Monasteries of Great Britain and Ireland – Fathers of Mercy

Article

Active. Under Simple Vows. Founded 1810.

The French Congregation of the Fathers of Mercy, called formerly the Missionaries of France, was founded by Père Jean Baptiste Rauzan, who was born at Bordeaux in 1757, and died in Paris in 1847. He was chosen by the Vicar-General of Lyons, and recommended to Cardinal Fesch as the most capable priest to form and direct the body of missionaries whom the Archbishop judged indispensable to revive the Christian spirit in France after the great Revolution. The holy founder entered into the Archbishop’s views, and was established in the house formerly belonging to the Carthusians. Napoleon I looked favourably on the project, and his Government placed 3,000 francs at the Archbishop’s disposal to found new missions.

Up to 1834 the Congregation was by no means numerous; their work was hampered with many difficulties. Great courage was needed for a French citizen to practise his religion, and the greatest ignorance of religious matters prevailed in his country. The first most pressing work of the new Congregation was to evangelize the great cities, and this they proceeded to do, meeting with much opposition; and in the Revolution of 1830 their royalist zeal made them the victims of the revolutionary party, who sacked their house and burnt it to the ground, Père Rauzan escaping almost by a miracle. He went to Rome, and passed four years there in drawing up the Constitutions of the Society which received the name of the Society of Mercy; these were approved at once by Pope Gregory XVI, and the Missionaries of France became the Fathers of Mercy, ready to take up their apostolic work under the Bishops of preaching in Advent and Lent, holding retreats, and doing other missionary works, while living in community.

Soon after they crossed the Atlantic and established themselves in New York, there they founded the French parish of Saint Vincent de Paul, where they have given a vigorous impulse to the propagation of the Faith. This foundation was the last made by P&re Rauzan, who died in 1848. He also founded the Congregation of the Dames de Sainte Clotilde for educational work.

The rule, destined for men who were to be employed in missionary work, is not strict; the interior rule is borrowed in great measure from the Sulpicians. The vow of poverty is modified to suit the exigencies of the work. The predominant characteristic of the preaching of the Fathers is a practical apostolic spirit.

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is the feast of the Society.

MLA Citation

  • Francesca M Steele. “Fathers of Mercy”. Monasteries of Great Britain and Ireland, 1903. CatholicSaints.Info. 2 December 2018. Web. 13 December 2018. <>