Jeanne Jugan, the sixth of eight children of Joseph and Marie Jugan, was born on October 25, 1792 in the small village of Brittany, France. They were a very poor family. When Jeanne was 16 she became the kitchen maid of Viscountess de la Choue who took her on visits to the sick, elderly, and poor living around her estate. At the age of 25 Jeanne took a job at a hospital in France. It was during these years of work and service that she discovered her vocation, which was to serve those most in need.
In the winter of 1839, Jeanne took in an old woman who had no one to care for her. Word spread of this and more old women began showing up on Jeanne's doorstep. She took them in. A group of young women came to help Jeanne and together, they began to care for the elderly. These young women formed a religious community and called themselves the Servants of the Poor, naming Jeanne as their superior. In 1849 they changed their name to Little Sisters of the Poor and they received diocesan approval for their religious community in 1852.