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Pontifical Mission Societies celebrates 200th anniversary

The Pontifical Mission Society for the Propagation of the Faith, which falls under the auspices of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, marks the 200th anniversary of its foundation on Tuesday.

Tuesday, 3 May, also marks the 100th anniversary of Pontifical Mission Society’s Pontifical status, conferred by Pope Pius XI in his Motu Proprio Romanorum Pontificum. The Motu Proprio confirmed the missionary spirit of the Society and its essential service to the universal Church.

By the same Motu Proprio, the Holy Father also conferred pontifical status on the Society of the Holy Childhood and the Society of St. Peter the Apostle.

Solidarity with missions around the world

Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, president of the Pontifical Mission Societies and adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, told Vatican News that the involvement of the Catholic faithful in the life and missionary work of the Church is viewed by the Church’s leadership as essential.

“It is important; indeed, it is a modern idea if we think about it,” he said. “Think, for example, how often Pope Francis speaks about this. It is also the orientation of our work as a dicastery: For every baptised person to participate in the missionary work of the Church around the world. Through the Pontifical Missionary Societies, the faithful can participate by praying, giving offerings, donations or by just showing interest in the missionary activities of the Church.”

Archbishop Dal Toso added: “Through these missionary engagements and by participating in the work of the Church, we as Christians, live our faith concretely with our brothers and sisters around the world.”

Prayer, animation, and funding

200 years after its founding, on 3 May, the Pontifical Mission Society for the Propagation of the Faith supports many missionary-related projects with prayer, animation and finances, especially in Africa, Asia and the pacific.

Perhaps the most amazing story of the Pontifical Mission Society for the Propagation of the Faith is that it was founded and inspired by a very young French laywoman, Pauline Jaricot. She will be beatified this month, on 22 May, in Lyons, France.

Pauline Jaricot established a network of ten persons who offered prayers and small weekly donations for the Church’s missionary work throughout the world.

Pauline-Marie Jaricot – the life and times

Pauline-Marie Jaricot lived between 1799 and 1862. She is the founder of the Pontifical Mission Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

Pauline was declared Venerable on 25 February 1963 by Pope Saint John XXIII. On 26 May 2020, Pope Francis authorised the publication of the decree recognising the miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable.

Born into a wealthy family in Lyon, after 15 years of a comfortable life, Pauline experienced physical and spiritual suffering. Forgiveness and profound prayer led her to overcome serious trauma, and her existence changed radically from that moment.

She consecrated herself to God with a solemn vow in the chapel of the Virgin of Fourvière in Lyon and was devoted to serving God in the poor and the sick.

Helping the needy was accompanied by a life of intense prayer. She received the Eucharist daily and interceded for the conversion of sinners and the evangelisation of the world.

Realising the economic difficulties of the missions, Pauline promoted initiatives to raise funds: Thus was born what is known today as the Pontifical Mission Society for the Propagation of the Faith – officially founded on 3 May 1822. – Paul Samasumo

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