The Spiritans were founded on Pentecost Sunday 1703 in Paris, France by a young man, Claude Poullart des Places (1679-1709). Claude was not yet an ordained priest but had a deep calling to found a community of young men who would be dedicated to the Holy Spirit and who would be willing to go to where they were called by the Church. Soon this little community flourished as more people were attracted to the simple lifestyle and the dedication of the Spiritans. Tragically, the upheaval of the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century nearly destroyed the Spiritans.

However God was not yet finished with the Spiritans! In 1848, Fr. Francis Libermann merged his new young congregation of The Immaculate Heart of Mary with the Spiritans and this breathed new life into the congregation. The Spiritans quickly took on new missions in Europe, North America, Australia, the Indian Ocean and especially Africa.

It is a story that spans more than three centuries, criss-crosses continents in war-time and in peace, and features the selflessness of thousands of priests, brothers and lay persons who have forgone society’s aspirations to power, prestige, and wealth. Rather, they made and continue to make profound sacrifices to minister to the poor and disadvantaged.

Poullart des Places and community at Saint-Étienne-des-Grès