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The sodalities of the Church are pious associations and are included among the confraternities and archconfraternities. It would not be possible to give a definition making a clear distinction between the sodalities and other confraternities; consequently the development and history of the sodalities are the same as those of the religious confraternities. A general sketch of these latter has been already given in the account of the medieval confraternities of prayer (see PURGATORIAL SOCIETIES). They are also mentioned in the article SCAPULAR. Confraternities and sodalities, in the present meaning of the word, the only ones which will be here mentioned, had their beginnings after the rise of the confraternities of prayer in the early Middle Ages, and developed rapidly from the end of the twelfth century, i.e. from the rise of the great ecclesiastical orders. Proofs of this are to be found in the Bullaria and annals of these orders, as those of the Dominicans, the Carmelites, and the Servites. [Cf. Armellini, "Le chiese di Roma" (2nd ed., Rome, 1891), 20 sqq.; "Historisch-politische Blätter", cxlviii (Munich, 1911), 759 sqq., 823 sqq.; Ebner, "Die acht Brüderschaften des hl. Wolfgang in Regensburg" in Mahler, "Der hl. Wolfgang" (Ratisbon, 1894), 182 sq.; Villanueva, "Viage literario a las Iglesias de España", VIII (Valencia, 1821), 258 sqq., Apéndice IV; Gallia Christ., XI, instr. 253 sq., n. XXVII; ibid., VI, instr. 366, n. XXXIV; Mabillon, "Annales Ordinis Benedicti", VI, Lucca, 1745, 361 sqq., ad an. 1145; Martène, "Thesaurus novus anecdotorum", IV (Paris, 1717), 165 sqq. "Confraternitas Massiliensis an. 1212 instituta"; "Monumenta O. Servorum B.M.V.", I, 107, ad an. 1264; Gianius, "Annales O. Serv. B.M.V.", I (2nd ed., Lucca, 1719), 384, ad an. 1412; "Libro degli ordinamenti de la Compagnia di Santa Maria del Carmine scritto nel 1280" (Bologna, 1867)]. Pious associations of this kind, however, soon appeared, which were solely under the bishop and had no close connexion with an order. An interesting example of such an association of the year 1183 is described in the "Histoire générale du Languedoc" (VI, Toulouse, 1879, 106 sqq.), as an "association formed at Le Puy for the restoration of peace". A carpenter named Pierre (Durant) is given as the founder of this society. In regard to a "Confraternity of the Mother of God" which existed at Naupactos in Greece about 1050, see "La Confraternità di S. Maria di Naupactos 1048", in the "Bullettino dell' Istituto storico italiano", no 31 (Rome, 1910, 73 sqq.).

From the era of the Middle Ages very many of these pious associations placed themselves under the special protection of the Blessed Virgin, and chose her for patron under the title of some sacred mystery with which she was associated. The main object and duty of these societies were, above all, the practice of piety and works of charity. The decline of ecclesiastical life at the close of the Middle Ages was naturally accompanied by a decline of religious associational life, the two being related as cause and effect. However, as soon as the Church rose to renewed prosperity in the course of the sixteenth century, by the aid of the Counter-Reformation and the appearance of the new religious congregations and associations, once more there sprang up numerous confraternities and sodalities which laboured with great success and, in many cases, are still effective.

Of the sodalities which came into existence just at this period, particular mention should be made of those called the Sodalities of the Blessed Virgin Mary (congregationes seu sodalitates B. Mariæ Virginis), because the name sodality was in a special manner peculiar to these, also because their labours for the renewal of the life of the Church were more permanent and have lasted until the present time, so that these sodalities after fully three hundred years still prosper and flourish. Even the opponents of the Catholic Church seem to recognize this. The article "Bruderschaften, kirchliche" in Herzog-Hauck, "Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie", discusses almost exclusively the Sodalities of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the pattern of Catholic sodalities. It cannot, indeed, be denied that those sodalities are, by their spirit and entire organization, better equipped than other confraternities to make their members not only loyal Catholics but also true lay apostles for the salvation and blessing of all around them. In the course of time other pious Church societies sprang from the Sodalities of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or were quickened by these to new zeal and fruitful labours, e.g. the work of foreign missions, the "Society of St. Vincent de Paul", the "Society of St. Francis Regis", and many others. While all other confraternities and sodalities have as their chief end a single pious devotion or exercise, a peculiar aim of the Sodalities of the Blessed Virgin Mary is, by means of the true veneration of the Blessed Virgin, to build up and renew the whole inner man in order to render him capable of and zealous for all works of spiritual love and charity. Consequently these sodalities are described below in detail separately from the others.


All sodalities, pious associations, and confraternities may be divided into three classes, although those classes are not absolutely distinct from one another. The first class, A, includes the confraternities, which seek mainly to attain piety, devotion, and the increase of love of God by special veneration of God, of the Blessed Virgin, the angels, and the saints. The second class, B, consists of those sodalities which are founded chiefly to promote the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The third class, C, may be considered to include those associations of the Church the main object of which is the well-being and improvement of a definite class of persons.


The first class includes:

(1) The "Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity with the White Scapular" (see SCAPULAR).

(2) The Confraternities of the Holy Ghost. In 1862 such a confraternity was established for Austria- Hungary in the church of the Lazarists at Vienna, and in 1887 it received the right of aggregation for the whole of Germany. Special mention should here be made of the "Archconfraternity of the Servants of the Holy Ghost". It was first established in 1877 at the Church of St. Mary of the Angels, Bayswater, London. In 1878 it received the papal confirmation and special indulgences, in the following year it was raised to an archconfraternity with unlimited power of aggregation for the whole world. The director of the archconfraternity, to whom application for admission can be made personally or by letter, is the superior of the Oblates of St. Charles Borromeo, at the Church of St. Mary of the Angels, Bayswater, London, W. A third confraternity for the glorification of the Holy Ghost, especially among the heathen, was established in the former collegiate Church of Our Lady at Knechtsteden, Germany. It is directed by the Fathers of the Holy Ghost and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Its organ is the missionary monthly, "Echo aus Knechtsteden".

(3) There is no special confraternity in honour of the Heavently Father. There is, however, an "Archconfraternity of the Most Holy Name of God and of the Most Holy Name of Jesus". Originally this formed two distinct confraternities, which owed their origin to the Dominicans. At a later date they combined and were united into one society, the establishment of which is under the control of the general of the Dominicans. Paul V cancelled the indulgences previously granted to the confraternity and granted new ones. It is probable that the Brief of 21 Sept., 1274, of Gregory IX, addressed to the general of the Domincans, gave the first impulse to the founding of the above-mentioned confraternities. In this Brief the pope called upon the father-general to promote, by preaching, the veneration of the Holy Name of Jesus among the people. In America especially this society has spread widely and borne wonderful fruit. It has a periodical, "The Holy Name Journal," and has been granted new indulgences for those of its members who take part in its public processions [Analecta Ord. Fratr. Prædic., XVII (1909), 325 sq. See HOLY NAME, SOCIETY OF THE]. There are other confraternities and sodalities, especially in France, and also in Rome and Belgium, for the prevention of blasphemy against the name of God and of the desecration of Sundays and feast days (Beringer, Les indulgences", II, 115 sqq.; cf. Act. S. Sed., I, 321).

