In Rome, Paula and her companions experienced severe poverty. They lived in two tiny rooms over the Torlonia stables, in Holy Apostles Lane. Here they experienced a taste of the hard life lived by the poorest of this Catholic City.
This situation was no obstacle to Paula in giving herself immediately to do the good she saw was “immense and urgent”.
She established the Work of St. Dorothy in seven parishes: St. Maria Maggiore, St. James in Augusta, St. Bernard, St. Mary sopra Minerva, St. Lucy of Gonfalone, St. Angelo in Pescheria and St. Mark.
In their little house, together with her companions she taught catechism and a sample of normal school subjects.
Eighteenth century Rome presented a sharp contrast between its splendid churches and monuments, and the poor, humid shacks in its squalid slum areas.
The cultured, affluent aristocracy was a strong contrast from the poverty and ignorance of the vast number of the ordinary people.
Yet in these refined circles often behind a front of apparent security and prestige sad situations of moral and spiritual miseries lay hidden.
Although Paula confirmed her preference for poor children whom she described as, “pure images of God without a frame”, she was always attentive to be of service to humanity. She saw the necessity of educating young girls from the more affluent families, so that in the future they could be the Christian leaven in the leading class.
In a time in history when class difference was still a prominent feature of society, Paula tried informally, to diminish the divide between rich and poor children, so that they could help each other.
Having found a larger house near St. Maria Maggiore she opened a boarding school.
According to the expressed desire of Pope Gregory XVI, she later moved to Salita S. Onofrio were His Holiness askedher to transform a poorly managed charitable establishment into a boarding school. This became the Motherhouse where Paula lived until her death.