Order of Our Lady of Charity

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Order of Our Lady of Charity
Ordo Dominae Nostrae de Caritate (O.D.N.C.)
Merged into Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
Formation 25 November 1641, in Caen, France
Founder Saint John Eudes
Type Roman Catholic religious order
Headquarters Via Raffaello Sardiello, 20,
00165 Roma, Italia
Congregational Leader
Sister Angela Fahy
Website www.olcint.org

The Order of Our Lady of Charity (also known as Order of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge) is a Roman Catholic monastic order, founded in 1641 by Saint John Eudes, at Caen, France.


Moved by pity for prostitutes, Father John Eudes at first attempted to house them under the care of good and pious women. One of these women, Madeleine Lamy persuaded Pere Eudes that more was needed. Three Visitation nuns came to his aid temporarily, and, in 1641, a house was opened at Caen under the title of Refuge of Our Lady of Charity.[1] Other ladies joined them, and, in 1651, the Bishop of Bayeux gave the institute his approbation. In 1664 a Bull of approbation was obtained from Pope Alexander VII. That same year a house was opened at Rennes, and the institute began to spread. When the French Revolution broke out there were seven communities of the order in France.[2]

In France they had seventeen houses: one each at Caen, Saint-Brieuc, Rennes, La Rochelle, Paris, Versailles, Nantes, Lyon, Valence, Toulouse, Le Mans, Blois, Montauban, Besançon, Valognes, and two at Marseilles; in Italy, one at Loreto; and in Spain, one at Bilbao; and in Austria.[2]

The religious habit of the Sisters from the Order of Our Lady of Charity is white, with a white scapular, a black veil and a large silver heart on the breast.

All the houses of this order are independent of each other, and each has its own novitiate, but the mother-house is still at Caen. The nuns wear a white habit and a large silver cross on the breast. To the three ordinary religious vows they add a fourth, viz., to devote themselves to the reformation of the fallen. The novitiate lasts two years.

On 8 July 1855, Sister Jerome Tourneux of Rennes, France, established the first Foundation in North America in Buffalo, New York, and thus began the spread of the Mission of Our Lady of Charity in the United States, Canada and Mexico. On 21 March 1979, the North American Union Sisters of Our Lady of Charity received its approval from the Holy See.[3] In North America, they are located in: Hamburg & Newburgh, NY; Erie & Pittsburgh, PA; Wheeling, WV; & El Paso, TX; Carrollton, OH; Green Bay, WI; San Diego, CA; and Mexico & Canada.[3]

The sisters came to England in 1863, building a large purpose built convent at Bartestree near Hereford and by 1910 also had houses at Waterlooville near Portsmouth, Monmouth, Southampton, and Northfield.

In Ireland they had two houses at Dublin. The Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Refuge was one of four congregations involved in managing the controversial Magdalene laundries. A spokesperson for the congregation said, "It is with sorrow and sadness that we recognise that for many of those who spoke to the inquiry that their time in a refuge is associated with anxiety, distress, loneliness, isolation, pain and confusion and much more." [4]


Their primary apostolate is to work with "women in need." Ministries include: counseling, serving in parishes, counseling troubled teenage girls, day care for children and adults, rehabilitation and nursing care for the ill and elderly, people with AIDS, teaching in schools and religious education programs.[3]

Fusion with the Sisters of the Good Shepherd[edit]

In 2013, the Sisters of the Union of Our Lady of Charity attended a General Chapter in which they voted for their fusion with the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

In 2014, the Order of Our Lady of Charity founded by Saint John Eudes was formally joined with the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd founded by Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier.[5][6]


See also[edit]

External links[edit]