About seventy miles from Lyons, in the south of France is Puy, the most picturesque city of Europe. It is celebrated for its ancient shrine and magnificent statue of Our Lady. Not far from the shrine stands a large college which, until the expulsion of the Religious Orders from France, was a Scholasticate, or House of Studies, for the younger members of the Society of Jesus. This College gave many apostolic men to the Church, and its pious students were always remarkable for an ardent desire to labour in the foreign missions. In the year 1844 the Spiritual Director of the College was Father Gautrelet, S.J. On the 3rd of December, the Feast of St. Francis XaVier, he pointed out to the scholastics that by consecrating all their thoughts, words, actions, and sufferings to the Sacred Heart, and offering them to the Eternal Father for the interests of Jesus Christ, they could find, even during the course of their ecclesiastical studies, ample scope for satisfying their missionary zeal. The proposal was received with enthusiasm by the young religious, and thus were laid the first foundations of the Apostleship of Prayer, which was destined to spread with wondrous rapidity throughout the world, and to inscribe on its register. Many millions of associates. By degrees other communities joined this Holy League of Prayer, and in 1849, five years after its foundation, it was enriched by Pius IX" then an exile at Gaeta, with many indulgences. In 1861 appeared the first number of The Messenger of the Sacred Heart. The monthly issue of this periodical led to a prodigious development of the Apostleship of Prayer." Numerous additional indulgences were granted by the Sovereign Pontiff, and, in 1866, the League received a definite organization through the approval of its statutes by the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars.
Catholic Action, Brother Hermenegild TOSF, Paperback, ISBN 10: 1533346615, ISBN 13: 9781533346612