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  A Brief Story of the Foundress of the
Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostle

Founded at Caen, in France, in 1889, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle (P.O.S.P.A.) owes its existence to the original initiative of Jeanne and Stephanie Bigard

Thanks to regular correspondence with diverse missionaries, mother and daughter were convinced that a local community would never become completely Church without its own indigenous bishops, priests, and religious. These would be better able than others to measure the riches of their traditions,  and to preach the Gospel in their particular culture in the most effective and incisive manner.

Having given all their wealth for the needs of seminaries in mission countries and offered their lives of prayer and sacrifice, Jeanne and Stephanie asked other people to offer their prayers and their financial contributions so that the needs of numerous young people who wished to become priests could be met. Jeanne went on to invite numerous persons to join her group of mission supporters. This group would have the following objectives: 

  • To insist on the necessity of formation and education for priests and religious.
  • To contribute in a consistent way to the growth of the local clergy.
  • To expand little by little this objective, collaborating in the formation of those desiring to become priests and religious, emphasizing especially the creation of a local clergy.

Because her fragile health was deteriorating more and more, Jeanne gave up her leadership of the Society of St. Peter the Apostle on January 22, 1905. She died on April 28, 1934 and was buried near her mother, Stephanie Bigard, in the cemetery of Montparnasse.

In 1920, the central office of the Society was transferred to Rome. The small group had grown  and expanded across all of Europe and beyond. With the approval of the Holy See, the Society was proclaimed " Pontifical " on May 3, 1922.

Thanks to the intuition and vision of the "Bigard ladies,"  numerous bishops, priests and religious have been helped by the Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostle (P.O.S.P.A.). Today the Society supports 884 seminaries where about 73,000 seminarians study. They are from all the different continents: Africa, Asia, America, Oceania, and Europe.