(4) A triple series of confraternities has been formed about the Person of the Divine Saviour for the veneration of the Most Holy Sacrament, of the Sacred Heart, and of the Passion.

The confraternities of the Most Holy Sacrament were founded and developed, strictly speaking, in Italy from the end of the fifteenth century by the apostolic zeal of the Franciscans, especially by the zeal of Cherubino of Spoleto and the Blessed Bernardine of Feltre ("Acta SS.", Sept., VII, 837, 858). Yet as early as 1462 a confraternity of the Most Holy Sacrament existed in the Duchy of Jülich, in the Archdiocese of Cologne; other Confraternities of the Most Holy Sacrament were also founded in the Archdiocese of Cologne in the course of the fifteenth century (cf. "Köln. Pastoralblatt", 1900, 90). At Rome the Confraternity of the Most Holy Sacrament was founded (1501) in the Church of San Lorenzo in Damaso by the devotion and zeal of a poor priest and four plain citizens. Julius II confirmed this sodality by a Brief of 21 Aug., 1508, and wished to be entered himself as a member in the register of the confraternity. It is not, however, this sodality but another Roman confraternity that has been the fruitful parent of the countless confraternities of the Most Holy Sacrament which exist today everywhere in the Catholic world (cf. Quétif-Echard, I, 197 sq.). This second confraternity, due to the zeal of the Dominican Father, Thomas Stella, was erected by Paul III on 30 Nov., 1539, in the Dominican Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. This confraternity alone is understood when mention is simply made of the Confraternity of the Sacrament. Along with the honorary title of archconfraternity it received numerous indulgences and privileges by the Bull of 30 Nov., 1539. The indulgences were renewed by Paul V. It was made known at its inception that this confraternity could be established in parish churches, and that such confraternities should share in the indulgences of the archconfraternity without formal connexion with the Roman confraternity. This privilege was reconfirmed at various times by the popes who expressed the wish that the bishops would establish the confraternity everywhere in all parish churches (cf. Tacchi-Venturi, "La vita religiosa in Italia durante la prima età della Compagnia di Gesù", Rome, 1900, 193 sqq.).

In the nineteenth century, however, confraternities for the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament were also established in other countries, and these now extend all over the Catholic world. Mention is made in the article PURGATORIAL SOCIETIES of the "Archconfraternity of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament under the Protection of St. Benedict." This association, that was founded in 1877 under Pius IX in Austria, was transferred to North America in 1893 during the pontificate of Leo XIII, and in 1910 received from Pius X the right of extension throughout the entire world.

In 1848 a pious woman, Anne de Meeûs, established at Brussels in Belgium a religious society which had as its object to unite the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament with work for poor churches. In 1853 this society was raised to an archconfraternity for Belgium; soon after this separate archconfraternities of the same kind were erected for Bavaria, Austria, and Holland. At the same time there sprang from the original society a female religious congregation which, after receiving papal confirmation, established itself at Rome, and since 1879 has conducted the archconfraternity from Rome. It has authority to associate everywhere with itself confraternities of the same name and purpose, and to share with these all its indulgences. The archconfraternity has received large indulgences and privileges, and labours with much success in nearly all parts of the world. Entrance into this confraternity is especially to be recommended to all altar societies. The full title of the confraternity is "The Archconfraternity of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Work of Poor Churches". Any information desired as to the working of the confraternity and the conditions of its establishment may be obtained from its headquarters, Casa delle Adoratrici perpetue, 4 Via Nomentana, Rome. Since 1900 the religious association of the Sisters of the Perpetual Adoration has had a house with a chapel at Washington, U.S.A. from which they extend and conduct the confraternity in America.

The "Society of the Most Holy Sacrament", founded by the Venerable Pierre-Julien Eymard (d. 1868) also sought, by means of a new confraternity established by it, to incite the faithful to adoration and zeal for the glorification of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. In 1897 this society was raised to an archconfraternity with the right of aggregation throughout the world. In 1898 its summary of indulgences was confirmed by the Congregation of Indulgences. The main condition of membership is a continuous hour of adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament once a month. The headquarters of the confraternity are at Rome, in the church of the Fathers of the Most Holy Sacrament, whence the society has the name of "The Archconfraternity of the Most Holy Sacrament in the Church of Sts. Andrew and Claudius at Rome" (San Claudio, 160 Via del Pozzetto, Rome).

"The Perpetual Adoration of Catholic Nations" was founded at Rome in 1883, its purpose being the union of the nations and peoples of the world for perpetual solemn expiatory prayer in order to avert God's just wrath and to implore His aid in the grievous troubles of the Church. The association is conducted by the Redemptorist Fathers in the Church of St. Joachim at Rome, lately built in memory of the jubilee of Leo XIII as priest and bishop. Special countries are assigned to each one of the different days of the week for the adoration of reparation, e.g. Thursday, North and Central America; Friday, South America. The rector of the Church of St. Joachim (Prati di Castello, Rome) is the director-general of the association, which has the right to appoint diocesan directors in all countries, including missionary ones. In order to enter the association, application should be made to one of these directors or to the director-general. Two other associations were founded in France for the purpose of expiation and atonement; these have already extended over the world. One is the "Association of the Communion of Reparation", the other the "Archconfraternity of the Holy Mass of Reparation". The "Association of the Communion of Reparation", established in 1854 by Father Drevon, S.J., was canonically erected in 1865 at Paray-le-Monial, in the monastery where the Divine Saviour had commanded Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque to make reparation by Holy Communion for the ingratitude of men. This is also the purpose of the entire association, which can be canonically erected anywhere. The "Archconfraternity of the Holy Mass of Reparation" owes its origin to a poor widow of Paris, in June, 1862. Each member makes it his duty to attend a second Mass on Sundays and feast-days as expiation for those who sinfully fail to attend Mass on these days. In 1886 the confraternity was erected into an archconfraternity with the right of aggregation for France. At a later date other countries received in like manner a similar archconfraternity. Even in parts of the world where no such archconfraternity exists it is easy to be received into the confraternity. By a Decree of 7 Sept., 1911, of the Holy Office, all former indulgences were cancelled, and richer ones, to be shared equally by all the archconfraternities and confraternities of the Holy Mass of Reparation, were granted (Ad. Apost. Sed., III, 476 sq.). In this class belongs also the "Ingolstadt Mass Association". (See PURGATORIAL SOCIETIES.)

