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Little Sisters of the Poor
Jeanne Jugan founded the Little Sisters of the Poor with a simple, yet dramatic gesture. One winter evening in 1839, in St Servan, France, she opened her heart and home to an elderly blind, paralyzed woman who suddenly found herself alone after the death of her sister. Jeanne carried Anne Chauvan through the streets of the small town, brought her to her apartment and placed her in her bed. Another woman followed and then, a third. The Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor, with its mission of hospitality to the elderly, was born.
Jeanne’s gesture of charity towards the aged answered a pressing need. Her apartment was soon too small to accommodate the growing number of elderly who knocked on her door. Several young women came to assist Jeanne and the group moved from one building to another till they found a suitable home. Jeanne collected from friends and found new benefactors to provide for those in her care and maintain the homes.
Word spread quickly and the work was officially recognized by the church in 1852. On August 27, 1879, the bells tolled in the towers of the Motherhouse La Tour St Joseph. It told the neighbourhood of the return to God of Sister Mary of the Cross – Jeanne Jugan for those who knew her 40 years earlier. Without noise, she has met him whom she “ so greatly longed to see”. Her mission is accomplished. 2,400 Little Sisters had learned to answer God’s call in the service of the aged poor. Jeanne Jugan was declared SAINT by Pope Benedict XVI during a ceremony on October 11,2009 in Rome.