Catholic sisters in Europe

Paris, Saint-Marcel parish: business classes in the rue Jenner (13th arrond.), 1957. Source : Daughters of Charity, Provincial house (Paris), album 164.
Sister with a glass. Italy, Pionensa, civil hospital, n.d. [bef. 1964]. Source: Daughters of Charity, mother house (Paris), call number 3809.
A Daughter of Charity teaching poor young children how to read and sew, n.d. [early nineteenth century]. Source: DePaul University (Chicago), John T. Richardson Library, Vincentian Collection, Holy Cards, Daughters of Charity.

Nuns experienced unprecedented growth in nineteenth century Europe, driven as much by spiritual awakening as by increased social demand for instruction and care. During the  ensuing century, they successfully met the challenges of professionalization (nurses, social  workers) and became involved in new areas of popular education and unionism. They were neither cloistered nor married, and enjoyed considerable capacity for action, imposing themselves in both Europe and colonial lands/missions as strong-minded women capable of  negotiating with masculine authorities. All the same, they were sensitive to the political situation, which underwent a reversal in the 1860s, while the internal evolutions of the  Catholic Church (aggiornamento), along with the evolution of European societies during the 1960s, jeopardized a unique way of life which was symbolized by their “cornettes.”

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