Jugan, Jeanne, Bl.

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Known in religion as Marie of the Cross, foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor; b. Oct. 25, 1792, Petites-Croix (near Cancale), Brittany, France; d. Aug. 29, 1879, Pern, France.

After the death of her fisherman father, Joseph Joucan, when she was four, her mother, Marie Horel, supported the six children as a farm laborer and taught them the faith. At 16, Jeanne, the youngest child, became a kitchen maid to a charitable family. The mistress, Viscountess de la Choue, took her on visits to the sick and poor. At 25, Jugan joined the third order of the Heart of the Admirable Mother (founded by St. John eudes), gave away her meager possessions, and began working in a hospital, but after six years of exhausting work she returned to domestic service. Realizing that she could do more, she then devoted herself entirely to the poor, especially widows.

Hospital work and domestic service had prepared Jugan for giving hospitality to the aged in Saint-Servan. She was aided by two other women, Virginie Tredaniel and Marie Jamet, to whom Abbé Augustin Marie Le Pailleur had given a rule and a charge to care for an elderly blind woman, Anne Chauvin. All four women lived together in Jugan's home and elected her superior, May 29, 1842. Eventually a benefactor purchased an abandoned convent for the Little Sisters. These women, and others who assisted them, begged daily for the needs of the elderly in their care. The sisters ate what was left after feeding their guests. Houses were soon established in Rennes, Dinan, Tours, and Angers. Although Jugan was reelected superior (Dec. 8, 1843), she was suddenly replaced (Dec. 23, 1843) by 23-year-old Marie Jamet through the action of Le Pailleur. No recognition of her role as foundress came during her lifetime. After receiving a petition from the people of Saint-Servan, the French Academy made her recipient of one of its annual awards for virtue (December 1845) in appreciation of her heroic charity in caring for the poor. In 1852 the congregation was officially recognized, and she was sent to the motherhouse for the remaining 27 years of her life, without an active role in the growth of the community.

Her contemporary Charles Dickens wrote: "There is in this woman something so calm, and so holy, that in seeing her I know myself to be in the presence of a superior being. Her words went straight to my heart, so that my eyes, I know not how, filled with tears."

It was not until 1893 that Jugan was recognized as the founder of the congregation whose rule was approved by pius x in 1907. In beatifying Jugan (Oct. 3, 1982) Pope john paul ii said: "I give thanks to the Lord for bringing about what Pope john xxiii had so rightly hoped for and paul iv so ardently desired," the beatification of Jugan.

Feast: Aug. 30.

Bibliography: g. m. garrone, Poor in Spirit, tr. a. neame (London 1975). a. helleu, Jeanne Jugan, Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, tr. m. a. grey (St. Louis 1942). p. milcent, Jeanne Jugan: Humble So as to Love More, tr. a. neame (London 1980). f. trochu, Jeanne Jugan, tr. h. montgomery (Westminster, Md. 1950). Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1984) 34649. L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. ed. 42 (1982) 910.

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k. i. rabenstein]