Pontifical of Holy Childhood

The Pontifical of Holy Childhood is the Catholic Church’s official missionary charity for children. Its motto is ‘children helping children.’ It has been active in Catholic schools for 170 years. The programme gives an opportunity to children to help make the love of Jesus known everywhere.

The contributions of children in Malta and worldwide makes it possible to carry out education, medical and welfare projects in the poorest communities helping those who are disabled, refugees, orphans and other marginalised people. These projects include amongst others, 

  • building of schools
  • provision of health and nutrition programmes, 
  • teaching and learning resources amongst others. 

The pedagogical intuition that underlies the Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood is the affirmation that children are not only recipients of missionary information that increases their sensitivity to the subject, but missionary subjects themselves, capable of professing faith and to spread it to their peers and to witness it to adults.

Holy Childhood History

In the mid-nineteenth century, a French bishop, H. E. Charles de Forbin-Janson,
regretting that he could not personally leave as a missionary, asked for advice from Pauline Jaricot, the foundress of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith. It started with a conversation about how children could help children around 1840. After his missionary experiences, he began to take an increasing interest in the rescue of abandoned babies in China. 

Their exchange of ideas was enlightening and Bishop de Forbin-Janson got the idea to involve the children of France so that through prayer and material cooperation, they could help the Chinese children of their same age. On 19 May 1843, he called his first meeting and set out to establish a new society throughout France.

For that era, and even today, making children protagonists of the life of the Church was a revolutionary idea.

In a short time, many countries joined in the initiative and the Society spread from France to Belgium, Spain, Italy and many other nations. On May 3, 1922, mindful of the Society’s great contribution to the missions for nearly eighty years, Pope Pius XI made it his own and recognized it as Pontifical. On December 4, 1950, Pope Pius XII created the World Day of the Holy Childhood, and declared the day of the Epiphany as the date for its celebration, at the same time  leaving each nation free to adapt the date to local needs. 

Holy Childhood called upon its children members for two things: a short daily prayer for the missions and a monetary sacrifice,  “One hail Mary a day, one coin a month” was the commitment made by every child from the first moment. 

Holy Childhood in the World and in Malta

The Work of Missionary Childhood is present in 150 countries and carries out activities of animation and formation for missionary and cooperation supporting thousands of solidarity projects that help children of the 5 continents with the aim of providing them with the necessary tools to be able to live their spiritual life in a dignified way and material.

The areas of commitment of the Missionaries are: pastoral care of children, preschool and school education, Christian and missionary animation and formation, protection of life.Pontifical of Holy Childhood is estimated to be helping around 20 million children worldwide. In Malta, ‘children helping children’ is under the programme of ‘Missio Tfal’. Projects and initiatives can be found here: ‘Missio Tfal’

The Society is open for all

Even though the Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood pertains principally to children and adolescents, who are its real members, the message it proclaims is addressed to all those who wish to collaborate, having its wider impact on the children’s families, educators, animators and society at large

Pontifical Mission Societies International Secretariats