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I 606-I 680 

The Congregation of 
Saint Joseph of Carondelet 




Of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, 
St. Louis, Missouri 

■ /v -* *.*,. 



Archbishop of St. Louis 








Sti. Ludovici, die 30. Aug., 1923. 

F. G. Holweck, 

Censor Librorum 


Sti. Ludovici, die 31. Aug., 1923. 

^Joannes J. Glennon, 
Archie pise opus 

Sti. Ludovici 

Copyright, 1923, 


The Congregation of St. Joseph 

of Carondelet 

All rights reserved 
Printed in U. S. A. 

4*± _i* ... 'A 










The history of a religious congregation is necessarily limited 
in scope. It is rarely of interest to the general public. Its im- 
portance is relative, in that it forms but a line, a paragraph, or 
a page in the larger history of the Church's activities. It is 
only to the congregation itself that a knowledge of its past is 
of vital significance. Viewed in its present workings, each 
religious community resembles many others. It is differen- 
tiated from all others in the circumstances which called it 
into being, the motives which actuated its founders, the ideals 
which have guided and influenced its growth. Thus the very 
identity of an institution is bound up irrevocably with the story 
of its origin, its development, and its traditions, all of which 
must be familiar to the workers of today, if the movements of 
yesterday are to be perpetuated and continuity of life and effort 
maintained. The past must impart its wisdom to the present 
that the future may justify both and fulfil their aspirations. 

This history has been undertaken in the hope that a sympathetic 
understanding of the difficulties which beset a religious com- 
munity in its progress may lead to a greater appreciation of all 
such bodies in the realization of their aims ; and that youthful 
aspirants to a life of labor in the Lord's vineyard may draw en- 
couragement from a view of obstacles happily overcome. 

Two chief difficulties present themselves to the author of a 
work of this nature : the absence of striking events such as 
ordinarily render an historical narrative interesting to the gen- 
eral reader; and the meagerness of sources of information. The 
life of retirement from the world which all communities lead 
in a greater or less degree contributes largely to both. Same- 
ness quite naturally pervades days, months and years regulated 



by rule; and community annals, frequently the only sources of 
information, have rarely, if ever, been kept with a view to pub- 
licity. Few communities emerge from the by-paths of history 
often enough to be met with on the high-ways; and general 
works, even of Church history, are in consequence practically 
useless except at the cross roads, where they serve only to point 
the way. 

The Congregation of Saint Joseph, suppressed during the 
French Revolution, suffered an irreparable loss in the destruction 
of its records kept previous to that event. For this period of 
the Congregation's history, the author has relied chiefly on the 
work of Leon Bouchage, chaplain for many years of the Sisters 
of Saint Joseph in Chambery, and a member of the Academy of 
Savoy, who, in the preparation of the Chroniques des Soeurs de 
Saint Joseph de Chambery, had access to many unedited docu- 
ments in various Departments of France, and to convent archives 
in France and Savoy. For assistance in collecting much ma- 
terial relative to the history of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 
America, she is indebted to numerous members of her Congre- 
gation in different parts of the United States, to all of whom she 
make* grateful acknowledgment, especially to Reverend Mother 
Mary Agnes Rossiter, Superior-General, whose constant and help- 
ful encouragement has been a source of inspiration. 

She takes this occasion of thanking the Right Reverend F. G. 
Holweck of St. Louis for the use of manuscript letters belonging 
to the Rosati collection in the St. Louis Diocesan Archives ; also 
Reverend Patrick William Browne, S.T.D., Instructor in Church 
History at the Catholic University of America, for valuable 
suggestions given. She expresses her gratitude in a very 
special manner to Reverend Nicholas Aloysius Weber, S.M., 
S.T.D., Professor of History at the Catholic University of 
America, under whose direction during three years the work was 



I Origin and Early History (1650-1794) .... 1 

II Restoration and Spread of the Congregation 

(1807-1835) 16 

III Beginnings of the Congregation in America 

(1836-1839) 27 

IV Carondelet, the Mother House of the Congrega- 

tion (1836-1839) 43 

V Mother Celestine Pommerel, St. Joseph's Acad- 
emy and First Missions in St. Louis (1840- 
1846) 55 

VI Foundations in Pennsylvania (1847), Minnesota 
(1851), Canada ( 1851 ), Virginia (1853), New- 
York (1854) 6S 

VII Pioneer Days in Minnesota (1851-1857) ... 80 

VIII The Progress of a Decade. Death of Mother 

Celestine Pommerel (1847-1857) .... 94 

IX Period of Reorganization : General Govern- 
ment. Papal Approbation (1858-1867) . .112 

X Expansion of the Congregation under Mother 

Saint John Facemaz (1860-1872) .... 129 

XI The Administration of Reverend Mother Agatha 

Guthrie (1872-1904) 154 

XII On the Mission Field. Death of Reverend 

Mother Agatha Guthrie (1904) .... 183 

XIII The Congregation in the East (1858-1922) . . 208 

XIV Expansion in the North (1858-1922) .... 229 

XV Pioneers in Arizona. The California Mission 

(1870-1922) 248 

XVI Missionary Work among the Western Indians 

(1873-1922) 270 




XVII The Administration of Reverend Mother Agnes 
Gonzaga Ryan. Benevolent Works of the 
Congregation. (1905-1922) , 296 

Bibliography 3 10 

Appendix 319 

Index 329 



I Henry de Maupas du Tour, Bishop of Le Puy and of 

Evreux Frontispiece 


II Mother Saint John Fontbonne 12 

III Joseph Rosati, First Bishop of St. Louis 30 

IV Mother Celestine Pommerel 56 

V Mother Saint John Facemaz 112 

VI Sister Julia Littenecker 124 

VII Mother Agatha Guthrie 156 

VIII Peter Richard Kenrick, First Archbishop of St. Louis . 179 
IX Mother Agnes Gonzaga Ryan 296 


I St. Joseph's Academy and Mother House, Carondelet . 46 
II Fontbonne College 73 

III St. Joseph's Hospital, St. Paul, Minnesota .... 90 

IV The St. Teresa Junior College and Academy, Kansas 

City, Missouri 144 

V Nazareth Retreat. Cemetery at Nazareth Retreat . .168 
VI Tower and Court, Mother House 174 

VII Holy Family Chapel, Mother House 204 

VIII St. Joseph's Seminary and Provincial House, Troy, New 

York 224 

IX College of St. Rose of Lima, Albany, New York . . 226 

X St. Joseph's Novitiate and Provincial House, St. Paul, 

Minnesota 236 



XI St. Catherine's Chapel and College Hall, College of St. 

Catherine, St. Paul 244 

XII St. Mary's Academy and Provincial House, Los Angeles, 

California 260 

XIII Cloister and Court, St. Mary's Academy, Los Angeles . 268 

XIV Mission San Xavier del Bac, Arizona 272 

XV St. Mary's Hospital, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

St. Joseph's Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri .... 302 

XVI Mount St. Joseph, Provincial House, Augusta, Georgia . 306 


These latter days for many of our people are drab and gray. 
Life has lost the vigor, sparkle and buoyancy of previous years. 
Just as when a fever has run its course there comes exhaustion of 
body and mind, so today, after the war, our people are tired and 
disappointed, with little in the present to bring comfort, while the 
future looms up dark and threatening. Seeking relief from these 
conditions they rush madly to the amusement center, where one 
can laugh and forget. Unwilling or unable to do sustained 
thinking, they naturally seek amusement that requires no men- 
tality. They must have something that will thrill them ; let it be 
as foolish and as frivolous as you will, they enjoy it as tired 
children do and ask for more. Yet they would not be regarded 
as altogether thoughtless — as altogether frivolous. Even the 
tired mind or body still seeks employment. Hence we have from 
the benches the demand for action which they can interpret, 
movement which they can follow, and crime which they can 
analyze. They would be philosophers, psychologists and what 
not, provided Only that, substituting the nervous system for the 
soul, you set up the abnormal, the irregular, the unmoral, for 
their inane and sympathetic study. 

Under such conditions, it would appear to be highly inop- 
portune to publish a book whose object is to tell "the short and 
simple annals" of a society of women whose only claim to atten- 
tion is that they are and have been friends of the poor, teachers 
of little children and humble followers of the Nazarene; es- 
pecially, when, as is the case before us, the accomplished writer 
must complete her task according to modern historical standards, 
writing only substantial truths in a substantial way. According 
to that standard, she must set down facts without exaggeration 



or extenuation, calmly weigh them, coldly present them ; and for 
embellishment, she may not go beyond the notes which serve as 
a reference. A book so written has little appeal to the world of 
today. For the world has been deceived so often during these 
last years; so much has been set before it as solemn fact, which 
proved to be the veriest fiction, that it has come to suspect every- 
body, accusing even the historian with being a propagandist. "A 
truce to facts and factmongers," they say; "give us the tinselled 
show, label it fantasy, dream, illusion. A passing show it may 
be; but what care we? We, too,, are passing, and after us — 
the deluge." 

And yet even to those who so declaim, I commend this book 
"Tolle, lege." Read the lines and then between them. Do you 
want something heroic? Well, there in the year 1650 in the 
Church of Le Puy, France, stands Bishop de Maupas. He hands 
to the lily-white daughters of France a cross. "Wear it openly," 
he says to them; "bear it bravely, just as Christ did up anguished 
heights. Carry it down the ways of pain into homes of fever, 
into the warrens of the poor ; bear it to far off lands. Be it your 
oriflame, to light you to victory. When in death you resign it, 
let other hands and hearts like to yours in consecration take up the 
burden, preserving it ever in their and your society's keeping 
during the onrolling centuries." 

Yes, gentle reader, you are right in claiming that human nature 
is inconstant, ever changing, ever seeking something new. Yet, 
today, in the face of a world's inconstancy, the Sisters of Saint 
Joseph, ten-thousand strong, still carry, still cherish, the cross 
their founder gave them. But the gentle reader may demand 
ungentle things. If so, let him pass on in these chronicles to 
where in 1793 the French Revolution had reached its climax. 
It was then her "citizenesses" manned the barricades and Dame 
Guillotine was their queen. Not without cause did they shout 
for liberty and demand it; for theirs had been an age-long op- 
pression. But wholly without cause did they now demand death 
for those who served better than they the cause of the poor and 


lowly. What care the "heroines" for home or vow, or faith or 
decency! Had they not their goddess of reason; and had they 
not the power ; and why should they not claim the inhuman right 
in the name of humanity to send to (bath or exile its most devoted 
servants, the religious women of France. The blood red storm 
sweeps over the land. The pastors are stricken — the flock is dis- 
persed ; and now in the wake of the storm, from out their hiding 
places come the few that are left. The heroic Sister Saint John 
Fontbonne gathers together the scattered flock, lifts again the 
cross, invokes the protection of Saint Joseph, and builds anew 
for France and the Faith. 

To the world, a Sisterhood is something static. It has its 
holy rules, its cloister, its black veil and its cemetery; that is, it 
so appears to the world ; yet the truth is that nowhere else is there 
such abiding hope, nowhere such abundant yearning for a divine 
adventure. A Bishop from the banks of the Mississippi appeals 
to the Sisters of Saint Joseph to leave their home, their country 
and their friends, to bid adieu to the fertile plains, the vine-clad 
hills of their native land. From out the land of the setting sun 
comes the cry for help. It is the cry from the trader by the 
river and the Indian of the forest; and joyously they answer it. 
Theirs is a journey of four thousand miles over the waters of a 
turbulent sea, with no impelling force except the will of God and 
the winds that fitfully blow. The days pass by, and the sick and 
weary band of Sisters reach New Orleans — then up the Missis- 
sippi to their new home in the West. 

To us in these days of steam and electricity, where wind and 
wave, time and tide, are largely conquered by the genius of man, 
this journey of theirs may not be regarded as an adventure ; but 
when you recall the conditions of their home in France, their 
long journey hither and their persistent effort through it all to 
maintain the decorum and order of the religious life; when 
finally you see them here, homeless, in this strange land, such as 
it was almost a century ago (1836); when you consider that 
they had left behind them the gravelled paths and trim hedge- 


ways of Carcassonne, of Lyons and Le Puy, to find here the 
poison-ivy and black mud of the Cahokia Bottoms, you will admit 
that there was in the hearts of the emigrants both courage and 

Nor did this spirit of adventure desert the Community in its 
new home. From the North and the South, from the East and 
the West, the call came to them that they should go forth in God's 
name and teach. Prompt, joyous and generous was their 
response ; until the entire land became the scene of their exploits, 
the pilgrims praying, teaching, and dispensing mercy everywhere 
they went. I would refer our gentle reader again to the story 
of their migrations, and particularly to that one towards the 
West ; for the West has a charm all its own. It is the land where 
romance still loves to linger. At the call of the Vicar-Apostolic 
of Arizona, a group of Sisters set their faces towards the West. 
It was in the year 1870; and while many western railroads were 
built, yet to reach their destination in distant Arizona, it was 
necessary for the Sisters to travel by way of Omaha, Salt Lake, 
San Francisco, and then southward by boat to San Diego. From 
this vantage point, which lay by the placid waters of the Western 
Sea, the devoted band must leave that land of fruit and flowers 
to follow the trail that led eastward through mountain passes and 
across mighty rivers and deep-set canons, onwards to the distant 
table lands of Arizona. 

How they travelled, where they rested, requires little effort to 
imagine. What were the emotions, what the privations and the 
changing surroundings of their journey. One day they rest by 
the foot of the mountain where the wild flowers bloom. In the 
morning, they must travel on foot up the mountain side, too 
steep for the wagon to go; now desending through the perilous 
pass, to come to the mighty river, to rest by its banks, and to gain 
fresh strength to meet the further perils on the way. The cav- 
alry from the Mexican frontier post greet them as they pass. 
Then from their hiding places come the Indian bands. The 
Chief is ready to attack his hereditary foes; but suddenly stops, 


for the cross the Sisters bear reminds him of his ancient friend, 
"the black-robe." On they go, each day brighter, fairer and 
lonelier than the one that is gone. Now come the painted rocks 
and rainbow canons, and the serried bluffs like Franciscans in 
prayer; and now the clear, cold calm of the plateau-land where 
earth and sky commingle; a land of sunshine with no shadow save 
of the soaring eagle; a land of distance, solitude and silence. 
It is the land of uplift, where, whether it be in the effulgent light 
of the sun by day or in the company of the near and friendly stars 
by night, spirit can commune with spirit and all with God. It 
was in such settings that the Sisters of Saint Joseph found a 
home at Tucson, Arizona, in 1870. 

So far I have guided the gentle reader to just a few incidents 
in the life of the Saint Joseph Community. I will now ask him 
to read it all ; and he will find that instead of being a story inane 
and impractical, it is everywhere shot through with the spirit of 
faith, of sacrifice and of romance. It is the history of a Sister- 
hood that in the long years of its existence has never defaulted ; 
and the courage, sacrifice and fidelity of its members has never 
once been doubted, never questioned. 

In the world of today there is a long red battle line; and many 
are the combatants engaged in the struggle on this side and that. 
The battle ground is the school room, and the reward to the vic- 
tors is the soul of the child. The Sister teacher's desk is set by 
the edge of that thin red line. There today the Sister stands, 
fighting the battle in God's name, struggling to save His children. 
She has arrayed against her wealth and power, the limitless 
resources of Caesar, whose camp is still set over against the Lord 
our God. While stands the Sister there, the Christian school 
shall stand, and the future is secure ; but should the Sister teacher 
fail, or should the line of battle be forced back, then Christ's 
cause would be imperiled and the battle of the ages lost. 

The Sisters of Saint Joseph are privileged to be the advanced 
guard today in that battle, which is of and for the Lord. We 
pray that many will come to help them in that struggle, to take 


the place of the heroines who fall; to aid them in seeking new 
points of advantage, or furnish a reserve ready for action in 
these coming days which threaten. Not all our young women 
can be Sisters. Only those who are willing to make sacrifices — 
only those whose souls are touched with the flame of the spirit — 
only those who can see high emprise in leaving all to follow 
Him — only those who realize that there is no solitude where God 
is, and that no mortal task may claim them when the work of 
God is to be done. 

John J. Glennon 
Archbishop of St. Louis. 
St. Louis, Missouri. 
Octave of the Ascension 
May 17, 1923. 

The Congregation of Saint Joseph 

of Carondelet 



The Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph was founded 
in 1650 at Le Puy, capital of ancient Velay in France. The 
organization of this community as a congregation of women 
without enclosure and with simple vows was, in the middle of 
the seventeenth century, almost an innovation. Many of the ex- 
isting orders of women had their origin in the Middle Ages, 
and followed the rules of corresponding orders of men, but 
were different from the latter in this, that the women were sub- 
ject to enclosure. 

This regulation, imposed at first by Bishops, was made a law 
for all professed nuns by Pope Boniface VIII toward the end of 
the thirteenth century, 1 and again by Pope Pius V in a constitu- 
tion of May 25, 1566. 2 The latter included even tertiaries 
with simple vows, by whom the active works of charity, im- 
possible for cloistered religious, had been undertaken. The 
rigor of these laws, which remained in force for nearly three 
hundred years, had relaxed somewhat before the beginning of 
the seventeenth century; but enclosure was still looked upon as 
an essential safeguard for the life of prayer and penance en- 
tailed by the vows, and the approbation of the Holy See was 
withheld from such communities of women as did not observe 
the regulations of the cloister. 

1 Decree Periculoso, later confirmed by the Council of Trent. (Sess. 
XXV). cf. a. vermeersch. Article "Nuns" in Catholic Encyclopedia 
vol. xi., p. 164. 

2 Circa pastoralis. Bullarium Romanum. Tomus VII, p. 448. 1859. 



A century had passed since Saint Ignatius of Loyola revolu- 
tionized the existing system of religious life for men, hitherto 
monastic in character, by turning the mortification of the will 
to greater account than that of the body, 3 but this principle had 
not yet been incorporated to any extent in the rules for com- 
munities of women. It remained for Saint Francis de Sales to 
embody it in the spirit of the Visitation, though his rule was 
looked upon with disfavor by. some ecclesiastics of his time because 
of its lack of austerity. 4 The Daughters of the Visitation of 
Saint Mary, as organized in 1610, were to combine the labors of 
Martha and Mary, 5 observing enclosure only during their year 
of novitiate, after which they should be free to engage in the 
duties of the active life. The first intention of their holy foun- 
der was to place them under the name and patronage of Saint 
Martha, "the hostess of our Lord, and the model of all who 
serve him in the poor." 6 His cherished idea was abandoned 
after the establishment of the Visitation at Lyons in 161 5. In 
deference to the wishes of the Archbishop of that see, Denis de 
Marquemont, who urged Francis to erect his congregation into 
a cloistered order, the saint made the vital change which substi- 
tuted solemn for simple vows, and removed his spiritual daugh- 
ters from the wide field in which they had labored for five 
years. 7 

The friend and co-laborer of the Bishop of Geneva in the 
evangelization of France, Vincent de Paul, hesitated to give 
even the semblance of a religious society to the first Sisters of 
Charity, lest by so doing he might defeat the purpose of their 
organization. Though instituted in 1633, it was not until 1642 
that four of the Sisters were permitted at their own request to 

3 Robert ornsby, Life of Saint Francis de Sales, p. 103. New York. s. d. 

4 marie jean hamon, Vie de Saint Francois de Sales, vol. II, p. 84. Paris, 

5 Ibid. p. 78. 

6 louis bougaud, Saint Chantal and the Foundation of the Visitation Or- 
der, Translation; New York, 1895, vol. I, p. 339. 

7 Ibid. p. 305 ff. hamon, op. cit., vol. II, p. 77. 


make annual vows for one year. 8 The spirit of the century is 
shown in the general enthusiasm which greeted the change in the 
Visitation, and the number of petitions for new foundations 
received by Francis de Sales after the establishment of the 

To this century belong the two men, illustrious alike for 
virtue and learning, who were destined in the Providence of 
God to inaugurate in a new congregation, that of the Sisters 
of Saint Joseph, the plan reluctantly given up by the Bishop of 
Geneva. These were Henry de Maupas du Tour, Bishop of Le 
Puy and later of Evreux, and John Paul Medaille, a zealous 
missionary of the Society of Jesus. 

Henry de Maupas du Tour was born in 1606 at the family 
castle of Cosson near Rheims. His father was Charles de 
Maupas, Baron of Tour, a distinguished soldier, a statesman, 
and litterateur, counsellor of state to Henry IV. 10 His mother 
was Anne of Gondi. Very little is known of his early life, ex- 
cept that from his tenderest years, encouraged by pious parents, 
he showed an inclination for the service of the altar; ll and as 
a member of the illustrious family of Gondi, to which Vincent 
de Paul was attached for a time as preceptor and spiritual guide, 
he was brought up under the influence of that holy man. 12 
According to a much abused custom of the time, he was named 
at an early age commendatory abbot of St. Denis of Rheims. 
The emoluments of this position he dispensed in charity; and he 
later introduced into the abbey the Congregation of Sainte Gene- 
vieve. 13 He was successively vicar-general of Rheims and 
chaplain to Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII. 14 

8 emmanuel de broglie, Saint Vincent de Paul, Translation by M. Par- 
tridge, London, 1898, p. 148. 

9 BOUGAUD, Op. Clt., VOl. I, p. 407. 

10 larousse, Dictionnaire universcl, vol. X, p. 1357. Paris, 1873. 

11 leon bouchage, Chroniques des Soeurs de Saint Joseph de Chambery, 
p. 5, Chambery, 191 1. 

12 Ibid. p. 6. 

13 michaud, Biographic universclle , vol. XXVI, p. 316. Paris. 
14 larousse, op. cit., vol. X, p. 1358. 


In the latter capacity, he was again brought into close rela- 
tions with Vincent de Paul, to whom, according to a contempo- 
rary prelate, the clergy of France owed their splendor and re- 
nown. 15 Many evils were afflicting the Church of that country; 
but, owing to the zeal and devotedness of Vincent, there existed, 
writes one of his biographers, "crowds of men and women, poor 
in spirit, clean of heart, and filled with the love of God, any one 
of whom would be regarded, outside of the Church, as a marvel 
and a prodigy." 16 That Henry de Maupas belonged to this 
chosen group, his intimate association with the Saint under whose 
spiritual direction he was for many years, 17 is alone sufficient 
guarantee. In 1641, he was appointed to the bishopric of Le 
Puy; but so averse was he to the honors and the burdens of the 
episcopate, that he did not enter on its duties until January 20, 

1644. 18 

One of the noted preachers of his time, 19 he is described as a 
man of great humility, love of retirement, and zeal for disci- 
pline. He studied with interest and enthusiasm the life and 
works of St. Francis de Sales, whom he took for his model 
in the arduous labors of his diocese, and whose "spirit he re- 
vived in the heart of the Velay mountains." 20 He was the 
first biographer of the holy Bishop of Geneva, and one of the 
third commission appointed to inquire into the cause of the 
Saint's beatification. 21 From Le Puy, where for twenty years 
he had endeared himself to his flock, especially to the lowly, by 
the constant exercise of unbounded charity, he was removed 

15 Cf. henry Bedford, m.a. Life of St. Vincent de Paul, p. XIX, New 
York, 1888. 

™Ibid. p. XIX. 

17 hamon, op. cit., vol. I, p. VIII. Bishop de Maupas pronounced a funeral 
eulogy of St. Vincent de Paul in the Church of Saint Germain l'Auxerrois. 
m. collet, Life of St. Vincent de Paul, p. 247. Baltimore, 1805. 

18 BOUCHAGE, OP. cit., p. J. 

19 MICHAUD, Op. Cit., VOl. XXVII, p. 316. 

20 BOUCHAGE, Op. dt., p. 8. 

21 hamon, op. cit. Preface to vol. I, p. VIII. The biography was pub- 
lished at Paris 1657 under the title La Vie du Venerable Serviteur de Dieu, 
Frangois de Sales. 


in 1 66 1 to the see of Evreux. In this diocese, says M. Hamon, 
"his name was for a long time celebrated for the missions which 
he procured for his parishes, the catechetical instructions which 
he gave, his tenderness for the poor, whom he made his sole 
heirs, his love for the Blessed Virgin, whom he exalted on every 
occasion, and his zeal for the glory of God." 22 He was offered 
the Archbishopric of Rouen in his later years ; but deeming him- 
self unworthy to hold so high a position in the Church of God, 
he refused it and remained at Evreux until his holy death in 
1680. 23 

Associated with Bishop de Maupas in the foundation of the 
Sisters of Saint Joseph was a distinguished missionary of the 
Society of Jesus, John Paul Medaille. He was born in Viviers 
in 1608, 24 and at the age of fifteen was sent to the Jesuit Col- 
lege of Tournon, where the young scholastic, John Francis 
Regis, was pursuing his course in philosophy. 25 In i628, 2G 
John Paul Medaille entered the Society of Jesus at Toulouse; 

22 hamon, op. cit. Preface to vol. I, p. VIII. 7th ed., 1883. 

23 The tomb of Bishop de Maupas was discovered on February 26, 1895, in 
the sanctuary of the Cathedral of Evreux while excavations were being made 
for the erection of a new main altar. A leaden plate within the coffin con- 
tained the following inscription, partly obliterated: 

Henricvs demavpasdvtovr, epvs Ebroicens etanteaaniciensis, abbas 

stidyonisii rhemensis etinsvlae Calvarae in diocesi Lvcionis, obiit 12 

Avgvsti 1680 aetatis svae . . . "Pater Pavpervm." . . . 

"Henry de Maupas du Tour, Bishop of Evreux, formerly of Le Puy, abbot 

of Saint Denis of Rheims, and of the Isle of Calvara in the diocese of Luqon, 

died August 12, 1680, in the year of his age . . . "Father of the Poor." . . . 

(Copy of above preserved in the archives of the Mother House, Carondelet.) 

24 bouchage, op. cit., p. 587. sommervogel, s. J., in Bibliotheque de la 
Compagnie de Jesus (1894), vol. V, p. 856, gives 1618 as the date of his birth 
and the place Carcasonne. The date 1615 is given by larousse in Dictionnaire 
universel, vol. X, p. 141 0. The discrepancy in dates and in other circum- 
stances of Father Medaille's life is no doubt due to his being confused with 
a contemporary, John Pierre Medaille, also a Jesuit. 

25 eieseban guilhermy, s. j., writes of Father Medaille that he was "formed 
in the school of St. Francis Regis," Menelogue de la Compagnie de Jesus, 
Assistance de France, Premiere Partie, p. 631. 

26 bouchage, p. 587. 


and after the usual period of probation and study, taught gram- 
mar and the humanities in the college there. He was then en- 
gaged for six years in the teaching of philosophy; but being 
specially gifted as a preacher, he was assigned to missionary 
work, and sent to the same fields in which Francis Regis had 
labored before him. 

For eighteen years, he devoted himself with apostolic zeal 
to the evangelization of the south and east of France, and earned 
the reputation of being one of the most illustrious missionaries 
of Velay, Auvergne, Languedoc and Aveyron. 27 Not satisfied 
with preaching, he formed everywhere confraternities of men 
and women on whom he enjoined the practice of the spiritual 
and corporal works of mercy in order that the fruits of his 
labors might be multiplied and perpetuated. 28 

In the course of his missions, many of which were given in 
the diocese of Le Puy, he met with a number of young women 
who were desirous of retiring from the world to devote them- 
selves to the service of God, but who, on account of their 
limited means, found it difficult to provide the dowry required 
by the cloistered orders. 29 Father Medaille, "appropriating 
one of the dearest ideas of the holy founder of the Visita- 
tion," 30 and desiring to see formed a community of women who 
"should unite the life of Martha with that of Mary, the ex- 
terior works of charity with the repose of contemplation," 31 
conceived the design of suggesting to some zealous bishop the 
establishment of a congregation in which these women might 
sanctify themselves and at the same time serve God in the per- 
son of their neighbor. 

In the spring of 1649, Father Medaille was called to preach 

27 p. prat, s. J. Le disciple de Saint Frangois Regis, Vie du P. Dauphin. 
p. 180. Cited by bouchage, op. cit., p. 586. 

28 Ibid., p. 586. 

29 Constitutions pour la petite Congregation des Soeurs de Saint Joseph, 
Preface to 1st ed. ; Vienne, 1693. bouchage, op. cit., p. 590, 

30 GUILHERMY, S. J. Op. dt„ J). 63I, 

njUd., p 631, 


the Lenten sermons in the Cathedral of Le Puy. Knowing the 
great charity of Bishop de Maupas and his zeal for God's glory, 
the fervent missionary communicated to that prelate his ideas 
on the subject of a religious institution. Bishop de Maupas had 
long desired to see carried into effect in his diocese the original 
plan of Francis de Sales. He approved heartily the proposition 
now made to him of organizing a congregation of women with 
simple vows who should devote themselves to the works of teach- 
ing and of charity; and he at once took measures for its execu- 
tion. To Father Medaille he entrusted the task of bringing to- 
gether those who were eager for a life of retreat, and whose 
virtue and constancy had been tested. The result was that in 
the summer of 1650 a number of young women assembled at 
Le Puy to receive their spiritual training under the fatherly 
care of Bishop de Maupas. 

Owing to the fury of the French Revolution, which, in the 
destruction of so many religious communities, swept away their 
records, no account remains of the individual lives or deeds of 
these first Sisters of Saint Joseph. In Sister Franchise Rambion, 
Sister Jeanne Pellet, and Sister Franchise Allion, we have the 
names of those who, in 1696, made the original foundation in 
Lyons; and the edition of the Constitutions printed in 1693 pre- 
serves in its preface the name and the memory of the early 
benefactress of the Congregation in Le Puy. This generous 
woman, Lucrece de la Planche, was the widow of M. de Joux, 
a wealthy gentleman of Tence in the district of Yssingeaux. 
During the lifetime of her husband, she so devoted herself to 
the poor of Tence as to become "the visible providence of the 
villagers by her benevolent and active charity." 32 After his 
death, on account of the greater spiritual advantages to be en- 
joyed in Le Puy, she took up her residence in that city, and 
continued to dispense there with an open hand the goods which 
a kind providence had placed at her disposal. 

To Madame de Joux the Bishop of Le Puy confided his project 

3 2 B0UCHAGE, Op. tit, p. 593. 


of inaugurating a religious society ; and with characteristic great- 
ness of soul, she at once offered him her spacious dwelling until 
a more suitable place could be provided for the new community. 
Her home thus became the cradle of the Institute, a cenacle, as 
it were, in which the young aspirants, assembled from various 
parts of the diocese, received their first religious training. 
During three months, they were carefully instructed in the na- 
ture and obligations of the new life which they were about to 

Their probation ended, on October 15, 1650, feast of the great 
reformer of Carmel, they knelt at the feet of Bishop de Maupas 
in the chapel of the Orphanage at Le Puy, and consecrated their 
lives to the service of God. The Bishop addressed them in 
words of comfort and encouragement, called them "Sisters of 
Saint Joseph," and formally installed them in their new home, 
the Orphanage, which he placed under their direction. Thus 
their first ministrations as an organized body were in behalf of 
the homeless little ones of Christ. In a short time, their num- 
ber increasing, the orphan girls of Mont-Ferrand were also 
placed under their tender care. 

In the meantime, the Constitutions were prepared by the two 
founders on the basis of the Augustinian Rule as elaborated by 
St. Francis de Sales for the first Visitandines, and supplemented 
by many regulations drawn by Father Medaille from the rule 
of St. Ignatius. 33 Minute provision was made for the manner 
of life and various works of the Sisters; the name of the Con- 
gregation, the first to be placed under the patronage of Saint 
Joseph, 34 was designated; and the form of the religious dress 
prescribed. This differed very little from the habit worn at 
present. It consisted of a robe of black serge, plaited in front 
and confined by a cincture. About the shoulders was worn a 

33 The name of Bishop de Maupas alone occurs on the title page of the 
Constitutions printed at Vienne in 1693 ; but the manuscript edition, pre- 
served in Le Puy, is in the handwriting of Father Medaille, who is classed 
by Sommervogel (op. cit., p. 856) as the author of them. 

34 georges goyau in Catholic Encyclopedia, article "Le Puy," vol. IX, p. 186. 


folded kerchief of white linen, and on the breast, a small, brass- 
bound crucifix. The veil worn indoors was short, and was 
folded back upon itself somewhat after the fashion of a hood. 
When the Sisters went abroad, they added a scarf two yards 
length, which they threw over the head, letting it fall on the 
shoulders, and knotting the ends on the breast. 

So successful were the Sisters in the discharge of the first 
duties assigned to them, that on March 10, 1651, less than a year 
after its foundation, Bishop de Maupas gave to the young so- 
ciety his episcopal approbation. At the same time he recom- 
mended it to the bishops of the neighboring dioceses "in con- 
sideration of the great Francis de Sales, since it has been estab- 
lished to revive the spirit of the first institution which this 
prelate made." 35 

The Congregation thus auspiciously inaugurated prospered be- 
yond the expectation of its worthy founders and its first mem- 
bers. These could not possibly foresee, writes Leon Bouchage, 
that, two centuries and a half later, surviving the storms of 
the great Revolution, the tree of which they were the weak 
roots, would spread its branches over all of France, nearly all 
of Catholic Europe, and on every continent. 36 Father Medaille, 
continuing his missionary labors in the south of France until 
1672, did not cease during that time to take an active interest 
in what he loved to call his "little design"; and there can be 
no doubt that he strengthened it with his prayers until his holy 
death at Auch in 1689. Madame de Joux, with extraordinary 
zeal and fervor, devoted the remainder of her life to its ad- 
vancement; and she had the consolation of seeing, within the 
first few years after its foundation, schools and asylums es- 
tablished successively in Saint-Didier, Tence, Basen-Basset, 
Dunieres, Saint-Paulien, and Monistrol. 37 Bishop de Maupas, 

35 p. f. lebeurier, canon of evreux, Vie de la Reverende Mere Saint 
Joseph, Translation, New York, 1876, p. 68. 
3G Op. cit., p. 12. 

37 BOUCHAGE, Op. tit., p. 594. 


removed to the see of Evreux in 1661, bequeathed his interest 
in the Sisters of Saint Joseph to his successor, Armand de 
Bethune. This prelate gave his approval to the rapidly growing 
Congregation in 1665 ; and in order that it might not lack a 
legal status, he obtained for it in the following year letters pat- 
ent from the reigning King, Louis XIV. 

In addition to these authorizations, the Constitutions received 
the formal approval in 1668 of Henry Villars, Archbishop of 
Vienne, into whose diocese the Sisters of Saint Joseph had been 
introduced. Under his direction, the first printed edition of 
the Constitutions, bearing the date November 24, 1693, was made 
at Vienne from the manuscript copies in use until then. Ac- 
cording to these Constitutions, formulated in 1650 and observed 
for one hundred and forty years, each house was distinct and 
independent. No provision was made for a general superior, 
assemblies or chapters. Each community maintained its own 
novitiate, elected its superioress and principal officers, or, if not 
sufficiently numerous, received them immediately from the bishop. 
The bishops were the superiors, each in his own diocese, 
and they appointed spiritual fathers, whom they designated for 
one or several houses. Each house sent out from time to time 
new missions, which, when able to maintain themselves, were 
independent of the parent house, and which in their turn gave 
rise to other colonies under the same conditions. 

In 1693, the Sisters of Saint Joseph were spread throughout 
the dioceses of Le Puy, Clermont, Grenoble, Embrun, Sisteron, 
Viviers, Usse, Gap, Vienne, and Lyons. In all of these they 
were successfully engaged in the instruction of young girls, the 
direction of orphanages, and the care of the sick. Many large 
institutions were placed under their direction, among them the 
great Hotel-EXieu in Vienne ; and they continued to grow and to 
shed their benign influence until checked in their prosperous 
career by the fury of the Revolution. 

At the outbreak of the latter, Monistrol, a beautiful city on 
the Loire in the diocese of Le Puy, was the home of a large and 


edifying community under the direction of Mother Saint John 
Fontbonne. This valiant woman was destined to play an im- 
portant part in the later history of the Congregation. She was 
born at Bas, in the department of Haute Loire, March 3, 1759, 
the daughter of Michel Fontbonne and Jeanne Theillere, a God- 
fearing couple of that place. Trained by pious parents from her 
infancy in the love and fear of God, Jeanne, as she was called 
in baptism, was sent when still very young with an elder sister, 
Marguerite, to a convent of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, in Bas. 
In this convent were two of her paternal aunts, Mother Saint 
Francis, the Superior, and Sister Mary of the Visitation. Under 
their careful supervision, the two girls were educated, and as 
they grew into young womanhood, developed many admirable 
traits. Jeanne, especially, bright and attractive, spirited and 
quick at repartee, but sweet and amiable in disposition, became 
a favorite among her companions, who recognized her beautiful 
qualities of mind and heart. The gentle Marguerite, devotedly 
attached to her younger sister, yielded in everything to the latter's 
superior judgment. 

Both were early attracted by the beauty of the religious life, 
and signified their intention of taking upon themselves its obli- 
gations. Of Jeanne, Monsignor de Gallard, Bishop of Le Puy, 
remarked to Mother Saint Francis on the occasion of a visit to 
the convent : "She is called to do great things, and will yet be 
the glory and the light of your Congregation." 38 It was Jeanne 
who broached to her parents first the subject of Marguerite's 
vocation, then of her own. The pious couple, resigned to the 
departure of one daughter, would not at first consent that Jeanne, 
who they had hoped would be the support and solace of their 
old age, should leave the ancestral home. Their great faith, 
however, triumphed over nature; and on July 1, 1778, the two 
sisters, with their parents' consent and blessing, entered the 
newly-founded novitiate of the Sisters of Saint Joseph at Moni- 

88 abb£ rivaux, Vie de la Reverende Mere Saint Jean Fontbonne, p. 106. 
Grenoble, 1885. 


strol. They were clothed with the religious habit on December 
17 of the same year, the elder receiving the name of Sister 
Teresa, the younger, of Sister Saint John; and together they 
began the long career in the course of which they were to pass' 
through the fires of persecution, and strengthen and console 
each other until separated by death. 

Their novitiate ended, they remained in Monistrol; and in 
October 1785, Sister Saint John, then in her twenty-seventh 
year, was appointed Superior of the Sisters in that place. She 
assumed the duties of this office with reluctance, feeling that her 
youth and inexperience unfitted her for a position of authority. 
She soon developed, however, more than ordinary talent for 
administration, and won all hearts by her sweetness and zeal. 
Mother Saint John had been governing the community at Moni- 
strol for six years when the effects of the Revolution were felt 
in the diocese of Le Puy. The venerable Bishop de Gallard, 
refusing to take the civil oath required of the clergy, was forced 
into exile and took up his residence in Switzerland. 

The position of the Sisters, rendered extremely difficult by 
the loss of their ecclesiastical superior, became one of real 
danger when the pastor of Monistrol joined the ranks of the 
constitutional clergy, and drew with him in his defection many 
of his misguided parishioners, These failed to understand the 
attitude of Mother Saint John, when, in the name of her com- 
munity, she refused to comply with the civil regulations. Re- 
peated attempts were made to exact from her the oath of allegi- 
ance, but all were alike fruitless. At length, the intrepid Su- 
perior, threatened with violence, deprived of sympathy and pro- 
tection by the blindness of those whom she had so often assisted, 
and fearing for the lives of her Sisters, persuaded the latter to 
return to their families, there to await the coming of better 
times. 39 She, with two devoted companions, Sister Teresa and 
Sister Martha, remained at the convent until they were rudely 
forced into the street. Their own doors barred against them by 

S9 BOUCHAGE, Op. dt., p. 31. 


(Copy of a portrait painted from life. Original in Mother 
House, Carondelet.) 


the emissaries of the Revolution, they sought refuge at the Font- 
bonne home in Bas, which had become a shelter for proscribed 
priests and religious. 40 Here, disguised in peasant dress, for two 
years they gathered together the children of the district and in- 
structed them in their religion, praying and trusting all the 
while that God would send peace to His Church. In this re- 
treat, they were discovered by their persecutors in the fall of 
1793, and conducted to the prison of Saint Didier, twelve miles 
from Bas. 

Mother Saint John could rarely be induced, in later years, to 
speak of this period of her life, of the eleven months of suf- 
fering which she and her companions endured in damp cells, 
deprived of every physical comfort, and above all of the con- 
solations of religion, Mass and the Sacraments. Her aged 
father, bowed with years and grief, frequently walked twelve 
miles to bring them wholesome food and to plead for their re- 
lease. They had little hope of being permitted to leave the 
prison, and daily held themselves in readiness for death, not 
knowing when they would be summoned to the scaffold. An- 
nouncement was at length made to them one evening in mid- 
summer, 1794, that their execution would take place the fol- 
lowing day. The night was spent by them in final preparation 
for their approaching end. When morning dawned, and the 
great doors of their dungeon swung open, their disappointment 
was great to find that freedom and not death was waiting for 

The Reign of Terror had spent its force, and its tyrants had 
become its victims. Robespierre had fallen, and in his death 
many found life and liberty. "Oh, my Sisters," was Mother 
Saint John's exclamation on hearing the news of their release, 
"we were not worthy to die for our holy religion; our sins have 
put an obstacle in the way of this great favor." 41 The crown 
of martyrdom for which she longed fell to the lot of many of 

40 rivaux, op. cit., p. 131. 
^Ibid., p. 142. 


her friends and seven of her Sisters in other parts of France. 42 
In 1793, on the Place du Martouret in Le Puy, Sister Saint 
Julien Gamier and Sister Alexis were executed; Sister Anna 
Marie Gamier and Sister Marie Aubert were guillotined in a 
little town of Haute Loire on June 16, 1794, 43 and at Privas, 
August 5, 1794, Mother Sainte Croix Vincent, Sister Madelaine 
Senovert and Sister Marie Toussaint Dumoulin, laid down their 
lives for the Faith. 44 

Mother Saint John with her companions was again received 
with open arms in her father's home. She desired ardently to 
collect her scattered community in their convent at Monistrol; 
but she found that this property had been sold by the govern- 
ment, and could not be repurchased, as the laws dispersing the 
Congregations 45 still remained in force. For twelve years, 
these three noble women devoted themselves to pious exercises, 
the instruction of the ignorant, and the care of the poor and 
sick, never doubting that God would in time repair the ruin 
wrought by an irreligious government. 

They were consoled and encouraged in their trials by Bishop 
de Gallard, from whom they received sympathy and advice in 
a lengthy communication written from Switzerland July 19, 
1798. He said in part: 

The distress in which I see you, my dear Daughters, pierces me 
to the heart ; and owing to my own personal necessities, I am power- 
less to help you. But, accustomed as you are to privations and 
sacrifices, practiced in imitation of our Divine Model, who had 

42 Mother Saint John noted down in a little memorandum book the names 
of twenty-one of her friends and acquaintances, most of them ecclesiastics, 
who were executed during her own imprisonment. 

43 Probably Feurs, as five Sisters were imprisoned there. 

44 Annals of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Le Puy. Cited by rivaux, Life of 
Mother Saint John (Translation, 1887), p. 96. 

45 On February 13, 1790, all Orders requiring solemn vows were abolished 
by the state. In August 1792, all other Congregations devoted to teaching 
and charity were abolished, robin son and beard, Outlines of European 
History, pp. 127, 128. Boston, 1904. 


nowhere to lay His head, and penetrated with confidence and love 
for our Heavenly Father, who feeds the birds of the air, you will 
cast yourselves into the hands of Divine Providence, and await with 
patience from His infinite bounty, the reward of the sacrifices which 
you have already made, and which you are ready to make again, for 
His glory and the sanctification of your lives. How holy and un- 
fathomable are the designs of God in our regard, when He has per- 
mitted impiety to violate the sanctuaries of virginity, and to cast 
forth their inmates into the midst of a perverse and irreverent world ! 
Heaven has wished to make you a spectacle to angels and to men. 
God has scattered you, as seeds of flowers blown about by the wind, 
and He has strewn you everywhere — in cities, in towns, in country 
places — to diffuse the good odour of Jesus Christ. Called to so sub- 
lime a mission, and having proven yourselves so worthy of fulfilling 
it you give me no cause to fear the future. 46 

After congratulating them on being found worthy to suffer 
for Justice's sake, he closed his admirable epistle with an ex- 
hortation : 

Let us humble ourselves under the powerful hand of God, who 
has visited us. Let us cast^ upon Him our solicitudes and our needs, 
and in the midst of our sufferings we shall find our safety, our 
protection and our strength in the God of all grace, who has called 
us to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus our Lord. 47 

«-4T rivaux, op. cit, Letter quoted entire, pp. 154 ff. 




In the summer of 1807, there came to Mother Saint John the 
opportunity which she had so long desired of reassembling the 
scattered remnants of her beloved community. Six years had 
passed since religious worship had been restored in France. 1 
The congregations which had been suppressed were returning to 
their former activities, slowly at first and tolerated by the govern- 
ment rather than authorized by it. In the diocese of Lyons, 
Cardinal Fesch, since his elevation to that see in 1802, was zeal- 
ously engaged in reviving the various institutes of men, espe- 
cially those devoted to teaching and to the foreign missions. 2 
Though Napoleon declared these again dissolved after his rup- 
ture with the Pope, he encouraged the reconstruction of such 
communities of women as were engaged in teaching and active 
work of charity. 3 The Sisters were not slow to take advantage 
of this concession, and by the fall of 1807, numerous congrega- 
tions were in existence throughout France, either restored or of 
recent origin. 

