Blessed Louis Brisson (1817-1908)
Born in Plancy, in the Champagne region of France, on June 23, 1817, Louis Brisson was ordained a priest in the diocese of Troyes in 1840. Assigned to teach religion and sciences in the boarding school of the Visitation monastery, he was, himself, an ingenious inventor; among his works is an astronomic clock, one so accurate that it was later studied by NASA engineers. But Fr. Brisson's greatest work would be a divine invention!
As chaplain to the Sisters of the Visitation monastery, Fr. Brisson encountered there the religious superior -- Mother Mary de Sales Chappuis -- who would orchestrate the prelate's life work as founder of two religious institutes: the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales and the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. It was she who prevailed upon Fr. Brisson, after decades of discussions and three miraculous interventions, to establish the group of priests that St. Francis de Sales had intended to found centuries before.
As director of the Catholic Association of St. Francis de Sales, Fr. Brisson established four boarding schools, where young female factory workers would be kept safe and would grow in their religious education. This work would led to the foundation of the Oblate Sisters, with St. Leonie de Sales Aviat, in 1868.
A year later, Fr. Brisson accepted the request by the bishop of Troyes to oversee the College Saint Bernard. This educational work led to the foundation of the Oblates in 1872.
Personally and professionally, Fr. Brisson suffered the persecutions of the French Revolution, which forced the expulsion of his religious orders and the dissolution of their property. Still, his faith was unwavering: "If everything seems lost," he said, "and everyone has already surrendered his hope, the Lord will show His might and His influence. Then it will become clear to all that the decision lies only in His hands and we are capable of nothing."
Fr. Brisson died on February 2, 1908. His mortal remains, along with those of St. Aviat, lie in the crypt of the motherhouse of the Oblate Sisters in Troyes.
- ♦ The process for his canonization was officially opened, in Troyes, in 1938.
- ♦ On December 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI authorized the decree affirming his life of heroic virtue and bestowing on him the title of "Venerable."
- ♦ On December 19, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI authorized the promulgation of the decree attributing a miracle to his intercession, after which Fr. Brisson was beatified in Troyes on September 22, 2012. He now bears the title "Blessed."
To honor the legacy of Fr. Brisson, DeSales University marked the centenary of his death (2008) by establishing an endowed professorship in his name. Fr. Thomas Dailey, O.S.F.S. (Director of the Salesian Center for Faith & Culture) was appointed the first Father Louis Brisson Professor in Salesian Spirituality.
To learn more ...
- ► visit the website dedicated to the Beatification of Fr. Brisson
- ► consult our Salesian Center studies on Fr. Brisson
- ► visit the Oblates' website dedicated to Fr. Brisson