What about the Poor? Nineteenth-Century Paris and the Revival of Vincentian Charity


During the Industrial Revolution, poor persons constituted up to half the population of Paris. They were considered to be criminal, and their poverty was seen as a punishment for this. The Church believed the traditional social order was divinely ordained. The rich were to be charitable and the poor were to be resigned to their status; these conditions were necessary for the salvation of both groups. In the Church’s eyes, the rich and the poor each contributed to the gap between them, and they could only be reconciled by returning to Christian values and the traditional social hierarchy. It was the Church’s responsibility to guide this reconciliation. The Congregation, the Daughters of Charity, and the Ladies of Charity, which had been dissolved during the Revolution, were refounded under Jean-Baptiste Etienne in the nineteenth century. They tried to combat poverty worldwide. As the first group of sisters to be supported by the French government after the Revolution, the Daughters of Charity served as the basis for the new Vincentian mission. The Ladies of Charity’s work, which was under the Daughters’ direction, is discussed. The article also describes Etienne’s view of the world and of the Vincentian mission in detail.

“What about the Poor? Nineteenth-Century Paris and the Revival of Vincentian Charity” is an article published in the Vincentian Heritage Journal, Volume 14, Issue 1, Article 5 (1993) and is available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol14/iss1/5