Saint John Eudes recognized the pressing need for contributing to the reform of the clergy, and founding a seminary at Caen appeared to him as indispensable. To do so, he left the Oratory founded by Cardinal de Berulle. On March 25, 1643, with a some diocesan priests, he founded a congregation dedicated to the spiritual and doctrinal formation of priests and candidates to priesthood, while pursuing the work of parish missions. Thus, the Congregation of Jesus and Mary was born.
During the lifetime of Father Eudes, the congregation founded seminaries at Caen (1643), Coutances (1650), Lisieux (1653), Rouen (1658), Evreux (1667), and Rennes (1670). These were all "grand" or "major"seminaries; Father Eudes never thought of founding any other. He admitted, however, besides clerical students, priests with newly granted benefices who came for further studies, those who wished to make retreats, and even lay students who followed the courses of the Faculty of Theology.
After the death of its founder, the Congregation continued to develop. On the eve of the French Revolution (1789), the Eudists were directing some fifteen seminaries as well as a few colleges and parishes.
The new revolutionary government closed all the religious houses and curtailed the liberty of priests and religious, among them the Eudists Fathers. Four of them, including François-Louis Hébert, coadjutor to the Superior General, were martyred in Paris and beatified in 1926.
Slowly and with great difficulty, the Congregation was restored in 1826 by one of its former members, Father Pierre Blanchard. The Eudists then concentrated their efforts on the urgent task of providing Christian education in colleges. From 1883 on, the opening of several seminaries in Colombia made it possible for them to resume the traditional work of their society. In 1890, they settled in Canada.
By 1984, the Congregation was present in eight countries with its members assigned to four provinces, namely: the French Province (France, Ivory Coast, Bénin), the Colombian Province (Colombia, Ecuador), the North American Province (Canada, United States) and the Venezuelan Province.
In 2005 the Congregation opened its first community in Asia in Tagaytay City, Philippines. With the opening of the mission in the Philippines the little Congregation is now present in five continents.