Pauline Jaricot was born in Lyons, on July 22 1799, to a family of silk manufacturers, deeply attached to the Church. She spent her life in the heart of Lyons, between the parishes of St Nizier and St Polycarpe, and later at the foot of the basilica of “Our Lady of Fourvière”.
She enjoyed a happy childhood, filled with the strong affection and faith of her parents and her elder brothers and sisters. Visits to the Saint Sacrament and her frequent communions gave her an intimate connection with the Lord very early in her life.
During her adolescence, she enjoyed worldly pleasures and elegance, and turned away from God, until she heard a sermon on vanity which moved her deeply, and provoked in her a real internal conversion.
1816 Pauline is 17years old.
She decides to consecrate her life to the Lord, and at Christmas 1816, she makes a vow of chastity at the Chapel of the Virgin of Fourvière, whilst remaining a laywoman.
From then on, her life will simply be a long ascent towards God. She will draw her strength from the prayer and the Eucharist, in order to undertake her multiple charitable and universal actions with no discrimination of persons.
Soul of Fire, woman of action, tireless apostle, she will take bold evangelisation initiatives, and work towards greater social justice, whilst encouraging the habit of prayer.
Between 1819 and 1820, with a few friends from amongst the women workers in the silk works, and her close relations, united in a life of prayer and charitable actions, she starts a collection from hand to hand, ” le sou de Pauline” (Pauline’s pennies), in order to raise funds for the missions. She puts into practice a plan based on the decimal system: groups of 10 people, every member forming another group of 10 and so on. This system would quickly spread in the world to become the “Association de la Propagation de la Foi “, Association of the Propagation of the Faith, founded on May 3rd, 1822.
In 1826, responding to the spiritual needs of her time, Pauline Jaricot creates the “Rosaire Vivant”, the Living Rosary. She adopts means similar to the Propagation of the Faith: 15 people, 15 mysteries (today 20 mysteries, following the addition by Pope John Paul II of the Luminous Mysteries); every member recites a decade rosary while meditating on one of the mysteries of Our Lord’s life, with the intercession of Mary; this mystery is randomly chosen by a “zealot” responsible for the group.
By the time of her death, the total number of members in France is around 2,250,000.
The Living Rosary continues today, spreading all over the world.
In 1845, Pauline considers implementing a plan of Evangelisation of the working class.
« The social ills from which France suffers are to be found in the community of the working class: I would like to make this community itself a means of Salvation …
In brief, I would like the husband to be given back to the wife, the father to the child, and God to mankind ».
She purchases a factory to be run as a model of the Christian Spirit. A building adjacent to the plant accommodates the families, and close by is a school and a chapel. She assigns the management to people who prove to be dishonest, to a point where the business cannot continue. Having exhausted all her fortune, she spends the rest of her days in deepest poverty, obliged to beg in order to pay off her debts. This becomes her long Way of the Cross.
In 1861, her heart disease worsens.
Her close union with the Lord and her humble self-effacement allow her to forgive completely.
« A poor woman, who has only God for friend, only God for support… but God only is enough »
On January 9 1862, Pauline dies at her home at Lorette.
Pauline Jaricot’s union with God has provided the energy for the service of evangelisation. She urges us to take action springing from contemplation, in close relation with Christ, in the Eucharist.
Let us pray that, by reaching the honour of the altars, her example will serve the entire Church. Pope Leon XIII said:
« By her faith, her trust, her strength of soul, her sweetness and the serene acceptance of all her crosses, Pauline showed herself to be a real disciple of Christ » (June 13, 1881).
Please inform Propagation de la Foi, 12 rue Sala – 69002 Lyon, France of any favour which you feel was obtained with Pauline’s intercession.
Any grace obtained by her intercession should be made known to:
Propagation de la Foi - 12, rue Sala - 69002 Lyon - France