Vincentian Family Genealogy

From VincentWiki

Genealogical Development of the Vincentian Family

by Betty Ann McNeil, D.C.

Since 1617 the extended Vincentian Family has grown to include several hundred diverse groups of women and men, laity and religious, Catholic and non-Catholic. Such a record testifies to the ongoing impact of the extraordinary life of a single individual whose 400th anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood will be commemorated in the year 2000. This anniversary serves to remind us once again about the outstanding legacy of charity and evangelization that Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) bequeathed to his spiritual progeny.
A majestic family tree has developed because his mission, spirit and rule have been adapted to many cultures since emerging in seventeenth-century France. Its largest branches bear communities with which Saint Vincent himself was personally involved, those under his patronage, or those founded by members of his own communities. Another large limb supports the numerous congregations that follow the foundational Common Rule of the Daughters of Charity which evolved through Vincent's collaboration with Louise de Marillac (1591-1660) for more than thirty years. Other large limbs on the family tree bear communities that also share Vincent's mission of serving Jesus Christ in the poor in a spirit of humility, simplicity, and charity.


The Vincentian Studies Institute, dedicated to promoting a living interest in the Vincentian heritage, recommended that research be conducted to document and trace the historical development of the extended Vincentian family around the globe from a genealogical perspective. This ground-breaking effort resulted in the Family Tree Project and its findings, The Vincentian Family Tree, which provides valuable information for further research.
The Family Tree Project used numerous criteria to distinguish groups within the extended Vincentian Family. A multi-level approach categorized criteria that illustrate the degree of relationship to the historical Vincent de Paul and the prototypical foundations he made. This genealogical study, this project examined Catholic and non-Catholic groups including religious congregations, societies of apostolic life, and lay associations for men and women in order to identify entities which might claim kinship to Vincent de Paul.
The classification groupings used by Reverend Raymond Chalumeau, C.M., furnished the initial framework for developing criteria for this project. However, more criteria were required, as well as factors to delineate the degree of affinity of the relationship. From a genealogical perspective, affiliation with establishments made by Vincent de Paul himself and his Common Rules represent the closest relationship, whereas foundations made by members of his communities are related to a lesser degree.


Research simply went from the known to the unknown. Initially, existing information was located, organized and recorded by reviewing the few national listings of Vincentian communities that have been published in Europe, most notably for France, Spain and Italy. However, no single comprehensive list had ever been compiled from an international perspective until The Vincentian Family Tree was published.
Research methodology included an international survey, as well as extensive consultation with Vincentian scholars, individual religious, and Conferences of Major Superiors. A survey instrument collected basic identifying data and historical details related to specific criteria. Respondents were also invited to provide reference information about other prospective communities that should be contacted.
The survey, written in English, contained a two page questionnaire, cover letter, return self-addressed envelope, and referral form for identifying prospective communities. The entire package was translated into French, Spanish, Italian and German.
A tiered approach to data collection was employed that involved both historical and collateral research. Communities that might have potential kinship were identified in resource publications (such as the National Catholic Directory, The New Catholic Encyclopedia, Annuario Pontificio, and Dizionario degli Istituti di Perfezione) based on congregational title (for example, inclusion of the words Vincent de Paul or Charity), place of origin, similarity of mission and/or spirit, and by using referral information provided by survey respondents.
Data management allowed for analysis by key variables. The working draft organized the data first by country of origin, then by a coded identification number reflecting affinity, criteria, country of origin, and year of foundation. A secondary sorting by each criterion also allowed for alphabetization of the official congregational title. An identification code illustrates whether the community remains essentially unchanged since its foundation, has separated from a parent community, or has generated branches that later became autonomous. The code also shows whether the original community has combined with another community in any manner (merger, union, etc.). Another coding factor identifies those communities currently belonging to a federation, such as the Vincentian Federation (Föderation Vincentinischer Gemeinschaften) in Germany or the Sisters of Charity Federation (formerly the Elizabeth Seton Federation) in the United States. In order to manage and retrieve data effectively, each community is cross-referenced. The final report is illustrated and has an extensive index.