The Cardinal was not ignorant of the good accomplished by 
the Sisters of Saint Joseph prior to the Revolution; nor was 
the name unknown to him of the former Superior of Monistrol, 
to whom life and liberty counted as nothing when placed in the 
balance against loyalty to God and His holy religion. It was in 
deference to his expressed wish for the re-establishment of the 

1 The Concordat between Pius VII and Napoleon I was signed July 17, 

2 mgr. ricard, Le Cardinal Fesch, p. 62. Paris, 1893. 

3 georges goyau in Catholic Encyclopedia, article "Napoleon," vol. X, 
p. 690. 



Sisters of Saint Joseph in his diocese, and in obedience to his 
summons, that in the summer of 1807, Mother Saint John, ac- 
companied by several members of her former community, re- 
paired to Lyons. 4 

The first foundation, however, was not made in his episcopal 
city, but at Saint Etienne in Forez. Next to the guiding hand 
of Providence, this circumstance was due to the Reverend Claude 
Cholleton. A native of Saint Symphorien, this venerable priest 
was, at the outbreak of the Revolution, a teacher of theology 
in the Seminary of Saint Charles. He proved himself a fear- 
less confessor of the Faith, and, refusing to take the impious 
civil oath, was banished from France. Returning to his native 
land after a brief exile in Italy, he was again arrested, and on 
May 29, 1795, deported to the island of Rhe, 5 whither more 
than eight hundred persecuted priests had preceded him. 6 From 
this place, he soon made his escape, and for several years ex- 
ercised the zeal of an apostle, laboring secretly in the moun- 
tainous districts of Forez, and enduring all manner of hardships 
that he might avert the spiritual ruin of his countrymen. 7 In 
1803, he was pastor of one of the largest parishes in Saint 

Here he took under his direction a number of young women 
who were living in community, and endeavoring to repair as 
far as they could by their penitential lives and good works the 
ravages caused to religion by the fearful storms through which 
it had passed. Without giving tliem any set form of rules, 
Father Cholleton taught them the way of the spiritual life, 
directed their exercises of piety and charity, and grounded them 
so well in humility that the ambition of each was to be the last 
of all. 8 They occupied a modest house in the Rue de la Bourse 
known as the Maison Pascal, from which they went out only on 

4 BOUCHAGE, Op. Clt., p. 46. 

5 Ibid., p. 70. 

6 Ibid., p. J2. 
1 Ibid., p. J2. 

8 BOUCHAGE, Op. Clt., p. 165. 


errands of mercy to the poor and the sick. They spent their 
time in almost continual prayer, observed severe fasts, slept 
on hard pallets, and made frequent use of the cilice and other 
instruments of penance. Their dress, secular rather than relig- 
ious in character, consisted of a skirt and corsage of coarse black 
stuff, a serge apron, and a curious head-dress of cotton print 
which fastened under the chin. 9 For want of a distinctive title, 
they were variously known as the Black Sisters, on account of 
the color of their dress, and the Sisters of a Good Death, because 
of their zeal in procuring spiritual comfort for the dying. 

Appointed Vicar-General of Lyons in February, 1805, 10 
Father Cholleton was entrusted with the direction of the religious 
communities of the diocese. 11 This was his opportunity to give 
definite form to the Society which had claimed so much of his 
pious care and attention. Consulting the Cardinal on the sub- 
ject, he was advised by the latter to place his Sisters under the 
guidance of Mother Saint John Fontbonne, that, instead of form- 
ing a new congregation in the Church, they might "reap the in- 
heritance of the Sisters of Saint Joseph," 12 by being trained 
according to the approved rules of that institute. Like another 
Saint Francis de Sales, Father Cholleton gave up his own plan 
to adopt that of the Archbishop of Lyons. 

A man of deep and sincere piety, and given to the practice of 
great austerity, he had not spared the little community of the 
Rue de la Bourse, but had accustomed its members to silence 
and contemplation, to severe poverty and complete renunciation 
of self. 13 Thus when Mother Saint John arrived at Saint 
Etienne on August 14, 1807, she found not only a field "white 
for the harvest," but a group of laborers well disciplined in the 
spiritual life. The richest fruit of their training appeared in the 
readiness with which they placed themselves through obedience 

9 Manuscript of Sister Louise Pellet. Cited by bouchage, op. cit., p. 20. 

10 ricard, op. cit., p. 124. 

11 abbe lyonnet, Le Cardinal Fesch, vol. I, p. 397, Lyons, 1841. 

12 BOUCHAGE, Op. Cit., p. 75. 

13 Ibid., pp. 65, 74. 


tinder a strange Superior, changed materially their mode of life, 
and adapted themselves to a less rigorous one than that to which 
their inclinations had led them. Another sacrifice was soon de- 
manded of them in the loss of their holy director, Father Cholle- 
ton. He had accompanied the Cardinal to Paris, where on 
November 25, 1807, his edifying death occurred after a week's 
illness. 14 He was attended in his last moments by the Cardinal, 
whom with his dying words he exhorted to be firm, as he feared 
that the Church in France had still much to suffer. 15 Cardinal 
Fesch was deeply affected by the death of his vicar, which he con- 
sidered a personal loss. 16 

Eager as Mother Saint John Fontbonne had been to see her 
Congregation again in a flourishing condition, it was not without 
some reluctance that she assumed the role of second founder. 
She realized fully the greatness of the task before her, and in the 
low esteem in which she held herself, felt diffident of her ability. 
Her aged parents, grief -stricken at the thought of parting with 
her again, endeavored to dissuade her from her purpose of leav- 
ing them. 17 She had been snatched, as it were, from the scaf- 
fold and placed in their arms, and they had hoped to keep her 
with them as a solace in their declining years; but for her, the 
voice of authority was the voice of God. Her grace of voca- 
tion on the one hand, and her parents' strong faith on the other 
triumphed over the sentiments of nature, and she answered the 
call of her ecclesiastical superiors. 

She was strengthened and encouraged on her arrival at Saint 
Etienne by the devotion of her new Sisters, who received her 
with filial affection, and as time went on, responded generously 
to her training. On July 14, 1808, thirteen of the community 
hitherto known as the Black Sisters received the habit of the 
Sisters of Saint Joseph in the convent of the Rue de la Bourse. 
Among them were Sister Saint John Baptist, Suzanne Marcoux, 

14 RICARD, Op. Cit., p. 219. 

15 Ibid., p. 219. 

16 LYONNET, Op. Cit., vol. II, p. Il8. 

17 rivaux, op. cit., p. 165. 


daughter of a prosperous merchant of Saint Etienne, and Sister 
Saint Regis, Anna Matrat, of La Valla in Forez, in whose 
charge the fervent community had been before the arrival of 
Mother Saint John Fontbonne. 18 Both were to prove strong 
factors in fulfilling the great destiny predicted on this occasion 
by Father Piron, successor to Father Cholleton as parish priest 
of St. Etienne, 19 for the Congregation thus revived. "You are 
few in numbers," he said, "but like a swarm of bees, you will 
spread everywhere" ; 20 and he urged them to preserve the simpli- 
city and humility that should characterize the daughters of Saint 
Joseph. 21 

Another and larger convent was soon acquired in the Rue 
Mi-Careme, where, in the course of the year 1808, a chapel was 
built. It was the home of Mademoiselle Benneyton, a pious 
young woman, who with a number of her companions, entered 
the Community and received the habit on April 20, 1809. This 
was the third addition to the Sisterhood, the second having been 
made on January 3 of the same year. For eight years, the con- 
vent in the Rue Mi-Careme remained the novitiate of Saint 
Etienne, and from it as a center went out numerous groups to 
make new foundations or to assist in reviving the old ones. In 
less than three years, Lyons boasted three promising institutions 
in charge of the Sisters of Saint Joseph; Saint Etienne and 
Monistrol confided to them the care of their orphans; and the 
schools of Valbenoite, Saint Chamond and Sury-le-Comtal, each 
received its contingent of devoted teachers. 

Privations and difficulties were waiting for the Sisters every- 
where, but sacrifices were nothing to those who had already borne 
so much. In old buildings, in abandoned monasteries and dilapi- 
dated chateaux, they took up their work and carried it on with 
zeal. At Sury, where M. Coccard, the worthy cure who had 
requested and obtained three Sisters for his school, had, through 

18 BOUCHAGE, Op. cit., p. 164. 

19 BOUCHAGE, Op. Cit. p. 48. 

20 BOUCHAGE, Op. Cit., p. 48 

21 IBID. p. 48, 


some inadvertence, made no provision for their shelter, they 
did not disdain the offer of an unused barn, which their willing 
hands soon made comfortable, and where, until a more respec- 
table abode was provided, emulating the example of their divine 
Master, they literally slept on the straw of the manger. 22 

On April 10, 18 12, the Congregation received the authoriza- 
tion of the State. 23 By this time the need was felt of a gen- 
eral novitate for the uniform training of young members, and a 
central, or Mother House, from which the work of the Sisters 
might be directed by a Superior-General. The number of con- 
vents was increasing rapidly. In many of these, the communi- 
ties were small; and though all looked to Mother Saint John 
Fontbonne as the guiding spirit and inspiration of the whole 
body, each house, as before the dispersion, was independent, had 
its own superior, and received and trained its own subjects. 

Though the benefits of a centralized organization were evi- 
dent, the change from existing conditions was made slowly. 
The new idea required time to materialize. If the reasons from 
without which urged its adoption were many, those from within 
which hindered its being acted on hastily were not a few. Chief 
among the latter was the difficulty of breaking away from the 
traditions of a century and a half, during which the older form 
had worked successfully. The Revolution had shown, however, 
the weakness of the small and isolated groups, and their inability 
to withstand such great force as had been recently hurled against 
them. Everywhere was felt the necessity for unity of effort and 
direction, and objections to the new order gradually gave way. 
As to a Superior-General, there could be but one choice, Mother 
Saint John Fontbonne, the strong-souled woman to whom the 
Congregation owed its regeneration. Her election was approved 
by the diocesan authorities, who also designated Lyons as the 
place of the Mother House and novitiate, both on account of the 
character of that city as a center of religious activity, and the 

22 BOUCHAGE, OP. Clt., p. 85. 

23 LEBEURIER, Op. Ctt., p. JI. 


number of convents there belonging to the Sisters of Saint 

Acting on the advice of Reverend Marie Claude Bochard, 
first spiritual Father of the Community, Mother Saint John 
secured a building known as the Chateau of Yon on the "hill 
of the Chartreux." This hill, so called because of an ancient 
Carthusian monastery located on its summit, was on the left 
bank of the Saone, opposite the celebrated shrine of Fourvieres. 
The chateau was formerly a dependency of the monastery, and 
to it were attached a court, extensive gardens and a granary. 
Confiscated with the monastery and sold in 1791, the domain 
passed through the hands of various owners, until it became the 
property of one Jerome Nivet and his wife, Marie Baland, from 
whom it was purchased by the Sisters of Saint Joseph June 1, 
1816. 24 On July 13 of the same year, Mother Saint John, leav- 
ing the two convents of Saint Etienne in charge, the one of 
Sister Gertrude and the other of Sister Ambrose, and taking 
with her a few Sisters, among them her assistant, secretary, and 
mistress of novices, went to Lyons. As extensive repairs had 
to be made on the Chateau of Yon, the Sisters occupied for a 
while a part of the old monastery, put at their disposal by Father 
de la Croix ; 25 and pending the erection of a chapel, which was 
not completed until 1824, the ceremonies of religious reception 
and profession were held yearly — the first on December 19, 1816 
— in the ancient church of the Carthusians, or, as it was then 
called, the Church of Saint Bruno. 26 

24 The sale was made by Jerome Nivet and Marie Baland to Mesdames 
Jeanne Fontbonne, Jeanne Poitresson-Gonet, Fleuyre Seissie, Marie Louise 
Parat, and Suzanne Marcoux. bouchage, op. cit., p. 51. The Chateau of 
Yon is still a part of the Mother House at Lyons, in the Rue des Chartreux. 

25 One of the first members of the Society of Saint Irenaeus, afterwards 
(1837) Bishop of Gap, and later Archbishop of Auch. 

26 ricard, op. cit., p. 184. Under this name it was restored to the Church 
in 1803. A band of Missionary Fathers was established in the monastery in 
1806, but was dispersed by Napoleon in December 1809 (ricard, p. 186). In 
August, 1816, the monastery was given by order of the Cardinal-Archbishop 
to the Society of Saint Irenaeus under the direction of Father de la Croix. 
ricard, p. 272. 


The first Mother House was rich in historical traditions, and 
in the memory of the saintly men, sons of Saint Bruno, who had 
peopled its cloisters for centuries; but the Sisters possessed little 
of this world's goods. Extreme poverty was for a long time 
their portion. To increase their revenues, they were even put 
to the necessity of weaving silk, which they received from the 
factories, and on which they spent their few spare hours. 27 

After the appointment of John Paul Gaston de Pins to the 
see of Lyons in 1822, 28 Father Charles Cholleton, 29 nephew of 
the former pastor of Saint Etienne, was named spiritual director 
of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in the Archdiocese of Lyons. 
Under his wise and strong guidance for sixteen years, the Con- 
gregation grew and prospered. He assisted the Superior- 
General in placing the novitiate on a solid basis, and authorized 
a new edition of the Constitutions, which embodied the change 
in government and which was printed at Lyons with the approba- 
tion of Monsignor de Pins. The status of the Congregation 
was defined as diocesan, with the Archbishop of Lyons as its 
spiritual head and first Superior. Under him were the spirit- 
ual Father, appointed from his vicars, and the Reverend Mother 
and her council, elected by the votes of the Sisters of the dio- 

Mother Saint John Fontbonne, who had practically governed 
the Congregation since 1807, was retained in office as Superior- 
General until her resignation in 1839, in the eightieth year of 
her age. With infinite tact and patience, she had worked to 
bring about the complete unification of her Congregation. She 
visited all the communities, wherever located, sometimes travel- 
ling incognito, and everywhere winning confidence by her knowl- 

27 rivaux, op. cit., p. 194. 

28 RICARD, Op. cit., p. 355. 

29 A native of Marcel de Feline, he pursued his studies at the Seminary 
of Saint Irenaeus in Lyons and Saint Sulpice in Paris; and after his ordina- 
tion at Grenoble in 1811, was successively professor at Saint Irenaeus and 
director of the Grand Seminary. In 1840, he became a member of the Society 
of Mary at Belley. bouchage, op. cit., p. 68. 


edge of affairs and wide experience. Her simple piety gained 
all hearts, and her reputation for holiness of life attracted many 
to the novitiate on the hill of the Chartreux. This was to her a 
garden of delight. No amount of fatigue or labor on her part 
interfered with her conferences to the novices. The favorite 
subject of her discourses was the love of God for them in calling 
them to His service. Instances are on record of obstacles re- 
moved by her from the path of young girls who wished to be- 
come Sisters, and who, but for her delicacy and forethought, 
would have been obliged to remain in the world. 30 

It was a subject of regret to her, that Le Puy, the "cradle of 
the Institute,'' and first home of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, 
remained outside of the jurisdiction of Lyons. The Sisters 
there had suffered much in the general shipwreck of religion, 
and their convents were confiscated. It was not until 1815 that 
they succeeded in recovering from the Prefect of the Haute 
Loire one half-ruined building, the Orphanage at Mont-Ferrand. 
The Superior-General included this house in one of her visita- 
tions ; Father Cholleton, consulted with Bishop Bonald of 
Le Puy on the subject which he, too, had so much at heart; 
but the Bishop preferred autonomy for the Sisters of his 

Chambery in Savoy, and Bourg in the diocese of Belley, both 
owing their origin to Lyons, also became important independent 
centers, the separation in each case being made under the ec- 
clesiastical superiors. 31 Sister Saint John Marcoux was the in- 
strument chosen by Providence to introduce the Sisters of Saint 
Joseph into Savoy, whither she was sent from Lyons with four 
companions in August, 1812. Two years later, she was joined 
by Sister Saint Regis, her companion of the Rue de la Bourse. 
Chambery was at that time a suffragan of Lyons, and so re- 
mained until Savoy was taken from France in 181 5 by the Con- 

30 abbe rivaux, Vie de la Reverende Mere Saint Jean, p. 215, 216. Grenoble 


31 Irenaeus Yves de Solle, Archbishop of Chambery; Alexander Raymond 
Pevie, Bishop of Belley. 


gress of Vienna and given to Italy. 32 The difficulty of keep- 
ing up relations between Lyons and Chambery under the changed 
conditions caused Mother Saint John to consent to the erection 
of a novitiate in the latter place. 33 The Holy See, by a Bull of 
July 17, 18 1 7, recognizing Chambery as a city of the Sardinian 
states, made it the seat of an Archdiocese ; 34 and the formal sep- 
aration of the communities took place, though mutual friendly re- 
lations never ceased to be maintained. Political difficulties kept 
the Lyons Sisters out of other parts of Italy. Fifteen Sisters, 
ready to leave Lyons for Rome in July 1824 at the request of 
Pope Leo XII, made through his Secretary of State, Cardinal 
Somaglia, were stopped on the eve of their departure by a letter 
received from the Cardinal Secretary, informing Mgr. de Pins 
that the French government "saw with uneasiness the establish- 
ment of the Sisters (in Rome) in which it discovered the hand 
of Cardinal Fesch," then a resident of Rome, and a persona non 
grata to the civil authorities at Paris. 35 The convents in Italy 
owe their foundation to Chambery, which also sent laborers to 

Belley, which welcomed Mother Saint Joseph Chanay and a 
small community of Sisters from Lyons in 18 19, was erected 
into a diocese in 1823 under Bishop Alexander Raymond Devie. 
The novitiate established there was afterwards removed to Bourg 
and gave rise to a flourishing community. Mother Saint Joseph, 
called to Bordeaux by Cardinal Donnet in 1840 in order to 
make a new foundation there under great difficulties and in very 
trying circumstances, was assured by the venerable Cure of Ars, 
whom she visited on her way from Lyons, that if miracles were 
necessary for the success of her mission, God would surely work 
them. 36 When this saintly man learned a few years later how 

32 Joseph lins. Catholic Encyclopedia, article "Savoy," vol. XIII, p. 

33 BOUCHAGE, Op. dt., p. 175. 

34 lins, op. cit., vol. XIII, p. 507. 

35 BOUCHAGE, Op. dt., p. 265. 

36 LEBEURIER, Op. Ctt., p. 27O. 


the Sisters were prospering in Bordeaux, he promised to pray 
for their continued success. 37 To these prayers, no doubt, it was 
due that Mother Saint Joseph's administration was "signalized 
by wisdom, and visibly assisted by Heaven"; 38 so much so that 
her remarkable life drew from her biographer the explanation 
that the grace of God is the divine element which "diffuses in 
our minds lights superior to those of reason, opens our intellect 
to the understanding of divine mysteries." 39 He continues : 

The most lowly Christian is favored with intimate and super- 
natural communications from God ; and daily facts prove the working 
of prodigies by the Creator for the good of the creature. The graces 
of the sacraments are standing miracles. It is then, a strange 
illusion and an unjustifiable mode of reasoning that directs the 
skeptic of the age to reject the belief in miracles, apparitions, 
ecstasies and extraordinary communications from God. 40 

Mother Saint John Fontbonne, in her declining years, could 
look back on the marvellous growth of her Congregation from 
its humble home in the Rue de la Bourse to two hundred con- 
vents which she had been instrumental in founding in thirteen 
departments of France. 41 The Departments of the Loire and 
the Rhone claimed the greater number of these; and Corsica, 
Herault, La Vendee, Poiteau, Aude, the Lower Alps, Creuse, 
Saone-et-Loire, Isere, Cote d'Or and Allier each had its com- 
munity of Sisters of Saint Joseph. In 1836, the first foreign 
mission band left the Mother House at Lyons for America. 

57 Ibid., p. 318. 

38 Letter of Cardinal Donnet to Abbe Lebeurier, in Life of Mother Saint 
Joseph (Bordeaux, 1869), p. 3. 

39 LEBEURIER, Op. dt., p. 12. 

*°Ibid., p. 13. 

41 Constitutions des Saeurs de Saint Joseph de Lyon. Preface to edition 
printed at Lyons in 1910, p. VIII. 




The first foundation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in the 
New World was made in the Diocese of St. Louis. This 
diocese in 1836 comprised all Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa and the 
Indian territories between the Missouri line and the Rocky Moun- 
tains. It included also the jurisdiction of western Illinois. 1 The 
white population of the diocese centered about Saint Louis and 
was largely French. On the outskirts of the vast domain were 
scattered numerous Indian tribes, whose forefathers of a century 
and a half past had been brought into contact with Christian 
civilization through French missionaries and explorers. Fol- 
lowing in the wake of Father Marquette and his heroic compan- 
ions, settlers from Canada had made homes in the midst of the 
natives on the shores of Lake Michigan and on the east bank 
of the Mississippi as far south as central Illinois. 

The French founders of St. Louis, directing their small 
boats up that river from New Orleans in 1763, found many 
evidences of the spiritual empire planted by the sons of Saint 
Ignatius and the Quebec priests a century before, and kept alive 
at the cost of much suffering and hardship. At Sainte Gene- 
vieve, the northernmost white settlement on the west bank of 
the river, was stationed the aged Jesuit, Father Sebastian Louis 
Meurin, one of two priests in all Upper Louisiana. Left alone 
in 1765 by the death of Father Luke Collet, a Recollect, Father 
Meurin petitioned the Bishop of Quebec for assistance, and in 
the meantime, until the arrival of Father Pierre Gibault in 1768, 

1 john rothensteiner, in Illinois Catholic Historical Review, article, "The 
Diocese of St. Louis under Bishop Rosati," vol. II, October. 1919, p. 177. 



extended his ministrations to the villages of Illinois. 2 The 
principal of these were Kaskaskia, Cahokia and Prairie du 
Rocher. Six miles above Kaskaskia and perilously near the 
water's edge, arose the stone walls of Fort Chartres, 3 which pro- 
tected under the flag of France the neighboring church of Sainte 
Anne and the numerous settlements that had been springing up 
since 1720 in the shade of the old fortress. 

The transfer by France of Louisiana to Spain and the Illinois 
country to England took place in 1763. Thus St. Louis, le- 
gally Spanish from its foundation in the following year, became 
in 1770 4 part of the diocese of Havana. French and Spanish 
people and customs mingled under the new regime for twenty- 
three years; and in 1793, the newly erected diocese of New 
Orleans, which included all of Louisiana, claimed the growing 
town on the Mississippi. 5 Another change of both civil and 
religious authority took place when the United States purchased 
Louisiana in 1803, and that great territory came under the juris- 
diction of Baltimore. 

The see of New Orleans remained vacant until 1812. In 
that year, Valentine Du Bourg, a native of San Domingo, was 
appointed to fill the vacancy. Consecrated in Rome in 181 5, he 
spent two years in Europe in the interests of his large diocese. It 
is worthy of note that while visiting Lyons, he enlisted the aid of 
a charitable woman, Madame Petit, who later associated herself 
with Mademoiselle Jaricot in a society for the support of the 
foreign missions. 6 Of this organization, known as the Society 

2 shea, Life of Most Reverend John Carroll, p. 545, New York, 1888. 
clarence walworth alvord, The Illinois Country, vol. I, p. 269. Spring- 
field, 1920. 

3 Destroyed in the summer of 1727 by an inundation of the Mississippi. 
alvord, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 157. 

4 Year in which Spain took formal possession. 

5 shea. op. cit., p. 570. 

6 shea, History of the Catholic Church in the United States, vol. II, 

p. 361. 

Cf. edward john hickey, ph. d., The Society for the Propagation of the 
Faith. Its Foundation, Organisation and Succesc, pp. 16-22. Catholic Uni- 
versity of America, Studies in American Church History, 1922. 


for the Propagation of the Faith, Father Cholleton, spiritual 
Father of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, was an active member. 
Bishop Du Bourg brought with him to America several Vincen- 
tian Fathers, among them Joseph Rosati, destined to fill an im- 
portant role in the history of the Church in the United States 
as the first Bishop of Saint Louis. That see was created by the 
division of the diocese of New Orleans in 1826. 

Bishop Rosati needed priests and funds. In his necessity, 
he appealed to Father Cholleton to act as his foreign Vicar- 
General. The office of such a vicar was to represent the inter- 
ests of the diocese to the Society for the Propagation of the 
Faith, and to secure subjects for the missions, as appears from 
Father Cholleton's letter of acceptance : 

It is in quality of your vicar that I shall appear at the Society 
for the Propagation of the Faith, and that I shall obtain from it, 
I hope, abundant help. I no longer doubt but that Mgr. de Pins 
will send you subjects whom the Lord will deign to call in His 
mercy to the great work of the missions of Louisiana. 7 

Father Cholleton was also requested to procure aid for cer- 
tain convents in America by directing to them the attention of 
young French girls who might wish to devote themselves to the 
''salvation of poor American souls," 8 for which purpose a knowl- 
edge of the French language was deemed an important quali- 
fication. In 1834, he first broached to Mother Saint John Font- 
bonne the question of sending some of her Sisters to the mis- 
sions of Missouri. The presence of Father Odin in Lyons that 
year had directed attention anew to the foreign field. 9 Both 

7 Father Cholleton to Bishop Rosati, May 27, 1827. St. Louis Diocesan 

8 Father Odin, C. M. to Father Cholleton. Annals of the Propagation of 
the Faith, Nov. 1827. 

9 Father Odin, later Bishop of Galveston, Bishop Rosati's theologian at the 
Second Council of Baltimore in 1833, was commissioned to bring its de- 
cisions to Rome for approval. He spent two years in Europe, and visited 
Lyons before returning to America. Annales de la Propagation de la Fox. 
No. 36, p. 126. 


clergymen communicated with Bishop Rosati on the desira- 
bility of having a community of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 
the diocese of St. Louis. 

Back of this project was Madame de la Roche jaquelin, a de- 
voted friend of Mother Saint John and her Congregation. This 
truly Christian gentlewoman was the daughter of the Duchesse 
de Duras of Usse in Touraine. Married when very young to 
a Vendean, the Prince of Talmont, she was left a widow at the 
age of seventeen, inheriting her husband's estates. On the death 
of her mother, she fell heir also to the family estate in Touraine. 
Both here and in La Vendee, she maintained schools for her 
tenantry under the direction of the Sisters from Lyons, and 
assisted Mother Saint John materially in other foundations in 
Angers, Poitiers, and Luqon, besides giving aid to the missions 
in Chambery, Annecy, and Denmark. 10 She espoused the 
cause of an old and distinguished royalist family by a second 
marriage with Auguste, Count de la Roche jaquelin, the youngest 
of three brothers, two of whom, Henry and Louis, distinguished 
themselves in the Vendean wars against the National Conven- 
tion. 11 After the Revolution of 1830 and the abdication of 
Charles X, political difficulties involving the confiscation of a 
large portion of her patrimony induced Madame de la Roche- 
jaquelin and her husband to take up their residence in Switzer- 
land. Here the worthy couple devoted their time and means 
to the relief of the poor, dispensing in charitable undertakings 
all that was not necessary for their own maintenance. 12 

Madame de la Roche jaquelin was a generous contributor to 
the Foreign Mission Society, and deeply interested in the in- 

10 Lyons Correspondence. Archives of Mother House, Carondelet. 

11 Henry was killed Jan. 28, 1794 at Nouailles, leading the remnant of his 
army. Cf. mme. de la rochejaquelin, (Victoire de Donnissan), Memoires, 
Paris 1823. Translation, Philadelphia 1826, p. 360. Victoire de Donnissan, 
widow of the Marquis de Lescure, married Louis de la Rochejaquelin, who 
died a few days before the battle of Waterloo, June 1815, at the head of a 
new Vendean army raised to oppose Napoleon, l. i. guiney, Monsieur Henri, 
p. 115. New York, 1892. 

12 Lyons Correspondence. Archives of Mother House,, Carondelet. 



struction and conversion of the Indians. "The reading of the 
admirable accounts of the Propagation of the Faith has made me 
shed tears over those harvest fields so ripe, but for which there 
are no reapers," she wrote to Bishop Rosati, 13 renewing to him 
an offer previously made to Fathers Odin and Cholleton of de- 
fraying the expense of establishing a community of the Sisters 
of Saint Joseph for missionary work in the diocese of St. 
Louis. This offer, she explained, was in fulfillment of a prom- 
ise which she had made to God, since she had been "protected 
by Divine Providence in an extraordinary manner in all the 
difficulties and anxieties to which she had been exposed." 14 
Bishop Rosati, in agreeing to the proposal, expressed the desire 
that some Sisters also be sent who would undertake the future 
instruction of deaf-mutes. 15 

As this phase of teaching had not been resumed by the Sisters 
of Saint Joseph after the Revolution, 16 none of the community 
in Lyons were familiar with the method. Sister Celestine Pom- 
merel and Julie Fournier, a postulant, were accordingly sent to 
Saint Etienne to learn the sign-language from the Sisters of 
Saint Charles, the only community in the diocese of Lyons en- 
gaged in teaching the deaf. 

From the remaining volunteers for the American mission, six 
were selected : Sisters Febronie and Delphine Fontbonne, nieces 
of the Superior-General, Sister Marguerite-Felicite Boute, Sis- 
ter Febronie Chapellon, Sister Saint Protais Deboille and Sister 
Philomene Vilaine. The eldest, Sister Felicite 1T was thirty-one 
years of age; the youngest, Sister Saint Protais, a novice, was 

13 Letter dated June io, 1835, Archives of Saint Louis Diocese. 

14 Ibid. 

15 "I had written to Father Cholleton, Vic. Gen. of Lyons, that I would re- 
ceive the Sisters of Saint Joseph into my diocese with the greatest pleasure." 
Diary of Bishop Rosati, March 5, 1836. 

16 Prior to that event, they conducted in Lyons a school for deaf-mutes. 

BOUCHAGE, Op. cit., p. 21. 

17 Felicite was added to Sister Marguerite's name at the request of Mme. 
de la Rochejaquelin (Felicite de Duras), and by this name alone Sister was 
generally known. 


twenty-one. Sister Philomene, Anne Vilaine, was a postulant 
when she offered herself for the foreign mission field. The 
day before the departure of the Sisters from Lyons, January 
3, 18 1836, she received the habit. Bishop Brute of Vincennes, 
Indiana, who was on his way to Rome "to place himself and 
the new diocese of Vincennes in the heart of the Holy Father," 19 
assisted at this ceremony. He entrusted the Sisters with a letter 
to Bishop Rosati, commending 

the good Sisters of Saint Joseph who unite their zeal and charity 
with that of the worthy Father Cholleton, with whom I visited them 
this morning and received the vows and vestitures of a large 
number of subjects. I was very much edified by that holy house. 
I could not see them go toward your shore without seizing the 
opportunity of expressing to you my most respectful attachment. 


Archbishop Gaston de Pins further recommended "this 
evangelical colony" 21 to the charitable solicitude of the Bishop 
of Saint Louis : "They will be excellent catechists, good in- 
firmarians for the sick, perfect sacristans, and zealous instruc- 
tors ; and their services cannot but promote powerfully the work 
of God in your diocese." 22 

On the evening of January 3, the six Sisters made their fare- 
well visit to the Archbishop and received his blessing. They 
were accompanied by Father James Fontbonne, brother of Sis- 
ters Febronie and Delphine, who had also volunteered for the 
foreign field, and was "full of zeal for the missions across the 
ocean." 23 They repaired the following morning for Mass and 
Communion to the Church of Our Lady of Fourvieres, whither 

18 St. Joseph's day was observed in Lyons on this date. Letter of Sister 
Delphine to Bishop Rosati, Dec. 21, 1828. Archives of St. Louis Diocese. 

19 Bishop Brute to Bishop Rosati, Jan. 3, 1836. Diocesan Archives. 

20 Ibid. 

2122 /. P. Gaston de Pins to Bishop Rosati, Jan. 1, 1836. St. Louis Dio- 
cesan Archives. 
23 Ibid. 


Mother Saint John had preceded them. They found her pros- 
irate before the altar in her favorite shrine, 24 praying for our 
Blessed Mother's protection on their voyage. Thus fortified 
by the blessings of their superiors and the prayers of their com- 
panions, and armed with indomitable courage, the members of 
the little band turned their faces westward. The peril of an 
ocean voyage lay before them, and the unknown dangers of the 
American forest. Behind were home, friends, and the calm 
convent life hitherto undisturbed; but the missionary spirit that, 
was agitating the Old World had penetrated their hearts, 
from which the hardships of the future were mercifully con- 

Many accounts are on record of the sorrowful leave-taking; 
the souvenirs of medals and pictures thrust into their hands by 
the companions whom they were leaving; the vain attempt to 
steal away from their loved Superior-General, then in her seventy- 
seventh year, to spare her the pain of parting; the smile that 
broke through tears when one of the Sisters, feigning gayety, 
assured her fellow-travellers that they were only going "to take 
a little ride." 25 They left Lyons by stage, January 4, 1836, 
and the first pause in the "little ride" that was to end on the 
banks of the Mississippi was made at Paris. Here a few 
days were spent with the Daughters of Saint Vincent de Paul. 
The church of Our Lady of Victory and the Hotel-Dieu were 
among the places visited in Paris. January 9 found our travel- 
lers at Havre, where they spent eight days at the hospitable home 
of one Madame Dodard, awaiting the sailing of the Heidelberg. 
Here they were joined by another companion of their voyage. 
This was a young theologian from the Grand Seminary 

24 During an insurrection in 1830, Mother Saint John braved the soldiery 
who had made this shrine a fortress, and insisted that a priest be allowed 
to remove the Blessed Sacrament. She herself carried away from the sa- 
cristy the sacred vessels and altar furnishings to save them from profana- 
tion, s. j. northcote, Celebrated Shrines, p. 189. 

25 Journal of Sister Saint Protais. Community Archives. 


of Lyons, John Escoffier, recommended to Bishop Rosati by 
Father Cholleton for his "piety, talents, and good strong 
character." 26 

On January 17, the Heidelberg left Havre, and from its deck 
the Sisters watched the receding shores of their native land, 
which four of them were not to see again. Few incidents 
marked the long journey of forty-nine days, during which they 
kept up as far as possible the routine of convent life. One little 
occurrence illustrates the spirit of personal sacrifice which ani- 
mated our pioneer Sisters. On a certain day, while all were on 
deck, one of the band, clasping a well worn book of devotion, 
exclaimed with much earnestness that she could not live without 
it. "You could not live without it?" came in tones of gentle 
reproach from Mother Febronie, the Superior; and taking the 
treasured volume, she threw it into the ocean, the owner, mean- 
while, giving no sign of her dismay. A new one was immedi- 
ately produced from Father Fontbonne's ample portmanteau; 
but the lesson was not lost on the young religious, who after 
breaking the dear ties of home and country, found herself still 
clinging to the thumbed pages of an old book. 

Many pleasant hours they spent together on deck, marvelling 
at the wonders of the deep and admiring its magnificence. A 
severe illness of M. Escofrier, which brought him to the point 
of death, gave them an opportunity under the direction of two 
American physicians returning from Europe, of exercising their 
sk'ill as nurses. 27 Their destination and mission interested the 
passengers on board, and the captain was exceedingly kind and 
solicitous for their comfort. Near the Gulf of Mexico a storm 
arose, and for hours it seemed as if the ship must succumb to 
the violence of the waves or be dashed against the reefs. The 
Heidelberg weathered the storm, however, and on March '5 
reached the port of New Orleans in safety. In thanksgiving, 
Mother Febronie promised to add to the evening prayers said 

26 Letter of Jan. 2, 1836. St. Louis Diocesan Archives. 

27 Sister Saint Protais' Journal. Archives, Carondelet. 


in common the hymn Ave Maris Stella for the safety of those 
travelling on land or sea. 28 

The Sisters were met on landing by Reverend Father Moni, 
pastor of the Cathedral in New Orleans, and conducted to the 
Ursuline Convent, "where they were very lovingly received." 29 
On the following day they were visited by Bishop Rosati, in 
company with Bishop Blanc of New Orleans. 30 "I told them 
(the Sisters)" recorded Bishop Rosati in his diary of March 6, 
1836, "about their future home in the town of Cahokia, in a 
house which Father Doutreluingue has prepared for the purpose 
not far from the parish church, and of another now ready in 
the town of Carondelet." 

During their two weeks' stay in New Orleans, the Sisters 
yielded to the wishes of their kind hostesses, the Ursulines, and 
disguised their religious habit whenever they went abroad, don- 
ning on those occasions the cap and heavy veil worn by widows 
of that time. The reason for this was that otherwise they 
might be taken for nuns escaped from their convent. It was 
a subject of no little wonder to them that such a precaution 
should be deemed necessary in America. The fear was not un- 
reasonable, however, in view of the fact that two years had not 
yet elapsed since the Ursuline Convent of Charlestown, Massa- 
chusetts, had been plundered and burned. 31 The same disguise 
was observed on board the steamer, George Collier, on which 
they travelled from New Orleans to St. Louis. 

They left New Orleans at noon, March 15. The other mem- 

28 This custom was observed in the Congregation until 1908, when Pope 
Pius X obliged the omission of all community prayers not specified in the 

29 Diary of Bishop Rosati, March 5, 1836. St. Louis Diocesan Archives. 

30 Bishop Rosati was in New Orleans for the consecration of Bishop Blanc 
November 22, 1835, and remained until the following March, cf. shea, His- 
tory of the Catholic Church in the United States, vol. II, p. 672. 

31 Mother Saint Charles, Superior of the Ursulines, writing from New 
Orleans December 2, 1919, says : "The advisibility of Religious travelling 
disguised at that time (1836) was not due to any hostility at New Orleans, 
but to the fear of being insulted elsewhere by non-Catholics." 


bers of the party besides Father Fontbonne and M. Escoffier 
were Bishop Rosati and Father John Timon, future Bishop of 
Buffalo, who had been in New Orleans in the capacity of visitor 
of the Congregation of the Mission. 32 The trip lasted ten days. 
At every landing along the route, crowds gathered on the river 
bank to view the steamer and return the curious gaze of the 
passengers. The negro children, whose kinky heads, faces like 
polished ebony and broad grins were much in evidence, interested 
the Sisters, who were now, for the first time, seeing them in large 

Towards six o'clock on the afternoon of March 25, 33 the 
travellers landed at St. Louis. Their first visit was to the 
Cathedral on Second and Walnut Streets to thank God for their 
safe journey. The Sisters were then taken to the nearby hos- 
pital of the Sisters of Charity. Here they remained until after 
Easter, and had the great satisfaction of attending all the exer- 
cises of Holy Week in the Cathedral. 34 

Besides the Cathedral, an imposing building of classic de- 
sign, 35 Saint Louis had no other place of worship to which the 
public had access except the chapel of the Jesuit College on 
Ninth Street and Washington Avenue. 36 There were few 
Catholic institutions in the diocese and these were still in their 
infancy. 37 Besides the Sisters of Charity, who had come from 
Cincinnati in 1828, there were three religious communities of 
women. The Sisters of Loretto had schools at Apple Creek and 
New Madrid, and a school and orphanage at Bethlehem near the 

32 chas. c. deuther, Life and Times of Rt. Rev. John Timon. D. D. p. 55. 
New York, 1890. 

33 Cf. Diary of Bishop Rosati, March 26, 1836. Archives of St. Louis Dio- 

34 Journal of Sister Saint Protais. Archives, Carondelet. 

35 Consecrated by Bishop Rosati, Oct. 26, 1834. 

36 wm. walsh, Life of Most Rev. P. R. Kenrick, p. 31, St. Louis, 1891. 

37 Cf . Bishop Rosati to Sisters of Charity, Cincinnati. Letter cited by 
sister m. m c cann, The History of Mother Seton's Daughters vol. I, 
p. 140. New York, 1917. 


Barrens. 38 At Kaskaskia, the Visitandines from Georgetown 
were established since 1833; and in St. Louis, the Ladies of the 
Sacred Heart, brought from France by Bishop Du Bourg in 18 18, 
were conducting an academy for girls in that part of the city 
known as French Town. 39 An orphanage for boys was in course 
of erection on Fourth and Spruce Streets, and pending its com- 
pletion, two Sisters of Charity with a small number of orphan 
boys were occupying a log cottage on the edge of a thickly 
wooded tract at Carondelet, a small French village six miles 
south of St. Louis. 

Though Carondelet was destined to be the future home of 
the Sisters of Saint Joseph, their first mission in America was 
at Cahokia, Illinois. This town, situated across the river from 
Saint Louis and three miles southeast of the center of that 
city, was one of the five early French villages 40 in the Illinois 
country, and after Kaskaskia, the oldest white settlement in the 
Mississippi Valley. An Indian mission known as the ''Vil- 
lage of the Holy Family of the Caoquias" 41 existed here in 1699 
under the direction of the Jesuit, Pierre Francois Pinet. 42 At 
the same time, the French inhabitants of the village were at- 
tended by priests from the Seminary of Quebec. 43 These 
erected the Church of the Holy Family, and received from the 
French government large tracts of land known as the Commons, 
some of which went to the support of the Church. 44 The rest 

38 a. c. minogue, Loretto, Annals of the Century, pp. 60-84. St. Louis, 

39 Broadway near Chouteau Avenue. 

40 Kaskaskia, Cahokia, Prairie du Rocher, Saint Philippe and Nouvelle 
Chartres (Fort Chartres). 

41 stuart brown in Illinois Catholic Historical Review, article, "The Com- 
mons of Kaskaskia, Cahokia and Prairie du Rocher." April iqiq, vol. II, 
p. 408. 

43 Joseph j. Thompson, in ///. Cath. Hist. Review, Article, "The Illinois 
Missions." July 1918, vol. I, p. 66. 

43 Ibid. p. 66. The pastors of Cahokia were Vicars-General of Quebec. 
Cf. alvord, op. cit., p. 115, ff. 

44 stuart brown in III. Cath. Hist. Review. Article cited, April 1919, p. 408. 


was used by the villagers as common ground for farming, wood- 
land, or pasture. 

For over sixty years the mission prospered. The Indians 
gradually disappeared, many joining the neighboring Kaskas- 
kias or the Delawares of Indian Territory. Fur traders and 
Acadian exiles 45 filtered in to swell the French and Canadian 
population. Reverses came with the departure of the Quebec 
priests and the loss of the mission property in 1765. 46 During 
the changes of government and of ecclesiastical jurisdiction be- 
tween that date and 1826, Cahokia was frequently left without a 
resident pastor. The parish buildings fell into ruin, and the 
church, destroyed by fire in 1783, was not replaced for sixteen 
years. In the meantime zealous missionaries were not idle, and 
the names of Pierre Gibault, Paul de Saint Pierre, Gabriel Rich- 
ard and Jean Olivier figure conspicuously in the parish records. 
The last named in 1799 built the church of upright walnut 
logs, 47 roofed with cypress boards on oak beams and floored 
with sycamore, all produced from the surrounding forests. In 
the beginning of Bishop Rosati's episcopate, owing to the scarcity 
of priests, Cahokia was hardly more than a mission station 
attended from St. Louis. 48 

In 1836, however, the Reverend Peter Doutreluingue, of the 
Congregation of the Mission, had been pastor for over five 
years. The Catholic population, numbering several hundred, 
consisted of simple, pious people, proud of their religious tradi- 
tions and fond of their French customs. One of these was 
the blessing of bread, which occurred on the great feasts, Christ- 

45 jos. j. Thompson in 77/. Cath. Hist. Review. Article, "The French in 
Illinois." July 1919, p. 27. 

46 This was sold, but recovered twenty years later, when the village court 
declared the sale null and void. Illinois Historical Collections, vol. V, p. 

47 Frederick beuckman, History of the Diocese of Belleville, p. 7, Illinois, 
1914. The Church is still in use as a parish hall. 

48 Bishop Rosati, writing to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, 
March 21, 1828, mentioned Cahokia and Carondelet as being attended by 
the same priest. 


mas, Easter, Pentecost and the Assumption. Great quantities 
of small cakes, specially prepared, were heaped on decorated 
tables outside the altar rails, and after High Mass were blessed 
and distributed to the congregation. This blessing also took 
place before the annual expedition of the fur traders and trap- 
pers to the Rocky Mountains. Among the inhabitants were 
representatives of French families distinguished in the early 
history of the state, and a few descendants of the Indian set- 
tlers, still wearing deer-skin jackets and moccasins; but the 
majority of them were French-Canadian farmers. All were 
fairly prosperous, and industriously cultivated their small hold- 
ings. With the help of his parishioners and at the cost of much 
personal sacrifice, Father Doutreluingue had secured a building 
in the center of the village near the church for a convent and 

Bishop Rosati selected as teachers for this school Mother Fe- 
bronie Fontbonne, Sister Febronie Chapellon, and Sister Saint 
Protais. The remaining three, Sisters Felicite, Delphine and 
Philomene were to remain in St. Louis until the house in 
Carondelet was vacated. A small, neat cottage on the hospital 
grounds, facing Third Street, was put at their disposal, and 
for the next six months, they devoted themselves diligently to 
the study of English. Mother Febronie, the Superior of the 
Cahokia mission, was the daughter of Claude Fontbonne, only 
brother of Mother Saint John, and of Franchise Plenet. She 
was born at Bas, February 11, 1806, and entered the Congre- 
gation at Lyons, where she made her vows in 1822 at the age 
of sixteen. For some years previous to her departure for 
America, she was engaged in teaching the novices at the Mother 
House. She was small in stature, and of delicate constitution, 
little suited to the rigor of the new climate ; but she had volun- 
teered with great ardor, and her courage inspired others, compel- 
ling their love and confidence. Sister Febronie Chapellon, a 
native of Valbenoite, was twenty-six years of age, and is de- 
scribed as a woman of great personal charm, an efficient teacher, 


and a devoted religious. Sister Saint Protais, the only mem- 
ber of her family to leave their native place at Genas, where her 
father, John Baptist Deboille, was in very prosperous circum- 
stances, was ready with all the enthusiasm of her twenty-one 
years to devote the rest of her life to converting the Indians. 

