SpiritansCongregation of the Holy Spirit

Founded in Paris in 1703 the Congregation of the Holy Spirit began life as the Seminary of the Holy Spirit. This seminary was founded by a young and brilliant law student, Claude Poullart des Places, who gave up his career to dedicate his life to the service of the poor and who would die at the age of thirty during an outbreak of pleurisy. Faithful to his wishes, his brothers in community buried him in the paupers’ grave. The purpose of the seminary was to train young men to become priests at the service of the poorer sections of society. Over the years many Spiritans were also sent to work in Africa, the Americas and in Asia.

In 1848 a young missionary congregation dedicated to the Holy Heart of Mary joined with the Spiritans to become the religious missionary congregation that we know today. This group was founded by a convert from Judaism, Francis Libermann, and their first works brought them to work in Africa and with freed slaves.

So from the beginning our religious community has been marked by a strong multi-cultural dimension where mission has been understood, essentially, as leaving one’s home and country to discover the presence of Christ in peoples of other cultures and traditions.


In Asia

Very early in our history, from 1733 to 1780, a few missionaries formed in the Seminary of the Holy Spirit were sent to Asia, including China and Vietnam. One of them, Bishop Pottier, worked as Apostolic Vicar in Sichuan, where he developed the christian community to about 30,000. He trained catechists, and priests. He ordained Augustin Zhao Rong, the most famous Chinese Martyr.

In 1997, the Spiritans came back to South East Asia, where two communities were established in Taiwan and The Philippines. Ten years latter, we opened another community in Vietnam.

Our Mission and Identity

As a missionary congregation, we are listening to the Holy Spirit. We seek to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the witness of our life and by our respect and desire to dialogue with men and women of every faith and none. We believe deeply that we meet Christ in everyone, but especially in the poor.

We seek to build up the Kingdom of God by working for justice and respect for each person and by building up faith communities where our gifts and talents are at the service of the Gospel and the Church. The Holy Spirit teaches us to be creative, gentle, passionate, trusting and collaborative.

In more than 60 countries, we lead communities in prayer and in the celebration of the sacraments. We listen, teach, heal, gather; we empower people to trust in the Holy Spirit. We train men and women to be faith leaders in their communities and parishes, and to reach out to those who are still isolated.


Our life together

We seek to live close to the people we work with. Our communities are often small. More and more we are taking up the challenge of international living. In a world which can be marked by prejudice, suspicion and greed we seek to live a common life of prayer and service. It is not easy to overcome differences of culture and language but we believe that this is what Christ calls us to live.


Sent by the Father and consecrated by the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ came to save all people. He continues in the world of today this mission of salvation of which the Church is the sacrament. In the midst of God’s people, among the numerous and varied vocations which the Holy Spirit inspires, we Spiritans are called by the Father and “set apart” (Acts 13:2) to follow Jesus and to announce the Good News of the Kingdom.

 Spiritan Rule of Life, 1

We respond to this call in a religious missionary institute, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The charisms of our Founders, Claude Poullart des Places and Francis Libermann, and fidelity to our tradition urge us to respond creatively to the needs of evangelisation of our time (cf. Nos. 4;12).

 Spiritan Rule of Life, 2


The “apostolic life” is at the heart of our Spiritan vocation. It is “that life of love and of holiness lived on earth by the Son of God in order to save and sanctify people. By it He continually sacrificed Himself, thereby glorifying the Father and saving the world” (Rule 1849). So that we may lead this apostolic life in Christ’s footsteps, our consecration includes three essential dimensions: the proclamation of the Good News, the practice of the evangelical counsels and a life in fraternal and praying community.

Spiritan Rule of Life, 3

The evangelisation of the “poor” (cf. Lk 4:18) is our purpose. Therefore we go especially to peoples, groups and individuals who have not yet heard the message of the Gospel or who have scarcely heard it, to those whose needs are the greatest, and to the oppressed. We also willingly accept tasks for which the Church has difficulty in finding workers.

Spiritan Rule of Life, 4


We live out our mission in willing obedience to the Holy Spirit, taking Mary as our model. This condition of habitual fidelity to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is the “practical union” of which Libermann speaks. It is the wellspring of our apostolic zeal and leads us to being completely available and making a complete gift of ourselves.

Spiritan Rule of Life, 5

We are dedicated to the Holy Spirit, author of all holiness and “source of the apostolic spirit”. We place ourselves under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who was filled beyond measure by the same Spirit “with the fullness of holiness and apostolic zeal”.

Spiritan Rule of Life, 6


In keeping with our ideal of a life that is both fraternal and apostolic, we take for our motto the words used to describe the early Christian communities: “One heart and one soul” (cf. Acts 4:32).

Spiritan Rule of Life, 7

How to become a Spiritan?

The Spiritan Missionaries can be Religious Priests or Brothers, or associates who share our spirituality.