International Survey

Data was accepted through March 1995 when analysis began. Through collateral research, the project consulted with approximately fifty individuals (foreign missionaries, Vincentian scholars, past or present congregational leaders). Provincials and regional superiors of the Daughters of Charity and sixty-five of the approximately 170 Conferences of Major Superiors throughout the world were contacted to request assistance in identifying diocesan communities.
In January 1993 the English survey was tested within North America. Six months later a linguistically appropriate survey package was sent internationally to the prospective communities which had been identified through historical and collateral research. One hundred thirty-seven communities in Africa, America (Central, North, and South), Asia, Australasia, and Europe were surveyed with approximately a 90% response rate. In some instances, the founder personally completed the questionnaire!
The Conference of Major Superiors for Women Religious in Germany translated the survey into German and their counterpart in Great Britain also distributed it with their newsletter. Such generosity made it possible to identify additional diocesan communities not listed in the Annuario Pontificio which only includes congregations of pontifical right. Many interesting comments also served as leads for further contacts. These included: "I met a confrère when I was in Africa, and he told me about some sisters in Tanzania who followed Vincent de Paul's rule." "I met a group of sisters in Mexico called `Daughters of Charity,' yet I don't think they belonged to the community at rue du Bac."


The Family Tree Project identified 268 societies of apostolic life and institutes of consecrated life that included 239 institutes, twenty-one lay associations, and eight Anglican congregations, that met at least one criterion of the Family Tree Project.
Almost half of the institutes met more than one criterion and could fall into several categories. Fifteen institutes also claim the spirit of humility, simplicity, and charity, besides having had a Daughter of Charity or a priest of the Congregation of the Mission as their founder. Other than those institutes whose primary claim to Saint Vincent is their adaptation of his Common Rules, thirty additional institutes also follow the Common Rules of Saint Vincent. Service of the poor was the founding charism of another seventy institutes of which thirteen make specific reference to serving the sick poor and eight have a fourth vow of service to the poor.
In order to structure the classification system for this study, one criterion was designated as having precedence for selection purposes. This report summarizes all available information about each group and classifies it only once according to the degree of affinity closest to Saint Vincent. However, a separate category distinguishes communities whose founders were or had ever been, members themselves of the Daughters of Charity or Congregation of the Mission.
The report shows that ninety-nine founders designated Vincent de Paul as patron of their institute, and that seventy-nine founders chose or adapted the Common Rules of the Daughters of Charity for their new establishment. Dozens of members of Saint Vincent's own communities have themselves become founders. The following summarizes the findings for each criterion:
  • Fifty institutes, seven Anglican congregations and one secular institute adopted the Common Rules of Vincent de Paul or substantially incorporated its major principles into their rule.
  • Saint Vincent was mentor, advisor, or involved in another way for nine institutes.
  • Nineteen institutes and two lay associations were established by members, or former members, of the Company of the Daughters of Charity.
  • Three institutes were established by lay members of the Vincentian family.
  • The Daughters of Charity or the Vincentians were mentors during the establishment of four institutes and three associations.
  • Ninety-nine institutes and one lay association have Vincent de Paul as one of their patrons.
  • Six institutes have adapted the Vincentian charism of evangelization and service of the poor but with a unique emphasis.
  • Seven institutes and one lay association are related but in another manner.
  • Twenty-six institutes need further research.

Common Rules of the Daughters of Charity

The fifty communities which use or adapted what is popularly known as the rule of Saint Vincent, in many instances, have Vincent de Paul as their patron and may have also been founded by a member of the Congregation of the Mission or Daughters of Charity. This highlights the most frequent example of how an institute could satisfy more than one criterion. On the basis of available information, a total of eighty Roman Catholic institutes substantially follow the Common Rules of the Daughters of Charity, of which twenty-seven were founded by either a Daughter of Charity or a member of the Congregation of the Mission.
Before Vatican II and the 1983 Code of Canon Law some institutes became affiliated to the Daughters of Charity or to the Congregation of the Mission through non-juridical ties of a spiritual nature. This type of affiliation to the Company constituted a spiritual sharing in the suffrages, indulgences, prayers, and merits of all the members of the Congregation of the Mission. Several institutes obtained this privilege: the Daughters of Charity under the Patronage of Padre Filippone (1727, Italy); the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (1816, France); the Institute of the Nazarene (1865, Italy); the Sisters of the Eucharist (1889, Greece); and the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of Paderborn (1841, Germany); Sisters, Servants of the Poor (1880, Italy); and the Missionaries, Servants of the Poor (1887, Italy). The Little Sisters of the Miraculous Medal (1892, France) were affiliated with the Association of the Miraculous Medal in Paris. The affiliation in 1994 of the communities belonging to the Vincentian Federation in Germany is the most recent example.

