Marcellin was born on May 20 1789 in Marlhes a village in France. He was baptised one day after.
He learnt most of the stuff he new about God from his aunt Louise who was a nun and was forced to leave when her convent it was burned down by the revolutionaries.
Just like his siblings he grew up helping take care of dads sheep. The skills he learnt at this time were to stand with him in later life.
His dad sent him to school but the teacher was a very bad man who hit the children on the worst excuses. Marcellin didn’t want to go back to school and later he laid down strict rules for the Brothers to follow about punishment.
When he was 16 a priest came looking for boys to be a priest , and Marcellin decided to follow his call. His education had not been the best but he got down to his studies with great difficulty. But he worked hard and succeeded.
He finally reached the standard for entrance to the seminary. Then he sold his lambs to help with the expenses of new clothes and left home. Though he did not know it, both his mother and his father were to die before he became a priest.
Marcellin and his friends made a gang called the Happy Gang and they were always getting into trouble. But the death of his best friend and then his mum made him more serious and he began to work in earnest.
He became a prefect in the school and had a room of his own. He took the advantage of this to work at his studies during the night and reached the standard.
Finally the day came and he was ordained priest on July 2 nd , 1816. The next day with another seven new priests and four deacons he went to the church of Our Lady of Fourvières where they promised to work towards a Society of Mary.
He was appointed as priest to a little town parish called Lavalla where he soon became well liked by everyone. The parish priest was old and ill, and most of the work fell to Marcellin. He said later “Every road here was drenched with my sweat!”
He had always insisted on the need for Brothers to teach the kids. Now he was called to a dying boy and found he had never even heard of God. He would found a group of Brothers to work in schools in the country areas.
He spoke to Jean Marie Granjon who had gone with him to see the sick boy and asked him if he would like to become a Brother. The young man agreed and was joined by another Jean Baptiste Audras. So on January 2 nd 1817 the Marist Brothers began.
Schools were closed for a very long time in the summer so to keep his young men doing stuff and to help with the expenses of the house, Marcellin taught them to make nails, which they sold to the local shop.
By 1824, the numbers were to big for the house in Lavalla and Marcellin bought a property further down the valley, where he built Notre Dame de l’Hermitage, which is still in use, and where he is buried.
One day he had been on a sick call with one of the Brothers, and they were caught in a snowstorm. Things got bad and Marcellin prayed to Our Lady to help them. Just then they saw a light come out from a house and went towards it. They were saved!
By now Marcellin had about 50 Brothers, and the Archbishop gave him permission to stop his parish work to be with his Brothers. He was now able to visit all the schools where they taught and to encourage them in their work.
Requests were coming in for Brothers to teach in many of the small towns and villages in the area, and he tried to grant them all. He insisted that there should always be at least three Brothers in a school, and he spent most of his time going round to make sure that all was well.
In 1830 France had another revolution and some of the Brothers wanted to go into hiding. But Marcellin told the Brothers that Our Lady would protect them, and to ask her help, he began the practice of starting and ending each day with the Hail, Holy Queen, a practice still carried on.
Marcellin’s health was now giving way to the pressure of his work, and in 1840 he told the Brothers to elect a new Superior. On May 3 rd he said his last Mass and a month later on June 6 th as the Brothers were singing the Hail, Holy Queen at their Morning Prayer, he went to his reward.
Marcellin’s life was over but his work was not and his Brothers were all over the world. On 29 th May 1955, Pius XII beatified him, and finally on 18 th April 1999, John Paul II proclaimed him: Saint Marcellin, Founder of the Marist Brothers.