by Margaux Salcedo
On Sunday, May 22, 2022, Pauline Marie Jaricot, the founder of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, now one of the four organizations under the Pontifical Mission Societies, was beatified in her hometown of Lyon, France.
Cardinal Tagle officiating the Beatification of Blessed Pauline at Lyon | Photo from Archdiocese of Lyon
Pope Francis sent a warm, heartfelt message saying he was one with the people of Lyon in this celebration. But the impact of Blessed Pauline is not confined to France but has been felt the world over.
Here are 3 ways we can be inspired by the life and example of Blessed Pauline Marie Jaricot:
1. Welcome God's Grace
Blessed Pauline went through a very difficult time before she devoted her life to the Lord. At the age of 17, a serious fall caused her to become practically paralyzed. At around the same time, her elder brother died. And as if that wasn't enough, soon after, her mother died. She became so depressed she stopped seeing people and would hardly eat. Both her physical and mental health suffered terribly.
Thankfully, their local priest helped her out and as she recovered spiritually, she recovered physically as well.
It appears that with the help of her spiritual mentor, she was able to shift her mindset from bitter to sweet; from withdrawing from life to offering her life to the Lord.
This paradigm shift is grace. It is a gift from the Lord.
This grace is spiritual healing. Accepting this grace, your life inevitably changes for the better. In the case of Blessed Pauline, it resulted in her physical healing as well and soon thereafter she could walk again.
So welcome God's grace. He offers it freely and it is a gift that keeps growing.
Accepting God's grace brings you inner peace. Inner peace gives birth to gratitude. Gratitude opens your heart to joy. Joy brings the inspiration not only to live but to live fully for the Lord. Living for the Lord results in a continuing cycle of good vibes - it is grace upon grace!
2. Reciprocate God's Love
The two times that it was reported that Blessed Pauline was healed, she was quick to reciprocate the love to Christ, who healed her, and to those who interceded to heal her.
The first example is her very own conversion story, which narrates that at the age of 17, as soon as Blessed Pauline could walk again after suffering a fall that left her practically paralyzed, the first thing she did was go to the Fourvière chapel where she consecrated herself to Jesus. Later, she also consecrated herself to Mary. Another time that she asked for healing was later on in life, in March of 1835 when she was 35 years old and suffering from a heart condition that caused her to have unbearable palpitations. She went on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Philomena in Mugnano near Naples in Italy, a difficult journey considering her condition. Yet she made it and there, before the relics of St. Philomena, was cured. There were witnesses to this incident as Blessed Pauline reportedly collapsed and then arose healed. After this, she made her way to the Vatican to see Pope Gregory XVI and asked him to proceed without delay with the final inquiry into the Cause of Saint Philomena. Pope Gregory XVI fulfilled his promise to Blessed Pauline and on January 30, 1837 liturgically canonized St. Philomena in an act of the ordinary Papal Magisterium. This shows that in her relationship with God and in her communion with the saints, she was not only on the receiving end, asking for favors, but would also generously offer her love in return. In the case of St. Philomena, she even negotiated with the Pope for her canonization.
It is in this expression and reciprocation of love that these relationships come alive.
We should follow Blessed Pauline's example so that our own relationships with the Lord and with the saints come alive in our times and in our lives as well!
3. Even a young girl can make a difference
At the age of 19, after hearing about missionaries overseas from her brother Phileas, who was at the time studying in a seminary, Blessed Pauline became determined to help the missions. She gathered ten of her father's employees to regularly pray for missionaries overseas. She also encouraged them to contribute weekly a sous (or a penny) each to support the missions. This somehow led to the creation of more of these small groups supporting the missions that by 1822, when the young Pauline turned 24, the Propagation of the Faith was officially established with no less than Pope Leo XIII designating Blessed Pauline as the official founder of the society.
In 1922 or a hundred years later, the society's headquarters was moved to Rome where Pope Pius XI made it the chief fund-raising and distribution agency for all Roman Catholic missions. In 2022, the Pontifical Mission Societies celebrated 200 years of Propaganda Fide and at the beatification ceremony for Blessed Pauline, over 120 national directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies from around the world concelebrated the mass in Lyon, France.
Blessed Pauline's example proves that one ordinary person's sincere desire to contribute can have an extraordinary impact on the world.
This is an empowering message emphasizing that it is not your gender or age or authority that matters; we are all welcome and empowered.
These are just a few of the examples of how we can be inspired by Blessed Pauline Jaricot.
Let us be like her: let us welcome God's grace and reciprocate God's love. And realize that even with just a prayer and a penny (or a peso), each of us has the capacity to participate in the Church's effort to gift the world with faith and Christ's love.
Blessed Pauline Jaricot, pray for us!