Daughters of Wisdom

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Daughters of Wisdom is a Catholic contemplative organization founded by Saint Louis de Montfort and Blessed Marie Louise Trichet.

While he was temporary chaplain of the hospital of Poitiers in 1707, he associated into a little community some pious but afflicted girls, and gave them a rule of life, the main points of which have been retained in the Rule of the Daughters of Wisdom. The congregation strives to acquire heavenly wisdom by imitating the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ. The means for imitating Christ is a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

When St Louis died in 1716, the community numbered only four sister, led by Blessed Marie Louise Trichet who had met Louis de Montfort in 1701 and became known as the First Daughter of Wisdom when she freely offered her services to the hospital. Her mother reportedly told her: "You will become as mad as that priest". That was the beginning of a forty-three year effort during which she nursed the sick; gave food to beggars and administered the great maritime hospital of France. The poor people of the Hospital of Niort (Deux-Sèvres) called her "good Mother Jesus".

The number of sisters grew to 700 by the time of the French Revolution. The sisters were severely persecuted (and imprisoned) during the French Revolution for being Catholic, but under Napoleon they recovered most of their former houses and were granted 30,000 francs for building purposes. It was in 1810, when Napoleon was temporarily the master of Europe, that, at his call, the Daughters of Wisdom left French soil for the first time to nurse the wounded soldiers at Antwerp. Numerous medals were bestowed on the congregation by Napoleon, and by every French Government since; Spain, Prussia, and Belgium have honoured them for nursing the wounded or plague-stricken soldiers of those countries; as a congregation they have been acknowledged in the Apostolic Brief of Pope Leo XII in 1825; they were canonically approved, together with the Fathers of the Company of Mary, in 1853; they were placed under Cardinal Vincenze Vanntuelli as protector, and favoured by two important decrees in 1893 and 1898 securing the integrity of Montfort's institution; and they received the definitive approbation of the constitutions of Montfort's double foundation in 1904.