The feast day of St. Jeanne Jugan is celebrated on August 30. She was born in 1792 in a small port town in the region of Brittany, France.
By the age of four her father had died at sea. Her mother struggled to support her and her siblings. She learned to knit and spin wool. Eventually, she worked as a kitchen maid for a wealthy family. Jeanne felt called to serve Christ while still in her teens. She began by working in a local hospital.
At age 25, Jeanne joined the Third Order of St. John Eudes. She worked as a nurse for six years but left for health issues. Her spirituality focused on her devotion to Mary, her desire to be one with the poor and trust in Divine Providence.
Jeanne was sharing an apartment with an older woman and an orphaned younger woman. One day, she met an elderly woman named Anne Chauvin. Anne was blind, partially paralized and had no one to care for her. She carried her home, up the flight of stairs to her apartment. She gave her bed to Anne, deciding to sleep in the Attic. By 1841, she had rented a room to provide housing for a dozen elderly people. The next year, she acquired an unused convent which was able to house 40. Many young women joined her to help. The Community which she formed became known as The Little Sisters of the Poor. Jeanne became known as Sister Mary of the Cross.
An ambitious priest eventually had her forced out of her leadership role and placed in retirement. In retirement, Sister Mary continued to pray for the order which had 2400 members. She was not known to be its foundress. The priest was eventually disciplined and St. Jeanne Jugan acknowledged as the foundress.
St. Jeanne was considered a true friend of the poor. She died in 1829 at the age of 86. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 11, 2009.
What happiness for us, to be a Little Sister of the Poor! Making the poor happy is everything!
Quote of St. Jeanne Jugan
August is the Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary