Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary

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Father Pierre Coudrin, founder of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, from a window in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, Honolulu.

Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary is a Roman Catholic religious order of brothers, priests, and nuns. The priests of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, are also known as the Picpus Fathers, in honor of Picpus Street in Paris, France where the order was founded in 1800. Their post-nominal letters, ss.cc., are the Latin initials for Sacrorum Cordium, i.e. Sacred Hearts.

Contents

French Revolution beginnings

The creation of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ss.cc. is rooted in the French Revolution. In March of 1792, a Frenchman named Peter Coudrin was secretly ordained to the priesthood. The following May, in the midst of a nation in turmoil turning against Catholic religious leaders, Father Coudrin went into hiding in an attic of the granary of the Chateau d'Usseau where he was confined for six months. One evening during his time in hiding, Father Coudrin saw a vision of being surrounded by a heavenly illuminated group of priests, brothers and sisters dressed in white robes. It was his calling to establish a religious order that would be the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ss.cc. Father Coudrin left the granary and began his underground ministry in Poitiers, waiting for the right moment to start his group.

During his underground ministry in 1794, Father Coudrin met Henriette Aymer de Chevalerie. She had been released from a revolutionary prison, accused of hiding a priest. She told Father Coudrin of a heaven-sent vision she had while in prison calling her to service to God. Father Coudrin and Henriette Aymer de Chevalerie shared with each other their visions of creating a religious order in the midst of danger for Roman Catholics in France.

Establishing the Congregation

On Christmas Eve in 1800, knowing they could face the guillotine for their actions, Father Coudrin and Henriette Aymer de Chevalerie officially established the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ss.cc. with a mission to spread the message of God's unconditional love as manifested through the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and finding God's mercy through the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

The original members of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ss.cc. founded new schools for poor children, seminaries to help grow the priesthood of their order and parish missions throughout Europe. At the time of Father Coudrin's death in 1837, Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ss.cc. had 276 fathers and brothers and 1125 sisters.

Mission in the Hawaiian Islands

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Father Damien, the world's most famous Picpus Father, is the patron of lepers, outcasts, HIV/AIDS and the State of Hawaii. Beatified in 1995 with the title of Blessed Damien of Molokai, he awaits sainthood.

In 1827, the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ss.cc. set off on a new mission that would become their hallmark accomplishment. The religious order organized teams of missionaries to settle in the several Pacific Ocean islands to spread the Gospel, build churches and cultivate new faithful.

Nowhere in the Pacific Islands did the presence of Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ss.cc. most inspire its people but in the Kingdom of Hawaii. They established what is now the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu and built the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States. Hawaii's first six bishops, from 1833 to 1940, were members of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ss.cc.

Famous members

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