Little Sisters of the Poor

Caring for the Elderly - Inspired by our Faith


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Important Dates in the Life of Jeanne Jugan

Jeanne Jugan (1792 - 1879) – Sister Mary of the Cross
Foundress of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor


Maison Natale - birthplace of Jeanne Jugan. October 25, 1792 Birth of Jeanne in Cancale (Ille-et-Vilaine, France). Sixth child of Joseph Joucan and Marie Horel.

April 1796 Her father is lost at sea.

1810 Jeanne works as a kitchen aide for the Viscountess de la Chouë in St. Coulomb, near Cancale.

1816 A mission was preached in Cancale. Jeanne followed all the spiritual exercises.
Jeanne definitively turns down a marriage proposal from a sailor of Cancale. She tells her mother, “God wants me for himself. He is keeping me for a work which is not known…”

1817 Jeanne leaves Cancale for Saint Servan to work in Le Rosais Hospital as a nurse’s aide.
Jeanne turns twenty-five. Around this time, she enters the Third Order of the Admirable Mother, founded in the 17th century by Saint John Eudes.

1823 Exhaustion forces her to leave Le Rosais Hospital. She is welcomed into the home of Miss Lecoq in Saint Servan, more as a friend than as a maid. Together the two women visit the many poor people in the town.

June 27, 1835 Death of Miss Lecoq. Jeanne works part time for some well-to-do families in the area.

1837-1838 With one of her friends, Françoise Aubert, Jeanne rents an apartment on the 2nd floor of a house of No. 2 rue du Centre, in Saint Servan.

Winter 1839 In agreement with her two companions, Françoise Aubert and Virginie Trédaniel, Jeanne takes in a blind and infirm elderly woman named Anne Chauvin. She gives up her own bed and goes up to the attic to sleep. A second person is taken in shortly afterwards.
Virginie Trédaniel and a friend, Marie Jamet, assist Jeanne in her hospitaller work. This is the humble beginning of a great work. Jeanne is 47 years old.

December 1840 Madeleine Bourges, a sick young working girl, comes to be cared for by Jeanne. Having recovered, she joins Virginie and Marie.

October 1, 1841 Jeanne and her companions, with their guests, leave the apartment on the Rue du Centre for more spacious accommodations in a ground-floor flat in the Rue de La Fontaine.

1841-1842 With the support and advice of the Brothers of St. John of God, Jeanne starts collecting.

February 2, 1842 Requests for admission from the elderly constantly increase. Acquisition of the former convent of the Daughters of the Cross in Saint Servan.

May 29, 1842 Jeanne is elected Superior of the small association, in the presence of Father Le Pailleur, assistant priest of the parish of Saint Servan. A hospitaller Rule is drawn up. The name “Servants of the Poor” is adopted.

October 1842 Marie Jamet leaves home to join the small association, bringing up to four the number of the “Servants of the Poor.”

November 21, 1842 Jeanne and Marie make a private vow of obedience for one year.

December 8, 1842 Virginie and Madeleine make it in their turn.

December 8, 1843 Jeanne is re-elected as Superior.

December 23, 1843 Father Le Pailleur, on his own authority, annuls the election and names Marie Jamet to replace her.

February 4, 1844 The “Servants of the Poor” change their name to “Sisters of the Poor.”

December 11, 1845 Jeanne is awarded the Montyon Prize by the French Academy for her work.

1846 Jeanne collects in Rennes, where a house is founded.
Jeanne goes to Dinan, where she opens a third house. Visit from Charles Dickens. Jeanne Jugan is commended several times by the press in Rennes and Dinan.

1847 Upon the request of Mr. Dupont, “the holy man of Tours,” the Sisters arrive in Tours.
First General Chapter of the “Sisters of the Poor” in Saint Servan. Jeanne is not invited.

September 13, 1848 An article by Louis Veuillot on Jeanne’s work appears on the front page of L’Univers.

1848 The Motherhouse and novitiate are established in Tours.

February 10, 1849 Jeanne arrives in Tours. Around that time, the popular name “Little Sisters of the Poor” is definitively adopted.

April 3, 1850 Jeanne founds a house in Angers. The Little Sisters number over one hundred, including novices and postulants.

May 29, 1852 Diocesan approbation of the Institute by Bishop Brossais Saint-Marc, Bishop of Rennes.

1852 The Motherhouse and novitiate return to Rennes. Jeanne is also recalled to Rennes. She is to cease all activity and break all sustained contact with benefactors. It is the beginning of her long retirement…

1856 On January 30, the estate of La Tour in the village of Saint Pern (Ille-et-Vilaine) is acquired. The Motherhouse and novitiate move there in early April. Jeanne goes as well. Relegated to living among the novices and postulants, she shares their life until her death.

March 1, 1879 Pope Leo XIII approves the Constitutions of the Congregation, now numbering 2,400 Little Sisters, for a period of seven years.

August 29, 1879 Death of Jeanne Jugan, aged 86, at La Tour Saint Joseph.

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