JESUS LIVING IN MARY:
HANDBOOK OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT
TRUE DEVOTION

Summary
I.	The Origins of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin: 
	1.	The Notebook; 
	2.	The use of the Notebook; 
	3.	The use of the Fathers and Scripture; 
	4.	How Montfort used his sources in True Devotion. 
II.	Observations on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin: 
	1.	The manuscript: 
		a.	Discovery of the manuscript; 
		b.	Condition of the manuscript; 
		c.	Date and place of composition; 
		d.	Intended readers; 
	2.	The title and divisions in the various editions: 
		a.	From the first editions until today; 
		b.	Observations on the editions. 
III.	Analysis and Principal Content: 
	1.	First part: True Devotion to Mary (1–117): 
		a.	Introduction; 
		b.	“God has decided to begin and accomplish His greatest 
			works through the Blessed Virgin” (14–36); 
		c.	The necessity of devotion to Mary (37–59); 
		d.	Basic truths of devotion to Mary (60–89); 
		e.	Choosing and practicing true devotion to Mary (90–	
			117); 
	2.	Second part: The perfect practice of true devotion (118–	
		273): 
		a.	The perfect consecration to Jesus Christ (120–134);
		b.	“The motives which recommend this” (135–182); 
		c.	The Biblical representation of this devotion: Rebecca 
			and Jacob (183–212); 
		d.	“Wonderful effects of this devotion” (213–225); 
		e.	“Particular practices of this devotion” (226–265); 
	3.	Some general remarks: 
		a.	True devotion and perfect practice; 
		b.	The missionary dimension of Marian devotion; 
		c.	Marian devotion and Christian life; 
		d.	Receiving Mary’s spiritual maternity. 
IV.	“True Devotion To The Blessed Virgin” and Contemporary 
	Christianity: 
	1.	Chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium and true devotion to Mary; 
	2.	True devotion to the Blessed Virgin and John Paul II: 
		a.	The Marian piety of Karol Wojtyla and true devotion; 
		b.	The official teaching of John Paul II. 
V.	Conclusion.

True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, considered by most to be the 
masterpiece of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, is undeniably the work 
that has most effectively spread his name and the specific devotion to 
Mary that marked his spiritual journey. This article will deal briefly 
with the sources of the book, its contents, and its relevance for 
contemporary men and women.

 

I. THE ORIGINS OF TRUE DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN
The development of Saint Louis Marie’s personal devotion to Our Lady is 
well documented in the Handbook (cf. articles on Saint Louis de 
Montfort, Mary, and Consecration). We will limit ourselves, therefore, 
to a study of the written sources of the TD.
“Having read nearly every book on devotion to the Blessed Virgin” (TD 
118); “I shall quote one only of the many passages which I have 
collected from the Fathers and Doctors of the Church” (TD 41). Montfort 
accumulated a significant amount of literature. As Librarian at Saint-
Sulpice he could take advantage of his privileged circumstances and 
consult the works that interested him.1
1. The Notebook
Montfort’s notebook (N) has proven exceptionally useful in identifying 
his sources. Through patient research, Father P.H. Eyckeler has 
succeeded in tracing the majority of passages that Montfort copied or 
summarized in his notebook to their original authors, so that we can see 
the authors from whom Montfort borrowed and who contributed 
indirectly to True Devotion.2 Study of the notebook reveals Montfort’s 
preoccupations while he kept it. Several broad fields of interest 
emerge: general information on Marian doctrine, such as is found in 
Poiré (whose influence is scattered throughout TD); the necessity of 
true devotion and the signs of true and false devotion (from Crasset); 
responses to those who object to devotion to the Holy Virgin in general 
and holy slavery in particular, as well as arguments in support of such 
devotion (from Crasset, from whom Montfort gathered considerable 
Patristic documentation, and from others such as Grenier and the 
Capuchin d’Argentan); and passages referring to some particular issue 
discussed in TD, e.g., devotion to the Virgin as a sign of 
predestination (from d’Argentan, Carthagena, Bourgoing, Boissieu, 
Nicquet, and others), the particularly important theme of “Jesus living 
in Mary” and the Incarnation (from d’Argentan, Bourgoing, Olier, and 
others), the communion of Mary or, as it becomes in TD, with Mary (from 
Bernardine of Paris and Boissieu), consecration and the baptismal vows 
(from Bérulle). Toward the end of the notebook there are texts that 
testify to his interest in Jesus as the center and consummation of the 
spiritual life (notably from Saint-Jure and Nepveu).3
2. The use of the Notebook 
There are several important observations to be made on Montfort’s use 
of his notebook as he composed the book that is now called True Devotion 
to the Blessed Virgin.
To begin with, it is interesting to discover which texts Montfort 
chose to use and which he ignored in the authors he consulted. On one 
hand, he chose texts based on his own interests (and we know that he was 
more interested in what bore directly on the spiritual life rather than 
in the purely speculative); on the other hand, his spiritual intuition, 
applied to balanced theology, led him to put aside some exaggerated 
material (as can be found notably in Poiré). Certainly not everything 
that he copied into his notebook found its way into TD.4 His deepening 
personal and pastoral experience enabled him to sort his texts and 
choose what he needed. As a result, we cannot draw a pure and simple 
connection between his text and his sources.
In addition, the extent to which St. Louis Marie was genuinely 
influenced by the authors we find in his notebook is not proportional to 
the amount of space they occupy there,5 nor to the number of direct 
references to their work in the text of TD.6 There are some works that 
Montfort read that were especially influential for him but that are 
mentioned very little in his writing or not at all, such as Boudon’s 
book, God Alone, or the Holy Slavery of the Admirable Mother of God.7
Finally, we must still return to the authors’ original texts to 
determine what Montfort chose to adopt and what he passed over, and to 
understand the meaning of the “summaries” that he occasionally composed 
instead.8 This task can sometimes illuminate the meaning these authors 
gave to words such as “predestined” or “predestination.” Boissieu or 
D’Argentan argued that, without prejudicing the sovereign and mysterious 
action of God, predestination to salvation, which God desires for all 
mankind because “God desires that all men should be saved,” requires the 
freely given response of mankind. Those who accept grace are thus 
“predestined,” whereas those who refuse it fall into “reprobation.” 
Rather than attempt to discover predestination in God (where it is and 
will remain for us an unfathomable mystery), they prefer to examine it 
at the existential level, stating that predestination and reprobation 
appear to depend on the will of mankind.9 With this we can see much more 
clearly how St. Louis de Montfort (who had no need to become involved in 
theoretical considerations on this subject) uses these words, 
particularly when he speaks of devotion to Mary as a preeminent mark of 
predestination.
3. The use of the Fathers and Scripture 
The importance that Montfort attached to Scripture and the Tradition is 
evident. Most of the patristic references in TD can be found in the 
works cited in N, notably in Crasset;10 a number of Scripture passages 
are also taken from those works.
4. How Montfort used his sources in TD 
When we see the abundance and the precision of the documentation on 
which Montfort drew,11 it is tempting to wonder whether TD is not simply 
a compilation of many different authors whose works Montfort more or 
less plundered. However, this is not the case.
First of all, we have seen how Montfort selectively chose his texts 
while compiling his documentation. This was one way of putting his own 
imprint on the material he collected. His information also reveals one 
of his abiding traits in all its richness: he would listen and learn, 
and he wanted to obey, but his obedience was never blindly conformist. 
He perceived the world around him in a way that was part of his nature 
but that also derived from a spiritual intuition connected to the 
inspiration of the Spirit: Montfort emerges as a true mystic. His 
readings nourished him spiritually, but to some extent they were 
filtered through his own experience. And as he progressed in his 
journey, his ability to discern what could be integrated into his 
personal synthesis and what would allow him to convey that synthesis 
continued to grow. In TD he presents us with the product of his 
rumination and assimilation, renewed and developed,12 so that it became 
“his own”; his work is personal and, on a number of points, original.

