Chronicling the history of the Daughters of Charity through the seventeenth century, this study examines how the community's existence outside of convents helped to change the nature of women's religious communities and the early modern Catholic church. Unusually for the time, this group of Catholic religious women remained uncloistered.
They lived in private houses in the cities and towns of France, offering medical care, religious instruction and alms to the sick and the poor; by the end of the century, they were France's premier organization of nurses.
This book places the Daughters of Charity within the context of early modern poor relief in France - the author shows how they played a critical role in shaping the system, and also how they were shaped by it. The study also examines the complicated relationship of the Daughters of Charity to the Catholic church of the time, analyzing it not only for what light it can shed on the history of the community, but also for what it can tell us about the Catholic Reformation more generally.