Ladies Of The Sacred Heart, a religious congregation in the Roman Catholic church, devoted to education, founded in Paris, Nov. 21, 1800. Two fruitless attempts to establish a society of women devoted to the education of young ladies of the higher classes had been made by Père de Tournely, when in 1800 his successor, Joseph Désiré Varin, superior of the Fathers of the Faith, found in Madeleine Sophie Louise Barat and Octavie Bailly persons fitted for his design; and on Nov. 21 they consecrated themselves to the Heart of Jesus, and opened a school in Paris. In 1801 they went to reside in Amiens, where their community as well as their pupils increased rapidly in number. In 1802 Mme. Barat, then in her 21st year, was chosen superior, and a temporary rule was drawn up by Père Varin. Branch establishments were founded, and in 1806 a first chapter of the order was held, at which Mme. Barat was chosen superior general, which post she retained till her death in 1865. The ladies of the Sacred Heart were placed under the control of a secular priest, who, by an attempt to change their rules, created a division among them.
This checked their growth for a brief space; but the innovations being discountenanced in Rome, Père Varin completed his draught of the proposed constitutions in 1825, and they were approved by Leo XII., Dec. 22, 1826. The pope at once invited the ladies to open a house in Rome, assigning them the convent and church of Trinità de' Monti. They spread thence to the chief cities of Italy, and soon owned flourishing schools in Austria, Bavaria, Prussia, Belgium, England, and Ireland. They had come to the United States in 1817, with Bishop Du-bourg of New Orleans, and founded a house near St. Louis, Mo.; but their increase in this country is chiefly due to the late Archbishop Hughes, who in 1841 brought over from Europe a new colony of them under Mme. Elizabeth Gallitzin. They opened successfully a school at the corner of Houston and Mulberry streets, New York, then at Astoria, and finally at Manhattanville. In 1842 Mme. Gallitzin founded establishments in the Pottawattamie missions, and at McSherrystown, Md. Thenceforward the order spread to the principal states of the Union, and to the Canadian provinces, Cuba, and Chili. - The rules and constitutions are closely modelled on those of the society of Jesus, in all that regards the conditions for membership, the careful and long training for the final profession, the degrees which obtain among the members, the election of the superior general and the appointment by her of all inferior officers, the distribution of the entire body into assistancies and provinces, the rigorous obedience and poverty practised by the sisterhood, and the effective methods used to maintain the religious spirit among them.
But, beyond the mere fact of the instrumentality of Père Varin in founding this society, there is no dependence on the Jesuits and no connection between the two societies. The members employed in the higher functions of teaching and governing are designated as "choir religious," the others as lay sisters. In 1875 the order had in France 8 provinces and 42 establishments, including one in Algiers; the province of Belgium and Holland, with 4 establishments; that of England and Ireland, with 5; that of Italy, with 5; that of Spain, with 3; and that of Austria, with 5. In America, they had in the United States 3 provinces with 21 houses, the province of Canada with 5, and the province of Chili with 5, besides an establishment at Havana. The number of choir religious was • 2,325, and that of lay sisters 1,947; total, 4,272. The central house of the whole order and the residence of the superior general is in the boulevard des Invalides, Paris.