The village of Cerdon, in the northern Bugey mountains
Detail: Official icon of Jean-Claude Colin, with Blessed Virgin and Child
Barbery: Cross on the site of the Colin home
Forest of Barbery: hiding place for priests during Revolutionaries' raids - and of quiet for the young Jean-Claude
St Bonnet-le-Troncy, boyhood home of Jean-Claude Colin
River Loire, which flows past the minor seminary of St Jodard
Lyon, Fourvière: ancient chapel of the Blessed Virgin and Basilica
Fourvière: sanctuary of the ancient chapel of the Blessed Virgin.
Cerdon: Fr Colin's first appointment as assistant to his brother, Pierre.
Cerdon: statue in the church of St John the Baptist
Presbytery at Cerdon: home for the first nine years of Jean-Claude's priestly life.
Belley: Minor seminary high school where pioneer Bugey missioners lived
Bugey mountains: village of Lacoux
Bugey mountains: church at Innimont
Bugey mountains: church at Innimont
Bugey mountains: statue at Arandas
Rome: The Quirinale, residence of the Popes at the time of Fr Colin's first visits
Rome: Odescalchi Palace, from the church of the Apostles where Fr Colin stayed in 1833
Belley: Chapel of La Capucinière, first Marist professions, 1836
Lyon, Puylata: General House of the Society of Mary from 1838
Rochefort du Gard: one of the shrines undertaken by Fr Colin and the Marists
Toulon, La Seyne: One of the first high schools established by the Marist Fathers
Marcellange: established by Fr Colin as a place of retreat for his missioners
Trappist monastery at Aiguebelle: Fr Colin would make private retreats here
La Neylière: planned by Fr Colin to be a place of silence and retreat
La Neylière: book belonging to Fr Colin
La Neylière: Fr Colin's study
La Neylière: winter sunset, from the room of Fr Colin
La Neylière: bedroom of Fr Colin
La Neylière: crucifix laid in the hands of Fr Colin upon his death
La Neylière: resting place of Fr Colin

Pictorial life of Jean-Claude Colin

The sliding gallery above gives a pictorial glimpse at the life of Jean-Claude Colin.
Brief descriptions below...
Scroll below or go to Flipbook


01 0512 Cerdon views from vineyards 4J
Cerdon: a cradle of the Society of Mary, where Jean-Claude Colin first drew up the patterns for Marist life...
The picturesque village of Cerdon, in the confluence of three valleys at the north of the Bugey mountains. It was here in 1816 that the newly-ordained Jean-Claude Colin came to assist his brother, Pierre, in the pastoral care of the parish. It was here, too, that he began writing the first rule of the Society of Mary...


 2 NEW 1111 JCC icon 3 Mb
Official icon of Jean-Claude Colin, receiving inspiration for the Society of Mary from the Blessed Virgin...
Detail from the icon of Jean-Claude Colin with the Blessed Virgin and Child, designed and written by the studio of John the Baptist, Auckland, NZ, in 2011.  To download the full image, go to Resources / Images


