William Joseph Chaminade

    He was born on April 8, 1761 in Périgueux, a town that is 140 km from the castle of Trenquelléon. So, Adela and William Joseph were not only born in distant places, but Father Chaminade was 28 years older than Adele.

    Blaise Chaminade and Catherine Bethon already had a very large family, but they received with great joy their fourteenth son: William. His father worked in the guild of glaziers for a while. He was an artist, William inherited some of that artist inclination, but when Blaise married, he took care of his wife’s family business, a fabric trade. Today we would say that the Chaminade family belonged to the middle class. The two older brothers had left to be religious and Lucretia, Francis, Luis and the newborn William remained at home. The other brothers died when they were small.

    Parents were very concerned about the education of their children; it was not easy in those years in the middle of French Revolution. His parents and brothers loved William a lot, they all taught him something: to pray, to think, to sing, to play, to obey and to strive to get what he wanted. In Périgueux you could only learn to read, write and little else. In order to continue his studies they sent him to the school of San Carlos de Mussidan, where his brother Joseph Baptist was priest and professor and his brother Luis was student.

    The years in the school were fundamental for William, he learned a lot from his professors also his brothers.

    Los años en el colegio fueron fundamentales para Guillermo, por lo que aprendió de todos sus profesores, y también de sus hermanos.

    With the help of his brothers, William learned to pray and, above all, the Virgin Mary became one of the pillars of his life.

    On one excursion to a quarry, one of his companions dropped a stone from the top. Rolling, he reached up to those who were playing in the grass and went to strike on the ankle of William Joseph. It produced a wound that after six weeks, and after all the care that could be applied at that time, presented some alarming symptoms. His brother Joseph Baptist proposed to him to pray for nine days in a row to the Virgin to request that its foot healed. So they did and the Virgin healed the wound of William Joseph. To thank the Virgin, the two brothers went to the sanctuary of Verdelais, which is about 50 miles away.

    After this event, William Joseph Chaminade lived convinced of the protection of Mary.

    The pilgrims who visit the sanctuary today find a little table at the back of the church and an indication that invites us to write on a piece of paper what we want the Virgin to help us with. Many sit and write their petition, fold it and deposit it in a box. Sign that the Virgin listens to the requests are the multitude of plates that cover the walls of the sanctuary thanking for cures and all sorts of problems solved. Also one recalls that Father Chaminade was there to give thanks for his healing.


    Adele knew Father Chaminade by chance, as with so many good friends. Every year she went to Figeac to visit her maternal grandmother. It was the year 1808. Before returning to Trenquelléon, her mother visited a nun who had known since childhood. There she met Mr. Lafon. In the course of the conversation, the Baroness talks about the Association that her daughter Adele and other young women have created. Mr. Lafon, very interested, asks her some questions, and then tells him that he himself is a member of a Congregation founded in 1801 in Bordeaux by Father Chaminade. There are many similarities between the Association of Adela and the Congregation of Bordeaux and Mr. Lafon proposes that the “Small Association” be affiliated with that of Bordeaux. As soon as the Baroness returned, she told Adele the meeting she had had. From then on, Father Chaminade and Adele began to exchange letters and the “Small Association” joined the Congregation of Bordeaux.

    Adele knew that she wanted to give her life completely to God, and from now on, she will count on Father Chaminade’s help to carry out her purpose. However, it will not be until June 8, 1816 when they meet face to face. For some reason, Father Chaminade’s trip to see Adele was postponed, and he had to wait eight years to meet her. However, they had already shared many things by letter and it was as if they knew each other’s whole life.

    How different they were Adele and Father Chaminade! She was young and lived in a rural area; He was 28 years older than she was and lived in Bordeaux. Yet they had the same dream: to make the world that they had to live a good thing and they knew that there is nothing good without God. This was how the French Revolution had proved it by killing many people.

    In our world, there are other types of revolutions, but God is put aside because technology gives us a lot of security, science explains things that were not known before; we have advanced a lot in some things, but surely, we still lack the same as in the nineteenth century.