RepositoryJesuits in Britain Archives
TitleApostleship of Prayer
LevelSub fonds
DescriptionRecords relating to the Apostleship of Prayer in Britain. Includes lists of people and organisations affiliated to the Apostleship of Prayer, accounts, correspondence and transcriptions of correspondence, and literature produced by the Apostleship of Prayer or distributed by them.
Admin_HistoryThe Apostleship of Prayer started in France in 1844, at a Jesuit training college near Vals. The young Jesuits there were anxious to start their missionary training activities abroad, especially in India, but became disheartened at the length of training they still needed to do before they could become missionaries. Their spiritual director, Fr. Francis Xavier Gautrelet SJ, suggested a way of devoting their life to the mission immediately, by offering to God everything they were doing in their day-to-day lives. The specific practice he recommended to them was a simple prayer, every morning, by which they would dedicate everything they did each day to Jesus.

The enthusiasm of the young French Jesuits meant the Apostleship of Prayer spread rapidly through the region near Vals, and was taken up by lay Catholics as well as by Religious. The Apostleship of Prayer soon spread beyond France, becoming a worldwide fellowship.

From early on, the Apostleship of Prayer came to have a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, particularly under the directorship of Fr. Ramiere SJ. In 1861 Fr Ramiere started to publish a magazine for the Apostolate, the Messager du Coeur de Jesus. This was the fore-runner of many different versions of the Messenger of the Sacred Heart, including the English Messenger. By 1941 there were 72 Messenger publications worldwide, in 44 different languages. The English Messenger of the Sacred Heart was published by the Jesuits based in Wimbledon for many years. In 1969 it amalgamated with Stella Maris, another Jesuit publication, but finally ceased publication in 1971.

In Britain, the Apostleship of Prayer was overseen by a number of Jesuits. Prominent among these in the nineteenth century were Fr John Gretton SJ, and Fr Augustus Dignan SJ, and in the twentieth century, Fr Geoffrey Bliss SJ and Fr Hugh Thwaites SJ.

A branch of the Apostleship of Prayer named the Apostleship of the Sea was particularly important in Britain. This was aimed at Seamen in the Navy and Merchant Navy, and at all others in ships and boats, including the Coastguards and fishermen. The Apostleship of the Sea identified Catholic officers in the Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Naval Reserve who could help with the cause. It produced literature to be circulated among seamen and made elaborate efforts to ensure that The Messenger and other Catholic literature was distributed to ships and boats.

The Apostleship of Prayer celebrated its centenary in 1944. Pope Pius XII wrote a letter to celebrate this, and many bishops from Britain and abroad wrote letters to Geoffrey Bliss SJ to mark the anniversary of the Apostleship of Prayer and to celebrate its work.

The Apostleship of Prayer is still flourishing, and is now also known as the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network, and the Eucharistic Youth Movement.
Related MaterialABSI/PC/1/13/7 Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, London, Apostleship of Prayer: The Holy League of the Sacred Heart.
ABSI/PC/1/13/9 Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, London, Register of Confraternities.
ABSI/PC/2/3/11 Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, London, Correspondence, Apostleship of Prayer Centre.
ABSI/SJ/13/1/2 Archbishop Roberts SJ. The Apostleship of the Sea.
ABSI/SJ/15 Fr Hugh Thwaites SJ.
ABSI/SJ/80/2/1 Fr Cyril Martindale SJ, Letters with the Apostleship of the Sea.
ABSI/SJ/80/2/9/4/6 Fr Cyril Martindale SJ, Letter from Peter Anson.
ABSI/SJ/80/3/7/3 Fr Cyril Martindale SJ, 'Seaman Bound for Heaven'.
A Memoir of Father Dignam by Mother Mary Magdalen Taylor, revised and with a preface by Father Edward Ignatius Purbrick. Ref No: BY 44.D See especially chapter 6, 'Apostleship of Prayer and Messenger of the Sacred Heart'.
AccessConditionsThe papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to archive material in the Jesuits in Britain Archives.

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