(5) As early as 1666 confraternities of the Blessed Jean Eudes for the united veneration of the Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary were established. It was not until after the death of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque that there arose confraternities for the promotion of the adoration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the manner desired by her. During the years 1697-1764 more than a thousand such confraternities were erected by papal Briefs and granted indulgences. At Rome the first "Confraternity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus" was established in 1729 by the efforts of Father Joseph Gallifety, S.J. This confraternity still exists at the Church of St. Theodore, at the foot of the Palatine. The membership of this "Confraternity of the Sacconi" has included celebrated and holy men. Only men, however, can belong to it. Consequently it was given to another confraternity of the Sacred Heart to spread from Rome over the entire world. This is the sodality established in 1797 by Father Felici, S.J., in the little Church of Our Lady ad Pineam, called in Cappella. The sodality was raised in 1803 to an archconfraternity, and was afterward transferred by Leo XII to the Church of Santa Maria della Pace. Application to join this confraternity is made at the church. More than 10,000 confraternities have already united with it. The confraternities of the Sacred Heart erected in Belgium can unite with the archconfraternity of Paray-le-Monial, those established in France can either join this archconfraternity or that at Moulins. In addition a new confraternity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was established in 1876 at Montmartre, Paris. In 1894 this society received the right to incorporate into itself other confraternities of the same name and object in any part of the world and to share its indulgences with these. The object of this confraternity, like that of the great church at Montmartre, is expiatory, and the society is to pray for the freedom of the pope and the salvation of human society.

The "Archconfraternity of Prayer and Penance in honour of the Heart of Jesus", founded at Dijon in 1879 with the right of aggregation for the entire world, has, since 1894, been established at the church of Montmartre. A wish expressed by the Divine Saviour long before to Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque was fulfilled on 14 March, 1863. On this day the "Guard of Honour of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus" was founded in the monastery of the Visitation at Bourg-en-Bresse, France. The name expresses the object of this sodality, which is to collect faithful hearts around the Saviour for constant adoration and love and to make reparation to Him for the ingratitude of men. In 1864 the association at Bourg-en-Bresse was confirmed as a confraternity, and in 1878 was made an archconfraternity for France and Belgium. In 1879 the confraternity was established at Rome in the Church of Sts. Vincent and Anastasius, and defined as an archconfraternity for Italy and all countries which have no archconfraternity of their own. In 1833 the confraternity of Brooklyn, New York, conducted by the Sisters of the Visitation, was confirmed by Leo XIII as an archconfraternity, with the right of aggregation for the United States. For the "Apostleship of Prayer" see THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, vol. I, 633; Hilgers, "Das Goldene Büchlein", Ratisbon, 1911. In 1903 Leo XIII established at the Church of St. Joachim at Rome a special "Archconfraternity of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus", granting it the right to unite sodalities bearing the same name as itself. The confraternity is intended to offer in a special manner adoration, gratitude, and love to the Heart of Jesus for the institution of the Holy Eucharist. Mention should also be made of the "Archconfraternity of the Holy Agony of Our Lord Jesus Christ", conducted by the Lazarist Fathers in Paris, which was established in 1862 in the Diocese of Lyons and was defined in 1865 as an archconfraternity for this diocese. In 1873 the confraternity at Paris was declared an archconfraternity for all France, and in 1894 it received the right of aggregation for the whole world. The "Archconfraternity of the Holy Hour" is also connected with a wish expressed by the Saviour and a revelation of Himself given in 1673. At that time the Saviour demanded of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque an hour of union with Himself in prayer at midnight on Thursdays in memory of His Agony on the Mount of Olives. In 1829 this sodality was founded at Paray-le-Monial, and finally in 1911 it received the right of aggregation for the entire world (Acta Apost. Sed., III, 157). The members can observe the holy hour of prayer from Thursday afternoon onwards. A similar society was founded at Toulouse in 1885 and canonically erected in 1907, under the title of "The Holy Perpetual Hour of Gethsemani". In 1909 it received indulgences from Pius X (Acta Ap. Sed., I, 483), and in 1912 new indulgences with the right of aggregation for the whole of France.

(6) The confraternities mentioned above are also in part sodalities of the Passion, particularly those which especially venerate Christ's Agony. Besides these should be mentioned particularly "The Archconfraternity of the Most Precious Blood". This society was founded on 8 Dec., 1808, in the Church of S. Nicola in Carcere at Rome by the saintly Francesco Albertini, who died in 1819 as Bishop of Terracina. The members pledge themselves to a special veneration of Christ's Passion, and in particular to offer the Precious Blood to the Heavenly Father for the expiation of sins, for the conversion of sinners, for the needs of the Church, and for the consolation of the poor souls. In 1809 the confraternity was canonically erected; in 1815 it was richly endowed with indulgences, and in the same year was raised to an archconfraternity. Applications for membership can be made to the director of the archconfraternity at S. Nicola in Carcere, or to the Missioners of the Precious Blood, 1 Via Poli Crociferi, Rome, for since 1851 the general of these missioners has had all necessary powers. Blessed Caspar of Buffalo, founder of the mission houses of the Precious Blood, did much to promote this confraternity. He was beatified in 1804. A rescript of 3 Aug., 1895, of the Congregation of Indulgences granted in perpetuity that the bishops of the United States of North America and Canada pro suo arbitrio et prudentia might erect the Confraternity of the Precious Blood in all parish churches without regard to their location, that these then could unite with the society at Rome, the "Unio Prima-Primaria", in the church of the Missioners of the Precious Blood, and could share in its indulgences and privileges (cf. "Amerikan Pastoralblatt", 1897, 104). See PRECIOUS BLOOD, ARCHCONFRATERNITY OF THE MOST.

Religious associations have also been formed to encourage the practice of the Holy Way of the Cross, especially the "Pious Association of the Perpetual Way of the Cross", and the "Association of the Living Way of the Cross". Both societies are under the care of the Franciscans (cf. Mocchegiani, "Collectio Indulg.", no. 1264, sqq.). In 1884 the "Archconfraternity of the Holy Face" was formed at Tours as a work of expiation. It was provided with indulgences and in 1885 was erected into an archconfraternity for the whole world. The insignia of the brotherhood is the Face of the Suffering Saviour on the veil of St. Veronica. The members wear this picture on a scapular, a cross, or a medal. Lastly, there was founded in 1904 at the congress in honour of the Blessed Virgin at Rome the "Pious Union of the Crucifix of Pardon". This association has for its object the reconciliation with God of nations, families, and individuals. The headquarters of the association are in the Church of the Annunciation at Lyons. The badge of the members is a specially-consecrated crucifix (cf. Beringer, op. cit., Appendice by Hilgers, Paris, 1911).

(7) The Confraternities of the Mother of God, which have been confirmed for the entire Church exist in such large numbers that all cannot be given here. Especially numerous are the sodalities and associations erected in honour of the Blessed Virgin in individual cities, dioceses, districts, or countries. The most important, most widely extended, and best-known of the confraternities of the Blessed Virgin are: (a) the "Confraternity of the Holy Rosary", under ROSARY); in the article concerning it the "Perpetual Rosary" and the "Living Rosary" are also mentioned; (b) the "Confraternity of the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel" (see SCAPULAR); (c) the Sodalities of the Blessed Virgin Mary (see below).

