Archives of the General Administration of
The archives of the General Administration of the Company of Mary (Societas Mariae Montfortana, SMM) has always been managed and preserved on a central level, even though the General Administration hasn’t always been located in Rome. From the foundation of the Congregation, the geographical centre has always been in the West of France. As many other religious congregations, the Montfortians were facing difficulties at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Hence, they decided to leave France (temporarily) and seek refuge abroad. Soon afterwards, during the administration of Superior General Lhoumeau, the Congregation returned to its French roots. It was not until after the Second World War that the General Administration moved to Rome. Previously, all contacts of the Congregation with the Vatican, were handled by the Procurator General.
Although the Congregation had already been founded in 1705 by Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716), there isn’t a lot of 18th-century material left in the archives. This can be partially explained by the specific socio-political context of France during that time, which also profoundly affected the Congregation. Luckily, some of the most important records, such as the writings of the founder, survived and are now seen as the historical, as well as the spiritual core of the archives.
Besides general records concerning the history of the Congregation and some of the important milestones in its history, a lot of attention was payed to the life of Montfort. This is reflected in those parts of the archives that concern the processes of beatification and canonization, the process to be nominated as Doctor of the Church, the influence Montfort has had on other writers, the research into his writings, his life and his family. These parts do not only contain original archival material, but also many publications such as the numerous (critical) editions of the manuscripts of Montfort, biographies, panegyrics, etc.
From the foundation onwards, the main task of the Montfortian fathers consisted of the preaching of missions in the region Vendée and more broadly in the West of France. Some good examples of this apostolate are the extended series of sermons by Superior General Deshayes and some 19th-century registers stating all missions preached by the Montfortian fathers. Futhermore, in 1872, the Congregation received official permission of the Propaganda Fide to start foreign missions. Since the last quarter of the 19th century, the Congregation started expanding: the number of members and also the number of missions started growing exponentially. Thus, the small company of likeminded brothers and fathers transformed into a typical missionary congregation of that time. This evolution has also been reflected in the archives.
The archives contain records produced and received by the General Administration while performing their tasks. Some large series are, for example, the files of the General Chapters, the (Extraordinary) General Councils, the correspondence with and/or the circular letters of the Superior General, the Secretary General and the Procurator General.
Another import component are the records concerning the relationship of the General Administration with the lower administrative levels within the Congregation. The bulk of the records consists of correspondence with the different entities of the Congregation, sometimes down to the level of individual houses or communities. Throughout the years, the number of entities would increase and there was a need to found separate vicariates, provinces and delegations. All of them were in close contact with the General Administration. There are a number of recurring types of records for most entities covering the history, constitutions, chapters (general and local) and other meetings, contacts with the superiors (general), with the General Administrations (correspondence, visitations and “ternae” or elections), with houses, with the Procurator and Bursar, concerning members administration (for instance statistics), vocation and formation, spirituality, apostolate, contacts with external organizations (including contacts with the local Catholic Church) and other members of the Montfortian family. The quantity of the records is linked to the age of the entity and will vary accordingly. Sometimes, some records produced by the entity itself are also part of the archives, for instance the journal of a specific missionary post. These records are usually not separated, but are instead integrated together with the other records concerning the entities. Some exceptions of records which have been isolated and are being treated as separately created archives are, for example, those of the General House, the parish of San Luigi di Montfort and the Collegio Montfort. Some records do not concern one single entity, but several entities at once at a supranational level. They are arranged separately in the inventory.
The members administration contains, on the one hand, general information concerning members such as statistics, necrologies and albums. The latter being directories composed by the General Administration, containing all details from the General Administration down to the entities, the separate communities and individual members. On the other hand, the members administration, also entails all the personal files of the deceased members and those who left the Congregation. Moreover, some personal papers of individual members like fathers Hendrik Hubert Frehen, Pierre Eijckeler and Hubert-Marie Gebhard, are also part of the archives.
Finally, there is an audio-visual collection. The photographical collection focuses on the different entities and contains some good references to typical missionary architecture, but also traditions of local populations are represented. Portraits of the different superiors of the Congregations and of Montfortian bishops are also available. Furthermore, images of specific celebrations, audiences with the Pope, festivities in the light of the canonization of Montfort and other topics, form part of the collection. Some iconographic materials of Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Marie-Louise Trichet, Mary and Christ is available, together with a small amount of religious objects and relics.
How to view/download the research materials:
1. Get the Catalogue Number of your desired files from the inventory.
2. Fill-up the form below.
3. Wait for the 'Access Code' that will be sent to your e-mail to open the files.
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