Grey Nuns

A name given to “Sisters of Charity.” The North American “Grey Nuns of Charity” were founded by Madame d'Youville in Montreal in 1737 as a small community of women devoted to the care of the sick. Their Rule (1745), besides the usual three vows, included the promise to devote their lives to the relief of suffering. They persisted in their dedication despite hostility and invective. They were called les soeurs grises (“the drunken sisters”), so they deliberately chose grey (gris) as the color of their habit (1755). They spread to other parts of North America, forming separate congregations, e.g., “Grey Nuns of the Cross” at Ottawa (1845), “Grey Nuns of Quebec” (1849), “Grey Nuns of the Immaculate Conception” (1926). The name is given also to Sisters of Charity in France, and to the “Grey Sisters of St. Elizabeth” in Germany.