Founded in Paris in 1703, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit began life as the Seminary of the Holy Spirit. This seminary was founded by a young and brilliant law student, Claude Poullart des Places, who gave up his career to dedicate his life to the service of the poor. He died at the age of thirty during an outbreak of pleurisy. Faithful to his wishes, his brothers in community buried him in the paupers' grave. The purpose of the seminary was to train young men to become priests at the service of the poorer sections of society.
In 1848 a young missionary congregation dedicated to the Holy Heart of Mary joined with the Spiritans to become the religious missionary congregation that we know today. This group was founded by a convert from Judaism, Francis Libermann (pictured), and their first works brought them to serve in Africa and with freed slaves. So from the beginning our religious community has been marked by a strong multi-cultural dimension where mission has been understood, essentially, as leaving one's home and country to discover the presence of Christ in peoples of other cultures and traditions.