A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Cause of Fr Jean-Claude Colin Founder of the Society of Mary

The Icon (Part 2 of 2)

Through an icon we are able to encounter the person portrayed. In this icon we are brought into the presence of three persons: the Word Made Flesh, his Mother Mary and Jean-Claude Colin, Founder of the Society of Mary.

In this icon the central life-event of Jean-Claude is represented -- his relationship with Mary and her Divine Son. It speaks particularly of the inspiration that was given to Jean-Claude throughout his life of listening obedience, an inspiration which remained always his guide as founder, leader and writer of a rule.

    The icon is in two parts: the golden realm of glory, the place of the Lord and his Mother, and the blue realm of the life and world of Jean-Claude.

    Not yet declared a saint by the Church, Jean-Claude is represented standing outside the glory, though his face is lit by it.

    The intersection of the two worlds expresses two significant areas of the life of Jean-Claude, in which the divine will was made known to him and he responded -- France, symbolised by the gold fleur-de-lis and Oceania, symbolised in the blue Oceanian design.

    The Mother of God is represented in the traditional manner of the Eastern Church. Here she is portrayed as Mother of God, Eleousa (the Merciful One), or Our Lady of Tenderness, reflecting that characteristic of Mary so dear to Jean-Claude - Mother of Mercy.

    The red of Mary’s veil signifies both her suffering and her holiness; the blue of her undergarment indicates her humanity.

    The three stars mark her virginity and also refer to the indwelling Blessed Trinity -- the second star is covered by the figure of Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity.

    While Mary receives the tender signs of affection from her Son, she looks towards Jean-Claude, with her own gaze of affection.

    He returns the loving gaze, his head raised in imitation of Jesus -- his relationship with her is the image of Jesus’s relationship with his Mother.

    Positioned between Mary and Jean-Claude, thus central to their relationship, is Christ.

    Jean-Claude’s head is tilted in an attitude of listening. “I shall do nothing without her, I shall give no instruction without consulting her. I shall say, ‘Blessed Virgin, help me. You are my mother, my superior’.”

  The iconographer has represented Jean-Claude Colin with features that can be recognised from the few photographs we have of him in his old age, while, at the same time, signifying that he now enjoys the youthfulness of eternal life.

  His earthly life, in particular his priesthood, is expressed in his wearing the clerical dress of his time.

  His white hair signifies the wisdom of the founder, of the superior general and of the writer of the Marist Constitutions.

  The scroll which forms a link between the two realms of heaven and earth carries the Latin motto of the Society of Mary: Sub Mariae Nomine (Under the Name of Mary). Jean-Claude believed that in the Divine Providence the name of Mary had been kept for his little Society.

  The scroll represents the inspiration for the Society of Mary, its purpose and its spirit, coming from Mary, herself. Hand gestures reflect this: from Mary’s hand comes the inspiring words, while Jean-Claude receives them with one hand and with the other points to Mary who is their source.


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