Union with Paris

In 1850, not one, but two communities united with the Daughters of Charity. These were the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's founded in 1809 by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821, canonized 1975) at Emmitsburg, Maryland in the United States and the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul founded in 1841 at Graz, Austria, during the episcopacy of Romanus Francis Xavier Sebastian Zängerle, O.S.B., bishop of Graz (1824-1848). Subsequently other communities united with the Parisian Daughters of Charity in addition to the above, including: the Sister Nurses of Châlons-sur-Marne (1856); the Sisters of Charity of Salzburg (1882); and the Sisters of Saint Anne from Villiers-sur-Marne and Ormesson (1941); Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate (1963); the Marienschwestern or Little Sisters of Mary of the Miraculous Medal (1964).
Prior to the election of Very Reverend Jean Baptiste Étienne, C.M., (superior general, 1843-1874) there seems to have been some reluctance to other communities uniting with the Daughters of Charity of Paris. For example, a community in Vienna was established at the request of Empress Caroline Augusta of Austria because of an urgent need for religious women to nurse the sick in their homes. Unable to arrange for religious formation of candidates by the French Daughters of Charity, but desiring to make a foundation based on Saint Vincent's Common Rules of the Daughters of Charity, the empress obtained a copy of the rule of Vincent from an institute of Sisters of Charity in Galicia that had originated in Warsaw (1652, Poland) from an establishment made by Saint Vincent and Saint Louise themselves.

Geographic Origin

The institutes studied by this project developed throughout the world: 75% in Europe, primarily Western Europe (193); 13.5 % in America, primarily North America (22) and Central America (10); 9.32% in Asia; 1.8% in Africa, and .4% in Australasia.
Although many bishops requested Daughters of Charity for their dioceses, the Company was frequently unable to fulfill their requests. Needing personnel, many bishops collaborated among themselves to establish diocesan communities, using or adapting the Vincentian model. Many uncertified copies of the rule of Vincent were informally circulated, especially among bishops, to meet urgent apostolic needs that spawned replications of Saint Vincent's daughters in many different places.
This development coincides with the revolutionary era at the dawn of the eighteenth-century, which destroyed religious life throughout most of Catholic Europe. A renaissance followed during the nineteenth century. In addition, exploration and colonization by Europeans initiated a flow of peoples to new lands, transplanting cultures, and creating new evangelistic needs throughout the globe. Subsequently, European missionaries realized how essential native vocations were for effective evangelization.

Missionary Evangelization

Louise de Marillac and Vincent de Paul themselves sent their sons and daughters as missionaries into Poland, Ireland, and Madagascar where native communities were subsequently established. These include the Sisters of the Holy Faith (Ireland, 1867), the Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate (Madagascar, 1934), and others.
Reverend Vincent Lebbe, C.M., for example, a Belgian missionary in China early in the twentieth century, promoted ways to bridge cultural and linguistic gaps. Lebbe persistently advocated inculturation of the gospel by European missionaries, especially by the development of native clergy and religious. Lebbe created the Congregation of Saint John the Baptist (1928, China) and the Little Sisters of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus (1929, China). These congregations provided indigenous clergy that preserved the faith in China despite Communism.
In America, the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of Satu-Mare (1842, Romania) established a mission in the United States that became two diocesan congregations: the Vincentian Sisters of Charity (1902, Pittsburgh; 1928, Bedford). Reverend José Vilaseca, C.M., founded the Hermanos Josefinos (1872) and the Hermanas Josefinas (1877), in order to fill the gap left by foreign clergy and religious expelled from Mexico.
Other establishments according to the Vincentian charism in missionary areas include the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (1901, China); Daughters of the Sacred Heart (1914, China); Daughters of Saint Anne of Kanchow (1920, China); the Vincentian Congregation (1927, India); the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Mercy (1961, Nigeria); the Missionary Sisters of the Poor of Christ (1978, Philippines); the Missionary Sisters of the Presentation (1987, El Salvador), and others now serving courageously in the Church of Silence.

