Reasons for the fifth journey

The newly elected General, Fr Favre, asked Colin to make the journey to Rome after the Chapter had ended. Colin was accompanied by Fr Yardin, and stayed in Rome from the end of June to the middle of August.

During this trip he stayed in Via Due Macelli, near the Palazzo di Propaganda.

The mood for this visit was in marked contrast to the previous ones. Now that the responsibilities of his office were off his shoulders, Colin felt a new energy returning to him and he was looking forward to a retirement in which he could devote his energies to his new project.

The Founder had two main agenda in coming to Rome:

  • to wind up his relationship with the Pacific missions; and
  • to take the opportunity to sound out the possibilities of the new branch of the Society.

Colin prepared a petition to the Pope, asking him to sanction “The Marist Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament”.

He wrote:

Under this title an institute of priests has begun in the diocese of Lyons which has for its special aim the perpetual adoration of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. As Founder and Superior General of the Marist Fathers, I have long been inclined to establish this institute. It exists today with the approval of his Eminence, the Cardinal Archbishop of Lyons. The first house of the Marists of the Blessed Sacrament bears the name of Notre Dame de la Neyliere and is in the diocese of Lyon.  (cf Hosie. P.246)

Colin knew that this branch would never gain Roman approval unless it was a self-governing and independent branch. But he knew, too, that separation of the two groups could split the Society.

He said to Yardin, his travelling companion:

The right door of my heart is for the Society of Mary, and the left door is for the Society of the Blessed Sacrament. But if I knew that this latter work would cause division in the Society of Mary I would prefer to abandon it. I have not worked forty years for this beloved Society to separate myself from it and be an occasion of its ruin.

Furthermore, he knew that Favre and the new Administration were not in favour of this branch.

In the face of this, Colin dropped the whole idea of the Eucharistic branch and, on his return from Rome, retired to La Neyliere, his days of active administration finished. Colin was to live for another 21 years in retirement, but ones which could not exactly be described as inactive.

Shortly after his return to France, he addressed the Retreat of September 1854. An extract from this lengthy speech has been recorded in FS 190. These were the years of the development of the Rule and the controversy over the foundations, of the Society and it would be worthwhile to read that text as we come to the end of Colin’s voyages to Rome.