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Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ
Congregatio Passionis Iesu Christi
Founder Saint Paul of the Cross
TypeClerical Religious Congregation of Pontifical Right (for Men)
HeadquartersPiazza SS. Giovanni e Paolo, 13, 00184 Roma, Italy
Membership (2016)
1,964 members (1,540 priests)
Superior General
Fr. Joachim Xavier Rego, C.P.
Formerly called
The Poor of Jesus

The Passionists, formally known as the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ (Latin : Congregatio Passionis Iesu Christi, C.P.), [1] are a Catholic religious congregation founded by Saint Paul of the Cross with a special emphasis on and devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ. Professed members use the initials C.P. after their names. A known symbol of the congregation is the labeled emblem of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, surmounted by a cross and is often sewn into the clothing attire of its congregants. The present superior general is Father Joachim Rego C.P.



St. Paul of the Cross wrote the rules of the Congregation in December 1720, [2] and in June 1725 Pope Benedict XIII granted Paul the permission to form his congregation. Paul and his brother, Jean-Baptiste, were ordained by the pope on the same occasion (7 June). The full canonical title of the congregation, following the revision of their Constitutions approved by the Holy See in 1984, is The Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ. [1] [3]

After serving for a time in the hospital of St. Gallicano, in 1737 they left Rome with permission of the Pope and went to Mount Argentario, [2] where they established the first house of the institute. They took up their abode in a small hermitage near the summit of the mount, to which was attached a chapel dedicated to St. Anthony. They were soon joined by three companions, one of whom was a priest, and the observance of community life according to the rules began there and is continued there to the present day. [1] St. Paul of the Cross and his companions – they now totalled six priests and two brothers – began a retreat. On 11 June 1741 they first affixed the emblem or "sign" of the Passion (Jesu XPI Passio) on their black tunics. The professed renewed their vows, and the new members pronounced their first vows.

In 1769, Clement XIV granted full rights to the Passionists as enjoyed by the other religious institutes, making them not an order but a congregation. The congregation historically has had two primary goals: Preaching Missions and contemplative life, with an attempt to blend the two. Its founder had attempted to combine aspects of the contemplative orders, such as the Trappist monks, together with the dynamic orders, such as the Jesuits.

Saint Michael the Archangel has historically been known as the heavenly protector of the Congregation while Saint Mary Magdalene is deemed the patroness of the Congregation. The principal patron of the Congregation is the Blessed Virgin Mary, particularly under her titles as Mother of Sorrows and Our Lady of Holy Hope.


"We seek the unity of our lives and our apostolate in the Passion of Jesus." The Passionate express their participation in the Passion by a special vow, by which they bind themselves to keep alive the memory of the Passion of Christ. They love strive to foster awareness of its meaning and value for each person and for the life of the world. They seek to incorporate this vow into our daily lives by living the evangelical counsels. [4]


The RC Church of St Mungo's Church, Townhead, Glasgow is run by the Passionists of the Irish Province of St Patrick Stmungorc.JPG
The RC Church of St Mungo's Church, Townhead, Glasgow is run by the Passionists of the Irish Province of St Patrick

Traditionally, their main apostolate has been preaching missions and retreats. According to Saint Paul of the Cross, they were founded in order to "teach people how to pray", which they do through activities such as retreats and missions, spiritual direction, and prayer groups. Today they often also assist local churches in pastoral works, including saying masses, hearing confessions, and visiting the sick. Due to the continuing shortage of priests throughout the world, the Passionists today are sometimes designated as parish priests and curates of various parishes. The Passionists hold many retreat and conference centers around the world.

Unlike the La Sallians or the Gabrielites, Passionists do not usually open schools and universities, except seminaries for their own students wishing to become brothers and priests. There are some schools sponsored and run by the Passionists, like the St. Gemma Galgani School, (which includes primary, junior high and high school-level education) in Santiago (Chile), but these are more the exception than the rule. The Passionists are involved in social welfare projects and education mainly in the various mission territories assigned to them.

