The Catholic Defender: Blessed Daniel Brottier
Born in France in 1876, Daniel was ordained in 1899 and began a teaching career. That didn't satisfy him long. He wanted to use his zeal for the gospel far beyond the classroom. He joined the missionary Congregation of the Holy Spirit, which sent him to Senegal, West Africa.
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!"
I will be the Pope!" His mother reminded him that to be the pope, he would first have to become a priest. Little Daniel piped up, "Well, then I'll become a priest!"
At the age of 10, Brottier made his First Communion
Daniel spent most of his life in the trenches—one way or another.
Born in France in 1876, Daniel was ordained in 1899 and began a teaching career. That didn’t satisfy him long. He wanted to use his zeal for the gospel far beyond the classroom.
He joined the missionary Congregation of the Holy Spirit, which sent him to Senegal, West Africa. After eight years there, his health was suffering. He was forced to return to France, where he helped raise funds for the construction of a new cathedral in Senegal.
Daniel performed many healing miracles. The author of the piece on him says that there are countless accounts of his miracles. A few of the ones mentioned in the book include, surviving on that column for years, healing the deaf, healing the sick and dying, and many other healing miracles.
He fulfilled that desire and was ordained a priest on October 22, 1899, later teaching secondary school in France. But Fr. Daniel felt a calling to the missionary life, and he joined the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in 1902.
God blessed Daniel with the gift of interpreting dreams, and he rose to leadership positions within the Babylonian and Persian governments. In many ways his life was similar to the life of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt.
At the outbreak of World War I, Daniel became a volunteer chaplain and spent four years at the front. He did not shrink from his duties. Indeed, he risked his life time and again in ministering to the suffering and dying. It was miraculous that he did not suffer a single wound during his 52 months in the heart of battle.
At the outbreak of the First World War, 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.
With the start of World War I, Fr. Daniel volunteered to serve as a chaplain for France’s 121st Infantry Regiment. Fr. Daniel believed that the intercession of St. Therese of Leseiux helped him minister to the soldiers during the war. He later founded the National Union of Servicemen to aid French veterans of all wars.
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".
In 1923, the cardinal archbishop of Paris asked the Congregation of the Holy Spirit to take over the Orphans Apprentices of Auteuil, a shelter for the many half-starved children living on the streets of Paris. Providing refuge and education for children was an early and ongoing option for the Congregation, which often had orphanages attached to seminaries and schools.
In 1933, Brottier pioneered a program that placed the children in the households of Catholics 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 1,400.
Father Brottier died in a hospital in Paris of natural causes in 1936; so beloved was he that some 15,000 people attended his funeral.Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1984, Blessed Brottier’s feast is celebrated on Feb. 28.
After the war he was invited to help establish a project for orphaned and abandoned children in a Paris suburb. He spent the final 13 years of his life there. He died in 1936 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Paris only 48 years later.
Brottier died on 28 February 1936 in the Hospital of St. Joseph in Paris. Fifteen thousand Parisians attended his funeral Mass. He was buried in the Chapel of St. Thérèse in Auteuil on 5 April 1936.
As part of the process for sainthood, Fr. Brottier’s body was discovered to be incorrupt when exhumed in 1962.
He was beatified by John Paul II in Paris on 25 November 1984
This quote of his may best sum up his life: “We must press on with total confidence in God. Either we have faith, or we don’t have faith.”