1893: Marc Sangnier, Étienne Isabelle and others create a students group called the Crypt at the Stanislas College in Paris. Their objective is to bring the Church and People together in light of Rerum Novarum and to build democracy in France.
1894: Foundation of the magazine Le Sillon by Paul Renaudin and other members of the Crypt. Its early orientation is literary, philosophical and social.
1897-8: The members of the Crypt launch a campaign to establish Study Circles for young workers and students especially within the existing network of youth clubs (patronages). They begin to develop methods of action and reflection on life and on the gospel, which are an early form of the YCW’s Review of Life and Worker Action method.
1899: The movement in the process of being formed takes the name of the journal, Le Sillon.
1902: First Congrès National de Cercles d’Études in Paris organised by the Sillon open to all such study circles.
1903: First major public debates, the night of the Mille Colonnes-Meeting Sanglant event. First pilgrimage to Rome with Leon Harmel.
1905: A decision is made that the congresses will henceforth become National Congresses of the Sillon. The d’Hellencourt Crisis takes place concerning the student-worker character of the movement, the role of services in the movement and the degree of organisation necessary. Fortnightly and later weekly newspaper started, L’Éveil Démocratique.
1906: The opening out of the Sillon to other denominations and even Muslims. The ‘politicisation’ of the Sillon as they see the need to get involved politically in face of the anti-clerical and socialist forces on one side and the reactionary Catholic and Action Française forces on the other.
1907: Development of cooperatives, campaigns on issues, e.g. domestic work, etc. Conflict with ‘clericalisation’ of Sillon, i.e. control by priests.
1909: Beginnings of crisis with clash with Cardinal Luçon at Reims and other bishops.
1910: Restructuring of the Sillon in an effort to respond to concerns of the French hierarchy.
25 August 1910: Pope Pius X letter to the French bishops, Notre Charge Apostolique condemns the sillonnist conception of democracy, and calls for resignation of leaders and episcopal control. Faithful to the Church, Marc Sangnier and the sillonnists close down the movement. Foundation of daily newspaper La Démocratie, which the Pope allowed to continue.