On April 7, at nine o'clock in the morning, the three Sisters, 
accompanied by Bishop Rosati and Father Fontbonne, left St. 
Louis by boat for Cahokia, where they "were welcomed as an- 
gels from heaven." 49 On the Illinois shore of the Mississippi, 
they found Father Doutreluingue and a numerous concourse 
awaiting them. The villagers had come on foot and on horse- 
back, in carts and wagons, to meet the new comers and escort 
them to their home through the woods that covered the Ameri- 
can Bottom, as the lowland between the river and Cahokia was 
then called. It was noon when they reached the church, to 
which their first visit was made. A repast was spread for them 
in the wide passage-way that served for a dining hall in the 
two-room rectory. The only recorded item of the simple bill 
of fare is corn bread, manifestly new and strange to their 
French palates. It was Bishop Rosati who conducted them to 
the convent, located in a four acre tract opposite the church. 

Two distinct styles of building were evidently used by the Ca- 
hokians. 50 The Canadian consisted of upright logs, the inside 
plastered on interlaced willow twigs ; the New Orleans plantation 
house was a large, square frame structure, one and a half or two 
stories high, with broad verandas under sloping roofs. The con- 
vent comprised two buildings, one of each style. The one-room 
log house served for kitchen and dining-room. The other sup- 
plied two class rooms on the first floor, one on each side of a 
broad hall running through the center of the building, and apart- 
ments for the Sisters on the story above. St. Joseph's Institute 
was the name given by the Sisters to their convent and school, but 
the villagers dignified it by the name of 'The Abbey." 

49 BEUCKMAN, Op. Clt., p. 9. 

50 Ibid., op. cit., p. 8. 


Thirty day-pupils were enrolled at the opening of school, a few 
days after the arrival of the Sisters. To this number were soon 
added 'five boarders. The instruction given was entirely in 
French, 51 though the majority of the people spoke a Canadian 
patois rather difficult for the Sisters to understand. On May 23, 
to the delight of all, the Bishop returned to give confirmation to a 
class of twenty-nine. The Sisters made many friends among the 
kind-hearted Cahokians, who contributed in numerous ways to 
their comfort besides warmly supporting the school. This grew 
and prospered for eight years, though not without some draw- 
backs. The country was subject to almost yearly overflows of 
the Mississippi, and the unhealthy character of the place soon 
became apparent to the Sisters, who suffered much during the 

In June Father Doutreluingue was recalled from parochial 
duty by his superiors of the Congregation of the Mission; and 
in his place the Bishop sent Father Matthew Condamine, a zealous 
young priest who had been received into the diocese from Lyons 
in 1 83 1. His energy and ability promised much for the future of 
the parish and the Abbey school. He had been scarcely two 
months at his new post, when he contracted a malignant fever, and 
all efforts to save his life were vain. His holy and lamented 
death occurred on the evening of August 8, in the presence of 
Father Doutreluingue, who by a special providence, was passing 
through the village, and hearing of the young priest's illness 
remained with him until the end. 52 

Bishop Rosati came for the obsequies when Father Condamine 
was laid to rest in the little cemetery beside the church. None 
of the Sisters were permitted to attend the Mass or funeral, all 
of them having been ill. 53 Sister Saint Protais was seriously 
so ; and as she was slow in recovering her health, she was ordered 
back to St. Louis by Bishop Rosati in the fall, Sister Philomene, 

51 The catalogue of 1839 (Mother House, Carondelet) also mentions Latin. 

52 Community Annals, p. 86. Cf. rosati, "Obituary of Father Condamine," 
Pastoral-Blatt, Sept. 191 7, p. 142. 

53 Community Annals, p. 57. 


who had come to Cahokia to take care of the sick Sisters, remain- 
ing in her place. Early in September, Sisters Delphine and 
Felicite had taken up their abode in Carondelet, and with them, 
the invalid, after a brief period spent in the Sister's hospital, was 
sent to remain until she was able to resume her duties. 

Under the direction of a new pastor, Father John Francis Regis 
Loisel, the school was enlarged by the addition of a new room in 
1837; and early in 1838, a pretty chapel was erected beside the 
convent. The means fcfr this were supplied by Madame de la 
Rochejaquelin, who had sent three thousand francs the preceding 
year for the missions of Cahokia and Carondelet. Mother Saint 
John Fontbonne furnished candelabra of fine workmanship and a 
sweet-toned bell cast in Lyons. 54 Other generous benefactors 
were found among the parishioners, notably Mesdames Turgeon 
and Boismenu, also Madame Jarrot, in whose home near the 
Abbey Lafayette had received royal hospitality on his way to 
St. Louis in 1827. The chapel was blessed by Bishop Rosati 
August 17, 1838; and on the same day, Sister Saint Protais, 
returned from Carondelet, made her vows. 

The Abbey with its three buildings now presented an imposing 
appearance. The school increased in numbers and popularity, 
and the beneficent influence of the Sisters was everywhere recog- 
nised. They entered into the simple life of the people, instruct- 
ing their children, visiting their homes in sickness or trouble, 
and winning in return affection and confidence. They shared 
in the common disaster, when in the great flood of 1844, the 
Mississippi spread ruin and desolation, forcing them from their 
convent to seek a home with the Sisters by that time well es- 
tablished in Carondelet. 

54 Another bell, sent at the same time for the chapel in Carondelet, and 
still in use there, bears the inscription in French : "Presented by Mother St. 
John Fontbonne, Superioress of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and Sister Jose- 
phine Vacher, to Sister Delphine Fontbonne, Superioress at Carondelet. 
a.d. 1838. 

Gedeon Morel, Caster, Lyons." 




Six miles south of the original site of St. Louis, the River 
Des Peres empties into the Mississippi. At its mouth, about 
the year 1700, Jesuit missionaries made the first settlement in 
Missouri. 1 This village, supposed by some to be identical with 
the village of Saint Francis Xavier mentioned in the Jesuit 
Relations in 1706, 2 disappeared, leaving only the names of the 
founders. More than half a century later, in 1767, Clement Delor 
de Treget, a native of Guienne, France, explorer and former 
officer in the French army, left his post in Sainte Genevieve, to 
seek a home farther up the Mississippi. 

Attracted by the beauty of the country north of the River 
Des Peres, he drew his canoe ashore where a grassy prairie about 
four hundred yards in width ran westward, sloping gently to a 
wooded plateau on the south. On the north were limestone cliffs 
that stretched towards the trading post established three years 
earlier at St. Louis. He obtained a grant of land from Louis 
St. Ange de Bellerive, military commandant of Upper Louisiana, 
and began a settlement by erecting his own house on the low 
ground near the river. Other Frenchmen came with their fam- 
ilies, and in a short time, Delor's village of log cabins extended 
for a mile or more along the west bank of the Mississippi. The 
cabins were strongly built, the upright logs being sunk to a depth 

1 louis houck, A History of Missouri from the Earliest Explorations and 
Settlements until the Admission of the State into the Union, vol. I, p. 242. 
Chicago, 1908. 

2 thwaites' Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, vol. 60, p. 37. Cleve- 
land, 1896-1901. Cf. lawrence kenny, s. j. "Missouri's Earliest Settlement 
and Its Name." St. Louis Catholic Historical Review, vol. I, p. 154. St. 
Louis, 1919. 



of four feet in the earth and dove-tailed to the heavy rafters of 
the roof. Barricaded with solid wooden shutters for the win- 
dows and ponderous oak doors, each house was a fortress, with 
loopholes on the sides. When St. Louis built a stockade for 
protection against the Indians, Delor and his neighbors, each the 
defender of his own hearthstone, laughed at the walled town and 
defied attack. 

In 1805, the village numbered about fifty cabins with an 
estimated population of two hundred, and had several times 
changed its name. From Prairie a Catalan, named from a 
prominent resident, it became Louisburg; and finally, in 1796, 
it received the name Carondelet in honor of the last Spanish 
Governor-General of Louisiana, Baron de Carondelet. The St. 
Louisans called it Vide Poche (Empty Pocket), in the same 
spirit of raillery which prompted the trappers of the Wabash to 
fasten on St. Louis the name of Paincourt (Short-of-Bread). 3 
Vide Poche is the name by which Carondelet was commonly 
known in 1836. For several years it had kept up a friendly 
rivalry with its northern neighbor; but at this date, with scarcely 
one-eighth the population of the larger city, it had long since given 
up the race for supremacy, and accepted with indifference the 
oft-repeated verdict of its former rival, that Vide Poche's com- 
mercial aspirations were limited to the purchase of coffee and 
violin strings. 

Its inhabitants, now numbering several hundred, were still liv- 
ing in comfortable log cabins or low stone houses scattered along 
the Mississippi and down Stringtown Road (Virginia Avenue) 
which ran past the Commons. The greater number were very 
poor, but they led happy, care- free lives, keeping up the rural 
customs of their native country, and industriously cultivating the 
strips of land allotted in the common field to each householder 
of the village. Many were employed in cutting wood, which 
they carted to St. Louis, and disposed of for a pittance suf- 
ficient for their daily needs. 

3 edwards and hopewell, The Great West, p. 271. St. Louis, i860. 


On the high ground above the village was the log church of 
our Lady of Mount Carmel erected in 18 18, of which Felix 
de Andreis had placed the first post. 4 Near it was the two-room 
rectory; and beyond the small graveyard adjoining the church 
lot on the south, stood the log cottage built in 1833 for the 
Sisters of Charity and their orphan boys. These left on July 22, 
1836, for their new orphanage in St. Louis; and to the humble 
abode thus vacated came on September 12 Sister Delphine and 
Sister Felicite. Sister Philomene, the third Sister destined for 
this mission, was, as we have seen, temporarily located in Cahokia. 
Sister Delphine, though only twenty-three years of age and the 
youngest of the three, was appointed Superior by Bishop Rosati. 

Beside their personal effects and some bedding, they brought 
little with them on the long drive from St. Louis to Carondelet, 
which they reached late in the afternoon. The pastor, Father 
Edmund Saulnier, shared with them his supper of bread and 
cheese, spread on a bare table, and conducted them to the convent. 
It faced the river, and from the front door a passage-way ex- 
tended between two rooms each fifteen by twenty-four feet. An 
attic was reached by a ladder from the outside. Two sheds, one 
containing a single large room which had served as a boys' class- 
room, and the other used for store-room and kitchen, completed 
the convent buildings. With the exception of one cot, a table and 
a few chairs, the rooms were destitute of furniture. Two ticks, 
which the Sisters filled with straw and laid on the floor, provided 
them with beds, and the cot they reserved for Sister Saint Protais, 
who joined them a few days later. Father Saulnier, a good but 
eccentric man, accustomed to the privations of missionary life, 
frankly informed them that he was poor, too, and that they must 
provide for themselves. Kindhearted, however, in spite of his 
gruffness, he frequently sent them whatever he could spare from 
his own scanty store. Charitable neighbors came to their assist- 

* Pastoral-Blatt, April 1918, p. 57. According to this authority, the ma- 
terial used was from the first Church in Saint Louis, torn down that year. 
Previous to this date Mass was said in Carondelet in private dwellings. 


ance, and with the aid of these and their own ingenuity, they 
were able to provide the absolute necessities of life. 

There was no school of any kind in the village. The convent 
school was announced to begin on September 19, a week after 
the arrival of the Sisters. Twenty pupils, girls and small boys, 
responded the first morning, were enrolled and dismissed, to 
return in the afternoon, each provided with a box, a stool, or a 
log of wood for a seat. Most of them were too poor to pay 
tuition, but agreed to bring wood or provisions instead. Madame 
Pourcley, more comfortably situated than her neighbors, placed 
her apple orchard at the disposal of the Sisters, and later sent her 
daughter as their first boarder. On October 1, a poor villager 
whose wife had just died, brought his two little girls to the 
convent, as he had no means of taking care of them. Sister 
Delphine received them, the father promising to contribute the 
little that he could towards their support. Two weeks later, two 
orphan girls from St. Louis were received. 5 

With their number thus more than doubled, the Sisters had 
hardly any visible means of support. The winter was severe; 
and though fuel was abundant, the log houses were not always 
impervious to wind or snow. It was necessary to use the one 
class room which the convent afforded as a sleeping apartment 
for the girls, who kept their beds in the attic during the day, and 
brought them down in the evening often covered with snow. The 
second room served in turn the purpose of sitting-room, parlor 
or oratory, and all dined in the passage-way. It was not un- 
common to see an umbrella perched over the kitchen stove as 
a protection against rain or sleet, let in through the chinks in 
the roof. 

Thus the first winter passed amid great privations; but "they 
were happy in their poverty," wrote Sister Saint Protais, "and 
Providence did not leave them without consolation/' 6 Their 

5 These small beginnings later developed into the first two orphanages for 
girls in the Diocese of Saint Louis, walsh, Life of Most Reverend P. R. 
Kenrick, p. 44. St. Louis, 1891. 

6 diary, p. 51. 












* H 

•t 1 


r- 1 























-* 1 










solitude was relieved by an occasional visit from Bishop Rosati, 
who used to walk the six miles from the city, declaring that he 
was too poor to keep a horse. 7 Father Fontbonne, then sta- 
tioned at the Cathedral in St. Louis, frequently came to see his 
sister, Sister Delphine, and observing the great poverty of the 
house, he sold some fine paintings which he had brought from 
France, and gave the proceeds to the Sisters. Bishop Rosati, on 
one of his visits, brought them warm mantles of broadcloth, 
which he cautioned them to wear always in the church. Having 
no chapel, they were obliged to hear Mass every day in the parish 
church, where they formed the choir on Sundays, and were sac- 
ristans all the time. In the latter capacity, their duties often 
kept them hours in the cold stone building, which, in the winter 
of 1836 replaced the earlier one of logs. 8 

When the warm spring days came, and the river was clear of 
floating ice, there were occasional visits to Cahokia, when the 
Sisters could summon the boatman, Joseph Courtois, to row them 
across the river. These visits were always duly returned, and 
constituted the one great pleasure of the two communities. 
Mother Febronie once accompanied the sisters back to Carondelet, 
and then insisted on returning to Cahokia alone. Arrived at the 
Illinois side of the river, she missed the path leading through the 
woods to the village, and wandered for hours without being able 
to find her way. As the dusk of evening approached, chilled and 
exhausted, she took refuge in a hollow tree. Here she remained 
until, hearing her name shouted by the searching party which had 
in the meantime set out from Cahokia with torches and hunting 
horns, she came out from her hiding place, and was escorted 
home half dead from fright and exposure. 9 

The Sisters in both Carondelet and Cahokia were encouraged 

7 Community Annals, p. 51. 

8 Ibid., p. 91. The first Mass in the stone building was said Christmas, 
1836. Sisters Delphine and Felicite decorated the altars for the occasion. 
As there was no sacristy, they hung up curtains of cheap print, cutting off 
a portion of the sanctuary to be used for a sacristy. 

9 Community Annals, pp. 94-95. 


in May 1837 by the receipt of letters from Lyons announcing the 
departure from that city early in the preceding month of Sister 
Celestine Pommerel and Sister Saint John Fournier. These 
were bringing much needed help, and their arrival was expected 
towards the end of May. The summer months passed without 
any further tidings of them. Communication with Lyons re- 
vealed only the fact that they had sailed from Brest. The ex- 
perience of the preceding year in Carondelet was such that it 
seemed as if the convent there would have to be abandoned. 
Bishop Rosati had deferred any arrangements for his deaf-mute 
school until the arrival of the two Sisters; but now, as these were 
believed to have been lost at sea, his cherished design also seemed 
not destined to be realized. 

To his great joy and surprise, on September 4, two Sisters 
who had just reached St. Louis by boat from New Orleans 
presented themselves at the episcopal residence. Like those who 
preceded them in 1836, they wore widows' bonnets instead of 
veils, 10 and the Bishop was at first loath to believe that they were 
the long looked for teachers of the deaf. He put them to test 
by requesting them to converse in signs. They did so, and when 
the conversation seemed to amuse them, he desired it repeated to 
him. Sister Saint John had expressed a wish for some of the 
brown bread that they had last tasted in France. They brought 
letters for Bishop Rosati, among them the following from Father 
Cholleton, which rendered assurance doubly sure : 

It is a very great consolation for me to present to your Lordship 
the two Sister teachers of the deaf-mutes for whom you asked me 
last year. The first, Sister Celestine is twenty-three years old and 
is professed; the second, Sister Saint John, a novice of twenty-two 
years. She will esteem herself happy to make her profession in 
your hands whenever you find her sufficiently disposed. They are 
both animated by the best dispositions, and are sufficiently capable 
of carrying out your noble and saintly views. Madame, the Countess 

10 This remained a custom with the Sisters in America, whenever they 
were travelling, until i860. 


de la Roche jaquelin, has given them 3000 francs. If you desire 
to thank her for it, her address is Lausanne, Switzerland. 11 

The weary and belated travellers were detained at the orphan 
asylum in St. Louis for several days. Bishop Rosati, evidently 
fond of planning surprises, sent no word of their arrival to the 
community in Carondelet. On September 10, the private con- 
veyance of a Catholic physician, Doctor Rodier, who was well 
known to Mother Delphine and her Sisters, was secured. The 
Doctor was a native of Sari Domingo, and had brought with him 
from there to St. Louis a faithful colored servant, familiarly 
known to his patients as Black Margaret. Besides being able 
to manage the Doctor's horses well, Margaret possessed the 
additional accomplishment of speaking excellent French. She 
drove the two Sisters to their new home, and entertained them 
on the way with the history of St. Louis and its environs. They 
reached the convent during the evening recreation. The surprise 
of the Sisters there on beholding in the flesh those whom they 
believed dead was scarcely greater than their wonder and amuse- 
ment at finding the two strangers better informed than themselves 
about conditions past and present in the village of Vide Poche. 

The story of their journey was soon told. They had been 
detained at Brest until June 5, awaiting the sailing of the French 
frigate, Hermione, bound for the West Indies. There was a 
long delay at Havana and another at New Orleans; and the 
Sisters, weary of their three months at sea, knew nothing, of 
course, of the alarm which their failure to arrive earlier was 
causing on both sides of the Atlantic. To Mother Delphine they 
delivered Father Cholleton's letter : 

You will be pleased with my promptness in sending you assistants 
so zealous, so well instructed, so capable of aiding you as Sister 
Celestine and Sister Saint John. A great number, perhaps two- 
thirds of the Congregation, would like to share the glory and the 

11 Father Cholleton to Bishop Rosati, April 5, 1837. St. Louis Diocesan 


1 D 


labor of your mission ; but I did not see any other Countesses de la 
Roche jaquelin who wished to take on themselves the expense of the 
voyage and the first establishment. Sister Saint John is still a 
novice. When she appears to you sufficiently tried and well dis- 
posed, ask Mgr. Rosati to receive her vows himself, if his Lordship 
can. Follow the same course in the future for the admission of the 
subjects whom it will please the Divine goodness to confide to you. 
Our very dear Sisters will give you all the news capable of interest- 
ing you personally. 12 

There were many messages, in fact, from the dear ones in 
France ; and when the great trunks from Lyons were emptied of 
their abundance — clothing for the Sisters and orphans, fine things 
for the chapel which as yet existed only in dreams of the future — 
the Sisters felt that the great heart of Mother Saint John Font- 
bonne was beating very near them, and that the power of her love, 
bridging the ocean, minimized the distance between her and her 
daughters in America. 

The log cabin convent was now crowded, but its doors were 
opened wide in October 1837 t0 admit another occupant, Anne 
Eliza Dillon, the first American subject of the Congregation. 
Anne Dillon was the daughter of Patrick Mc Andrews Dillon, 
a wealthy Irish land-holder of St. Louis. She was born at Saint 
Charles, Missouri, in 1820. Her mother died when she was a 
child, and together with a younger sister, 13 she was placed with 
the Ladies of the Sacred Heart at their Academy in St. Louis, 
where she received an excellent education and acquired great 
fluency in French. It was here at school in 1836 that she met Sis- 
ters Delphine and Felicite, who during their first few months in 
America went every day to the Sacred Heart Convent for English 
lessons. 14 The young girl was drawn irresistibly to the two 

12 Letter dated April 5, 1837. Archives of the Saint Louis Diocese. 

13 A daughter of Patrick McAndrews Dillon became the first wife of the 
celebrated Captain James B. Eads. 

14 Madame Kersaint, a cousin of the Countess de la Rochejaquelin, was a 
religious in this convent at the time. She later introduced the Sisters of the 
Sacred Heart into Canada. 


Sisters. Like Saint Francis of Assisi, she was attracted by 
poverty; and on finishing her education, she gave up everything 
that she possessed of this world's goods, and with the reluctant 
consent of her father, went to Carondelet and asked for the poor 
habit of a Sister of Saint Joseph. This she received on January 
3, 1838, with the name of Sister Francis Marie Joseph. On the 
same day, Sister Philomene Vilaine made her vows. Bishop 
Rosati, assisted by Father Saulnier and Father Pierre Chandy, 
of the Congregation of the Mission, officiated at the ceremony, 
which took place in the church of our Lady of Mount Carmel. 15 

In the spring, the convent was enlarged by the addition of a sec- 
ond story, two small rooms on the west end, and broad porches on 
the river side. A covering of rough weather-boards changed the 
status of the building from a log house to the more pretentious 
frame dwelling. Writing of conditions in America in 183 1, the 
Dominican missionary, Samuel Mazzuchelli, mentions two modes 
of building, "the Log House, that is Casa di Travi, which is more 
rustic; the other is rather fine and is called Frame House, or 
Casa d'ossatura di Travi." 16 Though the convent might now 
claim to belong to the latter class, it left much to be desired in the 
matter of comfort, but provided the necessary room for the 
admission of four deaf-mute girls. All were more or less de- 
pendent on charity, and the resources of the convent were barely 
sufficient to provide for six Sisters, four mutes and five orphans. 
An addition was made to this number in the course of the year 
in the person of Victoire Cherbonneau, whose father, a Rocky 
Mountain trapper, placed her with the Sisters as a boarder. He 
was killed by Indians soon after while on a western trip, and 
his motherless little girl remained an inmate of the convent. 

Bishop Rosati, aided by a few of the prominent citizens of 
St. Louis, set on foot a movement in the summer of 1838 to 
interest the Missouri Legislature in his plans for the education 
of the deaf. He was eventually successful in obtaining an ap- 

15 Community Records, 1836. 

is Memoirs, Historical and Edifying of a Missionary Apostolic. Transla- 
tion by sister benedicta Kennedy, o. s. d., p. 59. Sinsinawa, 1914. 


propriation. In the meantime, the legislators petitioned Congress 
for a township of land on which to establish a state school for 
the same purpose. 17 In the Memorial addressed to Congress on 
this occasion, recognition is made of the work done by the Sisters 
of Saint Joseph in the town of Carondelet, although their small 
school had been in operation less than a year. "Their success 
has been so great, and their pupils have progressed so rapidly, 
that it is manifest that funds applied in founding and sustaining 
an asylum for the education of these unfortunate persons would 
advance the cause of humanity." 18 

The state school did not become a reality until 1847; t> ut on 
February 13, 1839, an appropriation of two thousand dollars was 
granted by the legislature "for the annual tuition of such deaf 
and dumb children now or hereafter received in the deaf and 
dumb asylum at the town of Carondelet in the county of St. 
Louis." 19 This fund, which did not become available until the 
end of 1839, was to be administered pro rata, for such pupils only 
as were residents of Missouri and after they had spent six months 
in school. 20 Only three of the mutes who were in the convent at 
this time belonged to the State, Emily Johnson and Mary Mus- 
dach of St. Louis, and Teresa Bernard of Florissant. A fourth, 
Mary Jane Hurley, was an orphan, dependent on the charity of 
the Sisters. 21 

Before any part of the appropriation materialized, financial 
assistance came from another quarter, and with it a practical 
recognition of the services which the Sisters were rendering to 

17 The bill authorizing this petition was introduced Dec. 17, 1838, and 
adopted Feb. 8, 1839. Missouri Session Laws, p. 334. 

18 Mo. Sess. Laws, p. 334. The certified copy of this Memorial in the 
Carondelet Archives was furnished by the Hon. John L. Sullivan, Missouri 
Secretary of State in 1918-20, a former pupil of the Sisters of St. Joseph in 
Sedalia, Missouri. 

19 Mo. Sess. Laws, p. yj. This bill was repealed Feb. 16, 1847, when a bill 
introduced by one J. A. Broadhead of Pike Co., was approved to provide 
for the state education of mutes and "repeal the act of 1839." Missouri State 
Laws, p. 48. 

20 Mo. Sess. Laws, p. 37. 

21 Mother Celestine to Bishop Rosati, Oct. 29, 1839. Diocesan Archives. 


the village. For two years they had been teaching almost gra- 
tuitously all the children who came to them. This number did 
not at any time exceed thirty-eight, exclusive of mutes and or- 
phans. Early in April, the school commissioners, Messers 
N. Paupe and Joseph Le Blond, called at the convent and made 
an agreement with the Sisters which was unanimously adopted 
by the Board of Trustees at their meeting on April 23. This 
agreement stipulated for a salary to be paid the Sisters "by the 
Corporation of Carondelet to educate in the ordinary branches of 
the English and French languages the female children of the town 
of Carondelet, from six to eighteen years old. 22 

The salary so opportunely offered seemed a fortune to the 
struggling community, as indeed it must have been, with markets 
providing eggs three for a penny, butter six cents a pound and 
other commodities in proportion. Besides, their own carefully 
tended garden was a summer-long source of supply; and an or- 
chard of six pear trees, planted by the pioneers in 1836 and 
dedicated with mock ceremony to themselves — a tree to each — 
was beginning to bear the luscious fruit which it continued to 
produce for over fifty years. 23 Had they been worldly wise they 
would have followed the suggestion of a practical-minded Sister 
and opened a bank account; but theirs was the wisdom of the 
Gospel, and their surplus capital was invested in small luxuries 
for the poor and sick whom they met on their daily rounds of 

The action of the trustees followed shortly after a mission 
given to the French settlers of Carondelet by Bishop Loras of 
Dubuque and Reverend Joseph Cretin, future Bishop of St. Paul. 
These were on their way to Dubuque from France, where the 
former had gone after his consecration in Mobile in December 
1837. They arrived at St. Louis from New Orleans by way of 

22 Extract from the minutes of the Board of Trustees' meeting, Apr. 
23, J 839- At the same meeting the services of Hamilton Michaud were ac- 
cepted as "assistant school-master" for the boys. The salary given the 
Sisters was $375 annually. 

23 The last of these trees was destroyed by a storm in the summer of 1889. 


the Mississippi in the fall of 1838, and finding further travel 
northward blocked by ice, they were obliged to spend the winter 
with Bishop Rosati. The mission lasted three weeks, during 
which the Bishop and his companion, on account of the poor 
accommodations at the tiny rectory, dined every day at the con- 
vent, which had at least the advantage in number and size of 
rooms. Sister Philomene was distressed at first that she could 
not provide plate and viands worthy of a Monseigneur; but she 
soon found out that the monseigneur was a missionary bishop, 
accustomed as such not only to partaking of homely fare, but 
to preparing it on occasion for himself. Her cook book was 
richer when he left by many simple recipes which he dictated, 
among them "bouillon without meat." The Sisters spent part 
of this precious time of grace making their own spiritual retreat, 
after which they had an outlet for their zeal in instructing and 
preparing for baptism a number of adults, converted during the 

The burden of office bore heavily on Sister Delphine under 
the trying circumstances depicted in the preceding pages. When 
her term of three years expired in August 1839, she begged to 
be relieved, and was appointed as an assistant teacher in Cahokia. 
The American population was increasing there, and before she 
took up her new duties, she spent some time studying English 
with the Visitandines at Kaskaskia. She was succeeded by 
Mother Celestine Pommerel, whose appointment by Bishop 
Rosati as Superior of the Congregation in the diocese of St. 
Louis was made subject to the approval of the authorities at the 
Mother House in Lyons. 

st. Joseph's academy, first missions in st. louis 


Mother Celestine, Marie Pommerel, was born April 7, 
1 81 3, at Feillan, in the Department of Ain, France. She was the 
eldest of four children (three daughters and one son) of Andre 
Pommerel and Louise Pommiers. This deeply religious couple 
possessed wealth and culture, and gave their children every ad- 
vantage which these could procure. Marie was educated by the 
Sisters of St. Charles at Macon, and became greatly attached 
to her teachers. She early felt the call to a religious life; but 
in following out her vocation, preferred to join a Sisterhood more 
distant from her home. Following the advice of a Jesuit con- 
fessor, she entered the Congregation of Saint Joseph at Lyons. 
Here she received the habit May 19, 1831, and made her vows 
two years later. 

During her novitiate she had often expressed a desire to devote 
her life to missionary work in the New World. Sisters were 
wanted for the St. Louis Diocese, and Sister Celestine was one 
of the first selected from the volunteers for the distant mission. 
In view of the work to be done there among the deaf-mutes, she 
was detained a year in France to perfect herself in the method 
of teaching them. Her pious parents, grieved at the prospect of 
her leaving France, endeavored by every tender means in their 
power to dissuade her from offering herself for the foreign field; 
but when she remained firm in her resolution, they resigned 
themselves to the separation which they felt would be final. 

Mother Celestine is described as "a model of womanly grace, 
slightly above middle height, of a dignified bearing, fair com- 
plexion, with broad, high forehead, blue-gray eyes, large but 



well- formed mouth and firm chin. Her countenance was open 
and serene, her voice sweet and pleasing. Her simplicity and 
gentleness won all who came in contact with her." 1 With 
gentleness she combined firmness, and with sweetness, great 
strength of character and rare executive ability. She was in 
her twenty-seventh year when placed in charge of the Congrega- 
tion in America, which numbered after three years, only eight 
professed members and three novices. Four of the former were 
in Cahokia, the others in Carondelet, where they were still poorly 

The "main building" of the convent was a two-story log house 
(weather-boarded), with two rooms on the ground floor, one of 
which served as office, sitting room, or oratory for Sisters and 
children. The upper story, reached by a ladder from the outside, 
contained two sleeping rooms. In the rear on the ground floor 
were two small apartments, study and class rooms combined. 
All this belonged to a vanishing era. A spirit of progress was 
invading the old French town. 

Writers of Carondelet history divide it into ancient and modern 
periods, distinguished one from the other by the different styles 
of architecture in vogue at different times. The modern period 
was ushered in by the building of brick houses in the early forties 
of the nineteenth century, though many of the log huts had 
already given place to others of native stone. One of the first 
of these modern houses was commenced by Mother Celestine 
during 1840, when on a ground story of stone, she ran up two 
of brick. It was north of the frame structure, which it adjoined, 
and consisted of a parlor, infirmary and giris' refectory on the 
first floor, chapel and study hall connected by folding doors on 
the second, and dormitories on the third. Mrs. Mullanphy of 
St. Louis was a generous contributor to this, the nucleus of St. 
Joseph's Academy, which was at first known as "Madame Celes- 
tine's School." 

It was ready for use in the spring of 1841 and formed the 

1 Community Annals, p. 332. 


(From an old painting in Carondelet. The form of habit 
is that originally worn by our Sisters in France and in 


north wing of the large convent completed by successive additions 
during the next few years. Between 1841 and 1846, a parallel 
wing went up on the south, and a central one connecting these 
two replaced the frame building removed to another part of the 
grounds. 2 A large building loan was furnished to Mother Celes- 
tine in 1842 by Archbishop Kenrick, then coadjutor of St. 
Louis ; and a block of ground next to the convent property on the 
south, bought at public auction by Bryan Mullanphy, was given 
to the Sisters on December 23 of the same year as a Christmas 

In the fall of 1840, with prospects of a new and comfortable 
convent in the very near future, seven boarders were received. 
These were Eliza Ruhland, Mary Anne Prigott, Elizabeth 
Le Beau, and Mary Eliza McKenney, of St. Louis; Elizabeth 
Coffin, daughter of Major Coffin of Jefferson Barracks; Ophelia 
Butler of Cahokia, and Adelia Flandrin of Carondelet. All were 
large girls of seventeen years or over except Mary Eliza McKen- 
ney, then in her ninth year. Her mother, the widow of a West- 
moreland, Virginia, gentleman, wishing the child to acquire a 
French education, was recommended to Mother Celestine by 
Bishop Rosati. Mary Eliza remained six years with the Sisters, 
kept in close touch with them until her marriage in 1853 anc ^ 
subsequent removal to Vincennes, and has left interesting mem- 
oirs in manuscript of the early days of St. Joseph's Academy. 

Our first Sisters in America live again in the pages of these 
memoirs, all "lovable women, their sweet simplicity of manner 
captivating our hearts, and so attaching us to them that when 
our yearly vacation came, we grieved at parting from them as 
if it were forever." 3 As they pass in review, the idolized 
Mother Celestine, sweet Sister Felicite, Sister Saint Protais, 
"always finding excuses for our failings," Sister Philomene, 

2 In the winter of 1845, before its removal, this was partially destroyed by 
fire. The loss was defrayed by a collection taken up Dec. 22 in the Cathedral 
of St. Louis. 

3 Memoirs of eliza mckenney brouillet, p. 25. Manuscript in Carondelet 


whose fairy tales were the delight of her small charges, grave 
and silent Sister Saint John, and the three who came on rare and 
pleasant visits from Cahokia, it is easy to appreciate the respon- 
sive chord which they awakened in the hearts of their pupils, 
one of whom, no doubt, spoke for all when she wished for 

the tongue of a Chrysostom, or the loving heart of Saint John and 
a diamond-pointed pen to pay a fitting tribute to these great souls — 
great in their humility and self-sacrifice; great in their zeal for the 
well being of those under their care ; great in their voluntary and 
lifelong exile in a strange land for the love of their Divine Master.* 

The winter of 1840-41 was severe, and all suffered much, for 
the poor house, according to the memoirs, 

offered a good target to the cold winds that held high carnival in 
our dormitory, especially during snow storms; and many a night 
did those dear, self-sacrificing pioneers spend the time shaking the 
snow from our beds. We had only to speak, and we would have 
been taken to our homes, where comfort reigned, and want was 
never known ; but St. Joseph's had a charm for us that was not 
easily broken, and we felt a pleasure in sharing the privations of 
our Sisters. 5 

The commencement exercises of 1841 were held in the new con- 
vent. The boarders had increased to twelve; and the pupils all 
told numbered ninety- four. The vacations were short, as school 
closed the first week in August and reopened in September; 
' 'still no vacation was permitted to pass by without our going 
to spend days with the Sisters before returning for the next 
term." 6 

The language of the school was French, in which most of the 
instruction was given, Sister Francis Marie Joseph, or as she 
was called, Sister Mary Joseph, being at first the only English 

4 Ibid., p. 35- 

5 Ibid., p. 17. 

6 Ibid., p. 25. 


teacher. A homelike atmosphere was cultivated, and the only 
discipline was one of love. Mother Celestine's cheery morning 
visit to the study hall was looked for eagerly each day; and the 
greatest penalty inflicted for wrong doing was the look of sorrow 
which she cast upon the culprit, whose offence was not likely to 
be repeated. 7 On free days there were excursions to the Red 
Bridge over the River Des Peres, always in company with the 
Sisters; or to the woods near "Grandfather" Poupeney's, where 
a merry crowd enjoyed the freedom of his orchard and the fresh 
loaves baked by Madame for "her children.'' There were weekly 
errands of charity when some privileged girl was allowed to 
carry for Sister Felicite or Sister Saint John the small hamper 
contaming medicine or soothing cordials to the poor and sick. 8 
The great feast loved by all was Corpus Christi, with its annual 
procession from the church through the cemetery and convent 
grounds to the altar erected on the edge of the forest. 

An event of great consequence in the simple life of those 
early days was the finding of water in the spring of 1841 by 
workmen engaged in digging a well on the convent grounds. 
When the announcement was made — fortunately at recess — that 
a natural vein had been struck on a bed of rock over a hundred 
feet below the surface, a lively student demonstration followed, 
and freshly-starched sunbonnets went up in the air with hurrahs 
for the new well. When in the following year, the Sisters were 
able to purchase a horse and cart, the only conveyance which they 
could afford for many years, the happiness of their pupils was 
complete. The latter named the horse Jacquet, and gave to the 
cart the "high-sounding title of gig when it was used by the 
Sisters; on all other occasions it was a cart." 9 

A sweet and touching incident is that of little Mary Byrnes. 
Her father, a widower, a man of good education but in reduced 
circumstances, was employed as man-of -all-work about the con- 

7 Ibid., p. 74. 

8 Ibid., p. 59. 
* Ibid., p. 90. 


vent, and his only child, Mary Josephine, six years old, was taken 
by the Sisters to be cared for and educated. She was soon a 
favorite with all, and so loved the Sisters that, wanting to be 
like them, she begged to be dressed as they were. The older 
girls added their entreaties to hers, and pleaded her cause so 
effectually, that Sister Felicite and Sister Saint John fashioned 
for her the coveted dress, Sister Philomene contributing the 
rosary and cincture. A severe attack of croup soon after re- 
sulted in the death of the angelic child ; and at the request of her 
heart-broken father, she was laid to rest in the little habit that 
she loved. 

That Mother Celestine was an advocate of social service in 
a most practical form was demonstrated one cold night in mid- 
winter, when hearing cries of distress, she rang the convent bell, 
summoning the community and the larger girls to accompany 
her to the river bank, where the crew of a wrecked steamer, the 
Europa, were signalling for help. Warm wraps, restoratives and 
bandages were quickly gathered up, and the party set out, reach- 
ing the place in time to be of great help to the rescuers. Two 
hundred passengers — all on board — were saved and housed by 
the villagers over night. Thirty women and girls were sheltered 
at the convent until the following afternoon. The academy girls 
felt doubly repaid for their loss of sleep that night, when, among 
the transients whom they escorted home, they discovered the 
sixteen-year-old "Fat Girl" of a travelling troupe. The celebrity 
slept on a pallet, for the convent beds were all too small ; and in 
the morning she held a levee in one of the class rooms. 10 

The happy convent life at Saint Joseph's was disturbed in 
October, 1842, by the Angel of Death, who took from the midst 
of those who loved her well, Sister Mary Joseph Dillon. First 
fruit of the sweet example given by our early Sisters in their 
poverty, she was the first full sheaf garnered by the Reaper from 
the tiny field sown at Carondelet. Her death was the result of 

™Ibid., p. 95. 


a cold contracted one day when she and several of the Sisters 
were returning from Cahokia. They were overtaken by a heavy 
rain for which they were unprepared. Sister Mary Joseph was 
always delicate, and her cold developed into quick consumption. 
All that loving care could do failed to restore her waning strength ; 
and on October 30, 1842, she rendered up her pure soul to its 
Maker. The village carpenter made her pine coffin, which the 
Sisters deftly covered with black cloth, and lined with snowy 
white. After Vespers on a Sunday afternoon, the Sisters, fol- 
lowed by her white-haired, sorrow-stricken father and her young 
sister, bore her to her last resting-place in the little cemetery 
beside the village church. The chapel windows looked out upon 
the plain white cross that marked her grave ; and soon a path 
was worn across the grassy plot that lay between it and the 

Sister Mary Joseph's place as English teacher in the academy 
was taken by Sister Mary Rose Marsteller, a native of Alex- 
andria, Virginia, and a resident for many years of Baltimore. 
Sister Mary Rose, though still a novice, was in her thirty-first 
year, a woman of mature judgment and ripe experience. Pos- 
sessed of superior talent and ability, she had received a splendid 
education, was an accomplished linguist and musician, and her 
assistance proved invaluable to Mother Celestine. Another en- 
couragement to the latter at this time was the interest taken in 
St. Joseph's by Father Fontbonne, who was pastor in Carondelet, 
and also director of a boys' Seminary established in the parish, 
his appointment being one of the first official acts of Bishop 
Kenrick. 11 In the last week of December, 1841, Bishop Kenrick 
arrived in St. Louis as coadjutor to Bishop Rosati, then in 
Rome. 12 With his initial visit to the academy in January 1842, 
began the friendship between the Congregation and that distin- 

11 Pastoral Blatt, "Vater Saulnier und seine Zeit," April 1918, p. 58. 

12 Bishop Rosati did not return to St. Louis. He died in Rome, September 
25, 1843. 


guished prelate which was to last over fifty years, and which has 
made his name a household word among the Sisters of Saint 

Vide Poche was assuming an intellectual atmosphere in 1842 
and 1843, an d seemed destined to be a center of education, 
especially when a few years later the Diocesan Seminary was 
located there. Another change came over the face of the village 
when well-to-do St. Louisans began building there fine country 
homes. One of these was Louis G. Picot, a native of Richmond, 
Virginia, who had built up a lucrative law practice in St. Louis. 
He secured a large tract of land adjoining the convent property 
on the east overlooking the river ; and indulging his artistic tastes, 
erected a great stone house, its battlemented turrets giving it the 
appearance of a medieval stronghold. The central tower, rising 
above the surrounding trees, commanded a river view of twenty 
miles, and was the first object seen by boatmen approaching the 
city from the south. Picot's Castle was the name given to this 
beautiful home. The little daughters of Mr. Picot attended the 
convent school, and his fine park was thrown open to the Sisters 
and their pupils, who duly appreciated the liberty of roaming at 
will through the grounds of both convent and castle. 

While affairs were thus progressing favorably in Carondelet, 
the mission at Cahokia met with disaster. The winter of 1843-4 
was unusually severe in the Mississippi Valley, with frequent 
snow storms in the northwest. The spring rains were the 
heaviest that old inhabitants could remember. The Mississippi 
rose to a great height, and a raging flood swept the lowlands 
along the Missouri and Illinois shores in May. By the first week 
in June, entire villages, including Kaskaskia and Cahokia, were 
under water. Mother Febronie and her Sisters took refuge in 
the second story of the convent, where they watched the little 
church and their own small chapel almost disappear, and in 
momentary fear of drowning, waited, praying for relief. 

Volunteers among the river captains were called for in the 
meantime by the Mayor of St. Louis, Bernard Pratte, and boat 


after boat set out to the rescue of the Illinois sufferers, plying 
inland over submerged fields of grain. On one of these boats, 
Mother Celestine herself, accompanied by Father Fontbonne, em- 
barked, fearful for the safety of the Sisters. The latter were 
rescued through a second story window of the convent and 
brought back to Carondelet. All had suffered much from ex- 
posure, especially Mother Febronie, whose frail constitution 
seemed hopelessly shattered. She was seized with a lingering 
illness, which caused her intense suffering. After four months 
of patient endurance, she was allowed, on the advice of phy- 
sicians, to return to France. Accompanied by Sister Febronie 
Chapellon, she left St. Louis in October 1844. 

The Sisters did not return to Cahokia until 1847. Though the 
water gradually subsided, the houses remained damp and un- 
healthy, and everywhere were stagnant pools that bred disease. 
Father Loisei returned for a short time ; but consumed by a wast- 
ing fever, he came back to St. Louis, where his death occurred 
May 10, 1845, at the home of his sister, Mrs. Papin. Cahokia 
was then left without a resident pastor for two years. 13 

In the interval between 1844 and 1847, tne Sisters from Caron- 
delet assumed charge of three institutions in Saint Louis, their 
first in that city. Two of these, St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum and 
St. Vincent's parochial school were permanent, and after seventy- 
five years of existence, are still flourishing. The third, though 
first in point of time, was short-lived, but produced some lasting 
fruit. This was a school for Catholic colored girls established 
by Father Augustus Paris under the auspices of Bishop Kenrick. 
It was opened on February 5, 1845, m a three-story brick build- 
ing on Third and Poplar Streets. Sister Saint John Fournier, 
Sister Antoinette Kinkaid and Sister Saint Protais Deboille con- 
stituted the first teaching staff. The curriculum included the 
elementary branches, with French and plain ornamental needle 

The school soon numbered one hundred girls, 14 the daughters 

13 beuckman, History of the Diocese of Belleville, pp. 5, 6. 

14 Annals, p. 279. 


for the most part of free negroes. The children of the Catholic 
slave population were instructed in Catechism after school and 
on Sundays. While no law as yet existed in Missouri pro- 
hibiting the education of this class, there was a strong prejudice 
against it on the part of those who feared the influence of aboli- 
tion literature on slaves able to read it. 15 Many indulgent mas- 
ters, however, taught their negroes to read and write, and these 
were ready and willing to patronize the school, a few, indeed, 
sending their slaves. 

