The Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod had its humble beginnings in 1838 in a small village called Chavanod set amidst the beautiful mountains of Haute Savoie, France. The scenario after the French revolution (1789-1797) and the industrialization of Europe (1750-1830) had adversely affected the socio-economic and political conditions of France especially that of Savoie.
At this time, there lived at Chavanod, in the service of the presbytery, a pious and energetic young girl Claudine Echernier. She was a native of Feternes, a small village of Chablais, and belonged to an extremely poor family. Through her folksy persona and strong Charisma, she began to lure children and young girls of the parish, in order to teach them reading, writing and catechism.
In the year 1838, Fr. Peter Mermier, a zealous priest and Founder of the Missionaries of St.Francis de Sales, was preaching at Chavanod where he met with Claudine Echernier. Inner search and research united the two minds and ripened into compassion for humanity. Thus was born in extreme poverty and great simplicity, a Congregation of a new type for those hard times. By the time of the death of Claudine Echernier in 1869, there were 300 Sisters in the Congregation. Closing the door to all wordly ambitions, Echernier condescended to the wish of her guru by founding the religious congregation ‘The Sisters of the Cross’. Today this congregation has taken roots in 15 countries.