In addition, mention has already been made of: the "Confraternity of the Black Scapular of the Seven Dolours of Our Lady" (see SCAPULAR); the "Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary", which is now combined with the Blue Scapular (see SCAPULAR); the "Archconfraternity of Our Lady of the German Campo Santo at Rome" (see PURGATORIAL SOCIETIES ).

Furthermore, mention should be made of the "Archconfraternity of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart." This society was established in 1864 at Issoudun, France, by the Missioners of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Since 1872 its headquarters as an archconfraternity have been at Rome, and in 1897 they were transferred to the newly-built Church of Our Lady of the Heart of Jesus, in the Piazza Navona. Only this confraternity at Rome has the right to incorporate in itself confraternities of the same title erected in any part of the world and to share with these its indulgences. The object of the confraternity is the veneration of the Blessed Virgin in her intimate relation to the Heart of Jesus. The "Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary", established at Lourdes in 1872, in 1873 was raised to an archconfraternity, and in 1878 was made an archconfraternity for the entire world by Leo XIII. The head of the archconfraternity is the Bishop of Tarbes.

The "Association of the Children of Mary", under the protection of the Immaculate Virgin and St. Agnes, was established for girls alone. It was canonically erected in 1864, in the Church of S. Agnese fuori le mura, Rome; in 1866 it received its indulgences and privileges with the right of aggregation for all similar societies. Since 1870 this power of aggregation has belonged to the abbot-general of the Reformed Augustinian Canons of the Lateran, near San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome. The intention of the society is to keep Christian young women under the standard of the Blessed Virgin, and to promote the loyal fulfilment by its members of their duties. (See CHILDREN OF MARY; CHILDREN OF MARY OF THE SACRED HEART.) For the "Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Compassion for the Return of England to the Catholic Faith", see UNIONS OF PRAYER. The miraculous picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, venerated at Rome in the Church of St. Alphonsus, is known everywhere. In 1871 a confraternity was erected in this church, and in 1876 was made an archconfraternity under the title of the "Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and of St. Alphonsus Ligouri". The general of the Redemptorists has the power to incorporate everywhere confraternities of the same name in the archconfraternity and to grant these the same indulgences. There are also various confraternities of the Cord, whose members wear a cord as insignia just as members of other confraternities wear a scapular. The oldest and most celebrated of these Confraternities of the Cord is probably the "Archconfraternity of the Black Leathern Belt of St. Monica, St. Augustine and St. Nicholas of Tolentino", also called the "Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Consolation". This society has particularly extensive indulgences (cf. "Rescr. authent. S. Congr. Indulg.", II, no. 40, and especially the lately-issued summary of indulgences in the "Acta S. Sedis", XXXV, 630). The headquarters of the society are at Rome, in the Church of St. Augustine where the body of St. Monica lies.

(8) There are also numerous confraternities in honour of angels and saints which are dedicated to the patron saints of individual districts, countries, cities, and localities; these are consequently more local in their character, e.g. the "Boniface Association" in Germany and Austria (see BONIFACE ASSOCIATION). However, there are also such for the whole world, e.g. the "Confraternity of St. Benedict" (see SCAPULAR ), the "Archconfraternity of the Girdle of St. Francis of Assisi", and the "Pious Union in honour of St. Anthony of Padua", as also the "Young Men's Sodality of St. Anthony of Padua", which, through a Brief (10 March, 1911) of Pius X (Act. Apost. Sedis, III, 128 sq.), was granted indulgences and recommended to the faithful [cf. Acta Ord. Fratr. Min., XXX (1911) 177 sqq.]. Only a few more of these confraternities can be noticed here. In 1860 the "Confraternity of St. Michael" was founded in Vienna to implore the protection of the archangel for the pope and the Church, and to collect gifts as Peterspence for the oppressed pope. There is another "Confraternity of St. Michael", with a scapular. In 1860 the "Confraternity in honour of St. Joseph" was established at Rome in the Church of St. Roch. In 1872 it received indulgences and was raised to an archconfraternity with the right of incorporation for the whole world. The members also wear a consecrated cord in honour of St. Joseph. Special indulgences are connected with the wearing of this cord. There is also another Archconfraternity of the Cord of St. Joseph, which was erected in 1860 at Verona and to which Pius IX granted indulgences. There are besides many confraternities of St. Joseph for individual countries. Several were founded especially for France (cf. Beringer, op. cit.). In 1892 an "Archconfraternity of St. Joseph" was erected in the Church of St. Joseph, West de Père, Wisconsin, U.S.A. that is already widely spread over America. Connected with it is a children's league under the patronage of St. Joseph [cf. Seeberger, "Key to the Spiritual Treasures" (2nd ed., 1897), 20 sqq.]. In 1866 the "Confraternity of St. Peter's Chains" was canonically erected at Rome in the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli. In 1866 and 1867 the confraternity was granted indulgences and at the same time received as an archconfraternity the right of aggregation for the entire world. The purpose of the society is to promote loyalty to the pope, and to pray and work for the real freedom of the papacy, by the veneration of the Holy Chains of St. Peter. The "Militia Angelica", or the "Confraternity of the Cord of St. Thomas Aquinas", has been in existence a long time. It possesses indulgences granted it in 1586 by Sixtus V. Its purpose is the protection of purity by the intercession and aid of the Angelic Doctor who, according to tradition, was girt in his youth with a cord by angels after an heroic and successful struggle for purity. The father-general of the Dominicans has charge of the administration and erection of the "Militia Angelica". The members receive a consecrated cord which they wear constantly.


In this second class, which contains those confraternities that have been established to promote the work of zeal for souls and Christian charity, there are a number of societies that are named after an angel or saint, and thus could also be included in the previous class. On the other hand, a number of confraternities, such as the "Confraternity of St. Michael" and the "Confraternity of St. Peter's Chains", and even all confraternities of expiation that have already been described in the first class, could also quite properly be included here in the second class. Besides these, special mention should be made of the following:--

(1) All confraternities or sodalities for the relief of the poor souls (see PURGATORIAL SOCIETIES).

(2) The "Bona Mors Confraternity", i.e. the Confraternity of the Agony of Christ. The object of this congregation is the preparation of the faithful for a holy death. It was established in 1648 by the Jesuit general Caraffa in the Church of the Gesù, under the title of "The Congregation of the Bona Mors in honour of Jesus Dying on the Cross and His Sorrowing Mother". The contemplation of the Passion is one of the chief means of attaining the object of the sodality. In 1729 this congregation was raised to the rank of an archcongregation, with power to erect similar sodalities everywhere in Jesuit churches and to share its indulgences with these. In 1821 this privilege was reconfirmed, and in 1827 the general of the Jesuits received authority for the erection and aggregation of such sodalities in other churches also. In order to share in the indulgences of the Roman chief congregation, these sodalities must be incorporated with this congregation by the general of the Jesuits. Pius X increased the indulgences and privileges of the congregation, and confirmed anew its entire summary of indulgences on 10 March, 1911. The "Archconfraternity du Cæur agonisant de Jésus et du Cæur compatissant de Marie pour le salut des mourants" (Archconfraternity of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus and the Compassionate Heart of Mary for the help of the Dying), erected in 1864 at the place which was the scene of the Agony in the Garden, has the same object as the above-mentioned confraternity. In 1867 it was raised to an archconfraternity and received the right to incorporate other societies with itself throughout the world. Since this date it has grown and spread steadily. In 1897, 1901, and 1907 it received new indulgences.

