In 1818 a young French woman, Pauline Marie Jaricot, began a union of prayer for the missions. A far-seeing ‘doer’ with a passion for mission, little did she know when she first established this union, that it would become the largest aid agency for the missions in the entire history of the Catholic Church. Pauline had suffered an accident as a teenager, which led to a period of depression. The death of her mother and brother compounded this suffering. However, a homily one Sunday deeply affected Pauline and she began to feel a profound closeness to God. She wished to cooperate in the spread of the Gospel and was determined to become a missionary. In her mind the simplest and most effective way to begin was through organised prayer and action.
Working with other women from her father’s factories, Pauline organised them into groups of ten, each of whom was committed to finding ten other people who would pray weekly and donate a penny for the missions. She perfectly combined the spiritual impulse with a concrete action. The idea inflamed people’s hearts and the project spread like wildfire. This led to the official founding of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith on 3rd May 1822.