Nicolas Colin

Nicholas Colin, born on 12 December 1730, entered the Congregation on 20 May 1747 and made his vows on 21 May 1749.

Announcement of addition to Vincentian calendar

But when, in 1927, the Superior General, François Verdier, asked the Congregation of Rites to approve the Proper for our martyrs, the opinion of Coste, who noted that the two confreres at that time were pastors in Collégien and Genevrières, respectively, prevailed. The request for insertion into the calendar of the Congregation of the Mission was limited to the first two martyrs.

Today, a more organized study of all the detailed documents of our history leads us to believe the two blessed martyrs, Caron and Colin, as fully belonging to our Community.

The Superior General, Fr. Gregory Gay, at the Council meeting of 4 October 2005, decided to ask the Congregation for Divine Worship to insert in the memorial of 2 September the two martyrs, Caron and Colin, too. The Congregation, on 15 October 2005, granted that the memorial, in addition to Louis Joseph François, John Henry Gruyer and Peter René Rogue would include John Charles Caron and Nicholas Colin and would be entitled: “Memorial of Blessed Louis Joseph François and Companions, Martyrs”.

Biography (Prepared by Jean-Marie Planchet C.M.)

Martyrology of the Congregation of the Mission

Blessed Nicolas COLIN 1730-1792

Priest of the Mission.

Nicolas Colin was born in Grenant , in the Diocese of Langres, on the 12 December 1730. He was admitted to the seminary at Saint-Lazare on 20 May 1747 and was later appointed as curate at the parish of Saint Louis in Versailles. He worked there for 16 years, from 1754 to 1770.

Parish priest of Genevrières.

At that time, tempted by the flattering proposals of the new bishop of Langres, Mgr de la Luzerne, he separated from the confreres and accepted, under conditions that were not clearly defined, the parish of Genevrières . What militates in his favour is the fact that from August 1774 until his death, that is to say during the succeeding 21 years, he invariably signed parish and other documents "Priest of the Mission". This persistancy allows us to legitimately assume some time after his departure Versailles his situation with regard to the Congregation had been regularised by his superiors.

Refusal to take the oath.

Called, like all serving priests, to profess the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, he did so, but "with reservation and formal exception of those articles of the Constitution which depend essentially on spiritual authority". To those who reproached him renounce his former enthusiastic admiration, he responded strongly : “Could I imagine that our wise legislators have so quickly left this rightful track to enter a situation where the powers and committment to their principals do not hold them...with audacious hands they have despoiled the sanctuary of the Lord and his rightful possessions, the patrimoney which your fathers had left for the support of your pastors…No, I will not profess unreservedly a Constitution which breaks the foundation stone of the heavenly buildinge.. which deprives our Holy Father of the primacy of jurisdiction which faith teaches us has been granted to him by Jesus-Christ... which takes from us, by the the most unworthy of stratagems, our lawful pastors...which attributes to mere laics the exclusive right to suppress and erect episcopal seats...”

The Revolution could not accept such reservations. M Colin was driven from his presbytery and replaced by a priest loyal to the Civil Constitution.

Protests.

The curé of Genevrières did not wish to leave his parish without protesting against the injustice and violence of which he was victim, nor without putting his parishoners on guard against the temptation to schism. To do this, he published a brochure entitled :"Last words and farewell of N.C....Priest of the Mission, Parish Priest of..., etc." In this anonymous piece, whose author’s name was obvious, M. Colin railed thus against the deeds undertaken in the name of the Constitution : “It advanced with great steps and consumes, amidst applauded sacriliges, in menacing tones, this work of ininquity of which we had had warning for 10 months, replacing ecclesiastical office-holders… Is this, then, the Church for which we prepared, last year, in motions whose erudition and wisdom we celebrated ecstatically, this Church that we flattered ourselves would come from the heart of the Constitution more beautiful and more radiant than the bride of Jesus Christ had ever been? Is it permissible to trifle thus with good faith and the credulity of mortals?..."

Summing up, the Curé of Genevrières outlined clearly the sacrifices which would be needed, the graved angerss to which he was exposed himself, as well as the grandeur of his heroic determination ; "It would be the height of absurdity to attribute to any impulse other than the irrestistable force of my conscience, an inflexibility which will expose me to the harshest treatment and which promises me only, as reward for my fidelity to the faith, hunger, exile, prison and, perhaps, even death itself”.

Exile, Prison, Hunger and Death.

This last having been written, M. Colin could no longer stay in his own territory. In the early days of November 1791, he left Genevrières and made his way to Paris to take up again his community life eith the Missioners at Saint-Frmin, there to prepare himself for martyrdom during the 10 months of ‘retreat’ which he spent there, fulfilling, in each detail, the programme which he had forseen in his ‘Last Words…’. On 3 September 1792, he shared the lot of Fathers François et Gruyer; and, like them, he was beatified on the 17 October 1926.

(Trans. Eugene Curran, CM)