 

II.  OBSERVATIONS ON TRUE DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN
The manuscript has its own history and is itself capable of speaking to 
us; likewise, the way in which it has been edited reveals how the book 
has been understood at different points of its history.
1. The manuscript
a.   Discovery of the manuscript. 
On April 22, 1842, a Montfort father, Father Rautureau, the librarian 
at the Mother House in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, discovered a manuscript 
that attracted his attention; on looking at it more closely he 
immediately recognized the stamp of Father de Montfort. The superior 
general at the time, Father Dalin, identified the handwriting as that of 
Father de Montfort and, when he had become aware of the manuscript’s 
contents, declared to the congregation, “We have found a treasure!” He 
was right.13 How could such a treasure have lain in oblivion for more 
than a century? For reasons we do not know, Father Montfort never 
published it, although his intention as he wrote the book was certainly 
to bring it before the public (TD 112). Why did Montfort’s earliest 
successors neglect to carry out this project? We have no answer to that 
question, but history tells us that it was through neither oversight nor 
disaffection with the Marian aspect of the founder’s spirituality: they 
faithfully respected Mary’s role in their missions;14 among the 
Daughters of Wisdom, Marie Louise of Jesus would in no way renounce this 
inheritance.15 In any case, during the French Revolution the manuscript 
was entrusted to some local farmers, along with some other items that 
were thought to be in danger of being destroyed, and was buried in 
trunks underground, lending prophetic significance to the following 
passage in the book: “I clearly foresee that raging beasts will come in 
fury to tear to pieces with their diabolical teeth this little book and 
the one the Holy Spirit made use of to write it, or they will cause it 
at least to lie hidden in the darkness and silence of a chest and so 
prevent it from seeing the light of day” (TD 114).
b.   Condition of the manuscript. 
Evidence suggests that the manuscript is materially incomplete.16 The 
editors of the Complete Works calculated that somewhere between eighty-
four and ninety-six pages must be missing from the beginning of the 
work.17 Must we conclude that we have only a portion of the book that 
this holy missionary wrote? An internal examination suggests as much. On 
three occasions the text refers to the first part of the book: in TD 227 
(“as I have recommended in the first part of this preparation for the 
reign of Jesus Christ”), again in TD 228 (“Every day they should say the 
Litany of the Holy Spirit, with the prayer that follows, as indicated in 
the first part of this work”), and in a further reference to the “first 
part” in TD 256. In addition, in TD 230, Montfort speaks of “the prayer 
of Saint Augustine which they will find at the beginning of the second 
part of this book,” although in fact this prayer is at TD 67. Add to 
this that the manuscript we possess has no title (which is not typical 
of Montfort), and we can scarcely avoid concluding that a “first part” 
has been lost and that, based on what we read in TD 227, the entire work 
was to be a “preparation for the reign of Jesus Christ.” This confirms 
the essentially Christological objective of Marian devotion in general, 
and its perfect practice, as Montfort describes them.
The manuscript may be truncated at its end as well as at its 
beginning. TD 231 and 236 give rise to this suspicion, because they 
refer, respectively, to an “act of consecration” and to a blessing for 
little chains, said to be found “at the end of this book,” like the 
method for communion which can in fact be found at the end of TD. 
Also, the manuscript includes only five subtitles, and the first does 
not appear until TD 120.18
c.   Date and place of composition. 
The few elements that give us a clue as to the book’s date and place 
of composition are derived from internal examination and can only be 
considered approximations. The first reference is the following 
statement from Montfort: “I have taken up my pen to write down what I 
have been teaching with success both publicly and in private in my 
missions for many years” (TD 110). One senses that Montfort has such 
command of his subject that, as soon as he has taken up his pen, the 
words and sentences flow effortlessly. In addition, the work is so well 
organized that it suggests long meditation. This leads us to the 
conclusion that it was a work of St. Louis Marie’s maturity.
We cannot conclude much from the allusion in TD 159 to the death of 
Father Boudon (“who died a short time ago”) in 1702. The phrase is 
simply too vague.
How long did it take Montfort to write the work? The hypothesis that 
it was largely written in one continuous burst of inspiration is not 
unlikely.19 The book would have to have been written during an 
adequately long period of tranquillity in the missionary’s life. The 
autumn of 1712, when he sojourned at the hermitage of St. Éloi in La 
Rochelle, was one such period. That is “the date that has traditionally 
been favored.”20
d.   Intended readers. 
Montfort spoke of his intention of addressing his book to “the poor 
and simple” rather than to “the so-called intellectuals” (TD 26). He did 
not aim his work at an educated or cultural elite. He used a relatively 
simple style and vocabulary, and a method of argumentation that is 
largely accessible. Our saint undoubtedly merits the title of a born 
mediator between scholarly religion and popular religion.21 Even today, 
experience demonstrates that he accomplished his objective: many persons 
of simple faith find themselves completely at ease with the text of TD. 
He also fulfilled another objective, probably unintentionally: his book 
has unfailingly given rise to interest from and reflection by 
theologians, who continue to find it profoundly rich and contemporary.
2. The Title and Divisions of the Various Editions
a.   From the first editions until today. 
Since 1842, the year it was discovered, publication of the manuscript 
has been an ongoing preoccupation. “Permission” was granted by René-
François Soyer, bishop of Luçon, on December 18, 1842, and the work 
appeared in 1843. The person responsible for this first edition was “a 
Director of the Seminary of Luçon,” now identified as Augustin Grillard, 
who entered the Company of Mary on October 6, 1851.22 The first editors 
chose the title by which the book is universally known today, Treatise 
on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. They also divided the book into 
sections in order to make it more accessible: after an “Introduction” 
(1–13), they proposed a “First part. On devotion to the Blessed Virgin 
in general” (14–114), followed by a “Second part. On the most excellent 
devotion to the Blessed Virgin, or the perfect consecration to Jesus 
through Mary” (corresponding to 115–273).
This division points to the distinction between “true devotion” (the 
object of the first part) and “perfect practice of true devotion,” i.e., 
“total consecration of oneself to Jesus by the hands of Mary,” or “holy 
slavery,” according to Montfort (the object of the second part). In 
light of this, the title Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin 
seems completely appropriate, because it does not solely encompass 
either “true devotion to the Blessed Virgin” or the “perfect practice” 
of this devotion.
In 1921, a new French edition appeared,23 divided differently, with “a 
system of progressive numbering.”24 In place of the two parts of the 
previous editions there were eight successive chapters, with an 
Introduction (1–13) and a supplement (266–273). Although there were 
reasons for making these modifications, they do not seem to have put a 
stop to an evolution in expression that was already in progress and that 
would not be without consequence: “true devotion” had come to be 
discussed entirely in terms of its “perfect practice.” This is not an 
unusual phenomenon in language: a generic term that is used to apply to 
a whole, eventually comes to refer to an essential element of that 
whole. The initiated can grasp the correct meaning (one hopes), but 
others may become lost. It is not at all difficult to find multiple 
examples of this kind of drift in meaning.25
With the 1966 edition of the French Complete Works, we come to a third 
stage. The traditional title was retained; “however, we thought it 
useful to add as a subtitle for the work, the description that Father de 
Montfort himself used, in TD 127: ‘Preparation for the Reign of Jesus 
Christ.’“ 26 This has the advantage of emphasizing the Christological 
objective of the work. The editors once again divided the book into two 
parts: “Necessity of devotion to Our Lady” (1–59), and “In what devotion 
to Mary consists” (60–265), with a “Supplement: Method of practicing 
this devotion at Holy Communion” (266–273).
There were evident and worthwhile reasons for choosing this approach. 
One can still argue that the divisions adopted by the book’s first 
editors ought for the most part to be retained, in order to highlight 
the book’s structure. The work would then be ordered as follows: I. True 
devotion to the Blessed Virgin (1–117): 1. Necessity of devotion to Our 
Lady (1–59), 2. In what devotion to Mary consists (60–117); II. The 
perfect practice of devotion to Mary (or: The way of Montfort) (118–
273), with the same divisions that are found in GA.
In this way, two important points would immediately be made clear. The 
first is the fundamental distinction between “true devotion” and its 
“perfect practice.” The second is that the original cast of Montfort’s 
mind, as it is displayed throughout the book, including the first part 
(if we assume that what is missing is equally specific), is evidence of 
a personal method for understanding and presenting consecration in holy 
slavery, so that it becomes his own, in a sense, and he can present “the 
perfect practice of true devotion” as an authentic spiritual path.27
b.   Observations on the editions. 
In 1902 there were sixty-seven editions of TD in eight languages; in 
1956, there were 253 editions in eighteen languages. We can form an idea 
of the amazing international distribution of TD through a brief sampling 
of some publication figures for 1902 and 1956, not counting editions 
published by the Montfort missionaries: In Germany/Switzerland/Austria, 
there were five editions in 1902 and in 1956, twenty. In England, there 
were nineteen editions in 1902 and in 1956, thirty. In America, there 
were three editions before 1902 and about a dozen editions in 1956. The 
same trend is true for the Netherlands and Italy, not to mention the 
Spanish-speaking countries. In addition, there have been editions of 
Montfort’s writings in fifteen countries where the Montfort community 
has never had a presence.28 This is notable, because it demonstrates 
that others, outside of the Montfort family, have undertaken to spread 
the word about the Marian way of Montfort, which is all to the good. 
Although the Montfort family recognizes that its founder’s message 
belongs to the entire Church, it must also be aware that the family of 
Saint Louis Marie is the living custodian of the treasure. It does, 
therefore, fall to the Montfort community to ensure, as far as possible, 
that the purity of this message be respected and, in particular, that it 
not be used for partisan or sectarian ends, as it sometimes, unhappily 
and deplorably, has been.
At the time of writing, there are about four hundred editions in more 
than thirty languages. The momentum of the book worldwide shows no sign 
of slowing down.
To what is this success due? We can attribute it partly to the 
intrinsic value and universality of Montfort’s work. It can also be 
attributed to the concordance—especially evident today—between the crux 
of de Montfort’s doctrine and the teaching of the Magisterium. 

