Saint Peter Apostle
Catholic Mission's Work with Church Leaders
Founded in 1889 in France by Jeanne Bigard (1859-1934)
Having suffered significant personal tragedy, Jeanne Bigard and her mother Stephanie both became reclusive; living practically as hermits after Jeanne's father took his own life and her brother was accidentally burnt to death. However, such tragic events led the wealthy Jeanne to leave a lasting and radical legacy: to train indigenous clergy.
Later, the two women turned to good works and became interested in making altar linen and vestments for missionaries in Japan.
Made aware of their interest, Father Villion, who was stationed in Japan, approached them in 1888. From Kyoto in Japan, he asked them for assistance in building a church. Although the Bigards were very wealthy, they were also very careful with money.
Ultimately they sold some land and a factory and gave 50,000 francs to Father Villion which enabled him to build his church.
In 1889, a French Bishop of Nagasaki, Jules-Alphonse Cousin, suggested to the Bigards that they might consider supporting boys in Japan to train for the priesthood. Thus was born the idea of a general society to promote indigenous clergy throughout the world.
The Bigards donated to the new society the whole of their considerable fortune. Approved by the Pope in 1890, it too became a Pontifical Mission Society in 1922.
The Society trains young men and women in their own country and culture to serve their people as religious sisters, brothers, or priests. Also assisted in their formation and training are those catechists who have been chosen to be the teachers and formators of the catechists in their country.