Saint-Lauren de Sevres, France: Basilica of St. Louis de Montfort and Blessed Marie Louise
About Saint Louis de Montfort:
Born in 1673, Louis de Montfort entered the Jesuit College of St. Thomas Becket in Rennes at the young age of 12. Ordained a priest in 1700, he had hopes of becoming a missionary in far-off lands, but God had a mission for him that turned out to be much closer to home. He had proven himself to be a gifted preacher and there were still many areas of France that needed his help. St. Louis de Montfort lived only 43 years on this earth, 16 of them as a priest. Yet he left a legacy that influenced several popes and millions of lay persons.
Among his early assignments was working in a hospital for the destitute in Poitiers where he accomplished great improvements in the conditions–both physical and spiritual. His reforms created enemies among some of the establishment and he was dismissed from his duties here and ended up back in Paris, but not for long. He found himself again back in the hospital but this time with some additional support in the persons of Marie-Louise Trichet and Catherin Brunet. In 1703 Marie-Louise and Catherine founded the “Daughters of Wisdom”.
Nonetheless, in 1706 he was once again forced to leave and began to live and preach among the poor in Poitiers, until finally his Bishop forbade even that. Seeking advice from higher authorities, he walked to Rome to seek an audience with Pope Clement XI. The Holy Father received him and was apparently impressed as he bestowed on him the title of “Apostolic Missionary”.
The remaining years of his priesthood found in various areas of France, which time it is estimated that he preached over 200 missions. He traveled always on foot and stayed wherever someone would offer him shelter. His example won many converts.
For the priests serving his mission Saint Louis founded The Company of Mary, and also help write the rules for the order of Daughters of Wisdom.
In 1716 he arrived in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre to preach a mission that would turn out to be is last. Having lived a life of poverty and service to others, he died here on April 28th. Miracles were reported by those who visited his tomb, but outside of Brittany few people knew of him.
He had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and his writings such as “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary” are a source of inspiration to hundreds of thousands. About 100 years after his death his writings were discovered in a trunk (hidden there to protect them during the French revolution) and were subsequently published. They spread throughout the world. The book itself is perhaps more widely read today than ever before.
About Marie Louise Trichet:
Blessed Marie Louise Trichet (also known as Marie-Louise de Jésus) was a French Catholic figure who was greatly influenced by Saint Louis de Montfort and founded the Congregation known as the Daughters of Wisdom and since the age of seventeen devoted her life to caring for the poor and the sick. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II and currently awaits canonizaton. Marie Louise Trichet died on 28 April 1759, the same day that Saint Louis de Montfort had died on 43 years earlier. They are buried next to each other in the crypt area of the church.
There is a pilgrimage for Saint Louis de Montfort and Sister Marie on October 12 each year.
About Saint Lauren sur Sevres:
This town is best known as the final place that Saint Louis de Montfort preached and remains very small; as you might expect, the Basilica of Saint Louise Marie de Montfort is the main attraction. Although begun in 1889, it was not actually completed until 1949. Saint Louis de Montfort and Blessed Marie Louise of Jesus are in crypts next to each other. Pope John Paul II visited here in 1996 and prayed at both the tomb of St. Louis de Montfort and Blessed Marie Louise Trichet. There are daily Masses–some in the Basilica and others in the chapel, depending upon the time of the year.
Down the street, about one block, is the oratory where you can see the room where St. Louis de Montfort died. There is a glass reliquary with a wax figure of the saint holding the crucifix given to him by Pope Clement XI when he sent him on his mission.
Traveling to Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre:
There is train service from many cities connecting through Nantes (about 35 miles away) and on to Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre. It is about one mile from the station to the Basilica. Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.
Address: 4 Rue Jean Paul II, 85290 Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre (pilgrimage office)
GPS coordinates: 46° 57′ 32.2380” N, 0° 53′ 22.7904” W
Tel: +33 02 51 67 81 34
email: [email protected]
Click here for the official website for the Basilica of St. Louis de Montfort.