Religious Communities for Women
Chapter 5:


Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi…

The Franciscan spirituality comprises POVERTY, SIMPLICITY, JOY, holy liberty and brotherly charity.

Like St. Francis, the Little Sister praises the Lord through every creature, tries to become “another Christ”, reproducing in her life the virtues and the Passion of Jesus, wants herself to be “humble and obedient to everyone”.

With the Poverello of Assisi, the Little Sister sings her thanksgiving Hymn: “Praise and bless my Lord, thank Him and serve Him with all due humility!”

“We must never wish to pass beyond the others, but rather we must be the servants and subjects of any human creature for God’s sake.”

“Do not keep anything for yourself, in order that He might wholly receive you, who gives Himself wholly to you.” (St. Francis of Assisi)

…And of Mother Josephine, Foundress

On December 8, 1873, Aloysia Renault (Mother Josephine, as a religious), after a painful youth, founded in Angers the Congregation of Little Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, based on sacrifice and renunciation, which soon flourished, spreading with amazing rapidity over the West of France.  The Congregation was approved by the Holy See on February 28, 1944.

In the beginning, the Little Sisters of St. Francis had devoted themselves only to the care of the sick people, rich or poor, at their own house or in medical clinics.  But after the Second Vatican Council, the Congregation turned away from the Holy Rules planned by their Venerable Foundress.  Consequently, in 1971, many of the Sisters founded a branch of strict observance, and following a semi-contemplative life, as to save their religious consecration.

The Little Sisters of St. Francis want to remain faithful to the spiritual inheritance of Mother Josephine: simplicity, tender compassion to every suffering, unlimited love of Christ the Redeemer, great confidence in St. Joseph, celestial Patron of the Congregation.  “My Daughters, do not forget that you are no more than Little Sisters of St. Francis . . . very little sisters, the last of all; that you are made to serve not to be served.”

“Like St. Francis, our poverty will be our strength . . . with the fear of God the confidence in His amiable Providence and love of neighbor, we shall always be rich enough!” (Mother Josephine)

St Francis of Assisi

Semi-Contemplative Religious

Franciscan of the Regular Third-Order of Penitence, the Little Sisters join a life of prayer to acts of charity.  They only leave their convent by necessity.

The Little Sisters of St. Francis have a special devotion to the Passion of Christ and to Our Lady of Compassion.  Together with Jesus on the Cross, they pray and sacrifice themselves for the Church and the needs of everyone confided to them.

In a spirit of reparation and penance, they especially practice renunciation and self-denial, but also the mortification done in the Order of St. Francis, compatible with their state duties.

The Congregation is especially dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to Mary Immaculate.


In order to become a Little Sister of St. Francis, it is necessary to remain 6 to 9 months as a Postulant, then 2 years as a Novice.  During their Novitiate, the Little Sisters receive a thorough religious education.  They attend courses about the Holy Rule, Vows, Constitutions, and also about the Bible, Dogma, History of the Church, ascetical and mystical Theology, Franciscan spirituality…

An essential part is reserved to prayer during the years of formation.  The novices have no connection with the world and must prepare themselves to take their vows in silence and meditation.

The study of the Constitution during the Noviciate

…Then Professed

The Novitiate is followed by the Profession of Temporary Vows.  The Vows are taken annually during three years, and then renewed for two years before the Perpetual Profession.

United with Jesus by the simple Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, the Little Sisters make themselves poor, in order to be rich for God; pure, keeping their hearts to their Divine Spouse, and at the same time radiant with charity to others; obedient in imitation of Christ, “obedient until the death of the Cross”.

In the evening of their consecration, the newly Professed put down their crowns of roses at the feet of Mary.

The moving ceremony of the taking of the habit

The Days of the Little Sisters are made of…


Psalmody of Divine Office in the Choir (Roman Breviary) chanted on feast days.

Meditation for half an hour in the morning and in evening, and moreover one hour of spiritual free time.

Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament day and night.

Daily Mass according to the traditional rite.  The Little Sisters unite themselves to the sacrifice of Jesus upon the altar.

Rosary together, as a sign of filial piety towards the Immaculate Virgin.

Way of the Cross, a typically Franciscan devotion.

The Little Sisters renew their ardor in their devotion by making annual and monthly retreats, by spiritual conferences and personal readings.

The Community with Archbishop Lefebvre in 1989

Joy and Charity

Joy, fraternal charity, mutual good understanding, family spirit characterize the congregation whose motto is “Cor unum et anima una”.

This very Franciscan charity is made manifest in common recreation after meals and on the day of relaxation, where cheerfulness and spontaneity combine with religious deportment.

Throughout the day the Little Sisters keep silence; there is a reading during meals.  However charity unites them as much during work as during recreation.


The Little Sisters fulfil the various community duties according to their aptitudes.  They work in silence for the Glory of God, their own sanctification and the salvation of souls.

“Friars shall work faithfully and devoutly, putting away idleness hostile to the soul, so that they do not extinguish the spirit of prayer.” (St. Francis of Assisi)

On the feast of Corpus Christi


The main purpose of the Little Sisters is apostleship, first by prayer, then by acts of charity: taking care of the sick at their own houses or in the convent by the religious nurses; serving and welcoming the guests and boarders; helping old and infirm people; teaching catechism and preparing both the children and adults for the reception of the Sacraments; providing a home for those on retirement.  “The nurse’s mission is noble and necessary.  Its purpose is to procure the good of body and soul, it is for time and eternity; it is a true apostleship” (Pius XII).

Le Trevoux

“To sing is to pray twice.”(St. Augustine)

At LE TREVOUX where the Monastery and the Novitiate of the Little Sisters make their residence now, liturgy is especially honored.  The Little Sisters have at heart to raise the divine service and to provide the religious offices: - Sacristy; making sacred linen; ornamenting liturgical vestments; religious art; Gregorian and polyphonic chants.  The schola sings the Solemn Mass, Vespers and benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Sundays and all feasts.  Compline is sung every evening of the week.  “Manifest all the respect and honor that you can, to the Most Sacred Body and Blood of Christ, Our Lord.” (St. Francis)

On the feast of Corpus Christi

Monastere S. Francis at Le Trevoux – Monastere N. D. des Fontaines at Morlaix

In the Mother House of Little Sisters of St. Francis at Le Trevoux the principal works are: welcoming and several duties concerning those needing rest or making spiritual retreats, catechisms and nursery.

Since 1983, the Little Sisters have another house in “Traonfeunteuniou”, commune of Ploujean, near Morlaix (Finistere, Britanny).  There, a small community takes care of the material needs of old age pensioners and also lives a semi-contemplative life. 

If a young lady feels called to the religious life, she may come and remain in the Monastery to examine her vocation without any commitment.

To be admitted to the Congregation, she must have a sufficient knowledge of the French language, enjoy a good physical and mental health, be good tempered and have a generous and persevering will of devoting herself to others.

Mother House of Little Sisters of St. Francis at Le Trevoux

Rev. Mother Superior
The Little Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi

Tel: [33] 2 98 71 88 79

Other Franciscan Congregations:

Convent of Christ the King
1409 E. Meyer Boulevard -
Kansas City - MO 64131

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