Founded by Father Coudrin to promote devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and of Mary
Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, CONGREGATION OF THE, AND OF THE PERPETUAL ADORATION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR, better known as the Congregation of Picpus, was founded by Father Coudrin, b. at Coursay-les-Bois, in Poiton on March 1, 1768. He was only deacon when the persecution, directed against the clergy, dispersed the students of the seminary of Poitiers, where he was being trained. Having learned that Msgr. de Bonald, Bishop of Clermont, was in Paris and would confer Holy Orders upon him, he set out for that city, and on March 4, 1792, was ordained priest in the Irish Seminary. The ordination took place in the library, because the revolutionaries had invaded the chapel in which they were actually holding their meetings. After ordination he returned to Coursay, but the violence of the persecution soon compelled him to hide elsewhere. During October of the same year, disguised, he labored in the Dioceses of Poitiers and Tours.
Father Coudrin gathered around him a few companions, to whom he communicated his views to promote devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and of Mary, and who were also willing to assist him in his great work. On Christmas night, 1800, he solemnly made his religious vows, devoting himself entirely to the love of the Sacred Hearts. During the year 1805 Father Coudrin bought some dilapidated houses in the Rue Picpus in Paris, and there established himself with a few of his religious. A college for the training of youths and a seminary were soon started. "The Good Father", as his religious used to call him, governed his congregation with tact and prudence, and in spite of many difficulties, his work prospered. Several new monasteries and colleges were founded and opened in various towns.
In 1825 the evangelization of the Sandwich Islands in the Pacific Ocean was entrusted by the Holy See to the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts, and the following year the first band of missionaries of the Sacred Hearts left France to carry the Faith to the inhabitants. In 1833 the Archipelagos of Oriental Oceanica were likewise confided to the same Congregation and immediately missionaries were sent to the Gambier Islands; some of these fathers established houses of the congregation in Peru and Chile, South America. Not long afterwards other evangelical laborers were sent to the Marquesa Islands at the death of the founder in 1837. The perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was made day and night in nineteen houses, while several other houses had also been founded abroad.
In 1817 it was formally approved by Pius VII, in 1825 by Leo XII, and in 1840 by Gregory XVI, under the name of Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and of the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Its special aim is to honor and imitate the four ages of our Lord: His infancy by the instruction of children, and by the formation of youths for the priesthood; His hidden life by the exercise of the Adoration; His public life, by preaching and by missionary work; His crucified life by the works of Christian mortification. At the present day the missions confided to the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts comprise three Apostolic Vicariates: the Tahiti Islands, Marquesa Islands, and the Hawaiian Islands, where Father Damien fell a victim to his humble and generous devotion for the poor lepers of Molokai. The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts, which depends directly upon the Propaganda, is governed by a Superior General, who is elected for life. The members make perpetual but simple vows after a probation of eighteen months' novitiate. In 1898 the Congregation was divided into three provinces. The Belgian province, under which England and the United States of America are comprised, has a novitiate and a house of studies at Courtray. The provincial has his residence in the monastery of the Sacred Hearts in Louvain, Mount St. Antoine, Belgium. The superior in England is in the Damien house of Eccleshall in Staffordshire; in the United States in the monastery of the Sacred Hearts at Fairhaven in Massachusetts.
WILLIAM DE BROECK