A lively interest was manifested in the education of these 
children by Bishop Kenrick, and also by Right Reverend Edward 
Barron, for several years Vicar-Apostolic of the Liberian colony 
in Africa. Bishop Barron came to St. Louis in 1845, an d in 
company with Bishop Kenrick, frequently visited the school, 
encouraging teachers and pupils. The following is a portion of 
a letter from one of the latter written into the annals of the 
Sisters in Carondelet : 

We felt at home and were happy, because the time and attention 
of the Sisters was all our own, and there was no one to tease us. 
Archbishop Kenrick often visited us, and when Bishop Barron came 
to St. Louis, the Archbishop brought him to see us. Father Paris, 
who was the chief organizer of the school, visited us at least once 
a week. He would hear our lessons and note our improvement. 
If he called during sewing class, he looked at each girl's work. 
When he brought visitors to the school, he never failed to tell them 
in our presence that we were his children. This pleased us very 
much. Father Renaud usually said Mass on week days in the 
Sisters' chapel, and as many of us as had time assisted at that Mass. 
For a time, Father Benedict Roux gave us instructions in Christian 
Doctrine twice a week in our class room. 10 

Then follows an account of an entertainment given by the 
pupils on the eve of Father Roux's departure for France. Va- 

15 eugene morrow violette, A History of Missouri, p. 296 New York, 1918. 
Harrison a. trexler, Slavery in Missouri, 1804-1865 p. 83. Baltimore, 1914- 

16 Annals, p. 283-4. Signature and date not preserved. 


rious gifts were made to him by the grateful children, some 
presenting fruit and flowers, and one, Rosalie Jacques, eighteen 
years of age, a surplice which she herself had made and em- 
broidered. This school was giving much promise of success, 
when obstacles were placed in the way of its continuance by the 
civil authorities, 17 and it was given up in the spring of 1846, the 
Sunday-school classes only being carried on as usual. 18 

In the meantime, in November, 1845, a parochial school was 
begun by the Fathers of the Congregation of the Mission in their 
parish of St. Vincent de Paul, of which Reverend Thaddeus 
Amat, future Bishop of Los Angeles, was pastor. Mother Celes- 
tine, being appealed to for teachers, appointed Sister Delphine 
as Superior of the mission, with Sister Mary Frances Nally and 
Sister Martha Bunning as her assistants. This was the only 
parish school then in St. Louis, 19 and was known at first as the 
Immaculate Conception School. The girls and small boys were 
taught by the Sisters in a building on Seventh street, which was 
soon too small, and a rented house on Tenth and Marion Streets 
was used for the primary classes. The large boys were in charge 
of lay teachers until the coming of the Christian Brothers in 
1850. By that time, a new brick building was ready for the 
boys, and a lot had been donated to the Sisters by Elizabeth 
Soulard, a wealthy and charitable woman of the parish, for a 
girls' school, the one in use being overcrowded. To the school 
erected here a few years later, Archbishop Kenrick was a large 
contributor, as was also Father Aloysius Parodi, of the Con- 

17 Records of St. Louis Diocese, I, 221. a. d. 1845. 

18 The existing prejudice reached a climax in the following year. On 
Feb. 16, 1847, a bill passed in the Missouri Legislature provided that "no 
person shall keep or teach any school for the instruction of negroes in read- 
ing or writing" under penalty of a "fine not exceeding $500 or imprison- 
ment not exceeding six months or both fine and imprisonment." Mo. Sess. 
Laws, 1847, pp. 103-4, Sections, 1-5. 

19 A parish school was opened in 1843 by the Sisters of Charity, but it 
soon developed into a private seminary for girls, known as "Sister Olympia's 
school." Walter j. hill, History of St. Louis University, p. 64. St. Louis, 


gregation of the Mission. It owed much of the success which 
attended it from the beginning to Father Uhland, whose zeal for 
education was equalled only by his charity to the poor and the 

In the summer of 1846, Mother Celestine was again called on 
by Bishop Kenrick for members of her community to take charge 
of the boys' orphanage on Third and Walnut Streets, from 
which the Sisters of Charity, on their affiliation with the Daugh- 
ters of Vincent de Paul in France, had been withdrawn. Sister 
Saint John Fournier was placed in charge of this house, and 
with her were Sister Antoinette Kinkaid, Sister Teresa Struck- 
hof, and Sister Seraphine Coughlin. 

The Sisters of Saint Joseph had now spent ten years in the 
United States — years for the most part of struggle against dif- 
ficulties and discouragements. Their mission field was confined 
to Carondelet and St, Louis. In the former, they were conduct- 
ing an academy of thirty boarders, and their day schools num- 
bered eighty pupils. They were also caring for six mutes and 
nineteen orphan girls. The school in St. Vincent's parish num- 
bered one hundred and twenty pupils, and the orphanage, seventy- 
seven boys. 20 The Congregation was still small, but steadily in- 
creasing in numbers. It had lost a few members by death, and 
two had gone back to France. 

It was hoped that these two would return to St. Louis ; but 
Mother Sacred Heart Tezenas, who had succeeded Mother Saint 
John Fontbonne in the government of the Congregation at Lyons, 
being herself in great need of Sisters for her numerous missions, 
did not deem it wise to send them or any other Sisters from 
France. The novitiate in Carondelet was receiving young 
American girls better adapted physically to the severe climate, 
and better prepared by their knowledge of the language and 
customs of the country to take up the work of education, which, 
it was evident, would be their principal occupation. Under these 
circumstances, the authorities in Lyons by mutual agreement with 

20 Records, Mother House, pp. 231, 269. 


those of St. Louis recognized the autonomy of the Congrega- 
tion in Carondelet. Neither distance nor the lapse of time, 
however, weakened the bond of affection engendered by early 
association and a common origin which bound Carondelet to 
Lyons, and across the dark period known as the French Revolu- 
tion, linked it with Le Puy and its holy traditions. 


(1851), CANADA (1851), VIRGINIA (1853), NEW 

YORK (1854) 

In the spring of 1847, Mother Celestine made the first founda- 
tion of the Congregation outside the diiocese of St. Louis. This 
was in Philadelphia, at the request of Right Reverend Francis 
Patrick Kenrick. The latter, while on a visit to his brother, 
Peter Richard, Bishop of St. Louis, in the fall of 1846, 1 went 
to Carondelet, and requested of Mother Celestine a community 
of her Sisters to take charge of St. John's Orphan Asylum in 
his episcopal city. From this, as from the one in St. Louis, 
the Sisters of Charity had been recalled in the summer of 1846 
by their Superior, Father Deluol. 2 

It was only after much persuasion that Mother Celestine con- 
sented to this request. The need of Sisters for the home mis- 
sions was great and the Congregation still small. Moreover, the 
distance of the new field and the inconveniences of travel made 
frequent communication with the Mother House difficult, and, 
at some seasons of the year impossible. 3 The Bishop would take 
no refusal, however; and he left St. Louis with the promise 
that Sisters would be sent to Philadelphia after the ceremony 
of profession in the spring, when several novices were to make 

1 Bishop Francis P. Kenrick was favorably impressed with conditions 
in St. Louis. He wrote in his Diary of Sept. 22, 1846 (p. 241) : "Religion 
here is very vigorous. It is manifest in its works : a hospital, a university, 
schools and other institutions." 

2 charles g. herbermann, The Sulpicians in the United States, p. 221, New 
York, 1916. 

3 The ordinary means of transportation between St. Louis and Pittsburg 
were steamboats on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, and these were often 
icebound for weeks, or retarded by low water. 



their vows. This ceremony took place on April n, Bishop 
Barron, assisted by Father Anthony Thibaudier, officiating in 
the absence from St. Louis of Bishop Kenrick. Two of the 
newly professed Sisters, Sister Mary Joseph Clark, a native of 
Washington County, Missouri, and Sister Elizabeth Kinkaid of 
St. Louis, were selected for the Philadelphia mission. With 
them were appointed Sister Mary Magdalen Weber, who had 
entered the Congregation in 1843 f r ° m Conewaga, Pennsylvania; 
and as Superior, Sister Saint John Fournier. 

Mother Saint John, who later became an important factor 
in the development of the Congregation in Philadelphia, was the 
daughter of Jean Cloude Fournier and Marie Rambeau, and was 
born November 13, 18 14, at Arbois, France. She entered the 
novitiate at Lyons, receiving the habit there on June 16, 1836. 
While still a postulant, she was sent with other Sisters from 
Lyons to Saint Etienne to study the sign-language, and was 
chosen in 1837 to accompany Mother Celestine to Carondelet. 
The new climate told severely on her constitution ; and during 
her novitiate, she suffered much from the hardships to which the 
Sisters were exposed in their log-cabin convent. Her ardent 
disposition, and her great desire to be of service caused her to 
hope that she might be admitted to her profession of vows before 
the expiration of her two years of novitiate; and she twice 
petitioned Bishop Rosati to this effect. 4 It was a great trial to 
her, when, in view of the uncertain state of her health, and the 
short time that she had spent on the trying American mission, 
her superiors thought it advisable to postpone rather than to 
anticipate the time of her profession; but she looked on this as 
a means given her for preparing more worthily for the final 
sacrifice. 5 On the feast of her patron, St. John the Evangelist, 
pecember 27, 1838, Bishop Rosati, who was attended on this 
occasion by Reverend Hilary Tucker, received her vows in the 
Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. 

* Sister St. John to Bishop Rosati. Letter of December 9, 1837, in St. 
Louis Diocesan Archives. 
s Ibid. 


On the advice of physicians, and with the consent of Bishop 
Rosati, she spent part of the following year with the Ladies of 
the Sacred Heart at their convent in the city; and she profited 
by this occasion not only to recuperate her strength but to acquire 
a more thorough knowledge of the English language. Until 
1845, she was employed in Carondelet, where, besides instructing 
the deaf-mutes, she assisted with the French classes in the 
academy. At the time of her appointment to Philadelphia in 
1847, s ^ e na d been for a year in charge of the boys' orphanage 
in St. Louis. In this capacity, she was replaced by Sister Felicite 

On the evening of April 15, 1847, the four Sisters left St. 
Louis. News of the victory of General Scott at Vera Cruz had 
just reached the city, and the missionaries, on their way to the 
boat, passed through illuminated streets and scenes of general 
rejoicing quite in contrast to their own feelings at parting from 
Sisters and friends to find a new home among strangers. They 
were accompanied from St. Louis by Reverend Joseph Antony 
Lutz, former Vicar-General of St. Louis, who was on his way 
to Europe. 6 After a wearisome journey of nearly three weeks 
by water and stage, they arrived on May 5 at Philadelphia. 
Before entering the city, they disguised as far as possible their 
religious dress. This they continued to do for some time when- 
ever they appeared in public, fearing to excite a renewal of the 
anti-Catholic feeling which, only three years before, had caused 
bloodshed in Pennsylvania. 7 The diocese had passed through 
an ordeal of religious persecution, from which, owing to the in- 
domitable courage of Bishop Francis Patrick Kenrick, it had 
emerged strong and vigorous. 8 It numbered at this time one 
hundred thousand Catholics in a total population of one million, 9 

6 Father Lutz, meeting Father Melcher, V. G., of St. Louis in New York, 
was dissuaded from going to Europe, and remained in the East. 

7 j. j. o'shea, The Two Kenricks, p. 126. Philadelphia, 1904. 

8 j. g. shea, A History of the Catholic Church Within the Limits of the 
United States, p. 148. New York, 1892. 

Q Ibid., p. 56. 


and was supporting several parochial schools in addition to 
boarding schools for small boys and academies for girls, all 
in charge of religious communities. There were also two or- 
phan asylums, both until 1846 under the care of the Sisters of 

St. John's Orphan Asylum, originally located in a small house 
on Locust Street near Fourth, owed its foundation to an associa- 
tion of laymen, formed in 1829 for the purpose of caring for 
a few orphaned children of St. John's parish. A charter was 
drawn up by Reverend John Hughes, future Archbishop of New 
York, then stationed at St. John's Church. A board of managers 
was incorporated under the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania; 
and in 1833, the association secured a large building on Chestnut 
Street known as the Gothic Mansion. 

To this place, Mother Saint John and her companions were 
conducted on their arrival in Philadelphia; and here on the fol- 
lowing day, they were visited by the Board of Managers, and 
placed in possession of the institution. It contained forty boys, 
and had been since the preceding summer in charge of two 
zealous young women, who had unselfishly offered themselves for 
this work, and who now relinquished it into the hands of the 
Sisters. The latter had some opposition and many insults to 
endure from those still under the influence of bigotry. Their 
Catholic friends, however, were numerous, and the fruit of self- 
sacrificing labor on their own part was soon evident. Before 
many months had passed, three postulants presented themselves 
for admission into the Congregation, Eliza Carroll, Margaret 
Lovett and Mary Meyer. The last named was one of the two 
young women mentioned above. Before the end of the year 
1847, all were invested with the habit by Bishop Francis Patrick 
Kenrick in the chapel of St. John's Asylum in Philadelphia, and 
received the names respectively of Sister Jane Frances, Sister 
Salome, and Sister Appolonia. At the time of their profession 
in October, 1849, Mother Celestine made her first visit to the 
Eastern houses, which then included, besides the orphanage, St. 


Patrick's parochial school in Pottsville, and St. Joseph's Hospital, 
opened the preceding June in Philadelphia. 

The last named institution, though it remained under the 
direction of the Sisters of St. Joseph for only ten years, is in- 
teresting as it is the first hospital of which they took charge in 
America. It was the result of efforts made by the zealous Jesuit, 
Father Barbelin, for the relief of Irish immigrants who were 
coming into Philadelphia in large numbers, many of them suffer- 
ing from fever. The building first secured was a small frame 
house situated in a beautiful plot of ground on Girard Avenue 
between Sixteenth and Seventeenth Streets. It was enlarged 
the following year by the purchase of an adjoining piece of prop- 
erty on which stood a two story house. The two buildings were 
then connected by a frame arcade, thus increasing the capacity 
of the hospital, which during the first year, accommodated one 
hundred and eighty-five patients. Doctor Horner, head surgeon 
at that time of the city hospital, was largely instrumental in the 
foundation of Saint Joseph's, He remained' its friend and 
benefactor during his life, and at his death in 1853, bequeathed 
to it all his surgical instruments and many valuable books. Be- 
sides Doctor Horner, the staff numbered two resident and five 
attendant physicians. 

Four Sisters were assigned to hospital duty, and Mother Saint 
John Fournier, as Superior, was obliged to divide her attention 
between hospital and orphanage until Mother Celestine relieved 
the situation in June 1850 by sending from Carondelet Sister 
Delphine Fontbonne and Sister Martha Bunning. The former 
was made Superior at the orphanage, which until 1854 was also 
the novitiate. Many opportunities were given to Mother Saint 
John in the cramped quarters at the hospital of practicing the 
mortification to which she had become accustomed during her 
novitiate in Carondelet. On one occasion it was discovered that 
she had given up her bed to a fever patient, and slept on boards 
over which a few coverlets had been thrown. To a Sister who 
remonstrated with her, she replied, that a Sister of Saint Joseph 






































should forget her own comfort in remembering the hard wood 
of the Cross. Her charity towards the sick poor was boundless, 
and she soon won the love and esteem of all. Her stay at the 
hospital was short, however. In August 1851, she was recalled 
to Carondelet, whither she went accompanied by Sister Appolonia. 
Mother Celestine, responding to a petition of Bishop Peter 
Richard Kenrick in favor of Right Reverend Joseph Cretin, of 
the newly erected diocese of St. Paul, 10 was preparing to estab- 
lish in the latter's episcopal city, the first mission of the Congrega- 
tion in Minnesota. Of the pioneer band that went there in the 
late fall of 1851, Mother Saint John was a member, but in the 
spring of 1853, at the request of Right Reverend Bishop Neu- 
mann, 11 ' she was sent back to Philadelphia. In the meantime, a 
new parochial school was opened, St. Philip's, and the orphan 
boys, one hundred in number, had been removed to a new build- 
ing in West Philadelphia. They were in charge of Sister Agnes 
Spencer, Sister Delphine having gone to Toronto, Canada, where 
a foundation was made in the fall of 1851. 

This mission was the result of a visit made in the summer of 
that year by Right Reverend Amandus de Charbonnel to Bishop 
Kenrick of Philadelphia. Bishop de Charbonnel, a native of 
Lyons, was a friend of the Fontbonne family, and he requested 
that Sister Delphine be allowed to found a house of the Congrega- 
tion in his diocese of Toronto. Early in October, Sister 
Delphine, Sister Martha Bunning, Sister Alphonsus Margery and 
Sister Mary Bernard Dinan, the two last named from the 
Philadelphia novitiate, left for Canada. They were accompanied 
by Reverend James Fontbonne, who had severed his connection 
with the St. Louis diocese, and after some months in Philadelphia, 
was on his way to France. 12 The first house of the Sisters in 
Toronto was an orphan asylum, later known as the House of 
Providence; and in April 1852, Sister Martha Bunning was 

10 The See of St. Paul was erected July 19, 1850. Bishop Cretin, conse- 
crated at Belley, France, January 31, 1851, reached St. Paul July 21, 1851. 

11 Successor to Bishop Francis Patrick Kenrick in the See of Philadelphia. 

12 Father Fontbonne died at Changy, France in 1886. 


appointed Superior of another orphanage in Hamilton. In the 
meantime, on March 19, 1852, two novices were received in 
Toronto, the ceremony taking place in St. Michael's Cathedral. 
They were Sister Mary Joseph McDonnel, and Sister Mary 
Frances McCarthy, both natives of Ireland. Three parochial 
schools, St. Patrick's, St. Paul's and St. Michael's, were placed 
in charge of the Sisters by the fall of 1853, and on the inaugura- 
tion of a new mission in Amherstburgh in the same year, Sister 
Teresa Struckhof was sent from St. Louis as Superior. 

Though Mother Delphine had begged for a larger number of 
recruits for Canada, Mother Celestine was not able at that time to 
send more, the demand made upon the Mother House in Caron- 
delet being greater than she could supply. Early in 1853, sne na< ^ 
complied with a request of Bishop Whelan of Wheeling, Virginia, 
and sent to that city a community of four Sisters to commence 
a private hospital, there being none in Wheeling under Catholic 
auspices. A rented house which the Bishop had procured for 
the purpose was put in readiness by the Sisters ; but on the eve 
of their taking possession, the owner insisted on cancelling the 
contract which she had made, affirming that she could not permit 
her house to be used by Catholic Sisters. She had understood 
that the occupants were to be sisters of the same family, not 
members of a religious body. Another temporary habitation 
was forthwith secured; and on April 13, 1853, the community 
was installed in the institution known as the Wheeling Hospital, 
chartered under that name by the Virginia Assembly, and used 
as a military hospital during the Civil War. Sisters Anastasia 
O'Brien, Alexis Spellicy, Sebastian Reis and Agatha Guthrie 
composed the original band in Wheeling. The number was in- 
creased to six in May, when Mother Celestine, who accompanied 
Mother Saint John Fournier back to Philadelphia, took from 
there to Wheeling Sister Liguori Leigh and Mother Agnes 
Spencer. The latter was appointed Superior in Wheeling, and 
remained there until the fall of 1854, when she returned to 


Mother Agnes Spencer was a native of Lancashire, England, 
and entered the novitiate in Carondelet in 1846 in the twenty- 
fourth year of her age. She was a woman of strong personality, 
great tact and ability, and was chosen by Mother Celestine to 
introduce the Sisters of Saint Joseph into the diocese of Buffalo. 
Reverend Edmund O'Connor, pastor of Canandaigua, was open- 
ing a parochial school in his parish, and applied to Mother Celes- 
tine for teachers on the advice of Bishop Timon, whose interest 
in the community, especially in its work for the deaf, had not 
relaxed since, in company with Bishop Rosati, he had welcomed 
the pioneers to America. 

On December 3, 1854, Mother Agnes Spencer, Sister Theo- 
dosia Hageman, Sister Francis Joseph Ivory, and Sister Petro- 
nilla Roscoe left Saint Louis for Canandaigua. They were obliged 
to travel by boat to Alton, which they reached at midnight. A 
railroad in process of construction between Chicago and St. Louis 
was completed as far as Alton. Here the Sisters took the train, 
and arrived at Chicago on the following afternoon. They were 
cordially received and entertained until evening by Bishop 
O'Regan, former president of Carondelet Seminary. 13 Leaving 
Chicago on the evening of December 4, they reached Buffalo at 
7 p. m. December 6, after a long, cold ride. The train was insuf- 
ficiently heated, and with the mercury almost at zero, the passen- 
gers were dependent for comfort on their warm wraps. Snow 
was falling continually, and at Rochester the next morning, there 
was a long delay until the track ahead could be cleared for further 

The travellers spent the interval with the Sisters of Charity 
at their convent near the station, where Sister Francis was sur- 
prised and delighted to find an old school friend in one of the 
Sisters located there. This was the first time that the two had 
met in the religious garb, and, woman-like, each was much in- 
terested in the other's habit. At ten o'clock on the evening of 
December 7, the Sisters reached Canandaigua. In the absence 

13 Consecrated Bishop of Chicago, July 1854. 


of the pastor on a sick call, they were met by Mr. Cochran, a 
railroad official and prominent Catholic of the city, who con- 
ducted them to the parochial residence. After Mass the follow- 
ing morning, they took possession of their own home, a pretty 
white frame building in the center of fine grounds. The place 
had formerly been a nursery, and besides an orchard, contained 
garden plots, hidden that morning under trackless snow. The 
Sisters named their white cottage the Convent of the Immaculate 
Conception in honor of the day, December 8, 1854, ever memor- 
able as the day on which the dogma of the Immaculate Concep- 
tion was proclaimed. 

The school for girls was commenced in the convent, and for 
boys in the basement of the church. Both prospered, owing 
largely to the co-operation of the pastor, Father O'Connor, and 
his unfailing kindness to teachers and pupils. A sodality was 
organized, and soon, several large girls were received as boarders. 
Extra teachers were required, and in April 1855, Sisters Julia 
Littenecker and Bruno Nolan were sent to Canandaigua from 
Carondelet. Father Paris, spiritual Father of the Community 
in St. Louis, accompanied them. They narrowly escaped a 
serious accident near Detroit. The bridge over a shallow stream 
between high banks had been swept away by the bursting of 
a mill dam. The miller discovered this only a few minutes be- 
fore midnight, at which time the train was due at the bridge. 
Frantically waving a lantern, he succeeded in checking the on- 
coming train almost on the edge of the embankment. Father 
Paris took pains to impress on the two young Sisters a sense 
of the danger from which they had escaped so narrowly, in order, 
as he said, that they might ever after be grateful to God for His 
care of them. The passengers spent several hours collecting 
stones and branches to effect a crossing ; and when they reached 
the other side of the stream, all found shelter in a settlement near 
by until the arrival of a relief train from Detroit the following 

Reaching Canandaigua April 21, after a four days' journey, 


the Sisters were soon assigned to duty, Sister Bruno in the class- 
room, and Sister Julia as music teacher. To Sister Julia also 
fell the duties of organist in the small church and director of 
the children's choir. She brought to her work qualifications of 
no common order. Born in 1836 in Hofweier, an exclusively 
Catholic city in the Grand Duchy of Baden, she was sent by 
pious parents to a convent of Benedictines in Offenburg, where 
she received an excellent education, becoming proficient especially 
in music and languages. With her parents and other members 
of her family, she came to St. Louis in the spring of 1853, an d 
a few months later, at the age of eighteen, she was received as 
a novice in Carondelet. Her example was followed, during the 
next few years, by her two younger sisters, who served the 
community long and faithfully as Sisters Lidwina and Mechtilda. 
Grave and serious by nature, but with rare sweetness and grace 
of manner, Sister Julia gave evidence from her entrance into the 
novitiate of the deep piety and fervor, the love for the devotions 
and ceremonies of the Church, which distinguished her during 
the sixty years of her beautiful life as a Sister of St. Joseph. 
She had not completed her term of novice-ship when sent to 
Canandaigua, but made her vows there in St. Mary's Church the 
following year. At the same time, two postulants, received by 
Mother Agnes Spencer, were invested with the habit, Sisters 
Stanislaus Leary and Anastasia Donovan, both of Corning, New 

A parochial school was begun in Rochester in 1856, but was 
temporary, the Sisters being recalled to Canandaigua at the end 
of the school year. 14 They were assigned to Buffalo instead. 
Here Bishop Timon had begun to press his project for a deaf- 
mute institute. Land was donated for this purpose by a bene- 
factor of the Church in Buffalo, Louis Le Couteulx. Not hav- 
ing means at his disposal for the erection of suitable buildings, 
the Bishop had removed to Le Couteulx place some small cottages 

14 A permanent foundation was made in Rochester from Buffalo in 1864, 
and became independent in 1868 when the Buffalo diocese was divided. 


which had been used by the Sisters of Charity pending the com- 
pletion of their foundling asylum. Here, until better accom- 
modations could be provided, he proposed to begin a parochial 
school, and also to provide for the instruction of a few deaf-mute 
children who had been brought to his notice. For the former, 
Sister Francis Joseph and Sister Bruno were sent from Canan- 
daigua, and were later reinforced temporarily by Sisters Bernard 
Dinan and Philomene Sheridan from Toronto. Mother Celes- 
tine was appealed to for teachers of the deaf. The Sisters pre- 
pared to take up this work were few in number, and their services 
were required for the school in Carondelet. Bishop Timon, to 
his great disappointment, was obliged to defer his project for 
these afflicted children until the following year. 

When the teachers for the parish school reached Buffalo, they 
found that the cottages were not ready. The pastor, Reverend 
J. M. Early gave up his residence for a temporary convent, and 
the church was converted into a school. The boys were taught 
by Sister Francis Joseph in the sacristy, and the girls' class room 
was the body of the church, separated from the sanctuary by 
a curtain. This state of affairs continued for the greater part 
of the year. The small community suffered much from poverty, 
and was often dependent for the necessaries of life on the Sisters 
of Charity, whose Superior, Sister Rosalia, did not forget her 
neighbors across the way. Bishop Timon, also, frequently made 
generous donations of money and provisions to the struggling 
institute. His hopes for the deaf began to be realized when 
Sister Mary Rose Marsteller came from Carondelet to instruct 
the Sisters in the sign language. She was not a teacher of the 
deaf-mutes, but during her fifteen years residence among them 
in St. Louis, had become an adept in the signs. The first pupils 
of Le Couteulx were a little German boy and several small girls 
from Canandaigua. 

From this humble beginning developed a great institution from 
which teachers trained in the most scientific methods of imparting 
instruction to the deaf send out hundreds of these children of 


silence, fully equipped for the battle of life and able to take their 
places side by side with their more fortunate brothers and sisters 
who have not been handicapped by being deprived of hearing. 
Marvellous results have been accomplished by the Sisters of St. 
Joseph in this field of education, and a new and holier meaning 
given to the lives of many who must otherwise have remained 
in ignorance of God and of Truth. 



When in the early fall of 1851, Mother Celestine was called 
upon to send a missionary band to St. Paul, in what was then 
the Territory of Minnesota, she realized that the difficulties 
awaiting the pioneers in this great field, as yet uncultivated, called 
for strong and resolute souls, and her natural tenderness shrank 
from exposing her Sisters to the hardships of a new country 
so recently reclaimed from the barbarism of wandering tribes as 
to be almost devoid of the comforts of civilized life. 

She saw, however, a possible chance, presented for the first 
time, of converting the Indians, one of the objects which the 
Sisters had in view when leaving France fifteen years before. 
After some hesitation, she chose for this distant post Mother Saint 
John Fournier, recently returned to Carondelet from Philadelphia, 
[as noted in the preceding chapter] Sister Philomene Vilaine. 
Sister Francis Joseph Ivory, twenty-seven years of age, full of 
courage and enthusiasm, and destined to be the pioneer of many 
missions, and Sister Scholastica Vasques, a young Sister of 
French-Spanish descent, but a native of St. Louis. These two 
had received the habit in Carondelet in 1847, Sister Scholastica 
being then only seventeen years of age. What the future held 
for them in the far northern country towards which their faces 
turned in the fall of 1851, they did not know — probably a mar- 
tyr's death for one or more ; but women whose community tradi- 
tions linked them with the victims of the guillotine were not likely 
to quail before a tomahawk, and they looked forward to their 
new mission with more eagerness than fear. 

The St. Paul of the early fifties is described as "a wild frontier 



town, where Indians in gay blankets stalked the streets and scalp- 
ing was still known." 1 Ten years had hardly passed since the 
Sioux and the Chippewas had fought out their deadly feuds in 
the neighboring camping grounds. They had forced the few 
white families then living in St. Paul to seek refuge on what 
was known as Mississippi Island, opposite the city, in the great 
Father of Waters. 2 The Catholic settlers had greatly increased 
since then. The Indians had withdrawn to their various reser- 
vations, where, held in check by government agents, they were 
gradually learning the arts of peace. Though the greater num- 
ber were still in the darkness of paganism, many had become 
excellent Christians through the persevering efforts of two mis- 
sionaries, Father Lucien Galtier and Father Augustine Ravoux. 
These were two of the four sub-deacons who had accompanied 
Bishop Loras in 1838 from Le Puy. 3 

Father Galtier was the founder of the city of St. Paul. A 
man of remarkable character and personality, he was in every 
way fitted for the great missionary work which he was called 
upon to undertake. Shortly after his ordination in 1840, he was 
sent by Bishop Loras to minister to the scattered population of 
Minnesota, then the northern part of the diocese of Dubuque. 
For several years, he was the only resident priest within the 
present limits of Minnesota. He established his first mission at 
Mendota, or as he called it, St. Peter, headquarters of the Indian 
fur trade in the north, and beautifully located near the confluence 
of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. Besides the rude 
warehouses of the French and Canadian traders, Mendota con- 
sisted of a few r log huts, in the midst of which rose the stone 
house of the Territorial Governor, General Sibley. From the 
high bluffs across the river, old Fort St. Anthony 4 commanded 
a view of the surrounding hills, among which were the encamp- 
ments of the Sioux, their tepees extending in picturesque dis- 

1 john f. carr, "John Ireland," The Outlook, April 24, 1908, p. 972. 

2 augustine ravoux, Memoirs and Reminiscences, p. 7. St. Paul, 1890. 

3 The others were Remy Petoit and James Causse. 

4 The present Fort Snelling. 


array down to the water's edge. Near the Governor's mansion, 
Father Galtier built his small log chapel. 

At that time a single log house occupied the site of what is 
now the capitol of Minnesota. In October, 1841, Father Galtier 
crossed over from Mendota with eight men who had volunteered 
to build a church. In a grove of red and white oak on high 
ground near the river, the church was built of tamarack logs 
and roofed with bark-covered slabs brought by steamboat from 
Stillwater. It was twenty-five feet long, eighteen wide, and ten 
high, with two windows, one on each side. On November 1, 
1 84 1, it was dedicated to St. Paul, because the name sounded 
well and was short enough to be understood by all. 5 A city of 
the same name soon grew up around the church. St. Paul be- 
came the center of a Catholic population of French, Irish and 
Swiss, and in ten years had increased sufficiently in size and im- 
portance to be made the see of a new diocese. Father Galtier 
had then returned to Dubuque, and Father Ravoux was alone in 
Minnesota until the coming of Bishop Cretin in the summer of 

Bishop Cretin was no stranger to the Sisters of Saint Joseph. 
Shortly after his ordination at St. Sulpice in 1823, he had been 
sent by his bishop, Alexander Raymond Devie, "one of the glories 
of the episcopate of France," 6 to Ferney on the French frontier 
facing Geneva. Ferney was the only part of the diocese of 
Belley in which Protestantism had obtained a foothold ; 7 and in 
this citadel of Calvanism, the young priest labored until 1838, 
first as vicar and then as parish priest, with a devotion equaling 
that of his friend, the Cure of Ars. Bishop Devie, in his zeal 
for the conversion of Ferney, had opened there a school for 
girls in 1824, which he placed in charge of Mother St. Joseph 

5 rev. Ambrose mcnulty, "Beginnings of the Catholic Church in St. Paul," 
Minnesota Historical Society Collections, vol. X, p. 233. 

6 john Ireland, "Life of Bishop Cretin," in Acta and Dicta, vol. V, p. 
61. St. Paul, 1917. 

i Ibid., p. 57. 


Chanay from Lyons. 8 Thus for fourteen years, the Sisters of 
St. Joseph had united their efforts for the spread of the Faith 
with those of the future Bishop of St. Paul. In 1838, Father 
Cretin offered himself for the foreign mission field and accom- 
panied Bishop Loras to America, spending his first winter in 
St. Louis. It was during that time that he gave a three weeks' 
mission in Carondelet. He went to St. Paul as its first bishop 
July 2, 185 1, and almost immediately made provision for a 
school, applying to Mother Celestine for teachers. 

On the evening of October 28, 1851, the four Sisters men- 
tioned above left St. Louis on the steamer St. Paul, bound for 
the head-waters of the Mississippi. Ice was already forming in 
the river, and the boat made no stops until October 31, when it 
reached Galena, Illinois. Here the Sisters remained over night 
at the home of the chief official, Mayor Dowling, whose wife was 
a Catholic. On the following morning, they heard Mass at a 
convent of the Sisters of Mercy, and resumed their journey. 
A delay of several hours at Dubuque enabled them to visit the 
new home of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; 
and at Prairie du Chien, they met Father Lucien Galtier, who 
came on board at that point bound for one of the villages up the 
river. From him they learned a great deal about the history and 
condition of the new country to which they were going, and re- 
ceived hearty wishes for their success. 9 

If the Sisters had believed in omens, they would have con- 
sidered it a fortunate one to meet, on their way to St. Paul, the 
founder of that city, and the architect of its first cathedral. 
Any illusions which they might have entertained with regard to 
the city's social aspects, however, were dispelled by another of 
their fellow passengers, Major Fridley, agent of the Chippewa 
Indians, who, while praising the town, continued to impress on 

8 lebeurier, Life of Mother St. Joseph, p. 109. Translation by 
Sister De Pazzi O'Connor, New York, 1876. 

9 sister Ignatius loyola cox, "Early History of the Sisters of St. Joseph 
in Minnesota," Acta and Dicta, vol. Ill, p. 225. 


the Sisters the fact that it was a "little wild." 10 The steamer 
arrived at its destination during the night of November 2. 
Morning disclosed to the passengers snow-covered bluffs, and 
the river filled with floating ice. The Sisters were met by Father 
Ffrench, whom the Bishop had sent to conduct them to the home 
of a parishioner, Madame Turpin. Under her hospitable roof 
they remained until evening, when Bishop Cretin himself came 
to conduct them to their new home. 

This is described by Sister Francis Joseph Ivory as "a low 
frame shanty on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi." 11 It was 
none other than the episcopal palace to which Bishop Cretin had 
been introduced on his arrival five months before. It had recently 
been vacated for the new brick church, residence, and seminary 
combined, a few blocks away. 12 The convent was about eighteen 
feet square, a story and a half high, containing two small rooms, 
one on the ground floor and one above. Near by was a one story 
kitchen, twelve feet square. The log church which Father 
Ravoux had enlarged to the imposing proportions of forty-five 
by eighteen feet, stood a few yards to the right, facing Bench 
Street and the river. It was now turned over to the Sisters for 
a girls' school. Like the convent, it contained little that could be 
called furniture; and the Sisters spent long hours filling in the 
chinks in the wall with newspapers to keep out the cold. 

On November 10, the school was ready for occupancy. Four- 
teen pupils were enrolled on that day. The first name registered 
was Elizabeth Cox, the next twq in order, Philomene and Lud- 
milla Auge. 13 Major Fridley of the Indian agency, sent his 
daughter, and the Honorable Henry M. Rice, a prominent citizen, 
placed his niece with the Sisters. Both of these men lived at 
a distance from the school, and wished the two girls taken as 
boarders. As there was no accommodation for them in the tiny 

10 Ibid., p. 255. 

11 Diary of sister francis Joseph. Carondclet Archives. 

12 ravoux, op. cit., p. 62. 

13 Philomene Auge became a Benedictine nun at St. Cloud, Minnesota, 
and Ludmilla, a Sister of St. Joseph at St. Paul, Sister Columba. 


convent, Mr. Rice fitted up a one room annex in a style, which, 
compared with the other meagre apartments, was very luxurious. 
Soon, Mary Bottineau from Saint Anthony was added to the 
list of boarders in the embryonic institution which developed 
into St. Joseph's Academy. 

The winter brought suffering and privation, but failed to 
dampen the ardor of the pioneers. The interesting chronicler 
of early days, Sister Francis Joseph, writes : 

We all enjoyed the novelty of our position. There was a small 
stove on the first floor, the pipe of which was set upright through 
the roof. In the opening around it, we could count the stars. Rain 
storms were frequent. When the rain poured down through the 
roof, we, like the man in the Gospel, took up our beds and walked, 
but only to rest in the water on the other floor. As there was only 
one well in the place, and this was generally locked, we often had 
a long wait for our coffee in the morning. I remember one day 
that we had nothing to eat until late in the afternoon, when dear 
Mother surprised us with a portion of a small loaf of bread which 
she had sent for to a French woman. The chief settlers were 
Indian traders. No farms had yet been planted, and there were 
no public conveyances. The only roadway to the settlements below 
was the Mississippi River, which was frozen ; and wolves often 
attacked travellers as they journeyed over the ice. The nearest 
place to procure provisions was Dubuque, five hundred miles away. 
So, very often, others were as bad off as ourselves. This was the 
condition of affairs from November to about the last of May, when 
an event occurred that changed all for the better, the arrival of 
the first steamer after the ice had broken. As the boat, City of 
St. Paul, came steaming up, the excitement was intense. Every 
individual in town was on the river bank to welcome the friend 
that brought comfort. All temporal difficulty vanished with this 
event. The spring was charming. The prairies were in full bloom, 
wild ducks were plentiful on the rivers and lakes, and settlers were 
coming in from all quarters. 


^ Diary, sister f. joseph. Carondclet Archives. Two years after the 
arrival of Bishop Cretin, the number of Catholics in St. Paul had increased 


Before spring, the number of boarders had increased to eight; 
and by April, the day school was crowded out of the vestry where 
the first classes were taught, and filled the body of the log church. 
A two story brick building was begun with large, airy, class 
rooms and pleasant apartments for boarders. It was ready for 
use in September, and the old church, St. Paul's first cathedral, 
became the Sisters' chapel. 

During the summer of 1852, Mother Celestine made her first 
visit to St. Paul. She had just finished a visitation of the houses 
in Philadelphia, where, on May 29, she presided over a ceremony 
of profession in the chapel of St. John's orphanage, the first 
at which the newly consecrated Bishop, John Nepomucene 
Neumann, officiated. As there was no direct communication 
between Philadelphia and St. Paul, she was obliged to return 
to St. Louis, travelling from there by boat to St. Paul, which 
she reached before the end of June. The great fatigue of this 
long journey was forgotten by Mother Celestine in her enthu- 
siasm over what she loved to call her "dear Indian mission," 
the good work of instructing the Indians having actually com- 
menced during the winter before her arrival. 

There was a settlement of Winnebago Indians at Long 
Prairie, 15 over a hundred miles northwest of St. Paul. The 
Winnebagos were Catholics, having received the Faith first from 
the Jesuit missionaries ; and prior to 1848, were located at Prairie 
du Chien. At their own request, Bishop Loras had sent them 
a priest, who, however, met with opposition from the officials 
of the agency. These even procured from the governor of the 
territory the dismissal of the Black-gown from the mission. 
The chief then demanded a Catholic teacher and insisted that 
his petition be presented to the President. This secured the 
appointment in 1844 of Father Cretin as their pastor, but he was 
not permitted to open a school. His expulsion also was finally 

from the small congregation in the log chapel to fifteen hundred souls. 
richard h. clarke, Lives of Deceased Bishops, p. 442. New York, i< 
15 Present county seat of Todd county, Minnesota. 


brought about by the agent, and the Indians removed to Long 
Prairie. 16 

Long Prairie fell within the limits of the new diocese of St. 
Paul. Bishop Cretin, in the fall of 1851, a few months after 
taking possession of his see, obtained tardy justice from the 
government, and was aided in the establishment of a school 
among the Winnebagos. He sent Father Francis de Vivaldi 
to take charge of it. Father Vivaldi soon found it impossible 
to attend to the school and his various missionary duties, and 
in the beginning of 1852, begged for some Sisters for the school. 
None could come from St. Louis during the winter months, 
while the river was blocked with ice. In this emergency, Sister 
Scholastica Vasques was sent from St. Paul to Long Prairie, 
and remained from January until March, instructing the Indian 
children and preparing them for their first Communion. She 
had an assistant teacher in Miss Legeau, a young French woman, 
with whose kind and hospitable family she also found a tem- 
porary home. 

Mother Celestine during her visit made arrangements for a 
permanent mission among the Indians, and on her return to 
St. Louis in August, sent Sister Xavier Husey and Sister 
Cesarine Mulvy, the former to replace Sister Francis Joseph, 
whom she took back with her to St. Louis, and the latter to be 
Sister Scholastica's companion at Long Prairie when that mission 
reopened in the fall. The only way of reaching Long Prairie 
was by wagons which were sent at regular intervals to St. Paul 
to get supplies for the agency. It required four days to com- 
plete the journey, stops being made over night at the farm houses 
on the way. In fine weather, the long ride through the open 
country with its vast expanses stretching on all sides to the 
horizon was enjoyable; but when the trip had to be made in 
winter, as sometimes happened, the experience was memorable 
for the biting winds that swept across the prairies, penetrating 
the thick blankets heaped about the luckless travellers. 

16 j. g. shea,, History of the Catholic Missions, p. 400. New York, 1883. 


With the exception of the agency buildings, Long Prairie was 
a settlement of tents and wigwams, and echoed nightly to the 
music of Indian dances. The children were sent regularly to 
school, and were instructed in the elementary branches. The girls 
were also taught sewing and knitting; and a farmer, employed 
for the purpose, gave the boys practical training in the fields. 
Besides teaching, the Sisters were required to distribute the pro- 
visions supplied by the government to each family in proportion 
to its size. The Sisters' own accommodations at first were very 
poor. Sister Appolonia Meyer, who spent several weeks at the 
reservation, has left the following description of the house: 

It was built of logs and was one story high, the dimensions 
being about eighteen by twenty feet. It contained but one apartment, 
and that we used for parlor, refectory, community room and kitchen. 
Our sleeping room was a very small and low attic. Our mattress 
was nice, clean hay, and our bedstead the floor. Over the hay we 
spread our blankets and comfortables in truly primitive style. 17 

During the fall of 1852, the house was enlarged and made 
comfortable; and in May, 1853, the two lonely missionaries were 
glad to welcome a third member of their community in the person 
of Sister Simeon Kane, sent from Carondelet with Sister Vic- 
torine Schultz. 

Sister Victorine remained as music teacher in St. Paul. She 
had a remarkably fine voice, and gained local fame through an 
incident quite embarrassing to herself. Bishop Cretin, a great 
lover of music, was a promoter of congregational singing, in 
which he expected all to join who attended divine service, in- 
cluding the Sisters. The first time that Sister Victorine's sweet 
and powerful soprano was heard in the hymns, all the other 
singers gradually stopped to listen. When she realized her part 
as an unintentional soloist, she desisted also. The choral part of 
the service was over for that day, but Sister Victorine's musical 

1T Letter of Sister Appolonia Meyer, Archives of St. Paul Province. 


reputation was established. The school at this time was prosper- 
ing, though the teaching staff was small, and some changes were 
made during the summer. Mother Saint John Fournier was sent 
to Philadelphia, and was replaced by Mother Seraphine Coughlin, 
who arrived from St. Louis, August 18, 1853, accompanied by 
Sister Ursula Murphy. 

Mother Seraphine was a native of New York and had received 
the habit in 1846 at Carondelet. She is described by Archbishop 
Ireland as "a woman whose intelligence, refinement, and saintli- 
ness of character stamped her in the memory of the diocese as an 
ideal daughter of Christ and an ideal servant of Holy Church." 18 
She had been for a short time mistress of novices in St. Louis, 
and was known and loved by the Sisters in St. Paul, who had 
a warm welcome for her when she arrived among them. She 
found an able assistant in Sister Xavier Husey, an excellent 
teacher, and though a strict disciplinarian, tenderly thoughtful 
for those under her care. 

Many settlers were coming into the territory, and with the 
rapid growth of population, the school increased in numbers. 
Several young girls were received as postulants ; and in November 
1853, on tne insistance of the Bishop, Sisters Philomene Vilaine 
and Ursula Murphy, with a postulant, Miss Maloney, were sent 
to open a school in St. Anthony Falls, now East Minneapolis, 
the only town in the Territory besides St. Paul where there was 
a resident priest. This priest was a Frenchman, Father Ledon. 
His congregation was poor, and consisted of French-Canadians 
and a large proportion of mixed French and Indian descent. 
Father Ledon fitted up for a school an old frame house that had 
been the property of fur traders. This the Sisters occupied until 
a larger one was built the following year. The new school was 
placed under the patronage of our Blessed Mother and called 
St. Mary's Convent. It was numerically small, and the income 
was very limited; but the Sisters found the means of supporting 
three orphan children whose parents had fallen victims to cholera. 

18 Our Catholic Sisterhoods, p. 3. St. Paul, 1902. 


This small band was the germ of the great benevolent institutions 
since organized by the Sisters in the North. 

From their arrival in St. Paul in 185 1, Bishop Cretin was 
anxious to establish a hospital. Land was donated for the pur- 
pose by Henry M. Rice; and a Sioux chieftain, then occupying 
the site of the present city of Minneapolis, promised lumber from 
his forests. It was not until the fall of 1853, that the Bishop 
began the erection of a hospital building, the first of its kind in 
Minnesota. It was of stone, four stories in height. The dif- 
ficulties attending its construction, due to scarcity of laborers and 
material, were so great that a year elapsed before it was com- 
pleted. In the meantime, cholera, which during the few preced- 
ing years had wrought deadly havoc in regions further south, 
reached St. Paul, and spread with great rapidity. The old log 
church was converted into a hospital, where the Sisters, amateur 
nurses though they were, gave themselves with zeal to the care of 
the cholera patients. They were reinforced in August by Sisters 
Augustine Spencer, Marcelline Dowling and Euphemia Murray, 
sent by Mother Celestine from Carondelet for the new hospital. 
The need of such an institution was more than ever realized, and 
work was pushed on the building, Bishop, priests and seminarians 
all lending their aid to the workmen until it was completed in 
the fall of 1854. 

