In 1837, the Marist priests under Jean-Claude Colin moved into a substantial property called ‘Puylata’ in Lyon, France.

Puylata was the first house of the new congregation and it was from here the Jean-Claude Colin was able to direct the mission of the Society.

Fr Colin was rather aware that the first Marists, like himself, were “almost all from the country” (FS 136:1). The Bugey missions Colin undertook, were to isolated rural villages and the first Marist houses he established were in Belley, a country town he once described as “a corner… a little spot” (FS 10).

Puyleta represents a rather dramatic shift.

It was the first Marist house established in Lyon, a large influential, commercial centre.

Puyleta therefore in a sense highlights Colin’s readiness to go places and engage with people outside his natural comfort zone, at least when the Society’s mission was the cause.

Colin had begun looking for a property in Lyon only months after his election as Superior General and purchased Puyleta in 1837. Now he had better, more immediate access to the banks, shipping offices and to the Propagation of the Faith for organizing the business affairs of the Oceania missions.

So it was that Puyleta became recognized in the city as the mother house for the Marists, the General House once Colin moved there permanently in November 1839. As such it was used for council meetings, the annual general retreats and early General Chapters of the Society. Puyleta was effectively then a ‘formation house’ where Marists were shaped by Fr Colin, the master potter!

But Marists and business people were not the only ones to meet the wily Fr Colin at Puyleta. Jean Coste in A Founder Speaks 156, 157 tells how following King Louis-Philippe’s abdication on February 24th 1848, mobs of workers went on the rampage, especially targeting religious houses. When they arrived at Puyleta, Colin had them welcomed in and wined and dined. After this the workers left, but not before deciding that the Marists needed protection and so they appointed guards at the gate.