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in this change was provided by the Daughters of Charity (now often called the Sisters of Charity) begun in 1633 by Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac. Though both founders privately thought of the group as a religious community, they realized that outwardly maintaining secular status was the only thing that would allow them to serve the poor and ill. The Daughters took no public vows and did not wear religious habits, and constantly stressed that they would work only where they were invited to do so by a bishop or priest. This subversion of the rules was successful, for the Daughters of Charity received papal approval and served as the model for other women's communities that emphasized educating the poor or girls. By 1700, numerous teaching and charitable 'congregations' were found throughout Catholic Europe. They explicitly used the Virgin Mary as their model, stressing that she, too, had served as a missionary when she had visited her cousin Elizabeth during Elizabeth's pregnancy with John the Baptist. The marquise de Maintenon (1635-1719), initially the governess to some of Louis XlV's children and later his (secretly married) second wife, founded a school for poor but honourable aristocratic girls at Saint-Cyr in 1686. Madame de Maintenon had been educated by the Ursulines, and saw this institution as training young women for lives of Christian virtue in the world, not in the convent. Saint-Cyr was later required to adopt the rules of a religious order, but relatively few of its graduates became nuns.

The Daughters of Charity and other such congregations were often backed by women's confraternities, whose members supported the congregation financially while also engaging in charitable works themselves. Such confraternities were patterned after those men's confraternities which had been founded by Jesuits as a means of both combating Protestantism and deepening Catholic spiritual life. Some were dedicated to spiritual practices with special meaning for women, such as saying the rosary. Both congregations and confraternities provided women with companionship, devotional practices, and an outlet for their energies beyond the household. Huge numbers of women joined them in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a phenomenon which certainly contributed to women's greater loyalty to the church in a period of growing secularism. During the French Revolution, women hid priests who refused to sign oaths of loyalty to the government, attended illegal worship services, and occasionally organized prayer meetings and processions. Anne Marie Rivier (1748-1838) led worship and opened schools in her village during the 1790s, and later founded the Presentation de Marie, which became the largest teaching congregation in much of France, with over 100 houses at the time of her death. In the early nineteenth century, when boys in some parts of Europe began to receive free public education, congregations and convents

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