Saint Jeanne Jugan


Today the Catholic Church honors Saint Jeanne Jugan, the founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Jeanne was born in northern France in 1792 and from a young age felt a calling to serve the elderly poor. In 1839, she welcomed an elderly blind woman into her own home and thus began her mission of caring for the impoverished aged. With the help of other young women who joined her cause, Jeanne established group homes where the elderly could live in community, be cared for, and die with dignity.

Jeanne practiced radical trust in God's providence, often begging for food and resources to support the elderly under her care. She embraced humility and chose not to be recognized as the founder of the order that would eventually spread across the globe. Instead she lived in simplicity and service, finding Christ in the aged and forgotten members of society.

As we remember St. Jeanne Jugan, let us reflect on how we can see and serve Christ in the poor and marginalized around us. Like Jeanne, we are called to radical hospitality, compassion, and trust in God to provide. We can ask St. Jeanne to pray for us, that we may have the courage to step out in faith to care for those in need.

Here are some interesting facts about St. Jeanne Jugan, the saint of the day for August 30:

  • Jeanne was born in northern France during the French Revolution. She grew up during a turbulent time for the Catholic Church.
  • When she was 18, Jeanne became a kitchen maid and nurse for a fellow Catholic woman who had been imprisoned for hiding priests during the Reign of Terror. This planted the early seeds for Jeanne's vocation in service.
  • In 1839, Jeanne took in her first elderly resident, a blind and paralyzed woman named Anne Chauvin. This marked the founding of what would become the Little Sisters of the Poor.
  • Jeanne and the first sisters begged for food and resources to care for the elderly. They relied on the generosity of local villagers and God's providence.
  • The order expanded rapidly, but Jeanne chose to live humbly as a servant rather than be recognized as the founder. Her identity as founder was only discovered after her death.
  • Pope John Paul II beatified Jeanne in 1982 and canonized her in 2009, recognizing her example of humility and service to the aged and infirm.
  • Today over 2,800 Little Sisters of the Poor in 30 countries around the world continue Jeanne's mission of hospitality. They serve the elderly poor in nursing homes, as Jeanne began in 19th century France.