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Congregations of the Holy Family

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Association of the Holy Family

Founded in 1820 by the Abbé Pierre Bienvenue Noailles (d. 1861), to fill in some measure the immense gap left by the ravages wrought in religious life by the French Revolution. The institute began with three young ladies, who formed a community under the direction of the Abbé Noailles, under the name of Sisters of Loreto. It now consists of seven congregations, each with distinctive work, garb, and particular rules, but all under common constitutions, and directed by the Superior General of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, aided by another priest of the same congregation, as well as by a directress general and her assistants. The association has received papal approbation many times, beginning with 1831, even as recently as 1904.

Owing to the pressure of new social conditions the number of congregations and their respective duties have undergone a gradual change. The institute has extended its activities to Ceylon (1862), South Africa (1864), and India (1865), where the sisters have hospitals, schools, and orphanages. At present (1909) there are about 240 houses with 3400 sisters, in charge of 25,000 children and 16,000 poor and sick.

Brothers of the Holy Family

Founded in 1824 in the Diocese of Saint-Claude by Gabriel Taborin who gathered about him five young men, for the work of teaching and the service of the cathedral as chanters and sacristans. The school proved most successful, but on various pretexts his companions deserted him, and Brother Gabriel was forced to give up the work temporarily. After labouring for some time in other parishes of the diocese, he entered the Diocese of Belley, where in 1827 he made a second and successful attempt to found his congregation at Hauteville, establishing a novitiate, first at Belmont, in 1829, and that house proving inadequate, at Belley in 1840. In 1841 the institute and its constitutions received the approbation of Gregory XVI, and in the following year government authorization and exemption from military service in the Sardinian States. The members are teachers and lay brothers, under the direction of a superior general elected for life, assisted by a vice-superior, the council of the mother-house, and the general chapter. The only priests admitted as members are those needed to fulfil the sacred offices.

Little Sisters of the Holy Family

Founded at Memramcook, New Brunswick, 15 October, 1874, for the temporal care of colleges, seminaries, and episcopal residences. In 1895 the mother-house was removed to Sherbrooke, Quebec. The sisters, who are engaged in many dioceses of Canada, and in the Archdioceses of Baltimore, Boston, San Francisco, and the Diocese of Portland, in the United States number about 500, in charge of 35 missions. Their pupils are employed as cooks, seamstresses, infirmarians, laundresses, etc.

Sisters of the Holy Family

Formerly known as DAUGHTERS OF THE HOLY FAMILY, and later as MIRAMIONES. In 1636 Françoise de Blosset (d. 1642), a zealous collaborator of St. Vincent de Paul, founded in Paris a religious community known as Daughters of St. Genevieve, for the care of the poor and infirm, the gratuitous instruction of young girls, and the training of teachers for country schools. The statutes were approved in 1658 by Cardinal de Gondi, Archbishop of Paris, and recognized by royal letters patent. Mme de Miramion (b. 1629; d. 1696), having devoted the sixteen years of her widowhood and her immense fortune to works of charity, in 1661, gathered about her a number of young women to lead a community life, under the patronage of the Holy Family, their aims coinciding almost exactly with those of the Daughters of St. Genevieve. In 1665 a union of the two congregations was effected with the consent of the Archbishop of Paris and the new institute approved in 1668 by Cardinal Vendôme, legatus a latere to France. Mme de Miramion was elected superior, and in 1674 purchased a mother-house, defraying all expenses herself until the community became self-supporting. New constitutions were drawn up and submitted, for both ecclesiastical and government authorization. In time, several other communities also requested and obtained union with the Daughters of the Holy Family, known after Mme de Miramion's death as Miramiones. Under the direction of their superior, the sisters distinguished themselves by their devotion to the sick, especially in time of epidemic. It was she also who, emulating the example of the Jesuit Fathers at Paris, established a house of retreat for women. Lay sisters performed all domestic labour, and provision was made for those who, not being able to follow the community exercises, wished to live under the same roof and co-operate with the sisters in their good works. After a year of probation, these were received as associates, having no voice in the government of the community. In 1806 the Miramiones, who had not survived the Revolution, were re-established at Besançon, by a pious widow, Jeanne-Claude Jacoulet, and were soon in charge of day-schools, boarding schools, asylums, and schools of domestic economy.

Sisters of the Holy Family

Founded at San Francisco, California, in 1872, by Elizabeth Armer, under the direction of Very Rev. J. J. Prendergast, for the instruction of neglected children for the sacraments, the organization of sodalities and sewing classes, and chiefly the daily care of the young children of working-women. In San Francisco are 90 sisters with 4 day homes, attended by 700 children. They have also a house at San José.

Sisters of the Holy Family

A congregation of coloured sisters founded for work among their own race, 21 November, 1842, at New Orleans, Louisiana, by Josephine Charles and Harriet Delisle, of New Orleans, Juliette Gaudin of Cuba, and Mlle Alcot, a young French lady, under the direction of Father Etienne Rousselon, Vicar-General of the Diocese of New Orleans. They began by teaching the catechism and preparing children and adults for first Communion and confirmation, a work which was gradually extended in scope, so that at the present time (1909) the 105 sisters of the congregation have charge of an academy and many parochial schools, attended by about 1300 pupils, an asylum for coloured girls, a home for the aged, orphanages for coloured boys and girls, and industrial schools in the Archdioceses of New Orleans and the Dioceses of Galveston, Little Rock, and Honduras. They follow the rule of St. Augustine.

Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth

Founded by Frances Siedliska, a noble Polish lady, in 1874, under the auspices of Pius IX. In 1885 they began work in the Archdiocese of Chicago, and were soon in demand for many Polish parishes throughout the country. In the United States alone there are 450 sisters, in charge of 1 academy, 31 parochial schools, with an attendance of 12,000 pupils, an orphanage, a hospital, and a home for working- girls. The mother-house is in Rome.


HEIMBUCHER, Orden und Kongregationen (Paderborn, 1908); STEELE, The Convents of Great Britain (St. Louis, 1902); HELYOT, Dict. des ordres religieux (Paris, 1859).

About this page

APA citation. Rudge, F.M. (1910). Congregations of the Holy Family. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Rudge, F.M. "Congregations of the Holy Family." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Thomas M. Barrett. Dedicated to the sisters & staff of Holy Ghost School in Jackson, Mississippi.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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