St. Louis Marie was born in 1673 in Montfort-la Cane, a small town in Brittany, France. As an adult, he added the name of his hometown as a second surname. He studied theology at the Parisian Seminary of Saint-Sulpice and at the Sorbonne University. He was ordained a priest on June 5, 1700. In 1706 he made a pilgrimage to Rome in order to obtain the Pope's permission to work in the missions, especially in Canada. Clement XI was impressed by his apostolic zeal and gave him the title of Apostolic Missionary for France, a mandate for preaching parish missions.
In 1713, he founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Company of Maryand in 1715 the Congregation of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Daughters of Divine Wisdomdedicated to the service of the poor and to teaching.
St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort died on April 28, 1716. He was beatified by Leo XIII on January 22, 1888, and canonized by Pius XII on July 20, 1947.
In his Encyclical Redemptoris MaterI am pleased to recall, among the many witnesses and teachers of Marian spirituality, the figure of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, who proposed to Christians consecration to Christ through the hands of Mary as an effective means of living faithfully the commitment of baptism. I am pleased to note that in our days there is no lack of new manifestations of this spirituality and devotion".
St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort wrote several spiritual treatises. The first is The Love of Eternal Wisdomwritten for his personal use. But above all he is known for his Marian works: Mary's secret, The admirable secret of the Holy Rosaryand the A Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Its spiritual doctrine
Montfortian spiritual doctrine is profoundly Christocentric and Marian. Its two poles are: Christ Wisdom incarnate and the "secreto di Maria", that is, true devotion to the Blessed Virgin as a sure and easy way to reach full identification with Jesus. Here we will deal only with the second pole.
In the A Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin MaryAfter an introduction on the presence of Mary in the merciful salvific plan of God, St. Louis Marie analyzes the role played by the Virgin in the history of salvation, that is, in the mystery of Christ and of the Church, and then goes on to consider the Marian cult, highlighting its theological foundations, its deformations and its different expressions. In a third part, he explains the "true devotion to Mary", which he affirms to be a very effective way to reach perfect identification with Jesus: "This devotion is an easy, short, perfect and sure way to reach union with Our Lord, in which Christian perfection consists" (no. 152).
St. Louis Marie emphasizes the theological and pastoral values of true devotion to the Blessed Virgin, as a means of living the commitments derived from the covenant with God that constitutes us as Christians, and precisely from the fundamental consecration of Baptism, as we read in the A Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin MaryThe fullness of our perfection consists in resembling, living united and consecrated to Jesus Christ. Therefore, the most perfect of all devotions is undoubtedly that which most perfectly resembles, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ. Now, Mary is the creature most similar to Jesus Christ. Therefore, the devotion that best consecrates us and makes us similar to Our Lord is devotion to His Most Holy Mother. And the more you consecrate yourself to Mary, the more you will be united to Jesus Christ. Perfect consecration to Jesus Christ is, by the same token, a perfect and total consecration of oneself to the Blessed Virgin. This is the devotion which I teach, and which consists - in other words - in a perfect renewal of the baptismal vows and promises" (no. 120).
Towards the end of the A Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is a code of Marian behavior, that is, the commitment to live the baptismal consecration with Mary: "Everything is summed up in always working for Mary, with Mary, in Mary and for Mary, in order to work more perfectly for Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, in Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ" (no. 257).
The practice of Marian servitude as an act of total dedication to God through his Mother is the vital realization of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort's profound theological understanding of the mystery of Mary and her relationship to the mystery of God: "Whenever you think of Mary, she thinks of God for you. Whenever you praise and honor Mary, she praises and honors God. And I dare to call her "the relation of God", for she exists only in relation to Him; or "the echo of God", for she neither says nor repeats but "God!". If you say "Mary!", she says "God!"" (no. 225).