Marcel Lefebvre’s Life as Recounted by His Close Friends

February 21, 2023

Clovis editions has published Marcel Lefebvre raconté par ses proches, a biography of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre intended for adolescents, and presented as “the first conversational biography of the Archbishop of Dakar, founder of the Society of Saint Pius X.”

Its author, Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, published a complete biography with Clovis and Angelus Press in 2002: Marcel Lefebvre, une vie/ Biography of Marcel Lefebvre. Those who might be intimidated by this large volume of over 600 pages will be able to approach the life and work of Archbishop Lefebvre through this more accessible work: Marcel Lefebvre raconté par ses proches.

Readers will learn how the Archbishop wanted to support the Cité Catholique: “He decided to encourage the founding of a cell of the Cité Catholique in Dakar. Indeed, Gérard Dubois-Burthe, a young official from INSEE (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies), went there in 1948 to present to him his project to establish the work in Dakar.”

“Last year,” Lefebvre explained, “two young men, Jean Ousset and Jean Masson, helped by Fr. Jean Choulot, parish priest of Montalzat-en-Quercy, created working groups to study and promote the social kingship of Jesus Christ according to the teaching of recent sovereign pontiffs, especially Leo XIII and Pius XI.”

Archbishop Lefebvre promised his support in 1952, when the Cité Catholique was already being attacked as “right-wing and monarchist” in an indigent article written by Fr. Marie-Joseph Nicolas, O.P. and published in the December 3, 1952 issue of La Vie Spirituelle. Time passed and, on March 17, 1957, the Archbishop of Dakar himself presided over the first public session of the Cité Catholique in his projects center.” 

The reader will also learn about Archbishop Lefebvre’s office at the Ecône seminary: “After supper, he tackles the pile of mail waiting for him; methodically, on his desk, which is always free, he blackens with his fine slanted and regularly aligned writing, dozens of pages which he puts in an envelope. Each of his correspondents will have a brief, concise, handwritten response to their concerns, and a kind word at the end.”

“To the right of his chair, on simple boxes with chipboard shelves, he has within his reach a Larousse for spelling, an English dictionary to refresh his English in anticipation of the United States, and an atlas to locate countries he is going to visit.”

“Higher up, besides a Holy Bible, there is St. Thomas’ Summa, bilingual, with commentaries taken from Cajetan, and higher still two collections of the Pontifical Acts of the Popes, one chronological, the other thematic. With this light collection of books, he is equipped to prepare his sermons and lectures, and to nourish his mind.”

And there are even details about his bedroom: “In his bedroom there is a hard and narrow bed, the same as that of his seminarians, and on the bare walls only a rudimentary crucifix and an ugly painting of the Assumption, to which are attached some photos of his dead friends and priests. On a bedside table: his alarm clock and a plastic Virgin of Lourdes containing Lourdes water. It is the mortified furnishings of a faithful religious.” 

This book, written from first-hand accounts, can be read, according to the publisher, from the age of 14 onward. It is accompanied by a notebook of photographs.

Marcel Lefebvre raconté par ses proches, Clovis editions, 312 pages, €15.