History of Father Moreau

Founder of the Brothers, Priests, and Sisters of Holy Cross

“You did not choose me, I chose you”. The Congregation of Holy Cross recognize this quotation as the special calling of their Founder, Basil Moreau. Basil was born to Louis Moreau and Louise Pioger, and his name was a providential choice, because the Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church, Basil the Great, was to lead his protégé in a path of dedication of spreading the Word of God through education. For more than a century, members of the family of Holy Cross have established, directed, and supported institutions of learning, from maternal schools through Universities in the U.S., Europe, France, Canada, Asia, Africa, and South America.

As a child, Basil was a student of the Pastor of his parish. Always interested in his studies and anxious to learn more, it is said that while he attended the family animals in nearby fields, he always carried his study books. He loved to read and study, and those who knew him described him as an organizer who gathered his companions to participate in games and other activities which he planned. He was the one to teach pious young boys to serve Mass, perhaps an indication of his personal vocation. Impressed with his desire and success in learning, as well as his piety, the Parish priest of Laigné-en-Belin discussed his conviction with Basil’s father, and made arrangements for the boy to enter the Minor seminary at Chateau Gontier. Basil and his father made the journey to the seminary on foot, a distance covered today by car in an hour and a half. What genuine interest, courage, and devotion was displayed by father and son!

Basil’s spiritual formation and secular instruction continued in the major seminary until ordination in Le Mans in 1821. This was supplemented by two years spent with the Sulpicians in Paris. On his return to the Diocese of Le Mans, he was appointed professor of Philosophy, Dogmatic Theology and Scripture.

The example and teaching of Moreau continue to inspire the religious family of brothers, priests, and sisters of Holy Cross which he founded to serve the people of God. In mid-19th century Le Mans, Moreau (now a diocesan priest) faced the turmoil, uncertainties and danger experienced by the Catholic Church in the aftermath of the French Revolution. He dreamed of establishing a religious family of three separate and autonomous groups (priests, brothers and sisters) united in their work and in spirit and dedicated to service. Modeled on the Holy Family, each branch of the new religious family was dedicated to Jesus, Mary or Joseph.

Father Moreau assumed the direction of the Brothers of St. Joseph when their founder Father Jacques Dujarié became too ill to continue their direction. In addition to this group, Father Moreau began his own society of priests dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In response to the appeals from bishops, Fr. Moreau sent his religious in teams of brothers, priests, and sisters to minister in Algeria and the U.S. (1841), Canada (1847), Italy (1850) and India (1853).

In 1838 he gave a rule of life to a group of devout laywomen. These women assisted the priests and brothers at first by doing domestic work, then in teaching and nursing. These women became the Marianites of Holy Cross. Today, the women of Holy Cross form 3 distinct congregations: Marianites of Holy Cross, Sisters of the Holy Cross, and Sisters of Holy Cross. Men and women religious of Holy Cross minister in Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia, engaged in a variety of ministries fulfilling their commitment to continue the mission of Jesus in the spirit of Fr. Moreau.

  • 1799 Born February 11, 1799 in Laigné-en-Belin, a little village near Le Mans, France. He was the 9th of 14 children; his father was a wine merchant.
  • 1814 Entered the diocesan seminary.
  • 1821 Ordained a priest at age 22.
  • 1835 Taught and served as assistant superior in Le Mans; named leader of the Brothers of St. Joseph founded by Fr. Jacques Dujarié. Founded the society of Auxiliary Priests.
  • 1837 United the brothers and priests into the Association of Holy Cross.
  • 1840 Professed vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
  • 1844 Received the vows of Leocadie Gascoin and three Marianites.
  • 1857 Received papal approval of the constitutions for the Association, which became the Congregation of Holy Cross.
  • 1866 Resigned as superior general, but continued an active preaching and retreat ministry.
  • 1872 Celebrated his Golden Jubilee.
  • 1873 Died on January 20 at age 73.
  • 1955 The cause for his beatification was introduced in Rome.
  • 1959 Decree recognizing his heroicity of virtue on October 20 by Pope John XXIII.
  • 2003 Declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II on April 12.
  • 2006 Decree by Pope Benedict XVI recognizing a miracle.
  • 2007 Beatified and declared “Blessed” by Pope Benedict XVI on September 15.

Founder of the Brothers, Priests, and Sisters of Holy Cross

for the canonization of Fr. Moreau and to obtain a favor through his intercession.

Lord Jesus, Source of all that is good, you inspired Basil Moreau to found the religious family of Holy Cross to continue your mission among the People of God. May he be for us a model of the apostolic life, an example of fidelity and an inspiration as we strive to be followers of Jesus.

May the Church be moved to proclaim his saintliness for the good of all people. Lord Jesus, you said ”Ask and you shall receive.” I dare to come to you to ask that you hear my prayer. It is through the intercession of Father Basil Moreau that I ask…

May I learn to imitate his holiness and service and look to him confidently in times of need.

For further information or to report any favor received through Fr. Moreau’s intercession, please contact:

Via Framura, 85, 00168 Rome, Italy.

Notre histoire commence au milieu du 19ème siècle, au Mans, en France, avec un prêtre diocésain, Basile Antoine Moreau. Malgré l’agitation, l’insécurité et les dangers auxquels l’Eglise catholique faisait face au lendemain de la Révolution, l’abbé Moreau rêvait d’établir une famille religieuse constituée de trois groupes autonomes et distincts (pères, frères et soeurs) mais unis dans l’esprit et le travail poour servir. En suivant le modèle de la Sainte Famille, chaque branche de la nouvelle famille religieuse fut consacrée à Jésus, Marie ou Joseph.

Le père Moreau assuma la direction des Frères de Saint Joseph quand leur fondateur, le père Jacques Dujarié, devint trop malade pour continuer sa responsabilité. Le père Moreau ajouta à ce groupe sa propre société de prêtres consacrés au Sacré Coeur de Jésus.

En 1838, il proposa une règle de vie à un groupe de femmes dévouées. Tout d’abord, elles aidèrent les prêtres et les frères dans les tâches domestiques. Plus tard, pour répondre à de nombreux appels elles reçurent la formation nécessaire pour pouvoir enseigner et prendre soin des malades. Elles prirent le nom de Marianites de Sainte Croix et en 1841, elles

reçurent un habit religieux qui ressemblait à ce que portaient les paysannes françaises de l’époque. Les Marianites furent consacrées à Marie, et plus particulièrement à Notre-Dame des Sept Douleurs. La première responsable de ce groupe reçut le nom de Mère Marie des Sept Douleurs. Son nom de famille était : Léocadie Gascoin.

Basile Antoine Moreau

  • 1799 Né le 11 Février à Laigné en Belin, un petit village situé à quelques kilomètres du Mans. Il était le 9ème enfant d’une famille de 14. Son père était négociant en vin.
  • 1814 Il entre au séminaire diocésain
  • 1821 Il est ordonné prêtre
  • 1835 Il prend la direction des Frères de Saint Joseph fondés par le père Jacques Dujarié Il fonde les prêtres auxiliaires
  • 1837 Il réunit les frères et les prêtres dans la Congrégation de Sainte Croix
  • 1840 Il fait les voeux de pauvreté, chasteté et obéissance avec quatre autres prêtres.
  • 1843 Il reçoit les voeux des deux premières Marianites
  • 1844 Il reçoit les voeux de Léocadie Gascoin et de trois Marianites.
  • 1872 Il célèbre son Jubilé d’or
  • 1873 Il meurt le 20 Janvier à l’âge de 73 ans.