Gaetano Errico was ordained a secular priest in Naples, Italy in 1815. He dedicated his priesthood to preaching of the abundant, merciful love present in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He sought to help the suffering and abandoned assuring them that they were loved by their heavenly Father. While on retreat, St. Alphonsus appeared to him in vision instructing him to begin a new religious congregation dedicated to the Sacred Hearts. The vision came to Fr. Errico each year while on retreat. St. Alphonsus told him that as a sign of the future foundation, he would build a church in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. An image of her appeared as well and would be the sign under which he would succeed.
Through much trial, with determination and the support of the people of the small village of Secondigliano, the church did become a reality and was dedicated and blessed on December 9, 1830. Against all odds and adversity, Fr. Gaetano has indeed taken the first step to follow the directives of the visions. Now he knew that the new congregation was indeed a ‘work that God desired’ and he would persevere to see it established.
On October 1, 1836, he opened the first Novitiate with seven novices. By 1846 their members had grown and several additional community houses has been established. Although the approval of the Rules for the new congregation had been decreed in 1838, the final decree of approval was given by Pope Pius IX in July of 1846. In March of 1858, Fr. Errico established a house in Rome which now serves as the Generalate of the congregation.
Slowly, at the beginning of the 20th century, the Institute started spreading around the world; Argentina in 1912, Uruguay in 1938; the USA in 1953; India in 1982; Slovakia in 1994. The new millennium saw the opening of new religious communities in Nigeria welcoming an influx of many new candidates for the priesthood. A house of formation was also established in Indonesia, again attracting many promising vocations. In 2011, Colombia became a new opportunity to spread the charism of our Founder, St. Gaetano Errico.
In the introduction to the rules for his missionary congregation, St. Gaetano writes, “The Eternal Father, in bestowing His divine love on the hearts of all, chose before all others the most Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary…therefore, the first goal of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts is to toil to make known to all people the most ardent love of the Sacred Hearts for us, and to kindle this holy and divine love in the hearts of all humanity.”
Proclaimed Blessed by Pope John Paul II in April 2002, a second miracle was confirmed within five years. On October 12, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI presided at the canonization of St. Gaetano Errico.