Though Passionists are not required to work in non-Christian areas as missionaries, their Rule allows its members to be posted to missionary work, such as mainland China (before the Communists took over in 1949), India, and Japan, and in many other nations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and elsewhere as dictated by the pope or at the invitation of a local Bishop.

There are 2,179 Passionists in 61 countries [4] on the five continents, led by a superior general who is elected every six years. He is assisted by six consultors in governing the congregation. The congregation is divided into provinces, vice-provinces and missions. The Congregation is also divided into groups of provinces, vice-provinces and missions called configurations. The presidents of the six configurations constitute the Extended General Council which meets with the Superior General and his consultors annually. [5]

Monastery of the Presentation in Monte Argentario, Tuscany. Convento M. Argentario.JPG
Monastery of the Presentation in Monte Argentario, Tuscany.

There are six configurations in the world: [6]

The official name of the institute is "The Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ". The superior general resides in Rome (Piazza Ss. Giovanni e Paolo, 13, 00184 Roma; tel. 06 772711). The founder is buried in a chapel attached to the Basilica of Saints John and Paul, and the General Headquarters also hosts an international house of studies for Passionists from around the world.

Characteristics of the Congregation

Painting of Bl. Bernard Silvestrelli, 1911 Bernardo02.jpg
Painting of Bl. Bernard Silvestrelli, 1911

Passionist monasteries are referred to as “retreats”. [2] The members of the congregation are not allowed to possess land, and the congregation collectively can only own the community house and a bit of land attached to it. They rely completely on their own labor and on contributions from the faithful in order to maintain themselves financially. The habit worn by members is a rough wool tunic bearing the words "Jesu XPI Passio", meaning "Passion of Jesus Christ" and the congregation was historically discalced, wearing sandals rather than shoes.

With regard to Popular Piety, the Congregation is also known for promoting devotion to the Passion among the faithful by the use of Black Scapulars usually worn by aspirants to the Passionist way of life. Different devotional practices such as Confraternities of the Passion, Devotion to the Five Wounds of Christ, The Seven Sorrows of The Blessed Virgin Mary, Stations of the Cross and various forms of the Office in honour of the Passion are still widely promoted among its members.

Saints and Blesseds of the Congregation of the Passion

Canonised members of the Congregation

Beatified members of the Congregation

In addition, the causes for the canonisation of Father Carl Schmitz, Father Ignatius Spencer, Father Theodore Foley and Elizabeth Prout have been opened.

Other notable members

Passionist Sisters

House of the Passionist Sisters in Colombo (Greater Curitiba), Parana, Southern Brazil CasaPassionistasColomboParana.JPG
House of the Passionist Sisters in Colombo (Greater Curitiba), Paraná, Southern Brazil

The Passionist Sisters (the Sisters of the Cross and Passion) is an institute founded in 1852 by Father Gaudentius Rossi, an early Passionist priest, in collaboration with Elizabeth Prout. In its beginnings, it was called "Sisters of the Holy Family", and was later included under the Passionist family.

Due to their separate raisings guided by members of the congregation, Saints Maria Goretti and Gemma Galgani are traditionally counted in the ranks of the Passionist Sisters, even though they died before they could formally enter the institute (Maria was murdered, Gemma died of tuberculosis).

See also

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Black Scapular of the Passion

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  1. 1 2 3 "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Passionists". Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  2. 1 2 3 Pettinelli, Derek. "Five facts about the Passionists", Catholic Digest, October 19, 2017
  3. The Rule and Constitutions of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ: Rome, 1984; approved by the Holy See on 2 March 1984
  4. 1 2 "Congregatio Passionis Jesu Christi". Archived from the original on 5 March 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  5. The Statistics of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ: Passionist International Bulletin, Rome, Spring 2014
  6. The 2012 General Chapter of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ: Acts of the Chapter, Rome, 2013.