 

III. ANALYSIS AND PRINCIPAL CONTENT 
In order to analyze the major teachings of TD, we will follow the 
divisions proposed in GA, except with respect to the two principal 
parts.
1. First part: true devotion to Mary (TD 1–117) 
a.   Introduction (TD 1–13). 
TD 1–13 can be better understood if the reader keeps in mind that they 
were to introduce a second part, the “Preparation for the Reign of Jesus 
Christ,” and that as a result they are joined to what was to have 
preceded them. The main reason that Montfort speaks of Mary, which he 
does “with special joy” (TD 13), is that it is through Mary that Christ 
must become known (TD 13) and through Mary that he must come to reign 
more and more, because it is through her that he “came into the world” 
(TD 1, 13). We can already see here the principal lines of approach that 
Montfort will develop: Mary’s reason for being, and thus Father de 
Montfort’s reason for speaking of her, is Jesus Christ; Mary’s essential 
link with her Son, and the reason for her role in the coming of Christ’s 
kingdom, can be found in the mystery of the Incarnation. Thus, as Mary 
becomes better known in all her wealth and splendor, as God made her and 
reveals her to us (because only He knows her [TD 2–6, 10–13]) so too 
will Jesus become better known. It is from this perspective that 
Montfort can adopt for his own purposes the De Maria nunquam satis, but 
his context insures him against an excessive application of the axiom, 
because he is already speaking of fundamental first truths (TD 61–89). 
This Christological absolutism, which he early on asserts quite 
strongly, gives St. Louis Marie’s text a tone that illuminates all true 
Marian devotion.29
b.   “God has decided to begin and accomplish his greatest works 
through the Blessed Virgin” (TD 14-36). 
TD 14 and 15 have the value of fundamental truths, not to be 
forgotten. Montfort tells us that “God has decided to begin and 
accomplish his greatest works through the Blessed Virgin.” But he 
immediately affirms that, whatever Mary’s greatness and however 
important a role we must acknowledge for her in carrying out the plan of 
salvation, she owes all to God, Who gives in absolute gratuitousness, 
and Who has no need except that which originates in His will. Because 
God is God, the place that Mary holds in the realization of the 
Incarnation indicates for us the place she must always hold in carrying 
out the plan of salvation.
What then is Mary’s role in the Incarnation? The three Persons have 
freely decided that They need her to play a role in an association 
wherein her dignity and responsibility are perfectly respected (TD 16). 
But Montfort goes considerably further, tying Mary’s maternity toward 
the Word made flesh to her maternity of grace toward us, always 
conforming to the design of the three divine Persons and dependent on 
their action (TD 17-22). Here again we see—and his notebook confirms—how 
Montfort drew on the ideas of the authors he had studied but gave those 
ideas an expression and strength that were entirely his own.
TD 22 is itself a small masterwork of profundity, concision, and 
preciseness. In it, Montfort seeks the light within the mystery of the 
Incarnation that will allow him to affirm that Mary’s maternal mission 
toward us will continue “to the end of time until the last coming of 
Jesus Christ”; for him, in effect, the entire plan of salvation is 
carried out according to what might be called “the law of the 
Incarnation,” and this law requires Mary’s presence and maternal action. 
Therefore, Mary receives from the three divine Persons all that is 
necessary for her to fill the maternal mission toward us with which she 
has been entrusted (TD 23–36).
We should note several things here. The first is the importance of the 
Trinitarian aspect, which becomes all the more forceful as the three 
divine Persons are perceived concretely through their action in Mary, 
and this action is completely directed toward our salvation. If we read 
closely, we will realize that God’s love and attention toward Mary are 
the sign and token of His love for us. Here as elsewhere when he 
grapples with other mysteries of faith, the Father from Montfort draws 
his inspiration above all from the “economy,” i.e., the history of 
salvation, as his frequent study of the Fathers and Scripture in 
particular has revealed it to him. We find in Montfort an excellent 
example of living Trinitarian theology.
Second, St. Louis Marie does a remarkable job of explaining and 
locating the association of Mary and the Holy Spirit, which allows him 
to describe its most profound consequences for spiritual life in general 
(TD 34–36, 43), for what Montfort calls “the apostles of the end times” 
(TD 49, 57), and for all those who wish to undertake perfect practice of 
true devotion (cf., e.g., TD 258–59). We can trace this inspiration to 
the Bérullian tradition, with which he was in contact through Saint 
Sulpice, but which he raised to a quite extraordinary level (prompting 
Cardinal Suenens to say, “Montfort has written pages on the subject of 
the relationship between the Holy Spirit and Mary that have never been 
equaled”30). In this way, he gives the title “Spouse of the Holy 
Spirit,” which was common among other authors and of which he is 
especially fond, a new meaning for the tradition of spiritual maternity. 
For Montfort, the completely spiritual association of the Spirit and 
Mary, by which they carry out the Incarnation, can only continue and 
lead in time to their giving birth to the whole Christ, i.e., Christ as 
the Head of the Body and us, its members.31
c.   The necessity of devotion to Mary (TD 37–59). 
Mary is necessary to us because God has freely willed that she 
should be. This conclusion follows naturally from what has been said 
before (TD 39), but, because Montfort knows well that what should be 
obvious will nonetheless be disputed, he gives several arguments (TD 
43–45). Then he discusses two consequences of this. First, the more 
one is called “to a special perfection,” the greater is one’s need 
for Mary (TD 43–45). Second, as the battle against the forces of evil 
grows fiercer, Mary’s presence and aid will become even more 
necessary (TD 46–59).
d.   Basic truths of devotion to Mary (TD 60–89). 
The “truths” that Montfort presents, “basic” to all true devotion to 
Mary, are all the more valuable for “the remarkable and sound devotion” 
that he wishes to teach us (TD 60), and which he calls “the perfect 
practice of true devotion.”
The “first principle” expresses Father de Montfort’s Christological 
absolutism with a force, even a vehemence, that would be difficult to 
equal (TD 61–62). In effect, it is respect for this first truth that 
justifies “all devotion,” but it also allows Montfort to propose, later 
on, its most extreme possible consequences. We should note the degree to 
which Montfort unburdens his heart in 65–67, which are written in a 
confidential tone.
Similarly, the “second principle”—“We belong to Jesus and Mary as 
their slaves” (TD 68–77)—also has general implications for all Marian 
devotion, but it finds its ultimate application in holy slavery, as 
presented by Montfort. Here again, Jesus is primary, in an absolute 
sense. Mary’s “relative” place with respect to Jesus is once again 
underscored with remarkable theological accuracy (TD 74). It is worth 
mentioning that Montfort, as if carried away by his own impetus, already 
begins to justify his conception of holy slavery (TD 75–77).32
The three other “principles” (TD 78–89) may require commentary because 
