Three towns alone furnished no less than 1000 orphans under the age of seven years.The Sisters of Charity spread over the world, and ever since have been looked to for the protection of the orphan, or have been the inspiration for other orders seeking to perform the same work.
Antonius Pius had established relief agencies for children. In the Apostolic Constitutions, "Orphans as well as widows are always commended to Christian love. They were the shelters where the orphans were taught learning and trade avocations.
The Christians founded hospitals, and children's asylums were established in the East. The bishop is to have them brought up at the expense of the Church and to take care that the girls be given, when of marriageable age, to Christian husbands, and that the boys should learn some art or handicraft and then be provided with tools and placed in a condition to earn their own living, so that they may be no longer necessary a burden to the Church " (Apost. The laity also were exhorted to perform their share of this charge.
When the war between France and Austria had made orphans the most acute sufferers, St.
Vincent de Paul secured as many as possible from the provinces, and had them cared for in Paris by Mlle le Gras and the Sisters of Charity then fully established.
A man should love the unfortunate orphan of whom he is guardian as if he were his own child. Those for the sick were known as nosocomia , those for poor children were known as euphotrophia , and those for orphans, orphanotrophia . Augustine says: "The bishop protects the orphans that they may not be oppressed by strangers after the death of the parents." Also epistles 252-255: "Your piety knows what care the Church and the bishops should take for the protection of all men but especially of orphan children." The rise of monastic institutions following upon this period was accelerated by the fruit of charitable work for the poor, chief amongst which was the care of children.