Monday, August 30, 2010
"It is a great grace that God has given you in calling you to serve the poor."
(St. Jeanne Jugan)
Today is the first feast day of St. Jeanne Jugan, since she was canonized on October 11, 2009. The more I learn about her the more I understand why the order which she founded, the Little Sisters of the Poor, continues to inspire people to live a life of simplicity and humility.
St. Jeanne Jugan was born in Brittany, France on Oct. 25, 1792. Her father was a fisherman who died at sea when she was three-years-old. Her mother struggled to raise the eight Jugan children.
At age 16, St. Jeanne Jugan was a kitchen maid to Viscountess de la Choue who took her along when she visited the sick and poor. A decade later, St. Jeanne Jugan worked at the town hospital of Saint Servan, which was physically demanding and draining.
In 1837, she formed a community of prayer with Francoise Aubert, 72, and Virginie Tredaniel, 17, an orphan. They taught religion and helped the poor.
In her acts of charity, St. Jeanne Jugan took a blind widow home and cared for her, even giving up her own bed. Around 1843, she founded the Little Sisters of the Poor to help abandoned elderly women and for the next forty years collected food, clothing, and money for those in her care.
St. Jeanne Jugan died on Aug. 29, 1879. She is the patron saint of the elderly poor and her feast day is Aug. 30.
I can't understand how anyone could abandon the elderly, but even though St. Jeanne Jugan died more than 130 years ago, the situation of the world hasn't changed much.
The Little Sisters of the Poor say that "to those who feel anxious in these tough economic times, she (St. Jeanne Jugan) offers an invitation to live the Beatitudes and God will provide."
(R.I.P. Grandpa Fred: May, 18, 1892 to Aug. 30, 1976)