Date of Foundation

Many factors influenced the early growth and rapid expansion of Vincent de Paul's foundations. Primarily, the originality of the rule he gave to his Daughters of Charity had great appeal to others. In 1646 Saint Vincent first submitted it for approval to Jean François de Gondi, archbishop of Paris (1654-1662). This primitive document resulted from thirteen years of lived experience by the early sisters of the Confraternity of Charity of the Servants of the Sick Poor in the Parishes. In collaboration with Saint Louise de Marillac, whom he called Mademoiselle Le Gras, Saint Vincent addressed the social and religious realities of seventeenth-century France in this early version of his rule.
The Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul evolved from the parish based Confraternity of Charity model. As a prototype of rules for apostolic women, its rule not only represented a revolutionary change from the status quo but was Spirit inspired and, therefore, lasting. Although not the first to try such an initiative, Saint Vincent and Saint Louise were the first to succeed on a large scale. Many influences have produced the leaven of charity that forms the extended Vincentian Family in today's world. Among these, the Common Rules of Vincent de Paul have played the most prominent role.
Many bishops both in and beyond France soon adopted the rules and model of apostolic service of Saint Vincent and adapted them to meet pastoral needs within their diocese. Simultaneously, sisterhoods were needed to assure continuance of new schools that were then emerging, especially for little girls. This introduced another step forward for apostolic women.

The Vincentian Mission over the Centuries

The face of human poverty began to change in the seventeenth-century requiring new models of response. Urban misery escalated while France generally continued to ignore rural poverty. Capitalism developed in the midst of cultural renaissance, religious reformation and the growth of Protestantism. Much of Europe looked across the seas to new opportunities.
This study identified approximately 100 communities that have Vincent de Paul as congregational patron. Belgium alone has had more than fifty diocesan communities known as the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul. Sons and daughters of Vincent de Paul's own foundations established approximately sixty distinct communities in at least nine countries throughout the globe, with one-third of these located in China. Approximately forty founders either adapted the Common Rules of Vincent de Paul or adopted them for their institute since 1660 when Louise de Marillac and Vincent de Paul both died. A few examples of these communities from several centuries include the Daughters of Charity of the Most Holy Annunciation of Ivrea (1744, Italy), the Anglican Society of the Sacred Mission, (1894, Great Britain), the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha (1869, Cuba), the Sisters of Providence of Holyoke, Massachusetts (1892, USA), and the Institute of Charity (1924, Brazil).

Eighteenth Century

Europe set its sights to explore, colonize, and gain wealth in Africa, Asia, and America. In 1743 less than ten years after his canonization, Saint Vincent de Paul Church at Laval in Quebec became the first parish in the world named after the great apostle of charity.
The urbanization of poverty escalated in Europe as land transportation improved. As early as 1727 in Sicily, the Daughters of Charity under the patronage of Reverend Nicholas Placid Filippone claimed Vincent de Paul as patron for their institute at Palermo, which cared for the sick, orphans and widows. This institute may have been the first to do so outside France.
Confronted with the cross-cultural challenges inherent in evangelization, missionaries frequently gathered indigenous young women to assist them on foreign missions, usually forming them according to Saint Vincent's model. Vincentian missionaries in China established several diocesan institutes in this way, beginning as early as 1750 when the Chinese Daughters of Charity of Tonkin (Chungqing) were founded. This community has the distinction of being the first community founded outside of Europe.
A combination of factors, including revolutions, higher birth rates, internal migration, and urbanization contributed to massive immigration to new lands on foreign shores, and also urgent social needs. Many bishops throughout Europe sought to reproduce the Vincentian model in their dioceses. This resulted in the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of Trecate (1733, Italy), the Sisters of Charity of Strasbourg (1734, France), the Sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul of Rumbeke (1756, Belgium), the Hospitaller Sisterhood of the Holy Cross (1790, Spain), and the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of Majorca (1798, Spain).

