Father Gabriel-Maria (± 1462 - 1532)

Saint Jeanne of France, because of the grace, which comes to her in the heart of her life, choosing a Son of St François as director and confessor, found in Father Gabriel Maria a guide and a father.  A real spiritual communion unites them.  The two of them contemplate the Virgin through the Gospel but not for herself.  Their look and their thought remain indeed set on Christ whom they want to follow and serve in the heart of the Church.

Known under the name of Gilbert Nicolas, Father Gabriel Maria was born in Riom in Auvergne about 1462.  A sermon of a religious Franciscan on the Immaculate Conception awakens in him a                         call to the religious vocation.  He decides then to enter the Observant Friars Minor at the convent of La Rochelle.  Fervent novice, he is sent, after his religious profession, to the convent of Amboise to finish his studies. 

In 1498, guardian of this same convent of Amboise, he becomes the confessor and the spiritual counsellor of Jeanne of France; he will assist her with all his power in the foundation of the Annunciade, becoming truly the co-founder and legislator of her Order. During his life, he blessed eight monasteries.His superiors confide to him important responsibilities, which will bring him to travel through all Europe.  He dies in the convent of the Annunciades of Rodez on the 27th August 1532. The title of blessed is given to him in the Order of the Friars Minor and in the Annunciade.In his time, the Franciscan Order is formed of two very distinct branches, but not autonomous (they will become that in 1517): the Observants to which Gabriel Maria belongs and the Conventuals.  The period is one of conflict. The question of poverty is at the heart of the proceedings.  .

The Father will be the fervent defender of the “letter” and of “the soul” of the Rule of St François and of the franciscan poverty.  Some of his writings make of them the echo.  On the other hand, his attachment to the Eucharist, to the Passion of Christ, to the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary belongs to the Franciscan tradition of the XVth century, marked by Duns Scot and the great names of the Observance, such as S. Bernardin de Sienne, S.Jean de Capistran… But especially, Gabriel Maria who is distinguishable by his love of the Virgin Mary.

So, his marian life and his theological formation prepared him to understand deeply the spiritual intuitions of Jeanne of France whose way of life is similar to that of the Friars Minor.