(3) The "Archconfraternity of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary for the Conversion of Sinners" founded in 1836 by the parish priest of the Church of Our Lady of Victories, Paris. In 1838 it was raised to an archconfraternity with the right of aggregation throughout the world. The confraternity includes many millions of members, and has had remarkable success in the conversion of sinners. The special veneration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is the first aim of the confraternity, is also the chief means of attaining the second aim, the conversion of sinners. In this class may be included the Confraternity of Our Lady of Compassion already noticed, which has as its aim the return of England and all English-speaking peoples to the Catholic Church. For the "Pious Union of Prayer to Our Lady of Compassion for the Conversion of Heretics" and the "Archconfraternity of Prayers and Good Works for the Reunion of the Eastern Schismatics with the Church, under the patronage of Our Lady of the Assumption, founded at the Church of the Anastasis at Constantinople", see UNIONS OF PRAYER.

(4) The "Pious Work of St. Francis of Sales for the Defence and Preservation of the Faith", established first at Nemours and then in 1857 at Paris. The association soon spread through other countries and other peoples, and especially in America. It aids the clergy in all possible ways in home missions. It was praised, blessed, and granted indulgences by Pius IX and Leo XIII. The society has already spent more than thirty million francs for its noble aims. The "Association of St. Francis Xavier", founded at Brussels, Belgium, in 1854, for the training of lay apostles to aid the priests in home missions. The members at first were only men and youths, but women can also enter it and give apostolic aid by their prayers, especially for the conversion of sinners. In 1855 and 1856 the association received indulgences and was made an archconfraternity for Belgium, and in 1878 was raised to the same for the entire world. It is now widespread and exerts an apostolic influence in the spirit of its great patron. Applications for membership are made to the director of the archconfraternity at Brussels (Collège Saint-Michel).

(5) The "Society of St. Francis Regis for the Revalidation of Pagan Marriages", founded at Paris in 1826. It has laboured with great success in many cities, provinces, and countries for the increase of peace, morality, and sanctity in family life. At Paris the society settles nine hundred and more of such matrimonial cases annually; at the Paris Exhibition of 1900 it received a gold medal.

(6) The "Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, or Association of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph for the promotion of Instruction in the principal truths of the Faith". This is a long-established society, having been founded in the sixteenth century by the Fathers of Christian Doctrine (the Doctrinaires). In 1607 it was erected by Paul V into an archconfraternity for the entire world, with its seat at St. Peter's, and granted large indulgences. Its duty is to give religious instruction to the children of the Church, and to encourage the reception of the sacraments. Since 1610 this confraternity can be erected in all parish churches. In 1686 Innocent XI in an Encyclical urgently exhorted all bishops to establish this society as far as possible. Pius X in an Encyclical in 1905 directed that the confraternity should be established everywhere in the parish churches. To obtain the indulgences for all the confraternities of a diocese it suffices if a single canonically erected confraternity of this diocese unites with the Roman archconfraternity that is now established in the Church of Santa Maria del Pianto. New societies of Christian doctrines were formed in the second half of the nineteenth century and were granted indulgences. In particular such associations were founded after the year 1851 by the Ladies of the Perpetual Adoration of Brussels, who established there the Confraternity of the Adoration mentioned above. In these societies of Christian doctrine ladies, students, and men have taught many thousands of boys and girls, and, in particular, have prepared many for First Communion. In 1894 the "Pious Union of Christian Doctrine" of Brussels was made an archconfraternity for Belgium and in 1900 for Holland also.

(7) The Society of St. Teresa, which was founded at Salamanca in 1882, as a general society of prayer, and is already widespread in Spain, Germany, and Austria.

(8) The "General Association of St. Cecilia for the Promotion of Religious Music", established in 1887 in Germany for the encouragement of Catholic Church music. It flourishes chiefly in the dioceses of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy.

(9) Temperance societies, for encouraging abstinence from alcoholic drinks, are treated elswhere (see LEAGUE OF THE CROSS; TEMPERANCE; TEMPERANCE MOVEMENTS). In Germany the confraternity that has existed since 1851, in the parish of Deutsch-Pickar belonging to the Diocese of Breslau, was raised to an archconfraternity in 1901 under the name of the "Purification of Mary", and given a general right of aggregation.

(10) The St. Vincent de Paul Societies; these are fully described under a separate article. See also ELIZABETH ASSOCIATIONS.

(11) The confraternities founded for the aid and defence of the pope and the Church have been noticed above. Another society having the same purpose is the "Leo Association", founded at St. Louis, U. S. A. It was approved by Leo XIII and in 1891 was granted indulgences.

