And so Blessed de Montfort could write: ‘Which I have never been able to find in any book either ancient or modern.’ He was a great reader, but this devotion he found in none of his books. ‘After all,‘ he says in his Treatise of the True Devotion, ‘having read nearly all the books which treat of devotion to Our Lady and having conversed familiarly with the best and wisest men of these latter times, I have never known nor heard of any practice of devotion towards her, at all equal to the one which I wish now to unfold.‘
Nevertheless it was not new, since it dates from the Incarnation of the Word and was solemnly proclaimed by Jesus Christ Himself upon the Cross.
De Montfort goes on to tell us that it has been throughout the centuries the devotion of a great number of the holy and the learned, and he names some of them. Cardinal de Bérulle, M. Boudon, M. Olier, Père Poiré, S. Jean Eudes, Père de Condren, Père Jobert (1670), Père Crasset (1687) in France, speak of this Devotion as known and teach it as a general thing. It was not new, but it was not universal. And it is the uncontested merit and glory of Blessed de Montfort to have gathered into a wonderful summary all the diffuse teaching of the past, scattered through thousands of works, to have put it in its proper light, to have explained and simplified it, thus bringing it to the knowledge of all. He has condensed this doctrine into a book, didactic in a sense, but neither dry nor dull, one which will remain henceforth the classic by day and by night of every soul that is truly devoted to Mary, The Treatise of the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and its summing up, The Secret of Mary.
(To be continued.)