In May of that year, the religious habit was conferred for the 
first time in St. Paul. The only recipient was a young French- 
Canadian, Louise Lemay. She was one of four postulants who 
had presented themselves. Of the remaining three, one was not 
admitted; another, Jane Bruce, died before the end of her pro- 
bation; and the third, Julia Lemay, cousin of Louise, received 
the habit a few months later. Mother Celestine, taking with her 
Sister Margaret Sinsalmeyer, a novice, went north for the cere- 
mony, which took place on May 27 in the Cathedral on Wabash 
Street. Bishop Cretin presided ; and so great was the excitement 
attending this first ceremony of religious reception in St. Paul, 
that the young novice left the chuKch without being given a name 






+- 1 






















r- 1 






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by which she would be known in religion. She was obliged to 
repair to the sacristy to make known her dilemma, and the Bishop, 
opening his ordo to the Saint of the day, conferred on her the 
name of Gregory. Sister Gregory and her cousin, afterwards 
known as Sister Pauline, were followed into the convent in course 
of time by fourteen other members of their family, and were 
themselves destined to spend long lives of great usefulness in 
the Congregation. 19 

The stone building erected by Bishop Cretin was of ample 
proportions, and was intended for the double purpose of hos- 
pital and novitiate. The few orphans left homeless by the 
cholera also found in it a temporary refuge. Mother Seraphine 
took up her residence here, exercising supervision at the same 
time over the academy, which was enlarged in the fall of 1854 
to relieve crowded conditions. An unsuccessful effort was made 
by the Bishop to obtain from the legislature a proportion of the 
common school fund. 20 In the support of their schools, his 
parishioners were thrown upon their own limited resources. 
Their chief asset in most instances was their children, and these 
they sent to school in large numbers. The school rooms were 
filled to over-flowing, though educational facilities, except such 
as were improvised by the Sisters, were almost wholly lacking. 
In addition, the teachers were few. Until 1855, only two novices 
had been received. On May 17 of that year, this number was 
increased when Rose Cox, a young woman of superior talent 
and finished education, received the habit and the name of Sister 
Ignatius Loyola. On March 25, 1856, Bishop Cretin presided 
at the first double ceremony in the chapel of the hospital, when 
Sister Marcelline Dowling, who had come from St. Louis as a 
novice, made her vows, and Sister Peter Richard Grace was in- 
vested with the religious habit. In the meantime, four Sisters 
had come from Carondelet, sent by Mother Celestine, who always 

19 Sister Gregory died at Nazareth Retreat, St. Louis, July 15, 1894; 
Sister Pauline at St. Paul, March 12, 1912. 

20 richard h. clarke, Lives of Deceased Bishops, p. 424. New York 


responded to the call from the North, though the number of 
Sisters that she could send at any one time was small, and could 
reach St. Paul only in the summer months, when a river voyage 
was possible. These four were Sisters Saint Protais, Mary 
George Bradley, Alexis Spellicy and Alphonsus Byrne. All 
were assigned to places in the schools except the last named, who 
was sent for hospital duty. 

The young community was prospering under the wise and 
kind direction of Bishop Cretin. Many instances are on record 
of his thought fulness for the Sisters during the long, cold win- 
ters, and of his interest at all times in their welfare and their 
work. His sympathies reached out to all classes, and young and 
old paid him the homage of their love. Worthy of a St. Vincent 
de Paul was his tenderness towards homeless little ones. This 
was illustrated in a touching manner at New Year's in 1856, 
when he sent to the convent a tiny girl of three years old, calling 
it his New Year's gift to the Sisters. The child had been found, 
warmly wrapped, by the side of its widowed mother, who had 
died of cold and want in her poor home. 21 A writer in The 
Outlook (1908) gives an interesting pen picture of 

the missionary Cretin, first Bishop of St. Paul, who had won Vol- 
taire's town of Ferney back to the Faith, and here in the wilderness 
lived many months on crackers and cheese that he might tend his 
little flock without taxing their poverty. In sympathy and wit he 
was an American, a quaint and lovable old man, whose room con- 
tained a busy printing press and a hundred mechanical wonders 
of his own invention. He was idolized by the dozen boys of the 
school, who gathered about him of nights at the organ, where they 
learned to shout lustily in chorus both Yankee Doodle and the 
Marseillaise. 22 

Among the boys of this school; conducted in the basement of 
the church under the direction of Father Peyregrosse, was John 

21 The little girl remained for several years with the Sister, and was then 
adopted into the family of General James Shields, of Civil War fame. 

22 john foster carr, The Outlook, April 21, 1908, p. 972. 


Ireland. When the pioneer Sisters of St. Joseph came to St. 
Paul, he was a lad of thirteen years. His first visit to the con- 
vent was an unceremonious one. He went in capacity of guide 
to a postulant who had arrived by boat from Dubuque. The 
boy knocked at the door, and leaving the young woman to wait 
for a response, ran at full speed down the street. Fifty years 
later, as Archbishop of St. Paul, he wrote : 

Without bidding of mine, there traces itself vividly on the canvas 
of my fancy the picture of the convent in St. Paul as it was wont 
in the long ago to strike my boyish gaze. The awe and timidity 
are back with which I would approach the little cottage and struggle 
into speech in the presence of the Sisters. Never since, amid all 
the stately and renowned convents that I have seen in my travels, 
did I feel myself confronted with visions of a life so beauteous, so 
supernatural, as when my eyes rested on the early Sisters of St. 
Paul. I see these Sisters in their little cottage, in their rustic school 
room, in their tiny chapel. I see them on the green sward in the 
summer, amid the deep snows in winter, stepping demurely across 
the field on their way from the convent to the quaint Cathedral on 
Wabasha Street. I see them bending low to murmur words of hope 
and patience into the ears of the poor, the sick and the dying; and 
I hear the answering words of love and faith springing from the 
lips of men and women, who, in the whisperings and deeds of the 
Sisters, caught glimpses of another world and felt themselves for 
the moment lifted into the life and light of Heaven. 23 

23 JOHN IRELAND, Op. dt., p. 7. 



While the Congregation was being successfully inaugurated 
in the East and North, its interests nearer home were not being 
neglected. Communities were sent from the Mother House to 
Weston, Missouri, and to Sulphur Springs, Mississippi ; the school 
in Cahokia, from which the Sisters were driven by the great 
flood of 1844, was reopened, and a German orphan asylum 
begun in St. Louis. Mother Celestine was also devoting her 
wonderful energy to building up the academy and novitiate in 

Though the convent had been enlarged in 1846 by the addition 
of the central, or main wing, it still proved inadequate; and in 
1849, a separate two-story building was erected to the north and 
east, containing a chapel above and class rooms on the ground 
floor. The records of the academy during these years show an 
average of one hundred and forty pupils, fifty of whom were 
boarders. Of the remainder, twenty were orphan girls, and 
these were transferred in 1849 to St. Vincent's convent in St. 
Louis, where the removal of the boys' class rooms to a new school 
building made temporary accommodations for the orphans pos- 
sible. Many southern planters, finding intercourse with St. 
Louis easy and pleasant by reason of the comfortable steamers 
that were now plying the Mississippi at regular intervals, brought 
their daughters to the French convent at Carondelet, whose aca- 
demic department was presided over by Sister Mary Rose Mars- 

Stern and capable, Sister Mary Rose gave to the school the 

best efforts of her well trained mind. She organized its teaching 

staff, and shaped its curriculum on the standard methods of her 

day. Patronage and success paid tribute to her ability, and 



co-workers honored her for her sterling worth. The letters of 
former students, referring to this period of their Alma Mater's 
history, never fail to mention the high degree of efficiency which 
it attained under her strict regime. Among her assistant teachers 
was Sister Mary Herman Ryan, the gifted sister of Abram J. 
Ryan, poet priest of the South; and her pupils included Caroline 
Palmier, a descendant of Le Moine dTberville. Louisiana, Ten- 
nessee, Mississippi, Kentucky and Georgia each had represent- 
atives in the student body of the decade immediately preceding 
the Civil War ; and to these during the following decade, Indiana, 
Illinois. Ohio, Iowa, Kansas and even Michigan, Minnesota, 
Pennsylvania and New York added their quotas. Missouri was 
at all times largely represented. Names familiar to St. Louisans, 
such as Sappington, Picot, O'Fallon and Papin appear on record 
with Tucker and Hamilton, Murray, Sullivan and McCann. 
Distinctively Virginian is Pocahontas Davis ; while colonial wars 
and international relations are suggested by America Calvert and 
Vienna Stuart. Ten pupils in a class of ninety-eight girls are 
entered on the registers as Protestants ; and one, claiming a long 
descent from French Catholic ancestors, is listed as having no 
religion at all. 

In the curriculum, as Americanized by Sister Mary Rose, the 
French language still held a prominent place. There is in the 
library at Carondelet, among its treasured heirlooms, a copy of 
the "Method of Instruction," 1 printed in Lyons for the Sisters of 
Saint Joseph, and used by our pioneer Sisters. It is a book of 
three hundred pages, a model course of study, with minute in- 
structions regarding the matter to be taught and the manner of 
presenting each subject. There is no duty of a Catholic teacher 
that does not receive its share of attention in this beautifully 
written manual. Prepared under the direction of Bishop Devie, 
it was printed with his approbation. Outside of the elementary 
branches, with special stress on religion, the Sisters included 

1 Methode D'Enscignement pour les Classes de Sceurs de St. Joseph, 
Lyons, 1832. 


sacred and profane history, Latin and vocal music. To these, 
Sister Mary Rose added a full secondary course, with mathema- 
tics, rhetoric, German, and the natural sciences of botany, physics, 
chemistry and astronomy. The ornamental branches were not 
overlooked, and besides instrumental music, including instruction 
on piano, harp and guitar, were taught painting, tapestry, fancy 
needle work, and the old-time accomplishment of moulding fruit 
and flowers in wax. 

There was no time left for idling to a student who followed 
the crowded program at St. Joseph's in the fifties ; and delinquents 
received little mercy from Sister Mary Rose, who reserved the 
hidden depths of tenderness in her nature for the weak and ailing 
among her charges. Of one breach of discipline, she, herself, 
was guilty when she admitted into the academy, exclusively for 
girls, a small boy, a pale little cripple, handicapped in the give 
and take of boyhood life at the village school, where she feared 
that he would be jostled by his playmates. Unconsciously, she 
was casting bread upon the waters. Afflicted in later years by 
a malady which necessitated the use of a support in walking, she 
found herself everywhere the center of a willing throng of school 
girls, this one to place her chair, that to carry book or work box, 
a third to relieve her of the awkward cane, their faces reflecting 
the gracious smile that lighted up her fine old countenance, and 
that was their envied recompense. 

The spirit of endurance characterizing the early settlers of 
the Mississippi Valley, who made light of creature comforts, was 
evidently transmitted in some degree to their daughters, all of 
whom became sincerely attached to their surroundings, primitive 
as these must have seemed to many. The academy furnished no 
luxuries, and many conveniences were wanting. We are not told 
who molded the "home-made candles in home-made candle- 
sticks" 2 used during the long evening study hours ; but Sister 
Saint Protais, who taught French and penmanship, fashioned the 

2 sister febronia boyer, "Autobiography," Ms. in Convent Archives. 
Sister Febronia entered the novitiate in 1848 — aged 16 — and died at Nazareth 
Retreat in 1919. 


quill pens, the only kind in use. In a brick oven in the yard, 
Sister Antoinette baked bread for the plain but wholesome meals, 
and "it was always good, because she prayed all the time that 
she was making it." 3 The convent garden blossomed and bore 
fruit under the care of Francis Joseph L'Ange, who was also for 
thirty years the parish organist, and with his fine voice led the 
choir in the village church. 4 His little daughter, Mary Celestine, 
a pupil of the academy, was distinguished among her companions 
because she had been held at the baptismal font by Mother Celes- 
tine, sponsor by proxy for a distant relative of the L'Anges. 

The academic year was long, and was marked at its close, 
late in July, by the usual school "exhibitions," at which the dis- 
tribution of honors and awards took place. The old chests pre- 
served for years in the convent attic were mutely eloquent of the 
taste for stage finery and appurtenances evinced by the youthful 
actresses, who yearly displayed their histrionic ability on open 
air platforms erected in the shade of the trees or buildings, and 
who always met with appreciative audiences made up of their 
friends and the people of the village. 

The academy was chartered in 1853. Two years earlier, in 
1 85 1, Carondelet was incorporated as a city, and the town trustees 
were superseded by the city council. One of the first acts of 
the council was to provide for public schools. 5 The village 
school, hitherto taught by the Sisters, gave place to a free school 
maintained by them for the children of the parish. The city at 
this time extended from the Mississippi River, four blocks west 
to Michigan Avenue, then an ungraded country road; and 
stretched a dozen blocks or more north and south along the river 
front. Carondelet Road 6 was still the principal thoroughfare 

3 sister febronia boyer, "Autobiography," Ms. in Convent Archives. 

4 The name of the church was changed in 1841 from Our Lady of Mount 
Carmel to Sts. Mary and Joseph. 

5 The first public school was organized July 15, 1851, this action having 
been suggested by the Mayor in his first message May 14, 1851. Messrs. 
Ford and Harding were the first teachers; John Everhart, the first super- 
intendent. Extract from Council Meetings, May 26, 1852. 

6 Broadway. 


between St. Louis and Jefferson Barracks, then an important 
military post, reached "semi-occasionally" by omnibus lines, the 
only public means of conveyance. 7 

Two blocks from the convent on the north-west was the 
Diocesan Seminary, transferred in 1849 by Archbishop Ken- 
rick 8 from the site it had occupied in St. Vincent's parish, St. 
Louis. The Seminary, opened under the presidency of Reverend 
Anthony O'Regan, future Bishop of Chicago, was a large, un- 
pretentious brick building, surrounded by fine grounds. Its 
proximity to the academy proved an advantage to the latter. 
Priests from the Seminary were the convent chaplains, and in- 
structed the students twice a week in Christian Doctrine and 
liturgy. They taught the popular hymns, which remained favor- 
ites for years with succeeding classes of students. Archbishop 
Kenrick lectured at the Seminary, and his frequent visits to the 
academy after lecture hours, sometimes in company with dis- 
tinguished guests, were always anticipated with pleasure and 
recalled with delight. During the ten years that the Seminary 
remained in Carondelet, 9 Fathers O'Regan, Hennessey, Feehan, 
Ryan, and O'Hanlon 10 came to be familiar figures in St. Joseph's 
chapel and study hall. They frequently assisted, with the Arch- 

7 wm. c. breckenridge in Missouri Historical Collections, vol. IV, p. 50, St. 
Louis, 1913. 

8 St. Louis was made an Archbishopric in 1847. On September 3, 1848, 
Archbishop P. R. Kenrick was invested with the pallium in Philadelphia by 
his brother. 

9 It was removed to Cape Girardeau in 1859. 

10 Rev. Anthony O'Regan was consecrated Bishop of Chicago in 1854; 
John A. Hennessey, of Dubuque in 1866; Patrick A. Feehan, of Nashville in 
1865; and Archbishop of Chicago in 1880; Patrick J. Ryan, coadjutor of St. 
Louis in 1872, and Archbishop of Philadelphia in 1884. The Sisters of St. 
Joseph were later called on to open houses in all these dioceses except 
Philadelphia, where they were already located. A mission accepted at Lyons, 
Iowa, in the diocese of Dubuque, was cancelled by the Sisters for some un- 
explained reason. Rev. John O'Hanlon, chaplain in 1851, returned to Ire- 
land, where all his literary work was done. In 1891 he sent from Dublin 
to the Sisters in Carondelet a copy of his book, Life and Scenery in Mis- 


bishop or Father Paris, spiritual Father, at the receptions of 
novices and at their profession. 

These ceremonies took place, not on specified days twice a year, 
as came to be the custom later on, but whenever a postulant or 
novice completed her term of probation or noviceship. They 
were marked with great simplicity, and after 1847 were always 
held in the convent chapel instead of in the parish church. At a 
profession of May 3, 1852, Bishop Cretin was the officiating 
prelate. Though the Congregation was growing in numbers, 
the increase was not in proportion to the demands made on 
Mother Celestine for Sisters. The houses opened from Caron- 
delet in the East and North during the decade gradually gained 
in numerical strength sufficiently to take care of their own in- 
terests; but until 1855, they received recruits from the Mother 
House in St. Louis. Bishop McLaughlin of Brooklyn, desiring 
a community of the Sisters of St. Joseph in that year, was obliged 
to appeal to the eastern novitiates ; and Bishop Timon's repeated 
requests for more teachers to take charge of his cathedral school 
had to be refused. 

In the spring of 1848, Mother Celestine had revived the mis- 
sion at Cahokia, from which the Sisters were driven by the great 
flood of 1844. For two years after the death of Father Loisel 
in 1845, Cahokia had only temporary pastors. The parochial 
residence in the interval was converted by the trustees of the 
Commons into a girls' school under secular teachers. These 
proving unsatisfactory, a petition was addressed to Mother Celes- 
tine, who answered by sending on March 10, Sisters Philomene 
Vilaine, Ambrose Hanson and Francis Joseph Ivory to open 
classes again in "The Abbey." After three weeks spent in put- 
ting the dilapidated convent in order, they commenced school on 
the first of April, registering on that day fifty girls from twelve 
to eighteen years of age. In August, illness obliged the return of 
Sister Francis Joseph to Carondelet. 

The mission at this time was in charge of Father Ignatius 
Maas, of the St. Louis Province of Jesuits. He remained a 


year, securing before his departure, the transfer of the school 
property from the trustees of the Commons to the parish. He 
was succeeded by Father John Schultz. Cahokia was still damp 
and unhealthy. Extensive improvements made along the river 
bank lessened but failed to check entirely the annual inundation 
of the Mississippi. In 185 1, another disastrous overflow oc- 
curred, reaching a height on June 7 almost equal to that of 1844. 
Many sought refuge in the upper story of the convent, from 
which all were rescued in boats; and the Sisters were brought 
back to Carondelet. Some of them returned the following year, 
but were permanently withdrawn by Mother Celestine in 

This year of flood was also one of pestilence. In 185 1, the 
cholera made its second appearance in St. Louis. The first was in 
the summer of 1849, during which it raged with fearful violence. 
The daily death rate averaged one hundred, decreasing the city's 
population in two months by six thousand. St. Vincent's con- 
vent was in the center of the afflicted district. Here the small 
community, Sister Delphine, Sisters Teresa Struckhof, Ger- 
trude McGraw, Frances Nally and Justine Mulhall fearlessly 
gave themselves to the relief of their sick and dying neighbors, the 
last two for a short time only, as both were soon claimed by death. 
Sister Frances was much devoted to Sister Delphine, and in her 
solicitude for her beloved Superior, she wrote to Mother Celestine, 
begging that Sister Delphine be called to Carondelet, away from 
the danger to which she was daily exposed. On the morning 
following the receipt of this message, June 28, Mother Celestine 
went in to St. Vincent's, and found Sister Frances dying after 
a few hours' illness. Sister Justine, who had made her vows 
in April, was only eighteen years of age, a young woman of rare 
innocence, and extraordinary personal beauty. After the death 
of Sister Frances, Sister Justine expressed herself to the Sisters 
as sure that hers would follow. With this conviction, she made 
a careful preparation for the meeting with her Judge, and on 
the afternoon of July i, was seized with the dread symptoms of 


cholera. Archbishop Kenrick, ceaselessly attentive to his afflicted 
flock, anointed her that night, and remained until after mid- 
night, that her dying wish might be fulfilled of renewing her 
vows on the morning of the Visitation. Before daylight broke 
that morning over the stricken city, Sister Justine's pure soul 
had taken its flight to God. When the cholera returned in 1851, 
Sister Gertrude McGraw was among its first victims. 

The plague, after both its visitations, left many children home- 
less. When St. Joseph's Orphanage was transferred, in the late 
summer of 1849, to ^ e new building on Clark Avenue and 
Thirteenth Street, the number of boys had increased from eighty 
in the previous year to one hundred and fifty. For boys and 
girls of German parentage made orphans by the epidemic, the 
German Catholics built a home in 185 1 on Tenth and O'Fallon 
Streets, incorporating it under a board of managers. It was 
opened with solemn Mass and Benediction on the feast of St. 
Vincent de Paul, and under his patronage. Five Sisters from 
Carondelet were placed in charge, with Sister Angela Planner 
as Superior. With the exception of a few years spent in the 
East, Sister Angela remained at St. Vincent's Orphan Asylum 
for over thirty years. 11 The Jesuit Fathers of St. Joseph's 
parish were chaplains during that time. The large number of 
religious vocations that developed among its boys and girls is 
a glowing testimony to the character of the institution. The 
Sisters of St. Francis, of the Precious Blood, and of St. Joseph 
each received its quota of the girls; and Jesuits, Benedictines, 
the diocesan clergy and the Christian Brothers count among their 
numbers men who received their early training at St. Vincent's. 

Twelve novices made their vows in Carondelet during 1854, 
the largest number that had yet been professed in one year; but 
Mother Celestine still found the number too small to meet the 
growing needs of the Congregation, and appealed to the Mother 
House at Lyons for recruits. Lyons could not spare subjects 

11 In 1889, the charge of this institution was relinquished by the Sisters 
of St. Joseph, and passed to the Sisters of Christian Charity. 


for America at that time, but aid came from an unexpected 
quarter. In Savoy, in a Seminary of the diocese of Tarentaise, 
was Abbe Miege, brother of John B. Miege, Vicar Aposlolic of 
Indian Territory. Abbe Miege was a friend of the Sisters of 
St. Joseph in Moutiers, and through him his brother in America 
entered into correspondence with these Sisters. The result of 
the correspondence and also of a consultation between Bishop 
Miege and Mother Celestine in the summer of 1854, was an 
arrangement made by him with the Superiors in Moutiers, who 
promised to send Sisters from that place to Carondelet, with a 
view to undertaking later the education of the Indian children 
in his vast territory. 12 

Mother Therese Buisson was Superior of the pious community 
of Moutiers, which had become deeply interested in the foreign 
missions through the Annals of the Propagation of the Faith. 
The zeal of the Sisters was stimulated by the recent departure 
from Savoy of many priests and religious for the East Indies, 
among the latter, members of the neighboring communities of 
Annecy and Chambery. 13 Mother Therese had no difficulty in 
getting volunteers for America and from them she chose Sister 
Euphrasia Meiller, late Superior at St. Sigismond, Sister Saint 
John Facemaz, Sister Gonzaga Grand, and Sister Leonie Martin. 
The most fervent daughters of Moutiers, Abbe Bouchage calls 
this first missionary band of a community which he describes as 
composed of "select souls whose names should be inscribed on 
the tablets of history for the edification of the faithful and as an 
example to the religious of the future." 14 

Leaving Moutiers on September 3, 1854, accompanied by 
Mother Therese, the missionaries made brief visits to the com- 

12 The jurisdiction of Bishop Miege extended over Kansas and Nebraska, 
and included all the Indian tribes west to the Rocky Mountains. He was then 
residing at St. Mary's Kansas, in the neighborhood of the Potawatomi 

13 The first Sisters of St. Joseph to go to the Indies left France in 1848. 
In the fall of 1853, another band of six left, accompanied by several Fathers 
of the Society of St. Francis de Sales, bouchage, op. cit., pp. 346, 499. 

14 BOUCHAGE, Op. Cit., p. 295. 


munities of St. Sigismond and Chambery, and then proceeded by 
stage to Lyons. Here they were warmly received by Mother 
Sacred Heart Tezenas, successor to Mother Saint John Font- 
bonne. At Lyons, they parted with Mother Therese, and placing 
themselves, as did the missionaries of 1836, under the protection 
of our Lady of Fourvieres, proceeded to Paris, where they re- 
mained for a short time at a house of the Congregation in the 
Rue Monceau. They sailed from Havre on October 21, and by 
a strange coincidence, the name of the vessel was Heidelberg, the 
same as that on which the first Sisters came in 1836. On board 
was Right Reverend Augustus Mary Martin with four priests 
and several seminarians for his diocese of Natchitoches, Louisi- 

The Sisters landed at New Orleans December 7, the same date 
on which another band, as yet strangers to them, arrived in 
Canandaigua. After a few days spent with the Tertiary Car- 
melites in New Orleans, they proceeded by steamer to St. Louis, 
which they reached December 21, and where they were welcomed 
with open arms by Sister Felicite at St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum. 
On the following day, Mother Celestine, who had come in to meet 
them, conducted them to Carondelet. Brave and courageous 
souls, who had obeyed literally the Gospel precept to forsake 
home and country, they entered at once into the active life of the 
community, to which at least three of them, were to render long 
and faithful service. 15 Though young in years, they were all 
women of unusual ability, thoroughly imbued with the principles 
of the religious life, and animated by the spirit of sacrifice that 
characterized the pioneers of 1836. In Sister Saint John, who 
was in her thirtieth year and had spent eleven years in the con- 

15 Sister Euphrasia Meiller died in March 1859. The Sisters of St. Joseph 
did not go to Bishop Miege's diocese. On the occasion of that prelate's visit 
to St. Louis during the Provincial Council of 1858, the Superior of a colony 
of Sisters of Charity from Nashville, looking for a home in another dio- 
cese, appealed to him on the advice of the Jesuit, Father De Smet ; and with 
the permission of Archbishop Kenrick, was received with her community 
under his jurisdiction. 


vent, Mother Celestine, herself a woman of deep piety, was 
quick to recognize the strong and enlightened faith that measured 
temporal things only in the light of eternity, and the remarkable 
spiritual insight that rendered her peculiarly fitted for the guid- 
ance of others. Sister Saint John was chosen a member of the 
Council at the Mother House, and in that capacity, rendered 
invaluable assistance to Mother Celestine. 

In the spring following the arrival of the Sisters from France, 
Mother Celestine opened at Sulphur Springs, Mississippi, the first 
mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph in the South. This was done 
at the request of the Bishop of Natchez, James Oliver Van 
de Velde, a former president of St. Louis University. The 
diocese of Natchez, established in 1853, embraced the entire state, 
and contained few priests or churches and a scattered Catholic 
population. At Sulphur Springs, there was a small settlement 
of good Catholic families who had built a church and had a 
resident pastor, Father Courjault. He secured for a Sisters' 
school a large building in the midst of a ten acre pine grove, and 
called it the Convent of Our Lady of the Woods. For this new 
home, four Sisters left Carondelet on March 19, 1855, Sister 
Cecilia Renot, as Superior, Sisters Gabriel Corbett, Leonie Mar- 
tin, and Chrysostom McCann. They travelled by steamer to 
Vicksburg, where they were met by Bishop Van de Velde, and 
conducted to Canton, a day's journey by stage. 

During this ride, they were treated for the first and only time 
to an exhibition of the bigotry which had spread throughout 
many parts of the country in the wake of the Know-Nothing 
movement. The only other occupant of the stage boarded it 
before it reached Canton, and was evidently a member of the 
Know-Nothing party. After surveying his fellow travellers for 
some time, the man began a series of insulting remarks to the 
Bishop, punctuating them now and then by spitting tobacco 
juice at him and repeating: "I think you are a Catholic priest." 
The Bishop took no notice of these insults until the stage stopped 
for a relay of horses. Then with a quick movement, and prob- 


ably with a humorous smile at the new role which he was about to 
play, he forcibly ejected his tormentor. The latter, silenced and 
intimidated by this unexpected turn of affairs, made the remain- 
der of the journey on the outside of the stage with the driver. 

At Canton, the party remained over night at the home of a 
prominent Catholic gentleman, Judge Luckett, who gave them 
a cordial welcome, in spite of his jocosely expressed fear of being 
mobbed if he were known to harbor nuns. Sulphur Springs was 
reached by private carriage the next day. Here any doubts 
which the Sisters may have entertained as to the hospitality of 
Mississippi were speedily and finally dispelled. A devoted and 
warm hearted people received the strangers as angels in disguise. 
They were in Sulphur Springs only a few days, however, and 
had not yet commenced their school, when Father Courjault was 
carried away by death. Yellow fever had already appeared in 
the diocese, and some cases occurred at Canton where Father 
Courjault was called immediately after the arrival of the Sisters. 
He fell a victim to the plague there, and was buried at the Springs 
according to his request, in a place where the Sisters might pass 
his grave on their way to Mass and be reminded to pray for his 

His successor, Father Guillon, is described by the Sister his- 
torian of Sulphur Springs as "a saintly man, who, like his divine 
Master, loved souls and little children." He at once manifested 
a deep interest in the school, which was begun under his super- 
vision and enrolled thirty day pupils and fifteen boarders. The 
latter were large girls from Natchez, Jackson and Vicksburg. 
A Sunday school was also organized for the colored children of 
the neighboring plantations. One of the pleasant memories 
which the Sisters entertained in later years of Sulphur Springs 
was the love shown by these children of bondage for their in- 
structors, and their gratitude for the crumbs broken to them from 
the Bread of Life. 

Just six months after they had left Carondelet, the Sisters 
were deprived of their beloved Superior, who succumbed to an 


attack of yellow fever. Sister Cecilia, who during her short 
term of office had endeared herself to all by her zeal and gentle- 
ness, gave up her young life on September 19, after a brief illness. 
In November the revered Bishop Van de Velde, left almost 
alone in the midst of a stricken flock, fell a victim to the southern 
plague then raging in Natchez. In his successor, Bishop Elder, 
the small community at Our Lady of the Woods happily found 
new support; and under the direction of Sister Leonie Martin, 
the school continued to increase in numbers and popularity until 
the outbreak of the Civil War. 

The breath of pestilence which swept the Mississippi Valley 
during the first half of this decade, 1850 to i860, penetrated 
Canada. Some designated by the name of typhus, others called 
cholera, the plague that spread sickness and death in Toronto 
early in 1856, and carried away among its victims several mem- 
bers of the Congregation there, including Mother Delphine Font- 
bonne. Many trials had fallen to the lot of the gentle Superior, 
all of which she recorded sadly but without complaint in a letter 
written a few weeks before her death to Sister Felicite. In con- 
cluding, she wrote : 

Twenty years yesterday, the feast of St. Anthony, we embarked 
at Havre du Grace. Who could tell then that in twenty years we 
would all be living still and separated from each other by such great 
distances ? We indeed would not have believed it. How we ought 
to admire the Providence of God which has protected us until now. 
Think of me sometimes in your prayers. Give my love to all our 
dear Sisters. 16 

The news of her death, which occurred February 8, 1856, 
caused profound sadness in Carondelet, where she had spent so 
many years of privation and of happiness. The four and a-half 
years which she spent in Canada had produced good results. 
The community there now numbered thirty members in charge 
of four parochial schools and three orphanages, one of the latter 

16 Letter dated Jan. 18, 1856. 


in the diocese of Hamilton. Mother Delphine was succeeded in 
the government of the Congregation in Toronto by Mother 
Teresa Struckhof, who had been sent there from St. Louis a few 
years before, and who after two years in this position, returned 
to Carondelet, first spending a short time in Wheeling, Virginia. 

In the twenty years of its existence in America, the Congrega- 
tion had, indeed, spread to distant fields of labor. The pioneers 
had watched its growth from the band of six, struggling against 
poverty in their log cabin on the banks of the Mississippi, to 
more than thirty times that number conducting schools, orphan 
asylums and hospitals in nine dioceses as widely separated from 
each other as St. Louis and Brooklyn, Toronto and Natchez. 
Archbishop Kenrick, with broad and splendid vision, had en- 
couraged the sending of communities from Carondelet to dioceses 
other than his own, wherever there was pressing need, and now 
thought the time opportune to stabilize and strengthen the Con- 
gregation in America by a centralized government, formally 
approved by the Holy See. As we have seen in a preceding- 
chapter, the Constitutions of 1650 were written for isolated 
communities. After the Revolution, the ecclesiastical authorities 
in Lyons united the houses of the Archdiocese under a general 
superior and obtained on May 5, 1829, a decree of commendation 
from Rome. 17 This extended to such houses only as were under 
the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Lyons ; and the Sisters 
in America, faced by the impossibility of speedy and satisfactory 
communication with Europe, followed the example of those in 
Bourg and Chambery, and ceased to depend on the Mother House 

The difficulties arising from national prejudice and changes 
of government which had intervened in Europe to prevent the 
extension of a central authority over houses established in other 
than the parent country, were non-existent in America. Still 
the bond existing between the Mother House at St. Louis and 
the communities in other dioceses was only that inspired by per- 

17 "Notice Historique," Constitutions of Lyons, 1910. 


sonal devotion to Mother Celestine and confidence in her superior 
judgment. A loyal friendship, besides, existed among the Sis- 
ters themselves, all of whom turned to Carondelet as the cradle 
of the Congregation in America, just as those in Europe looked 
with special affection upon Le Puy. The seal of authority was 
required to make this tie binding. Concerted action on the part 
of the various communities was necessary for this, as well as the 
consent of their respective Ordinaries, who, under existing cir- 
cumstances, felt themselves within their rights in asserting juris- 
diction over the houses established in their respective dioceses at 
their own request. 

Advised by Archbishop Kenrick and with his cooperation, 
Mother Celestine planned a general visitation for the purpose 
of bringing about a closer union, before proceeding to France 
to consult with superiors there, and eventually to Rome. She 
was obliged to defer this on account of failing health. However, 
in the spring of 1856, Father Augustus Paris, spiritual Father 
of the community in St. Louis, undertook a journey to Europe, 
stopping at the Eastern houses on his way to New York, and 
visiting many of those in Europe, especially in Lyons and 
Moutiers. In Lyons, a movement for centralized authority, 
which became effective two years later, in 1858, was already on 
foot under the supervision of Cardinal de Bonald, Ecclesiastical 
Superior of the Sisters in the Archdiocese. It was thought there, 
as in St. Louis, that the exigencies of the times required " a dif- 
ferent organization, not in rules relating to the personal conduct 
of the Sisters, but for the government of the Institute." 1S 
From Europe, Father Paris wrote 19 urging Mother Celestine to 
make the intended visit to all the convents in the United States 
and Canada as soon as her health permitted. On his return in 
October, he reported that the superiors abroad favored a general 
form of government in America independent of any European 
house as best adapted to the needs of this country. 20 He was 

18 cardinal caverot, in Constitutions. Lyons, 1882. 

19 Letter of May n, 1856, in Carondelet Archives. 

20 Community Annals, p. 234. 


accompanied by two Sisters sent from Moutiers to the aid of the 
American missions, Sister Victorine and Sister Cecelia Rosteing. 

Mother Celestine's contemplated visitation was never made, 
and the project which she had so much at heart was destined to 
further postponement. Her health was now becoming more and 
more a matter of solicitude to the Sisters, by all of whom she 
was singularly loved. The arduous labor of twenty years had 
wrought its ravages, and early in 1857, it was seen by all that 
no amount of care and rest could ward off the fatal malady that 
was preying upon the life and energy of the revered Superior. 
For long weeks, the alternate fear and hope experienced by the 
Sisters was shared by the pupils in the academy, accustomed to 
listen for the clink of her beads as she came through the corridors 
on her morning visits to the study hall; and by the poor, who 
had never found her store of wordly goods too meagre to be 
shared with them. All had experienced her quick and ready 
sympathy in joy and sorrow. 

Generous as her sacrifice had been in leaving home and country, 
Mother Celestine felt the parting with them keenly, and the trials 
of life in the New World often bore heavily on her. Letters 
from her aged father, the last written in anticipation of his own 
approaching end, full of affectionate solicitude for the absent 
daughter, and of loving messages from sisters and brother, who 
longed to clasp her in their arms, could not but make more 
poignant the pain of exile; but the Sisters of her community 
knew only the cheery smile, the gracious manner and joyousness 
of intercourse that characterized her. She was not a woman of 
many words, and the letters that she left are very brief; but by 
daily acts of loving kindness, she taught great lessons that sank 
into the hearts of her associates, equals or inferiors, everywhere 
and became traditions in the Congregation. 

For the Sisters who gathered round her in her last illness, she 
had but one message. She urged them to keep up the beautiful 
customs that had helped so much to strengthen the spirit of 
charity and zeal. These were her distinctive traits in life, and 
in dying, she would bequeath them to her daughters. On 


Saturday, June 6, it was evident to her faithful nurses, Sister 
Benedict Butler and Sister Febronia Boyer, that the end was near. 
The last rites of the church were administered by Father Feehan, 
then president of the diocesan Seminary; and on the afternoon 
of Sunday, June 7, Mother Celestine died, surrounded by her 
sorrowing community. 

At the solemn Requiem Mass on June 9, Archbishop Kenrick, 
who had frequently visited and consoled the patient in her illness, 
assisted. He took for the text of his eloquent panegyric the 
Scriptural passage, "As the hart panteth after the fountains of 
water, so doth my soul pant after Thee, my God.'' The press 
of St. Louis paid the following tribute to the beloved dead : 

The venerable and beloved Mother is gone. He who remunerates 
his servants according to their works called her in His own time. 
If a reward is promised to the cup of cold water given for the sake 
of Jesus, will not hers be exceedingly great? Full of holiness in 
life, her death was that of those who are called "blessed." During 
the painful, lingering illness, as the parting hour drew near, it was 
edifying as well as consoling to those who had the happiness of be- 
holding the end of the devoted woman, of the saintly religious — the 
perfect detachment from the world, the entire resignation to the. will 
of God, the firm hope, the charity without an alloy of earth to deprive 
it of its merits. The funeral on the ninth presented a scene that 
Catholics cannot easily forget. After the solemn High Mass, the 
Most Reverend Archbishop preached, addressing himself to the 
spiritual children of Mother Celestine. While he encouraged them, 
he paid a most beautiful tribute to the memory of the deceased ; 
and as he spoke, so earnestly and so simply eloquent, the tears of 
the many who were present told how much she was beloved. As 
the ceremonies concluded, the procession moved slowly toward the 
grave. The cross-bearer, the students of the ecclesiastical seminary, 
the coffin borne by the Sisters, the long train of religious, the young 
ladies of the academy, nearly one hundred in all ; and finally, crowds 
of citizens, each as if some dear friend were dead. The solemn 
chants were over, the last prayers were said, the clay fell upon the 
coffin, and the spiritual children poured forth their grief around 


their Mother's grave — then all retired from the sacred place each 
one feeling the truth of what is written: "Blessed are the dead 
who die in the Lord !" 21 

21 Newspaper clipping. Name and date not preserved. 



The establishment of a Generalate was finally brought about 
by Reverend Mother Saint John Facemaz. The election of a 
successor to the revered Mother Celestine took place on June 19, 
ten days after her interment. It was presided over by Arch- 
bishop Kenrick and resulted in the choice of Mother Seraphine 
Coughlin, at that time Superior in St. Paul. She had made her 
novitiate in Carondelet, where she recived the habit in 1846, had 
rilled several offices of trust in the Congregation before her ap- 
pointment to the northern missions, and was much loved and 
esteemed by all who knew her. To the disappointment of all, 
she declined the responsible position now offered her. In her 
humble estimate of herself, she pleaded inability, representing at 
the same time the delicate state of her health. A few months pre- 
vious to the election, St. Paul had lost Bishop Cretin, whose death 
occurred in February, 1857. Monsignor Ravoux, Administrator, 
supported the petition of Mother Seraphine, feeling that her 
presence in the North would facilitate matters in a time so 
critical for the bereaved diocese. The Archbishop of St. Louis, 
to whom these representations were made, accepted her resigna- 
tion, and exercising his right as Ecclesiastical Superior, appointed 
in her stead, Mother Saint John Facemaz. The wisdom of his 
selection was manifested by subsequent events. 

The new Superior was cast in the heroic mold of martyrs 
and ascetics. She would have been to St. Jerome had she lived 
in his day, a disciple after his own heart. When the Sisters of 
Saint Joseph in Annecy were beginning their missionary labors in 
India in 1848, she burned with the desire of accompanying them. 
Here was a chance of saving souls, of suffering, of possible 




martyrdom. Overlooked by her superiors on that occasion, she 
accepted the martyrdom of silent, unreasoning obedience, daily 
observance of the smallest duties, and the constant lifting of the 
commonplace into the plane of the supernatural that characterized 
her through life. Sent to the aid of the American missions in 
1854, she embraced with enthusiasm the opportunity offered, as 
she thought, of extending the Kingdom of God to the benighted 
pagans of the New World. 

"Your child, exiled in a strange land for the good of souls," 
she called herself in writing to the Holy Father, Pius IX, to 
whom she was reverently devoted, and whose sorrows bore upon 
her as a personal grief. In the exercise of her authority, she 
countenanced no half measures, but expected of all a generous 
spirit of sacrificing everything, even as she herself had done. 
She had piercing dark eyes, set deep under a broad and prominent 
forehead, and their quick glance detected every remissness; but 
she never failed to notice the last sign of weariness or suffering, 
and such occasions revealed the deep tenderness of her nature. 
To these qualities were added a shrewd and practical business 
instinct, and a talent for organization that was soon felt in the 

From her arrival in America, she was closely associated with 
Mother Celestine, and at the time of the latter's death, was senior 
member of the Council at the Mother House. As such, she was 
actively interested in the plan for the adoption of general govern- 
ment. She was preparing to carry this matter to completion, 
when a further postponement was occasioned by an unfortunate 
incident which also put to the test her strong spirit of fortitude. 
On the morning of January 21, 1858, a fire of unknown origin 
broke out in the basement of the convent, and before being dis- 
covered, had made such headway that the destruction of at least 
a great part of the building was evident from the first. 

The methods of the Carondelet fire department were still rather 
primitive; but the firemen, reinforced by many of the citizens 
and by the faculty and students of the ecclesiastical Seminary, 


who worked heroically under the direction of Father Feehan, 
succeeded in saving the north wing, in which were located the 
principal departments of the academy. A relic of Saint Agnes 
was placed in the corner stone of this wing when it was built 
by Mother Celestine in 1840; and the Sisters piously believed 
that through the young martyr's intercession came the favorable 
wind that directed the flames southward. These encircled the 
log cabin convent in their fury, and the only visible link connect- 
ing Saint Joseph's with pioneer days disappeared. 

No kindness could exceed that shown during the ensuing days 
by friends and neighbors, who provided for every temporary 
want, with special solicitude for Mother Saint John and Sister 
Antoinette. Both of these were seriously ill at the time the fire 
occurred; and while flames raged below, they were lifted through 
second story windows and carried to places of safety. The 
boarders living in St. Louis and nearby places returned to their 
homes temporarily; but the day school was continued almost 
without interruption in a large store building on Broadway given 
for the purpose by the Poupeney family. A time of great mis- 
fortune is a time of general sympathy and helpfulness. This 
the Sisters experienced, and were proud and happy to see a new 
convent arise in a short time, following the lines of the old, a 
hollow square built around a spacious court. This first great 
disaster at Carondelet entailed heavy financial burdens, and called 
for a renewal in practice of the self-denying and generous spirit 
of the pioneers. It gave new zest to the desire of all for a closer 
union of the communities, in view of the greater strength that 
would result therefrom. 

The time was not yet ripe for this; and in the meantime, in 
the summer of 1858, two mission bands, the first sent out by 
Mother Saint John, went from Carondelet, one to Oswego, the 
earliest established in the diocese of Albany; the other to Sainte 
Genevieve, Missouri. Father St. Cyr was pastor in Sainte Gene- 
vieve, situated sixty miles below Saint Louis, the oldest permanent 
settlement in Upper Louisiana. The church records there date 


back to 1760, but the town was colonized much earlier, some say 
1735, by immigrants from Kaskaskia and other French villages 
of western Illinois. Its first site, a low-lying tract along the 
river, was abandoned in 1785, the memorable "year of the great 
waters," when an overflow of the Mississippi drove the settlers 
to higher ground. 

Many elements mingled in the population of Sainte Genevieve, 
which had passed successively under three governments, French, 
Spanish, and American. Among its citizens of 1858 were Amer- 
icans of more than local repute ; but it still retained the character 
and spirit of its original inhabitants, and oldtime French courtesy 
and customs prevailed. The government was patriarchal; the 
church lands — the gift of the French monarchy — were divided 
into arpents and cultivated in common. Simplicity and refine- 
ment characterized the life of this Catholic settlement, where 
traditions lingered of the early Jesuit missionaries, of Du Bourg 
and Flaget, Rosati and De Andreis; and where an industrious 
and happy people had early interested themselves in matters 
educational, and prided themselves on being fellow citizens of 
Audubon. An academy for boys and young men was incor- 
porated under a board of trustees in 1808; and in 1837, a similar 
school for girls was commenced by the Sisters of Loretto. These 
were withdrawn before 1858, and Father St. Cyr begged of 
Mother Saint John teachers to replace them. 

In response to this request, Sisters Gonzaga Grand, Bridget 
Burke, Theodora McCormack, Clemence 'Motschman, Dorothea 
Rufine and Dosithea Grand left Carondelet August 28, and 
reached Sainte Genevieve by boat the same day. From the land- 
ing at the foot of the village's main street, they looked upon an 
attractive rural scene. Grouped about the old stone church as 
a center were the low white houses with gabled roofs, broad 
verandas, and outside chimneys built from the ground. The 
gardens were bright with late summer flowers, and elm and pecan 
trees shaded the graveled roads. Opposite the church, in a cul- 
tivated plot of several acres, was the convent, a large frame 


building; and nearby stood the quaint dwelling of Felix Valle, 
son of Don Francois Valle, last Spanish commandant of 
Sainte Genevieve. Felix Valle and his estimable wife were 
generous benefactors of the new academy, which, under the 
patronage of St. Francis de Sales, drew boarders from the sur- 
rounding towns, and day pupils from the oldest families in the 

The Superior, Sister Gonzaga, one of the four Sisters who 
had come from France in 1854, was an accomplished woman of 
striking personality and dignified bearing. An habitual reserve 
gave her the appearance of sternness; but in reality covered a 
great sweetness and gentleness of character, as well as a delight- 
ful sense of humor that relieved of awkwardness many an other- 
wise embarrassing situation. She quickly endeared herself to the 
kindly villagers, and pupils and parents were her devoted friends. 
Her regime was short, however; she returned to Carondelet in 
i860, though not before the academy was well launched on its 
long and prosperous career. 

