The Passionists are a religious order with a distinctive message: they see the phenomenon of human suffering as a timeless echo of Christ's Passion and crucifixion on the cross. To a Passionist, the experience of suffering is the means in which one bonds with God; reaching out to another person gripped by pain is the same as reaching out to Jesus Himself. Both priests and followers alike are encouraged to see Christ's face in all who suffer, and strive to help those who are "crucified" by sorrows, sickness, grief, intolerance, and social injustice.
The order was founded in 1720 by St. Paul of the Cross (Paolo Francesco Danei, 1694-1775). It was his lifelong conviction that God's presence is most easily found in the Passion. He devoted his life to spreading this message and founding a community whose members would follow the same creed.
The Passionists are "active contemplatives," meaning that they creatively intertwine a schedule of spiritual contemplation with pastoral and missionary pursuits. At present, there are over 2,000 members serving in 59 countries worldwide.