Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network

logo Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network
Official logo of the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network

The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network is a Pontifical Society of the Catholic Church which encourages Catholics to prayer and action as part of the church's universal mission. The Network provides monthly prayer intentions determined by the Pope. It is particularly inspired by devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and its compassion for the world.[1][2]

Founded in 1844 as the Apostleship of Prayer and renamed in 2016, this ecclesiastic service became a pontifical work in March 2018 when Pope Francis approved the new statutes. In December 2020, the Pope constituted this Pontifical Society as a Vatican Foundation. Today the PWPN, which includes[2] the branch specifically dedicated to young people aged between seven and 18, the Eucharistic Youth Movement (EYM), is present in 89 countries with a membership of more than 22 million Catholics worldwide.[3]

The International Director of the PWPN is Frédéric Fornos, SJ, who was appointed in 2016.[4][5]

History: The Apostleship of Prayer

The beginnings

The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network, originally called the Apostleship of Prayer, was founded in 1844 in the south of France, in a house of formation for young Jesuits in Vals-près-le-Puy. The initiative was first proposed by a Jesuit priest, Francis Xavier Gautrelet, who at the time was spiritual director to the students.[6] On the eve of the feast day of Saint Francis Xavier (2 December 1844), he outlined the original idea to them in a meditation. This initiative was later to develop into the Apostleship of Prayer and, now today, into the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network.[7]

The concrete practice that Father Gautrelet suggested to his students to keep this spirit alive was a prayer every morning to offer up the day.[8]   

Further developments

In 1861, Jesuit Father Henri Ramière provided a new dynamism for the Apostleship and framed this proposal in a missionary perspective: devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.[9] It was Father Ramiére who formalised and structured the Apostleship of Prayer and thus he is considered, after Father Gautrelet, a second founder. By that time the Apostleship already had 13 million members.

The practices of the Apostleship of Prayer spread widely among local farmers and young Christians in the countryside around Vals-près-le-Puy. In just a few years, this prayer proposal gained popularity throughout the country and reached millions of followers worldwide. Apostleship of Prayer groups formed in Catholic parishes and institutions while the original idea took on a visible structured form as an ecclesiastic association.[9]

The Pope’s prayer intentions

Between 1890 and 1896, Pope Leo XIII became interested in participating in this immense network of Catholics offering their lives and their dedication to spiritually support the mission of the Church. He incorporated the Apostleship as a special mission of the Pope and entrusted the association to the Society of Jesus in the person of the Father General.[8] Furthermore, from then onwards, he began to commend a monthly prayer intention to the Apostleship of Prayer where he expressed his concerns and asked all Catholics to pray for them.[8]

The process of recreation: the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network

From 2010 onwards, a process of reflection and discernment commenced with the participation of national directors and coordinators in order to accommodate the Apostleship of Prayer to today's world. The proposal presented to Pope Francis in 2014 suggested the introduction of the “Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network”, which was finally established in 2015 with a new logo.[9]

On Sunday 8 January 2017, during the Angelus in St Peters Square, Pope Francis used the new name for the first time when he urged the faithful the world over to unite with him in prayer.[10]

“I would also like to invite you to join in the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, which spreads, also through social networks, the prayer intentions I propose for the Church each month. In this way, the Apostleship of Prayer moves forward and communion grows”.[10]

Then in 2018, Pope Francis declared the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network, formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer, a pontifical work with official headquarters in the State of the City of the Vatican.[11] In December 2020, the Pope constituted this Pontifical Society as a Vatican Foundation.

The 175th Anniversary

On 28 June 2019, Pope Francis welcomed a delegation of his Worldwide Prayer Network to the Vatican on the 175th anniversary of the founding of the original Apostleship of Prayer. More than 6,000 delegates attended, along with another 7,500 members following on Facebook live.[12]

“Be mindful: the heart of the Church’s mission is prayer. We can do so many things, but without prayer it does not work“.

The Holy See announced on 3 December 2020 that the Pope had established the Worldwide Prayer Network Foundation as an entity with juridical identity.[13]

The Eucharistic Youth Movement

The Eucharistic Youth Movement (EYM) is the youth branch of the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network. The EYM helps its members (aged seven to 18) to deepen their relationship with Jesus according to the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius.[14]

The origins of the EYM go back to 1914, when the International Eucharist Congress of Lourdes called for “a great Eucharistic league of the very young, who from childhood onwards would reawaken a general movement towards” Holy Communion. Beginning at that Eucharistic Congress, groups known as “Eucharistic leagues” or “Children’s Prayer Crusades” were formed. Some of these were connected to the Apostleship of Prayer. The Eucharistic Crusade (founded 1915) was originally part of the Bordeaux Crusade; now it is part of EYM.[15]

Initiatives and projects

The renewal process for the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network strives to increase access to digital communication in order to reach young people. Consequently, several media initiatives and apps were launched.

Click To Pray

Click To Pray Official Logo

Click To Pray, launched on March 4, 2016,[16] is an app to help people pray the Pope's monthly intentions. The app also offers teaching aids for daily prayer and coordinates the prayer intentions of millions through the “wall of prayer”. Click To Pray is available in seven languages and is present on most social media; it also has its own blog and newsletter.[17]

The Pope Video

The Pope Video Official Logo
The Pope Video Official Logo

The Pope Video is an initiative which seeks to share the Pope's monthly prayer intentions. In a monthly video, the Pope faces the camera to ask for prayers. The first video was launched in January 2016.[18] It has its own website.

Click To Pray eRosary

Click To Pray eRosary is an application in five languages. It encourages people to pray the rosary for peace in the world. The app was launched in October 2019.[19]

The Way of the Heart

The Way of the Heart is an application and website in Spanish which offers digital books connected to the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network.[20]