Our Foundress, Frances Schervier, was born on January 3, 1819 in Aachen Germany. The daughter of a wealthy manufacturer, Frances often visited her father’s factory to distribute food and clothing to the workers. She saw much suffering in her own neighborhood and knew that many (often children) worked in awful conditions and that many were poor. Still in her teenage years, this experience shaped her life. A prayerful young woman, she dared to dream of helping the people living in her community who were sick and poor. She wrote: “I felt a glowing flame of holy love for my neighbor.”
In 1844 Frances joined a group of people who lived according to the inspiration and ideals of St. Francis, called the Secular Third Order of St. Francis. This Order was founded by St. Francis himself; it was for lay people who desired to live simply and serve the poor. At that time she and several friends served meals to the poor at a soup kitchen in their local parish church of St. Paul’s in Aachen, Germany.
On May 11, 1845, Frances along with four friends founded a religious congregation of women dedicated to bringing healing, hope and compassion to the poor and suffering. The founding date has spiritual significance because it was the Feast of Pentecost, May 11, 1845, which celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit into the entire world.
As Frances Schervier worked among the poor, she became more radically aware of how God was leading her and her group of friends to be instruments of compassion, hope and healing. Frances was called to a giving of herself and her congregation to healing. This gift deeply penetrated her being.
"In the poor and suffering, I recognized my Divine Saviour as clearly as if I had seen Him with my bodily eyes."
Today healing continues to be the mission of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor they are called to give witness to the love of God by being instruments of compassion and hope for the community of life.
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