Daniel Brottier
Blessed Daniel Jules Alexis Brottier, C.S.Sp. (September 7, 1876 – February 28, 1936) was a French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

Priesthood (Catholic Church)
The ministerial orders of the Catholic Church include the orders of bishops, deacons and presbyters, which in Latin is sacerdos. The ordained priesthood and common priesthood are different in function and essence....

 in the Congregation of the Holy Ghost
Holy Ghost Fathers
The Congregation of the Holy Spirit is a Roman Catholic congregation of priests, lay brothers, and since Vatican II, lay associates...

. He was awarded the Croix de guerre
Croix de guerre
The Croix de guerre is a military decoration of France. It was first created in 1915 and consists of a square-cross medal on two crossed swords, hanging from a ribbon with various degree pins. The decoration was awarded during World War I, again in World War II, and in other conflicts...

and the Légion d'honneur
Légion d'honneur
The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

for his services as a chaplain during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, did missionary work in Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

, and administered an orphanage in Auteuil, a suburb of Paris. He was declared venerable in 1983, and beatified on November 25, 1984, by Pope John Paul II.

Early life

Daniel Brottier was born in La Ferté-Saint-Cyr
La Ferté-Saint-Cyr
La Ferté-Saint-Cyr is a commune in the Loir-et-Cher department of central France.-See also:*Communes of the Loir-et-Cher department...

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 on September 7, 1876, the second son of Jean-Baptiste Brottier—a coachman for the Marquis Durfort
Durfort (family)
Durfort is the name of a French noble family, distinguished in French and English history.Durfort is a village of southwestern France, formerly in the province of Guienne, now in the département of Tarn-et-Garonne, 18 m. NW of Montauban by road...

—and his wife Herminie (neé Bouthe). Signs of a priestly vocation were evident early in Brottier's life. A story from his childhood recounts that his mother asked him what he would like to be when he grew up. Daniel's answer was, "I won't be either a general or a pastry chef—I will be the Pope!" His mother reminded him that to be the pope, he would first have to become a priest. At the age of 10, Brottier made his First Communion
First Communion
The First Communion, or First Holy Communion, is a Catholic Church ceremony. It is the colloquial name for a person's first reception of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Catholics believe this event to be very important, as the Eucharist is one of the central focuses of the Catholic Church...

, and enrolled a year later in the junior seminary at Blois
Blois is the capital of Loir-et-Cher department in central France, situated on the banks of the lower river Loire between Orléans and Tours.-History:...

. Brottier was ordained on October 22, 1899 and became a professor for three years at the college in Pontlevoy
-Geography:Pontlevoy is a commune in the Loir-et-Cher department of central France.The village of Pontlevoy is 14 miles southwest of Blois, in the department of Loir-et-Cher, the eastern part of Touraine. It is a 20 minute drive from the chateaux of Amboise, Cheverny, Chaumont or Chenonceau, and...

, France.

Missionary work in Africa

Determined to be a missionary, the young Father Brottier joined the Congregation of the Holy Ghost at Orly
Orly is a commune in the southern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the center of Paris.The name of Orly came from Latin Aureliacum, "the villa of Aurelius"....

. He was thereafter sent as a vicar to a parish in Saint-Louis
Saint-Louis, Senegal
Saint-Louis, or Ndar as it is called in Wolof, is the capital of Senegal's Saint-Louis Region. Located in the northwest of Senegal, near the mouth of the Senegal River, and 320 km north of Senegal's capital city Dakar, it has a population officially estimated at 176,000 in 2005. Saint-Louis...

, Senegal in 1903, disappointed that he had been assigned to a city rather than the rough country. The zealous Brottier immediately set to work. He gave weekly instructions to secondary school students, founded a center for child welfare, and published a parish bulletin, The Echo of St. Louis. His health suffered from the climate, however, and he spent a six-month period of convalescence in France in 1906. His poor health would force him to return to France once again and for good in 1911.

After his final departure from Senegal, Brottier spent a brief but personally significant stay at the Trappist
The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance , or Trappists, is a Roman Catholic religious order of cloistered contemplative monks who follow the Rule of St. Benedict...

 monastery at Lérins
Lérins Abbey
Lérins Abbey is a Cistercian monastery on the island of Saint-Honorat, one of the Lérins Islands, on the French Riviera, with an active monastic community....

—the same island monastery associated with Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick was a Romano-Briton and Christian missionary, who is the most generally recognized patron saint of Ireland or the Apostle of Ireland, although Brigid of Kildare and Colmcille are also formally patron saints....

