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The Association of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and of work for poor churches was founded at Brussels in 1848 by Anne de Meeûs. By 1851 it had the approval of the bishops of Belgium. Within a few years a number of its members formed themselves into a religious congregation, that of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Mdlle de Meeûs becoming the first superior general. In 1853 the society became an archconfraternity for Belgium, but quickly spread to the nearby countries where it met similar needs and received similar privileges, and in 1863 Pius IX granted the mother-society at Brussels the right to affiliate confraternities throughout the world, except in the city of Rome. This last restriction was removed with the mother-house of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration was transferred to Rome, which then became the centre of the association. An archconfraternity with the same name and purpose already existing in Rome, but founded subsequent to that of Brussels, was merged with the latter. The statutes of the archconfraternity were approved by the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, 12 January, 1880, and Leo XIII by a Brief of 21 June, 1881, approved its transfer to Rome and right to affiliate; and by a Brief of 30 July, 1895, granted it the title of Prima Primaria.
The members pledge themselves to spend an hour each month in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and to pay yearly dues into a fund for the benefit of poor churches. The contributions are used to purchase materials for vestments which are made by women members of the society and given to poor churches. A great work is thus done and many churches have been benefited in Belgium, Germany, Austria, England, the United States, and the mission fields. The eleventh Eucharistic Congress was held in Brussels in 1898 in the church in which the society was founded, and on that occasion a glowing tribute was paid to its work. In Belgium alone it has nearly 200,000 members. Special mention should be made of the association as it is maintained in convents of Religious of the Sacred Heart. It was founded in the houses of the United States by Rev. Mother Hardey, then assistant superior general of the Society, on the occasion of her visit in 1874. She established it in connexion with the Sodality of the Children of Mary, and its marvellous growth and work for poor churches are attested by the annual reports issued by each house. Paris is the centre of the Archconfraternity of Perpetual Adoration and work for Tabernacles, founded there in the Church of St. Thomas Aquinas in 1846 and with affiliations in the dioceses of France and Algiers. It was approved by Pius IX in 1856 and made a confraternity in 1858.
BERINGER, Les Indulgences, II (Paris, 1905), 130, 133; RUGGIERI, L'oeuvre de l'Adoration perpetuelle et des eglises pauvres (Brussels, 1881); MARY ALOYSIA HARDEY, religious of the Sacred Heart (New York, 1910).
Blanche M. Kelly.