Former Marist College and Minor Seminary (now Lamartine College et Lycée)
41 rue Georges Girerd, Belley, France [ Map ]
The private college at Belley now known as Lamartine College et Lycée was originally established in the late seventeenth century as a boys’ school and seminary for the Diocese of Belley. In the mid-1820s, Bishop Devie of Belley invited the pioneer Marists to live on the property. Against the wishes of the Marist founder Jean-Claude Colin, in 1829 the bishop placed the College under the direction of Colin, whose hair turned prematurely white because of the strain. Some of the present college buildings survive from the Marist era, which ended with the resumption of diocesan control in 1845. Eymard is commemorated by a statue in the college chapel, as is the martyr St Peter Chanel (1803-1841).
Before he had completed his Marist novitiate, Eymard was posted to Belley as Spiritual Director in December 1839. Because Eymard was already an ordained and experienced diocesan priest on joining the Society of Mary, he received a dispensation which allowed his novitiate period to be shortened. On 16 February 1840, Eymard made his first profession of vows as a Marist in the chapel of the Marist residence at Belley.
Eymard was Spiritual Director at Belley from late 1839 until November 1844, when he returned to Lyon to take up a new appointment as Provincial of the Society of Mary. His responsibilities at Belley included preaching, religious instruction, administration of the sacraments, and liaison with pupils and parents. He also promoted an association of students called the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin, which contributed towards the rejuvenation of the college.
The college at Belley is also significant for its historical association with St Peter Chanel, the first martyr in Oceania (d. 28 April 1841), who taught at the college in the early 1830s.
The present institution is named after the prominent French politician and romantic poet Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869), who was a student of the Jesuits at the college from 1803 to 1807.
Belley (Photo Gallery) Jean-Claude Colin – Cause for Beatification website
Lamartine (official website) [French]
The Marist Places : Belley (Marist Internet Project)