Teresa Jornet e Ibars was the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Aged, better known as the Little Sisters of the Poor. She was born on January 9, 1843, to a farmer Francisco Jornet and his wife, Antonieta Ibars, in the Catalan region of Spain.
From a young age, Teresa demonstrated a strong concern for the poor, often bringing them to the home of an aunt, where they were sure to receive assistance. She later moved to the nearby city of Lérida, living with another aunt, as she pursued her education. She grew up to become a teacher in the suburbs of Barcelona.
During this time, she felt drawn to the monastic life and applied for admission to the Poor Clares near Burgos. She was prevented from doing so, however, by anti-clerical laws then in effect. Due to this turn of events, she devoted herself to her teaching, and became a Carmelite tertiary to help in the development of her spiritual life. The death of her father was followed by a severe illness which kept her homebound for a prolonged period.
At that time, she was encouraged by her spiritual director, the Reverend Saturnino López y Novoa, to undertake the care of the many elderly people of the region who were living in solitude and poverty. This answered a strong sense of futility Teresa had been feeling in her life, and she accepted the challenge.