard (The Church of Classical Times. The grande 
siécle of souls), Paris 1958, 330. (32) Grandet, preface. (33) De Luca, 
234. (34) Blain, 184–90. (35) Benedict XV, "Letter to Fr. Antonin 
Lhoumeau," April 19, 1916, in AAS 8 (1916) 172–73.

 


Taken from: Jesus Living in Mary: Handbook of the Spirituality of St.
Louis de Montfort (Litchfield, CT: Montfort Publications, 1994).
Provided courtesy of the Montfort Fathers © All Rights Reserved.

 

Electronic Copyright © 1998 EWTN
All Rights Reserved
.
Provided Courtesy of:
Eternal Word Television Network
5817 Old Leeds Road
Irondale, AL 35210
www.ewtn.com