The Spiritan Connection to the Clementine Fruit
Brother Marie-Clement — also known as Vital Rodier — developed a species of mandarin that became known as the Clementine fruit.
Marie-Clement was born in 1839 in Malveille, France. He joined the Brothers of the Annunciation at Misserghin in Algeria, where they ran an orphanage and an agricultural estate with vines and citrus trees.
Around 1894, according to Rene Charrier’s Memoire Spiritaine, Etudes et Documents 1, “He introduced several hundreds of varieties of trees into the country, including fruit trees and ornamental ones …notably a species of mandarin, which won the admiration of connoisseurs and which the orphans baptized the Clementine.”
“It was neither a mandarin tree nor an orange tree. Its fruit was redder than a mandarin and had a delicious taste and, moreover, it had no pith."
Brother Clement made grafts with slips from this miraculous tree. The operation was successful; the grafts were increased and the new tree was called a Clementine tree.
The Story Continues
Another version was given to us by the son of a worker who lived at the nursery at the time of Brother Clement.
"He was following a bee that was collecting pollen for honey making. The bee went from a Seville orange tree onto a mandarin tree. What could come from such cross fertilization? The Brother attached a red ribbon to the flower of the mandarin tree and kept an eye on the fruit it produced. He made a seedling from the fruit when it matured and obtained a Clementine.”
Merging with the Spiritans
The Brothers of the Annunciation found themselves in serious economic trouble and, on the advice of the Holy See, approached the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. In 1901, Rome authorized the Brothers to join the Spiritans, and one year later, Brother Clement became a Spiritan. He died in 1904.