Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, a Missionary, lived in France, at the beginning of 18th Century. From the very beginning of his evangelizing work among the people, he felt called by the Holy Spirit to surround himself with disciples who should live the Gospel like him “in the footsteps of the Apostles”. To join him in his apostolate, he gathered a few Brothers and asked them to share his way of life, “by the ties of obedience and poverty”. (Montfort’s Will)
At the moment of his death, he entrusted them to the Divine Providence in order to carry on his work, particularly through “charitable schools”. In 1722, the community settled at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, near the community of the Daughters of Wisdom governed by Marie Louise de Jésus. The Brothers lived with the Fathers making up the community of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit. Besides teaching in charitable schools, the Brothers devoted themselves to the works of the missions and to material services.
When Gabriel Deshayes became Superior General of the Montfortian communities, in 1821, he gave a new impetus to the Brothers. As early as 1824, more than 40 Novices took their vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience. The Superior stressed particularly the importance of the teaching profession. The rapid growth in the number of the teaching Brothers led him progressively to give them a separate organization and finally to constitute them into an autonomous Institute known as the “Brothers of Christian Instruction of the Holy Spirit”, which became independent after his death in 1841.
From then onwards, the Institute, which was legally recognized in France in 1853 under the name of the Brothers of Christian Instruction of Saint Gabriel, spread throughout the country, assuming the charge of educating the children of the working classes and undertaking also the education of the deaf and the blind. At the end of the 19th century, the Brothers crossed the frontiers of France to establish themselves in Canada and in several countries of Europe. The Institute became a pontifical Congregation in 1910. Today, their missionary activity extends to the five continents in a spirit of fidelity to the Church and to their origins.