Nineteenth Century

The French Revolution, which began in 1789, ultimately caused communities to disperse and many of their members to migrate elsewhere. Many continued the Vincentian tradition and embodied it in new institutes and lay groups. Examples included the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joan Antida (1799, Besançon), and diocesan communities in Austria and Germany known as Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul founded at Zams (1823), Munich (1832), Innsbruck (1839), Mainz (1839), Graz (1841), Paderborn (1841), and Freiburg (1846). The sphere of Vincentian influence widened and a ripple effect occurred.
The success of Vincent de Paul's parochial charities and the viability of his non-cloistered apostolic communities provided timely models for responding to pressing social needs among the poor and the emerging middle class. Sister Rosalie Rendu, D.C., (1786-1856), introduced Blessed Frederic Ozanam (1813-1853) to practical charity and became his mentor. This relationship played an important role in his founding the International Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (1833, France) which involved the laity in effective parish outreach to the poor.
European immigration brought an appreciation of the Vincentian mission across the Atlantic Ocean. This, with the impact of exploration and colonization in the Americas, were factors influencing Reverend Louis William Valentine Dubourg, S.S., (1766-1833), to invite the widow Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (1774-1821) to Baltimore (1808) to establish a Catholic school for girls and later a sisterhood (1809). In 1816, as bishop of Louisiana (1815-1826), Dubourg also invited Reverend Felix de Andreis, C.M., (1778-1820), and Reverend Joseph Rosati, C.M., (1789-1843), (first bishop of Saint Louis, Missouri 1827-1843) to initiate the first Vincentian mission in North America.
The French Sulpicians befriended Elizabeth Ann Seton, who became the first native born person to be canonized in the United States. The Sulpicians were instrumental in obtaining the rule of Vincent de Paul for the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's, the first religious institute of women founded in the United States (Emmitsburg, 1809). Several other communities in North America (also called Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul) developed from the Emmitsburg foundation. These were established at New York, New York (1846), Cincinnati, Ohio (1852), Convent Station, New Jersey (1859), Greensburg, Pennsylvania (1870), and Halifax in Canada (1856). The Religious of Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur (1924, Canada) developed from the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception (1854, Canada). These institutes now form the Sisters of Charity Federation that began in 1947 as a collaborative effort to promote the Seton cause for canonization. Today these communities and others sharing the Vincentian charism are united in ongoing projects that further the mission of the Company of Charity.

Twentieth Century

Two world wars, economic crises, communism, nazism and fascism brought a new level of complexity to human needs within the global village. The cries of today's poor peoples continue to inspire new initiatives on their behalf. Among the newest institutional branches of Vincentian charity are the Sons of Charity (1918, France) dedicated to serving the poor; the Missionary Catechists (1950, Panama) who do pastoral ministry and catechesis in Panama; the Missionaries of Mary Immaculate and Servants of Workers (1952, Spain) who evangelize working youth and young adults. The Church's thrust of mission ad gentes has given additional emphasis to evangelization, and thereby new seeds of religious life have budded in different lands, including Nigeria, El Salvador, and the Church of silence. Seventeen new foundations have been made throughout the world since the Vatican II.

Family Groups

Several family groups are especially noteworthy within the extended Vincentian Family. Among the oldest, is the Strasbourg line emanating from the Sisters of Charity of Strasbourg (1734, France) whose spiritual descendants (dispersed during the French Revolution) now comprise the Vincentian Federation in Germany, united under the patronage of Vincent de Paul. The Sisters of Charity of Graz (1841, Austria) sprang from the Strasbourg root through a branch at Munich and later united to the French Daughters of Charity in 1850. Sister Leopoldine Brandis, D.C. (1815-1900), became their first visitatrix (provincial) and in 1878 founded a lay group of visiting nurses to assist the sick that developed into the Marienschwestern, a community of women religious (also known as Sisters of Mary of the Miraculous Medal). In 1964 Mother Suzanne Guillemin, D.C., superioress general, received seventy-nine sisters from the Austrian province of the Marienschwestern community into the Daughters of Charity of Paris.
After reading a biography of Vincent de Paul, Bishop Clemens Droste zu Vischering was so inspired that he founded the Sisters of Mercy of Münster (1808, Germany) to serve the poor, sick, and needy. The bishop incorporated Vincentian concepts in the rule he compiled. That rule became the model for other founders, especially Bishop Joannes Zwijsen who instituted several communities in Holland from this root. Peter Joseph Triest wanted to replicate the spirit of Vincent de Paul, so he initiated three congregations in Belgium to serve the poor.
Seeking to preserve the faith among Catholic peoples by engendering a missionary spirit within the faithful, the family of Trinitarians (USA) established by Reverend Thomas A. Judge, C.M., includes: the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate (1909, New York); the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity (1912, Philadelphia); the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity (1929, Mobile); and a recent lay branch, the Blessed Trinity Missionary Institute (1964, New York).
Several other founders either had a relationship with the Vincentian family when establishing their own congregations or selected various elements of the Vincentian mission and charism for adaptation in their new institutes. Such examples can be found in the institutes of these founders: Saint Louise Grignion de Montfort and Blessed Marie Louise Trichet, Saint Paul of the Cross, Saint Gaspare de Bufalo, Saint Charles Joseph Eugène Mazenod, Saint John Bosco and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Ecumenism and Vincentian Mission

