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The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and of the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar is a Roman Catholic religious institute of brothers, priests, and nuns. The priests of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, are also known as the Picpus Fathers, because Rue de Picpus is the street in Paris, France where they had their first house. Their post-nominal letters, SS.CC., are the Latin initials for Sacrorum Cordium, "of the Sacred Hearts". (The letters are doubled to indicate that both words are plural, a convention of Latin abbreviations).
The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary arose amid the religious upheaval caused by the French Revolution. In March 1792, the Frenchman Piere Coudrin was secretly ordained to the priesthood. The following May, under the oppression of a government persecuting Catholic religious leaders, Father Coudrin went into hiding in an attic of the granary of the Chateau d'Usseau where he was confined for six months. One evening during his time in hiding, Coudrin saw a vision of being surrounded by a heavenly illuminated group of priests, brothers and sisters dressed in white robes. It was his calling to establish a religious institute that would be the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Coudrin left the granary and began his underground ministry in Poitiers, waiting for the right moment to start his group.
During his underground ministry in 1794, Coudrin met Henriette Aymer de Chevalerie. She had been released from a revolutionary prison, accused of hiding a priest. She told Coudrin of a vision she had while in prison calling her to service of God. Coudrin and Henriette Aymer de Chevalerie shared with each other their visions of creating a religious institute in the midst of danger for Roman Catholics in France.
On Christmas Eve in 1800, knowing they could face the guillotine for their actions, Father Coudrin and Henriette Aymer de Chevalerie officially established the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary with a mission to spread the message of God's unconditional love as manifested through the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and finding God's mercy through the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
The original members of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary founded new schools for poor children, seminaries to help grow the priesthood of their institute and parish missions throughout Europe. At the time of Father Coudrin's death in 1837, the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary had 276 priests and brothers and 1125 sisters.
In 1827 the religious institute set off on a new mission that would become their hallmark accomplishment. Teams of missionaries settled in the several Pacific Ocean islands to spread the Gospel, build churches, and evangelize new faithful.
Nowhere in the Pacific Islands did the presence of Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary more inspire its people than in the Kingdom of Hawaii. They established what is now the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu and built the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States. Hawaii's first six bishops, from 1833 to 1940, were members of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Other churches founded by the institute include Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Hilo and Maria Lanakila Catholic Church on Maui.
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