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The General Archives of the Society of Mary preserve both the historical and spiritual memory of the Society of Mary. Historical because the documents tell the story of the Marists as facts ordered in a chronological way; spiritual because the documents also communicate the spirit and the charism of the Society, in the same way as they had been communicated first to our founder Jean-Claude Colin, and then from generation to generation till the present day.
The earliest documents of the new-born Society of Mary – until the date of 24 September 1836, date of the religious profession of the firsts Marists – where conserved personally by Fr Colin himself. It was only after this date that the early Marists started to store records in a separate space, in an additional room set aside for the purpose by Father General. An archivist was designated in 1866 on and with him the first organisation of the archives is initiated.
It was the common practice among the first Marist missionaries to Oceania to write back to France, to Fr Colin, to confreres and to family. In thousands of letters their experiences are described, containing most precious information about the cultures of the people they encounters, but also of their own personal struggles and successes, hopes and fears. These letters constitute an important section of the General Archives.
The archives has through its history known many ups and downs; unfortunate losses of many important documents occurring because of the two expulsions of the religious in France in 1880 and 1903, two World Wars and the moving of the General House from Lyons to Turin and then to Rome in 1925.
Today, since the restructuring of the General House in 2007, the archives are located in comfortable and air conditioned rooms adapted to state-of-the-art conservation of documents. A digital catalogue has been created to facilitate consultation and to support scientific research. Since, it is understood that the archives of the Marist Fathers General House form part of a common patrimony, all the holdings are at the disposition, not only of members of the Marist family but also of all bona fide researchers.
For further information on access to the archives please contact us.