(12) Finally, some account should be given here of the many missionary societies, and especially of: (a) "The Society for the Propagation of the Faith", also called the "Missionary Society of Lyons", or the "Society of St. Francis Xavier". Twelve laymen, led by a priest, formed the plan of establishing a society for all the nations of the earth, and for the benefit of all the missions in the world. The society was formed at Lyons 3 May, 1822. Mademoiselle Jaricot may be called the real founder, because she organized the system of contributions. The society was formally confirmed in 1840 by Gregory XVI; each succeeding pope has distinguished it by praise and renewed approval. Finally in 1904 Pius X made St. Francis Xavier its patron, and raised the feast of the saint to a greater-double for the entire Church. The society has received many indulgences and privileges. It is directed by two general councils composed of ecclesiastics and laymen, the one council having its seat at Lyons (12 Rue Sala), the other at Paris (20 Rue Cassette). These directorates and their presidents settle together the apportionment of the funds to the various missions. In the dioceses there are diocesan or administrative councils, and in the parishes or cities directors who are at the head of each 10, 100, or 1000 members, in order to collect and remit the contributions of the respective divisions. The conditions for reception and membership are very simple, the main ones being the daily repetition of an Our Father and a Hail Mary with the addition "St. Francis Xavier, pray for us", and a monthly contribution of at least five cents paid to the director. More than 300,000 copies of the bi-monthly issued by the society are published in twelve languages. It gives regularly the most interesting and edifying news from the missions of the entire world. The annual income of the society is more than $1,200,000; in 1890 for the first time it was over $1,400,000. In 1904 the income was $1,352,017, of which sum more than half was collected in France. These figures give clear evidence of the beneficial labours of the society. (b) The "Association of the Holy Childhood", in connexion with the Guardian Angel societies. This society was established in 1843 at Paris by the Bishop of Nancy, Charles de Forbin-Janson. Its aim is to teach Christian children from earliest childhood to exercise Christian charity for the temporal and eternal salvation of poor heathen children and for the joy thereby given to the Divine Child Jesus. In 1858 the society was canonically erected by Pius IX; he, as well as Leo XIII and Pius X, praised the great services of the society and recommended it to all the faithful. In order to be a member of the society a monthly contribution of one cent for the heathen children must be paid and a Hail Mary must be said daily, with the addition "Holy Virgin Mary, pray for us, and the poor little pagan children". The constitution and organization of the society is very simple and practical. The society is widely spread over the Catholic world, and has accomplished a great work. The first year (1843) the income of the society was $4,580; the annual amount now is about $712,500. In 1900 and 1901 the income was nearly $950,000, of which amount Germany alone gave nearly one-third. In 1904 the society aided 233 missions, with 1112 orphanages, 7207 schools, 2805 industrial schools; altogether 11,134 institutions. There were 401,059 heathen children baptized, and 359,053 children were taught and cared for. In Germany since 1895 it has become customary to unite the Societies of the Holy Childhood with the Societies of the Guardian Angel, for the benefit of poor Catholic children in the mission districts of Germany. The members pay about one cent more monthly, and collect money at their own First Communion in order that the many poor children in the missions may also have the blessing of the First Communion and receive good religious instruction. About $19,000 were collected in this way in 1896, and in 1904 more than $23,750. The seat of the central committee of the Association of the Holy Childhood is at 146, Rue de Bac, Paris; there are managing committees for the different countries, each diocese having its own diocesan committee, with which the parish committees are connected. (c) The "Missionary Union of Catholic Women and Girls". This sodality was first founded in 1893 for African missions; then in 1902 it was reorganized for the support of all missions. It has changed its headquarters from Fulda to Coblenz, in the Diocese of Trier. In 1910 it received a new summary of indulgences from Pius X, containing large indulgences and privileges especially for priests who conduct or promote the society. The whole body of sodalities of different countries, as those of Austria, Switzerland, and Rumania, have united with the main society, and this action is contemplated for the United States also. (d) In 1894, at Salzburg, Austria, the "St. Peter Claver Sodality" was founded by Countess M. Theresia Ledóchowska to aid the African missions and to foster the pious work of freeing slaves. Leo XIII favoured the organization by granting indulgences and privileges the very same year. The sodality includes: (1) the members of a female religious institute who devote themselves totally as helpers of the work of the African missions. These lead a community life in civilized countries and have their headquarters at Rome (via dell' Olmate 16); (2) laymen and women, who devote themselves, as far as their state in life permits, to the work of the sodality, especially by managing the succursals; (3) common helpers of either sex, who foster the work by contributions and other means. From the outset the work of the sodality was carried on with great zeal and has borne much fruit.


The third class includes those sodalities which have for their chief aim the promotion of the prosperity of certain classes of society.

(1) There are sodalities for the benefit of the Christian family. In 1861 Father Francoz, S.J., founded such a society at Lyons. As the labours of this society proved very beneficial Leo XIII in 1892 enlarged it, with some changes, to embrace the whole world. The pope personally confirmed the new statutes, and granted new indulgences and privileges. The title of the sodality is: "The General Pious Association of Christian Families in Honour of the Holy Family of Nazareth". Another similar sodality, which existed before the founding of this one, and still exists, is the "Archconfraternity of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph".

(2) The "Archconfraternity of Christian Mothers, under the patronage of Our Lady of the Seven Dolours, established at Notre-Dame de Sion, Paris", having for its object the development of truly Christian mothers, who will bring up their children according to the will of God and under the direction of the Church. A sodality of this kind was first formed at Lille in 1850; in 1856 this was raised to an archconfraternity. This society has now unlimited power of aggregation, and has its seat at Paris in the chapel of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion (Notre-Dame des Champs). The Sodality of Christian Mothers, founded in 1863 at Rome in the Church of St. Augustine, has also a general power of aggregation. In 1865 this sodality was raised to the rank of a societas primaria. Similar associations have appeared in Germany also since 1860, especially one in 1868 at Ratisbon. In 1871 this society was raised to an archconfraternity, and since 1883 it has had the right in all places where German is the most commonly- spoken language to incorporate with itself confraternities having the same name. The title of the sodality is: "The Society of Christian Mothers under the Patronage and Intercession of the Sorrowing Virgin Mary". Since 1878 there has been a confraternity of Christian mothers for the United States at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1881 it was made an archconfraternity for the whole of North America. Its headquarters are at the Church of St. Augustine at Pittsburg. A monthly periodical is published at New York, under the title "The Christian Mother".

(3) To bring the great blessing of the True Faith to poor heathen children, "The Association of the Holy Childhood" was established for Catholic children, and has richly blessed both (see above). A Confraternity of the Child Jesus was also established at Bethlehem somewhat later than 1905 by the Christian Brothers. In 1908 the society received its indulgences and in 1909 Pius X made it an archconfraternity with the right of aggregation for the whole world. Since 1910 not only children but also their parents, and in general all who are interested in the training of children, can become members. The noble aim of the sodality is to implore the Divine Child to protect and bless all children, especially those in schools where religion is not taught. Applications for membership are made to the director of the Archconfraternity of the Child Jesus, Bethlehem, Palestine ("Acta Ap. Sed.", I, 757 sq.; Hilgers, "Appendice" in Beringer, op. cit.). In 1889 the Capuchin Father Cyprian founded at Ehrenbreitstein the "Seraphic Charity" for endangered youth. Its object is the rescue of religiously and morally endangered children, and their protection also in later years after the periods of school and apprenticeship are over. The members pay two and one-half cents monthly. In twenty-two years more than 10,000 poor children have been aided, and seven new institutions have been founded, at a total expenditure of $1,118,000. In Germany the society has 350,000 members; it is also established in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and the United States, and has a total membership of over 500,000. The money is collected by 12,000 patrons and patronesses, who aid in the housing and supervision of the children. The society received its indulgences in 1902 from Leo XIII, who blessed and recommended it (cf. "Analecta Ord. Min. Cap.", 1902, 171).

