The Rome of Marcel Lefebvre is not the Rome of the pagan Caesars, since “although once a schoolmistress of error, she has become a disciple of the Truth.” She is Christian Rome, the eternal city, the See of Peter and of his successors, which “presides over the world by holy religion, not by earthly dominion” (St. Leo the Great). The French Seminary in Rome, which Marcel Lefebvre entered in 1923, was run by the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers, founded in 1703 to “educate poor clerics in the principles of the soundest Roman doctrine.”
The role of the popes
Fr. Henri Le Floch, rector of the seminary from 1904 to 1927, whose position was rather similar to Action Française, though he did not preach Charles Maurras to the seminarians but rather presented to them a commentary on the encyclicals of all the popes from, from 1738 to 1925, incessantly condemned Freemasonry, Liberalism and modern errors, not because they liked to condemned, but to save Christendom and the Church herself.
Mobilized against revolution
Later Archbishop Lefebvre would say:
He was the one who taught us what the role of the popes was in the world and in the Church, and what they taught for a century and a half: anti-Liberalism, anti-Modernism; he truly made us understand and experience this battle waged by the popes with absolutely no interruptions to try to preserve and world and the Church from these scourges that oppress us today. This mobilized us against the revolution and the power of evil that are at work to overturn the Church, the reign of Our Lord, the Catholic States, and all of Christendom.
In a state of a crusade
Most of the seminarians embraced this battle; others did not stay. But to enter into this combat is necessarily to commit oneself to it for life:
I think that our whole life as priests—or as bishops—has been marked by this fight against Liberalism.
In particular throughout his life he would deal with liberal Catholics, “two-faced people”, who call themselves Catholics but
couldn’t bear hearing the whole truth and who didn’t want to condemn error or the Church’s enemies, or who could not bear to live with being always on crusade. That was it: we are on a crusade, in a state of continual struggle, and this crusade may even require martyrdom.
"You enter into the history of the Church"
Marcel Lefebvre was prepared in advance for a battle for the Faith. This is much more than sound doctrine; it is a view of history, of the struggle between the two cities. St. Augustine says:
Two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self.
Fr. Le Floch made us enter into and experience Church history, that combat of perverse powers against the Church, the reign of Our Lord and all of Christendom.
Later the archbishop told his seminarians in Econe, “In entering the seminary, you enter into the history of the Church.”