After the upheaval of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, the early nineteenth century saw a remarkable revival in the Christian Churches. In the story of the renewal of Catholicism in Europe and of its expansion across the world, Jean-Claude Colin (1790-1875) played a modest but not insignificant part.
In 1816, Colin and a group of his fellow seminarians devoted themselves to the founding of a society dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. Colin, a founder of the Society of Mary despite himself, became involved in negotiating with bishops, nuncios and the Roman Curia for approval. Approval took twenty years. The Marists’ acceptance of Pope Gregory XVI’s request to take on the mission to Western Oceania brought the approval of the priests’ branch of the Society of Mary and propelled it and Colin on to the wider world stage.
The title, A Founder and His Age, indicates that this volume intends to give prominence to the background of Colin’s life and to those people who influenced him and his project. The first part of this life presents the biographer with a difficulty for, in 1841, over a period of four days, Colin systematically burnt his papers. Despite this difficulty, Donal Kerr’s extensive research has enabled him to write a comprehensive account of the first forty-six years of Jean-Claude Colin’s life.
To read about the remaining thirty-nine years, we must await the second volume of this work.
About the Author
Donal Kerr, an Irish Marist priest, is emeritus professor of Ecclesiastical History at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. He has authored many books, including The Catholic Church and the Famine (Columba Press, 1996).