of their manner of expression, since they are influenced by the cultural 
climate in which the saint evolved, as should be expected. But we must 
be careful not to allow the basic truths they contain to slip away from 
us, even if they prove shocking to a contemporary mentality.
e.   Choosing and practicing true devotion to Mary (TD 90–117). 
We can only emphasize the accuracy of Montfort’s observations on false 
devotion (TD 92–104). They may have been inspired by Crasset and 
Tronson, but they bear the stamp of Montfort, including his style. This 
is also true of the “marks of authentic devotion” (TD 105–14) and the 
“principal practices” (TD 115–17).
Observe that, for Montfort, by virtue of these principles, all “true” 
devotion to Mary must be closely joined to Christian life and its demands.
2. Second part: the Perfect practice of true devotion (TD 118-273) 
Here we have arrived where Montfort has been leading us: to “the perfect 
practice of true devotion,” his own path, which he owes to the legacy he 
inherited from his precursors and his own additions to that legacy.33 We 
should note how, in TD 119, he acknowledges that there are degrees of 
this devotion, and also that we can only attain the fullness of such 
devotion through the Spirit of Jesus.
a.   “The perfect consecration to Jesus Christ” (TD 120–34).34 
This is the first subtitle from Montfort’s own hand: it refers to the 
perfect practice of devotion to the Blessed Virgin who will lead us 
perfectly to Jesus, in accordance with the first principle of all true 
devotion. Our explicit and absolute completion in Christ is, as we have 
previously noted, one of Montfort’s principal contributions, allowing 
him to push the gift of oneself to Mary and dependence on Mary to their 
ultimate consequences.35
The objective is to advance toward union with Jesus, in which Christian 
perfection consists. “Now, of all God’s creatures Mary is the most 
conformed to Jesus. It therefore follows that, of all devotions, 
devotion to her makes for the most effective consecration and conformity 
to him . . . ‘That is why perfect consecration to Jesus is but a perfect 
and complete consecration of oneself to the Blessed Virgin, which is the 
devotion I teach; or in other words, it is the perfect renewal of the 
vows and promises of holy baptism’“ (TD 120).36 We now find ourselves at 
the very heart of the Christian life, centered on Christ and established 
by baptism and the promises it entails (cf. TD 126–131).
In order to “belong entirely to Jesus Christ” through Mary, one’s gift 
of oneself must be total and absolute. With a precision and 
meticulousness that invite us to take him very seriously, Montfort 
explains exactly what this gift consists of (TD 121). It is so radical 
as to include surrendering our “merits,” insofar as this is possible (TD 
122–23). However, the “totality” of this gift does not conflict in any 
way with the obligations of our “state of life” (TD 124).
But how can we address such a gift to Mary? It seems to involve an act 
of latria that ought only to be addressed to God.37 In a few 
authoritative words, Montfort responds to this objection: if the gift of 
oneself to Mary and to Jesus is identical in extent, it is not identical 
in its nature. This gift does not stop with Mary, but passes through 
her, because she is “the perfect means to unite himself to us and unite 
us to him,” so that we may reach Jesus, “our last end. Since he is our 
Redeemer and our God we are indebted to him for all that we are.” It 
follows that “we consecrate ourselves at one and the same time [i.e., by 
the same act] to Mary and to Jesus” (TD 125). This is extremely 
important. If we do not understand that this complete gift of oneself 
must finally be addressed to Jesus Christ, we are not truly 
understanding St. Louis de Montfort. Neither is our understanding 
complete if we think that we can make this radical consecration to Mary 
alone, for in that event we would open ourselves to charges of 
“mariolatry.” Nor is our understanding complete if we see in Montfort’s 
formulas only a manner of speaking that should not be taken literally, 
for in that case we would rob the act of consecration of its content. In 
each case, we are distancing ourselves from Montfort, who, more than his 
predecessors, was adept at finding the right expressions and making 
accurate explanations.
b.   “The motives which recommend this devotion” (TD 135–82). 
This section, in which Montfort discusses reasons for undertaking this 
“perfect practice,” does not require particular comment. We need only 
emphasize the importance of the second motive: this devotion “helps us 
to imitate Christ” (TD 139–40). Regardless of whether a given “spiritual 
path” integrates every other essential element of Christian life, none 
is worthy of the name if it does not acknowledge the value to be gained 
in imitating Christ. Submission to Mary is a true but not the only 
element of Montfort spirituality; to some extent it gives this 
spirituality its “evangelical” basis.38 The fifth motive runs along the 
same lines: “This devotion is a smooth, short, perfect, and sure way of 
attaining union with our Lord, in which Christian perfection consists” 
(TD 152–68). Here we are invited to imitate Jesus by following the same 
path that he took to come to us. Note the care that Montfort takes to 
show, like Boudon (or Jobert) before him, that this devotion is rooted 
in the Christian tradition.
c.   The Biblical representation of this perfect devotion: Rebecca and 
Jacob (TD 183–212). 
Montfort consciously distinguishes between the story of Rebecca and 
Jacob “as the Holy Spirit tells it” and his own account of the story (TD 
183). This account allows him to return to two themes that are dear to 
him: devotion to Mary as a sign of predestination, and Mary’s maternal 
devotion to her children and the “good services” that she renders to 
them (TD 185-212).
d.  “Wonderful effects of this devotion” (TD 213–25). 
The section on the “wonderful effects” that “this devotion” must 
produce if it is faithfully undertaken, can be read as Montfort’s 
personal testimony of his own experience. He felt these effects, from 
the humility that true knowledge of oneself brings (TD 213), to “a share 
in Mary’s faith” (TD 214), “the gift of pure love” (TD 215), “great 
confidence in God and in Mary” (TD 216), the “communication of the 
spirit of Mary” (TD 217), our “transformation into the likeness of 
Jesus” through Mary, with the remarkable image of the “mold of Mary” (TD 
218–21), and finally, “the greater glory of Christ” (TD 222–25). It is 
here especially that we can speak of a spiritual “self-portrait.”
e.   “Particular practices of this devotion” (TD 226–265). 
Montfort himself does not insist on the distinction between “exterior 
practices” (TD 226– 56) and “interior practices” (TD 257–66).
The first exterior practice he speaks of is the solemn act of 
consecration. We must be suitably prepared for this, and the preparation 
is to be serious and lengthy (one month). Although another method of 
preparation may be used, the consecration requires sufficient time for 
reflection and prayer; otherwise, such an act of devotion might be 
rendered commonplace. In addition, this must be truly personal in 
character: St. Louis Marie speaks of the “signature” of the act of 
consecration.
All the practices that he lists are valuable (and Montfort tells us 
that the list is far from exhaustive [TD 226]). Of particular interest, 
however, are the special devotion to the mystery of the Incarnation (TD 
243–48) and the devotion to the chaplet (or the Rosary), because of 
