Sainte Foy

If we take “origin” as meaning a place that the “founders founded”, Sainte Foy is not strictly a place of Marist origin.

However, Fr Colin did spend a good deal of time at Sainte Foy and it has a long Marist tradition.

The name more appropriately associated with Sainte Foy is that of Father Favre, the second superior general, who had the house built between 1858 and 1860, several years after Fr Colin had resigned as superior general.

Sainte Foy was to be the training place for many generations of scholastics, and for about forty novices. The house was the site for ten sessions of General Chapter and two superiors general, Fr Favre and Fr Martin, died in this house, as Sainte Foy was the seat of the General Administration from 1880 to 1906.

A third superior general, Fr Raffin, died in Lyons and is also buried in the vault of Sainte Foy.

Fr Colin at Sainte Foy
Fr Colin spend a good deal of time at Sainte Foy mainly in the winter months and after his resignation superior general. He lived in the corner room on the third floor, above the present entrance.

Across the corridor, the room marked by the third and fourth windows to the left served as his private chapel.

The month of May 1870 is of particular importance in the story of Fr Colin’s stay at Sainte Foy. Having spent the last months of 1869 completing the Constitutions, he drafted a letter to present the text “to the Fathers and Brothers of the Society of Mary”.

Given that Fr Favre had already printed and published his Constitutions, this act of the Founder is a very sensitive one.

As well as the Constitutions, Colin put together a text on the origins of the Society, which he hoped would put an end to the rumours circulating at the time. Drawing from Fr Maitrepierre’s impassioned eight page letter we now call the “Maitrepierre Controversy”, Fr Colin’s response is called the Spiritual Testament of Fr Colin.

Maitrepierre was the one whom Eymard had said “founded the Society spiritually”, in view of the extremely important positions (in particular, novice master) he held in the early years of the Society.

The rift developed between Fr Colin, who founded the Society, and Maitrepierre, the one who greatly influenced the spiritual formation of the early generations of Marists.

Both men were living in the house at the time, and it is sad to think of these two great men, so important to the early history of the Society, living in two corners of the same building, and no longer able to communicate with each other.

However, Sainte Foy was to see happier times in the life of the Founder. It was here that the peace-making Chapter of 1870-72 was held and the tension between Fr Colin and Fr Favre was resolved.

It was at this Chapter Fr Colin presented his Constitutions which were approved by Rome in 1873.

The last moment of Fr Colin’s stay at Sainte Foy was in marked contrast to the tensions. It happened during the Chapter of 1873 and Fr Colin appeared among the capitulants and said: “I have seen the Holy Spirit in the midst of your work. I have seen in the mist of you the Blessed Virgin, she who must lead you to the gates of salvation.” he then left Sainte Foy for Lay Neyliere, where he was to die in 1875.