It was early in that year that Mother Saint John, acting on 
the advice of Archbishop Kenrick, took up and brought to a 
successful issue the movement for general government, inaugu- 
rated by Mother Celestine in 1856, but twice interrupted by events 
of more than passing moment to the Sisters in Carondelet. She 
invited representatives from each house of the Congregation to 
an assembly at Carondelet for the purpose of considering the 
proposed measure for general government. Delegates came as 
requested from each diocese in which the Sisters of Saint Joseph 
were established except Buffalo, Philadelphia and Brooklyn. 
After a spiritual retreat of three days in which all the Sisters 
joined, they were formally assembled on May 2, by Archbishop 
Kenrick, who submitted his plan for their consideration. This, 
as previously outlined in a "memorandum" prepared for dis- 
tribution and in letters to Mother Saint John, proposed to adopt 
the form of government "lately agreed on by the Sisters of Saint 
Joseph in the Diocese of Lyons, with such modifications as may 


be deemed necessary to render it available in the United States 
and Canada." x 

It suggested the immediate erection of three provinces, one of 
St. Louis, comprising all the houses of that diocese and those in 
the West; a province for Canada, another for the Eastern States, 
and "the future erection of provinces wherever there shall be 
three houses of the community, if the Superior-General of the 
Community at Carondelet shall approve of the measure/' 2 The 
memorandum then explains in detail the manner in which these 
provinces are to be erected and governed, the novitiates — one in 
each province — organized, and the Superior-General and Pro- 
vincials elected. In an elaboration of his plan submitted May 2, 
1862, to Reverend Joseph Melcher, 3 his Vicar-General and 
spiritual Father at that time of the Sisters in St. Louis, the 
Archbishop noted the absence of delegates from Buffalo, Phila- 
delphia and Brooklyn, which, he wrote, 

may be taken as equivalent to a refusal to accept the proposition 
made to them. 4 Still I deem it very likely that when the matter is 
represented to them as forming them into a distinct province, they 
will accede to the measure. Should none of the dioceses outside 
that of St. Louis be willing to adopt these regulations, but prefer to 
remain as they are, then I would advise the communities in the 
diocese of St. Louis to organize on the above plan, and I have every 
confidence that sooner or later, their example will be followed by 

With the exception of a few minor modifications made by the 
Sisters and agreed to by the Archbishop, his proposals were ac- 
cepted practically as outlined, by the Sisters in the dioceses of 
St. Louis, St. Paul, Natchez and Albany, where a mission had 

1 Letter of Apr. 30, i860. 

2 Ibid., also of May 2, i860. 

3 Later, Bishop of Green Bay. 

1* It was the Bishops in these diocese who intervened, preferring autonomy 
for their respective communities. The Sisters whose Mother House is 
in Philadelphia, adopted general government in 1890, and now have many 
flourishing institutions in the Archdioceses of Philadelphia and Baltimore. 


recently been established. 5 On the afternoon of May 4, an 
election of officers, presided over by Archbishop Kenrick and 
following the regulations which he had laid down, resulted in 
the choice of Mother Saint John Facemaz as Superior-General 
for a term of six years. St. Paul was made the center of a 
northern province, including all the houses of the Congregation 
in Minnesota; and Troy, New York, was later selected as the 
seat of an eastern province. It now remained to secure the 
approbation of the Holy See for the Congregation in the United 
States under its new form of Government. 

This was not finally accomplished for several years, but the 
initial step towards it was taken by Mother Saint John during 
a visit which she made to Europe for this purpose after her 
election. Another object of this visit was to secure help in re- 
pairing the great losses sustained by the Mother House in the 
fire of 1858. Her companion for the voyage was Sister Vic- 
torine, who had come from France in 1856, and after four years 
of excellent work in the academy as teacher and organist, now 
desired to return to her native land. Two other members of the 
party that left Carondelet in the middle of July, i860, were 
Sister Philomene Billex and Sister Flavia Waldron. These 
were appointed for Cohoes, New York, where the second mission 
in the diocese of Albany was being inaugurated. The four Sis- 
ters reached Cohoes July 17, and Mother Saint John with her 
companion stayed several days at this mission before resuming 
her journey. She remained abroad until the following spring, 
visiting the houses of the Congregation in Europe. While in 
Moutiers, where she spent several months, she received a com- 
munication from Archbishop Kenrick, who desired her on her 
arrival in Rome to present to Pope Pius a personal letter which 

5 A diocesan community was inaugurated in Corsica, Pennsylvania, in i860 
by Mother Agnes Spencer, who had been in the Buffalo diocese since 1854. 
In 1897, this community established its Mother House at Erie, Pennsylvania. 
From Brooklyn, diocesan communities were introduced into the Archdiocese 
of Boston in 1873, and into the dioceses of Springfield, Massachusetts in 1873, 
and Burlington. Vermont in 1880. 


he enclosed, "a supplication on my part, that the Sovereign 
Pontiff may deign to give his approbation to your Holy Rule." 6 

Taking with her Sister M. de Chantal Martin, one of five 
young sisters who were to accompany her to Carondelet on her 
return, Mother Saint John left by way of Marseilles for Rome, 
where she was welcomed early in March by the Sisters of St. 
Joseph at their convent near the Colosseum. From Cardinal 
Bizzari, later one of the officials of the Vatican Council, she re- 
ceived many favors during her sojourn in Rome. An audience 
with the Holy Father was arranged, and took place immediately 
after Easter, which fell on March 31 that year. Both Sisters 
were deeply moved by the graciousness of the Sovereign Pontiff, 
whose first inquiry was for his "good children in America." 7 
Fie received Mother Saint John's petition, encouraged her to 
look for its favorable outcome, and ordered an examination of 
the Constitutions by the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and 

As a result of this investigation and of commendatory letters 
addressed to the Holy See by Bishop McCloskey of Albany, 
afterwards first American Cardinal, Bishops Duggan of Chicago, 
Grace of St. Paul, Juncker of Alton, and Archbishop Kenrick, 
as well as a personal letter from the latter to His Holiness, the 
following Decree of Commendation was issued : 

When in 1836 the Right Reverend Joseph Rosati governed the 
Diocese of St. Louis in the United States of North America, he 
invited some Sisters of St. Joseph from the city of Lyons (France) 
to establish themselves there, and assigned the town of Carondelet, 
near the city of St. Louis, as the place of their residence. The 
number of Sisters of St. Joseph in that region has, however, so 
much increased as at present to be found in several dioceses and to 
have many houses. The house which the Sisters inhabited in the 
aforesaid town of Carondelet is constituted the first house of the 
Institute, called of Carondelet. The Sisters are placed under the 
rule of a Mother-General; after two years of noviceship they make 

6 Letter of Jan. 26, 1861. 

7 sister m. de chantal, Notes of Roman Journey. 


simple vows of perpetual chastity, poverty and obedience ; and be- 
sides laboring for their own sanctification, they instruct girls, in 
a special manner, in Christian piety, and also employ themselves in 
Orphan Asylums and Hospitals. The Superior-General, who at 
present governs the aforesaid Institute, has petitioned our Most 
Holy Lord, Pope Pius the Ninth, that he might vouchsafe to approve 
of the Constitutions of that Congregation, for which purpose also 
the Most Reverend Archbishop of St. Louis and other Bishops have 
united their suffrages. In an audience had on the 21st of August 
1863, by the undersigned Pro-Secretary of Bishops and Regulars, 
His Holiness, benignly receiving the petition of the aforesaid Su- 
perior, and considering the letters of the said Prelates, praised and 
commended in strongest terms, the said Institute called St. Joseph 
of Carondelet as a Congregation of simple vows under the rule of 
a Superior-General, saving the jurisdiction of the Ordinaries, con- 
formably to the prescriptions of the Sacred canons and Apostolic 
Constitutions ; and also by the present decree, he praises and com- 
mends it, the approbation of the Constitutions being, however, 
deferred to a more fitting time. Given at Rome, from the Secretariat 
of the aforesaid Sacred Congregations of Bishops and Regulars on 
the 9th day of September, 1863. 8 

This Decree was signed by Cardinal Quaglia, Prefect of the 
Sacred Congregation, who in a separate letter of the same date 
quoted the custom of that body, which required that the Con- 
stitutions be reduced to practice for some years, and be then re- 
submitted under the same conditions as before. The reception 
of the Decree was the occasion of general rejoicing among the 
Sisters. The prayers that had been offered by the community 
for this end were continued for another period of four years. 
In 1867, a second step was taken toward the attainment of the 
desired object. For seven years, since i860, general government 
had been in successful operation, and had proved the principle 
that "union makes strength, and strength means an increase of 
efficiency and capacity for greater good, as well as power for 
overcoming difficulties and opposition in the various trials of 

8 Original Latin decree in Archives at the Mother House. 


life." 9 The time seemed opportune for another appeal to the 
Holy See. To the preceding list of petitioners, Bishops Conroy 
of Albany, Feehan of Nashville, Elder of Natchez, Hennessey 
of Dubuque, and Baraga of Marquette added their names, each 
sending a commendatory letter. 

The summer of 1867 found Mother Saint John again in the 
Holy City. Her companion was Sister Julia Littenecker. They 
had embarked at New York on May 9, after a brief visitation 
of the Eastern convents, which at this time numbered ten. Their 
voyage lasted thirteen days, ten of which were spent on the 
Atlantic, and three on the Mediterranean. For eight weeks they 
were the guests in Rome of the Sisters of St. Joseph at their 
convent near the Gesu. Their private audience with the Holy 
Father occurred on Ascension Day, May 30. A week later, on 
June 7, he gave his approval to the Congregation. His Eminence, 
Cardinal Barnado was appointed first Cardinal Protector, 10 and 
the following Decree was issued : 

In an audience given on the 7th day of June, 1867, to the Sec- 
retary of this Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, His 
Holiness, Pope Pius IX, in consideration of the commendatory 
letters of the Prelates in those places where the pious association 
is established, and of the abundant fruits which the same has yielded, 
approved the aforesaid pious Institute, called the Sisters of St. 
Joseph, . . . and he furthermore confirmed, by way of trial for 
ten years, the preceding constitutions, written in the French language, 
for the therein-stated pious Institute, such as they are found in this 
copy, whereof the autograph is reserved in the archives of the 
aforesaid Sacred Congregation; and His Holiness does, by the 
authority of the present Decree, approve and confirm the same. 

Given at Rome, at the Secretariat of the same Sacred Congrega- 
tion, on the third day of July, 1867. 

A. Cardinal Quaglia. 

Constitutions, p. 19. St. Louis, 1900. 
10 Others who have borne this relation to the Congregation are Cardinals 
Franchi, Simeoni, Satolli, Falconio, Martinelli, and the present Protector, 
Cardinal Gasquet. 


The Decree of Final Approbation was given by the Sacred 
Congregation at the expiration of the ten years, May 16, 1877. 
To it, Pope Pius IX, of glorious memory, added a special Brief. 
In this Brief, after sanctioning and confirming the Constitutions, 
he says : 

We give to them the inviolable strength of our supreme 
power. . . . We further decree that our present letter is and shall 
be firm, valid and efficacious, and obtain and possess its full and 
entire effects, and most fully support the said Sisters of St. Joseph 
at present and at future times, and thus it should be judged and 
defined in the premises by every judge, and even by delegated 
auditors of causes of the Apostolic palace ; and that it is invalid and 
void if it happens that anything be otherwise attempted, know- 
ingly or ignorantly in these matters by any one in virtue of any 
authority whatever. 

Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, under the Fisherman's Ring, the 
31st of July, 1877, the 32nd year of our Pontificate. 

Cardinal Asquini. 

Two other Briefs X1 were issued by the Holy Father during 
May, one granting the privileged altars in all chapels of the 
Congregation; and the other, numerous indulgences "to the Sis- 
ters and all women who dwell with them" under the usual con- 

Many interesting incidents were connected with the different 
visits of the Sisters to Europe in pursuit of the great object now 
so happily attained. Events of unusual importance in the his- 
tory of the Church were taking place there in the decade preced- 
ing the Italian occupation of Rome, and Mother Saint John and 
her companion were witnesses of more than one inspiring scene. 
They renewed old friendships in France and Savoy, and made 
new and valuable acquaintances in Rome. Among the latter was 
a friend of the Roman communities of St. Joseph, the March- 

11 Latin originals of all the above documents in Carondelet Archives. 


ioness Ferrari, an Italian noblewoman, whose brother, Monsig- 
nor Joseph Ferrari, was Treasurer of the Papal States. It was 
through the influence of this distinguished prelate that Mother 
Saint John obtained during her first visit the body of the child 
martyr, St. Aurelia. This was taken from the cemetery of St. 
Callixtus in the Catacombs during the pontificate of Pius IX and 
placed in his private chapel. The document accompanying it 
bears the date April 8, 1861, and mentions it as the gift of that 
Pontiff to Mother St. John for the chapel at the Mother House 
in Carondelet. 12 

The year 1867 was a memorable one in Rome. Though the 
Church in other parts of Italy had been deprived of its indepen- 
dence, and revolutionary bands were even then preparing to in- 
vade the Papal dominions, the month of June, in which was 
celebrated the eighteenth centenary of the martyrdom of Saints 
Peter and Paul, was devoted to religious celebrations of such 
splendor as had never before been seen even in the City of the 
Popes. On the invitation of Pius IX, bishops and prelates had 
assembled from all over the Christian world to participate in the 
solemn ceremonies. These began on the feast of Corpus Christi, 
June 20, and ended with the beatification on July 7 of more than 
two hundred missionaries, martyred for the faith in Japan. On 
the centenary itself, June 28, the Holy Father celebrated in St. 
Peter's the solemn pontifical Mass following the canonization 
of St. Paul of the Cross, founder of the Passionist Order; St. 
Leonard of Port Maurice, a Franciscan missionary; Germaine 
Cousin, shepherdess of Toulouse; and twenty-two other con- 
fessors of the Faith. 13 Sister Julia wrote from Rome : 

12 By favor of the Holy See granted June i, 1867, the feast of St. Aurelia is 
celebrated annually on May 31 in the chapel of the Mother House with the 
Mass of Virgins and Martyrs. 

13 St. Josephat Kuncievicz, Archbishop of Polotsk ; Pedro de Arbues of 
Saragossa, an Augustinian friar; Maria Francesca, a Tertiary of St. Peter 
Alcantara; and nineteen martyrs of Gorcum, in Holland, who suffered in the 
persecutions of the 16th century. 


The feast of Corpus Christi was magnificent. The crowd 
assembled before the basilica of St. Peter was so great that the 
soldiers had difficulty forming a passage for the procession. Seven- 
teen different communities of men, seven choirs of canons belonging 
to the principal basilicas in the Holy City, the students of several 
colleges, over three hundred Bishops, the Cardinals, the Senate of 
the city of Rome, the guard of Nobles in their gala unforms, the 
Swiss guards, all preceded the Holy Father, who carried the Blessed 
Sacrament, and was himself carried on the shoulders of twelve 
palefreniers under a beautiful canopy. Different companies of sol- 
diers went before and after. The Swiss, who are the immediate 
body-guard of the Pope, were arrayed in iron armour, with their 
ancient battle-axes on their shoulders. The procession at the cere- 
mony of canonization was something similar to that of Corpus 
Christi. . . . His Holiness offered up the sacrifice of the Mass on the 
high altar erected over the tomb of St. Peter. We had the privilege 
of occupying a little gallery opposite the altar, and were thus 
ins-a-ws to the Sovereign Pontiff. His sweet and powerful voice, 
while he was singing Mass, was reechoed in the mighty dome 
above. 14 

Sister Julia, an excellent musician, was much impressed with 
the choir — hundreds of voices singing in three divisions to rep- 
resent the church militant, suffering, and triumphant — which 
filled the vast edifice with waves of wondrous sound. A few days 
before their departure from Rome, the Sisters met at the Gesu 
the Provincial of the St. Louis Province of Jesuits, Father Coose- 
mans, who was much pleased to learn of the success of their 
mission, and who made them acquainted with the illustrious 
General of the Society, Very Reverend Peter Beckx. "He gave 
us his blessing," writes Sister Julia, "and promised us a share 
in his holy prayers. Just as we stepped out of the Gesu a few 
minutes later, the Holy Father passed in his carriage. We 
dropped on our knees, and he gave us his benediction." Con- 
ditions had so far changed before their return to the Holy City 
ten years later, that, although the faithful were celebrating the 

^'Letter dated July 17, 1867. 



golden jubilee of the episcopate of Pius IX, Mother Agatha could 
write of the ceremonies in the great basilica of Rome : 

They are not so gloriously grand as when our saintly Pontiff 
made his appearance in public. He never officiates as of old at 
St. Peter's. We attended High Mass at St. John Lateran's on 
Easter Sunday. All the ceremonies of Holy Week were performed 
there, and we had the good fortune to be placed in one of the 
balconies over the choir occupied by the canons, so that we were 
almost in the sanctuary. All was to me, very fine ; but Mother 
St. John says it was not what used to be witnessed at St. Peter's 
when our Holy Father pontificated. 15 

When Mother Saint John and Sister Julia left Rome on July 
17, 1867, they repaired to Lyons, where a delightful week passed 
quickly among the Sisters at the Mother House. After a short 
time spent in Chambery, they went to Moutiers and joined the 
community in their annual retreat during the first week in 
October. Their itinerary included Strasburg, Freiburg and 
Offenburg, and from Paris a brief visit was made to Madame 
de la Rochejaquelin at her home in Usse. The latter, hearing 
of the presence in Europe of Sisters from Carondelet, had sent 
pressing invitations, begging them not to leave for America 
without seeing her. In her long and interesting letter, she re- 
viewed the history of her connection with the Sisters of Saint 
Joseph and their foundation in St. Louis. From St. Aubin 
de Beaubigne she wrote : 

I had no doubt, whatever, but that God would shed abundant 
blessings on the small beginning. You may judge how I desire 
to see you and to hear from your own lips all the details of your in- 
teresting missions, and especially of Carondelet. 

It makes me very sad to think how much our dear pioneers 
suffered, and that they did not write to tell me of their privations. 
With what readiness would I not have come to their assistance ! 
I would like much to know if your Sisters are in New Orleans. 

15 Letter dated Apr. 20, 1877. 


I knew Monsignor Odin intimately. I knew him at Rome, and saw 
him again at Paris when he was Bishop of Galveston. . . . The com- 
munity at Lyons would be enraptured to see you, and hear you 
tell of the prodigious development of the little grain of mustard 
seed sown in 1836. As for myself, I desire passionately to see you. 
You will surely not disappoint me by refusing. If you come, you 
will give me infinite joy. We will talk about all your establishments, 
and I will mark them on my map of the United States. I knew 
Mother St. John (Fontbonne) at Lyons, the admirable Sister 
St. John of Chambery, and now the good God wishes that I should 
know you, so that you may teach me to serve, love and glorify him. 16 

The visit of the Sisters gave great pleasure to this distinguished 
lady, who renewed her benefactions to the Congregation, and kept 
up her correspondence with Carondelet for many years. 17 A 
protege of hers, Louise Ouvrard from La Vendee, afterwards 
Sister Felicia, was one of three postulants who accompanied 
the Superior-General from France. Other members of the Con- 
gregation who came to America at the same time included Mother 
Saint John's own sister, Sister Irene, who had spent six years 
on the Roman missions, and her niece, Sister Mary Joseph. 

Leaving Paris on October 24, 1867, Mother Saint John and 
her companions reached Carondelet before the middle of Novem- 
ber. They had as a companion of their sea voyage Bishop Amat 
of Los Angeles, who, early in the following year, begged Mother 
Saint John to send some Sisters to his diocese. To her great 
regret she was obliged to refuse this request, as well as several 
others made at the same time, 18 the reason in each case being 
the same. The field was too great for the number of laborers; 

16 Letter dated July 19, 1867. Her title at this time was Duchesse de la 
Roche jaquelin. 

17 Her death occurred at Usse January 7, 1883. Among her last bequests 
was one to her "dear Sisters in America," made through the Director of 
the Seminary for Foreign Missions at Paris, with the request that prayers 
be offered for her soul. Letter of a. maury, Paris, Jan. 24, 1884. 

18 These came from Father Van Queckelberge of Port Gibson, Mississippi ; 
Father Scully, of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts; and Father Daley, of 
Sterling, Illinois. 


the professed members were barely sufficient for the work in 
hand. Far from being a matter of discouragement, the nu- 
merous calls from distant fields, though so often made in vain, 
gave testimony to the good work accomplished everywhere, and 
lent weight to the prediction made by Father Coosemans to the 
Sisters in Rome, that the sanction of their institute by the Holy 
See would produce innumerable blessings. 

The blessings came in the next few years in increased numbers ; 
in the prestige arising from efficiency; in greater devotion — 
if that were possible — shown by the Sisters to the holy cause 
in which they were engaged. The Decree of the Holy See was 
announced in an assembly of Superiors summoned by Mother 
Saint John to the Mother House shortly after her return from 
Rome. 19 It was an occasion of much rejoicing, and of many 
expressions of gratitude to the Holy Father. The name of 
Pius IX has since been held in special veneration by the com- 
munity of Carondelet, who welcomed with delight his choice of 
their patron in 1870 as Protector of the universal Church. His 
afflictions caused them profound sorrow, and drew forth a letter 
of sympathy signed by the Superior-General in the name of the 
entire Congregation, which numbered three hundred and forty 
professed members and one hundred novices, in three provinces. 
To this letter the Holy Father made reply as follows : 

To His Dear Daughters in Christ, Greeting and Apostolic Bene- 

Your letters of the 12th of last February have given us a glorious 
testimony of your faith and charity; they have made known to us 
your devotedness and respect as well as that of all the Sisters in 
the three provinces of your Congregation. 

We cannot entertain the least doubt, dear Daughters in Christ, 

19 The first General Chapter was convened the following year, 1869. Be- 
sides the Superior-General and Provincials there were eleven elected mem- 
bers present : Sisters Delphine Bray, Euphemia Murray, M. Gabriel Corbett,. 
Stanislaus Saul, Angela Hanner, Tatiana Merrick, Mary Joseph Kennedy, 
Melanie Brew, Seraphine Ireland, Teresa Struckhof, M. Basil Morris. 


that, as you manifest in the said letters, you are deeply affected at 
seeing the injuries and persecutions to which the Church is subjected. 
But what we esteem as most praiseworthy is that in order to make 
reparation for these injuries, animated with a fervent zeal, you have 
resolved to work more earnestly for your sanctification, and to fulfill 
with more fidelity the duties of your vocation and institute. 

May the Almighty confirm in you these good resolutions and 
protect you ; may His grace be with you, that all your holy intentions 
may be crowned with abundant fruit. But that the hopes which 
you express to us for the peace and tranquility of the Church may 
be the sooner realized, cease not fervently to implore the Divine 
clemency, calling on the intercession of Saint Joseph, the most power- 
ful patron of the Church, under whose patronage you happily and 
safely rest. 

Finally, may the Apostolic benediction which we cordially give 
in the Lord, to you, to all the Sisters of your Congregation, as well 
as to the pupils under your care, be the pledge of our special 
benevolence and the source of all Heavenly graces. 

Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, the 27th day of March, 1872, 
the 26th year of our Pontificate. 

Pius P. P. IX 20 

20 Original in Latin in Carondelet Archives. 



Reverend Mother Saint John Facemaz served two terms 
as Superior-General of the Congregation, being elected to that 
position a second time in 1866. When she laid down the burden 
of office in 1872, the houses under her jurisdiction numbered 
thirty-seven. These were located in Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, 
Florida, Tennessee, Arizona, Minnesota and New York. The 
two last named each constituted a distinct province under 
the immediate direction of its own provincial superior. 

In her own province, she rarely accepted a school or proposed 
institution without a preliminary visit to satisfy herself as to its 
desirability or its needs ; and she kept herself in close personal 
touch with all the missions established. The long journeys which 
this necessitated were frequently attended with difficulties owing 
to imperfect modes of travel, and always resulted in great bodily 
fatigue ; but hers was not the nature to complain, especially when 
there was question of promoting the cause of charity or education. 
Neither did her long absences from home cause any diminution 
of her zeal for the common welfare of the Sisters or for the 
training of the young religious to fit them for their future work 
among the little ones of Christ. With love of poverty and re- 
nunciation, she endeavored to instill into all a devoted loyalty to 
the Holy See. This was the key-note of her conferences to the 
Sisters, the submission due on their part as daughters of the 
Church to its least decree. Although esteeming herself the most 
unworthy, she could give a good account of her own stewardship 
as Superior-General ; and in the management of her Congregation, 
she proved herself always the valiant woman, "who hath looked 



well to the paths of her house, and hath not eaten her bread 
idle." x 

In 1859, she made arrangements for the opening of St. 
Bridget's Orphan Asylum in St. Louis to which the orphan 
girls were removed from St. Vincent's. St. Bridget's parochial 
school, commenced the following year, was attended by Sisters 
residing at the asylum. On her return from abroad in May 1861, 
the Civil War had broken out, and St. Louis was under martial 
law with General Harney in command. On the very day of her 
arrival, May 22, his proclamation appeared, calling on the citizens 
to resume their ordinary business pursuits, interrupted in the 
general disturbance following the capture on May 10 of Camp 
Jackson. 2 Awaiting her in Carondelet was Sister Leonie Mar- 
tin, who had come from Sulphur Springs to meet her sister, 
Sister M. de Chantal, one of the five accompanying Mother Saint 
John from France. Sister Leonie represented conditions in 
Mississippi. When that state seceded from the Union in Jan- 
uary, 1 86 1, there was no delusion in the South as to the long dura- 
tion of the coming contest, and most of the boarders at the 
convent of Our Lady of the Woods had returned to their homes 
before the close of the school term. One, Louise Du Bernard, 
who accompanied Sister Leonie, remained at the academy in 
St. Louis until the close of the struggle. 

In vacation, Mother St. John recalled the remaining Sisters 
from Mississippi for an indefinite period. They bade farewell 
to their southern friends and neighbors, and said a last prayer 
over the grass-grown graves of Sister Cecilia Renot and Sister 
Scholastica Vasques. Sister Scholastica was one of the pioneers 
of St. Paul. Her health failing there, she was sent to the more 
genial climate of Mississippi in the vain hope that her life might 
be saved ; but she had soon found a permanent resting place under 
southern skies. Many heart-rending scenes attended the de- 

1 Proverbs XXXI, 27. 

2 This was located in the open country on what is now the block between 
Laclede and Olive Sts. on Grand Ave. 


parture of the Sisters, some poor negroes even clinging to them 
and begging to be taken along. 

Owing to the blockading of the Mississippi and all routes of 
travel southward, the Sisters were obliged to entrain for Louis- 
ville, Kentucky, where alone they could make railroad connections 
with St. Louis. They reached Carondelet August 5, if not 
secessionists in fact, Southerners in sympathy, for they had not 
found their passage through the Union lines pleasant. "We 
were looked upon and treated as spies," wrote Sister Mary Louis 
Lynch. "When we arrived at the dividing line, soldiers in 
uniform came hurriedly into the car, opened our trunks and 
baggage, and even examined our lunch basket. They took a 
sealed letter which Sister had written to her home, opened and 
examined it carefully." The letter was Sister Emerentia Bon- 
nefoy's; and as it was written in French, it was passed from one 
official to another, until, to the writer's great amusement, it was 
finally returned to her, evidently undeciphered. 

The Sisters did not return to Mississippi. Among the priests 
called to the front as army chaplains was their pastor, Father 
Guillon, whose death occurred at Natchez early in 1863, the 
result of hardship and exposure. Letters of Bishop Elder to 
Mother Saint John in 1863 and 1864 told sadly the desolation 
of Sulphur Springs and other parts of his afflicted diocese, left 
without priests, business prostrated and labor stopped, "the 
melancholy consequences of war." 3 Projected missions at 
other southern points were also interfered with by the great 
struggle, among these, Opelousas, Louisiana, where Father 
G. Raymond, a former president of St. Mary's College in 
'Baltimore, with only two assistants had under his charge the 
immense parishes of Opelousas and Calcassieu numbering from 
fifteen to eighteen thousand Catholics. 4 He had erected an acad- 
emy for boys, an academy and day school for girls, and had in 

3 Letter dated Sept. 5, 1863. 

1* Father Raymond to Archbishop Kenrick, Nov. 15, i860. Carondelet 


view an institution for the care of orphans. On the advice of 
Bishop Odin, he had applied to Mother Saint John to provide 
teachers for the girls' schools. He wrote to Archbishop Kenrick : 

My reasons for wishing to have Sisters of St. Joseph are, from 
information received, ist. Because these excellent Sisters are very 
pious, full of zeal, animated with a spirit of Christian simplicity 
and disinterestedness ; 2nd. Because their rule embraces academies, 
free schools and establishments of charity, which is just what we 
want ; 3rd. Because the terms in their academies are moderate which 
is absolutely necessary in our case. 5 

Pressing as was the need of workers in this vast, uncultivated 
field, it could not be rilled under wartime conditions ; and Mother 
Saint John turned her attention eastward, where, during 1861 
and 1862, Troy, Albany, Syracuse, Binghamton and Saratoga, 
all in the diocese of Albany, sought and obtained communities 
from Carondelet. The Sisters here were called in 1861 to 
mourn the death of Sister Philomene Vilaine, second of the 
pioneers of 1836 to be called to her reward. Ma Soeur, as she 
was affectionately known to all, was a great favorite in the Con- 
gregation, which she edified by her simplicity and guilelessness. 
She was one of the band sent to St. Paul in 1851, had begun the 
school at St. Anthony, Minnesota in 1854, and returned in i860 
to the Mother House at Carondelet, where her "life of daily 
dying to nature was crowned with a death precious in the sight 
of God." 6 "I have never done any good," she was accustomed 
to say in her humility ; while those about her, who could not but 
witness her continual acts of self-denial, looked on her virtue 
as heroic. She was always deeply moved by the sufferings of 
others; and it seemed a special kindness on the part of the 
Master whom she had served so well, when He called her to 
Himself so early in the struggle, the sounds of which at least 
must have reached her ears had she lived. 

5 Ibid. 

6 Necrology of the Sisters of St. Joseph, 1861. 


The attendance at the academy was not appreciably lessened 
in the fall of 1861, though a few pupils whose homes were in the 
South were unable to return. A design on the part of the 
military authorities to secure the convent building for war pur- 
poses was checked by the timely interference of friends, and 
studies and other community activities went on as usual. Both 
Sisters and students found an outlet for their charity while 
battle raged in the Southland and the wounded were brought 
into St. Louis, in plying their needles for the various aid societies, 
and in doling out food to poor families whose bread winners 
were at the front. The number of these families amounted at 
times to forty who daily received assistance at the convent. A 
public spirited citizen of Carondelet, the Honorable Henry T. 
Blow, a former United States Minister to Brazil, expressed his 
own appreciation of these services by a gift to the convent of a 
valuable painting, an original of Paul Veronese, "The Sacrifice 
of Abraham." He had brought the painting from Spain, and 
considered it, he said, a most appropriate gift for religious, who, 
like Isaac, had offered their lives on the altar of obedience. The 
presentation was made in eloquent words by Judge Wilson 
Primm, 7 whose daughter Jacqueline was a former pupil at the 

Until 1863, the academy was under the direction of Sister 
Tecla Johnston, a native of Devonshire, England, an accom- 
plished and capable woman, loved by Sisters and pupils. Her 
special talent showed itself in literary composition; and some 
good productions came from her pen in the form of religious 
plays for girls, which were enacted by the students at the annual 
commencements. Her inclination for a contemplative life, how- 
ever, led her to sever her connection with the Congregation and 
return to England, where she entered a cloister. She was suc- 
ceeded by Sister Winifred Sullivan. 

Sister Winifred was young, but she had the cultured mind 

7 Early historian of St. Louis, and one of the founders of the Missouri 
Historical Society. 


of mature years. Born in Ireland, she was a convert to the 
Church, and was educated by the Ursulines of St. Martin's, 
Brown County, Ohio. Her whole life was an act of gratitude 
for the gift of faith, and a radiation of the joyousness of living 
for God. A close and enthusiastic student of history, she be- 
came a teacher par excellence of that branch of knowledge ; and 
in summer institutes with the Sisters as well as in the class room 
among her pupils, she never failed to rouse a deep interest in her 
chosen subject. Her bright and cheerful disposition, ready wit 
and fund of amusing and edifying anecdotes enlivened many an 
otherwise gloomy hour for her youthful charges; and her sym- 
pathy was never exhausted by the many calls made upon it during 
the trying period of the war. 

In return she had the love and confidence of her pupils, 
patriots all of them so far as appearances went, in the neat 
uniform of marine blue, with collar, cuffs, and apron of dainty 
white, and smart blue sun-bonnet for out-of-doors. There was 
many a youthful heart among them, however, that loved the 
gray and beat in sympathy with the cause which it represented, 
and with the sentiment that prompted some of the convent's 
nearest neighbors to darken their windows when the military 
authorities of the city ordered illuminations to celebrate a Union 
victory. There were boarders from the South ready to applaud 
the day scholars from the village who made detours on their 
way to school in order to avoid the streets on which the Stars 
and Stripes were floating, or who stepped aside so as not to pass 
within the shadow of the flag. 

Sister Winifred's position was a delicate one, but she was 
tactful — the nun without a nation, to whom neutrality was not 
alone "the better part of valor" but a Christian duty. Difference 
of opinion and of interests there might be among her pupils, 
but there was no disunion; and all admired the courage of 
Margaret Picot, sprightly convent girl, who in the absence of her 
father, received a delegation of Federal officers. They came 
with the view of taking the "castle'* as a base of operations 


against a possible attack on St. Louis from the South. She 
showed them all parts of the house, not omitting the square 
central tower with its tempting outlook down the Mississippi ; and 
before dismissing them, sang for their entertainment to her own 
accompaniment and with the spirit of her Virginian ancestors 
all the Confederate songs in vogue. 

The officers did not return, and the castle and its environment 
were left undisturbed with the exception of a stray member of 
General Sigel's command — encamped south of the convent, near 
the River Des Peres — who came now and then in the disguise 
of a wounded man seeking help. The tragedy of Picot's Hill 
occurred as an aftermath of the struggle that had pitted brother 
against brother, and called the best of friends and neighbors to 
opposing sides. An ordinance of the city council in the late 
sixties decreed the grading of new streets in Carondelet to furnish 
work for the unemployed. Some of these streets were run 
through the hill in such a way as to make a gap thirty feet or 
more between the academy and Picot's Castle, and left the latter 
isolated on the steep bluff, the perpendicular sides of which were 
very close to the buildings. The convent property was de- 
preciated in value ; while the terracing of the east front and the 
erection of retaining walls on the north and east made a heavy 
drain on the home funds. Unable to make like improvements on 
his estate, Louis Picot was obliged to part with it. The buildings 
were torn down and the hill sold to the Iron Mountain Railway 
Company, who leveled it, using the earth to fill in some swampy 
places along the river for their tracks. The stretch of leveled 
ground lay idle many years and was finally bought by the Acad- 
emy Corporation. 

The sounds of war had hardly died away, when on December 8, 
1865, Archbishop Kenrick presided at the first ceremony of reli- 
gious profession in the new St. Joseph's chapel. The completion 
of this chapel marked the final stage in the erection of the building 
after the fire of 1858. Rigid economy on the part of the com- 
munity helped towards the realization of this end. To the funds 


collected by Mother Saint John in Europe, the Association for 
the Propagation of the Faith, interested in the works of the 
Congregation through the representations of Archbishop Ken- 
rick, 8 made liberal donations between 1864 and 1866; and in 
William Hunt, St. Louis furnished a generous benefactor. 
Among the pupils of the academy were several for whose ex- 
penses the Archbishop made himself personally responsible, thus 
evidencing practically his interest in community affairs. In 
1861, the deaf-mutes were removed to new quarters in St. Louis; 
and with additional room and facilities in Carondelet, Saint 
Joseph's continued its prosperous career under Sister Seraphine 
Ireland, Sister Teresa Hagar and Sister Herman Joseph O'Gor- 
man, who were successively directresses until 1873. 

A notable figure in the community activities of this early 
period was Ellen Fitzpatrick, or as she was always known among 
the Sisters, Miss Ellen. She was- a native of Dublin and received 
abroad a thorough musical education. In 1851, she became an 
inmate of the convent. A physical impediment in the form 
of a very noticeable lameness prevented her receiving the religious 
habit or becoming a professed member of the Congregation; 
but she was happy to devote her life to it as an affiliated member 
and to give it the benefit of her talents. For over a quarter of 
a century, she served in the capacity of music teacher to the 
novices; and her declining years until her death in 1900, she 
spent in almost incessant prayer. She was a woman of strong 
character and deep piety, and trained her pupils well. Some of 
these ranked later among the most successful teachers of music 
in the Congregation; and were always grateful to their early 
instructor, who did not hesitate on occasion to use her slender 
black pointer on fingers that were too nimble for accuracy or 
too stiff for artistic execution. 

Outside Carondelet, Mother Saint John's active spirit was 
busy all during the war period making new foundations, most 

8 Letter of Berard des Glajeux, President of the Central Council at Paris 
(1847-1565) to Archbishop Kenrick, December 20, 1864. Carondelet Archives. 


of them lasting and all with interesting histories. Ste. Marie, 
in the diocese of Alton, Illinois, presented the novel situation in 
1862 of employing the Sisters of St. Joseph in the public school. 
Sister Julia Littenecker was the zealous and edifying Superior 
at the convent there ; and though the Sisters have long since been 
withdrawn, the memory of her beautiful and prayerful life still 
lingers, a holy tradition handed down by her former pupils to 
their children and grandchildren. Ste. Marie was soon repre- 
sented in the Congregation by five young girls who consecrated 
their lives to religion between 1862 and 1869. Of these Sister 
Severine Miller survives. The others passed to their reward, 
Sister Berchmans Hartrich, who died on the mission in Arizona, 
being the first of the band to lay down her young life of great 
sacrifice and rare virtues. 

At the request of Bishop Duggan of Chicago, the Sisters of 
St. Joseph went in April 1863 to Peoria, Illinois, then in his 
diocese. They were accompanied there by Father Abram J. 
Ryan, paster of St. Mary's, who had come to Carondelet for that 
purpose. In tribute to the first community, which numbered 
seven, the poet-priest wrote his poem Memento, better known 
by its opening lines, 

Ye are seven 
Brides of Heaven, 
Jesus claims you as His own. 

Love Him ever 
Leave Him never 
Till He leads you to His throne. 

In a two room frame building, the Sisters began the first 
parochial school in Peoria, St. Mary's; and soon secured a site 
for an academy, also the first in that city. This was incorporated 
under the name of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, and was 
liberally patronized by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. After 
the erection of the see of Peoria in 1877, both schools enjoyed 
the patronage and the active interest of the illustrious Bishop 


Spalding, and the academy rose into the prominence which it 
has since maintained as a leading institution of the diocese. 
Sisters William McDonald, Marcella Manifold, Celestine Ryan 
and Ursula Dunn were among the early teachers who lent prestige 
to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, under the able direction for 
many years of Sister Mechtilda Littenecker. The first in the 
long line of academy girls who gave themselves to God as> 
"brides of Heaven" was Susan Crowley, Sister Teresa Louise. 
Even as a school girl, Sister Teresa gave promise of the talent 
which she later developed as a prolific writer of good prose, and 
of the exquisite verse with which she often delighted community 
audiences. 9 A little lyric, "Just One Moment," found among 
her papers after her death, was written in her last illness, during 
the whole course of which she suffered excruciating pain. As 
a prayer for light, the last aspiration of a dying religious it 
deserves reproduction: 

When our Savior asked the blind man, 
What his heart's request might be, 

Eagerly he made the answer, 

O Lord, grant that I may see. 

In the Sacramental Presence 

Were I asked, my heart would say, 

Give my soul one lucid moment, 
Ere I pass from earth away. 

Show me then my life's transgressions, 
And the marks those sins have made; 

In Thy Precious Blood then cleanse me, 
Let Thy mercy be my aid. 

Just one moan of true contrition, 
Just one act of perfect love, 

9 The chorus sung by five thousand school children in the St. Louis Colos- 
seum on the golden jubilee celebration of Archbishop Kenrick in 1891 was 
her composition. She prepared for publication in 1886 the Catholic Child's 
Letter Writer, which for many years furnished models of epistolary corre- 
spondence to pupils in the grade schools taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph. 


Just to ask the Church triumphant 
Aid me in its courts above. 

Once to call on Jesus, Mary, 

And Saint Joseph; oh, I pray 
Grant my soul this precious moment, 

Ere it pass from earth away. 

In July 1864, Mother Saint John sent a community from 
Carondelet to begin the first parochial school in Bloomington, 
Illinois. "The place is pretty, and everything promises well for 
the future of religion," wrote on April 1, 1864, Bishop Duggan, 
at whose request the Sisters were sent. On his insistent de- 
mands, also, another band took charge in September of the 
orphan asylum in Chicago. Sister Benedict Butler was made 
Superior of this house, and with her community, consisting of 
Sisters Delphine Bray, Praxedes Gearon, Aloysius Fitzsimmons, 
and Marcelline O'Reilly, left St. Louis on the evening of Sep- 
tember 24, crossing the Mississippi by ferry to entrain on the 
Illinois side for Chicago. They were hardly three hours out 
from St. Louis, when they met with one of those striking ex- 
periences ordinarily called chance, but recognized by them as an 
intervention of Providence. A sudden jolt brought the coach 
to a standstill, and the brief prayer for safety uttered aloud by 
Sister Delphine was echoed by her alarmed companions. Inves- 
tigation showed the serious nature of their position. The spread- 
ing of rails on a soft embankment had caused the overturning 
of the engine and all the forward coaches, leaving that in which 
the Sisters and a few other passengers were, tilted at a steep 
angle but detached from the remainder of the wreck. Into this 
one coach the wounded were brought until nurses and doctors 
arrived from Lincoln, the nearest Illinois town. A delay of ten 
hours ensued, and the Sisters reached Chicago on a relief train 
the following day. 

The asylum of which they took possession was a poor, plain 
building on Wabash Avenue; but two years later, in 1866, the 


Bishop turned over to the Sisters and their one hundred and 
fifty orphan boys and girls the splendid building newly com- 
pleted for the University of St. Mary of the Lake. This was 
ideal for the purpose, with a lake frontage of two hundred and 
twenty four feet, and surrounded by extensive grounds and 
meadow land. The asylum was in charge at this time of Sister 
Mary Joseph Kennedy, "good Mother Joseph," as she was known 
in Chicago for twenty years. Her magnanimity and indomi- 
table courage were put to the test during the fire of October 9, 
1 87 1, which left the beautiful edifice a smoking ruin, and sent 
her with her community of eighteen Sisters and their two hun- 
dred and eighty charges wandering through the streets of Chi- 
cago to a place of security outside the limits of the doomed city. 
When the danger became apparent to the Sisters on that fateful 
night, the children were roused from their dreams and dressed 
with difficulty, as the little ones, with sleepy eyes, curled them- 
selves up in corners or crawled back into their tiny beds for 
another nap. They were finally assembled on the first floor near 
the chapel, from which the Blessed Sacrament had previously 
been removed. 

At one o'clock, a. m., [runs Sister Mary Incarnation's account of 
the fire] the waterworks behind our property took fire, and even in 
our barnyard, three loads of hay, brought in the previous afternoon, 
were ablaze. It was time for us to leave. Each Sister took in her 
arms two infants. The larger boys and girls took charge of the 
smaller ones, and we formed a close line of march, after receiving 
from Mother Mary Joseph strict orders to hold on to one another. 
With Mother in the lead, we started northward not knowing where 
we were going. Mad rushing of people, some jumping through 
windows to save their lives, the hurrying of horses and vehicles, 
made it almost impossible to keep together. The greatest difficulty 
was at the street crossings. 

One incident of many is worth relating. A team of horses was 
rushing towards us on the right, and one on the left. As there was 
danger of breaking our group, and therefore of losing some of the 


children, Mother called to both drivers to halt in God's name. One 
did so, but the other, roused by the danger, tried to go on. Mother 
stepped up and took the horses by the bridle, while he continued 
to beat them. Passersby, seeing the situation, tore the driver from 
the seat, and gave him what he richly deserved. While this was 
going on, we seized our opportunity and got across. Imagine us 
trying to make our way with burning buildings on each side of us ; 
and plank walks burning at intervals underneath. The flames 
crawled around the buildings like serpents. 

After traveling in this way until four o'clock in the morning, we 
found ourselves outside the city limits on a prairie. Sheer exhaus- 
tion compelled us to rest. The sun rose that morning like a ball of 
fire. The ground was warm, but the children fell asleep as soon as 
they could find a place to lay their heads. Between eight and nine in 
the morning, we saw two horsemen coming towards us. As they 
approached, we recognized two of the Jesuits, Father O'Neill and 
Father Van Eyck. They were searching for the orphans. Imagine 
their joy and ours. They requested us to go no farther, while they 
would return and send two Fathers with a conveyance. At four 
o'clock in the afternoon, the Fathers came bringing several spring 
wagons and such other vehicles as they could procure, and all were 
taken to the College on Twelfth and May Streets. On our arrival, 
about eleven o'clock that night, we were welcomed most heartily by 
the Fathers and students, who had labored all day changing the 
class rooms into living apartments for the children. 10 

For two weeks they remained at the Jesuit college, while a two 
story frame school building near by was fitted up for a tem- 
porary home. Eighty of the smaller children were kept here 
by the Sisters, and offers of aid were accepted from orphan 
asylums in St. Louis and Cincinnati, to each of which one hun- 
dred children were sent. In May, the building formerly occupied 
by veteran soldiers on Thirty-fifth and Lake Streets was secured, 
and the scattered children brought together again under Sister 

10 sister m. incarnation Mcdonough's account of Chicago fire, in Caron- 
delet Archives. 


