A short history of
In February 1977, traditional Catholics liberate the church of St.
Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris. Msgr. Ducaud Bourget and Fr. Coache
summon the faithful for a conference in support of the Archbishop, and
direct them to the old church of St. Nicolas, only a few meters away.
An astonished parish priest who is celebrating the New Mass for about 40
people has just announced that the church would be open only two days a
week. Suddenly he sees an immense crowd filling the church respectfully
and in reverent silence. A miracle? Yes, indeed, since at the end of
this Mass, a processional cross announces the arrival from the street of
the clergy who are going to celebrate the True Mass on the true altar.
The supper table is removed, the priest escorted to the door, and the
miracle of St. Nicholas continues until today.
Fall 1977 sees 38
new seminarians, despite the condemnations. In October, the Society has 40
priests, 150 seminarians, 20 priories, and 3 seminaries. The sisters of the
Society, founded in 1974, move their novitiate to Albano, and their general
house to St. Michel-en-Brenne under the direction of Mother Mary Gabriel
1978 sees the
acquisition of 4 priories in France, a property in Long Island, and the
priory of Madrid. The German seminary of Weissbad moves to Zaitzkofen. The
Jesuit College of St. Mary’s, Kansas, is also bought by the Society.
On November 16th, the
new Pope John Paul II receives the Archbishop in Rome. After a long conversation
the pope is willing enough to remove all restrictions on the traditional Mass,
but Cardinal Seper standing back exclaims immediately, "They make a
banner of this Mass," a remark which makes a negative impression on the
former Jesuit retreat house hosted first the SSPX's American
seminary (having moved from
Armada, MI), and then in 1987,
Ignatius Retreat House
Argentina, a humble seminary opens in Venezuela Street, in
Buenos Aires, with 12 candidates.
In June, an old
inn is purchased at Rickenbach (Switzerland) to be our first General
House. During summer, a large property is bought 20 kilometers north of
Turin at Montalenghe (Italy), for a retreat house. The American seminary
transfers to Ridgefield, CT.
August 15th, the Archbishop is in
St. Mary’s, KS, for the first Marian Pilgrimage:
It was a magnificent success.
More than 2,000 people came from everywhere. I wish that this place become a
great sanctuary for all America, and a center of devotion and prayers towards
the Blessed Virgin, who alone is only capable of stopping the moral corruption
which does not cease to grow in this immense country.
And about France:
The experience of our first 2 schools of St. Michel in Chateauroux
and of l’Etoile du Matin gives us great hopes for the truly Christian
formation of young men and for vocations that will certainly spring in such an
excellent atmosphere. May God allow our schools to multiply.
The year is crowned on September
23rd by the celebration of the priestly golden jubilee of the Archbishop in Paris,
where he calls for a Catholic crusade of restoration:
We must make a crusade
founded on the sacrifice of the Mass, to re-create Christendom as the Church
wants it, on the same principles, the same Mass, the same sacraments, the same
catechism, the same Holy Scripture. A crusade of young people, of Catholic
families, of heads of families, a crusade of priests. (Archbishop Marcel
Lefebvre, Collected Works, Vol. 1, Angelus
On the occasion of our 10th
anniversary, the Archbishop writes:
attitude for the last 10 years must continue now without hesitation for the
good of the Church, to help the authorities of the Church who want it to come
out from the disorder in which they have imprudently engaged themselves. The
conclusion of this anniversary must be depositum custodire, to keep the
deposit of the faith, source of grace and sanctification.
In France, the Archbishop
announces the opening of Facultes Catholiques Saint Pie X, named soon afterwards Institut Universitaire
St. Pie X. He writes:
The teachers themselves have
urged this foundation by addressing the Society of St. Pius X as the only
institution capable of maintaining a sure and permanent doctrine for those
spirits thirsty of truth.
In May, he
visits the United States. May 23rd: "C’est
une cathedrale." The delicately nasal French voice of
Archbishop Lefebvre echoes within the walls of
St. Vincent de Paul
Church in Kansas City. Built in 1922, for more than one half century the
church was under the care of the Vincentian Fathers. After the Council,
11 churches closed in the metropolitan area, and St. Vincent’s was
sold to a non-denominational group, then it reverted to the diocese,
which held it in trust until its sale to the Crusaders Community Church.
The rest is history. The classic beauty of this building is a standing
testimony to the love of the Church by American Catholics in an era of
St. Vincent de Paul Church
in Kansas City, MO. An architectural landmark of the city and
it is the largest church the SSPX
owns in the USA
I have been able to
confirm with great satisfaction the extraordinary development of the
groups of faithful Catholics both at the chapels of our priest-friends
and in the Society. St. Mary’s College, the school of St. Louis,
MO, the beautiful chapel and rectory of Phoenix, and, at the last
moment, the acquisition of a big church in Kansas City are reasons to
hope for the continuation of the Church in the US.
the arrival of nine seminarians from Argentina who have come to finish
their theology, but first need to learn French and Latin.
In Ridgefield we have 12 new
candidates. Archbishop Lefebvre says:
We are asked from everywhere in
the world to form and send priests. As of today I would need to have 150 or
200 extra priests to answer the requests of the faithful.
