Although the deterioration of their parents’ marriage would have been distressing enough, the two youngest Papin sisters were held under the care of their aunt and uncle. The eldest of the three Papin sisters, Emilia, was allegedly raped by her father in 1912 at the age of 9 or 10. After this, Emilia was sent to the Bon Pasteur Catholic Orphanage.
Not long after Emilia was shipped to the children’s home, Christine and Léa soon followed. Reports vary on what exactly the purpose of the orphanage was. Some accounts label the orphanage as a mental institution, where the girls were given treatment due to the breakdown of their parents’ marriage.
Regardless, the three sisters spent their adolescence at the orphanage, which seemed to have a profound effect on them all. Emilia, the eldest sister first began her journey to becoming a catholic nun, which she later achieved before estranging herself from the Papin family entirely.
Christine also showed interest in becoming a nun but her mother would not allow her, instead seeking to put her in regular employment.
According to The Vintage News, “Christine was described as a hard worker and a good cook who could be insubordinate at times.” Léa seemed to show different qualities, being described as “quiet and introverted but obedient, and was considered less intelligent than Christine.”
After reaching the age of work at the time, the two girls took employment as maids in the many homes around Le Mans. However, they would never work apart and reportedly insisted that they do their work together at all times.