Secular Institutes were formally recognized by Pope Pius XII as a form of consecrated life in the church by the Promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution Provida Mater Ecclesia on 2nd February, 1947. One year later, on 12th March 1948, the motu proprio Primo Feliciter more clearly expressed the uniqueness of the Institutes’ character and their role as Christian leaven in the world. Immediately after, on 19th March 1948, the Instruction Cum Sanctissimus further developed points particularly from Provida Mater Ecclesia. Later, Perfecte Caritatis (11), Christifideles Laici (56), Vita Consecrata (10), and various discourses of Popes clarified the vocation of Secular Institutes.
The New Code of Canon Law defines Secular Institute as, “An institute of consecrated life in which Christ’s faithful, being in the world, strive for the perfection of charity and endeavour to contribute to the sanctification of the world especially from within,” (CC. 710)