The Congregation of the Daughters of Divine Charity was founded by Mother Franziska Lechner in Vienna, Austria on November 21, 1868. Born in Bavaria, Germany, Franziska felt a strong call to religious life and searched courageously for her place in the Church. For a time she was a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame and then, after leaving that congregation she worked with a priest in Switzerland where she founded a hospital and several schools.
Mother Franziska still felt called to found a congregation and went alone to Vienna, the capital of Catholic Austria, and applied for permission to organize a women’s congregation. As the congregation grew, Mother Franziska adopted the rule of Saint Augustine for her Sisters. She began her work by opening St. Mary’s homes to provide housing for young women coming into the cities during the European Industrial Revolution. Deeply aware of the conditions of her time, she was determined to protect them from the physical and moral dangers that were rampant in the cities of the 19th century. Within a short time, the Sisters began opening schools in many areas of the Austro-Hungarian empire as well as retirement homes for the poor.
Mother Franziska Lechner died in Austria in 1894 and the work that she began continues today through her approximately 970 Daughters. We have the honor of calling her “Servant of God” as she is a candidate for beatification, a step to being officially declared a Saint.
At the present time, the Sisters are working in the following countries: Albania, Austria, Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, England, Germany, Haiti, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Uganda, Ukraine and the United States.