3 NEW 0512 Barbery cross 3J fence crpps
The story begins...
Jean-Claude Colin was born on 7 August,1790, in the tiny hamlet of Barbery, Loire district of France. In 1936, one hundred years after the approval of the Marist project, this memorial cross was erected on the site of the Colin homestead.
4 NEW 0714 Barbery forest 05
Forest of Barbery: the Colin family would hide their parish priest here when revolutionaries were in pursuit. Later, the young Jean-Claude would come here for quiet and solace.
5 NEW 0512 St Bonnet 7J thru trees
Close to the Barbery hamlet is the village of St Bonnet-le-Troncy, where Jean-Claude Colin moved after the death of his parents in 1794. 
6 NEW 0512 La Loire 4J
The River Loire flows past the town of St Jodard, the first of three minor seminaries attended by the young Jean-Claude Colin. After St Jodard he moved to Alix and  Verrières, before continuing studies at the major seminary of St Irenaeus in Lyon. Here he joined a group of fellow seminarians who dreamt of a new family in the Church, the Marists.  
7 NEW 0715 Fourviere ext 14
On 23 July, 1816, the day after Jean-Claude's priestly ordination, a group of twelve Marist aspirants climbed  the hill of Fourvière to the ancient chapel of the Blessed Virgin (now dwarfed by the basilica overlooking the city of Lyons).
8 NEW 0512 Fourviere int 2J
In the chapel of the Blessed Virgin of Fourvière, Jean-Claude and his companions pledged to form the Society of Mary whenever they could.
9 NEW 0714 Cerdon views 21ps
The newly-ordained Fr Jean-Claude Colin was appointed with his brother Pierre to the village of Cerdon, high in the Bugey mountains to the east of Lyon. The village lies in the confluence of three valleys in a remote, wine-growing district.
10 NEW 0714 Cerdon 18e
The young Fr Colin prayed often before this statue of the Blessed Virgin and Child in the church of St John the Baptist, Cerdon, seeking inspiration as he drew up the first rules of the Society of Mary.
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For nine years after his ordination Fr Colin lived in the presbytery at Cerdon. It was here he began writing the first rules for Marist life. And it was from here that the pioneer Marists set out on the early Bugey missions.
12 NEW 0213 Belley College 1
In 1825 Bishop Alexander Devie asked Fr Colin to move to the town of Belley, taking up residence at the minor seminary high school of the diocese. From here Fr Colin led the pioneer Marists on their first missiions in the mountains of the Bugey. Later he would be asked to assume leadership of the college.
13 NEW 0213 Lacoux 01ps skyaa 1080
The village of Lacoux in the Bugey mountains, was one of the first parishes visited by Fr Colin and his fellow missioners. Such places had been much-neglected since the French Revolution began, many no longer with a priest.
14 NEW 0213 Innimont 27
The church of Innimont in the Bugey mountains, one of the twenty-seven parishes visited by Fr Colin during his time as a missioner. Winter was the only time the missions could be held, the farmers no longer able to work long hours in the fields.
15 NEW 0512 Innimond 6J int
The first Marist missions were preached in cold, unheated churches like the church of Innimont, the Marists being housed in equally cold, damp and draughty presbyteries.
16 NEW 0512 Arandas OL shrine 3J crpps
This statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary stands in the grounds of another of the Bugey parishes missioned by Fr Colin and his confrères. Fr Colin's unfailing passion was to do 'the work of Mary'.
16 0412 Quirinale steps statue 2J
In 1833 Fr Colin, by then seen as central superior of the Marist project, made the first of five visits to Rome. At the Quirinale residence of the Pope he had his first audience, with the mission-minded Pope Gregory XVI.
17 0412 Odescalchi 2J thru gate
Fr Colin stayed at the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Rome, opposite the Odescalchi Palace where he would meet with one of the curial cardinals seeking approval for the Marist project.
18 0213 Belley La Capuciniere 06
In April 1836 the Society of Mary priests' branch received Roman approval. On 24 September on the steps of the chapel of La Capucinière, Belley, Fr Colin and the aspiring Marists made their religious profession, electing Fr Colin as the first superior-general of the Society of Mary. Within months a group of missionaries left for the distant south-west Pacific.
19 0213 Puylata 18
In 1838 Fr Colin moved from Belley to Lyons and the house of Puylata to set up the Marist headquarters. From here he oversaw the development of missionary Marist activity both in France and abroad.
20 0515 Roch
Rochefort-du-Gard, not far from Avignon, France, was one of several Marian shrines which Fr Colin accepted to be cared for by Marists.
21 Mar 0213 Toulon college 07
Fr Colin led the Marist Fathers into secondary education. This school at La Seyne, near Toulon in the south-east of France, was one of the early Marist colleges.
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Fr Colin wished his men to have places of retreat and quiet as a base for their missions in France. Such a place was Marcellange in central France.
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After joining the annual retreats of the Marists, Fr Colin would slip away to make a further, private retreat at centres such as the Trappist monastery of Aiguebelle, to the south of France.
24 0615 LN Exterior 05
In 1852 Fr Colin established the residence of La Neylière, a place of retreat, study and reflection.
25 0512 La Neyl JCC books 2Jcrpps1
In 1854, after his resignation from the Society of Mary's leadership, Fr Colin went to live at La Neylière where he continued his own study and the writing of the constitutions of the Marists.
26 1013 La Neyliere 05crpps
At La Neylière Fr Colin worked not only on the Marist Fathers' constitutions but those of the Marist Sisters as well as the rules for Marist Laity.
27 0213 La Neyliere 6 view crp
As his health declined Fr Colin spent more and more time at La Neylière. With failing eyesight, he was assisted by Marist confrères who would read and write for him.
28 1013 La Neyliere 04
On 15 November, 1875, Fr Colin died. He was buried in the grounds of La Neylière.
29 0213 La Neyliere JCC bedroom 31crpps
This crucifix was laid in his hands upon his death.
30 La Neyliere new tombstone 2
A large chapel was built soon after the death of Fr Colin and his body reinterred. Later another, smaller chapel was set up and in 2015 a new tombstone placed over the final resting place of Fr Colin.