their close and almost organic connection to the spirit of perfect 
practice as described by Montfort.
With the interior practices (TD 257–265), we come to an essential 
aspect of both the Marian way of Montfort and of the act of 
consecration. On this point, SM is perfectly clear: perfect practice 
“consists in surrendering oneself in the manner of a slave to Mary, and 
to Jesus through her, and then performing all our actions with Mary, in 
Mary, through Mary, and for Mary” (SM 28; cf. 43). SM and TD are 
speaking of the same “interior practice,” although the order of the 
formulas is different and the Christological end is made more explicit 
in TD 257.
If interpreted literally, the terms used in TD 257—“for those souls 
who feel called by the Holy Spirit to a high degree of perfection”—may 
present some difficulty: are we to conclude that, in Montfort’s view, 
only a privileged elite can observe this practice? This depends on how 
we take the word “privileged.” If we take Montfort’s statements as a 
whole, we realize that he is in no way referring to those who are 
privileged according to the criteria of the world. If, on the other 
hand, we understand him as referring to those who are privileged with 
grace, we might find agreement if we also understand that all are called 
to evangelical perfection and that God’s grace is offered to all so that 
we may achieve it. But, as with predestination, the appeal may be heard 
or refused. Thus we cannot invoke this passage in deciding to whom we 
will deliver Montfort’s message, any more than we can decide to whom we 
will proclaim the Gospel. “Qui potest capere, capiat,” and no one can 
identify in advance those who will be able, because of special grace or 
generosity, to “grasp” what is offered them.
In any case, in order to carry out the project of life included in the 
act of consecration, it is evident that one must strive to live with 
Mary so that one can better live with Jesus. Otherwise one’s act of 
consecration may have no future. The gift and total abandonment of self 
that are part of the act of consecration are not prerequisite to that 
consecration. In that case, only those who were already established in 
the fullness of perfection would be capable of it, which is certainly 
not Montfort’s intention. We must thus conclude that there is a “plan,” 
and that what allows us to contemplate this plan seriously is a 
consciousness that Christ invites us to participate in it (“Be perfect 
as your Father in heaven is perfect”; cf. SM 3) and an efficacious 
desire to offer ourselves in an act of trust and hope. Efficacious 
desire is a desire that will lead to a genuine effort toward realizing 
the gift of oneself with the intention of becoming consecrated. Interior 
practices are the best method for accomplishing this, provided we carry 
them out tirelessly. This is why Montfort could say that his way was 
“sure” and, as it were, unfailing.
By way of conclusion, Montfort gives us an example of his devotion: 
“This Devotion at Holy Communion” (TD 266–73).
3. Some General Remarks 
a.   True devotion and perfect practice. 
It is very important to recognize the distinction between a true 
devotion to Mary and perfect practice of true devotion according to St. 
Louis de Montfort. The first has by right been imposed absolutely on all 
of us, because God desires it; it can and must be made an obligation for 
all those who are aware of the mission that God Himself entrusted to 
Mary. We also have a pastoral duty to bring other faithful Christians to 
true devotion.
On the other hand, while we can propose perfect practice, it cannot by 
any means be made an obligation for all of us; nor can we simply assert 
that perfect devotion to Mary is impossible unless we adopt the way 
advocated by Montfort. Therefore, we must also make a distinction 
between an attitude toward Mary that may reach perfection in some other 
way than that explicitly advocated by Montfort (although it will include 
essential aspects of Montfort’s approach, in spirit if not in fact), and 
“perfect practice” of true devotion. The term “practice” here refers to 
precise methods, codified to some extent, that one consciously attempts 
to put into use.
Montfort is justified in describing his practice as perfect, because 
it demands the radical step of giving oneself to Christ and because Mary 
exists as its “perfect means” (TD 120–26). He is also justified in 
emphasizing the relative ease of this practice and the advantages that 
it offers for advancing toward perfection, thanks to the gift of oneself 
to Mary and the constant collaboration with her (cf., e.g., TD 152–68). 
He never suggests that this is the only way of attaining perfection in 
Christian life. The strength of Montfort lies in his having presented, 
as no one had before him, 1) true devotion to Mary and why it is 
necessary, and 2) the consecration to Mary and holy slavery to her, 
which led him to total consecration to Christ at Mary’s hands. In this 
way, the word “consecration” takes on its full theological value, 
embodying all that it should.
b.   The missionary dimension of Marian devotion. 
It would be surprising if Montfort had not grasped and articulated the 
apostolic dimension of all true Marian devotion. Although he does not 
include this dimension among the visible marks of true devotion, we 
would not be betraying him to consider it one. It is naturally connected 
to Mary and her mission: if she was made to lead us to Christ and help 
us to know him, how could she not urge her children forward on this same 
path? Whatever can be said of true devotion (e.g. TD 48, 57–59, 62, 113) 
can a fortiori be said of its perfect practice (e.g. TD 171–72, 214, 
265).
c.   Marian devotion and Christian life. 
Because, in Montfort’s view, all true devotion to Mary has Christ and 
union with Christ as its ultimate objective, it cannot be pushed to one 
side of the Christian life; in fact, it must be placed at the very heart 
of Christian life. And the greater the devotion to Mary, the more 
apparent it must be that union with Christ is its goal. Therefore, 
perfect practice is equivalent in effect to the perfect renewal of 
baptismal promises. This explains why it is truly “simple,” because it 
includes no obligations that are new to those who wish to embrace it. 
After we are consecrated, we must attempt to accomplish all that our 
state of life requires, in the spirit of interior practice. Again, we 
need to find methods of doing this, and so it is useful to have recourse 
to these particular practices, which are flexible and bountiful and can 
be observed “as far as one’s circumstances and state of life permit” (TD 
257).
d.   Receiving Mary’s spiritual maternity. 
At the beginning of True Devotion, Montfort immerses us in the 
atmosphere of Mary’s spiritual maternity toward us, which he sees as the 
direct (and, in God’s plan, necessary) extension of her maternity toward 
Jesus. For Montfort, Mary becomes our Mother by virtue of the 
Incarnation. He thus sees in Mary’s behavior toward Jesus the model of 
her behavior toward us; he also sees in Jesus’ dependence on Mary, for 
his life and his worldly education (because in terms of his mission he 
is clearly the Teacher), the model of what must be our dependence on 
her, as children of God. Mary has dominion over us, exerts power over 
us, which is why we are dependent on her (TD 37, 74–77), but we must 
realize that it is in the end a dominion or power that is based on her 
divine maternity extending into spiritual maternity. Therefore, our 
dependence, our “slavery,” must be characterized by filial love.

