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You are here:Home / Family News / NEF 2013 / Family News - 2013 July 14th / History of the Rule of life
Jul 13, 2013

History of the Rule of life

7 – The 1877 Constitutions and approval of the Institute

It is a well known fact that we get on better in talking than by writing, so Fr Etchecopar gladly accepted the invitation from
Fr Bianchi: “Come and write your Constitutions here!” He took with him Fr Estrate as secretary and
Fr Etchegaray; this latter was also looking after the approval for the Servants of Mary; our three Commissioners arrived in Rome on the evening of 20th April 1877.

A couple of days later Fr Etchecopar was writing to Fr Pagadoy: “We’re already at work” and on the 4th May writing to the same correspondent: “Our work is getting on well.  We are spending hours at it with all the care possible”. They were in daily contact with Fr Bianchi and Mgr Di Luca from the Sacred Congregation.

They were not allowed to change either the order or the plan of the Constitutions.  The same chapter headings were maintained as well as the Rule of St Augustine.  The contents could be improved.  And so it was that in the case of the badly headed chapter “Devotions special to the Congregation” Fr Etchecopar succeeded in including these three articles:

« 1. All are to remember with great gratitude that they are under the invocation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  They are to look upon this divine Heart as their special model, their treasure and heritage, the hall mark that they are to impress upon their entire life. They will throw all their worries into this well of tenderness; encourage each other in their weaknesses as they repeat his cry of devotion: Ecce venio. Eamus!  They will be a mirror of his gentleness, humility and, as day by day they are alight with the flames of his love, they will spread everywhere the infinite treasures of his mercy and will try to win all hearts for him.  In all houses of the Institute the feast of the Sacred Heart will be celebrated annually with the utmost solemnity.

2. Furthermore, since the Institute is close to a sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin situated at the foot of the hill called Calvary, all members will have a special devotion to the Passion of our Saviour and to the sufferings of the Queen of Martyrs. They will often meditate on the sufferings of the Son and his Mother, they will have a special devotion to the Stations of the Cross and will make this devotion known; they will preach Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ crucified, the virtue and wisdom of God and on Calvary will point to the Mother of God who has become the mother of mankind in order to save the guilty and lead them to heaven.  They will promote the recitation of  the Rosary with great zeal.

3. The special love which they must have for the Sacred Heart, for his Cross and for the Sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary, is to be applied also to St Joseph, patron saint of the universal Church and special protector of the Institute.”

A few minor points were also reintroduced while the remainder were added to the Coutumier.

As soon as the revision was completed, our three “Commissioners” returned to Betharram stopping off at Assisi and Loretto.  Fr Etchecopar convened the Fathers in chapter, coinciding with the retreat, for the Congregation had to vote on this text before presenting it to Rome.

The Chapter gave a very good reception to the Constitution which gave a very good impression of the Institute.  On 3rd June Fr Etchecopar could write to Fr Magendie:  “We are in the middle of our retreat; at the same time we are making a thorough examination of the work done in Rome.  We are all in perfect agreement.  Unanimous approval, Thanks be to God!”

The dossier was sent to the Eternal City once more; and on 8th September 1877 Pius IX signed the decree approving the Congregation with its new rules.


Pierrre Duvignau, scj

(to be continued)

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