Monasteries of Great Britain and Ireland – The Fathers of the Sacred Hearts and of the Perpetual Adoration, or the Picpus Fathers

Father Marie Joseph Coudrin, Founder of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts (Picpus Fathers)Article

Active. Under Simple Vows. Founded 1789. Motto: Vivat Cor Jesu Sacratissimum per infinita saecula saeculorum. Amen.

This Congregation, now so well known as that of the Picpus Fathers, to which the celebrated apostle of the lepers, Father Damien, belonged, sprung up during the great Revolution, and was in its cradle during the Reign of Terror. It was founded by a holy French priest, the Abbé Coudrin, in the Diocese of Poitiers, who, living in an attic near Chatelleraul, felt himself inspired to found a Religious Congregation in harmony with the unhappy times in which he lived, whose members should offer themselves as victims in reparation to Almighty God for all crimes and blasphemies of the age, and especially should they do so at the foot of the tabernacle in Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

He hoped also that they would be able to re-establish the faith in his country by training young priests in the seminaries, by preaching, by educating all classes of children, and that they should further propagate the faith by foreign missions. He saw that devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary was the great means of salvation for France, then bleeding from the horrors of the Revolution, so he placed his Institute under their names and patronage, and appointed devotion to them as the instrument of sanctification for his children and for all the world.

He began his work, in the midst of imminent danger, in the Dioceses of Poitiers and Tours. During the Reign of Terror he went to the prisons to offer the consolations of our holy religion to the prisoners, and several times escaped almost by miracles from being killed. At this time he met Madame Aymer de la Chevalerie, who founded the Nuns of the Sacred Hearts, who give themselves to the work of Perpetual Adoration and to the education of all classes.

As the revolutionary tempest subsided, the Abbé Coudrin was able to begin his great work. By degrees he and his subjects undertook the direction of seminaries, founded colleges, opened free schools for poor children, gave missions in both town and country, and refused no good work that could help on the object for which they were founded. In 1817 the Institute received the solemn approbation of the Holy See, which gave it fresh vigour, and new houses were founded and missions opened in different dioceses.

In 1826 the missions of Eastern Oceania were confided to the care of the Congregation by the Holy See, and some of the Fathers started at once to preach the Gospel to the inhabitants of those distant isles, many of whom were cannibals, and among whom they worked wonders in the way of civilization by preaching the Gospel and the truths of our holy Faith, but we have only space to refer thus briefly to their labours. Their heroism in the leper isle of Molokai, where Father Damien laid down his life, is of world-wide notoriety.

The Fathers now have three Apostolic Vicariates in these archipelagoes, and have built numerous churches, chapels, and schools.

Beside this, the Fathers have founded various establishments in South America, in Chili, Peru, and Ecuador, where their colleges have a brilliant reputation; in Belgium: in Louvain, Aerschot, Courtrois, and Tremoloo; in Holland: in Grave and Simpelveld.

They are called the Picpus Fathers from the Rue de Picpus in Paris, where the novitiate house was.

The novitiate lasts one year and a half.

The habit is white with white scapular and mantle, and a large badge of the Sacred Hearts on the breast.

The Fathers have two houses in England, one at Edgbaston near Birmingham, and one at Eccleshall, Birmingham.

At Edgbaston boys are trained who desire to become missionaries, especially in the Hawaiian Isles and the leper settlement at Molokai. In the Damien Institute at Edgbaston they undergo a preparatory course of study. At Eccleshall the novitiate is made. Both these houses are dependent upon the alms of the faithful.

In their Louvain house Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is kept up day and night, each member of the community watching in turn, one at a time.

MLA Citation

  • Francesca M Steele. “The Fathers of the Sacred Hearts and of the Perpetual Adoration, or the Picpus Fathers”. Monasteries of Great Britain and Ireland, 1903. CatholicSaints.Info. 1 December 2018. Web. 14 December 2018. <>