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breathing again in the refreshment of its branches, and finding often beneath them spiritual as well as temporal life.
“Neither Vincent nor his pious co-operator had hoped for such speedy results. The example of these few modest and useful peasants drew others of the same station and disposition to join them; he resolved to have no ladies among them; but though the first object had been merely attendance on the sick and poor in parishes, the progress of the order and the providence of God led him and Madame le Gras to see how much more extensive might be the range of their work ; by degrees they were intrusted with the education of the foundlings, with the instruction of young girls who had no other means of obtaining it, with the care of a great number of hospitals, and even of the criminals condemned to the galleys. Madame le Gras was constituted their superior for her life, and she died when Vincent was on his death-bed. As these diverse occupations made in some sort of one congregation many munities, Vincent gave them both general and particular rules, to sustain the entire body and the different parts which compose it.
“According to these rules, which have always passed for a masterpiece of wisdom, the Sisters of Charity ought above all things to be so convinced that God had united them together to honour their LORD JESUS CHRIst as the source and model of all charity, that they should render to Him, in the per
sons of poor old men, of children, of sick people, and of prisoners, all the services temporal and spiritual of which they are capable ; that in order to fulfil so holy a life they ought to maintain the interior exercises of the spiritual life together with the exterior exercises of Christian charity; that while they are not, and cannot be Religieuses, (or Nuns) because the estate of religion is incompatible with their employments, they ought to lead a life more perfect if possible than that of the holiest Nun, because in the world they were much more exposed to danger; and since the tenderest purity was to them indispensable, they ought to take the strictest care to avoid all that would offend the eyes of God or of their neighbour; and that their watchfulness over themselves should be redoubled since they had to go out so extensively into the world, to mix with persons of the other sex, to take care of them when sick or when dying.
Perhaps the wisdom of the rules of Vincent de Paul is shown expressively in the assertion that they require much while seeming to require little. They prescribe no severities of any kind; the sisters ob. serve no offices; their penance,' says the missionary priest, 'is their common life. But they do not seem to think it so. "To rise,' he says, at four o'clock summer and winter, to pray mentally twice a day, to live frugally, to render to the sick the most revolting services; to watch by them at night, to reckon as nothing the infected air of hos. pitals, to fear not the horrors of death or of the dying bed. Such is the sort of mortification required from the Daughter of Charity; if it is enough for vigorous men, certainly it should be enough for naturally weak women.
“As to the exercises of piety there are some which belong to the rule of the community, and others on which they ought to consult their director; but both must be subordinate to the wants of their neighbour ; at the first cry of distress they must fly to his relief. They must watch the dying bed, and endeavour to bring the departing to feel sorrow for his sins, and urge him to call for the spiritual help which they cannot give."
The rules of Vincent de Paul, after having been practised for twenty years, were sanctioned by Cardinal de Retz, Archbishop of Paris. And the King Louis XIII. confirmed the foundation by letters patent. “A proof of the esteem which these virtuous girls had acquired.” A remark made by the writer I have copied a little surprises me. He
says -"After this they deserved yet greater praise, not by reason of their employments which have always been the same, but by reason of the persons who have performed them. Vincent having believed that God would bless more particularly the poor who served the poor, did not admit, during a number of years, any persons into the new community who were not of rather low birth. But after his death, young girls of condition having offered to partake
with the others the abjection and merit of their work, it did not appear right to shut a door which God appeared to desire to open to them. It was resolved to make a trial, and one saw then, as one sees to-day, young girls nourished in delicacy, and wearing elegant apparel, embrace a state of life in which nature seemed to have much to suffer, and wear a coarse and common dress with more joy and than
many of their sex wear their worldly attire. “Whatever was their birth, St. Vincent had an uncommon esteem for these Daughters of Charity; the very name they had at first, of servants of the poor, touched the heart of this father of the afflicted. The protection which God affords all those who serve Him, reassured him amid all the dangers to which their virtue was exposed. He soon sent his daughters into the armies, to take care of the sick and wounded; then to Poland, across Germany, and into infected or heretic countries; he had not the fears for them he would have had for any others. He even felt almost sure that Heaven would work a miracle rather than abandon them."
Once indeed this appeared to be the case. One of these virtuous girls had gone with a basin of broth to a sick person in Paris ; hardly had she entered the house than the whole building fell; there were thirty persons buried in the ruins; only a little child escaped with a bruise; but the Sister of Charity was found standing on a spot of the floor which did not give way, holding in her hand the basin of broth which, astonishing to say, she had not let fall. The people saw her, and hailed the sight as a miracle.
Now I shall describe the institution of the Ladies of Charity, as at present existing, and in very active life too in France. I copy the statement of their work and nature from what we might call their prospectus. “In a great many parishes exists an association of Ladies of Charity, presided over by Monsieur le Curé. These ladies divide the poor among them, visit them, and distribute conjointly with the Sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul (if there is a community there) the alms collected in the Church, or remitted to M. le Curé, and fulfil to these poor the duties and protection of charity. They meet periodically at the house of M. le Curé. All demands for relief ought to be addressed to M. le Curé of the parish. Every year there is made in each Church a collection for the poor of the parish, the product of which is distributed by the Ladies of Charity.”
This is our district visiting society. In churches in France you will often see an elegantly and gaily dressed lady, with most delicate white kid gloves, stand at the door or in the aisle, with a box or plate or bag, and make a curtsey, or address a word and a smile in return for the money that is dropped therein. You may also, on another occasion, see a figure in grey cloth, with a white sort of bonnet-cap kneeling on a chair turned to front the aisle, and not the altar, with a small box on the flat back of