The Sisters of Mercy (Sisters of Charity) never became an official order of nuns; however, they lived like nuns, wore habits, took vows, but were never isolated from the outside world. Therefore, they could actively take care of the sick and the homeless.
They arrived in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 17th century from France, following an invitation from Louisa Maria Gonzaga, Queen of Poland. Missionaries also invited the Polish Sisters of Charity to come help nurse the sick. At the time, the sisters of charity could take care of up to 200 men and women in the palace donated to them by the Archbishop Bogusław Gosiewski.
Monks established big complexes that provided shelter to all the poor, disabled and foundlings. The Sisters of Mercy patronised the first hospital in Vilnius in the 19th century; namely, St. Jacob’s Hospital. The Sisters of Charity also took care of foundlings – a shelter of the Child Jesus for foundlings was set up on Subačius Street, where children were taught how to write, read and perform a certain craft. It could be considered the first vocational school in Vilnius.