Pierre-Bienvenu Noailles

Pierre-Bienvenu Noailles was born in Bordeaux on 27 October 1793 in a close family. He was a boisterous adolescent and began working at the age of 17. He made his first communion in 1813 and went to the St. Sulpice seminary three years later. In this prestigious institute where the great masters of the French School of spirituality were taught, he discovered what was to be his driving force, his spiritual identity. It can be summarized in this sentence which constitutes the central nucleus of the Founder's charism: “Seek God alone in all things like Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” He wished to renew the Church of his time and present to the world a God who is close to us, a Church with a family face, gathering together men and women from different states of life, occupied in various works, sharing the same spirit.

Ordained priest on 5 June 1819 in St. Sulpice in Paris, he soon joined his diocese of origin where he was named curate in the parish Sainte-Eulalie. There, he gathered various persons in a Catechism of Perseverance and he organized all those who wished to participate in his work, according to needs and talents of each. He gave the same direction to all: Live by imitating the virtues of the Holy Family. His project took officially root when he gathered in community, on 28 May 1820, three girls who felt the call to dedicate themselves to God in a new way: the Holy Family was born.

Another event was to contribute to increase the spread of the Holy Family. On 3 February 1822, Christ appeared to the congregation during an exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel of the Daughters of Our Lady of Loreto. This miracle confirmed Father Noailles in its project.

From this date, the Holy Family developed considerably: Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (schools and parochial works), Sisters of Hope (patients at home and in hospitals), Agricultural Sisters (peasant families, agricultural orphanages), Sisters of St. Martha (help to the priests in presbyteries, middle schools, bishop's palaces), Solitary Sisters (contemplative branch). A branch of Priests was also created in 1822 but following diverse circumstances, it never knew a stable and sustainable situation. The Association was affiliated to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (founded by Eugène de Mazenod) until 1902-1903 to continue the work of Father Noailles after his death.

Father Noailles died on 8 February 1861. He left a very structured and strong association of several thousand members. He was declared “Venerable” by pope John Paul II on February 8th, 1988.