The ecumenical appeal of Vincentian service also inspired others like Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) and Theodore Fliedner (1800-1864). Nightingale learned the technique of caring for soldiers in war time from the Daughters of Charity in Paris before establishing her lay corps of nurses called the Anglican Association of Charity. Fliedner, an Evangelical Protestant pastor who had been inspired by Vincentian works of charity and the organization of the Daughters of Charity during his travels in Europe (especially Holland and England), initiated lay deaconesses in Germany in 1836. The Society of the Holy Cross (England, 1855) was established for Anglican clergy. After his conversion to Christianity through the Miraculous Medal, Alphonse Ratisbonne founded two communities to promote understanding between Christians and Jews: the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion (1843, Paris) and the Fathers of Sion (1852, Paris).
One author reports that even the Quakers were considering establishing a religious institute of nurses similar to the Sisters of Charity. Despite the canonical secular identity of Saint Vincent's daughters, their distinctive religious garb (especially the large cornette) had quite an appeal for some founders. Among these were Bishop Horace Potter and Miss Harriet Starr Cannon (1824-1896) whose Anglican Community of Saint Mary (1865, New York) adopted a habit and headdress closely resembling the winged cornette of the French Daughters of Charity.
The Oxford Movement in Great Britain was a seed bed that nurtured religious institutes in the Anglican Communion. One of its leaders, Reverend Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800- 1882), said, "Newman and I have separately come to think it necessary to have some Soeurs de [la] charité in the Anglo-Catholic [Church]." Pusey did obtain a copy of the Common Rules of the Daughters of Charity which he used when developing a rule for the Anglican Sisterhood of the Holy Cross.

Worldwide Web of Charity

The Family Tree Project findings are a point of reference for community leaders, members, and scholars. The Vincentian Family Tree, is the only international compilation of all the communities known to belong to the extended Vincentian family of the great patriarch of charity, Saint Vincent de Paul. This unique resource contains illustrations and a concise summary of each of the 268 communities describing its foundation (date, place, and by whom), mission, and current location of the generalate (if extant). To facilitate further research, bibliographic data is provided for each entry, plus a comprehensive index. Appendices include listings of communities chronologically by criteria and the addresses of international resource groups dedicated to Vincentian studies.
The Vincentian Studies Institute earnestly hopes that The Vincentian Family Tree monograph may nurture our appreciation of the timeless vision of Vincent de Paul. May we be inspired to keep the flame of his zeal alive by continuing his dynamic legacy of evangelization and charity--ever adapting it to changing social needs!


1 John Rybolt, C.M., "From Life to the Rules: The Genesis of the Rules of the Daughters of Charity." Vincentian Heritage 12: 2 (Fall 1991: 173-99). Also see Miguel Pérez- Flores, "The Common Rules of the Daughters of Charity." trans. Stafford Poole, C.M., Vincentian Heritage 8: 1 (Winter 1987):1-26.

2 The Vincentian Studies Institute is cosponsored by the provinces of the Daughters of Charity and the Congregation of the Mission in the United States and may be contacted through Reverend Edward Udovic, C.M., Presiding Officer, DePaul University, 2233 North Kenmore Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614-3594 USA (TEL 773-325-7348, FAX 773-325-7279, E-Mail:

3 Raymond Chalumeau, C.M., "La Descendance Spirituelle de Saint Vincent de Paul." Bulletin des Lazaristes de France 69 (1979); Chalumeau used seven criteria.

4 Ibidem. Also see: Nicolás Mas, C.M., Fundación de las Hijas de la Caridad in España, (106-140); Anales de la Congregación de la Misión, 85-86 (1979):106-140. Luigi Mezzadri, C.M. "Quando la Legge libera il Dono." La Regola Delle Figlie Della Carita di Vincenzo de' Paoli (Milan: Jaca Book, 1986), 28-31; Miguel Pérez-Flores, C.M., "The Common Rules of the Daughters of Charity," 23-25.