's preparation for evangelization in Ireland. Brottier had been feeling called to a more contemplative life than he had been living as a missionary in Africa, but the stay at Lérins rid him of that idea. As Brottier wrote to his sisters, "I lived unforgettable hours in the recollection of the cloister in an atmosphere of sacrifice and immolation. But the lack of sleep, and especially of food, wore me down, and after a few days I had to yield to the evidence: I was not made for this kind of life".

Even after he had left Senegal, Brottier was asked by Bishop Hyacinthe Jalabert, the Apostolic Vicar of Senegal, to conduct a fund-raising campaign to build a cathedral in Dakar
Dakar is the capital city and largest city of Senegal. It is located on the Cap-Vert Peninsula on the Atlantic coast and is the westernmost city on the African mainland...

. To this end, Brottier was appointed the vicar general
Vicar general
A vicar general is the principal deputy of the bishop of a diocese for the exercise of administrative authority. As vicar of the bishop, the vicar general exercises the bishop's ordinary executive power over the entire diocese and, thus, is the highest official in a diocese or other particular...

 of Dakar, though he was residing in Paris. Brottier focused on this project for seven years over two periods (i.e., 1911–1914 and 1919–1923), the interlude being a result of the First World War. The so-called "African Memorial Cathedral" was consecrated on February 2, 1936, just a few weeks before Brottier's death.

Service during World War I

At the outbreak of the First World War, Father Brottier became a volunteer chaplain for France's 121st Infantry Regiment. He was cited six times for bravery, and awarded the Croix de guerre and the Légion d'honneur; he attributed his survival on the front lines to the intercession of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, and built a chapel for her at Auteuil
Auteuil and Passy are part of the 16th arrondissement of Paris. They are located near the Bois de Boulogne and the suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine too....

 when she was canonized—the first church dedicated to the saint. After the war, Brottier founded the National Union of Servicemen (L'Union Nationale des Combattants), an organization of French veterans of various conflicts.

Work with the orphans of Auteuil

In November 1923, the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, Louis-Ernest Dubois
Louis-Ernest Dubois
Louis-Ernest Dubois was a Roman Catholic Cardinal and Archbishop of Paris. He played a leading role in the period of adjustment to the separation of Church and State in France.-Early life:...

, asked the Congregation of the Holy Ghost to assume charge of an orphanage in an arrondissement of Paris, the Orphan Apprentices of Auteuil. Father Brottier, with his associate chaplain Yves Pichon, labored for thirteen years to expand the facilities and worked for the welfare of the orphans. He dedicated his work to two aims: to save the most poor and unfortunate, and to dedicate those efforts to the intercession of Saint Thérèse. In 1933, Brottier pioneered a program that placed the children in the households of Catholic paysans associated with the Orphan Apprentices. The fruit of his labors at Auteuil included the construction of workshops, opening a printing house and a cinema, and launching magazines. At the time of his arrival, the facility was in charge of 140 orphans; when Brottier died, there were more than 1400.

Particularly notable of Brottier's work with the orphans of Auteuil, and perhaps of his work in general, was his eagerness to expand to previously unexplored means of seeking financial support. An example of this is that he mastered the art of the camera and offered instruction on film making to the children. He even produced a popular film on the life of his personal patron, Saint Thérèse.

Father Brottier died on February 28, 1936 in the Hospital of Saint Joseph in Paris. Fifteen thousand Parisians attended his funeral mass, at which Cardinal Jean Verdier
Jean Verdier
Jean Verdier, PSS was a French Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Paris from 1929 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1929.-Biography:...

 preached the homily. He was buried in the Chapel of St. Thérèse in Auteuil on April 5, 1936.


Father Brottier was declared venerable
The Venerable is used as a style or epithet in several Christian churches. It is also the common English-language translation of a number of Buddhist titles.-Roman Catholic:...

 on January 13, 1983 with a decree of heroic virtue by Pope John Paul II. He was beatified
Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name . Beatification is the third of the four steps in the canonization process...

 on November 25, 1984 in Rome. The cause for his canonization was greatly advanced by the claim, in 1962, that his body was as incorrupt
Incorruptibility is a Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox belief that supernatural intervention allows some human bodies to avoid the normal process of decomposition after death as a sign of their holiness...

 as on the day of his burial. In addition, many miracles have been attributed to his intercession. His feast day is February 23.

A residence hall at Duquesne University
Duquesne University
Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit is a private Catholic university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded by members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, Duquesne first opened its doors as the Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost in October 1878 with an enrollment of...

—an American university founded and administered by the Holy Ghost Fathers—is named Brottier Hall in memory of Blessed Daniel Brottier.

External links

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