The Little Sisters of the Poor (French: Petites Sœurs des pauvres) is a Roman Catholic religious institute for women. It was founded by Jeanne Jugan. Having felt the need to care for the many impoverished elderly who lined the streets of French towns and cities, Jugan established the congregation to care for the elderly in 1839.
The Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor was founded in Cancale in Brittany in 1839. In 1847, a house was established in Tours, and communities of sisters began to spread across France. In 1851, the work expanded to England.
In 1868, the Little Sisters came to the United States, where they operate twenty-nine homes to care for the elderly poor.
The motherhouse is in Saint-Pern, France. Internationally, the letters following their name are PSDP. In the United States, however, they are LSP. Today the Little Sisters of the Poor serve over 13,000 of the elderly poor in 31 countries around the world (including homes in the United States, Turkey, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Penang, New Zealand, and Philippines), continuing their original purpose of caring for the elderly. As of January 1, 2014, they were one of the larger religious institutes of women in the Catholic Church, with 234 houses and 2,372 members.
Members, per the evangelical counsels, make vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, but also a fourth, hospitality. They believe hospitality perfects the other three by bringing their religious consecration into the realities of everyday life and giving a spiritual dimension to the many humble tasks of hospitality performed throughout the day. They wear traditional habits, either all-white or black with gray veils.
The Sisters continue the tradition of begging, which was set forth by their foundress, Jugan. To provide for the needs of the aged poor, she traveled the roads of France on foot seeking alms. She was recognized by the begging basket she carried. Knocking on doors, she asked for not only money but also for gifts that were needed, such as food, clothing, wood, and wool.
- Zubik v. Burwell — a case before the U.S. Supreme Court on the contraceptive mandate, involving the Little Sisters of the Poor
- Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Almanac 2015. Our Sunday Visitor. 2015. pp. 482–483. ISBN 978-1-61278-830-2.
- Hamedy, Saba. "With health-care lawsuit, the Little Sisters of the Poor step into the spotlight", The Washington Post, January 20, 2014
- "Saint Jeanne Jugan", Catholic News Agency
- Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Almanac 2015. Our Sunday Visitor. 2015. p. 486. ISBN 978-1-61278-830-2.
- Little Sisters of the Poor Archived 2015-02-14 at the Wayback Machine
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Little Sisters of the Poor.|
- Video of the Motherhouse at La Tour Saint Joseph
- Little Sisters of the Poor, national U.S. site
- Little Sisters of the Poor, national UK site
- Thamel, Pete. "From a Gaffe, Some Good for Little Sisters of the Poor", New York Times, September 8, 2011
- Leroy, Alexandre. History of the Little Sisters of the Poor