Today is the feast of St. Jeanne Jugan, the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious community of women founded and dedicated to care for the elderly poor.
Jeanne was born in France in 1792, amid the turmoil of the French Revolution. She was the sixth of eight children. When Jeanne was four, her father, a fisherman, was lost at sea. Her mother was left to raise the children on her own – and to secretly catechize them at home, with anti-Catholic persecutions on the rise in France.
Jeanne, like all her siblings, was sent to work at a young age to keep the family afloat. She was a shepherdess, a seamstress, and then a kitchen maid in the home of a devout French noblewoman.
The noblewoman, the Viscountess de la Choue, frequently took Jeanne with her when she’d bring food and care packages to indigent families and ailing poor people. Those visits imbued in Jeanne a sense that she had a call – though she didn’t think any of the religious orders or…