First journey voyage

The journey to Rome was itself a saga.

After celebrating Mass at Fourvière, the three pilgrims left for Marseilles, probably by boat down the Rhône. Because of passport difficulties they missed the boat they had intended to take, and did not leave Marseilles until 4 September on the merchant ship “Notre Dame du Bon Secours”.

The name was fitting, in view of subsequent events.

Just clear of the harbour, two ships in their convoy collided and were disabled. Their own boat sprang a leak. The pumps refused to function, so the boat headed for La Ciotat, between Marseilles and Toulon. There, they lost five days while waiting for repairs to be made.

When they put out again, a violent storm drove them to seek shelter along the coast of Elba. After this second break in the voyage, they ran into another storm, and with difficulty they reached Santo Stefano, along the coast of Tuscany. Here, they were becalmed, and more time was lost.

Hugging the coast, they continued on to Civitavecchia, where they were able to go ashore after sunset. It was too late to find accommodation in the town, so they had to spend the night in the open. They intended to take the road for Rome the next day, but then learned that the ship was quarantined for fear of the cholera which was raging in France at the time of their departure.

Fortunately, the Cardinal Governor intervened, and they were allowed to continue their journey without further delay.

They travelled by coach down the Via Aurelia, and entered Rome by the gate of San Pancrazio. Their journey from Marseilles had taken 11 days.

Their first appointment was with Cardinal Macchi and they gave him the dossier on the plans for the Society which Macchi took this to the Papal audience on 17 September.

The Pope sent it to the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, but the Curia was on holiday till November, so Colin was to have his first experience of the leisurely pace of Roman bureaucracy.

He wrote to Fr Convers:

People here are not in a hurry. Besides, the Congregations are overloaded with work, and those who come to Rome for three months sometimes stay three years. However, with the help of your prayers, I hope to stay less…  (Cardinal Odescalchi) is a good man, and speaks French very well, but he is overburdened with work; sometimes four or five trips are needed before getting an audience, the crowd is so long in his waiting room. So as you can see, I have here in Rome also a chance of exercising the little patience I possess. We Frenchmen want to get everything done in one day; that is what the Italians tell us, and they never tire of repeating: “Pazienza! Pazienza!”  (OM 295:3,4)

Given this situation, the three decided that Chanel and Bourdin should return soon to France, and that Colin should wait in Rome until the Congregation had made some decision.

The three were at this time living near San Luigi dei Francesi, probably in the Via della Scrofa.  (OM 644)

They toured the city the Basilicas of St Mary Major, St Peter, St John Lateran: the Catacombs of St Sebastian: the Mamertime Prison, the Roman College, the Gesù, the Scala Santa, the Colosseum, and so on.

Chanel records that he spent many hours in exploring the riches of the Vatican library and museums.

The three had an audience with the Pope on September 28th and on October 1st, they left for Loreto, arriving there four days later.

Shortly afterwards, Chanel and Bourdin left for Belley, but Colin stayed in Loreto for a week.

He returned to Rome on the 6th and took up residence in the Monastery of the Holy Apostles, opposite the Odescalchi Palace where the Cardinal lived.

Colin spent a lot of time in prayer in the Church, and often went to pray before the Madonna dell’Archetto nearby.

From now on, though, he was busy with work on the Society.

He wrote to Cholleton:

I can tell you practically nothing about Rome. At the convent of the Holy Apostles I am living practically like a hermit, and hardly go out except for my business. (OM 298:3-6)

Colin was working on the outline he was to present to the Curia. He had already asked several members of the Curia to examine the Rule.

He wrote to Convers:

I want to consult men who are competent in the matter (of the Rule) and benefit from their advice. The notebooks have already been read by several people and they seem to take an interest in the work: they regard it as important. People are convinced here that the Church of France would need some religious bodies. Finally, our Rules are too abbreviated, and I shall have to develop them more. That’s what I’m working on now. (OM 292:4)

Colin followed the advice he was given to provide an outline of the Brothers’ and Sisters’ rule as well as that of the Priests. This work took the whole of November.

The result of all this was the Summarium Regularum. In his presentation, Colin requested four things:

  • permission to receive new members,
  • permission to elect a Superior General,
  • permission to take vows,
  • indulgences for the Third Order.