Lithograph of the Solitude of Issy 1826 and Daguerreotype of M. Mollevaut 1850, toward the end of his life.
On July 21, 1822 Fr. Moreau began the deepening of his spiritual formation by entering he Solitude of Issy. The priest in charge was M. Mollevaut who left a lasting impression of Fr. Moreau and became his spiritual director during his life.
Gabriel Mollevaut came from an aristocratic family but he did not make his background known when he joined the Sulpicians. One day a visitor from the Imperial Academy of Russia came to the Saint-Sulpice seminary to find out if the scholar Mollevaut was there. The door keeper said that there was someone named Mollevaut in the seminary but no one knew him as a scholar. And so it came to the attention of his superiors that M. Mollevaut was indeed a scholar of high repute. He knew Latin, Greek and spoke five modern languages including Russian. M. Mollevaut took the path of self-abnegation in the seminary by practicing penance in all its forms. He observed the rule scrupulously and took the most uncomfortable room available.
The man Mollevaut, who Fr. Moreau met was tall, broad shouldered, deep chested, with tireless feet and strong arms, but what impressed people most was the beauty of his soul. His blue eyes were filled with calm and purity, and over his whole face a restful, holy and heavenly expression. He was a marvelous combination of politeness, affability and intense meekness, joined with a position of high authority. (Catta, Vol. I, p.50) M. Mollevaut attached great importance to silence. He saw that man was inclined to live according to his whims and caprices rather than according to faith and dependence of God. Thus he encouraged a spirit of obedience and submission, the total sacrifice of self-will. He insisted on fidelity to the exercises of piety. He wrote: "They are the only means of sustaining our courage in dryness, sadness and distractions, and, finally, this fidelity will be the source of our merit." (Catta, Vol. I, p. 51)
The spiritual program of Issy dealt with asceticism of the body, a Rule of Life which dealt with the use of time and overcoming character faults. Father Moreau chose the following to discipline his body:
1. Fast every Friday and drink only
water at supper.
The Rule of Life, that is the daily routine or use of time for Fr. Moreau was as follows:
Moreau read a chapter of the Old Testament, recited the Little Hours
before the Blessed Sacrament and prayed the Veni Creator, Memorare
and prayed "Jesus, meek and humble of heart, have mercy of
After Meditation and celebration of Mass spend some time in thanksgiving, returned to his room where he steadied Scripture and Hebrew until breakfast.
he visited the Blessed Sacrament and prepare for theology class.
At 11:30am he
visited the blessed sacrament which was followed dinner, recreation,
recitation of Vespers and examination of conscience.
In the afternoon,
he studied French History, Church History, geography and spent
Prayer, he visit the Blessed Sacrament reflecting on death, recited
the Memorare and a prayer to St. Aloyses Gonzaga.
his room and made an act of contrition while kissing the floor.
As part of this regime, he decided never to leave the solitude and to write only to his relatives every six weeks. In between exercises he read the Imitation of Christ.
Fr. Moreau gave special attention to anger, that is he strove to silence every desire for revenge. He resolved not to try defend himself and to put up with the whims of others especially those he did not like. He endeavored to be meek and pleasant in his dealings with others.