Historical dictionary  vol.: 1  let.: M

Maur, Trappist Brother


Martin Bardeau, his name in religious life was Maur, acted as a house servant to Abbé de Mazenod for three years, from October 1812 to September 18,1815. After Napoleon dissolved the Trappist monastery of Versailles of which he was a member, Brother Maur sought shelter at the seminary of Saint-Sulpice as a house servant. After the expulsion of the Sulpicians, Abbé de Mazenod accepted to be one of the substitute directors, but only for the 1811-1812 academic year. At the end of this academic year, he had taken the decision to return to Aix, to settle down at l’Enclos and, from there, to begin his priestly ministry. But he needed someone to cook and do all the house work. Since he could not stand “having a woman prowling in his room” (letter to his mother, November 14, 1811), his mind turned to Brother Maur. For Abbé de Mazenod, he was the ideal house servant: very prayerful, well versed in the art of housekeeping, including cooking, and more or less the same age as himself.

After having obtained the permission of his former employer, an old priest, Brother Maur was pleased to accept Abbé de Mazenod’s offer. They arrived in Aix at the beginning of November 1812. Since Mrs. de Mazenod was averse to the idea of them settling down at l’Enclos, they took up residence at Mrs. de Mazenod’s family home situated at number 2, Papassaudi street. Brother Maur’s annual salary was set at 200 gold francs, the average wage of a house servant of that day. Brother Maur was so attached to Abbé de Mazenod that he refused an offer of employment with the Countess of Bavaria for a much higher salary. By his fidelity to religious exercises, prayers that he often recited with Abbé de Mazenod, by his mastery of all housekeeping requirements, he met the expectations of the whole family.

It was very hard for Abbé de Mazenod to see his beloved house servant leave; he did everything in his power to retain him. He even asked Fr. Duclaux, his spiritual director at Saint-Sulpice, some advice on this matter. Fr. Duclaux’s answer was crystal clear: “I understand very well that you have every reason to regret the loss of Brother Maur... but once a Trappist monastery has been firmly reestablished, he is obliged in conscience to retire to the same. This is a sacrifice you must offer to God and to your faith.” (Letter of December 1, 1814)

On the eve of his departure, Brother Maur was received into Abbé de Mazenod’s confraternity and, in his speech, Abbé de Mazenod stressed “the advantages” that the confraternity would enjoy from the union of prayers and the merits which was established between them and “the holy religious who from the depths of his solitude... would, in some way, watch over them.” (Rey, I, p. 176) Brother Maur left Aix on September 18, 1815 and rejoined his monastery in the diocese of Versailles.

Jósef Pielorz, o.m.i.

Sources and Bibliography
PIELORZ, Jósef, “À propos du frère Maur,” in Études oblates, 1954 p. 248-249.
REY, Achille, Histoire de Mgr de Mazenod, vol. I, Rome, 1928 p. 176.
Letter to Mrs. de Mazenod, October 14, 1811, Oblate Writings, I, vol. 14, no. 93, p. 205-206.
Letter to Mrs. de Mazenod, September 24, 1812, Oblate Writings, I, vol. 15, p. no. 108, p.10-11. The part which mentions Brother Maur has been omitted. It can be found in the collection of Bishop de Mazenod’s letters in the Oblate General Archives in Rome.

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