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Religious of Perpetual Adoration
A congregation with simple vows, founded at Brussels, 1857, by Anna de Meeus, daughter of Count Ferdinand de Meeus, for whose head a price was offered by the insurgents during the Revolution of 1830. In 1843 Mlle de Meeus, then twenty years of age, at the request of the rector visited the sacristy of the church near their chateau and other churches. Impressed by the miserable state of the vestments and all that pertained to the altar, she found the inspiration of her life's work. Considering the poverty and neglect of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and desiring to make reparation to Him, she conceived the idea of an association with the object of reviving faith in the Real Presence: by adoration, night and day; persons undertaking to make monthly an hour of adoration, and give yearly an offering for the benefit of poor churches; by working to enhance the dignity of Divine worship by providing the necessaries for the becoming celebration of the sacred mysteries. The Association of Perpetual Adoration and Work for Poor Churches was organized in 1848 under the direction of Rev. Jean Baptiste Boone, S.J., "the apostle of Brussels". The necessity was soon felt that a religious body should be its centre and support, one which would be wholly devoted to the propagation of the knowledge, love, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
As no community existed which made this work its special vocation, the project of a new religious institute was formed and realized when Mlle de Meeus, directed by Father Boone, founded the Religious of the Perpetual Adoration. The constitutions were definitively approved by Pius IX (March, 1872). The religious must not only be adorers but also missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament, devoting themselves to all that, compatible with a life of retirement, can further Its glory: religious instruction, preparation for first Communion, retreats, etc. Their churches with the Blessed Sacrament exposed are always open to the public. By their principal work, the association, they strive to increase love for the Blessed Sacrament, by hours of adoration, grants of vestments to poor churches, the Forty Hours Devotion, etc. The association spread rapidly throughout the world (in America it is frequently called "Tabernacle Society"). In 1853 it was erected an archassociation with power to affiliate others. The decree of Leo XIII transferring it to Rome (February, 1879) declares: "The archassociation is one with the institute in name and in its object, it is subordinate to the institute as to its head, and must be subordinate to it in virtue of the constitutions approved by the Holy See". The archassociation was raised to the rank of prima primaria, July, 1895. The institute has many houses in Europe. In August, 1880, it was introduced into England by Cardinal Herbert Vaughan, then Bishop of Manchester. Its first foundation in America was at Washington, D. C., October, 1900.
C. L. Martin.