Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort was born in January 31, 1673 in Montfort-sur-Meu, the eldest surviving child of eighteen born to Jean-Baptiste and Jeanne Robert Grignion. St. Louis-Marie possessed a strong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament as a child, and was also intimately devoted to the Blessed Virgin, especially through the Rosary. He took the name Marie at his confirmation.
The saint manifested a love for the poor while he was at school and joined a society of young men who ministered to the poor and the sick on school holidays. When he was 19, he walked 130 miles to Paris to study theology, gave all he had to the poor that he met along the way and made a vow to live only on alms. He was ordained priest at the age of 27, and for some time fulfilled the duties of chaplain in a hospital. In 1705, when he was 32, he discovered his great gift for preaching and committed himself to it for the rest of his life. During sixteen years he preached the Gospel in countless towns and villages. As an orator he was highly gifted, his language being simple but replete with fire and divine love. His whole life was conspicuous for virtues difficult for modern degeneracy to comprehend: constant prayer, love of the poor, poverty carried to an unheard-of degree, joy in humiliations and persecutions.
But he also met with opposition, especially from the Jansenists, a heretical movement within the Church that believed in absolute Predestination, in which only a chosen few are saved, and the rest damned. Much of France was influenced by Jansenism, including many bishops, who banished Loius-Marie from preaching in their dioceses. He was even poisoned by Jansenists in La Rochelle, but survived, though he suffered ill health after.
While recuperating from the effects of the poisoning, he wrote the masterpiece of Marian piety, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, which he correctly prophesied would be hidden by the devil for a time. He also wrote some of the famous The Secret of Mary and The Secret of the Rosary, and more than 20,000 verses of Hymns. Montfort’s hymns and canticles were, for the most part, meant to be sung in village churches and in the homes of the poor. His seminal work was discovered 200 years after his death.
In Louis-Marie’s approach to Marian consecration, Jesus and Mary are inseparable. He views ‘consecration to Jesus in Mary’ as a special path to being conformed to, united and consecrated to Christ, given that;
” …of all creatures the one most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that among all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary, his Holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to her the more will it be consecrated to Jesus Christ.”
“God the Father made an assemblage of all the waters, and He named it the sea (mare). He has made an assemblage of all His graces, and He has called it Mary (Maria).”
St. Louis-Marie is perhaps most famously known for his prayer of entrustment to Our Lady, ‘Totus Tuus ego sum,’ which means, ‘I am all yours.’ The late-Pope John Paul II took the phrase ‘Totus Tuus’ as his episcopal motto.
One year before he died, St. Louis-Marie founded two congregations: the Daughters of Divine Wisdom – which tended to the sick in hospitals and the education of poor girls, and the Company of Mary, missionaries devoted to preaching and to spreading devotion to Mary.
Worn out by hard work and sickness, he fell ill and died on 28 April 1716. He was 43 years old, and had been a priest for only 16 years. His last sermon was on the tenderness of Jesus and the Incarnate Wisdom of the Father. Thousands gathered for his burial in the parish church, and very quickly there were stories of miracles performed at his tomb.