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The Little Sisters of the Poor is a Roman Catholic religious institute for women. It was founded in 1839 by Saint Jeanne Jugan. Jugan established the order to care for the elderly, having felt the need to care for the many impoverished elderly who lined the streets of French towns and cities.
The motherhouse of the order is in Saint-Pern, France. Internationally, the letters following their name are PSDP. In the United States, however, they are LSP. Today the Little Sisters of the Poor serve in 31 countries around the world (including homes in the United States, Turkey, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Penang, New Zealand, and Philippines), continuing in their original purpose of caring for the elderly. As of January 1, 2014, they were one of the larger religious institutes of women in the Catholic Church, with 234 houses and 2,372 members.
Members, per the evangelical counsels, make vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, but also a fourth, hospitality. They believe hospitality perfects the other three by bringing their religious consecration into the realities of everyday life and giving a spiritual dimension to the many humble tasks of hospitality performed throughout the day.
The Sisters continue the tradition of begging, which was set forth by their foundress, Jugan. To provide for the needs of the aged poor, she traveled the roads of France on foot seeking alms. She was recognized by the begging basket she carried. Knocking on doors, she asked for not only money but also for gifts that were needed, such as food, clothing, wood, and wool.
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