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The Pauline Fathers at Marian Valley on the occasion of the Ordination to the Episcopate of Bishop Columba

The Monastic Order of St. Paul the First Hermit was founded in 1215 in Hungary. The founder was Blessed Eusebius. Through his efforts, the saintly hermits of Hungary were united in monasteries under the patronage of St. Paul the First Hermit, who had lived a solitary life some 780 years earlier.

The Order spread rapidly throughout Hungary and into Croatia, Germany, Poland, Austria and Bohemia. There was a time when there were over 5000 Pauline monks in Hungary alone.

Fr. Albert in the Black Madonna Chapel
Fr. Albert in the Black Madonna Chapel

A highlight in the Order’s history occurred in 1382 when they became the custodians of the Miraculous Picture of Our Lady, believed to be printed by St. Luke the Evangelist. The Icon was brought to Poland by Prince Ladislaus from a castle in Biez, Russia. He invited the monks to come from Hungary into Poland to safeguard the holy picture. As a result, the monks established a Shrine for the venerated image of the Blessed Mother in the small town of Czestochowa (pronounced as chen-sto-hova). Today this Shrine is the Motherhouse of the Order and is the largest monastery with over 100 Fathers and Brothers belonging to the monks of St. Paul the First Hermit. It is seen as the spiritual capital of Polish Catholics and is visited by more than 4 million pilgrims each year from all over the world.

Today there are less than 500 members in the Order throughout the world. The sad history of Europe ravaged by so many wars and religious persecutions has dramatically reduced the numbers of a once large and flourishing Order.

The majority of the Order’s monasteries are presently located in Poland. In the Seminary in Krakow, there are over 60 students and more than 20 novices in the Novitiate.

The Order has monasteries and Shrines also in Germany, Slovakia, Croatia, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Hungary, Italy, France, Spain, The United States of America, Cameroon and South Africa.

There are two Monasteries and three Parishes belonging to the Order in Australia. Their first foundation was made in Berrima/Penrose Park, NSW, in 1984, where approximately 2000 pilgrims go each month to pray at the Shrine of Our Lady.

In 1989 the Marian Valley Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, Patroness of Australia, was established in Canungra QLD. Other parishes are Smithfield, Merrylands and Moss Vale in NSW.

Mary has played a unique role in the apostolate of our Order from the very beginning. She is present in its life and all spheres of its activities. Our Order has always venerated Her as the Mediatrix of All Graces and had zealously propagated devotion to Her.