Charitable activity of female religious orders in Poland in the early modern period Cover Image

Działalność charytatywna zakonów żeńskich w Polsce nowożytnej
Charitable activity of female religious orders in Poland in the early modern period

Author(s): Marian Surdacki
Subject(s): Christian Theology and Religion, History, Theology and Religion
Published by: Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II - Wydział Teologii
Keywords: mercy; charitable activity; hospitals; religious orders; female congregations; the Sisters of Charity; the Sisters Canonesses of the Holy Spirit; orphanages; the sick

Summary/Abstract: The development of hospital services in the Polish State was associated with baptism, the development of Christianity and church organization, and above all, the arrival of religious orders. In the Middle Ages, male religious orders played a huge role in charitable activities, while in modern times female congregations dealing with charity and hospital services were of great importance in that regard.As for female religious orders in the Middle Ages, the Benedictine and Cistercian nuns were the first ones who were engaged in running hospitals and charity work, although it was not their primary mission and charisma. Sometimes hospitals were also run by the Poor Clare Sisters of the Second Franciscan Order, the Magdalene Sisters, the Bridgettine Sisters, and primarily by the Beguines, loose groups of women who were close mostly to Dominican and Franciscan churches and the rules of community life, that is the Third Order. The most important congregation, however, turned out to be the Sisters Canonesses of the Holy Spirit (duchaczki in Polish), who from the beginning of the thirteenth century run, along with the male branch of the Order, Holy Spirit hospital in Cracow, which specialized in the care of abandoned children and was the largest and the most important one in Poland until the Enlightenment. The great development of charitable female religious congregations occurred after the Council of Trent (1545-1563). Undoubtedly, the most significant of which were the Sisters of Charity (so-called szarytki in Polish) founded by St. Vincent de Paul in Paris in 1633. In Poland, they had 29 houses, where they ran hospitals, orphanages and schools for girls, including the poor. Similar activities, although at a smaller scale, were done by the Sisters of St. Catherine from Braniewo, founded in 1571 by Regina Protman. In addition, charitable activities were undertaken by the Congregation of the Virgins of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (founded in Cracow in the 1620s by Zofia Czeska), the Visitation Sisters (founded by St. Francis de Sales -1601, Geneva,) and the Mariavites founded in 1737 by Stefan Turczynowicz in Vilnius.Apart from the above mentioned orders, the work of mercy was developed, on the margins of its core mission, by most non-charitable female religious congregations existing in Poland in the period before the partitions.

  • Issue Year: 2015
  • Issue No: 103
  • Page Range: 237-271
  • Page Count: 35
  • Language: Polish