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The Society of the
Propagation of the Faith


► Welcome
Founded by the Venerable
Pauline Jaricot, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith seeks prayer and sacrifice for the world’s Missions, now some 1,150 dioceses in Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands and remote regions of Latin America.


Help is offered for pastoral and evangelizing programs, for catechists and catechetical work, to build churches and chapels, for the work of Religious communities in health care and education, and for communication and transportation needs.
The very first collection of the Propagation of the Faith in 1822 supported the vast diocese of Louisiana, which then extended from the Florida Keys to Canada, as well as the missions of Kentucky and China.


• Jeanne Jaricot                                     • Antoine Jaricot
  Pauline's Mother                                      Pauline's Father                                      
            

• House in which Pauline was born       
  16 rue Tupin, Lyon


• Pauline's Birth Certificate


A Vision for the Missions…
At the age of 15, Pauline suffered a bad fall. Not long after that, her beloved mother died. It took Pauline many months to recover, emotionally and physically. When she did, she resumed her social life, but with less delight than before. Her heart, she wrote at this time, was “made for the whole world.” “If only I could love without measure,” she observed, “without end.”

She began to long to help the Missions – China and the United States – a desire nurtured by her brother Phileas, who was preparing for the priesthood and who told Pauline all about the work and witness of missionaries.

Pauline saw this as her vocation – to become a missionary of the love of God. She came to believe that “to truly help others is to bring them to God.”

One day while at prayer, 18-year-old Pauline had a vision of two lamps. One had no oil; the other was overflowing and from its abundance poured oil into the empty lamp. To Pauline, the drained lamp signified the faith in her native France, still reeling from the turbulence of the French Revolution. The full lamp was the great faith of Catholics in the Missions – especially in the New World. By aiding the faith of the young new country of the United States of America, Pauline knew that seeds planted would grow and bear much fruit.

So she came up with a plan to support missionaries. She gathered workers in her family’s silk factory into “circles of 10.” Everyone in the group pledged to pray daily for the Missions and to offer each week a sou, the equivalent of a penny. Each member of the group then found 10 friends to do the same.

Even in the face of opposition from parish priests in Lyons, Pauline remained steadfast. Within a year, she had 500 workers enrolled; soon there would be 2,000.

As a child, Pauline had in fact dreamed of building such support for the Missions: “Oh! I’d love to have a well of gold to give some to all the unfortunate, so that there would not be any more poor people at all and that no one would cry anymore.”

Pauline’s successful efforts – where clearly not isolated or unique – were the main thrust behind the formation of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. She was “the match that lit the fire.” But there was a struggle – like with all new initiatives – to control what was quickly becoming a source of strength and hope for the missionary Church.

At one point, Pauline was sidelined, and she struggled to ensure that what the Lord had inspired her to set in motion, would come fully to life. In 1963, 100 years after her death, Pope John XXIII signed the decree which proclaimed her virtues, declaring her “Venerable.” He wrote: “It was she who thought of the society, who conceived it, and made it an organized reality.”

And Pauline’s vision of two lamps is also still valid, as the vibrant faith in mission countries inspires and deepens our own faith here at home.


 

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