The Sisters of St. Paul of
Chartres are an international congregation with its headquarters in
Rome. In 1696 Fr.
Chauvet, a parish
priest of Levesille, France, invited three young girls, together with
Marie Anne de Tilly,
a gentlewoman from Allaines, to form a community to care for the sick and to
comfort the lonely and the poor. A little school was started and the
children began to learn and to develop a sense of their own dignity, despite
the desperate poverty of the times. Levesville is not far from the great
Cathedral of Chartres, and the bishop of Chartres took a keen interest in
the little community.
Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres, from the earliest days of their fledgling
community, drew inspiration from the writings and spirit of St. Paul. They
resolved to follow in his footstep, eager to spread the Good News of Jesus.
The Congregation has no territorial preference and responds with fidelity to
the call to serve, with a special love for the most neglected, anywhere in
the world. Their major services include education, nursing, and all kinds of
pastoral work. In practical terms, this has often meant working in
leprosarium, prisons, and visiting remote poverty-stricken areas. The
Sisters will go wherever they are needed and do whatever is necessary, so
that they can, like St. Paul, be “all things to all people”.
In 1727, in response to the personal request of King Louis XV, the
first four missionaries set out for French Guiana, in South America, to the
notorious Devil’s Island. After the French Revolution, despite the
suppression of the Church, Napoleon called on the Sisters of St. Paul of
Chartres to go back to French Guiana where the need was great.
Now in the 21st century, the Sisters serve 34 countries, ready to answer
both spiritual and human needs, anywhere and any time. For example, one of
the largest groups can be found in Vietnam, where over 1,000 Sisters work in
hospitals, orphanages and aged care facilities.
True to its humble origins, the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Paul of
Chartres aspires to live the poverty and simplicity of Christ’s Gospel in
genuine charity and humility, daring to trust in God alone.