Reglemens de la Compagnie des Dames de la Charité de la Paroisse de S. Paul, pour le soin des Pauvres. Paris: Chez Pierre Colin, 1669.
Call Number: SpC. 267.4420944 L155r1669
Vincent de Paul’s vision of service to the poor
revolved around organized parish-based efforts (the Confraternities of
Charity), institutional efforts (i.e., Hôtel Dieu in Paris), and
emergency relief efforts (i.e., relief of the war-torn provinces). The
organizational boundaries between these efforts were rather experimental
and porous. What characterized them all, however, was the leadership
role played by lay women, especially the Ladies of Charity and the
Daughters of Charity.
each case, Vincent required a written "rule" to be initially tested and
proved by concrete experiences. Vincent was careful to ensure that his
methodology was not simply adopted by these organizations, but also the
faith, values, and attitudes required of those who would serve Jesus
Christ in the poor.
Volume 13b of the English translation of St. Vincent's Correspondance, Conferences, Documents (originally edited by Pierre Coste, C.M.)
contains numerous examples of these early rules for the Confraternities
of Charity and the Ladies of Charity finishing with the rule for the
Ladies of Charity of Hôtel Dieu completed by Vincent shortly before his
death in 1660.
The Reglemens de la Compagnie des Dames de la Charité de la Paroisse de S. Paul, or Rules of the Company of the Ladies of Charity of the Parish of St. Paul,
was written in 1669 and is one of the earliest known printed rules for
the Ladies of Charity. The document is a fascinating testament to the
maturity and sophistication of the identity, organization and ministry
of the Ladies of Charity, who served the spiritual and material needs of
poor people in an urban, parish-based setting. The Church of St. Paul,
located on the rue Saint-Antoine in the Marais district of Paris, was a
Jesuit church. The Daughters of Charity had been sent by Louise de
Marillac to minister in this parish, and the Reglemens
delineates the working relationship between the Ladies and Sisters. The
leadership roles of the pastor and the officers of the Ladies are also
Since the Reglemens
is reflective of concrete experiences, it gives a fascinating insight
into the lives of the Parisian poor, whom the text describes as "lovable
and precious representations of the holy humanity of Christ himself."
Thus, the Ladies of Charity are reminded to always "regarder Jesus Christ dans les Pauvres, & les Pauvres comme membres de Jesus Christ."1
1Reglemens de la Compagnie des Dames de la Charité de la Paroisse de S. Paul, 33.
Vincent’s Reading List is a recurring blog series exploring texts known
to have been read and recommended by Saint Vincent de Paul, those which
can be presumed to have been read by him, and works published during
his lifetime (1581-1660) illustrating his world. All materials discussed
are held by DePaul University’s Richardson Library. The entire series may be viewed here.