Pilgrims staying overnight at the refurbished Hermitage can now reach down from the bookshelf in their room an English language Illustrated History of the Hermitage, 1824-2016.
In it they will find 312 pages telling the fascinating story of the building and the extraordinary variety of characters and personalities who have lived, worked and prayed there for the last 190 years.
The richly illustrated unofficial history is the work of history enthusiast, Brother Barry Lamb, from Melbourne, Australia, who undertook the research and writing as a hobby.
Drawing heavily on the collected materials of Marist historian, Brother Owen Kavanagh, the archives of the General House in Rome, the collected photos of Brother Giorgio Diamanti of the Hermitage community and the detailed Annales of the Hermitage itself, this book’s 34 chapters trace the narrative with a myriad quotations and illustrations from a great variety of sources.
The Table of Contents will direct the reader to topics of interest: the building of the Hermitage; the Spiritual Testament, death and funeral of Father Champagnat; the “raid” of 1830; the Revolution of 1848; the Franco-Prussian War; the expulsion of the Brothers in 1903; the two World Wars; the Beatification of 1955 and the building of the chapel annex for the reliquary; the histories of the infirmaries, Postulancy, Novitiate, Scholasticate and Juniorate; the mammoth festival of 1989; the canonisation of 1999; the refurbishment of 2008-2010 and the recent history of the community of welcome and present-day pilgrimages, retreats, gatherings, festivals etc.
Opening the book at random or casually skimming will be rewarded with insights into all manner of incidents or customs from times past.
The overall impression gained by reading the book is one of inspiration: the inspiration of the courage and faith of Father Champagnat and the early Brothers, and the fidelity and zeal of successive generations through good times and severe adversity.
Translation of the English text into other languages is invited and encouraged by the author/compiler.
A very limited run of copies was financed by the small Melbourne community of Heidelberg West as a gift to the Hermitage as part of the refurbishment.
The compiler hopes that readers staying at the Hermitage will have their pilgrimage experience enhanced by reading, while being within the very walls, the story of the many who passed amongst the spaces they are occupying, stretching back almost 200 years.