(4) There are a number of sodalities very beneficial in their results for the sanctification and perfection of priests. Not only have Congregations of the Blessed Virgin Mary been formed especially for priests, but there are also other special associations of priests. Mention has already been made in the article PURGATORIAL SOCIETIES of the "Priests' Association under the Protection of St. Benedict for the Relief of the Poor Souls in Purgatory". See also PRIESTS' EUCHARISTIC LEAGUE; PRIESTS' COMMUNION LEAGUE . For the "Pious Union of St. Paul the Apostle", see PRIESTS, CONFRATERNITIES OF. See also APOSTOLIC UNION OF SECULAR PRIESTS. For "Associatio perseverantiæ sacerdotalis" see CONFRATERNITIES OF PRIESTS, III. There are also the "Associatio sacerdotalis reparationis" and the "League for Sacerdotal Holiness", for priests who strive after higher perfection. Cf. "Acta S. Sedis", XLI, 170 sqq.; "Acta Apost. Sedis", I, 739; II, 474 sqq.; also the pamphlet "Ligne de Sainteté sacerdotale", 4th ed., 1909; and Hilgers, "Appendice" in Beringer, "Les Indulgences", 72 sqq. After the death of the founder of the league, P. Feyerstein, P. Reimsbach (28 rue Werby, Bar-le-Duc, France) became its director. Communications may be addressed to the sub-director of the League, Abbé Lachambre (101 rue du Pont à la Faulx, Peruwelz, Hainaut, Belgium). Those desiring further knowledge as to the origin and history of such confraternities of priests are referred to the article PURGATORIAL SOCIETIES, and for the history of the "Fraternitas Romana" in particular to Armellini, "Le chiese di Roma" (2nd ed., Rome, 1891), 20 sqq.

(5) The "Pious Association of Mass-servers and Sacristans, under the protection of St. John Berchmans of the Society of Jesus", an association for acolytes and sacristans. This society was confirmed in 1865 by Pius IX, and, with the permission of the bishop, can be introduced anywhere without further formalities. Pius X also granted indulgences to the society (cf. "Acta S. Sed.", I, 689 sq., 699 sqq.).

(6) The Catholic Journeymen's Societies, established by Adolph Kolping, the father of these associations, are well known (see GESELLENVEREINE ).

(7) The "Society of St. Raphael", for the protection of emigrants, established in 1871, originally for German emigrants. In 1883 the "American Raphael Society" was founded; other countries also have their special association of this name, as Austria, Belgium, and Italy. Since the establishment the society has proved a great blessing to many thousands of poor emigrants (see EMIGRANT AID SOCIETIES).

(8) Book societies have been founded, especially in Austria and Germany, for the spread of good books (cf. Beringer, op. cit.). Concerning the "Society of St. Charles Borromeo", see SOCIETY OF ST. CHARLES BORROMEO. Various other church societies of similar nature have been founded, especially in France, as societies for the sick, for labourers and mechanics, for young working-women, for country people, and even for travellers (Beringer, op. cit.).

(9) The "Confraternity of the Worthy First Communion and of Perseverance", established at Proulle, France, in 1891. In 1893 the Dominicans took charge of its direction. In 1896 the society was confirmed by Leo XIII; in 1910 Pius X transferred its headquarters to Rome, where the general of the Dominicans is entrusted with the entire guidance of this association. The object of this confraternity is to obtain for children the grace of a good First Communion and further perseverance in goodness. It can be established anywhere, and all, without exception who desire to work for the aims of the confraternity can become members of the same and share in the indulgences and privileges. Applications for the establishment of such confraternities or for the personal right to take members into the society should be made to the general of the Dominicans at Rome (Collegio Angelico, 15 Via San Vitale). A similar confraternity was erected at Rome in the Church of San Claudio, and by Brief of Pius X (4 Jan., 1912) was raised to the Unio Primaria with the right of aggregation for the whole world (Act. Apost. Sed., IV, 49 sq.). Little requires to be said as to the value and advantages of the sodalities. Their aims are undoubtedly the highest; the means used to attain these aims are the noblest. Consequently the results are always the best, and often astonish both friends and foes; therefore the most competent judges, the popes and the saints, have repeatedly recommended these associations to Catholics. The history of the sodalities and the results of their labours, as publicly exhibited and known to all the world, loudly proclaim the usefulness of these associations for all eras. As new times bring new demands, fresh and noble branches full of strength and renewed vitality grow on the fruitful tree of the associational life of the Catholic Church. Without exaggeration it may be said that ordinarily the most zealous and active Catholics are brought together in the sodalities in order to pursue the noblest aims. It is true that the influence of the sodalities, especially of the first group, cannot be estimated by measure and weight. However, the Christian and Catholic who knows why man is upon earth, knows also that a single act of love of God is of inestimable value. He knows also what a power there is in united prayer, what miracles it can work. As proof need only be mentioned the "Apostleship of Prayer" and the "Messengers of the Heart of Jesus". Moreover, these societies of piety and prayer labour ordinarily in the most unselfish, self-sacrificing manner, and are filled with a most noble-minded zeal for souls. This is shown by the innumerable hosts of poor souls who owe their release from Purgatory to the Confraternities for Poor Souls, and by the hundreds of thousands of poor sinners who owe their salvation to the sodalities. The salvation of inumerable souls of poor heathens is attributable to the single Society of St. Francis Xavier and the single Association of the Holy Childhood. The society mentioned above for the Propagation of the Faith alone has collected since its foundation $90,000,000 for heathen missions. (Beringer, op. cit.; Seeberger, "Key to the Spiritual Treasures", Migne, "Dictionnaire des Confrèries".)


The Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary was founded in 1563 at Rome in the Roman College of the Society of Jesus. The actual founder was John Leunis (Latin Leonius or Leonis), b. at Liège, Belgium; received into the Society of Jesus by St. Ignatius on 13 Jan., 1556; and died at Turin, 19 Nov., 1584, the year in which his Roman Sodality was erected into an archsodality by the Bull, "Omnipotentis Dei", of Gregory XIII. Leunis distinguished himself in the last years of his life by heroic charity towards the sick. In the afternoon, when school was over, and especially on Sundays and feast days, Leunis gathered together, while teacher of grammar at the Roman College, the most zealous of his pupils for prayer and pious exercises, especially for devotions in honour of the Blessed Virgin. Pupils of other classes soon joined the company and in this way a foundation was laid for a school of devotion and virtue, the Marian Sodalities. As in the following year the members numbered already seventy, the first rules were drawn up. The sodality was placed under the special protection of the Blessed Virgin, and the object was declared to be personal perfection in virtue and study, as well as works of charity and zeal for souls. The members generally met on Sundays and feast days, and the meetings were conducted by a Jesuit Father, who delivered an address. The council was chosen from the members, and aided the director in the administration by counsel and other help.

In 1569 a division of the sodality in the Roman College became necessary on account of the large number of members. The older pupils, those over eighteen years of age, formed a sodality for themselves, while the younger were formed into another. Soon there were three sodalities in the Roman College. The meetings of the sodality composed of the older pupils were held regularly in the college church, which bore the title of the Annunciation. From this church the sodality received the title of Primary Sodality (Prima-Primaria) of the Annunciation. This title was given in the Bull, "Omnipotentis Dei", of 5 Dec., 1584, issued by Gregory XIII. At the same time the pope gave the general of the order in this Bull the power to receive as members of the Primary Sodality (Prima-Primaria) not only pupils of the college, but also other persons, and also the power to erect similar sodalities in the colleges and churches of the society, which were to be connected with the Primary Sodality and to share in its indulgences and privileges. Before this sodalities had also been formed in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and elsewhere. These societies did much good among students and the laity, were a protection against the new erroneous teaching, and strengthened loyal Catholics in their faith.

