Spiritan History 1805 – 1848

From the Restoration of the Congregation, until the “fusion”with the
Society of the Holy Heart of Mary (Libermann)

 

1805

The Congregation of the Holy Spirit was re-established by Napoleon on March 23rd, 1805 but suppressed a second time in 1809.

1815

The Congregation was re-established by King Louis XVIII, but it was not until 1822 that Fr. Bertout was able to recuperate the spiritan property in the rue des Postes.

1824

Rome approved the “Rules” of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit; from that time onwards, it was to depend directly on the Holy See.

1839

Following his experience of “a few small lights” that he received on October 28th at Rennes on the feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Libermann decided to take up the Work for the Black People. In early January, 1840, he travelled to Rome to advance the project.

1841

On December 25th, Francis Libermann, a convert Jew, assisted by Frs. Frédéric Le Vavasseur, Eugène Tisserant and the Abbé Desgenettes (who had persuaded him to pursue the Work for the Black People), presided at the foundation of the Society of the Holy Heart of Mary at a Mass in the church of Notre Dame des Victoires in Paris. The primary objective of this foundation was the evangelisation of the Black People in the French colonies and the struggle against the exploitation to which they were subjected after their emancipation from slavery. They would tell them of the “good news” of their God-given dignity . The first members soon set out on their mission appointments: Fr. Jacques Laval to Mauritius in 1841, Fr. Frédéric Le Vavasseur to Reunion in early 1842 and Fr. Eugène Tisserant to Haiti at the end of the same year. 

1842

The Apostolic Vicariate of the two Guineas was set up. It comprised all the territory between Sénégal and the river Orange in southern Africa, apart from those areas already under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Angola and Congo. Mgr. Edward Barron, originally from Ireland, the Vicar General of the diocese of Philadelphia, USA, was appointed the first Vicar Apostolic. Libermann decided to offer some members of the new Society of the Holy Heart of Mary to Mgr. Edward Barron for the evangelisation of the African continent. This was the beginning of the huge number of spiritan missionaries who would be sent to spread the Good News in Africa. 

1843-1844

5 members of the first missionary group died in Africa or on the high seas.

1844

Fr. Bessieux and Brother Grégoire arrived in Gabon.

1845

Opening of the mission of Dakar.

1846

Mgr. Edward Barron resigned. The Apostolic Vicariate of the Two Guineas was confided to the Society of the Missionaries of the Holy Heart of Mary.

1848

The merger of the Society of the Holy Heart of Mary with the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. For the good of the mission, Libermann accepted the decision of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, ratified by Pius IX on September 10th. The exact wording was : “ … the union of the Society of the Missionaries of the Holy Heart of Mary with the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, in such a way that the former would cease to exist and its associates and aspirants would be aggregated into the Congregation of the Holy Spirit”. On November 3rd, the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith agreed that the words “under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary” shouldbe added to the title of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. On the same day, it approved the election of Francis Libermann as the 11th Superior General of the Congregation, replacing Fr. Monnet who was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Madagascar.