February, 1977, traditional Catholics liberate the church of St.
Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris. Msgr. Ducaud Bourget and Fr. Coache
summon the faithful for a conference in support of the Archbishop,
and direct them to the old church of St. Nicolas, only a few meters
away. An astonished parish priest who is celebrating the New Mass
for about 40 people has just announced that the church would be
open only two days a week. Suddenly he sees an immense crowd filling
the church respectfully and in reverent silence. A miracle? Yes,
indeed, since at the end of this Mass, a processional cross announces
the arrival from the street of the clergy who are going to celebrate
the True Mass on the true altar. The supper table is removed, the
priest escorted to the door, and the miracle of St. Nicholas continues
February 27, 1977 at Paris, the pastor of St. Nicolas du
Chardonnet was just finishing up his mass. The service was
taking place on a little table set on a platform; the mass
was said in the vernacular, with the priest facing the people,
of course, and his back to the altar and the East, which
has always symbolized Christ. Thus turned, he saw a strange
sight. The nearly empty church filled. The Credo was intoned,
and then a procession of choir boys advanced, preceding
priests vested in alb and chasuble....The Mass of St. Pius
V was going to be celebrated. This was the beginning of
the takeover of the church, a successful operation, at the
head of which was Msgr. Ducaud Bourget. The "occupation"
took place, celebrated from the pulpit by the poetic speech
of the courageous chaplain of the Order of Malta, Msgr.
1977 sees 38 new seminarians, despite the condemnations. In October,
the Society has 40 priests, 150 seminarians, 20 priories, and 3
seminaries. The sisters of the Society, founded in 1974, move their
novitiate to Albano, and their general house to St. Michel-en-Brenne
under the direction of Mother Mary Gabriel Lefebvre.
sees the acquisition of four priories in France, a property in Long
Island, and the priory of Madrid. The German seminary of Weissbad
moves to Zaitzkofen. The Jesuit College of St. Mary's, Kansas, is
also bought by the Society.
November 16, the new Pope John Paul II receives the Archbishop in
Rome. After a long conversation the Pope is willing enough to remove
all restrictions on the traditional Mass, but Card. Seper standing
back exclaims immediately, "They make a banner of this Mass,"
a remark which makes a negative impression on the Pope.
in Argentina, a humble seminary opens in Venezuela Street, in Buenos
Aires, with 12 candidates.
June, an old inn is purchased at Rickenbach (Switzerland) to be
our first General House. During summer, a large property is bought
20 kilometers north of Turin at Montalenghe (Italy), for a retreat
house. The American Seminary transfers to Ridgefield, CT.
15, the Archbishop is in St. Mary's, KS, for the first Marian Pilgrimage:
was a magnificent success. More than 2,000 people came from everywhere.
I wish that this place become a great sanctuary for all America,
and a center of devotion and prayers towards the Blessed Virgin,
who alone is only capable of stopping the moral corruption which
does not cease to grow in this immense country.
Lefebvre's initial plan was to make of St. Mary's in Kansas
the North American Seminary of the Society of Saint Pius X.
As Providence would have it, the former Jesuit retreat house
in Ridgefield, CT, would become its eventual location.
experience of our first two schools of St. Michel in Chateauroux
and of l'Etoile du Matin gives us great hopes for the truly Christian
formation of young men and for vocations that will certainly spring
in such an excellent atmosphere. May God allow our schools to
year is crowned on September 23 by the celebration of the priestly
golden jubilee of the Archbishop in Paris, where he calls for a
Catholic Crusade of restoration:
must make a Crusade founded on the sacrifice of the Mass, to re-create
Christendom as the Church wants it, on the same principles, the
same Mass, the same sacraments, the same catechism, the same Holy
Scripture. A crusade of young people, of Catholic families, of
heads of families, a crusade of priests. (Archbishop Marcel
Lefebvre, Collected Works, Vol. I, available from Angelus
the occasion of our 10th anniversary, the Archbishop writes:
attitude for the last ten years must continue now without hesitation
for the good of the Church, to help the authorities of the Church
who want it to come out from the disorder in which they have imprudently
engaged themselves. The conclusion of this anniversary must be depositum
custodire, to keep the deposit of the faith, source of grace
France, the Archbishop announces the opening of "Facultes Catholiques
St. Pie X," named soon afterwards "Institut Universitaire
St. Pie X." He writes:
teachers themselves have urged this foundation by addressing the
Society of Saint Pius X as the only institution capable of maintaining
a sure and permanent doctrine for those spirits thirsty of truth.
