These sisters are established in religion under the Rule of St. Augustine, the institute being dependent on the pope represented by the bishop. Before the end of the thirteenth century the Hôtel-Dieu of Dieppe ( Diocese of Rouen ) was served by Hermit Sisters of St. Augustine. They formed a secular congregation, lived on goods held in common and on alms, and observed constitutions drawn up for their use. Apart from the services they rendered to the Hôtel-Dieu, they were also employed in assisting the sick poor in all quarters of the city. To these primitive hospitallers is connected, by an unbroken chain of credible traditions, the Institute of the Mercy of Jesus, a branch of the order founded by the Bishop of Hippo. The constitution establishes two classes of religious: lay sisters and choir sisters. The former are employed at the manual tasks of the community, in order to relieve the choir religious. They are not obliged to recite the Divine Office, neither do they nurse the sick. The choir religious are obliged to recite the Divine Office in common, and daily employed in attendance on the sick. They are obliged as far as health will permit to go at least once a day to the hospital to render some service to the poor. Two of their number take in turn the night-watch in the wards.
The chapter is composed of all who are ten years professed. They elect a superior triennially, but her charge may not be prolonged beyond six years. They also elect the assistant, the mistress of novices, the treasurer, and four other advisers, thus forming the council of eight principal officers. The same officers may be retained as long as they have the majority of votes in the chapter. The costume of the sisters is entirely white with a black veil for the professed and a white veil for the novices. This costume is the same as that formerly worn by the Canonesses of St. Augustine. A gown and a leather girdle, a gimp, a bandeau, and a veil compose the different parts, to which is added a black serge cape for choir duties. To-day the Hospitallers of the Mercy of Jesus have communities in France at Dieppe, Rennes, Eu, Vitré, Château-Goutier-St-Julien, Château-Goutier-St-Joseph, Malestroit, Auray, Tréguier, Lannion, Guingamp, Morlaix, Pont-l'Abbé, Gouarec, Fougères, Harcourt, and Bayeux ; in England, at Waterloo (Liverpool); in Canada, at Quebec (3 communities), Lévis, and Chicoutimi ; in Africa, at Estcourt (Natal), Durban, Ladysmith, and Pietermaritzburg; in Holland, at Maasbracht; and in Italy, at Turin.
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