Our origins and legacy
On 29th November 1633, the Company of Daughters of Charity was 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.
St. Vincent originally established in Paris and in nearly every place where he worked congregations of charity among the wealthy women who wished to help the poor. Eventually, peasant girls were gathered to assist the Confraternities of charity, and they were entrusted to the care of St. Louise de Marillac. This group developed into the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. At first dedicated to nursing the poor in their homes, the sisters almost immediately undertook the teaching of poor children and the running of hospitals, and gradually they became involved in every form of charitable work. Their services during various wars in many countries earned them the title Angels of the Battlefield. Their provinces all over the world are subject to the motherhouse in Paris, which is under the Leadership of the superioress general of the Daughters of Charity .