May, he visits the US. May 23: "C'est magnifique, c'est
une cathedrale." The delicately nasal French voice of Archbishop
Lefebvre echoes within the walls of St. Vincent de Paul Church in
Kansas City. Built in 1922, for more than one half century the church
was under the care of the Vincentian Fathers. After the Council
11 churches closed in the metropolitan area, and St. Vincent's was
sold to a non-denominational group, then it reverted to the diocese,
which held it in trust until its sale to the Crusaders Community
Church. The rest is history. The classic beauty of this building
is a standing testimony to the love of the Church by American Catholics
in an era of faith:
have been able to confirm with great satisfaction the extraordinary
development of the groups of faithful Catholics both at the chapels
of our priest-friends and in the Society. St. Mary's College,
the school of St. Louis, MO, the beautiful chapel and rectory
of Phoenix, and, at the last moment, the acquisition of a big
church in Kansas City are reasons to hope for the continuation
of the Church in the US.
Lefebvre gets his first look at St. Vincent's. Months of
church as it is now with 450 members and 60 in the parish school.
elevation at the high altar of Our Lady of Sorrows Church,
Phoenix, AZ., It has now become the site of the Society's
newest retreat house.
sees the arrival of nine seminarians from Argentina who have come
to finish their theology, but first need to learn French and Latin.
Ridgefield we have 12 new candidates. Archbishop Lefebvre says:
are asked from everywhere in the world to form and send priests.
As of today I would need to have 150 or 200 extra priests to answer
the requests of the faithful.
an early year visit to the States, Archbishop Lefebvre dedicates
the complex of Jesus and Mary in El Paso, Texas. In the afternoon
of January 4, 200 children are confirmed. On January 6, four years
after a visa had been denied to Archbishop Lefebvre due to pressure
put on the government by the bishops of Mexico, our founder crosses
the border for what turns out to be a triumphant tour of the country
of the Cristeros [see The Angelus, Dec. 1993-Ed.].Followed
continuously by the Mexican secret police, the Archbishop visits
in the south of the country large areas of very poor Indians who,
astonished, received an affirmative answer to their request for
a truly Catholic bishop coming to support their fight for the Faith
before the Communist clergy, sold to Liberation Theology. He is
received like a conquering hero, walking among cheering crowds of
thousands in villages festooned with ribbons, garlands, and the
magnificent fragrant flowers of those latitudes. Some natives walk
as much as 100 miles through mountains to bring their children to
be confirmed and to be able to kiss the episcopal ring and receive
the blessing of Marcel Lefebvre, "el hombre justo."
In Tlaxiaco, while the diocesan bishop celebrates the New Mass
for 25 people, thousands attend the solemn ceremonies presided by
January of 1981, hundreds of Mexican Catholics are thrilled to greet
"el hombre justo" ("the just man"), Archbishop
Rome, Card. Seper, the Pope's delegate for the dialogue with the
Society, writes on February 19, making allusion to the possibility
of sending a cardinal to find a solution to the liturgical problem
and the canonical situation of the Society.
years after laying its cornerstone, Archbishop Lefebvre returns
to perform the ordinations
at Maria Corredentora Seminary in La Reja, Argentina.
of the Society of Saint Pius X teaching at the school in
Archbishop goes for a long missionary trip to South Africa and then
to Argentina, where on August 15, he lays the first stone of the
seminary in La Reja, very close to Buenos Aires. He also visits
Brazil at the request of Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer who is soon
going to be forced to retire from his diocese:
hope that he will now be able to take some action at the level
of the universal Church in the present crisis.
same year he travels to Australia to prepare the foundation of the
first priory in Sydney:
must acknowledge that the Australian priests, faithful to tradition,
and the laity have worked very well during these last years. In
my last trip in 1973 the groups of Sydney and Melbourne were composed
by a few families; this time 700 faithful were present at the
confirmations and Mass of Sydney, and almost as many in Melbourne,
and about 150 in Adelaide, Perth, and also Wanganui in New Zealand.
This region gives now great hope and deserves its first priory.
new candidates enter our seminaries.
Rome, Card. Seper goes to his reward. His last letter of October
does not present any solution. Traditional Catholics are the only
victims of tolerance and religious freedom, when in reality they
are the ones who defend the truth.
home | contents
| top of page