Daughters of Wisdom
While he was temporary chaplain of the hospital of Poitiers in 1707, Louis de Montfort associated into a little community some pious girls, and gave them a rule of life, the main points of which have been retained in the Rule of the Daughters of Wisdom. The congregation strives to acquire heavenly wisdom by imitating the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ.
When St Louis died in 1716, the community numbered only four sister, led by Blessed Marie Louise Trichet who had met Louis de Montfort in 1701 and became known as the First Daughter of Wisdom when she freely offered her services to the hospital. Her mother reportedly told her: "You will become as mad as that priest". That was the beginning of a forty-three year effort during which she nursed the sick; gave food to beggars and administered the great maritime hospital of France. The poor people of the Hospital of Niort (Deux-Sèvres) called her "good Mother Jesus". In 1714, she was joined by Catherine Brunet.
In 1715, at the request of the Bishop of La Rochelle, the sisters moved to that city. Henceforth the congregation was both hospitaller and teaching. Sister Marie-Louise was superior of the congregation. On 22 Aug., 1715, Montfort gave the habit of Wisdom to Sister Ste Croix and Sister Incarnation. In 1720 the site of their mother-house was acquired at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre. Henceforth the life of Marie-Louise was to be a series of travels necessitated by new foundations and by visits to all her communities; in 1750 there were already thirty. She died on 27 April, 1759.
By the time of the French Revolution, the sister numbered 700. The sisters were severely persecuted (and imprisoned) during the French Revolution. At Nantes two sisters were guillotined. At Rennes the heads of Sister Véronique and Jouin fell under the guillotine. Under Napoleon the community most of their former houses and were granted 30,000 francs for building purposes. It was in 1810, when Napoleon was temporarily the master of Europe, that, at his call, the Daughters of Wisdom left French soil for the first time to nurse the wounded soldiers at Antwerp. Numerous medals were bestowed on the congregation by Napoleon, and by every French Government since; Spain, Prussia, and Belgium have honoured them for nursing the wounded or plague-stricken soldiers of those countries; as a congregation they have been acknowledged in the Apostolic Brief of Pope Leo XII in 1825; they were canonically approved, together with the Fathers of the Company of Mary, in 1853; they were placed under Cardinal Vincenze Vanntuelli as protector, and favoured by two important decrees in 1893 and 1898 securing the integrity of Montfort's institution; and they received the definitive approbation of the constitutions of Montfort's double foundation in 1904.
Since then the Daughters of Wisdom has grown to a multi-national organization with houses across the world.
- Blessed Marie Louise Trichet