Fourviere in Lyon

A group of newly ordained priests pledge themselves to found the Society of Mary.

SM FounderAmong the group was Jean-Claude Colin, founder of the Marist Fathers and Co-founder of the Marist Sisters

The new “Society of Mary” would have Mary’s spirit and would be all-embracing.
Those who planned the Marist project saw it at first as something like
a tree with many branches – Fathers and Brothers, Sisters, and Third order (lay branch)
Champagnat who was a member of the group and also a Marist Father asked that there also be another branch for teaching Brothers and so,
before too long, Marists began to develop in their four branches.
Several years later, a fifth branch, the Missionary Sisters, would begin
when women of the Lay branch went to the missions in Oceania.

The Fathers'(SM) branch was the first to receive Papal approval in April 1836.
The lay branch known as Third Order received Papal approval in 1850
The Marist Brothers’ branch (FMS) founded by Marcellin Champagnat was approved by the Holy See in 1863
The Marist Sisters (SM) received Papal approval in 1884
The Marist Missionary Sisters (SMSM) received Papal approval in 1931
The Marist project was meant to reach everywhere,
for it aimed “to take hold of the whole world, under the wings of Mary”,
it meant “to make the whole world Marist”.
The all-inclusive Society of Mary, with its lay branch, would ideally be co-extensive with the People of God united “with one heart and one soul” under the auspices of Mary.