The Sisters of Charity of St. Joan Antida are an international community founded on April 11, 1799 by Jeanne Antide Thouret. At the age of 22 and after seeing a vision of hands reaching out to her through a cloister grille, Jeanne Antide decided to join a community that combined prayer, community living, and ministry to the poor. They were called the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. During the French Revolution, all of the Sisters were disbanded and sent back to their hometowns. Jeanne Antide joined other groups of religious but none of them met her needs. She was invited back to Besancon to begin work among the people of her diocese. She agreed, and on April 11th opened a free school for the education of girls. She also visited the sick and opened a soup kitchen to feed the poor.
This legacy continues to this day as the sisters continue to respond to the cries of the poor. The political and the historical circumstances during the time of Jeanne-Antide brought about a separation within the Congregation with a Superior General in Rome and another one in Besançon. However nobody truly relinquished this separation. Since the death of Jeanne-Antide, the contacts between Rome and Besançon were never lacking as well as suggestions to unite afresh the two branches. A long journey however was necessary down the years in order to arrive to an official unity. It was at the beginning of the 20th century that the Sisters of Charity left Europe towards other continents in order to answer the calls of the Church (especially during the Vatican Council II) or when challenged by the political and social events (Latin America, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sudan, India, Vietnam…).