Pope Francis has established the global network that promotes his monthly prayer intentions as a Vatican body.

The Holy See press office announced Dec. 3 that he had elevated the status of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer, through a papal decree called a chirograph, issued Nov. 17.

The pope decreed that the network, founded in France in 1844  and focused on the spirituality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, would now be a papal institution based at the Vatican. It will be known as the “Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network” Vatican Foundation.

Introducing the change, he said that he had taken the step “with the purpose of coordinating and inspiring this spiritual movement so dear to me, providing it with a structure adequate to the times in which we live.”

He noted that in 2018 he had instituted the network as a pontifical society “to underscore the universal nature of this apostleship and the need we all have to pray more, and with heartfelt sincerity.”

The network, founded by Fr. François-Xavier Gautrelet, S.J., in the southern French town of Vals, will continue to be run by the Jesuit order. Fr. Frédéric Fornos, S.J, who has led the organization since 2016, will be the foundation’s international director.

Under Fornos, the network has undergone significant modernization. It now promotes the pope’s monthly prayer intentions through slickly produced videos. Last month, it helped to generate worldwide media attention for the pope’s prayer intention regarding robotics and artificial intelligence.

It also brings together Catholics across the world in prayer through its “Click to Pray” app.

The Vatican publicized the change in the network’s status on Thursday, the feast of St. Francis Xavier, the intrepid 16th-century Spanish missionary and the group’s patron saint.

In 2019, the pope addressed 6,000 members of the network on the 175th anniversary of its founding.

“To enter into prayer is to enter with my heart into the heart of Jesus, to make a way inside the heart of Jesus, what Jesus feels, the feelings of compassion of Jesus, and also to make a journey inside my heart to change my heart in this relationship with the heart of Jesus,” he said.