The Daughters of Charity was established in 1633 by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac in Paris, France. It was established with the intent of engaging women from respectable households into doing charity work for orphans and poor people with a message of Christ. Back then, this broke away from the way social work was usually done and made the process much more effective. Upon its inception, the society was extremely well received and grew in size throughout France. Within the next century the Daughters of Charity had become a household name in the missionary social work sphere of France and had also sprouted its roots in other European countries.
However, once the revolutionary forces fizzled out from power the society was reformed in the 19th century and it is during this century that they spread themselves at a global scale.
England, Scotland, and Ireland were one of the first few countries where a motherhouse for the Daughters of Charity was opened. Within the turn of the century there existed 46, 13, and 8 houses in England, Ireland, and Scotland, respectively, and the number of functioning sisters who had taken the Vincentian vow numbered to 407, 134, 62, respectively. The message which was carried forward by the Daughters of Charity was a very simple one, help the ones in need in the name of Christ, and this message resonated
across these predominantly Christian countries and thereby the society were able to find themselves being able to easily spread throughout these regions. In these three countries alone, they built almost 25 orphanages and elementary schools, and various hospitals, homes for women, and other social work-related establishments. During the 19th century the Daughters of Charity also spread to countries such as Australia, Hungary, Austria, Israel, Portugal, Turkey, etc. The central motherhouse would remain in Paris, and each of the countries would also have a motherhouse which would be connected to the central one, and this served as a chain of command for this now worldwide organization.
United States And The Sisters Of Charity
The entry of the Daughters of Charity into the United States was quite different from the other European countries. Elizabeth Ann Seton, a converted Catholic and widow helped set up the first ever voluntary Catholic organization in the United States under the Vincentian tradition. But although they followed the same orders and roles, the political condition of 19th century United States did not allow them to share the title of the French organization. As a result, in 1809 she took upon the moniker of Sisters of Charity and asked the archdiocese to provide her with the rules set by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac and was provided so. So, although named differently, the Sisters of Charity became the official wing of the Daughters of Charity in the United States. However, there were quite a few differences between the working nature of the Sisters of Charity and the Daughters of Charity so soon enough, although being part of the Vincentian order, the Sisters of Charity were established as an independent Catholic organization with its motherhouse situated in New York.