Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Congregatio Missionariorum Filiorum Immaculati Cordis Beatae Mariae Virginis
Abbreviation CMF
Motto To Light the Whole World on Fire with the Love of God
Formation 16 July 1849
Founder St. Anthony Mary Claret
Type Catholic religious order (Institute of Consecrated Life)
Headquarters Via del Sacro Cuore di Maria, 5, 00197 Roma, Italia

The Claretians, a community of Roman Catholic priests and brothers, were founded by Saint Anthony Claret in 1849. Their ministries are highly diverse and vary depending on the needs of the area. They focus on seeing life through the eyes of the poor and respond to the biggest need at the time. They have a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Their formal title is the Congregation of Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (abbreviation C.M.F. for Cordis Mariae Filii), but they are popularly known as "the Claretians".


Main article: Anthony Mary Claret
Antonio Claret

The Congregation of the "Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary" was founded by Antonio María Claret y Clará (Anthony Claret) on July 16, 1849 at the seminary in Vic, in the province of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.[1]

Claret had been thinking for a long time about preparing priests to proclaim the Gospel and bring together a group of priests who shared his vision to accomplish work he could not do alone. Through his missionary work in Catalonia and the Canary Islands he was convinced that people needed to be evangelized and there were not enough priests who were sufficiently prepared or zealous enough for this mission. Only 20 days after the CMF's founding, Claret received news of his appointment as Archbishop of Cuba,[1] which he accepted despite his reluctance. The Congregation was left under the guidance of one of the co-founders, Esteban Sala, who died in 1858. Another co-founder, José Xifré, took over the directorship.[2] Under his leadership the Congregation established its came first mission was in Equatorial Guinea. In the Year 1973 through the instrumentality of Fr Christian Ihedoro, the Congregation came to Nigeria.[3]

With the coming of the Revolution of 1868, the Congregation was suppressed by the state and all the Missionaries had to seek refuge in France. Archbishop Claret also went into exile there.[1] He played a major role editing the Constitutions, which the Holy See approved on February 11, 1870, only a few months before his death. At this time the institute had its first holy martyr, Francisco Crusats. Archbishop Claret, the founder, had the great satisfaction of seeing new foundations established throughout Spain, as well as in Africa (Argel), and in Latin America in México, Chile, and also, in the Philippines.[4]


The missionaries often faced extreme hardships. Of the eleven that made up the first expedition to Cuba all but two died a few days after arriving on the island. During the Mexican Revolution, Father Andres Sola died a martyr; and in the Spanish Civil War 270 Missionary priests, brothers and students received the palm of martyrdom, among them are the 51 Blessed Martyrs of Barbastro. In 1949 all the missionaries were expelled from China. In May 2000 Father Rhoel Gallardo was murdered by Islamic separatists in Mindanao.[4]


The Claretians' work is as diverse as its priests. They live together in community and serving in a variety of ministries devoted to social concerns and issues of justice, peace, and the environment. Within each community the Claretians share daily prayer, meals, and meal preparation. Claretians work in parishes, foreign missions, periodical publishing, outreaches to young people, summer camps and inner city college outreaches. They attend to the needs of immigrants, youth and families. They also lead trips for the future leaders of tomorrow with leadership training and spiritual renewal.[2] There are more than 3,000 Claretian priests and brothers ministering in more than 65 countries on five continents.[5]

In the Eastern Province of the U.S. they work primarily with recent immigrants, in publishing through Claretian Publications, and in fostering devotion to St. Jude through the National Shrine of St. Jude. They publish the magazine U.S. Catholic.

The Congregation has a particular devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.[5] The Congregation has made significant contributions to Marian studies.[6]


Los Angeles

Fr. Aloysius Ellacuria, CMF

The Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Rome (aka: The Claretians), had come to Southern California by way of Mexico in the early 1900s, working in Los Angeles inner city missions. Since 1908 the Claretins have operated the historic La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles in Pueblo de Los Angeles near Downtown Los Angeles, as well as Mission San Gabriel, one of the original Spanish missions in California.[7]

One noted member of the Claretian community in the Los Angeles area was Aloysius Ellacuria, C.M.F., born in Spain, who arrived there in 1930. He spent nearly fifty years in various position of the congregation in the American Southwest, but mostly Los Angeles. He became known as a man of deep faith, who touched thousands in his ministry and is considered by many as a mystic. The cause for his canonization is under consideration by the congregation, after hundreds of requests prompted the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles to refer the matter to them.[8]


From 1952 to 1977 The Claretians also served from the Theological Seminary of Claretville and Immaculate Heart Claretian novitiate, on the former King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas, located in the Santa Monica Mountains of rural western Los Angeles County. The Thomas Aquinas College was also here from 1971 until moving to a permanent campus in Santa Paula, California in 1975. The land and structures are now part of Malibu Creek State Park.[9][10]

The Claretians returned to their original Southern California location, the Dominguez Seminary near the Dominguez Rancho Adobe of Rancho San Pedro, in Rancho Dominguez, California near Long Beach.

Our Lady of Guadelupe church, South Chicago, Chicago

National Shrine of St. Jude, Chicago

The national shrine of St. Jude was founded by Father James Tort, C.M.F., pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Many of Tort’s parishioners were laborers in the nearby steel mills, which were drastically cutting back their work forces early in 1929.[11] Tort was saddened to see that about 90% of his parishioners were without jobs and in difficult financial situations.

In an effort to lift the spirits of his parishioners, Tort began regular devotions to Saint Jude. The first novena honoring the saint was held on February 17, 1929.[11] During the Depression of the 1930s and during World War II, thousands of men, women, and children attended novenas at the shrine and devotion to the patron saint of desperate causes spread throughout the country.[12]

United Kingdom

Buckden Towers

The community established the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Hayes in 1912 to offer services to Spanish speaking immigrants in the London area. The parish ministry continues to serve the different immigrant communities that pass through Hayes. Buckden Towers was left by a Mrs Edelston to the diocese of Northampton. It served as the Claretians Junior Seminary until 1965. Parish work was undertaken in the area, especially in the American Air bases at Chalveston, Alconbury and Molesworth. Then in 1969 the diocese of Northampton asked the Claretians to make Buckden Towers a parish under the title of St Hugh of Lincoln. The parish has grown in numbers and the Bishop of East Anglia asked the Claretians to take over the parish of St Neots as well in 2011.[13] In 1997 the Claretians took over the multi-ethnic and multi-lingual parish of St Josephs, Leyton, Brentwood diocese.[14]

Claretian martyrs of Barbastro

In August 1936 fifty-one members of the Claretian community at the seminary in Barbastro, Spain, were executed during the Spanish Civil War, including nine priests, five brothers, with the rest seminarians. Two were spared as they were foreigners from Argentina.[15] They were beatified by Pope John Paul II on 25 October 1992, and are commemorated on 25 October.[16] The relics of all fifty-one martyrs are kept at their original seminary in Barbastro, which now functions as a museum and chapel.

See also


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