Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Originally a pious association of ladies formed in 1626 for the care of the sick in the hospital of St. Charles at Nancy, but constituted a religious community in 1652 after being generously endowed by the father of Emmanuel Chauvenel, a young advocate who had given his life in the service of the sick. The members placed themselves under the patronage of St. Charles Borromeo, the Apostle of Charity, and adapted the rules and constitutions drawn up by Père Epiphane Louys, Abbot of Estival and Vicar-General of the Reformed Premonstratensians. By the middle of the eighteenth century the congregation was in charge of numerous hospitals, and shortly afterwards took up as an additional task the Christian education of children. During the Revolutionary period the members, although dispersed and deprived of their garb, continued their work so heroically as to win the encomiums of their persecutors. On 22 July, 1804, they reassumed their religious habit, obtained the approval of Napoleon, and were soon in a flourishing condition. Their rule, based on that of St. Augustine, received papal approbation in 1859, and additional constitutions were confirmed by Leo XIII in 1892. Their work includes the direction of all manner of charitable institutions, such as domestic and trade schools, homes for first communicants, protectories, poor-houses, homes for defectives, and female reformatories, as well as the care of the sick in their homes. They also have charge of schools, including a number of normal institutes in Austria. Candidates must spend one year as postulants and from three to four and a half years as novices before being admitted to the congregation. The auxiliary sisters for the care of the sick renew their vows annually.

There are several entirely independent branches of Borromean Sisters. In 1838 one was established by Aloysius Joseph Freiherr von Schrenk, Prince- Bishop of Prague (died 1849), which was confirmed as a separate congregation in 1841, and now numbers 900 members in 102 houses, chiefly in Bohemia, Moravia, and Upper and Lower Austria. In 1848 Melchior Freiherr von Diepenbrock, Prince- Bishop of Breslau, invited the Prague Borromeans to found a house at Neisse, which, in 1857, was raised to the rank of the mother-house of a separate congregation. Later the mother-house was transferred to Trebnitz, and temporarily, during the Kulturkampf, to Teschen, where a provincial house for Austria was later established (1889). A house of this congregation founded at Alexandria in 1884 was, in 1894, made a provincial mother-house and a novitiate for the Orient, with the direction of schools, an asylum for the aged, and a hospice for German pilgrims. Affiliated foundations have been made at Jerusalem (1886), Haifa (1888), Cairo (1904), and Emmaus. The members of the Trebnitz congregation number 1900, in 211 houses. In 1811 a foundation was made from Nancy at Trier whence the congregation spread to other cities of Western Germany. In 1849 a provincial house was erected at Trier which by decree of Pius IX (18 September, 1872), was made the mother-house of an independent congregation. A famous Borromean institution is St. Hedwig's Hospital at Berlin, founded in 1846 by Angelika Eschweiler. The Trier branch comprises over 1200 sisters in 70 houses. A foundation was also made at Maastricht in 1837 by Peter Anton van Baer.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 5:21-33
21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.22 ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents] How blessed are all who fear Yahweh, who walk in his ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:18-21
18 He went on to say, 'What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 25th, 2016 Image

St. Daria
October 25: There is very little known about them. ... Read More