Our History

A New Religious Life


A closeup photo of our lovely statue in the Chapel of the Generalate (motherhouse) in Paris France.

We are committed to serve people of all social backgrounds, ages, ethnic groups, faith, religions, and traditions.

We, Daughters of the Heart of Mary, consecrated by our vows, and without distinctive signs, seek to live our religious life in all circumstances and milieu. Our prophetic mission is to announce the Good News of the Kingdom.

We do not have any specific apostolic activities. We seek to respond to the needs of time and place according to our possibilities. We approach all action in a way that is both communitarian and individual.

Our Community

We are an international religious Society and profess vows of Obedience, Poverty and Chastity.

We pattern our lives on Mary, mother of Jesus. We share a common spirituality and prayer life. Our community life is nurtured through regular meetings, retreats, days of prayer and community celebrations.

Commitment to daily personal prayer, celebration of the Eucharist, spiritual reading and devotion to Mary are essential to a Daughter of the Heart of Mary.

Historic Timeline

In France during the revolution, all religious orders were banned, as was the wearing of any symbol which identified one as religious. Therefore in 1790, The Daughters of the Heart of Mary, an apostolic religious Society was founded without any exterior distinguishing sign.

Pierre-Joseph de Clorivière


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The Origins trace back to Fr Pierre-Joseph de Clorivière.

Born within the walled city of St Malo, Brittany, he was educated with the English Benedictines at Douai.

Law Graduated, (University of Paris) he entered the Jesuit novitiate, leading to ordination through many happy years of formation and study.

The Dissolved Society of Jesus saw the young scholar taking refuge with the English Jesuits within Liège, Belgium.

Ordained a Priest following further theology study. 1766 Sent to Ghent (School of the Heart) to make his Tertianship. (Receive Final Interior Formation, reserved by St Ignatius before final vows).

Returns to Ghent from England to become the Master of Novices Assistant. Fr de Clorivière was also appointed Chaplain to the English Benedictine Sisters in Brussels.

July 1773
Pope Clement XIV decided on the suppression of the Society of Jesus, signing the Brief ‘Dominus ac Redemptor.’ It’s delayed promulgation saw Fr de Clorivière make his vows at Liège, on the 15th August 1773. Fr de Clorivière found himself the last professed French member of the former Society of Jesus.

He soon returned to France, working in his native diocese of St Malo as rector of a junior seminary; and later as parish priest.

Fr de Clorivière met a young Breton noble woman (Adelaide de Cicé) who longed to give her life to God in religious life, while still serving the poor of her native town of Rennes.

Being a man of prayer and great courage, and having remained faithful to the Jesuit way of life, without any of the usual supports of a community over the previous 30 years, he easily empathised with Adelaide in her search for a new form of religious life, and he encouraged her.

July 12, 1790
Reaching Brittany, the French Revolution, whose Assembly suspended religious vows and later suppressed vows and all the religious orders, passing the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. Fr. de Clorivière stayed in France, declining the invitation from Archbishop John Carroll (Vicar Apostolic in Maryland USA) where many former Jesuits had already gone to serve the church.

In a letter (to Adelaide de Cicé) at this time Fr. de Clorivière commented on all that was happening in France:

‘I can see nothing good coming from the way political events are moving…I fear still more for religion taking into account the dispositions of most of its members. Religion is lost if it is left indiscriminately to the general vote of the Assembly, and if the clergy do not remain, as they should, the judges of such matters.’

July 19, 1790
In prayer and reflection, Fr. de Clorivière saw the plan of two religious Societies; (one for men and one for women) and knowing it came from God, he wrote what he saw: ‘A plan of a new religious Society adapted to alleviating the miseries of the times…The members of this Society, united in Jesus Christ by a purely interior bond, and having no external sign of their association and no specific costume…will live separately from one another as did the early Christians.’

Very soon he called on Adelaide and presented his plan to her. She entered into the spirit of the enterprise, and as a Co-Founder, brought her own intuition and gentle feminine qualities to bear on this very original and unique way of religious life.

Adelaide de CicéAdelaide de Cicé


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In the culture of that time, Adelaide could not have envisaged consecrated women living outside the cloister. The plan she had drawn up in 1787 had of necessity to be restrictive. Fr. de Clorivière showed himself much more daring: the new Societies would welcome members from all social groups, who would continue in their professions, however diverse these might be, in order to sanctify all sections of society.

It can be attested that because of the suppression of the religious orders in France, Fr. de Clorivière and Adelaide de Cicé obtained approbation from Rome for this hitherto uncharted way of consecrated life.

The Founder moved quickly to Paris, leaving Adelaide in Brittany, where she assembled a certain number of women, who wanted religious life, but were deprived of it due to the political circumstances.

Of Adelaide’s original group, one was guillotined for having harboured priests who refused to take the civil Oath. Two others died of the plague, Martyrs of their generosity, having gone to nurse local sailors who had contracted the dreaded disease on board ship.

February 5, 1791
Fr de Clorivière wrote to Adelaide, giving an account of his movements in the capital and telling her:

‘We now have nine members in all… On the Mountain of the Martyrs, I said Mass in the Chapel of St Ignatius, after which, in the same chapel, each one separately, but in a low voice offered themselves to the Lord, and I in the name of all, secretly pronounced the Formula of the Association.’

April 1791
The Founder wrote a very beautiful and moving letter to Adelaide, asking her to come to Paris. In it he wrote:

‘It seems to me that one and the other Society must begin in Paris. It is from Paris that evil is spreading: it is from there that the remedy for the evil must come. The time for undertaking something great for the Lord has come. The magnitude of the evils suffered by religion, and the greater evils by which we are threatened are calling for prompt assistance.’

Adelaide arrived in the capital in November. The city was in turmoil with more and more arrests every day. Fr de Clorivière was obliged to go into hiding while continuing to give guidance to the fledgling new Societies.

Adelaide spent herself tirelessly in the service of the poor who were becoming more numerous every day.

1793 (June) to 1794 (July)
The Reign of Terror rendered the activities of the two Founders more and more difficult. As Bretons, whose families opposed the Revolution, they were both suspects:

1799 to 1801
Adelaide was incarcerated in ‘La Conciergerie.’

1804 to 1809

Fr. de Clorivière spent 5 years in the ‘Temple Prison’ in Paris. Despite the trials and traumas of the Revolution and the Empire, Daughters of the Heart of Mary increased rapidly in number. 300 members from all walks of life were actively witnessing to the spirit and form of the Society.

Are you considering a vocation to the Daughters of the Heart of Mary and would like to learn more about the Society? For more information please make contact with our UK vocation Director here


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