The Early Years in the Life of the Founder
The Society of Mary was founded by Blessed William Joseph Chaminade. Of French origin, he was born in 1761 in Périgueux in the South-West of France. Very young, William demonstrated an attachment to God and wanted to serve him as priest. He has a particular devotion to St Joseph whose name he will add to his. Chaminade pursued his seminary and was ordained a priest in 1785.
French Revolution and Exil
The French Revolution of 1789 and its oppression against the Church with the Civil Constitution of the Clergy forced Chaminade to enter into an underground ministry, disguising himself sometimes in order to celebrate the Eucharist and administer the sacraments. Still not ready to betray his faith and swear allegiance to the National Assembly, he was forced to go into exile to Spain in 1797.
In exile in Zaragoza, Chaminade receives his vision and mission to rechristianize France. It was at the foot of the statue of the Virgin at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pilar.
Returning to France in 1800, Chaminade began his work with the creation of lay communities where the Gospel is lived and shared, before officially founding a male religious order, placed under the aegis of the Virgin Mary, the Society of Mary , on October 02, 1817.
Since then, the Society of Mary continues its work of evangelization by diversifying its activities, either through education, pastoral work within the Church, manual and technical activities or any other means according to the needs of the times and places.