Happy Birthday, St. Jeanne Jugan!
October 25th is a special day for Little Sisters of the Poor. It’s the birthday of our Foundress, Saint Jeanne Jugan. Jeanne was born 229 years ago in Cancale, France, a small fishing village on the west coast of France.
Like many, she endured some hard times. She lost her father, a fisherman, at only four years old. Jeanne grew up during the French Revolution, and worked hard, physical jobs from a young age to help her mother support the family. But from the beginning, and throughout her struggles, religion and faith were important parts of her life. Her mother helped instill them by providing religious instruction to her and her siblings in secret during the anti-Catholic persecutions of that time.
Jeanne always seemed to know that she would spend her life doing God’s work, even if she didn’t know exactly how. At 18 years old, and again a few years later, she declined a marriage proposal, telling her mother, “God is saving me for a work which is not yet founded.”
Finally, at age 47, she discovered her calling in an elderly woman she encountered on the street, who was blind, partially paralyzed, and alone with no one to care for her. Jeanne took the woman to her home and placed her in her own bed. This was the beginning of many more elderly residents and many other women who joined her as Little Sisters of the Poor – an order that eventually spread and opened homes around the world.
We are grateful for our beloved foundress, who gave us our vocations, and who we look to as an example of a life lived in loving service of Christ through the elderly. Happy Birthday dear Jeanne!