5 The phrase "rule of Vincent," without further specification, refers to the Common Rules of the Daughters of Charity regarding women's institutes and to the Common Rules of the Congregation of the Mission for male institutes. For those women's communities established after 1672, any reference to the rule of Saint Vincent refers to the document promulgated on 5 August 1672 by Saint Vincent's successor, Very Reverend René Alméras, C.M., (1613-1672, superior general 1661-1672). Alméras organized Vincent's original rule into chapters and included oral teachings of the founder. It has become the text commonly referred to as “the rule of Vincent de Paul,” which has passed from generation to generation, although it is a revision of the text compiled by Saint Vincent and Saint Louise. See Rybolt, “From Life to Rules,” 173-99.

6 In 1994 the member communities of the Vincentian Federation (Germany) became affiliated to the large family of Vincent de Paul through an act of Reverend Robert P. Maloney, C.M., superior general. See Alfonsa Richartz, D.C., “Affiliation,” Echo, no. 1 (January 1995): 42-44. For a complete discussion of affiliation, see Miguel Pérez Flores, C.M., “Los Antiguos Privilegios de la Congregación e la Misión ye el Nuevo Ordenamiento Canónico,”Vincentiana, no. 1-2 (1992): 35-97.

7 Mother Étienne Hall, S.C., (1806-1872), superioress of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's at Emmitsburg, was notified in August 1849 by Reverend Jean Baptist Étienne, C.M., superior general of the Daughters of Charity (1843-1874), approving the union of the Emmitsburg community with the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of Paris. The first religious institute founded in the United States, the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's of Emmitsburg officially joined the French Daughters of Charity on 1826-1830 March 1850 when the sisters made their vows in the manner prescribed for the Daughters of Charity in France. At that time the province of the United States had thirty houses with approximately 300 sisters. The Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of Graz (Austria) united with the Daughters of Charity of Paris in November 1850. The entire Graz community comprised four establishments and twenty-four sisters. A period of rapid growth in vocations followed both in the United States and Austria. ASJPH, First Council Book, 4. ADCP, Livre des Conseils, 18 July 1849. See also [John Mary Crumlish, D.C.,] 1809-1959 (Emmitsburg, 1959), 64; 68-69; 290, note 46. Sister Leopoldine Brandis to Mother Étienne Hall, 10 February 1852, Graz in Deceased Sisters. 1903, 69-70. "Extracts from M. Étienne's Journal," Union with France, 125-26. The 1876 account of the apparitions at the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity on rue du Bac in 1830 by Saint Catherine Labouré, D.C., (1806-1876, canonized 1947) reports that the Blessed Virgin spoke about communities seeking to unite with the Daughters of Charity. "A community will seek to unite itself with you. This is not customary, but I approve of it. Tell them to receive it. God will bless the union; great peace will result and the community will increase and extend." (Joseph I. Dirvin, C.M., Saint Catherine Labouré of the Miraculous Medal (Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books, 1958), 84-85.)

8 The exact location of the institute which had the Common Rules of the Daughters of Charity is unclear. See Louise Sullivan, D.C., Letter #447, 19 August 1655, to Sisters Marguerite, Madeleine and Françoise at Warsaw, and “Instruction to Three Sisters who were being sent to Poland,” Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac (New York: 1991), 477-79; 791.

9 This study omits information about any communities now serving in the Church of silence because of communism in order not to jeopardize the safety and welfare of their members.

10 Jean François Paul de Gondi, coadjutor of Paris, signed the Act of Approbation of the Company on 20 November 1646. He was the nephew of Jean François de Gondi, archbishop of Paris. See Marie Poole, ed. et al, Letter #773, August or September 1645 to Jean François de Gondi, archbishop of Paris, Correspondence, Conferences, Documents (New City Press: 1990), 2:599 and ibid., Letter #860, written between August and November 1646, to Jean François de Gondi, 3:59. See also ibid, 2:773 and 3:860.

11 The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul evolved from the first sisters working in the Confraternities of Charity of the Servants of the Sick Poor in the Parishes and with the Ladies of Charity at the Hôtel-Dieu in Paris.

12 For a complete discussion of women in the Church of France during this period and their response to social needs, see Elizabeth Rapley, The Dévotes. Women & Church in Seventeenth-Century France (McGill-Queen's University Press, 1993).

13 For a full discussion of indigenous communities in China see Fernand Combaluzier, C.M., “Congrégations chinoises indigènes dans les vicariats lazaristes,” Le clergé indigène dans les missions de Chine confiées aux congrégations français (Paris: Oeuvre de Saint-Pierre-Apôtre, 1945), 15-25.

