St. Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Passionist Congregation, was born in Ovada in Northern Italy, on January 3rd, 1694. As a young man, he experienced a vision. Paul saw our Blessed Mother, clothed in black, in what is known as the Passionist Habit. She was wearing, over her heart, the distinctive badge or "Sign" of the Passionists. She told him to found a new religious community of men who were to devote their lives promoting in the hearts of the faithful, the remembrance of the Passion and death of her son.
In 1720, St. Paul of the Cross began to gather companions to live together and to witness to the people, the Gospel of the suffering of Jesus Christ. He wished his followers to cultivate a profound spirit of prayer, penance and solitude, in order to attain intimate union with God to be imbued with love for Christ and Him Crucified and become a witness to Christ's great love for us.
Shortly after the death of St. Paul of the Cross on October 18th, 1775, his newly found Congregation began to spread. From Italy it reached Spain, France, Belgium, then over to England and Ireland. In 1852, before our Civil War, the first Passionists, three priests and one brother, led by Fr. Anthony Calandri, came from Italy to America, at the invitation of Bishop Michael O'Connor of Pittsburgh.
Mission Statement of the Congregation of the Passion
Faithful to the charism of St Paul of the Cross, the Mission of the Passionists is to keep alive in the world the love of Jesus Crucified as seen in His Sacred Passion.
This mission is rooted in prayerful community life and is expressed in collaborative ministry to the people of God in all walks of life especially to the poor and suffering.
We seek the unity of our lives and our Apostolate in the Passion of Jesus.