Monday, February 16, 2009

For the Little Sisters, a Great Saint

Lest anyone was unaware, the Little Sisters of the Poor do so much for so many that, whatever they ask of you, you just drop everything and do it.

In that light, several of the community dedicated to the care of the elderly have written in to note that, at Saturday's consistory for canonizations, the Pope will likewise fix the sainthood date of their founder, Blessed Jeanne Jugan (1792-1879), a nurse who founded the order in 1839 by bringing a blind, paralyzed woman into her home and giving up her bed for the guest's comfort.

Praised for her "heroic charity," Jugan was beatified in 1982 by John Paul II.

Like her compatriot Bl Basil Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Bl Jeanne was marginalized and humiliated in life and -- deprived of her post as superior general shortly after the founding -- wasn't acknowledged as the foundress of her community until decades after her death. Nevertheless, she continued her pilgrimage of trust seeking funds and donations of goods for the care of the "aged poor," a "tradition of begging" the Sisters maintain even into the present.

Now present in 32 countries and with 30-plus homes across the States, the Little Sisters keep up their heroic work in a way as beautiful and loving as it is unheralded. Like their foundress, they might remain "very little, hidden by humility"... but their living witness to life's precious sacredness has made them the church's most beloved and sought-out caretakers.

As with Bl Damien deVeuster, a mid-October canonization for Jeanne Jugan is expected, with early word tipping the 18th.