Aid for the Wounded (Sister of Charity), by Alexandre-Marie Guillemin, c. 1865. Walters Art Museum.

Many religious communities have the term Sisters of Charity in their name. Some Sisters of Charity communities refer to the Vincentian tradition alone, or in America to the tradition of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (whose sisters are also of the Vincentian tradition), but others are unrelated. The rule of Vincent de Paul for the Daughters of Charity has been adopted and adapted by at least sixty founders of religious institutes for sisters around the world.

Vincentian-Setonian tradition

St. Vincent von Paul by Gabriel von Hackl

In 1633, Vincent de Paul, a French priest and Louise de Marillac, a widow, established the Company of the Daughters of Charity as a group of women dedicated to serving the "poorest of the poor". They set up soup kitchens, organized community hospitals, established schools and homes for orphaned children, offered job training, taught the young to read and write, and improved prison conditions. Louise de Marillac and Vincent de Paul both died in 1660, and by this time there were more than forty houses of the Daughters of Charity in France, and the sick poor were cared for in their own dwellings in twenty-six parishes in Paris. The French Revolution shut down all convents, but the society was restored in 1801 and eventually spread to Austria, Australia,[1] Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Portugal, Turkey, Britain and the Americas.[2]

In 1809, the American Elizabeth Ann Seton founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, adapting the rule of the French Daughters of Charity for her Emmitsburg, Maryland, community.

Sr. Anthony O'Connell (1897), US Civil War nurse

In 1817, Mother Seton sent three Sisters to New York City to establish an orphanage.[3] In 1829, four Sisters of Charity from Emmitsburg, Maryland, traveled to Cincinnati, to open St. Peter’s Girl’s Orphan Asylum and School.[4] In 1850, the Sulpician priests of Baltimore successfully negotiated that the Emmitsburg community be united with the international community based in Paris. The foundations in New York and Cincinnati decided to become independent diocesan congregations. Six separate religious congregations trace their roots to the beginnings of the Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg. In addition to the original community of Sisters at Emmitsburg (now part of the Vincentian order), they are based in New York City; Cincinnati, Ohio; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Convent Station, New Jersey; and Greensburg, Pennsylvania.[citation needed]

In 2011, the Daughters of Charity established The Province of St. Louise, bringing together the West Central, East Central, Southeast, and Northeast Provinces of the United States.[5] Los Altos Hills in California remains a separate province.[6]

List of affiliates

Sisters of Charity Federation in the Vincentian-Setonian Tradition:

Paris, France

The most famous convent is at 140 Rue du Bac in Paris, France, Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal founded in 1633 by Vincent de Paul. This was where Catholics believe Sister Catherine Labouré later received the vision of Immaculate Mary on the eve of St. Vincent's feast day in 1830, as well as the dispensation of the Miraculous Medal.

Other traditions

Many other groups called Sisters of Charity have also founded and operate educational institutions, hospitals and orphanages:

A Sister of Charity of Jesus and Mary (ca. 1900)

Irish Sisters

The Religious Sisters of Charity (or Irish Sisters of Charity), founded by Mary Aikenhead in 1815, were one of the orders involved in the controversial Magdalene laundries.[15][16]


  1. ^ M. Dunstan, The Sisters of Charity in Australia, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society, 1 (1) (1954), 17-29.
  2. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul".
  3. ^ "Our History". June 18, 2014.
  4. ^ Schwab, Sarah. "Schools: An Irish Education", The Irish in Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati
  5. ^ "Province of St. Louise". Daughters of Charity Province of St. Louise. May 18, 2012.
  6. ^ Cassidy, Al. "HOME".
  7. ^ "Our Legacy". Daughters of Charity Province of St. Louise. June 14, 2012.
  8. ^ "Sisters of Charity of New York". Archived from the original on September 2, 2013.
  9. ^ "Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth". Archived from the original on December 25, 2013.
  10. ^ "Sisters of Charity".
  11. ^ "Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth".
  12. ^ "Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine". Sisters of Charity Health System.
  13. ^ "Home". Sisters of Charity.
  14. ^ "Sisters of Charity of Saints Bartolomea Capitanio and Vincenza Gerosa". Archived from the original on January 2, 2014.
  15. ^ "Sisters who ran Magdalene laundries are being treated unjustly". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2017-03-08.
  16. ^ Reilly, Gavan. "Religious orders offer apology for abuse in Magdalene Laundries". Retrieved 2017-03-08.