 

IV.  TRUE DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN 
       AND CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIANITY 
The present-day appeal of TD is reflected in the new editions that are 
published regularly in many languages, and this appeal seems to be 
increasing rather than decreasing. This is a clear sign that the book 
continues to respond to needs and expectations. But two major reasons 
for this enduring appeal today deserve to be noted.
1. Chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium and True Devotion to Mary 
We must begin by emphasizing that the Second Vatican Council wished to 
place its Marian teaching in a context that is broadly similar to that 
in which Montfort developed. The title of Chapter 8—“The role of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the mystery of Christ and the 
Church”—expresses a fundamental preoccupation of the Council: to 
contemplate the Virgin, from the standpoint of Scripture and Tradition, 
in her most profound reality, viz., in her relationship with Christ. 
Here we discover the fundamental reason for Mary’s existence and her 
relationship with the Church (i.e., with us), which is derived from her 
relationship with Christ in the mystery of salvation, as God’s plan 
decrees. We can immediately see that this is also Montfort’s 
perspective.
Therefore, we will find the same conclusions, beginning with Mary’s 
mission in the Church in general and with respect to each of us in 
particular, and the need for the Church and for each of us to respond to 
her mission. In other words, devotion to Mary is necessary. Although the 
Council does not use the word “devotion,” it is led to draw the same 
conclusion: “Taught by the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church honors her 
with filial affection and piety as a most beloved mother” (LG 53); “This 
sacred Synod intends to describe with diligence the role of the Blessed 
Virgin in the mystery of the Incarnate Word and the Mystical Body. It 
also wishes to describe the duties of redeemed mankind toward the Mother 
of God, who is mother of Christ and mother of men” (LG 54). Montfort 
would be entirely comfortable with these affirmations.39 
Thus, the Council’s approach, based on Scripture and Tradition, was 
within bounds that Montfort would recognize. Of course, the Council 
could draw on contemporary exegesis and patristics, whereas Montfort 
could draw only on those available in his day. But the path that each 
took to discover Mary and her mission is largely the same. So it is not 
difficult to enrich Montfort’s text with the contributions of Vatican 
II.
There is another issue to be raised. We have seen that Montfort was 
not content with a solid intellectual foundation for his arguments. He 
also referred to his own personal and pastoral experience, in his 
conviction that the Spirit was with him always. Likewise, the Synod was 
ready to cite the experience of the Church: “The Church does not 
hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary [i.e., her maternal 
role in total dependence on Christ]. She experiences it continuously and 
commends it to the hearts of the faithful, so that encouraged by this 
maternal help they may more closely adhere to the Mediator and Redeemer” 
(LG 62).
The Council insists several times on the absolute primacy of Christ 
and on Mary’s relative status next to him (with which Montfort would be 
fully in agreement), so that it can illuminate true Marian piety in all 
its aspects.40 The “marks” of genuine devotion that Montfort described 
can be found in Lumen Gentium, if in rather different language.41 Here 
are two texts, the first from Vatican II, the second from Montfort, that 
demonstrate how far they agree on the nature of true devotion: “Let the 
faithful remember moreover that true devotion consists neither in 
fruitless and passing emotion, nor in a certain vain credulity. Rather, 
it proceeds from true faith” (LG 67); “a good and faithful servant of 
Mary is guided in all his life by faith in Jesus and Mary, and not by 
feelings” (TD 109).
We should also note how Mary is empowered by her elevation to glory to 
exercise fully her spiritual maternity. And for both Vatican II and 
Montfort this maternity becomes the site and the setting for our vital 
and contemporary encounter with her.42
It should be clear that underscoring these points of agreement is not 
to suggest that Vatican II addressed every issue that Montfort raised 
(beginning with the perfect practice of true devotion) or that Montfort 
is the sole author or devotee of Mary with whom such a strong connection 
could be established. But it is comforting and important to see that 
this basic agreement exists. Father H.-M. Manteau-Bonamy, an expert at 
the Synod, gives us this explanation: “Knowing that Monsignor Philips 
had drafted the outline for 52–59, and seeing that he liked to invoke 
Mary’s role as a new Eve, I asked him, ‘Did you consult Father de 
Montfort’s True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin?’ and he answered, ‘I did 
not have it physically in front of me, but it was in my memory and in my 
heart while I was drafting this outline.’” 43
2. True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin and John Paul II 
John Paul II has made no secret of his ties to Montfort. We will discuss 
what bearing the saint has had on his personal piety and his teaching as 
the vicar of Christ.
a.   The Marian piety of Karol Wojtyla and True Devotion. 
Pope John Paul II has himself spoken of his encounter with Montfort in 
TD and its consequences for his life:
“My life reached a decisive turning point when I read this book. I say 
‘turning point’ although in fact it was part of an interior journey that 
coincided with my secret preparation for the priesthood. It was then 
that this singular book fell into my hands, one of those books of which 
one can say that simply ‘having read’ it is not enough. I remember 
carrying it with me for a long time, even to the soda works, to the 
point that there were lime stains all over its beautiful cover. I 
realized right away that there was something fundamental contained 
within that baroque style. From that point on, the devotion of my 
childhood and even of my adolescence to the Mother of God gave way to a 
new attitude, a devotion rising from the depths of my faith, as if from 
the very heart of the trinitarian and Christological reality.”
“Whereas previously I had held back for fear that devotion to Mary 
would obscure Christ rather than give him precedence, I understood with 
the light of Grignion’s book that in truth it was entirely different. 
Our interior relationship to the Mother of God is the organic outgrowth 
of our connection to the mystery of Christ. So it is impossible that one 
should prevent us from seeing the other.”44
In fact, quite the contrary: “‘true devotion’ to the Blessed Virgin 
reveals itself more and more clearly in those who advance in the mystery 
of Christ, the Word incarnate, and in the trinitarian mystery of 
salvation, which has this mystery at its center. We might even say that 
Christ himself appoints his mother to those who strive to know and to 
love him, as he did at Calvary for his disciple John.”45
This account in itself, independent of the personality of the man who 
is giving it, is extraordinarily revelatory of how Montfort’s teaching 
always remains contemporary. John Paul II did not hesitate to follow it 
to its very conclusion, to the perfect practice of true devotion. The 
papal motto he has chosen, “Totus tuus,” calls this to mind.
b.   The official teaching of John Paul II. 
It would be a labor of love to look for possible traces of Montfort’s 
influence in the many pronouncements of the Pope, and to understand the 
light by which John Paul understood and used Montfort’s writing.46 We 
will confine ourselves to the exceptional contribution made by his 
encyclical on the Mother of the Redeemer to the subject of perfect 
practice.
For John Paul II, the Marian Year “is meant to promote a new and more 
careful reading of what the Council said about the Blessed Virgin Mary” 
(RM 48). He is referring not only to the doctrine of faith, but also to 
“the life of faith, and thus of authentic ‘Marian spirituality,’” which, 
“like its corresponding devotion, finds a very rich source in the 
historical experience of individuals and of the various Christian 
communities present among the different peoples and nations of the 
world.” And here he introduces a passage that speaks directly of 
Montfort: “In this regard, I would like to recall, among the many 
witnesses and teachers of this spirituality, the figure of Saint Louis 
Marie Grignion Montfort, who proposes consecration to Christ through the 
hands of Mary, as an effective means for Christians to live faithfully 
their baptismal commitments.” This passage gives an excellent summary 
definition of perfect practice. And without resorting to triumphalism, 
we might note that this is the sole reference in the encyclical to a 
“spiritual teacher” and the specific path that he proposes. We cannot 
ask for clearer testimony to the contemporary quality of Montfort’s 
message as presented in TD.

 

V.  CONCLUSION 
Montfort is one of those persons who leave an indelible mark on the 
history of the Church because of the intensity of their experience of 
God, thus they attain a kind of universality and permanence, 
transcending the marks of their own culture and era. This was the case 
for Saint Louis de Montfort.
A. Bossard

 

Notes:
(1) As evidence we have the catalog of the Library of Saint-
Sulpice, in five volumes, in Montfort’s handwriting, now kept at the 
Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris. Cf. M. Quéméneur, “Le catalogue de la 
Bibliothèque de St.-Sulpice” (The Catalog of the Library of Saint-
Sulpice), DMon 9 (1964), 35. (2) P.-H. Eyckeler, S.M.M., Le Cahier de 
Notes—Manuscrit de saint Louis-Marie de Montfort—notes et commentaire 
(The Notebook—Manuscript of Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort—Notes and 
Commentary), roneographed edition. The following authors are quoted most 
often by Montfort, according to Father Eyckeler’s list: F. Poiré, S.J., 
La triple couronne de la Bienheureuse Vierge Mère (The Triple Crown of 
the Blessed Virgin Mother), a book to which Montfort refers explicitly 
(TD 26); J.-B. Crasset, S.J., La véritable dévotion à la Sainte Vierge 
(True Devotion to the Holy Virgin); L.-F. D’Argentan, Capuchin, 
Conférences sur les grandeurs de la Sainte Vierge (Discussions 
Concerning the Greatness of the Holy Virgin); J. de Carthagena, Homiliae 
Catholicae de Sacris Arcanis Deiparae Mariae; P. Grenier, Apologie des 
dévots de la Sainte Vierge (Apologia for Devotion to the Blessed 
Virgin). Montfort drew on other authors as well, not the least of whom 
were Bérulle, Olier, Boudon, Boissieu, and Bernardine of Paris. (3) 
Saint-Jure’s L’homme spirituel (The Spiritual Man), Conduites pour les 
principales actions de la vie chrétienne (Principal modes of conduct for 
the Christian life), La vie de M. de Renty (The Life of de Renty); 
Nepveu’s De l’amour de N. S. Jésus-Christ (On the Love of Our Lord Jesus 
Christ). Father Eyckeler chose to attribute certain passages without 
references in the latter part of the notebook to Olier: Eyckeler, Le 
Cahier de Notes, 304, 309b.  (4) One example: in his notebook (p. 57) he 
summarized the fourth star of the second crown of Poiré: “The most 
Blessed Virgin is the spouse of Our Lord”, a title which is found 
nowhere in TD or in Montfort’s other writings. (5) Father Eyckeler has 
noticed that, with respect to his analysis of Poiré, Montfort’s method 
led him to study the texts of d’Argentan and Cartagena, subsequently 
complemented by texts from Crasset and Grenier. Father Eyckeler 
concludes that Montfort did not find Poiré’s arguments adequate. (6) See 
for example Father Eyckeler’s remark on Boissieu’s work, Le chrétien 
prédestiné par la dévotion à Marie (The Christian Predestined through 
Devotion to Mary): “the influence of this book on Montfort’s Marian 
doctrine is much greater than the rather few number of citations would 
suggest”: Eyckeler, Le Cahier de Notes, XXI; cf. XVI on d’Argentan and 
XIX, n. 3, on Olier. (7) And yet Blain, 50, suggests that Montfort was 
directly inspired by this work during his time at Saint-Sulpice. All 
that we find in Montfort’s notebook are a few passages from the Avis 
catholiques touchant la véritable dévotion de la Bienheureuse Vierge 
(Catholic Views on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin), a work that is 
not in the Saint-Sulpice catalog (cf. Eyckeler, Le Cahier de Notes, 159–
60). (8) Father Eyckeler suggests that this is particularly necessary 
for the texts of Grenier (Eyckeler, Le Cahier de Notes, XVII), but it is 
certainly true in other cases as well. (9) Cf. Boissieu, Le chrétien 
prédestiné par la dévotion à Marie (The Christian Predestined through 
Devotion to Mary) Lyon 1686, part one, chs. 1–4; d’Argentan, Conférences 
sur les grandeurs de la Sainte Vierge (Discussions concerning the 
greatness of the Holy Virgin), disc. 1, art. 1. (10) Cf. Eyckeler, XV. 
(11) The notes for the edition in OC give some idea of this 
documentation, as well as the work of Father Eyckeler, XI-XXIV. But more 
research, in particular a detailed critical examination of Montfort’s 
method for using his sources, remains to be done. (12) See below, 
II.2.a–b. (13) Cf. TD, preface to the second edition, Paris 1843, x–
xiii; also introduction to the photographic edition, Rome 1942, xviii–
xx. (14) Ibid., xvii. (15) Cf. Besnard, La vie de Soeur Marie-Louise de 
Jésus (The Life of Sister Marie-Louise of Jesus) International Montfort 
Center, Rome 1985, 360–65. (16) Preface to the second edition, xii–xiii. 
(17) OC, 483. (18) Here are the subtitles supplied by Montfort (with 
current numbering): “The perfect consecration to Jesus Christ” (120); 
“The wonderful effects which this devotion produces on a soul that is 
faithful to it” (213); “Particular practices of this devotion—Exterior 
practices” (226); “Special interior practices for those who wish to be 
perfect” (257); “Method of practicing this devotion at Holy Communion” 
(266). (19) Father Eyckeler believes nonetheless that Montfort “had 
largely composed his Marian doctrine as early as 1703,” and that when he 
began work on the final draft, “he inserted passages that were written 
earlier”: Second Montfort International Conference, Saint-Laurent-sur-
Sèvre, September 2-8, 1958, 17. (20) See OC, 481–82. (21) On Montfort 
and popular religion, see R. Mandrou, “Montfort et l’Évangélisation du 
peuple” (Montfort and the Evangelization of the People), in Rencontres 
Montfortaines, n. 11 (1974), 1-19; S. De Fiores, “Grignion de Montfort e 
la spiritualità popolare” (Grignion de Montfort and Popular 
Spirituality) in AA.VV., Missioni al popolo per gli anni ‘80 (Rome 1981, 
519ff; A. Bossard, “Il carisma del Montfort nel suo tempo: mediazione 
tra cultura colta e culturale popolare” (The Charism of Montfort in His 
Time: Mediation between Educated and Popular Culture) in QM 1 (1982), 
86-96. (22) See the Introduction to the photographic edition, xxii. (23) 
Mame edition, Tours 1921. We can only discuss here the evolution of the 
various French editions. (24) Ibid., x. The Italian edition of 1919 was 
the first to divide the work into numbered paragraphs (cf. OC, 485). 
(25) At the 1906 Marian congress in Einsiedeln, this kind of shift in 
meaning appeared clearly in several connections: in the work of Joseph 
Péré, S.M.M., the theme of “true devotion” is discussed from the outset 
in terms of “holy slavery”: La vraie dévotion et la morale (True 
Devotion and Morals), Acts of Congress, Revue Mariale, Lyon 1907, 234–
46); or in the work by H. Clemens, S.M.M.: De la diffusion parmi les 
fidèles de la parfaite consécration à Jésus par Marie (On the Spread of 
Perfect Consecration to Jesus through Mary among the Faithful), Ibid., 
269–88. In 1956, at the International Montfort Conference at Rotselaer, 
Father Josselin, Superior General of the Company of Mary, said, 
“Finally, the third unintelligent method (of presenting Montfort’s 
message) is to consider True Devotion and Holy Slavery as identical, 
which is counter to Father Montfort’s way of thinking. This is 
undoubtedly because we have to some extent forgotten the Pope’s reminder 
to us in his address to the pilgrims following the Canonization. We must 
admit that one can love and serve the Most Blessed Virgin outside of 
Holy Slavery. Otherwise we would be accused of building a ‘monopoly.’ 
And it is never pleasant to hear that said.” (Reports and Resolutions of 
the Conference, 14.) And yet, at this same conference, Father Ghidotti 
admitted as self-evident on the level of vocabulary that “by a kind of 
tacit agreement, in the expression ‘true devotion,’ the word ‘true’ 
recalled the ‘Consecration of oneself to Jesus Christ, Wisdom Incarnate, 
through the hands of Mary’” (although he claimed that on the 
intellectual level the two can be distinguished): Ibid., 33. In a 
remarkable account, Comment étudier et présenter la Vraie dévotion (How 
to Study and Present True Devotion), Father Frehen, S.M.M., reacted 
vigorously, and quite fairly, against this habit, and noted in passing 