14 John E. Rybolt, C.M., “Three Pioneer Vincentians,” Vincentian Heritage, no. 1(Fall 1993):153-68.

15 Reverend Louis William Valentine Dubourg, S.S., superior of St. Mary's College, Baltimore invited the widow Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton to that city in 1808 to establish a Catholic school for girls. A wealthy seminarian, Samuel Cooper, generously endowed the project but designated a rural site in western Maryland where he funded the Sulpicians' purchase of 212 acres near Emmitsburg, the cradle of the community in the United States. The Régestre minutes for the Sulpician Assembly for March 14, 1809 reads: "It is a matter of buying a plantation near Emmitsburg to found there a community of daughters, à peu près sur le même plan que les filles de la Charité, de St. Vincent de Paul; who join to the care of the sick, the instruction of young girls in all branches of Christian education." According to the rule which Bishop John Carroll approved in January 1812 for Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, her Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's were subject to the superior of the American Sulpicians (who was also the superior at St. Mary's College and Seminary in Baltimore). Therefore, the Society of St. Sulpice in the United States became the canonical Protector of the Constitutions of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's. Before the union with France, the sisterhood had the Sulpician superiors (most of whom were familiar with the Daughters of Charity in France prior to the Revolution that precipitated the priests emigrating to America). These Sulpician superiors inculcated and nurtured the Vincentian charism in the American community: Reverend William V. Dubourg (1809-1809), Reverend John Baptist David (1809-1811, obtained the Common Rules of the Daughters of Charity from France), Reverend John Dubois (1811-1826, modified the Common Rules to meet the needs of the Church in America and suggested uniting the American community with the Daughters of Charity in France), Reverend John F. Hickey (1830-1841), Reverend Louis R. Deluol (1826-1830; 1841-1849, successfully negotiated the union with France in 1848-49). Although never appointed the superior, Reverend Simon Bruté became Mother Seton's spiritual director (1812-1821), translated the rule of Vincent, and actively promoted Vincentian teachings and spirituality among the early sisters. See also [Sister John Mary Crumlish], 1809-1959 (Emmitsburg: 1959) and Annabelle Melville, William Louis Dubourg (2 vols., Chicago, 1986), 177.

16 The Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's, founded by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton at Emmitsburg, Maryland, began service in New York in 1817. Between 1817 and 1841 the Emmitsburg community opened opened missions in eleven states, and remained under the jurisdiction of Mothers Elizabeth Seton, Rose White, Augustine Decount, M. Xavier Clark and Etienne Hall. The New York community of sisters became an autonomous branch in 1846. The year 1817 could be cited for its foundation date but that date, like numerous others studied by the Family Tree Project, marks the year when the mission began under the administration of its parent community before it became independent. The early history of many institutes in this study is complex. Also, some institutes reported various dates for their foundation. For example, opening of the first mission, declaration of autonomy, episcopal or pontifical approval, etc. Like the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul whose roots in New York date to 1817, the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's from Emmitsburg opened the mission in Cincinnati in 1829 and were under the above administrations between 1829-1852. They became the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in 1852 after the Emmitsburg community united in 1850 with the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of Paris.

17 McNeil, The Vincentian Family Tree, 23.

18 The Oxford Movement spawned numerous religious institutes in the Anglican communion based on their Roman Catholic counterparts. See A. M. Allchin, The Silent Rebellion. Anglican Religious Communities, 1845-1958 (London, 1958), 556-61. Allan T. Cameron, Religious Communities of the Church of England (London, 1918). Deaconesses of the Protestant Church were founded in 1836 in Germany near the Rhine River at Kaiserwerth by Theodore Fliedner, a Protestant Evangelical pastor inspired by Vincentian works of charity in Europe. Dizionario degli Istituti di Perfezioni, 1973 ed., (Edizioni Pauline, Rome), s.v. "Fliedner, Theodor" 4:76-79; "Diaconesse di Kaiserwerth" 3:477; "Diaconesse de Strasburgo" 3:484-85.

19 Ralph W. Sockman, The Revival of Conventual Life in the Church of England in the Nineteenth Century (W. D. Gray: New York, 1917), 106.

20 Anson, The Call of the Cloister, 1-28. Cameron, Religious Communities, 8-13. See also Kenneth Scott Latourette, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age. Volume Two: The Nineteenth Century in Europe, The Protestant and Eastern Churches (Harper and Brothers: New York, 1959), 276-78.