Brother traces John Paul’s devotion

Saint Montfort's treatise 'had a major influence on the late pope' and helped him write encyclicals

Brother traces John Paul’s devotion
Montfort Brother T. A. Joseph
Francis Maria Britto, Raipur, India

April 29, 2011

A Montfort Brother in India says his congregation’s founder greatly influenced Pope John Paul II’s Marian devotion. The principal source of the pope’s Christocentric and Marian spirituality was the Treatise of the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin by Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Brother T. A. Joseph reckons. Saint Louis (1673-1716) brought renewal in northwestern France by his preaching on Mary and the Rosary and by his life of poverty, Brother Joseph said. Brother Joseph pointed to a female Polish friend of the late pontiff, who said John Paul had kept a copy of the treatise his spiritual director had given in the seminary. The French saint had also influenced the pope in choosing Totus Tuus (totally yours) as his motto at the time of his ordination as a bishop, the 70-year-old Indian scripture scholar claimed. At his priestly golden jubilee, the pope had declared, “the reading of [Saint Montfort’s treatise] was a decisive turning point in my life.” Brother Joseph has for the past few years lectured on the influence of Saint Montfort on the spirituality of Pope John Paul II. He recalled the pope making a “personal visit” to the saint’s tomb when he visited France in 1996. The pope had acknowledged at several public functions and in official writings his indebtedness to Saint Montfort, the Indian brother noted. According to him, the pope revealed to Vittorio Messori, who edited the pope’s book: Crossing the Threshold of Hope, that Saint Montfort had helped him discover “the immense riches of Marian devotion from new perspectives.” This happened when – as the young Karol Wojtyla – he thought of distancing himself from Marian devotion to focus more on Christ, Brother Joseph pointed out. The pope acknowledged that the saint had helped him understand that the “true devotion to the Mother of God is actually Christocentric [centered on Christ]” and “profoundly rooted in the Blessed Trinity and the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption.” The pope had also told Messori that his “mature” Marian devotion helped him write the encyclicals, Redemptoris Mater and Mulieris Dignitatem. “If the Marian spirituality of Saint Montfort could help a person become a pope and a saint, it could help each one of us to become better Christians and even saints,” Brother Joseph asserts. Related reports Churches can now be named for John Paul II Catholics Remember Pope John Paul II IC14034.1649