how dangerous it could prove, such as in certain translations of True 
Devotion: Ibid., 44–47). (26) OC, 484. (27) On this subject, cf. A. 
Bossard, “Marie, ‘milieu mystérieux’ pour rejoindre le Christ” (Mary, 
“mysterious setting” for Becoming United with Christ), in Dieu seul (God 
Alone), 119 and ff. (28) Reports and Resolutions of the Conference at 
Rotselaer, 71. (29) Therefore we can presume that Montfort went beyond 
the sources on which he drew. For those sources, particularly those that 
can be found in his notebook, we can refer to the notes in OC. (30) L.-
J. Suenens, Une nouvelle Pentecôte (A New Pentecost) DDB, Paris 1974, 
241. (31) One of the censors of Montfort’s writings at the beatification 
proceedings had raised the following objection: the renewal of baptismal 
promises is an act of latria that can only be addressed directly and 
immediately to God; he also suggested that the total gift of oneself, as 
described by Montfort, referred to latria and thus could only be made to 
God. Cf. Lucionen. Beatificationis et canonizationis Ven. Servi Dei 
Ludovici Mariae Grignion de Montfort—Position super scriptis, Rome 1851, 
11–13; also the responses that had already been mounted to these 
objections, Responsio ad adnotationes R.P.D. Promotororis fidei, 34. In 
themselves, the assertions were just, but their application to 
Montfort’s teaching was not. This indicates how important it is to make 
necessary distinctions in order to convey the doctrine of Saint Louis 
Marie correctly. (32) We must take this point into account if we wish to 
grasp exactly how Montfort understands the title “Spouse of the Holy 
Spirit”: as soon as he offers an explanation, he speaks in terms of 
spiritual maternity, even when his point of departure is Mary’s 
association with the Spirit for the Incarnation: TD 20–21, 36. Most 
often he simply speaks of the united action of Mary and the Spirit in 
us, e.g., of spiritual maternity: TD 25, 34, 36, 164, 213, 217, 269. 
This is also the case when the term “Spouse” is attributed to the Holy 
Spirit and its relationship to Mary: TD 36, 152. (33) We must understand 
that Montfort is very particular about his use of the words “slave,” and 
“slavery”; he justifies it by appealing to the Word of God, which lends 
irrefutable strength to his argument. If we decide for whatever reason 
that we can no longer use these terms, we must search for words that 
capture everything that this concept entails—not an easy task. (34) When 
we read the opening sentence of TD 118 (“Having read nearly every book 
on devotion to the Blessed Virgin . . . , I can now state with 
conviction that I have never known or heard of any devotion to our Lady 
which is comparable to the one I am going to speak of”), we must 
remember (a) Montfort’s subsequent efforts to show that the devotion he 
is teaching is not “new” (TD 159), (b) his remarks in LEW 219, and (c) 
his unequivocal assertion in SM 1: “Here is a secret, chosen soul, which 
the most High God taught me and which I have not found in any book, 
ancient or modern.” One way of resolving these statements would be as 
follows: as he presents it to us, the perfect practice of true devotion 
has no equivalent among his sources; in this respect it is genuinely 
new, and so he is entitled to call himself its inventor. It is difficult 
to identify the extent to which he was conscious of the originality of 
his path; he unhesitatingly credits his inspiration to God Himself (SM 
1, TD 119). (35) Cf. the title of his profession of consecration in LEW 
223: “Consecration of oneself to Jesus Christ, Wisdom incarnate, through 
the hands of Mary.” (36) Compared with Jobert and Boudon, in whose 
writings the theologal or Christological aspect is always present but 
usually only implicitly or indirectly so, Montfort crosses a threshold 
that tranforms our way of understanding holy slavery: Jobert, La 
dévotion du saint esclavage de la Mère de Dieu (The Devotion of Holy 
Slavery to the Mother of God) Orleans 1785 [1668], 3–4;  Boudon, Dieu 
seul ou le saint esclavage de l’admirable Mère de Dieu (God Alone Or the 
Holy Slavery of the Admirable Mother of God), 1667, First Treatise, chs. 
1–2 (the imprimatur for the first edition is dated December 5, 1667). 
Similarly, the “prayer for consecration of oneself to the Blessed Virgin 
as a slave” at the end of Jobert’s book, replicated in almost perfect 
detail at the conclusion of Boudon’s book, proves interesting when 
compared with Montfort’s in LEW 223–27. On a number of issues, there are 
points of contact, yet one can see the path traveled by Montfort. (37) 
It was undoubtedly through Bérulle (cf. the Notebook, 302–303) that 
Montfort was led to join, and almost to consider as identical, 
“consecration of oneself to Jesus Christ by the hands of Mary” and the 
renewal of baptismal vows and promises. But he was capable of exploring 
the relationship between the two in depth and perceiving an organic 
connection, whereas for Bérulle, according to Father Eyckeler, “this 
question was only secondary, a piece of luck in a way, allowing him to 
escape from the difficulty he encountered when he called his ‘donation’ 
a vow”: Notebook, xix. (38) This issue of imitating Jesus’s dependence 
on Mary in the Incarnation and on his chosen path is certainly present 
in Jobert and Boudon, including their acts of consecration or offering. 
But Montfort introduces and develops this issue in a way that renders it 
much weightier and more significant. (39) Cf. the affirmation of the 
special character of Marian (“this devotion is altogether special,” LG 
66, which can be connected to TD 39, for example). (40) Cf., e.g., LG 
60: the Unique Mediator and Savior (compare with TD 61); LG 66: “While 
honoring Christ’s Mother, these devotions cause her Son to be rightly 
known, loved, and glorified, and all His commands observed. Through Him 
all things have their being (cf. Col. 1:15-16) and in Him ‘it has 
pleased [the eternal Father] that . . . all his fullness should dwell’ 
(Col. 1:19)” (cf. TD 13, 49, 62, e.g.). (41) For “true devotion to our 
Lady is interior” (TD 106), cf. LG 67; “trustful” (TD 107), cf. the 
passages wherein the Council adopts a vocabulary with clear affective 
resonance to speak of the relationship that we must establish with Mary, 
such as LG 53, 62, or 67; “holy” (TD 108); “constant” (TD 109), cf. LG 
67. (42) The quite strong language used in Lumen Gentium to describe 
Mary after the Assumption, i.e., as she is today (“By her maternal 
charity, Mary cares for the brethren of her Son who still journey on 
earth”), could be used as a title for whole chapters of TD. However, 
there is one important aspect of Mary’s maternity toward us, notable in 
Chapter 8 of LG (at 58, 61), to which Montfort seems to attach less 
importance than we do today: the proclamation by Christ on the Cross of 
Mary’s maternity toward his disciple (Jn 19:25–27). It is true that 
today, especially with the teaching of the Magisterium, it is impossible 
to discuss Mary’s spiritual maternity without referring to this passage. 
But it can be easily and naturally integrated into Montfort’s teaching, 
especially as he often referred to John taking Mary “for his all” (TD 
144, 179, 216, 266). (43) H.-M. Manteau-Bonamy, S. Louis-Marie Grignion 
de Montfort, théologien de la Sagesse au seuil du troisième millénaire 
(St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Theologian of Wisdom on the Eve 
of the Third Millenium), Éd. Saint-Paul, Paris 1986, 54. (44) André 
Frossard, “Be Not Afraid!” Pope John Paul II Speaks Out on his Life, his 
Beliefs and his Inspiring Vision for Humanity, St. Martin’s Press, New 
York 1982, 124–27. (45) Ibid. (46) We should observe in particular how 
John Paul II uses the terms “affidamento” and “consecration” with 
respect to the relationship with Mary as such, and the significance of 
this use depending on the context. He definitely uses the term 
“consecration” when, following Montfort, he speaks of the total gift of 
oneself to Christ by the hands of Mary: RMat 48.

 


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.

 

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