Theodore Chavoin was 20 when he married 19-year-old Jeanne Vercheres on May 31, 1786.
Barely three months later, their first child, Jeanne-Marie, was born.
Two more children were born into the family: Marie, who lived only a year, and Claudine-Marie, who married Jacques Millot, a local weaver.
A country girl, Jeanne-Marie grew up with little formal education (her spelling was never quite accurate), but with a great deal of common sense and good judgement.
The Chavoin family was closely-knit, and Jeanne-Marie’s childhood was secure and tranquil, even though these were the times of the French Revolution. By temperament she was an extrovert, for whom action was second nature. Being the daughter of the respected village tailor, and used to meeting people in her father’s shop, she developed an open, friendly and outgoing attitude to people.
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Marcellin Champagnat was the first of the founding people to succeed in forming a Marist group, and his company of Marist Brothers became the fastest growing and the most numerous of the branches of the Marist project.
This in itself explains a great deal about this most loveable of characters who did so much for the enterprise in his short life.
From beginning to end, Marcellin was a practical person, and everything about him reflects this: the way he understood the ideas exchanged at the seminary, the way he responded to needs, the way he formed his Brothers.
Much of this can be traced to his background. His mother was a woman of strong and robust faith, who more than once accompanied Marcellin on foot to the shrine of St Francis Regis at La Louvesc, when difficulties threatened his seminary studies.
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View from Jean-Claude Colin's birthplace
When Jean-Claude Colin’s parents married in 1771 his father Jacques was 24 years old, and his mother Marie Gonnet was not yet 14.
Jean-Claude, born on August 7, 1790, was their eighth child. All told, nine children were born into the family. Claudine, Jean, Mariette, Sebastien, Jeanne-Marie, Pierre, Anne-Marie (who died at birth), Jean-Claude, and Joseph. Jean-Claude’s oldest sister Claudine was his godmother, and his brother Jean was his godfather, hence the baby’s name Jean-Claude.
His parents owned and cultivated a piece of land, and during the winter turned to weaving. The home in which Jean-Claude Colin was born was as secure and loving as any of the ordinary homes of Les Barbery where they lived, considering these were the cataclysmic times of the French Revolution.
The Revolution and the subsequent Civil Constitution of the Clergy brought a split into the Church, separating priests who supported the Constitution from those who remained faithful to Rome.
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