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Our History

Founding Story

A little fishing village named Cancale in Brittany, France was Jeanne's birth place. The date of her birth was 25th October, 1792. She had seven siblings and her father was lost at sea when she was a small child. As a teenager, she worked as a kitchen maid for a wealthy family In 1816 she refused an offer of marriage because, to use her own words, God wants me for Himself.


In 1817 she left home to work in the hospital in Saint Servan. In 1818, unable to find a religious order which appealed to her, Jeanne joined an Association for lay women founded by St John Eudes known as the Third Order of the Admirable Mother. Her life from then on was one of silence, prayer and practical charity towards the poor.


It was the winter of 1839 when she found Anne Chauvin. This elderly, infirm and destitute woman was carried in Jeanne's strong arms and placed in Jeanne's bed. From then on Jeanne Jugan belonged to God and to the elderly of the whole world; the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor was born. This elderly woman was followed by another and another expansion was rapid and by 1850 there were over 100 Little Sisters

The Little Sisters in Oceania

The first foundation was in Melbourne. On 5th November, 1884, after a sea voyage of six weeks, six French and two English Sisters disembarked at Port Melbourne. Sydney was next, in 1886, the Congregation already demonstrating the universality of its communities. There were five French Sisters, one English, one Irish and one American. The first house was at Leichardt. Another 2 years, 1888, and the first group of Sisters set off for Auckland, New Zealand. A few months later they received the first young New Zealand girl who felt called to share their life. The Province of Oceania was truly forming when the Little Sisters arrived in Noumea, New Caledonia on 9th February, 1897. Two weeks later they welcomed three elderly gentlemen.

In 1904 it was back to New Zealand, to Dunedin in the South Island, the 5th foundation. It was then the Golden West. The Little Sisters arrived in Perth, Western Australia in 1920. They took possession of two cottages in Adelaide Terrace. Western Samoa, the pearl of the Pacific, was the latest foundation in 1971. Homes were also established in Adelaide, 1912, Hastings, 1956, Drummoyne, NSW, 1956 and Kalgoorlie, WA, 1969. Due to less Little Sisters, these Homes are now owned and administered by other organisations.

Commemorating the life and legacy of Saint Jeanne Jugan, also known as Sister Mary of the Cross, the foundress of The Little Sisters of the Poor, who dedicated her life to serving the elderly poor from her humble beginnings in Cancale, Brittany, France, to her final days in La Tour Saint Joseph.

Worldwide Expansion

In 1851, a small group of Little Sisters crossed the English Channel to establish the first home outside France in Hammersmith, a suburb of London. Spain followed, then Belgium, Ireland, North Africa and North America.


The first truly missionary foundation was made in Calcutta, India in 1882. Our newest homes have been founded in the last decade in India, Peru and the Philippines.


Today there are Little Sisters following in the footsteps of Saint Jeanne Jugan and serving the needy elderly in 32 countries, including:

North America

United States


South America

Website Renovation  - Little Sisters of
Website Renovation  - Little Sisters of







New Caledonia

New Zealand

Western Samoa


Hong Kong




South Korea

Sri Lanka








Republic of the Congo











Website Renovation  - Little Sisters of
Website Renovation  - Little Sisters of
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