The permission to erect more than one sodality in each college was granted by Sixtus V and powers for Jesuit residences were added by Clement VIII and Gregory XV. The latter, moreover, declared explicitly that the sodalities of the Blessed Virgin were not to be placed under the control of the regulations for confraternities contained in the Bull of Clement VIII, "Quacumque". Lastly, Benedict XIV confirmed all earlier indulgences and privileges, and added to these in the Golden Bull (27 Sept., 1748), which is, in a certain sense, the crowning glory of the sodalities. "It is almost incredible", says Benedict XIV, "what results have sprung from this pious and praiseworthy institution for the faithful of all classes". Finally, by a Brief of 8 Sept., 1751, he granted the Jesuit general authority to unite with the Roman main sodality other sodalities of either sex that had been canonically erected in the Jesuit churches. These sodalities were to share in all the indulgences and privileges of the Prima-Primaria. After the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773 the sodalities were kept in existence by the solicitude of the pope and the efforts of zealous priests. The Society of Jesus was re-established in 1814, and Leo XII restored to the Jesuit general his old rights and privileges as regards the Sodalities of the Blessed Virgin by a Brief of 17 May, 1824. In addition, by a Rescript of March, 1825, addressed to the Jesuit general, the same pope granted the right to unite all sodalities to the Roman archsodality, even if they existed outside of Jesuit houses, and to share with these subsidiary sodalities all its indulgences and privileges. Leo XIII further granted to the general of the Jesuits the authority even to erect canonically such sodalities everywhere, with the permission or consent of the diocesan bishops. He also declared all sodalities of every kind independent and exempted from the regulations of the Constitution, "Quæcumque", of Clement VIII.

Leo XIII also granted other favours to the sodalities of the Blessed Virgin, which he called "excellent schools of Christian piety, and the surest protection of youthful innocence". Finally, Pius X not only gave the sodalities the highest praise, but also granted them new privileges and indulgences, and confirmed the new summary of indulgences on 21 July, 1910. On 8 Dec. of the same year the general of the Society of Jesus approved new general rules for the sodalities under Jesuit direction. These rules were intended to serve as a model for all other Sodalities of the Blessed Virgin; they give the clearest statement as to the nature and purpose, organization and working of all such bodies. These sodalities aim at making genuine Christians of their members by a profound devotion to, and childlike love of, the Blessed Virgin; the members are not merely to strive to perfect themselves, but are also, as far as their social position permits, to seek the salvation and perfection of others and to defend the Church of Jesus Christ against the attacks of godless men (cf. tit. I, reg. 1). The entire tendency of the sodalities and the councils (which are selected from the sodality), the regular meetings and lectures, the careful control and supervision of all members, in addition to all the various exercises and works prescribed or advised, and the constant close personal intercourse of the members with the director, serve to make the members noble, moral human beings, who, with the aid of the Blessed Virgin, lead others to Christ. In general the spirit and occupation of the members is not to be a vaguely enthusiastic piety and asceticism, but a sober, genuinely Catholic devotion and a joyous, zealous effectiveness for good in the sphere in which each member moves. Consequently, in separate sections the members should have all possible opportunity to develop all the capabilities of mind and heart, in order to attain as completely as possible the high aim of the society (cf. Reg., 12-14). The history of the sodalities of the Blessed Virgin gives clear proof of their great and beneficial influence in all epochs of their existence. These beneficial results have been recognized by both State and Church. The enemies of Christianity and of the Church have also shown their recognition of these results by their particular hatred and persecution of sodalities.

The sodalities developed rapidly even at the very beginning. After thirteen years of existence they included 30,000 members. Wherever the Society of Jesus went to establish colleges or missions, a sodality of the Blessed Virgin was soon erected in that place. In all the larger cities of Europe where the Jesuits established themselves firmly, they founded not merely one, but as many as seven or even twenty different sodalities. During the period that the sodalities were connected with the houses and churches of the Jesuits the membership rose to many hundred thousands. The number increased when, from 1751, married women and girls were admitted. After the restoration of the Society of Jesus the sodalities grew enormously. In the fifty years after the declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception nearly 35,000 new sodalities were united with the Roman main sodality. In the year 1910, 1132 new sodalities were established, of which 178 were in North America. At various times and in various countries emperors, kings, and princes have been zealous members of sodalities, and have encouraged the growth of these bodies. In the seventeenth century alone eighty cardinals and seven popes came from them. In all Catholic countries the Sodalities of the Blessed Virgin include among their most faithful members, the greatest and noblest men of every position in life, generals and scholars of the highest rank. St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. John Berchmans, St. Francis de Sales, St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, St. Leonard of Port Maurice, St. Peter Fourier, St. John Baptist de Rossi, the Venerable Jean Eudes, and many other saints, blesseds, and venerables, were proud to belong to the sodalities of the Blessed Virgin. For six years St. Francis de Sales worked, during his student life, in the sodality of the College of Clermont at Paris as member, assistant, and prefect. Others, like St. Alphonsus Liguori and St. Charles Borromeo, praised and recommended the Sodalities of the Blessed Virgin as nurseries for youth and for growth in perfection. Above all it has always been the teachers and shepherds of the entire Catholic Church, the popes, who have, in their words and actions, highly honoured these sodalities, and who have earnestly recommended them to all the faithful, e.g. Gregory XIII, Sixtus V, Gregory XV, Benedict XIV, Leo XIII, Pius X.

Undoubtedly a well-conducted Sodality of the Blessed Virgin is in itself the best method of spiritual development for the members and also the best aid to the priest in his anxiety for the well-being of his entire flock. In addition these sodalities are the most universally extended of all pious associations and confraternities, for they can be and are erected separately for each sex, for every age, and every station in life, so that they include in themselves the advantages of all unions for different positions in life. Moreover, as has been already clearly shown, they seek to attain as fully as possible in their members the twofold object which all other confraternities, in a certain sense, only strive for partially, namely, to attain to true love of God by the exercises of the Divine service, prayer and reception of Holy Communion, and to attain to true charity by exercising the most universal possible zeal for souls.


BERINGER, Die Ablässe; fr. tr. (Paderborn, 1911); IDEM, De Congregationibus Marianis Documenta et Leges (Vienna, 1909); MULLAN, The Sodality of Our Lady Studied in the Documents (New York, 1912); DELPLACE, Histoire des Congrégations de la Sainte Vierge (Bruges, 1884); LÖFFLER, Die marianischen Congregationen (3rd ed., Freiburg); Stimmen aus Maria-Laach, LXXVIII, 457 sqq.

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APA citation. Hilgers, J. (1912). Sodality. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Hilgers, Joseph. "Sodality." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by WGKofron. In memory of Fr. John Hilkert, Akron, Ohio — Fidelis servus et prudens, quem constituit Dominus super familiam suam.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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