Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Jean-Claude Colin, Marist: A Founder in an Era of Revolution and Restoration: The Early Years, 1790-1836

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Jean-Claude Colin, Marist: A Founder in an Era of Revolution and Restoration: The Early Years, 1790-1836

Article excerpt

Jean-Claude Colin, Marist: A Founder in an Era of Revolution and Restoration: The Early Years, 1790-1836 By Donal Kerr. (Blackrock, Co. Dublin: The Columba Press. 2000. Pp. 349. L20.00.)

Donal Kerr has written a very informative and valuable biography of a man whose life and work deserve to be more widely known, Jean-Claude Cohn (1790-1875), founder of the Society of Mary, the Marists. It is a work of thorough and meticulous scholarship by a Marist professor emeritus of church history at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth. Every new biography adds to our knowledge of the events and developments of the era in which the person lived, and this work contributes -much specific information about a person, really a number of persons, who experienced the post-revolutionary era in France. Unfortunately for the historian, in 1841Colin methodically burned the papers he had accumulated up to that time. Fortunately, there are abundant other sources that are available to scholars, including some 400 contemporary documents, eleven volumes of memoirs by Marist chronicler GabrielClaude Mayet, and about a thousand documents in the collection Origines Maristes.

Colin's father was a farmer in Haut Beaujolais about thirty miles north of Lyon, a devout man whose courageous unwillingness to comply with the dictates of anticlerical Jacobin forces in the area brought considerable hardship to the whole family. In 1804 Colin entered a minor seminary in the diocese of Lyon. Though Napoleon's concordat with Pius VII (1801) had returned a measure of relative peace and stability to Catholic life in France for a few years, his wars and attempted recruitment/harassment of seminarians, and his imprisonment of Pius (1809 to 1814) caused distress and heartache that affected Colin along with other Catholics. …

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