The Society of St. Peter the Apostle was founded in Cain, France in 1889 by two laywomen Jeanne Bigard and her mother Stephanie. These women overcame personal tragedies in their lives and dedicated themselves working for the missions. In 1888, the Bigards were approached by a French missionary working in Kyoto, Japan who asked for their assistance to build a Church. They sold some of their possessions and raised enough funds to complete the building of the Church. A year later, the Bishop of Nagasaki turned to them for assistance and support of his seminarians. The St. Peter the Apostle Society was born – a society that supported and promoted the formation of local clergy in the Missions.
The Bigards traveled throughout France promoting the work of the society. In 1922 Pope Pius XI placed it under papal patronage and gave it the task of supporting seminaries in mission dioceses – the young churches.
It is within young churches that the Church is most active and growing. They have the faith but lack the material resources to train many men and women who wish to become priests and religious to serve the Church in their communities. The Society trains young men and women in their own country and culture to serve their people as religious sisters, brothers, or priests. Also assisted in their formation and training of those catechists who have been chosen to be teachers and formators of the catechists in their country.