The community of the Little Sisters of Jesus was born on September 8 with the religious profession of L.sr. Magdeleine of Jesus [Magdeleine Hutin]. At the beginning it was exclusively dedicated to nomadic people and to Muslims.
On July 26 L.sr. Magdeleine received within herself the conviction that the community was being called to open itself to the whole word, while still retaining a special quality of friendship for believers in Islam.
L.sr. Magdeleine turned over the leadership of the community to L.sr. Jeanne, who was barely 30 years old. She wanted it to function independently of herself personally. This decision gave her the possibility of dedicating herself more freely to establishing new communities of Little Sisters.
L.sr. Magdeleine began systematically travelling through the different continents. She was searching for the most far-flung countries, and the most maginalized contexts, in which to plant communities.
L.sr. Magdeleine and L.sr. Jeanne made a trip around the world. Everywhere they sought out the least accessible groups of people, and if the bishops accepted them, new communities sprang up.
After an official Apostolic Visitation from the Holy See (1959-1961), the community received the status of Pontifical Right (that is, coming under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome (the Pope), and no longer that of the local Bishop where a congregation was founded). The foundation at Tre Fontane in Rome became the general headquarters.
During the Second Vatican Council L.sr. Magdeleine met with bishops attending this historic meeting of the Church. She was delighted with the changes happening within the Church, which corresponded to her own intuitions.
The fifth General Chapter (a meeting of a congregation at the world level, usually through elected delegates) elected L.sr. Carla (Italian) as General Responsible. It was the first time a non-French Sister assumed this service. The General Chapter which followed elected L.sr. Iris Mary, who was South African.
The Constitutions received the Church’s definitive approval.
L.sr. Magdeleine died in Tre Fontane on November 6. This woman who had summed up the ideal of our community in the single word “unity” would have been happy to see her funeral gathering together friends of every denomination and faith, every background and culture. The night before the service the Berlin wall fell, and the border opened between the two parts of Germany: a breach opened in the Iron Curtain that could not be closed.
The tenth General Chapter turned its attention to the new stage that the community had entered into with the large number of elderly sisters. History gave the Little Sisters the possibility of directly incarnating the disconcerting fragility of the little Child of Bethlehem.