Old chapel of the Little Sisters of the Poor (now only the façade remaining) (23 January 2005)
Little Sisters of the Poor (GPS: 5.40265, 100.29671), 79 Batu Lanchang Lane, 11400 Penang. is the home for the aged located at Batu Lanchang Lane in Air Itam. The Penang home of the Little Sisters of the Poor was founded in 1952, on a site donated by prominent philanthropist Aw Boon Par and Madam Teh Ah Lan. The building, constructed in the Art Deco style, along with its gateway, was completed in 1954, and officially opened in 1955.
The Little Sisters of the Poor is a Roman Catholic order of nuns. It was started by a Frenchwoman from Brittany named Jeanne Jugan. The sixth out of eight children, Jeanne led a hard life. Her father died when she was small, compelling her mother to raise all the children on her own.
View of the Art Deco style main building (23 January 2005)
At the age of 16, Jeanne took a job as kitchen helper to the Viscountess de la Choue. The Viscountess was a devout Catholic. She took Jeanne along when she goes to visit the sick and destitute. Her charitable work had an effect on Jeanne, who nine years later decided to take up a job at the local hospital. She worked there for six years, and left that job when she went to work for an elderly woman. Together, the two women began to look after the poor and destitute, until when Jeanne's elderly companion passed away.
In 1837, Jeanne and another elderly woman, 72-year-old Francoise Aubert, rented a small cottage and used it to form a prayer community. They were joined by Virginie Tredaniel, a 17-year-old orphan. Together, they started a ministry to teach the catechism and helping the poor. The Little Sisters of the Poor organization had an unofficial start in 1839, when Jeanne brought home a blind widow named Anne Chauvin and began looking after her. Through the encouragement of her companions, Jeanne began the work to look after abandoned elderly women, forming the organisation now known as the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Jeanne Jugan passed away in 1885. On 3 October 1982, she was beatified in Rome by Pope John Paul II. Today, the organization that Jeanne Jugan founded runs homes for the elderly in 32 countries, including the one in Penang. The Little Sisters of the Poor in Kuala Lumpur, located in Cheras, is also called St Francis Xavier's Home for the Elderly.
Statue of Mary and the infant Jesus (23 January 2005)
Little Sisters of the Poor
79 Batu Lanchang Lane
Phone: +60 4 828 3437
The easiest way to reach the Little Sisters of the Poor is by car. At present, the Rapid Penang buses do not pass near there.
Former entrance to the Little Sisters of the Poor from Batu Lanchang Lane, now closed. The new entrance is to the left of this gate. (23 January 2005)
What to see
The Little Sisters of the Poor is not a tourist sight, and will only be of interest to those who have an intention to visit it for social purposes.
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