The Society for the POF

The Society for the Propagation of the Faith

The Society for the Propagation of the Faith was founded in Lyons, France, in 1822 by a young French laywoman, Pauline Jaricot. Inspired by stories she heard about missionary work in China, she felt called by the Lord to help the Catholic Church's worldwide missionary work. Pauline herself never traveled to the Missions, which, during her lifetime, consisted of the Missions in China — and young dioceses in the United States. Pauline gathered friends and workers in a family silk mill into "circles of ten," asking each person to pray daily for the Missions and sacrifice a penny-a-week (at that time, quite a large sacrifice!). From this idea emerged the Propagation of the Faith.

Today the General Fund of the Propagation of the Faith, which gathers gifts from Catholics all over the world — a concept that originated with Pauline Jaricot and her desire to help all the world's missions — is the basic means of support for the Catholic Church's worldwide Missions.

About Pauline-Marie Jaricot

Pauline-Marie Jaricot founded the Society for the Propagation of the Faith (the largest Society of Catholic Mission) in 1822 in Lyon, France.

Born in 1799 to a wealthy family, Pauline at 18 years old was young, rich and beautiful. She was said to have a quick temper and an even quicker tongue – but a great deal of love in her heart.

While growing up, Pauline was well aware of the deprivation and trouble in France and other countries around the world. She wanted to raise money for the 'missions' in far off places, so every Friday she went down to the factories to collect money from the workers and servants.

Soon small groups were collecting money regularly each week and also came together to pray for the 'missions'.

By 1822, a well-organized mission aid society was established. It was later named the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, and Pauline was officially confirmed as its founder by Pope Leo XIII in 1881.

From her early teenage years to her death in 1862, Pauline cared for the needs of some of the poorest people in the world. She herself died penniless, still trying to repay the huge debts she incurred while trying to help others.

A History of Support

In the early part of the last century, we too were considered "mission territory."
And yet while we were still depending on the generosity of European Catholics, the young Church in the United States was contributing to the worldwide missionary work. The very first offering to the Propagation of the Faith - $6.00 - was in 1833.

Today, Catholics in this country provide some one-third of the help that supports the proclamation of the gospel in more than 1000 mission diocese, the work of the Church among two-thirds of our human family. Pray and reflect upon how you can become more involved in this call we all have to be missionary, as the People of God, a people "Baptized for the World."