The Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood
An international organization which interests Catholic children in the temporal and spiritual salvation of children of pagan parents in all parts of the world; founded by Abbe Forbin-Janson in Paris, 1833, after having spent some time of his enforced exile from France in visiting the then new missions in China.
The wholesale abandonment of baby girls, practised in many Chinese districts, inspired him to save many such souls through the apostolate of the children of his own country.
He began a crusade among the French schools and soon gathered sufficient funds to enable the first group of Sisters of Charity to set out for China, where the first refuge was established, 1845.
During a second period of exile, spent in England with the Leicestershire family of Ambrose Philips De Lisle, at Grace Dieu Manor, he started the first branch of the society outside of France.
Soon after it spread to Ireland, Scotland, and the British Colonies, and is now world-wide.
Annual subscriptions from children have steadily risen from about £1000 ($5000) in 1843, to approximately a quarter of a million sterling ($1,250,000).
The benefactions of the society are now applied to practically every ecclesiastical superior in the mission field, especially in China, Japan, India, Central and South Africa, among the aborigines of Australia, and the Indians of North and South America.
The society claims to have been instrumental in securing the baptism of at least twenty-five million children; in establishing thousands of homes and nurseries, and numberless Christian families and communities; and in fostering the vocations of hundreds of native priests and sisters.
It publishes a quarterly The Annals of the Holy Childhood.
In his Encyclical on missions issued in February 1926, Pope Pius XI singled out the society for special commendation as the children's work for foreign missions.
The word "Pontifical" is a prefix only recently authorized.
New Catholic Dictionary