During an early year visit to the States, Archbishop Lefebvre dedicates
the complex of Jesus and Mary in El Paso, Texas. In the afternoon of
January 4th, 200 children are confirmed. On January 6th, 4 years after a
visa had been denied to Archbishop Lefebvre due to pressure put on the
government by the bishops of Mexico, our founder crosses the border for
what turns out to be a triumphant tour of the country of the Cristeros
[see The Angelus, December 1993]. Followed
continuously by the Mexican secret police, the Archbishop visits in the
south of the country large areas of very poor
Indians who, astonished, received an affirmative answer to their request
for a truly Catholic bishop coming to support their fight for the Faith
before the Communist clergy, sold to Liberation Theology.
January 1981, hundreds of Mexican
Catholics are thrilled to
"el hombre justo" ("the just
|He is received
like a conquering hero, walking among cheering crowds of
thousands in villages festooned with ribbons, garlands, and
the magnificent fragrant flowers of those latitudes. Some
natives walk as much as 100 miles through mountains to bring
their children to be confirmed and to be able to kiss the episcopal ring and
receive the blessing of Marcel Lefebvre, "el hombre justo." In
Tlaxiaco, while the diocesan bishop celebrates the New Mass for 25 people,
thousands attend the solemn ceremonies presided by Archbishop Lefebvre.
In Rome, Cardinal Seper,
the pope’s delegate for the dialogue with the Society, writes on
February 19th, making allusion to the possibility of sending a cardinal to find a
solution to the liturgical problem and the canonical situation of the Society.
goes for a long missionary trip to South Africa and then to
Argentina, where on August 15th, he lays the first stone of the
seminary in La Reja, very close to Buenos Aires. He also visits Brazil
at the request of Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer who is soon going to be
forced to retire from his diocese:
years after laying its cornerstone,
Archbishop Lefebvre returns
the ordinations at Seminario Nuestra Senora Corredentora in La
We hope that he will
now be able to take some action at the level of the universal Church
in the present crisis.
The same year he travels
to Australia to prepare the foundation of the first priory in Sydney:
I must acknowledge
that the Australian priests, faithful to tradition, and the laity have worked
very well during these last years. In my last trip in 1973, the groups of Sydney
and Melbourne were composed by a few families; this time 700 faithful were
present at the confirmations and Mass of Sydney, and almost as many in
Melbourne, and about 150 in Adelaide, Perth, and also Wanganui in New Zealand.
This region gives now great hope and deserves its first priory.
75 new candidates enter our seminaries.
In Rome, Cardinal Seper goes to his reward. His last letter of October does not present any
solution. Traditional Catholics are the only victims of tolerance and religious
freedom, when in reality they are the ones who defend the truth.
On March 1st, St. Joseph buys for
us our first church in London, seating 300 faithful.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger replaces Cardinal Seper as personal representative of the
Archbishop has a long interview with him in March. Rome wants us to say that
even though we may have some reservations about it, the liturgical reform is
good and that we just think it is less good than the old liturgy. The Archbishop
Now we believe that the reform
is evil, poisoned by ecumenism, and we refuse to accept it and we are obliged
to advise all the faithful against it. God only knows how long the reformers
will close their eyes to the destruction of the faith, of the morals, of
March 20th: An
all-night prayer vigil is held in Martigny, near Econe, inspired by the message
of Our Lady of Fatima asking for prayer and penance. 3,000 pilgrims assist at
the consecration of the world, and especially of Russia, to the Immaculate Heart
of Mary. In anticipation of the present frenzy about the new millennium,
Archbishop Lefebvre declares calmly and firmly:
The 21st century will
be Catholic or it will not be at all.
At Easter time, 5
monsignori and 20 diocesan priests of the diocese of Campos in Brazil
publish a profession of Catholic faith in the face of the present errors, a
splendid document defending the pristine doctrine and traditions of the Church,
We have the absolute certainty
that our position is legitimate, not by virtue of our arguments and ideas, but
because we take our stand on that which the Church herself has taught us. For
the Church, we wish to give our lives if it is necessary.
Fr. Franz Schimdberger, the
SSPX's new Superior
general chapter of the Society of St. Pius X takes place in Econe in September. In the Acts we read a declaration of
principles and directives of the Society of St. Pius X, decisions on
pastoral action in the present crisis, and warnings against liturgical
changes and false ecumenism, and the rejection of liberalism but also
The Society of St. Pius
X is founded on the history of the Church and upon the doctrine of
theologians. It believes that the pope can favor the ruin of the Church
by choosing and letting act bad advisors, also by signing documents and
decrees which do not engage his infallibility and that cause
considerable damage to the Church. Nothing is more dangerous for
the Church than liberal popes who are in a continual incoherence.
We pray for the pope,
but we refuse to follow him in his errors on religious freedom,
ecumenism, socialism and the application of reforms destructive for
the Church. Our apparent disobedience is true obedience to the
Church and to the pope as successor of Peter in the measure that he
continues to maintain holy Tradition... All the members of the Society
have one desire, to be submitted in filial obedience to a Rome
returned to Tradition.
Fr. Franz Schmidberger is elected Vicar
General with right of immediate succession as Superior General.
In the seminaries,
the course of studies is extended from 5 to 6 years. We have 60 new entries
in Econe, Ridgefield, Zaitzkofen, and Buenos Aires.