The Pontifical Mission Societies are a Worldwide Network of prayer and charity at the service of the Holy Father in support of missionary activity, particularly in young developing churches.

The Pontifical Mission Societies History and Mission

Propagation of the Faith
Missionary Childhood
St Peter the Apostle

In 19th century France, the Church emerged from the severe persecution of the French Revolution. During the Napoleonic period (1804-1815), the Foreign Missions of Paris (Missions Etrangères de Paris (MEP) managed to send only two missionaries to the Far East. It was in these circumstances that the charism of the Spirit was placed on a young woman from Lyons, Pauline Marie Jaricot, who, after a comfortable life, rediscovers the authenticity of faith in Christ and dedicates herself wholeheartedly to this charism. In 1816 Pauline took a vow of chastity and rediscovered the reasons for her life in the devotion to the Eucharist and in the reparation of the offenses against the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

She established a union of prayer among pious servant girls, the members of which were known as the “Réparatrices”. Thus a group action with 10 people was born, each of whom is committed to finding ten other people who pray weekly and donate a penny for the Missions. The idea inflamed hearts and the project spread like wildfire: this led to the official founding of the “Association of the Propagation of the Faith” on May 3, 1822.

In confirmation of her missionary spirit and service to the universal Church, on May 3, 1922 Pius XI, with the Motu Proprio Romanorum Pontificum, declared the Society of the Propagation of the Faith “Pontifical” (POPF).


The Society of the Propagation of the Faith aims to open the heart of every believer to the vastness of the missionary horizon, through spiritual and material support for the proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

Through a constant and energetic commitment to missionary formation and animation, it promotes:

  • Missionary spirituality which, through prayer and sacrifice, helps to revive the missionary ardour of Christian communities and individual faithful, through meditation on the Word of God, Eucharistic Adoration and the missionary Rosary.
  • Universal solidarity through contributions to the Universal Solidarity Fundfor the Evangelization of the world, especially on World Mission Day which is celebrated on the penultimate Sunday of October, an event of participation of the people of God in the catholicity of the Church.

In the mid-nineteenth century, a French bishop, H. E. Charles de Forbin-Janson was upset by the news coming from China about the children who were dying without having received Baptism. Regretting that he could not personally leave as a missionary, he asked for advice from Pauline Jaricot, the foundress of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Their exchange of ideas was enlightening and Bishop de Forbin-Janson got the idea to involve the children of France so that through prayer and material cooperation, they could help the Chinese children of their same age. 

One Hail Mary a day, one small coin a month” was the commitment made by every child from the first moment. It was on May 19th1843 and through this initiative the seed was sown from which the Society germinated. Years later, the motto would be coined, “Children Helping Children”, which sums up well the founder’s intuition and the Society’s charisma.



Today the Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood has put down roots in more than 130 countries and has expanded its focus to include: Children Evangelizing Children, Children Praying for the Children, Children Helping Children Worldwide.

The Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood today strives to help children to develop a spirit of missionary leadership, that enables them to share the faith and material support, especially with children who are most in need. It promotes, encourage and supports missionary vocations especially ad gentes. It is an instrument for growth in faith, also from the perspective of vocations

It advocates a human and Christian education while offering the space for recreation and sharing based on Gospel values, all this through the activities of catechesis, formation, prayer, visits to the poor and the sick. The association offers a positive and fraternal approach towards others, in the light of the Christian faith, to inculcate closeness of the heart and prayer, knowledge and collaboration, and mutual help among the children of the world.

With the motto of “Children Helping Children, the society encourages children to learn about and support underprivileged children in developing countries around the world

Children in South Africa, Eswatini and Botswana are encouraged to help disadvantaged and vulnerable children by supporting Missio in our aim to provide disadvantaged children with food, shelter, healthcare, education and spiritual formation.

The Society of St. Peter the Apostle (POSPA) was established to support local clergy.

From the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, the Holy See repeatedly drew attention to the need to support indigenous clergy. It became clear to Missionaries that their action would be incomplete if it did not come to the creation of a local clergy, but the realization of this reality always clashed with various obstacles and difficulties. One of the obstacles was due to the lack of resources for both the creation of seminaries and the formation of seminarians. In order to find a solution, the missionaries issued appeals to their benefactors in Europe.

In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, Msgr. Jules-Alphonse Cousin, of the Foreign Missions of ParisApostolic Vicar of Southern Japan in 1855, then Bishop of Nagasaki in1891, found himself in the position of having to refuse young men who had clear signs of a priestly vocation because of lack of resources. This was the source of great sorrow for him as he knew they were essential for the growth of the church in Japan.

On June 1st, 1889, Msgr Cousin approached a benefactress by the name of Jeanne Bigard  who, along with her mother Stephanie, was very supportive of the missions. This was to be starting point for the foundation of the Society of St. Peter the Apostle.


The Society of St. Peter the Apostle promotes an awareness of the need to develop local clergy and consecrated life in recently founded missionary Churches.

It animates and coordinates missionary collaboration in all the local Churches, through the offering of prayer, sacrifices and alms, to support the formation of future priests and men and women religious of young Churches, and the necessary preparation of their formators.

It collects and distributes financial aid to support seminaries and novitiates, in collaboration with local Christian communities and under the guidance of their pastors.

The economic collaboration of the Society of St. Peter the Apostle is achieved through the Ordinary Subsidies for the maintenance of seminarians and novices; Extraordinary Subsidies for the construction of new seminaries, for the rehabilitation and self-financing projects of the existing ones; the “Holy Mass Intentions” to support formators, Scholarships for future formators. In this collaboration, the final objective of POSPA, like that of all the other Pontifical Societies, remains the spread of the Gospel and the progress of the Kingdom of God.