Community of Saint Martin
The Community of Saint Martin is a public association of clerics according to pontifical law, gathering Roman Catholic priests and deacons. It was founded in 1976 by Fr. Jean-François Guérin, a priest from the archdiocese of Tours (France), under the protection of Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, archbishop of Genoa (Italy).
Between 1965 and 1976, Fr. Guérin was active in Paris. He was chaplain in the Sacré Cœur of Montmartre, and many young people chose him as their spiritual guide. Quite a lot of them engaged themselves in the way of religious life, mainly in the Benedictine and Carmelite orders. But some others intended to become secular priests living their priesthood in community with others, pursuing the liturgical spirit they had inherited from Fr. Guérin: doubly faithful to the Latin and Gregorian tradition of the Roman rite, and to the liturgical movement and its synthetical expression in the Second Vatican Council.
Since Cardinal Siri was interested in promoting the renewal of priestly training in France, he called Fr. Guérin and his first seminarians to his diocese in 1976. Thus the Community of Saint Martin was founded in Italy to give priests to the Catholic Church of France. Fr. Guérin and his students established themselves in the Capuchin convent of Genoa-Voltri. The seminarians pursued the academic part of their training in the Genoa seminary, whereas Fr. Guérin took in charge their human, spiritual and intellectual training.
In 1983 the Community got its first pastoral mission in the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, in South-Eastern France. In the following years, other French bishops entrusted parishes to the Community. In 1993 there was an opportunity to leave Italy, and to establish the Community's Home of training in France, in the village of Candé-sur-Beuvron, near Blois, in the historical Loire valley (about 200 km / 125 miles southwards of Paris).
Today, the Community of Saint Martin has eighty-six priests, and about eighty seminarians. It is present in nine French dioceses and in Cuba. Some members of the Community were also selected by the Holy See, and entrusted with various missions in Rome or in nunciatures.
The first canonical recognition of the Community was granted by Cardinal Siri in 1979. His successor as the archbishop of Genoa, Cardinal Giovanni Canestri, recognized the Community as a public clerical association of diocesan right. In 2000 it got the status of a public clerical association of pontifical right.
“Martinian” spirituality is centered on communal life and liturgy. It has its roots in Fr. Guérin’s proximity to the Benedictine Order and even more to the Congregation of Solesmes, where he was an oblate at Fontgombault Abbey in Central France. The Lectio Divina is the base of spiritual training and spiritual life in the Community, and Gregorian Chant is used almost exclusively in Mass and the celebration of Divine Office during the five years of training. In the different parish liturgies, there are more vernacular pieces.