Mary Joseph's care in what was henceforth known as St. Joseph's 
Orphan Asylum. 11 

Of the Sisters residing in the orphanage at the time of the 
fire, Sisters Mary Louis Lynch, Gertrude Conway, Pancratia 
Leddy and Laurentia Tracy were the teachers of St, Stephen's 
School, which had been commenced the preceding September. 
This was in one of the few parishes that lay outside the path 
of the great conflagration. A comfortable cottage was now 
obtained there for the Sisters, and the school, already well filled, 
was crowded with new comers from other parts of the city. This 
was the seventh mission of the Congregation in Illinois, two 
others having been established at Waterloo in 1866 and Brussels 
in 1869. Five young girls entered the novitiate at Carondelet 
during the summer of 1867, all pupils of the academy at Water- 
loo, where the co-operation of zealous pastors kept the school 
abreast of the times. Its competition with the public schools in 
the county examinations in recent years resulted in many notable 
triumphs for its pupils. 

In October 1865, Sister Gabriel Corbet opened St. Aloysius' 
Academy in Hannibal, Missouri; and in September 1866, Sister 
Francis Joseph Ivory headed the pioneer band of five Sisters that 
left St. Louis for Kansas City, Missouri. The Reverend Ber- 
nard Donnelly, at whose request these were sent, had great hopes 
for the future of the growing city, to which the Pacific railway 
companies had recently extended their lines. He wrote with 
enthusiasm of the prospects of his congregation, which had more 
than doubled in the short space of six months. 12 Protestants as 
well as Catholics had urged the erection of a convent school ; 13 
and a substantial three-story brick building with wide corridors 
and large, airy rooms went up on a portion of the ten-acre plot 
secured in 1835 by Father Benedict Roux, first resident pastor 
of Kansas City. 

11 Site of the present institution known as "The Home of the Friend- 

12 Letter of Father Donnelly to Mother Saint John, Dec. 5> T 865. 


This tract occupied a wooded bluff overlooking the junction 
of the Kansas and Missouri rivers and the bottom lands on which 
were the warehouses and the scattered homes of the dozen or 
more French and Indian families that made up the settlement 
then known as Westport Landing. West of the convent were 
still standing the log church built at that time, and the rectory, 
also of logs, in which, according to a well authenticated tradition, 
the first school was taught by Daniel Morgan Boone, son of the 
picturesque frontiersman of that name. 

When the Sisters arrived at their new home on August 28, 
they "took possession of the walls, as the house was not yet 
furnished" ; 14 but a fair given a few weeks after their arrival 
by the parishioners provided for the most necessary equipment. 
One hundred and fifty pupils, girls and small boys, were regis- 
tered in September; and the convent was solemnly blessed by 
Archbishop Kenrick. Though begun under the patronage of St. 
Joseph, it was incorporated in 1867 as St. Teresa's Academy. 
In the seventies, it was widely known as a popular boarding and 
day academy for girls, the boys having their own separate school. 
The opening of the West by the railroads brought traders in 
large numbers through Kansas City, and these found the convent 
a convenient educational institution for their daughters. Board- 
ers came from points as far distant as Mexico; and Spanish 
names occur beside French, Irish, German and American in the 
early lists of pupils. A distinguished guest at St. Teresa's 
during the first decade of its existence was the great missionary, 
Father De Smet; and receptions given during the late sixties 
to John C. Fremont and General James Shields were long re- 
membered events. 

For more than a quarter of a century, St. Teresa's was the 
only Catholic school of higher education for girls in Kansas 
City. It broadened its curriculum with the growth of the city 
and the advance of educational ideals, maintaining always the 
high standard of efficiency set by its early teachers. From its 

14 Sister F. Joseph Ivory's Notes on Kansas City Mission. 


inception, music and art played important parts in its curriculum. 
The womanly accomplishments common to all the old-time board- 
ing schools, ornamental needlework, lace-making and tapestry, 
each received its share of attention, and enhanced by their dis- 
play the exhibit of school work which marked the closing days 
of each school year. 

Under Sister De Pazzi O'Connor, an excellent English scholar, 
who took charge in 1869, literary composition and expression 
became leading features, zealously cultivated by succeeding in- 
structors. Among these was Sister Antoinette Slattery, a much 
loved and highly esteemed young teacher, who, "gifted with 
singular intelligence and rare graces, knew how to devote these 
gifts wholly to the greater glory of God and the advantage of 
her neighbor." 15 Her failing health in the early seventies in- 
duced Reverend Mother to transfer her to California after the 
opening of a mission there at Yuma. Several years of suffering, 
during which no amount of pain or weakness could prevent her 
daily attendance at Mass and community exercises, preceded her 
beautiful death, the news of which reaching Kansas City drew 
forth touching expressions of sympathy from pupils to whom 
her devoted life had proved an inspiration. Sisters Bridget 
Burke, Prudentia Reilly, M. De Britto O'Neill, and Holy Cross 
Bernelin of the Lyons novitiate, who succumbed to the severity 
of the American winters and was laid to rest in the garden 
cemetery of St. Teresa's in 1872, were pioneers of the academy, 
which extended its activities and its influence as the years passed, 
and celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in a new abode at Wind- 
moor, the home of the St. Teresa Junior College referred to more 
fully in a subsequent chapter. The list of its alumnae contains 
names distinguished in the pioneer history of the city as well as 
in that of more recent date; and the number is uncounted of its 
past pupils who heeded literally the Master's precept, following 
Him into the "valley of silence." 

The same is true of many other schools, notably that of the 

15 Necrology of the Sisters of St. Joseph. St. Louis, 1883. 


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Immaculate Conception in St. Joseph, Missouri, the first dis- 
tinctively German school undertaken by the Community in the 
St. Louis Province. This, with St. Mary's Convent in Brook- 
field, commenced in 1871, and the academy in Chillicothe in 1872, 
were begun at the request of Bishop Hogan, who welcomed the 
Sisters to what he designated as "your own diocese of St. Joseph, 
quite as poor and unknown to the world as he was." 16 

On a bitter cold day in January, the first colony of Sisters 
reached Chillicothe, to find that through some misunderstanding 
no provision had been made for their coming. An old hotel 
known as the Redding House, rented by the parish for a school 
and vacated the day before their arrival, presented only bare 
walls and heaps of debris. Fortunately, the day was not far 
advanced when the Sisters reached the place ; and with their own 
stout hearts and the willing hands of Father Abel, the pastor, and 
his numerous helpers, they were able before nightfall to refuse 
the many offers of shelter beneath the hospitable roofs of kindly 
disposed neighbors, and lighted their own hearth fires. 

The trials incident to a first foundation were not borne by 
the Sisters alone ; their burdens were shared by Father Abel and 
his generous parishioners, among them Peter Markey and his 
family, also the McNallys, McGuires, and Fitzpatricks, with a 
spirit that made possible the erection of an academy the following 
summer, and started it on its long and prosperous career. Ef- 
ficient teachers perpetuated the work of the first faculty, Sisters 
M. Herman Lacy, Mary Margaret Spellman, Wilhelmina Deken, 
and Lucina Crooks. Numerous additions and improvements 
enlarged the scope of academic work, increasing the facilities for 
music and art; and the scientific department was equipped by 
loyal alumnae. 

A courageous band of Sisters from the Mother House braved 
the perils of western travel in 1870, reaching Tuscon, Arizona, 
after a long and arduous journey. St. Patrick's Academy in 
Memphis, Tennessee, begun in 1871, a parochial school in the 

16 Bishop Hogan to Mother St. John, Oct. 6, 1870. 


same year at Warrington, Florida, and one in St. Louis in 1872, 
St. Lawrence's, completed the circle of Missouri and southern 
missions established by Mother Saint John Facemaz. Mean- 
while, interesting though trying scenes of missionary life were 
being enacted in the northern peninsula of Michigan, at Han- 
cock, Sault Ste. Marie and L'Anse, whither Sisters were sent 
tfrom Carondelet in 1866; and in Marquette, where a boarding 
and day academy was opened in 1871. These were all in the 
diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette, then under the 
jurisdiction of its first bishop, the illustrious Frederic Baraga. 

The northern country was as rich in historical traditions as 
in the wild and varied beauty of its scenery. Sault Ste. Marie, 
on St. Mary's River, "three leagues below Lake Superior and 
twelve above the Lake of the Hurons," 17 lay near the terminus 
of a gradual cascade, where the waters of the upper lake broke 
and scattered over the rocky river bed, rendering passage at that 
|point extremely difficult. Quantities of lake trout brought down 
by the swift current attracted the wandering Huron and Algon- 
quin tribes whom Fathers Raymboult and Isaac Jogues found 
there in 1641, and for whom they erected on the shore a cross, 
the sign of redemption. Rene Menard, after touching at the 
Sault with a fleet of Ottawa canoes in the fall of 1660, passed 
the winter at L'Anse Bay on the southern shore of Lake Superior. 
After much suffering and harsh treatment from hostile natives, 
he entered the arch-shaped inlet on October 15, and called it St. 
Teresa's Bay. "I had the consolation of saying Mass there, " 
he wrote to his superiors, "to pay myself with interest for all 
my past woes. It was here I began a Christian community, 
which is composed of the Flying Church of the Savage Chris- 
tians, more nearly adjacent to our French settlements, and one 
of those whom God's compassion has drawn hither." 18 

No sign of this Christian community remained in 1843, when 
the missionary, Father Baraga, his heart burning for the regenera- 

17 father dablon in Jesuit Relations, vol. 54, p. 129. 

18 Jesuit Relations, vol. 48, p. 265. 


tion of pagans, overcame appalling difficulties of travel, and 
reached L'Anse Bay, to find it surrounded by Chippewa tribes, 
steeped in intemperance and idolatry. Ten years of his devoted 
life he gave to reclaim them to God and to civilization, building 
for them homes, a school house, and a church. These skirted 
the shore of the bay, facing the wide expanse of water, and were 
flanked by miles of meadow land and groves of elm, evergreen, 
and sugar maple trees. Wild berries that grew in profusion 
on the hillsides and white fish from the bay furnished the chief 
sustenance of the roving bands, that, under the influence of 
Father Baraga, settled down into a sober and industrious people 
and eagerly sought the instruction which he imparted to them 
daily as priest and schoolmaster. 

He had hardly begun his labors at L'Anse, when the rich copper 
and iron deposits of the Lake Superior region began to attract 
large numbers from the States and Canada, and white settlers, 
French, German and Irish, scattered among the Indian missions. 
Numerous towns sprang into being on the resulting wave of 
industry; and when Father Baraga was consecrated Bishop and 
Vicar-Apostolic of Upper Michigan in 1853, ms territory ex- 
tended six hundred miles along the Lake shore, 19 besides includ- 
ing the Indians of the Lower Peninsula. 20 His first episcopal 
city, Sault Ste. Marie, soon had rivals in Marquette, a rapidly 
growing town with a handsome church and a convent of Ur- 
sulines; and in Hancock, where in 1861 St. Anne's Church 
was dedicated. From Father Edward Jacker in Hancock and 
John Baptist Menet, Jesuit pastor of Sault Ste. Marie, came 
petitions to Mother Saint John in 1865 and 1866 for teachers. 
In June, 1866, she dispatched Mother Agatha Guthrie, Assistant- 
General, and Sister Julia Littenecker to Michigan to complete 
arrangements for these schools, both of which she had accepted. 
The Sisters were charmed with the beauty of the North, its 

19 richard h. clarke, A.M., Lives of Deceased Bishops, p. 496. New 
York, 1872. 

20 chrysostom verwyst, o.f.m., Life of Bishop Baraga, p. 255. Milwaukee. 


healthful climate, clear, cold springs and great forests, then in 
the first glow of their autumn coloring, making a strong appeal 
to both. 

Still greater was the impression made on them by the Indian 
mission at L'Anse, where they went in company with Father 
Jacker, rounding the bay in a light canoe. Here Father Gerard 
Terhorst, deterred by the poverty of the place from asking for 
Sisters, had been for a long time praying that the blessing of 
religious instructors might yet be vouchsafed to his neophytes. 
To Mother Agatha and her companion Indian education was a 
subject for enthusiasm ; and all looked upon this chance visit 
of theirs as providential, especially when, on their return to Caron- 
delet, Mother Saint John yielded to their entreaties to send a 
community to St. Xavier's school at L'Anse. She agreed to 
this the more readily as, according to Father Terhorst's repre- 
sentation, the Sisters were much desired by the Chippewas, one 
of whom, speaking for all, after seeing the visitors, had said: 
"If they have real charity, like our great and good Father, the 
Bishop, who left all and lived among us for ten years, when we 
were much more wretched than we are now, they will come and 
live among us at once." 21 

On August 6, the thirteen Sisters destined for these three 
missions left Carondelet, accompanied to Chicago by Mother 
Saint John, who after seeing them on board a lake steamer — 
its sole passengers — bade them adieu. On the evening of August 
12, they reached Sault Ste. Marie, where Sister M. de Chantal 
Martin and three other Sisters left the steamer for their new 
mission, amid the regrets of the remaining nine that the delay 
was not long enough to allow all to accompany the travellers 
to their residence. This residence was the former "palace" of 
Bishop Baraga, a plain two-story frame house, vacated by him 
a few months before when his see was transferred to Marquette. 
The Sault had been described to Mother Saint John by Father 

21 Father G. Terhorst to Mother Saint John, July 18, 1866. Carondelet 


Menet as "dead in winter, but very animated in summer on 
account of the ships that pass and the strangers who came for 
health or pleasure." 22 In spite of the transient nature of a 
great part of the population, forty pupils were soon enrolled 
in the school that was opened under the patronage of the Sacred 

Meanwhile, the remaining Sisters had landed at Hancock, then 
a village of a few streets, with scattered houses appearing here 
and there among the wooded hills. A crowd of small boys, 
prospective pupils, evidently on the watch for the newcomers, 
gave them a spontaneous welcome, and with noisy and good- 
natured rivalry, escorted them to their destination. A wagon 
drawn by oxen brought up their baggage. Six of the band, 
with Sister Gonzaga Grand as Superior, remained in Hancock, 
and after a few days spent with them, Sisters Justine Lemay, 
Marcelline Reilly and Maxime Croisat, left in an open boat with 
two native rowers for L'Anse, twenty-five miles distant. Fathers 
Jacker and Terhorst accompanied them ; and as they neared their 
journey's end, chanting the Ave Maris Stella and the Litany of 
Loretto, their twelve hours' trip took on the character of a 

It was dark when Nokomis, Indian housekeeper at the mission, 
letting fall her candle in fright at the first view of the Sisters, 
showed them to their poor abode, a log cottage, where ticks 
spread on benches furnished their hard beds, and blocks of wood 
did duty for chairs. This house Father Terhorst soon took 
for himself, giving them his own more comfortable one in 
exchange. Their first day in L'Anse they spent in making a 
tour of the village — sixty families in all — entering every house 
and wigwam, allaying the fears of the timid children and making 
friends with the parents. Forty boys and girls attended school 
the first year, the government providing a small compensation. 
In the summer of 1867, the zealous pastor, with the aid of a few 
Indians, began the erection of a convent, using for material the 

22 Letter dated Sept. 26, 1865. 


heaps of stones gathered up during the gardening processes of 
many years. It was completed in October; and, considering the 
amateur builders, was a remarkable achievement. It consisted 
of three stories and a basement, with a girls' class room and 
provision for a small number of girl boarders. On October 28, 
the first Mass was said in the chapel. 

Home made furniture, desks, tables, cupboards, and wardrobes 
attested the ingenuity of the missionary and his assistants, who 
also lathed and plastered the building. The cold weather set 
in before the walls were dry, and every morning they were 
covered with frost, "very nice to look at, but not so nice to feel, 
for when it melted, the water ran down in streams." 23 The 
bitter cold of the northern winter was only one source of the 
sufferings experienced by the Sisters, but borne cheerfully by 
them in the consciousness that their labors were every day yield- 
ing fruit in the hearts of a simple and grateful people. With 
patient industry, they cleared and planted their own small gar- 
den, teaching the Indians to do the same. These lived mostly 
by hunting and fishing, making maple sugar in the spring and 
gathering berries from the hills. In winter, over holes cut in 
the ice, they watched in relays day and night for fish, transport- 
ing it to their homes on dogsleds. The beginning of a new year 
was always a season of great tribal rejoicing. Pagan Indians 
came from the surrounding woods, wrapped in blankets, their 
faces painted, some accompanied by their families, and each 
bringing his offering for the general good cheer — a canine 
favorite, slaughtered for the occasion. 

Sister Justine took advantage of these gatherings to represent 
to the parents of young girls the benefits of leaving these with 
the Sisters. Her first efforts to secure their daughters, often 
girls of great beauty, met with flat refusals from both fathers 
and mothers, who evinced much tenderness for their children, 
and could not be induced to part with them. Gradually, however, 
boarders came in such numbers that, in 1877, an extension was 

23 Diary of sister justtne lemay. Carondelet Archives. 


made to the convent for their accommodation. Encouraged by 
the successful outcome of this feature of the work, Father Ter- 
horst erected a home for orphan boys which was soon filled. 

In 1872, Sister Saint Protais came to L'Anse, delighted at 
the realization of her lifelong wish to contribute ever so little 
to the conversion of the Indians. She was soon a favorite with 
old and young, and spent here the remaining years of her life, 
visiting the sick and infirm, and doing good everywhere to every 
one. Her humility and simple trust in God are well exemplified 
by her response to the good-natured teasing of the Sisters who 
had seen her weary head nodding during the long evening prayers 
in the chapel : "Well, does not the dog sleep at his Master's 
feet?" During her long residence in the North, she acquired 
such skill in the preparation of simple remedies for the sick, that 
the Indians attributed to her extraordinary healing powers 
and placed implicit confidence in her ability to cure their 

Her death, the result of a fall, occurred on April 12, 1892, 
that being Monday in Holy Week. A communication received 
at the Mission from the Mother House requested that her body 
be brought to Carondelet for interment; but the Indians raised 
a storm of protest, claiming that as she had spent twenty years 
of her life among them, she should not be taken from them in 
death. Reverend Mother yielded to their wishes, and the pre- 
cious remains were laid to rest in the Mission graveyard beside 
those of Sister Ermelina McCauley, who was called to her reward 
in 1885 at the early age of twenty-two years. As time went on, 
Sisters Agnes Ryan, and Genevieve Horine, sent in failing health 
to the bracing climate of Michigan, and Sister Ildephonse Anter- 
meyer, veteran missionary, who in 1905, died at the age of 
seventy on the scene of her long labors, "found their resting 
places among a race whom they (the Sisters of Saint Joseph) had 
benefitted by their sacrifices." 24 

24 antoine ivan rezek, History of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and 
Marquette, p. 245. Houghton, Michigan, 1906. 


Financial difficulties and great business depression between 
1 87 1 and 1874 affected the copper country, and caused the with- 
drawal of the Sisters from the Sault and the temporary closing 
of the school in Hancock. Though this was reopened in 1877 
under the favorable conditions that contributed to its great future 
success as one of the large schools of the diocese, its failure at 
the time was much regretted by the venerable Bishop Mrak, 
successor to Bishop Baraga in the see of Marquette, especially 
as the Ursulines of his episcopal city were preparing to abandan 
their academy and return to Canada. Urged by him, Mother 
Saint John bought the property of the Ursulines, a block of 
ground and a three story brick convent, and continued the 
school, sending as its first community Sisters M. de Chantal, 
Alphonsus Byrne, M. Bernard Walsh, Agnes Gill and Zita 

The academy, under the patronage of St. Joseph, succeeded 
beyond all expectation. One of its first graduates was Katherine 
Rossiter, who after finishing her education entered the novitiate 
in Carondelet. As Sister Mary Agnes, she returned to Mar- 
quette in 1879, at which time Sister De Pazzi O'Connor, was 
in charge of the school. This, one of two boarding schools in 
all of Upper Michigan, grew by leaps and bounds into a first 
class institution patronized by students from the neighboring 
states, and enjoyed the encouragement of Bishop Mrak and his 
successors. A home for orphan girls was erected on a portion 
of the convent grounds and supported by voluntary contribution. 
Bishop Mrak, after resigning his see, spent many years of his 
retirement as chaplain of the convent. Numerous instances are 
on record of his deep piety and simple manners, and of his love 
for the orphans, for whose benefit he gave generously from his 
small store, always with the injunction that the giving be kept 

For many years, the Sisters from the northern missions made 
the annual retreat at the old Mission in L'Anse, or as it came 


to be called, Baraga, 25 where the sheltering pines and the cool lake 
breezes made up for the lack of indoor comforts. Frequently 
the only means of transit to and fro was a small lake steamer 
which flaunted the interesting legend: "This boat not safe in a 
storm." If they tempted Providence by embarking in the frail 
craft which thus frankly exposed its deflciences, no vengeance 
was ever wreaked on them for their temerity. They always 
reached their destined port in safety. Blessings rested on their 
labors; and the first missions of L'Anse, Hancock and Marquette, 
planted by Mother Saint John Facemaz in the lake district, were 
increased over five-fold under her successors. 

25 L'Anse was the name originally given to all the country round the bay 
of that name (Keweenaw Bay) including the site of the mission buildings. 
The mission church was the only one until 1872, when another was erected 
on the east side of the bay, nine miles from the mission, at the present 
city of L'Anse. A settlement begun near the mission in 1883 was called 
Baraga, and by this name also the mission was then designated until the erec- 
tion of a post office there in the nineties, when it was given its present name 
of Assinins. rezek, op. cit., vol. I, p. 393 ; vol. II, pp. 234, 244, 247. 

When Baraga was built, the Indians wished it called Justine, but yielded 
their choice of a name to one that they loved better than any other. 


GUTH RIE. ( 1 872- 1 904 ) 

In the election of a successor to Reverend Mother Saint John 
Facemaz on May 3, 1872, the choice of the Sisters fell on her 
assistant, Mother Agatha Guthrie. For thirty-two years, until 
her death in 1904, through successive elections, often against her 
own protest, she was retained in office as Superior-General of 
the Congregation. At the close of her long life, she was ranked 
as one of the most extraordinary women of the Church in 
America. 1 

In birth, training and character, Reverend Mother Agatha was 
an American. She was born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, 
August 31, 1829, the only daughter of non-Catholic parents, 
Charles Guthrie and Harriet Grace, both of whose ancestors had 
emigrated from England to America in pre-Revolutionary times. 
Her maternal grandfather, Joseph Grace, and his brother 
Emanuel, stalwart men over six feet in height, joined a company 
of American militia in Boston, and fought their first battle at 
Bunker Hill. After the war, Joseph with his wife, Hannah 
Salisbury, left the old homestead in Massachusetts to settle in 
Bradford County, Pennsylvania. To this place, the Guthries 
also had removed from their original location in the Chenango 
Valley in eastern New York. 

Charles Guthrie, at the time of his marriage to beautiful 
Harriet Grace, was engaged in farming at Springfield, Penn- 
sylvania. Pie was a man of refined tastes, particularly fond of 
music, which he cultivated as a pastime. A member of no 
church, he believed in God and in the immortality of the soul; 
and, honest and God-fearing, a lover of his fellow-men, he 

1 Church Progress, St. Louis, Feb. 20, 1904. 



regulated his life in strict accordance with his lights. His wife, 
several years after her marriage, became a Methodist, and re- 
mained a devout member of that persuasion until her eightieth 

Their little daughter, whom they called Minerva, was sent to 
school at the early age of four years. A long remembered ex- 
perience of hers was playing truant during those very youthful 
school days, when the attraction of the green hillside near her 
home was stronger than that of chart or desk. Her only brother, 
Martin Van Buren, died in infancy; and when she was twelve 
years old, she lost her father, to whom she was tenderly devoted 
and whom she resembled much in character and disposition. 
The family had, in the meantime, removed to Illinois ; and in the 
public schools of Ottawa and Peru, Minerva finished her educa- 
tion. With her mother's great beauty, she had inherited her 
father's love for music; and attracted largely by her enjoyment 
of a well sung Methodist hymn, she adopted the religion of her 
mother. "Oh, if I could always hear such singing," she once 
exclaimed to the latter in a burst of enthusiasm, "I would feel 
as happy as if I were going to Heaven. " 2 

At eighteeen, she was a teacher in a select school in St. Louis. 
Here she formed a close friendship with a young Irish Catholic 
girl, a companion teacher, whom she frequently accompanied 
to church, and from whom she eagerly sought information re- 
garding the Catholic faith. On the invitation of her friend, she 
attended some lectures given at St. Francis Xavier's Church by 
its pastor, Reverend Arnold Damen of the Society of Jesus. 3 
The forceful words of this celebrated preacher and missionary 

2 The foregoing facts of Mother Agatha's family and early life were 
given by her mother to the Sister historian at Carondelet in 1890. 

3 Father Damen, a native of Holland, accompanied Father De Smet on a 
return trip to America in 1837, and entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Floris- 
sant, Missouri. He was pastor of the Jesuit Church in St. Louis from 1847 
to 1857, and then introduced his Order into Chicago, organizing Holy Family 
Parish there. He made numerous converts during the course of his long 
life. His death occurred at Omaha, January 1, 1890. ///. Cath. Hist. Re- 
view, vol. I, p. 436. 


brought conviction to the young girl searching for truth. She 
lost no time in presenting herself for instructions to Father 
Damen, who was much impressed by the sincerity of his neophyte, 
and her intelligent grasp of the doctrinal problems explained to 
her. She was baptized by him, taking the name of Philomena 
and discarding completely the classic appellation given her by 
her parents. The doctrine of the real presence of our Lord in 
the Eucharist appealed strongly to her, and love for the Blessed 
Sacrament became the absorbing devotion of her life. Mrs. 
Guthrie objected strongly to her daughter's change of creed; 4 
but the latter remained firm in the practice of her religion, and 
three years after her baptism, sought entrance into the novitiate 
at Carondelet. 

It was in the early summer of 1850 that Mother Celestine 
received the tall, graceful girl, who, like the strong-souled St. 
Teresa presenting herself at the Spanish Carmel clad in brilliant 
yellow, appeared wearing a modish gown of pink, the color 
setting off to advantage her fair complexion and wealth of 
golden hair. As she had come provided with nothing more 
neutral in shade, she was permitted for a while to retain her 
pink; but, with her soul intent on invisible things, she was quite 
unembarrassed at the contrast between herself and her dark- 
robed companions. On the feast of St. Teresa, 1850, she re- 
ceived the habit in company with Justine Thone, a native of 
Germany, who was given the name of Sister Mary Frances ; and 
two years later, on the same feast, both made their vows. Arch- 
bishop Kenrick officiated at the ceremony, assisted by Reverend 
John O'Hanlon. 

Mother Agatha, early in her religious life, won the love and 
confidence of Sisters and superiors, and rose rapidly into prom- 
inence in the community, taking in the hearts of all the esteemed 
place which she never lost, but held for over fifty years. She 
was among the original band of Sisters sent to Wheeling in i&53> 

4 Mrs. Guthrie persevered in her profession of Methodism until her eightieth 
year, when she was baptized a Catholic in the Carondelet Chapel. 



and for a short time was stationed at the Orphan Asylum in St. 
Louis. Here it was that she imbibed the love for the orphans 
that made her a friend of the homeless throughout her life. In 
1 86 1, she was appointed Provincial Superior in Troy; and for 
six years previous to her election in 1872 as Superior-General, 
she had served at the Mother House in the capacity of Assistant- 

She justified the Sisters' almost unanimous choice of her for 
the highest office in the Congregation by the many noble qualities 
of mind and heart which she displayed in the exercise of her 
various functions. With great strength of character, and a 
remarkable power of commanding, she mingled rare sweetness 
and a gentleness that seemed almost timidity. Her countenance 
beamed with kindness; and she bore herself with a calm dignity 
of manner that was never disturbed, even in perplexing circum- 
stances. To those who marvelled at her habitual cheerfulness 
under the burdens which they knew that she bore, she often 
made reply, "It comes with the grace of office/' and she acknowl- 
edged that she never allowed worry a place in her mind, but 
submitted all to Providence. Of herself, of the circumstances 
surrounding her conversion or the influences that led her to em- 
brace, first the Faith and then the religious life, she seldom spoke, 
even to those most intimately associated with her. 

It was hard for many to realize that she had ever been outside 
the fold. On one rare occasion, she surprised a Sister com- 
panion, who, when both were walking near a non-Catholic ceme- 
tery, made the Sign of the Cross, remarking that she always did 
so when passing a Protestant graveyard. Reverend Mother was 
much amused; but replied seriously and with just a touch of 
sadness that came to her in thoughtful moods: "On the judg- 
ment day, it is from such a place that all of mine shall rise." 
"I think there is always something queer about converts, don't 
you?" asked a Sister of her one day, not knowing that she was 
addressing one. "Yes, I do," was the emphatic answer made 
by Reverend Motherland thereafter, she was accustomed to 


explain what she called her own eccentricities by attributing them 
to the "Protestant in me." She cherished a special fondness for 
the College Church, as the old Jesuit church on Ninth Street 
was called ; and loved to slip away sometimes with a companion 
to spend an hour in a quiet corner of the sacred edifice in which 
she had first heard from Father Damen the words of Life and re- 
ceived the light of Faith. 

Always shunning public notice both for herself and her com- 
munity, she loved and cultivated the hidden life; and whenever 
the stress of duty permitted, and she could do so unperceived, 
she spent hours before the Blessed Sacrament. Nothing was 
more distasteful to her than praise, and being photographed was 
an ordeal to which she seldom willingly submitted. It was only 
in her later years that she yielded to the entreaties of the Sisters 
for a portrait; but it distressed her to see this frequently re- 
produced. Entering the studio one day when no one was present, 
she found on an easel a large picture of herself, well on the way 
to completion. Filling a brush with paint, she began to daub out 
the eyes, and had partially succeeded, when, with a dismayed cry, 
the artist appeared in the doorway. Quietly continuing her work 
of effacement, Reverend Mother said in the half-whispered tones 
habitual to her: "I think that my little Sister could be much 
better employed." 

Her great heart seemed to embrace not only all who suffered, 
but all who sinned; and stories of weakness or wrong doing that 
reached her from whatever source drew forth no sterner judg- 
ment on the culprit than the sympathetic exclamation, "Poor 
human nature!" The words of St. Francis of Assissi, "What 
we are in God's sight, that we are and no more," she repeated 
so frequently as to make the expression a characteristic one. 
For the poverty-stricken, she had a special solicitude, and linked 
them with her devotion to the Apostles, keeping always on her 
private list of charity at least twelve poor persons. None en- 
joyed more than she did the community recreations; and no 
incident of the day, as related by the Sisters, was too trivial to 


excite her interest or amusement. A good listener, and always 
sparing of her words, she rarely led in conversation, but stim- 
ulated it by her clever sallies and a most enjoyable wit. 

Her government of the Congregation was firm and kind. 
Her frequent re-elections proved the personal devotion of the 
Sisters, who appreciated her great and lovable qualities, and 
their confidence in the wisdom of her administration. They 
brought into prominence her own humility, "the touchstone of 
religious perfection which few women in her position had ever 
mastered so well" ; 5 for she accepted office only with reluctance, 
and would gladly have laid down the burden of authority to 
enjoy the coveted retirement which her necessarily active life 
precluded. Much of her success in the management of the 
affairs of the Congregation was due to the aid given her by her 
councillors and other able officers in whose selection she gave 
evidence of her fine powers of discernment. The early hard- 
ships of the Sisters in America, their long struggle with poverty 
and with discouraging and adverse circumstances, had been the 
fiery test of vocations, and had produced women of heroic char- 
acter, unselfish and self-sacrificing, with great powers of endur- 
ance in trials of all kinds, and with a clear vision of the spiritual 
values of life. There were scores of such, many of them young 
in years, but old in experience, having been called early to 
positions of responsibility or of peculiar difficulty in the growing 

Reverend Mother Agatha's first Council, elected with her in 
1872, consisted of Mother Saint John Facemaz, Mother Julia 
Littenecker as Assistant-General, Sister Theodora McCormack 
and Sister Mary Pius Sexton. The last named, though only in 
her twenty-ninth year, had been for several years in charge of 
St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Paul, a position which called for 
fortitude and a fearlessness of danger in infected wards; but 
which furnished to her ardent nature an opportunity of bringing 
many a hardened sinner to a death bed repentance, and numerous 

6 Church Progress, St. Louis, Feb. 20, 1904. 


non-Catholics to an acceptance of the truth. Her own death 
occurred at the Mother House after a very brief illness April 27, 
1875, on tne eve of a General Chapter for which all the delegates 
had assembled. A month previous, during the course of a re- 
treat which Sister Mary Pius made with unusual fervor, she 
remarked to the Sisters with almost prophetic insight, "This may 
be my last retreat/' Such it proved, though at the time death 
seemed very far away. The deliberations of the Chapter were 
postponed, while the Sisters gathered in an impressive scene 
around the couch of their dying companion. 

She was replaced by Sister Liguori Monaghan; and in 1878, 
Sister Adele Hennessey was appointed to succeed Sister Theo- 
dora McCormack, a cultured woman of Irish birth and training, 
who was made Superior in Albany. To Sister Adele Hennessey, 
who had been successively Superior of St. Patrick's in St. Louis 
and in Mobile, Alabama, fell the direction of the schools, which 
she supervised for twenty-seven years, her affability and gracious 
manner winning for her a way to all hearts ; while everywhere 
in the class room was felt the benefit of her systematic and 
practical methods of organization. No other changes were made 
in the General Council until 1896; and the character of per- 
manency which that important body developed, coupled with 
the exalted personal qualities of its members, lent weight to its 
decisions and commanded confidence. 

Few members of the Congregation have been held in more 
universal esteem than Mother Julia Littenecker. As local Su- 
perior, mistress of novices or councillor, her influence was con- 
stantly exerted in promoting pious organizations and societies, 
in the spread of good reading, and in exemplifying a great ideal. 
"An hour with Mother Julia meant courage for the faltering, 
strength for the weak, impulse to the ardent and zealous, and 
to all a closer approach to God, in whose presence she always 
moved with the gentle strength that accomplished wonders in 
her work for souls." 6 A good Latin and English scholar, she 

6 Western Watchman, St. Louis, May 25, 1913. 


was also conversant with German, French, Italian, and Spanish, 
and was an authority on Church music and hagiology. In 1867, 
she accompanied the Superior-General to Rome. From its 
shrines as well as from other noted ones in Italy and France — 
Loreto, Genezzano, Lourdes, La Salette and Lyons — she gath- 
ered stores of information and sacred lore, which it was her de- 
light to impart to the Sisters for their edification and instruction. 

She interested herself in foreign missions with a truly apos- 
tolic spirit. Among her correspondents were members of reli- 
gious orders in Europe and America, and missionaries in China 
and Palestine, who kept her informed of their work and relied 
much on her assistance in both material and spiritual ways. 
When, in 1886, a call from the United States Government on 
behalf of the California Indians opened up to the Congregation 
a new field for its activities, it was to Mother Julia that the 
difficult task of inaugurating Catholic instruction among them 
was confided. For three months she remained at the Yuma 
Reservation, guiding and directing the teachers and winning the 
hearts of the simple natives, whose conversion to the Faith 
became the object of her zeal and her prayers until it was happily 

For many years, she added to her other duties those of cus- 
todian of the relics with which the chapel at the Mother House 
was enriched during the Pontificate of Pius IX. In connection 
with this occupation, she made the history of the martyrs an 
absorbing study, and became a most devout client of those heroic 
souls. She established in the Congregation the Confraternity of 
the Sacred Heart, and took a deep interest in the beatification 
of the apostle of this devotion, Father Claude de la Colombiere, 
offering and procuring from others many prayers and novenas 
that he might be publicly honored by the Church. In order to 
spread devotion to St. Joseph, she compiled from indulgenced 
prayers a popular book of devotion in his honor, 7 which, first 

7 The Crown of St. Joseph, D. J. Sadlier and Co. New York and Mon- 
treal, 1875. 


published in 1875, went through a third edition in 1880. As a 
frontispiece to this book, appeared for the first time an engraving 
of the Saint under the title Pater Amabilis, copied from a paint- 
ing made in the Gagliardi Studio in Rome for the convent in 
Carondelet. This was a companion piece to Mater Amabilis, 8 
also executed by Gagliardi to commemorate the feast of our 
Blessed Mother erected by Pius IX, February 26, 1874, f° r the 
Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet, and celebrated in their 
convents on the second Sunday after Easter. Mother Julia was 
specially interested in obtaining this favor. For over sixty 
years, fifty of which were spent almost continuously at the 
Mother House, she devoted her time, talents and energy to pre- 
serving the spirit and traditions of the Congregation, of which 
she was one of the strongest supports. 

Intimately associated with her and with Reverend Mother 
Agatha from 1875, was Sister Liguori Monaghan, who, for 
thirty-eight years, in the capacity of treasurer, managed all the 
important financial affairs of the Congregation. She was a 
native of Savannah, Georgia, and entered the novitiate in Caron- 
delet in 1 86 1. Her intense devotion to duty and her wonderful 
spirit of sacrifice never dampened the ardor of her love for the 
Southland, which she left during a troubled period. With 
shrewd business instinct and a capacity for handling complex 
transactions, she united a delicate sense of humor and a sweet- 
ness of disposition and manner that won love and confidence 
from young and old. She had a strong faith in Providence; 
and the difficulties and distracting cares of her position never 
altered her habitual calm. She seemed literally to have cast 
all her care upon the Lord, while labouring unceasingly as the 
faithful steward of His goods. 

In the early days of her treasurership, and often afterwards 
when funds were low, Sister Liguori contrived with great in- 

8 On May 15, 1874, our Holy Father granted an indulgence of three hun- 
dred days for the recitation of the Sub tuum before this picture, which was 
specially blessed by him. Documents in Carondelet Archives. 


genuity to lessen expenditures and increase her capital. One 
means which afforded her great pleasure as well as profit was 
making the numerous wax candles needed for the chapel. She 
watched and tended with enthusiasm each process, from the 
spreading of the brown flakes that lay bleaching in the sun, 
until the finished product gleamed tall and creamy white on 
the marble altars, often their only decoration. For years, she 
was afflicted with deafness, which debarred her from many of the 
pleasures of social intercourse; but the recreation hour found 
her always in her accustomed place among the Sisters, con- 
tributing in her quiet way to the enjoyment of all. 

She was loyally devoted to Reverend Mother Agatha, whom 
she survived nine years, and whose death left in her heart a 
void which no other friendship could fill. Her own death in 
19 1 3 was the fitting crown of a life crowded with duties nobly 
done. On the evening preceding it, Sister Liguori, seemingly 
in the best of health, had remarked to Reverend Mother, refer- 
ring to a financial statement, "I have finished my account. It 
is ready for the morning." She failed to appear in the chapel 
for prayers the following morning, an occurrence so unusual 
as to excite alarm. A Sister was sent immediately to her room, 
but finding the door locked, effected an entrance through a 
window opening on a balcony of the inner court. Sister Liguori 
lay as if in a peaceful sleep; but a second glance sufficed to show 
that the sleep was one which wakes only in the light of an eternal 
day. On her desk was the folded report of her earthly steward- 
ship, accurately and beautifully prepared, and balanced to date. 

Under the influence of such great souls, life flowed smoothly 
at Carondelet, where each day brought its round of duties, each 
summer its spiritual retreats and teachers' institutes with almost 
monotonous regularity. The Congregation was steadily increas- 
ing in numbers, the statistics of 1875 showing a total of four 
hundred and fifty-three members. These were located in ten 
dioceses, and had under their care thirteen thousand two hun- 
dred and twenty children. Many of the children were in 


parochial schools, then becoming very numerous in the western 
dioceses. Reverend Mother Agatha was a strong advocate of 
the parochial schools, and especially those of grammar and 
elementary grades, which she considered more far-reaching in 
their effects than either the academy or kigh school. Among 
those offered for her acceptance, she frequently chose the least 
promising from a material point of view, and was often heard 
to remark that the poor, small missions, where there was ap- 
parently little earthly recompense, were more fruitful in blessings 
for the Congregation than the larger and more prosperous ones. 
During her first six years of office, she supplied Sisters for 
twelve parish schools in the St. Louis Province alone. 

Two of the most prosperous of these were St. John's and St. 
Patrick's in St. Louis. Both were in large and flourishing 
parishes. Of the former, Reverend Patrick J. Ryan, future 
Bishop of St. Louis and Archbishop of Philadelphia, and Rev- 
erend John Joseph Hennessey, later Bishop of Wichita, were 
successively pastors. The former, after his elevation to the 
coadjutorship of St. Louis, remained twelve years at St. John's, 
the pro-Cathedral ; and during that time, his interest in the school 
was unflagging. In the midst of numerous duties, he found 
time for frequent visits to the children, among whom he loved 
to single out the "flowers of the flock," this being the name by 
which he designated those whose auburn locks were the same 
hue as his own. With the lively cooperation of its pastors, 
St. John's rose to first rank among the parish schools, and was 
largely attended, as was also St. Patrick's, in which many men 
and women prominent in business and social life received their 
early training. 

St. Patrick's, the first Irish-American parish in St. Louis, was 
organized in 1843, but it grew slowly. Its magnificent school 
was not completed until 1873. I* was built by Reverend Father 
Fox at an outlay of one hundred thousand dollars, a considerable 
fortune at that time in St. Louis. In January, 1873, just before 
the date set for the opening of school, Father Fox fell a victim 


to pneumonia, dying after a brief illness. In February, the 
classes were organized under the direction of his successor, 
Reverend Father Archer. The Christian Brothers took the 
larger boys, and Sisters Dominic Fink, Aloysius Andres and 
Elizabeth Parrott, the girls. The number of Sisters was in- 
creased the following month by Sisters Cassilda Mernaugh and 
Theolinda Kelly. For more than a quarter of a century, these 
schools prospered, with ever increasing numbers of teachers and 
pupils, until their character was materially changed by the en- 
croachment on parish boundaries of the business and commercial 
interests of the city, which drove out old residents and introduced 
a large foreign element. St. Patrick's presents at present the 
anomaly of registering only Italian pupils, and the parish fur- 
nishes a rich field for settlement work. 

Other St. Louis schools provided with teachers by Reverend 
Mother Agatha at this time were St. Nicholas' in 1873, St. 
Francis Xavier's in 1875, and St. Michael's in 1876. To Mobile, 
Alabama, were sent in the fall of 1873 ^ ve Sisters, with Sister 
Felicity Mulligan as Superior, to open St. Patrick's Convent, 
which was dedicated on October 18 with imposing ceremonies 
and an eloquent sermon by Very Reverend Canon Moynihan of 
New Orleans. In the same year, another band of intrepid mis- 
sionaries set out by a difficult overland route in company with 
Right Reverend J. B. Salpointe for Arizona; and at Ste. Gene- 
vieve, Missouri, in 1874, a free elementary school for boys and 
girls was made possible by the munificence of Felix Valle, who 
furnished an endowment for that purpose. The academy es- 
tablished there in 1858 was in a flourishing condition, a large 
brick structure put up in 1867 having replaced the earlier frame 
building. In 1894, another three story brick school was erected 
by the parish on a section of the convent property leased for 
that purpose ; and the elementary and high school departments 
removed to it in April of that year steadily increased in numbers 
until they registered four hundred students. St. Bridget's 
School in Chicago was begun in 1873, and the Nativity, now 


averaging over eleven hundred pupils, in 1875. ^ n the same 
year, the first hospital in the St. Louis Province, St. Joseph's in 
Kansas City, was built and equipped; and Florissant, Missouri, 
and Peru, Illinois, each received a community of school Sisters 
from Carondelet. In 1877, parochial schools were opened in 
Central City, Colorado; Sedalia, Missouri; and Indianapolis, 

The inauguration of this last in the fall of 1877 occurred soon 
after the return of Reverend Mother Agatha from Rome, whither 
she had gone in company with Mother Saint John, as mentioned 
in a preceding chapter, in order to secure the final approbation 
of the Constitutions. Reverend Mother was much impressed by 
her audience with Pius IX and the signal kindness manifested by 
him. The Eternal City was to her a world of attractions. 
'There are a thousand objects of interest for me in Rome," she 
wrote from there; "even the mouldering ruins of ancient pagan 
times have wonderful tales to tell." 9 Her visits to the Colos- 
seum and the Catacombs increased her great veneration for the 
martyrs, whose blood had darkened the arena, and whose memory 
still haunted the places sanctified by their sufferings and their 
holy deaths. 

