A French institute.
The first steps towards the foundation of this society were taken in 1625 at Roy, Picardy, by Père Pierre Guérin, Françoise Unalet, and Marie Fannier to provide for the Christian education of girls. The members were not bound by vows. After a happy beginning the organization was almost wrecked by a series of civil misfortunes. A few years later, however, some of its adherents came in contact with Mme. Marie l'Huillier de Villeneuve, who became interested in their work and was encouraged to assist in it by St. Vincent de Paul . She established a house near Paris, in 1651, and with the approval of Archbishop Jean-François de Gondi of Paris, introduced the obligation of making vows. This innovation was opposed by the older houses, and led to the formation of two branches of the society, one secular, and the other religious; papal approbation was obtained for the latter in 1668. Both institutes spread rapidly throughout France, under diocesan control, and noteworthy constitutions were drawn up by Mgr. de Rochebonne, Bishop of Noyon, in 1728. During the French Revolution the sisters were utterly dispersed. A community was established again at St. Quentin on 23 March, 1828; it continued, however, to languish, till Mgr. Simony, Bishop of Soissons, reorganized the institute in 1837, basing his rules partly on those of St. Ignatius, and partly on the old regulations. These were approved by the Holy See on 15 April, 1847. Thereafter the organization spread widely and branches were established eventually at La Louviere, Belgium, and in England at Boscombe, Southsea, and Ryde.
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