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Pauline Jaricot continues on the path to Sainthood

Updated: Sep 21


Gerard Gough


THE Pontifical Mission Societies spread throughout the world—including Missio Scotland—were rejoicing this week after it was announced that the miracle attributed to Venerable Pauline Jaricot (above) had been recognised.

On May 26, Pope Francis authorised Cardinal Angelo Becciu—Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints—to promulgate the Decree concerning the miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God, Pauline Maria Jaricot, foundress of the Propagation of the Faith and the Living Rosary.

Pauline Jaricot was born into a wealthy family in Lyon, France in 1799. She could have lived a life of privilege but instead committed herself to raising funds and awareness for the world missions. She noted that the renewal of the Church in France following the Revolution was linked with a renewed passion for the missions. As a teenager she appealed to girls who were working in her brother-in-law’s factory to make a contribution of one penny a week in order to support abandoned children in China. Soon others joined to help support the missions.

In 1822, she founded the Society for the Propagation of the Faith with a specific emphasis on the universality of the Church. She was acutely aware that missionary cooperation relied upon not simply helping a specific mission, but all of them without distinction. The founding of this society marked the beginning of that great missionary cooperation movement which was to gradually involve the whole Church. Passionate for the spread of the Kingdom of God, she was firmly convinced that missionary work did not derive its effectiveness from human resources, but exclusively from God. In its first year, Pauline also began printing and circulating information about the work of missionaries. This increased interest in the work of the society. The Society for the Propagation of the Faith grew to become the universal fundraising organisation for all Catholic missions.

In 1826, she also founded the Living Rosary movement—groups of people dedicated to praying a mystery of the Rosary for the missions. Pauline was aware that support for the missions and praying the Rosary went hand-in-hand and the Rosary has always been something that has been at the heart of the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies worldwide, most notably these days through our unique Mission Rosary, established in 1951 by Venerable Archbishop Fulton J Sheen, the then US National Director of Missio. However, it could be argued that the Living Rosary movement acted as a catalyst for establishing a stronger link between the Rosary and the missions.

Although Pauline Jaricot’s life was not without crosses to bear and she spent the last period of her life in absolute poverty, before her eventual death on January 9, 1862, it was always driven by concern for the missions and the poor. In recognition of this, Pope John XXIII declared her Venerable on February 25, 1963.

Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies and Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, expressed his great joy upon hearing the announcement made by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

“With great joy, we welcome the news that the miracle attributed to Venerable Pauline Jaricot— French laywoman, foundress of the Pontifical Society of the Propagation of the Faith, the first of the Pontifical Mission Societies—has now been recognised,” he said. “This is a very important step. It means that her commitment to the mission, made of prayer and charity, speaks and is still significant today for the universal Church. Although we are still waiting on an official date for her Beatification, we at the PMS are elated that in this way the charism she received of prayer and charity, that has governed all of our works, has also been recognised. Certainly we can rely on her intercession.”

The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints also recognised a miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, while miracles were also attributed to three Blesseds—Charles de Foucauld, Cesare de Bus, and Maria Domenica Mantovani. The official acceptance of the miracles means that all three can now be canonized.

The Congregation also determined that Franciscan priest Cosma Spessotto was killed in odium fidei, that is, out of hatred of the faith. Fr Spessotto was a missionary in El Salvador who was martyred in 1980. The Congregation also recognised the martyrdom of six Cistercian monks who were killed as they tried to safeguard the Eucharist when French soldiers attacked their abbey during the Napoleonic wars.

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