Early history

Our origins and legacy
St. Vincent de Paul & St. Louise de Marillac

In 1633, the Daughters of Charity were founded in Paris, France, by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac. Deeply concerned with the poverty and suffering surrounding them, they brought together a group of young women who shared their dedication of helping the poor and the sick. These first twelve peasant girls were unlike other Sisters at the time in terms of both social and economic status and their desire to live and work among those in need. This challenged conventions when Sisters predominantly lived cloistered lives with less interaction with individuals suffering in the streets.On the eve of St. Andrew’s Feast, they bound themselves to Christ with simple vows that were to be reaffirmed annually. St. Vincent de Paul wrote:

“The Daughters of Charity have… for a convent, the houses of the sick; for cell, a rented room; for chapel, the parish church; for cloister, the streets of the city; for enclosure, obedience; for grille, the fear of God; and for veil, holy modesty.”Seeing the marvelous work of the sisters the people began to call them Daughters of CharityWorking as a young group of Sisters, the newly formed Daughters of Charity set up soup kitchens, organized community hospitals, established schools and homes for orphaned children, offered job training, taught the young to read and write, and improved prison conditions.

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