Saint of the Day – 24 August – Saint Jeanne-Antide Thouret (1765-1826) was a French Roman Catholic professed Religious and the Founder of the Thouret Sisters – renamed the Sisters of Divine Charity., Apostle of Charity and the Poor and helpless, Teacher. Thouret’s life was one of service to children and the ill across France in schools and hospitals – some of which her order established. This active apostolate did not cease when the French Revolution forced her into exile. She continued her work in both Switzerland and the Kingdom of Prussia. She was born on 27 November 1765 at Sancy-le-Long, diocese of Besançon, France and died on 24 August 1826 at Naples, Italy of natural causes. Patronage – The Sisters of Divine Charity.
Jeanne-Antide Thouret was born in Sancey-le-Long (Doubs). She was the fifth child in a rural family of the very Christian county of Franche. At the age of 22 she entered the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul to serve those who are poor, first in Langres and then in Paris.
In May 1794 Jeanne-Antide returned to Sancey, as during the French Revolution all the Daughters of Charity, just as a good number of religious, were disbanded and had to return to their family homes.
On the 15 August 1795 she went to Switzerland with the « Solitaires » of Father Antoine-Sylvestre Receveur. Because of the rejection of the Christian faith this community was obliged to roam across Europe for 12 years. She travelled across Switzerland and part of Germany. She left the community and arrived in Landeron, near Neuchâtel, Switzerland after a lonely journey of more than 600 kilometers. There she received an appeal from two French priests who asked her to return to Besançon, France to care for sick and uneducated children.
On 11 April 1799 with two other young women, in Besançon, she established a free school for girls and and a soup kitchen for the poor. The people called them the “sisters of the soup kitchen and little schools.”
From May to September 1802, Jeanne-Antide revised a Rule of Life for her community. Accompanied by several sisters attracted by her ideal of life, she opened new schools and places to care for the sick, where she sent her sisters to teach and care for the poor. On 23 September 1802 she was asked to take over serving the prisoners in Bellevaux. There she used her talents as educator, gave them food and organised their work, permitting them to receive a salary. In Paris in 1807 the Sisters received the official name of “Sisters of Charity of Besançon.”
On 8 May 1810 she was called to Savoy, Thonon, where she went with some Sisters. A little later she was called to Naples where she went with eight of her Sisters. There she was asked to take on the care of the Hospital for Incurables. She also opened a school and a pharmacy in the midst of the convent they had been given. She and her Sisters never hesitated to go out to visit and care for the poor and sick.
Their Constitutions were approved by Pope Pius VII on 23 July 1819. He gave them the name, “Sisters of Charity under the protection of St. Vincent de Paul.” Jeanne-Antide died at “Regina Coeli” monastery in Naples on the evening of 24 August 1826 from a cerebral haemorrhage.
The Community today counts 4000 Sisters spread over the five continents, working in a large variety of services for those who are poor. Community life, the Eucharist and the Paschal Mystery are today, as they were for Jeanne-Antide, the key elements of their life.
St Jeanne-Antide was Canonised on 14 January 1934 by Pope Pius XI.