It was during her stay in Rome that she endeavored to obtain 
relics for the convent in Carondelet. This was not an easy 
thing to do; but she enlisted the help of Reverend Pietro Mar- 
chionni, Apostolic Missionary and Canon of the Church of St. 
Agnes in Rome, who interested himself in her behalf. He was 
a devout client of St. Joseph, a friend of the Congregation, and 
also of the ancient family of Savorelli in Forli, Italy, in whose 
possession was a rich treasury of relics taken from the Cata- 
combs in the first years of the nineteenth century by order of 
Pius VII, and given to Count Nicholas Savorelli. Of this 
family also was Mercurialis Prati, Bishop of Forli, Domestic 
Prelate to Pius VII and Assistant at the Papal Throne. A great 
portion of the relics passed eventually to Count Nicholas 

9 Letter of Rev. Mother Agatha, Rome, Apr. 20, 1877. 


Savorelli Prati, from whom Father Marchionni obtained, 
after much pleading, those which now belong to the Congre- 

Nine entire bodies, those of Saints Nerusia Euticia, Vincent, 
Aurelius, Theodora, Irenaeus, Liberatus, and three child-martyrs, 
Discolius, Berisimus and Berenice, each with its Vas Sanguinis, 
and rudely carved slabs from the Catacombs, were included in 
what Father Marchionni termed the "little Paradise," transmitted 
by him across the water early in 1878, as "missionaries of the 
ancient Faith, to preach to us of the virtues of the Crucified, 
exemplified by the death which they suffered for his sake." 10 
The most interesting of these is Nerusia Euticia, taken from the 
cemetery of Saint Calipodius July 16, 1801. It is clad in the 
ancient Roman costume of a lady of high rank, a tunic of cloth 
of silver worn over a robe of gold brocade and confined by a 
silver girdle. The feet are encased in jeweled sandals, and a 
jeweled crown adorns the head. In the center of a frame filled 
with small relics is also a picture in oil by Michel Angelo de 
Caravaggio, "The Descent from the Cross," a prized possession 
of the Savorellis for more than a century and a half. 11 The 
relics, with the exception of those intended for the provinces, 
were placed in the chapel at Carondelet on November 17, 1880, 
by Right Reverend Patrick J. Ryan, Coadjutor of St. Louis, 
accompanied by a large concourse of the clergy. Great pomp 
and solemnity attended the ceremony, giving it the character of 
a sacred pageant of medieval times, and making the day a 
memorable one in the history of the Mother House. On gor- 
geous crimson catafalques rich with gold embroideries, the 

10 sister julia littenecker, Sketch of Our Saints and Martyrs (MS.) p. 9. 
Carondelet Archives. 

11 "I the undersigned, declare that in a family inventory of the year 1721 
existing in the archives of my family, the painting representing the descent 
from the Cross which is enclosed in a frame of relics was declared to be the 
work of Michel Angelo de Caravaggio, and as such has always been recog- 
nized not only in successive inventories, but by connoisseurs in art. Nicholas 
Savorelli Prati, Forli, Mar. 20, 1884." Copy of Document in French and 
Italian given to Rev. Mother Agatha under the seal of the Savorelli family. 


sainted remains were borne in long procession, with lighted tapers 
and amid the chanting of litanies, to their chapel shrine. 12 

To each of the Provincial Houses, Reverend Mother sent 
relics from her precious store, those of Saint Irenaeus to St. 
Paul, Saint Theodora to Troy, and Saint Liberatus to Tuscon. 
The body of the little Saint Discolius she reserved for Nazareth 
Retreat. This, in the country five miles from Carondelet, was 
for eight years, from 1872 to 1880, the place of the novitiate. 
In the center of a sixty-acre farm and surrounded by fine trees, 
a plain but roomy brick convent was erected, to which the novices 
with their teachers and mistress, Mother Saint John, removed 
in the summer of 1872. The first Mass was celebrated there 
June 21 by Reverend J. M. I. St. Cyr, for ten years chaplain at 
Carondelet, and now sent by Archbishop Kenrick in a similar 
capacity to Nazareth. Father St. Cyr remained at Nazareth 
until his death in 1883, the spiritual guide of the novices, to 
whom he gave daily instructions full of wisdom and unction. 
He was an omnivorous reader, and until the loss of his sight 
in 1876, spent hours with his books, giving considerable time 
also to out door pursuits. He took great pride and pleasure 
in beautifying the grounds, planted the trees in the little cemetery 
when it was portioned off in 1874, and set out the vineyard which 
he tended carefully. 

12 A feast in honor of the Martyrs, to be celebrated each year on November 
17 at the Mother House, was granted by special indult of Leo XIII, March 
12, 1881. By another indult of November 28, 1899, this was transferred to 
June 21, anniversary of the translation of the relics to the new chapel, dedi- 
cated that year. Documents in Carondelet Archives. When in 1882, doubts 
were raised regarding the authenticity of some relics transported from Italy 
to other parts of Christendom, copies of the documents in the Carondelet 
archives, signed and sealed by Rt. Rev. P. J. Ryan, were transmitted by him 
to Rome, where they were verified by comparison with duplicates kept in 
the Archives of the Sacred Congregation of Relics. They were returned in 
May, 1883, with a Brief of Leo XIII, granting, on account of the Holy 
Martyrs, six plenary indulgences to be gained, with the usual conditions, 
by the Sisters of St. Joseph on six different days each year; viz, January 29, 
May 16, September 19, October 4, October 15, and November 17. 



(Monument of Father St. Cyr in left foreground.) 


It was while working among his vines on July 17, 1876, that 
he became suddenly blind, and was led to his small study near the 
chapel, where many quiet hours of his had passed. Care and 
medical skill alike failed to restore the lost vision ; but the seven 
years of life that remained to him were useful and happy ones. 
The Franciscan Fathers, appointed chaplains at the Mother 
House in 1875, came as assistant chaplains to Nazareth, and 
celebrated Mass and Benediction; but Father St. Cyr continued 
his instructions to the novices, infusing into his words day by 
day a deeper spirituality, and impressing on the minds of his 
young hearers the importance of that higher knowledge which 
alone gives value to the things of life. Each day a Sister read 
to him from his favorite books and magazines, or wrote at his 
dictation. "Our spiritual reading first," was the injunction with 
which the literary portion of his day began ; and his hand sought 
the selected volume, always in its accustomed place within his 
reach. He had many visitors, old friends to spend a social hour ; 
and others interested in historical knowledge, to whom he loved 
to relate his reminiscences of early days. 

His genial humor, the source of many a pleasant episode en- 
joyed by young and old, never deserted him; and his natural 
cheerfulness and patience, his resignation to all the dispositions 
of Providence, lightened his affliction. The virtues which he 
was now called upon to practice he had recommended to the 
Sisters many years before in a New Year's letter, which also 
illustrates the simplicity of the noted missionary: 

I wish you, beloved Sisters, besides many happy years, a true love 
of all the virtues of your holy state, Christian patience and resigna- 
tion to God's will in trials and adversities, the persevering courage 
necessary to fulfill the office which Mary and Joseph so cheerfully 
and lovingly fulfilled during our Lord's infancy. Our Lord is, 
as it were, in a state of infancy in our midst. We must take care 
of him, wait on him, accompany him. Such is the rich legacy which 
Mary and Joseph have left you as their daughters and successors 


in office. This honorable office, cordially and faithfully accom- 
plished, will be the channel through which the choicest blessings 
that can make a whole year happy will come to you. 13 

His death occurred after a month's illness, February 21, 1883, 
shortly before the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination. This 
was what he had wished, to die before the exercises of a golden 
jubilee celebration could bring him undesired notice. "I want 
to go to Heaven," were his last words, addressed to Sister Feb- 
ronia Boyer, who, seeing him very restless, asked if there was 
anything he desired. He had made continual inquiries during 
his illness about the weather, expressing the fear that the in- 
clement season would prove injurious to the Sisters if they fol- 
lowed his remains to the graveyard. The spring thaw set in 
early, and the roads leading to Nazareth were almost impassable, 
yet his funeral was largely attended. Very Reverend Henry 
Muehlsiepen, Vicar-General of St. Louis, celebrated the solemn 
Mass of Requiem, assisted by Reverend Charles Ziegler as deacon, 
Reverend M. O'Reilly as subdeacon, and Reverend Innocent 
Wapelhorst, Franciscan, Master of Ceremonies. Right Rev- 
erend Patrick J. Ryan delivered the funeral sermon, an eloquent 
eulogy on the virtues of the deceased priest, his peaceful and 
harmonious life, his conformity to the will of God, and his 
desire to be hidden in Him who was his light in darkness when 
the light of earth went out. Six priests bore the coffin to the 
cemetery, while the accompanying clergy 14 chanted the Miserere; 
and at the foot of the great stone crucifix, under the larch trees 
which he had planted, Father St. Cyr was laid to rest. 

The early years at Nazareth were by no means years of 
opulence. Spiritual riches there were in abundance, but ma- 
terial conveniences were few. A farm or garden cared for with 
the least possible outlay was then a necessity ; and the hours out 

13 Letter of Father St. Cyr, Jan. 1, 1864. 

14 Among those present were Very Rev. Chancellor Vandersanden, Fathers 
Head, Donohue, Poepe, Goller, Jerome, O.F.M., Bonacum, P. F. O'Reilly 
and Daly. The last named, by his own request, is also buried at Nazareth. 


of class were often spent by the novices with watering can or 
pruning knife contributing their share to the upkeep of the small 
estate; or gathering from the corn fields the fresh clean shucks 
that made their beds. One of their number was delegated to 
teach the children of the neighboring farmers, assembling them 
daily in a small house on the convent grounds. The recreation 
hours the novices loved to spend with Sister Felicite Boute, who 
passed the last years of her beautiful life at Nazareth. In the 
pioneer days at Carondelet, Sister Felicite was infirmarian ; and 
the academy girls remembered long the love and kindness with 
which she was accustomed to soothe away their ailments or dry 
the tears which fell when their lonesome hearts were yearning 
for home. "No one was ever rude in the presence of that tall, 
sweet Sister," wrote one of her girls in 1840; "We seldom heard 
her laugh, but her smile was contagious." 15 She always re- 
tained her spirit of cheerful gayety. In fact, it was her laughter 
that became contagious at Nazareth ; and so loud were the sounds 
of merriment issuing at times from the recreation room, that 
•Mother Saint John would slip gently in to ascertain the cause 
of the turmoil. 

For twenty-five years, Sister Felicite had been stationed in 
St. Louis, where, as Superior of St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum, 
she was a tender mother to the numerous children who came 
under her care. The Sisters and others to whom her good works 
were known loved to reckon her among the uncanonized saints; 
and the former, after her death, September 23, 1881, made fre- 
quent pilgrimages to her grave. Up the hill to the little cemetery, 
Sister Ephrem Berard, bent for years under a grievous malady, 
toiled painfully for nine days, to kneel at Sister Felicite 7 s grave 
begging for health through the intercession of the friend whom 
she had loved in life; and on the ninth, walked home straight 
and lithe, to resume her former duties, strengthened in body, and 
happy in the consciousness that God was so very near. 

A series of rainy seasons and the poor drainage of the country 

15 ELIZA MCKENNY BROUILLET, Memoirs, p. 46. 


about Nazareth, where swampy depressions, attributed to the 
earthquake of 1812, persisted in remaining, bred fevers; and in 
1880, Reverend Mother Agatha brought the novices back to 
Carondelet, where she erected a new wing to the building in 

The academy there had grown rapidly, and attained great 
prominence and popularity under the direction of Sister William 
McDonald, who for thirteen years, from 1873 to 1886, devoted 
her versatile talents towards maintaining a high standard for the 
institution. For several years Sister William had been a pupil 
of the academy, leaving her Alma Mater to enter the novitiate 
in 1 86 1 at the age of sixteen. On the completion of her novitiate 
in 1863, she was with the first band of Sisters sent to Peoria, 
Illinois. Young as she was in years, she gave evidence at once 
of ability in the class room, besides being an excellent musician ; 
and she eagerly seized every opportunity of rendering herself 
more capable. As a teacher and directress, she was rigid in 
maintaining discipline; but possessed in a more than ordinary 
degree the gift of discerning and developing the best traits of 
her pupils, instilling into them a love for study and a desire to 
attain the best in intellectual and artistic pursuits. 

While a well planned curriculum was followed, much attention 
was given to the study of literature by Sister William and by 
her immediate successors, Sister Teresa Louise and Sister Sacred 
Heart Hall, both gifted with literary ability; and a printing press, 
set up and operated in the convent, turned out monthly copies 
of St. Joseph's Journal, edited by the pupils, who were interest- 
ing contributors to its pages. Under the tutelage of Matthew 
Hastings, a well known St. Louis artist, and the fostering care of 
Reverend Mother Agatha, an art critic of unerring taste and 
judgment, was developed among teachers and pupils the skill in 
art which became a heritage in the Congregation, and filled the 
studios with choice productions of pencil and brush. A gifted 
teacher trained during this period, but snatched away all too 
early from the scene of her labors, was Sister Baptista Barry, 


sister of Reverend Michael Barry, for nearly fifty years a dis- 
tinguished churchman in the Diocese of Syracuse, New York. 
Sister Baptista was Reverend Mother's private secretary at the 
time of her death, which occurred on Christmas morning 1877, 
and was universally lamented. 

A welcome visitor and art lecturer at Saint Joseph's in the 
eighties was Eliza Allen Starr, whose love for celebrated shrines 
led her to the Martyrs' Chapel in Carondelet. She summed up 
her first impressions of the convent -~-«t follows : 

When our train for Carondelet left us at the station, the mysterious 
charm which belongs to a strange road in the night time came upon 
us. The electric lights with their obtrusive glare had been left 
behind, and by the yellow flame of gas jets we ascended a stony road, 
as we thought between high banks until we came to what looked 
as if it had come from some land beyond the sea — an ideal convent ! 
A few steps brought us to the upper terrace, and even in the late 
evening, we could see the slender willow branches in full leaf waving 
in the night wind. It was delightfully mysterious to know that there 
was a landscape beyond, and even the great Father of Waters, yet 
to see nothing. Sister guided us to the steps, a door opened, a 
familiar habit, even if not a familiar face, greeted us ; and still 
another, no less than the benignant face of Reverend Mother herself, 
and we were at St. Joseph's. When the convent guest room received 
us, and the peace of a religious house fell upon soul and sense, 
"Unlike all places in the world," we said, "wherever this religious 
house may be." The morning showed us the hollow square on 
which the medieval convent is built, and in the middle of the square 
on a high column our own St. Joseph ! On three sides ran the open 
galleries, and on the fourth, a closed loggia with its windows. St. 
Joseph's back was towards us, but this was because he was looking, 
as he should, towards the chapel and the lord of the chapel. 16 

Her interest in the chapel centered in the relics, reminiscent 
of the catacombs and shrines of Rome; and the vesper service 
evoked her enthusiasm. "Cecilian music at Vespers ! Cecilian 

1G eliza allen starr in St. Joseph's Journal, 1888, vol. Ill, p. 2. 


music never goes alone into any chapel. With it go meditation, 
and the relish for heavenly things." 17 

When the fiftieth anniversary of the American foundation 
was celebrated in 1886, the relish for heavenly things had 
attracted to the Congregation a total of eight hundred and sixty- 
two professed members, and one hundred and three novices. 
The commemorative exercises at the Mother House in the week 
of March 25 were mainly religious, a solemn triduum, Masses 
and Benedictions. A musical and literary programme, allegor- 
ical in character, given by the students, portrayed the chief events 
of the five decades. Congratulations and good wishes received 
from friends throughout the country gave evidence of the abun- 
dant harvest produced in fifty years by the pioneers of 1836. 
With the exception of Sister Febronie Chapellon," who was still 
living in France, Sister Saint Protais was the only one left of 
that courageous band. She was then in her seventy-third year, 
and in response to Reverend Mother's summons, came from 
Baraga, Michigan, to participate in the celebration. The central 
figure of the joyous occasion, she took a child's delight in the 
festivities that recalled scenes and events of which she had been 
so great a part. 

A pleasing incident of her visit was the meeting with one, 
who, as a poor and neglected Protestant orphan boy, had been 
the recipient of her kindness thirty years before in Wheeling; 
and as a prosperous business man of a large eastern city, came 
to St. Louis to make grateful acknowledgment to his benefactress, 
and to give an account of his successful life as the head of a 
practical Catholic family. Dear to Sister Saint Protais as was 
the place of her first abode in America, she pleaded to return 
to her obscure Indian mission among the pines. Her request 
was granted, and her remaining years were spent at Baraga. 18 

"Ibid., p. 8. 

18 Two of the pioneer Sisters died in France, Mother Febronie Fontbonne 
and Sister Febronie Chapellon. The former, after a stroke of paralysis suf- 
fered in the fall of 1880, was an invalid for six months, until her death 
at Changy on Palm Sunday, April 10, 1881. She was seventy-five years of 



As the Congregation grew in numbers, ever increasing de- 
mands for Sisters were made on Reverend Mother, many of 
which she supplied, sending colonies in 1880 to orphan asylums 
in Kansas City and St. Joseph, Missouri, and a hospital in 
Georgetown, Colorado. These missions were followed in the 
next decade by the opening of schools in Wisconsin, Colorado, 
Michigan, Illinois and Missouri. In the last named state were 
commenced six, three of which were in St. Louis : St. Anthony's 
in 1883, St. Teresa's and the Holy Name in 1886, all in flourish- 
ing parishes, where parents and zealous pastors co-operated with 
the Sisters in building up large and successful institutions. 

The growth of St. Anthony's was remarkably rapid. Com- 
menced in September, 1883, in a two room building with two 
teachers, Sisters Wilhemina Dekin and Lazarine Muettinger, who 
drove each day from Carondelet, it registered the following fall 
one hundred and fifty pupils. A new school built in 1889 by 
Reverend Innocent Wapelhorst, the distinguished Franciscan 
liturgist, who was then pastor, accommodated four hundred and 
fifty students ; and was enlarged by successive additions which 
increased it to its present capacity of eight hundred girls and 
boys, the higher classes of the latter being taught by the Brothers 
of Mary. Sister Aloysius Andres, appointed Superior at St. 
Anthony's in 1884, directed the work of the Sisters there for 
twenty-seven years; and to her efforts, more than to any other 
single factor, is due the reputation of the school for thoroughness 
and efficiency. 

Many of the parochial schools, in St. Louis were in adjoining 
parishes, each with its small community; and Reverend Mother 
Agatha, having in mind the greater spiritual and educational 
advantages of the large group, established in 1885 a central house, 
to which the teachers from four schools removed in the summer 

age, sixty-one of which she had spent in religion. The particulars of her 
death were written to Carondelet by Sister Febronie, who had lived with her 
for forty-nine years. Sister Febronie also died at Changy, January 3, 1890. 
The death of Mother Saint John Fournier, companion of Mother Celestine, 
occurred at Philadelphia, Oct. 15, 1875. 


of that year, and where they were joined in the two following 
years by those from three others. On August 24, 1885, the new 
convent was blessed by Very Reverend Philip Brady, Vicar- 
General of St. Louis, and placed under the patronage of Our 
Lady of Good Counsel. Sister Adele Hennessey was appointed 
Superior of this house, where, as directress of schools, she was 
brought into closer touch than before with the work of the 
teachers and summer institutes. 

At the Convent of Our Lady of Good Counsel was held in 
1894, the first teachers' institute in St. Louis participated in by 
Sisters of various orders from the city and surrounding places. 
It was conducted by lay teachers, and on this account evoked 
criticism from Catholic editors and others who looked with dis- 
favor on the experiment. Its good results were manifested, 
however, in the greater confidence which the Sisters felt in their 
own methods, and the readiness with which they adopted and 
assimilated whatever they found better in those of others. 

In 1884, there had been published by the Sisters of St. Joseph 
for their own use the School Manual, explained in ite introduction 
as "not so much a new method as a compilation of the best 
methods already in use by our Sisters." The old French manual, 
adapted in translation to the needs of American schools, had 
served an excellent purpose in the training of young teachers. 
It had gradually given place to other methods, formulated in 
teachers' meetings and institutes. When the need of a printed 
manual in the hands of each teacher became imperative, a com- 
mittee of the most experienced teachers in the Congregation was 
appointed to prepare a course of study for both elementary and 
high school grades. Chief among these Sisters were Sister Adele 
Hennessey, Sister Celestine Howard, directress of schools in the 
St. Paul Province, Sister Gertrude Conway, and Sister Teresa 
Louise Crowley. 

After a prolonged study of conditions and of the best methods 
and courses in use throughout the country, they completed in 1883 
the manual published the following year, which proved of in- 


valuable assistance to the Sisters of Saint Joseph, and was in 
general use among them until the appearance in 1905 of the 
diocesan course for the parochial schools of the St. Louis Arch- 
diocese. In the preparation of the manual, as stated in the intro- 

The best features in each teacher's way of conducting school 
exercises were carefully examined and compared before being pre- 
sented for general use. ... It was considered that to restrict the 
teachers to particular ways of conducting different studies would be 
to close the door to future improvements, as new ideas and sugges- 
tions on these subjects are constantly appearing. What is to be 
desired in our schools is uniformity in movement, while giving 
variety in instruction. 19 

The book is divided into three parts, the first devoted to the 
general plan of the schools, the classification of pupils and 
regulations for school and classroom management. The second 
part contains the general course of study for the grades and 
four years of high school work, with suggestions as to the best 
method of teaching each graded subject; and includes a very 
complete course for the first eight years in nature study and the 
elements of science. In the third part are found general remarks 
on health and sanitation, the proper arrangement of school build- 
ings, the collection of teachers' libraries, and the keeping of 
records. The whole is comprised in a volume of eighty-two 
pages, and has received many encomiums from competent teachers 
outside the Congregation. 

To the schools in St. Louis already mentioned in charge of 
the Sisters of St. Joseph were added St. Leo's in 1893, the Holy 
Rosary in 1900, St. Ann's in 1901, and All Saints and St. 
Matthew's in 1902. Of St. Leo's the pastor was Reverend 
J. J. Harty, later Archbishop of Manila, whose tireless exertions 
in behalf of Catholic education gave to his school an enviable 

19 School Manual for the Use of the Sisters of St. Joseph, p. I. St. Louis, 


In the long history of the St. Louis parish schools, crowded 
in most instances to their full capacity, and drawing pupils from 
congested business districts as well as from beautiful residential 
sections, but one disaster is recorded, the partial destruction by 
fire of St. Lawrence's on February 2, 1900, and the resulting 
death of Sister Stanislaus Mahoney. In her music room on the 
third floor, the young Sister, engaged in giving a lesson to Mary 
Foley, nine years old, evidently remained oblivious to what was 
happening, while all the others were quietly passing from the 
building. When her absence was discovered, every approach to 
the music room through the corridors was cut off. Brave firemen 
entered from outside, and groping through the smoke filled rooms, 
found the unconscious Sister, her little pupil clasped in her arms, 
a crucifix which she had snatched from the wall above her piano 
pressed to her breast. Reverently the two were passed out the 
window of the burning school, and borne through the silent 
throng of breathless children, women in tears, and men with 
bared heads, to the nearby hospital of the Franciscan Sisters, 
where three physicians endeavored in vain to restore them to 
consciousness. Sister Stanislaus was the first to succumb, and 
a quarter of an hour later, Mary Foley followed her into eternity. 
Archbishop Kain appeared early on the scene of the tragedy, 
with sympathy for the sorrowing companions of Sister Stanislaus 
and words of consolation for the heart-broken mother of her 
pupil. Many of the city schools were closed through respect 
the following day, and hundreds of school children tip-toed up 
the long aisle of the convent chapel where Sister lay, cold in 
death; while other hundreds brought flowers to the bereaved 
home of little Mary Foley. "Sister Stanislaus and Companion, 
Martyrs," was the caption of an editorial in the Western Watch- 
man of February 9, a touching tribute to teacher and pupil, dead 
at their post of duty. 

The parochial school system of St. Louis was reorganized 
during the episcopacy of Most Reverend John J. Kain, who came 





in 1893 as Coadjutor to the venerable Archbishop Kenrick. He 
had scarcely entered upon his duties, when, in March 1896, 
Archbishop Kenrick was called to his eternal rest. In the death 
of this great churchman, the Congregation of St. Joseph mourned 
a friend whose interest in its welfare had extended through more 
than half a century. When in 1841 he came to his western see 
as Bishop Rosati's coadjutor, he found in Carondelet a small 
community of twelve Sisters with one girls' academy, a village 
school, and a few deaf-mutes. At the golden jubilee of his 
consecration in 1891, hundreds of boys and girls taught by the 
Carondelet Sisters in St. Louis alone, were among the five 
thousand school children who paid him homage in the exercises 
at the Colosseum in honor of the event. An address given in 
expressive pantomime by a large class of children from the 
Deaf -Mute Institute, and referred to by Archbishop Ryan, the 
orator of the occasion, as a tribute of silence, was the only 
number of the elaborate programme which elicited any expression 
of emotion from the distinguished jubilarian. He had always 
been solicitous for these afflicted children. The prelate of Phila- 
delphia, also, on the rare occasions which brought him to St. 
Louis, manifested his interest by visits to the Institute. His 
sympathy for the silent boys and girls did not hinder his ready 
flow of wit. "A deaf and dumb Ryan! Impossible!" was his 
exclamation in feigned astonishment and with tragic gesture, 
when, on one occasion, a small boy of his own name was among 
the pupils presented to him. 

In May 1896, new councillors were elected in the persons of 
Sister Herman Joseph O'Gorman and Sister Agnes Gonzaga 
Ryan, a woman of unusual ability, and intended in the 
Providence of God to succeed Reverend [Mother Agatha as 
Superior-General. The former replaced Mother St. John Face- 
maz, who, during the last five years of her long life, until her 
death October 30, 1900, was tried by suffering, and gave a 
glorious example to the Congregation of patience, humility and 


fortitude. Like her predecessor in the Council, Sister Herman 
Joseph belonged to that class of noble souls who find no sacrifice 
too great that they can make for God. 

She was born in Oswego, New York, of Irish parentage, 
March 17, 1846, and after four years spent there in the Sisters' 
school, entered the novitiate in Carondelet in 1862, receiving the 
habit on December 8 of that year. The eldest in a family of 
five girls, she was followed eventually by her four sisters, all 
of whom became members of the Carondelet community. She 
held many prominent positions in the Congregation; and as 
teacher in the class room or superior of large houses, was always 
animated by the same high sense of honor which shrank from 
the very shadow of an untruth, and held as a sacred trust the 
confidence of even the smallest child. Honest and straight- 
forward, and in the highest degree humble and obedient, she 
required or expected of others nothing that she did not do her- 
self, setting always the example of zeal, charity and devotion 
to duty. She was a close student of books, applying herself 
to serious subjects ; and she encouraged the Sisters to continual 
efforts at self -improvement along some chosen line, ranking intel- 
lectual culture as a help to spiritual advancement. Her reverence 
in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament was an inspiration to 
those privileged to witness it; and her influence as a councillor 
was always exerted towards strict observance and great vigilance 
in the admission of subjects to the Congregation. 

In the early nineties Sister Winifred Sullivan, after years 
spent on the missions, became again a member of the household 
at Carondelet, where the large museum was her special charge. 
From far and near, she gathered objects of historical interest and 
value, and rare products of nature, which she used as a means 
of impressing on the minds of others the beauty and the wisdom 
of God as manifested in His works. In the library, Sister Mary 
Charles Brennan presided for a quarter of a century; and with 
infinite patience and a fund of erudition, directed eager readers 
along pleasant paths of literature, or over the stony road of dry 


research. Under improved conditions and with greater accom- 
modations, Nazareth was now a home for the aged or infirm 
Sisters, many of whom, grown old in the service of the Master, 
returned from the missions to rest in the quiet retreat. The 
circles of mounds increasing year by year in the hill-side grave- 
yard marked the passing of lives rich in merit and good works, 
their example and the story of their deeds an inspiration to 
others following in their footsteps. 

A lesson in the science of the saints is a visit to this portion 
of God's acre, dedicated to so many lowly, hidden souls, unknown 
in life except to those who came in closest contact with them. 
Sister Peter Richard Kelly, bent from early morning until late 
at night in the performance of humble duties, like Martha busy 
about many things, her every step offered as a prayer; Sister 
Barbara Keon, whose life-long wish was granted of dying in 
the Sacramental Presence ; Sister Cecilia Rosteing — Madame 
Cecile, the Sisters called her — trained to graceful manners in 
her aristocratic home in France, picking her steps daintily for 
years in Carondelet's alley ways to bring help or cheer to the 
poor and sick : these and scores of others rest under the cedar 
trees at Nazareth, worthy daughters of Mother Celestine, their 
graves grouped about her own earthly resting place, 20 a name 
the only legend on each small headstone. 

On this hallowed place the hand of God was laid in blessing 
in 1 90 1, when, in answer to fervent prayers, occurred on March 
19 of that year, the sudden cure of Sister Laura Kuhn. For 
eighteen years Sister Laura was a constant sufferer from a 
malady that baffled medical skill. During the greater part of 
that time, her only sustenance was liquid food. Malignant can- 
cer of the stomach finally developed, which became external, 
causing untold suffering. It was pronounced incurable by three 
physicians; and the invalid, several times prepared for death, 

20 The remains of Mother Celestine, Sister Mary Joseph Dillon and other 
Sisters buried at Carondelet were removed to the Nazareth cemetery shortly 
after it was laid out in 1874. 


still lived on in agonies of pain. So intense did this become, 
that she began a novena of Communions in honor of St. Joseph 
before his feast in 1901, begging for a cure or a happy death, 
according to God's will. With great difficulty on the morning 
of St. Joseph's day, the sufferer reached the chapel, a few steps 
from her room. Returning after Communion, she fell into the 
first restful sleep that she had known for years. The Sisters, 
surprised at finding her so, left her undisturbed. She awoke 
free from pain. Realizing fully that her prayer of faith had 
been answered, she hastened to the chapel, and on her knees 
before the altar, burst into tears. "I had begged to be relieved 
of my cross," she said to the writer in the summer of 1918; 
"and fearing lest I had not done well, I asked God to give it 
back to me, if my bearing it to the end would please him better." 

On examination, the great wound was found to be perfectly 
healed, deep scars being the only evidence that it had ever existed ; 
and the linen wrappings were dry and fresh. Doctor Samuel 
J. Will, a non-Catholic physician under whose care Sister Laura 
had been for two years, gave his written testimony to the re- 
markable cure, an account of which appearing in the public press 
attracted nation-wide attention. Sister Laura's deposition was 
taken by the Archbishop of St. Louis, Most Reverend John J. 
Kain, in the presence of the Reverend Chancellor and other 
witnesses ; and an official statement prepared and signed by them 
attested the miraculous nature of the occurrence. 

The little room in which St. Joseph's power was so marvel- 
lously felt was converted into an oratory in remembrance of an 
event which sent a thrill of awe through the entire Congregation. 
The Brothers of the Holy Cross at Notre Dame, Indiana, through 
Venerable Brother Paul, who was a guest at Nazareth in the 
spring of 1901, begged the privilege of preparing the shrine, 
placing in it an altar made by their own hands as an offering 
to the saint who is never invoked in vain. 



In the decade between 1870 and 1880, the South was several 
times swept by yellow fever, which decimated the population of 
large cities, and paralyzed the activities of whole sections of 
the country. In 1873, tne fever made its first appearance in 
Memphis; and in the early fall of 1874, Florida was in the 
grasp of the plague. 

At St. Joseph's Convent in Warrington, Florida, during the 
summer were Sister Alexandrine Erkolum, Sister Odilia Dunn 
and Sister Anna Teresa Burke. They were joined late in August 
by Sister Clotilda Kennedy, a delicate young Sister who was 
sent south on account of the mild climate. After spending part 
of the summer vacation at St. Patrick's Convent in Mobile, she 
arrived at Warrington just before the outbreak of the pestilence. 
The school term had hardly begun, when the Sisters, closing 
their half-emptied class rooms, assumed the role of nurses, going 
from house to house wherever there was need of their ministra- 

On September 20, Sister Alexandrine wrote to St. Louis : 
"Pray, and send word to my parents to pray and have Masses 
said that we may be spared to take care of the sick and dying." * 
The following day, Sister Alexandrine, Sister Anna Teresa and 
Sister Clotilda were seized with the dreaded symptoms; and for 
eight days they bore without a murmur the intense suffering 
which their remaining companion, Sister Odilia, strove heroically 
to alleviate. 

On the morning of September 29, there came from a convent 
of Dominican nuns in Pensacola, across the little bay from War- 

iWritten into Community Records of 1874. 



rington, Sister Mary Pius, a member of the small community 
there, risking her own life to be of help to Sister Odilia and 
her stricken Sisters. The latter were beyond hope of recovery, 
and at half-past five that bright autumn afternoon Sister Alex- 
andrine breathed her last. At half-past six, Sister Clotilda died ; 
and at eight o'clock, Sister Teresa followed her two companions 
into eternity. Sister Mary Pius kept a lonely night vigil with 
Sister Odilia, and at five o'clock the following morning, with the 
pastor of Warrington and a large number of his fearless flock, 
the two Sisters followed the remains to their burial. Sister 
Odilia then went to Pensacola, where, after a light attack of the 
fever, from which she was nursed back to health by the Domin- 
ican Sisters, she awaited in Mobile the arrival from the Mother 
House of Mother Julia Littenecker and Sister Theodora 
McCormack, sent by Reverend Mother to investigate conditions 
on the desolated mission. 

Human prudence urged the closing of the convent and school ; 
but in deference to the wishes of both pastor and people of 
Warrington and the pleading of brave Sister Odilia, she was 
allowed to return in January 1875, three other Sisters being 
sent from Carondelet to accompany her. One of these was 
Sister Evangelista Meehan, a successful and accomplished music 
teacher, who had formed one of the original colony sent to 
Albany, New York, in 1861. She survived but one year in the 
tropical climate, dying February 18, 1876. Her funeral was 
attended by the entire congregation of Warrington, and by the 
officers of a fleet of United States warships, then anchored in 
Pensacola Bay. Sister Odilia's death occurred two months 
later; and Reverend Mother Agatha, not wishing to sacrifice 
other lives in a fever-infected region, withdrew the Sisters at 
the close of the school term in 1876, to the sorrow of the people 
of Warrington, who showed their grateful remembrance in the 
care which they continued to lavish on five well-kept graves. 
Pensacola was soon after abandoned by the Dominican Sisters, 


whose friendship was one of the prized memories retained by 
the survivors of the southern mission. "Our interests were 
common; whatever one community needed, the other was ready 
to give," wrote, many years after, Sister Mary Pius, 2 her asser- 
tion proved by her own devotion in facing pestilence to help 
her suffering neighbors. 

In Memphis, an outbreak of cholera during June and July 
of 1873 was followed in September of the same year by yellow 
fever, which during the eighty days of its continuance, claimed 
sixteen hundred victims. 3 Eight hundred of these were from 
one of the four parishes of the city, St. Bridget's, of which 
Reverend Martin Walsh was pastor. 4 At St. Patrick's Academy 
in an adjoining parish, Sister Leonie Martin was Superior; and 
after an attack of fever from which she recovered, she assisted 
Sisters Clarissa Walsh, Immaculate Donohue, Antoinette Ogg, 
and De Sales Morissey in caring for the sick and dying until 
the yellow visitant was put to flight by a heavy frost in the 
middle of November. 

Memphis had hardly recovered from the staggering effects of 
this calamity, when in 1878 the pestilence broke out afresh with 
greater violence than before. "If the fever of 1873 was a plague, 
that of 1878 was a veritable scourge," wrote one eye-witness 5 
of the terrible scenes that accompanied both visitations. Within 
a few weeks after the appearance of fever in the summer of 
1878, the city was transformed into one vast charnel place, 
where a thousand 6 yellow flags floated over the homes of the 
stricken ones, and the odor of burning tar and other disinfectants 
filled the air. During the first three days after the announcement 

2 November 2, 1919, from St. Catherine's, Kentucky. 

3 Among these were five priests and twenty Sisters, rev. d. a. quinn, 
Heroes and Heroines of Memphis, p. 54. Providence R. L, 1887. 

1 4 quinn, op. cit., p. 54. Father Walsh was a victim the following year, his 
death occurring August 29, 1878. 

5 quinn, op. cit., p. 126. 

6 By the middle of August the deaths numbered 958. quinn, op. cit, 
p. 130. 


of the epidemic by the Board of Health, thirty thousand people 
fled from the city. 7 "I well remember the panic that almost 
crazed the populace the morning it was first announced," wrote 
Father Quinn ; "men, women, and children in wagons, street cars, 
and carriages, all dashing through the streets on the way to the 
various railway depots and steamboat landings." 8 From fifteen 
to twenty coaches, usually drawn by three locomotives, made up 
each passenger train that left the city. 

There were three Sisters at St. Patrick's at the time, the 
others having gone to St. Louis for the annual retreat. These 
three, Sisters Clarissa, Lydia Bulger and Irene Halter, were 
occupied for three weeks in assisting Father William Walsh, 
of St. Bridget's parish, to send out appeals to the benevolent 
societies of the United States for help in establishing, three and 
one-half miles from the city on Fontaine Farm, Camp Father 
Matthew, to which, taught by the fearful lesson of 1873, ne 
removed with his four hundred parishioners. 

By the end of August, the fever had spread to St, Patrick's, 
;where the pastor, Very Reverend Martin Riordan, Vicar-General, 
and his assistant, Father Patrick McNamara, were among the 
earliest victims, the latter dying on September 3. On the same 
day, Sister Irene, a young Sister in her twenty-second year, 
who had feared the fever very much, but offered to remain when 
Reverend Mother gave her the option of returning to St. Louis, 
was stricken with the dread disease, received the last Sacraments, 
and, in a trance-like condition, heard herself pronounced dead. 9 
Her name was registered on the official list for burial on Sep- 
tember 4; but she had rallied before then and she soon recovered. 
Sister Irene had come to America in her childhood from Switzer- 
land; and though small and slight, had the strong constitution 
and the will to conquer difficulties characteristic of the people 
of her native mountains. In a short time she was again at 

7 Ibid., p. 130. 

8 Ibid., p. 130. 

9 sister irene halter. Account of the Memphis Epidemic, in Community 


work among the suffering with her companions, who were joined 
in the meantime by Sister Leonie and Sister Antoinette. These 
had been hurriedly sent South as volunteers, when conditions 
there were reported at the Mother House. 

During the epidemic of the following summer, scarcely less 
violent than that of 1878, Sisters Clarissa, Antoinette and Irene, 
veteran nurses by that time and apparently immune wherever 
there was yellow fever, volunteered for Camp Father Matthew, 
where Father Walsh had renewed his experiment of the preceding 
year. On a two hundred acre farm, in the midst of which was 
a boiling spring, the camp was located. Tents secured from the 
War Department were so arranged as to form streets, which were 
named after the Sacred Heart, the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, 
and which led to a tiny chapel enclosed on three sides, where 
daily Mass was heard by all, kneeling under the open sky in 
view of the altar of the Sacred Heart. Contributions from 
Catholic societies throughout the United States poured into the 
camp, which had its commissary department and corps of officers, 
and where strict quarantine regulations were observed. No one 
left the grounds except the priests on their visitation of the sick 
and dying, and those whom duty or errands of mercy called to 
the city. 

The three Sisters who had volunteered for this place left St. 
Louis August 1, after the summer retreat. They were obliged 
to travel on a freight train, as no passenger trains were allowed 
to enter Memphis. Arrived at the camp, they were assigned 
their duties. Sister Irene gathered the children in an improvised 
school room, and for two hours daily taught them Catechism 
and the hymns and litanies which were sung in the evening pro- 
cessions through the streets of the tented village. Sisters Antoi- 
nette and Clarissa drove each morning to the city, where the 
death rate was from eighty to one hundred a day. They dis- 
tributed food and medicine to the sick and prepared the dying 
for the reception of the Sacraments. The Angel of Mercy and 
the Angel of Comfort they were respectively designated by a 


grateful people, among whom they met with but one instance 
where their visit was not wholly welcome. 

A father, mother and little boy lay dying in a home marked 
with the yellow signal. From the Sisters when they entered, 
the two former turned away, refusing all proffered help; but the 
child stretched out weak arms to the strange visitors. He recog- 
nized the image on the crucifix which Sister showed him, and 
to her inquiry, "Would you like to go to Him?" he answered 
with unconscious wisdom : "Yes, but I do not know the way." 
Calling for a glass of water, which was brought her by the 
Howard nurse 10 in charge, Sister poured the saving drops on 
his fevered head; and child and parents passed into eternity. 
But one death occurred at the camp that summer, where Sister 
Irene, when free from the class room duties, spent her time 
among the sick. It was that of a boy of eighteen, whom the 
Sisters, returning one evening from the city, overtook by the 
road side. Bent on adventure, he had walked from his home 
in Winona, Minnesota ; and, sick and weary, was easily persuaded 
by the Sisters to accompany them to Camp Father Matthew. 
In his pockets were found affectionate letters from his mother, 
who was duly informed of his happy death. 

It was years before Memphis recovered from the disastrous 
effects of these epidemics, which had threatened the existence of 
the Nashville diocese, 11 ' depriving it of twenty-two priests and 
hundreds of prominent Catholics. The immediate prospects of 
St. Patrick's Academy were ruined, and the future gave small 
promise of success at least for years to come. Under the cir- 
cumstances, Reverend Mother, in the fall of 1879, reluctantly 
called home the Sisters for an indefinite period. On November 
10, 1879, Bishop Feehan, expressing to her his regret that the 
unhappy condition of Memphis rendered such a step necessary 
wrote : 

10 The Howard Association was a benevolent society organized in 1873, 
which provided nurses and received aid from Masonic fraternities, quinn, 
op. cit., p. in. 

^quinn, op. cit., p. 52. 


I feel under very great obligations to you and your good Sisters 
for all the good that they have done in Memphis, and especially for 
their heroic devotion during the yellow fever. Their spirit of sacri- 
fice will, I am sure obtain for them and their communities many 
and great blessings. 12 

The Ave Maria of January 21, 1902, announcing the death 
of Father William Walsh, recalled the incident of Camp Father 
Matthew and the devoted pastor's 

splendid courage, which at a single stroke tore away the veil of 
prejudice from the public eye in that sunny Southland where the 
Church has been so backward and prejudice so forward. 

Of the Sisters who were Father Walsh's right-hand helpers, "as 
fearless and zealous as himself," it said : 

The heroism of these noble spirits arrested the admiring attention 
of the whole country; and so vivid is the remembrance of it even 
now that we are assured Memphis is the least salubrious climate 
in the world for those who utter calumnies against priests and 

The fruit of the Sisters' heroism and of the sacrifices made 
by the Congregation during the whole of the dreadful period 
was reaped within the next two decades through increased ac- 
tivities in other places, especially in the North and West. In 
Mobile, also, where the yellow scourge had spread gloom and 
'desolation, and of two Sisters stricken with the plague, Sister 
Agnes Rossiter and Sister Aurelia Catherine Cashin, the latter 
laid down her young life in sacrifice October 22, 1878, three 
schools were added to the one begun in 1873 ; namely, the Cathe- 
dral school for boys, and two where children of mixed white and 
negro blood — Creoles, the Alabamans call them — could be given 
an elementary education. This class had always evoked Reverend 
Mother's interest ; and examples brought to her attention of their 

12 Bishop Fcehan to Mother Agatha, Nov. 10, 1879. On September 10, 1880, 
Bishop Feehan was promoted to the Archbishopric of Chicago. 


ignorance of God, revealed in their replies to questioning, aroused 
her sympathy. 

Typical of a hundred others was the small waif, called by the 
Sisters from her sport of chasing butterflies and told about her 
creation and the object of her existence. In wide-eyed wonder, 
she mused aloud after each bit of information : "I never knew 
I was made for anything. Nobody ever told me that." More 
open-minded was the little maid than her dusky brother, whose 
agility saved him from an avalanche of logs brought down by 
his own awkwardness in dislodging one; and whose terror gave 
place to contempt for the supposed ignorance of his questioner, 
when a Sister asked him, not clearly perhaps, but with interested 
curiosity as to his mental attitude toward a future life : "Where 
would you be now if you had not jumped aside?" With literal 
truth as he saw it, and in a tone of finality, the answer came, 
"Under the woodpile, of course." Efforts at spiritual enlighten- 
ment were useless there. 

Such incidents were to Reverend Mother so many tragedies of 
darkened souls to which the light had never penetrated ; and she 
gladly gave a portion of the convent property in 1896 on which 
to build a school, supplying teachers for the same, as well as 
for one opened by the Bishop in the Cathedral parish. These 
were later merged into one, which, though numerically small, 
has been productive of incalculable good. The eagerness of the 
Creole mind for knowledge is exemplified in one old grandmother, 
who sat daily on the benches among the children until she had 
learned to read and write. No other community name is so 
closely associated with the schools of Mobile as that of Sister 
Scholastica Sullivan, who through years of labor, won an un- 
dying place in the warm hearts of the Mobilians by her winning 
personality and genial ways. 

In Indianapolis, the Sacred Heart School, in the German 
parish of the Franciscan Fathers, prospered steadily. It was 
established in September 1877, when eighty-five pupils were en- 
rolled in two class rooms on the first floor of a three story build- 


ing which the Fathers had erected for church, school and mon- 
astery combined. The Sisters, four in number, resided until the 
following year in a cottage placed at their disposal by a devout 
widow of the parish, Mrs. Frances Frommhold, who, after 
giving all she had to church and school, entered the novitiate in 
Troy in February 1878, receiving the name of Sister Clarissa. 
In June, 1878, an additional piece of property was purchased 
by the Sisters for a girls' school. This property, which is now 
in the heart of the city, was then surrounded by meadow lands 
and cornfields. The blessing on October 4 of the convent and 
school erected on this site was the first official act of Right 
Reverend Francis Silas Chatard as Bishop of Vincennes, to 
which diocese Indianapolis then belonged. One hundred and 
fifty pupils, exclusive of the large boys, who were left in care 
of the Franciscan Brothers, were removed to the new school, 
enlarged in 1885 to accommodate twice that number. Ten years 
later, another large building, erected by the parish for the 
boys, received its quota of Sister teachers; and a splendid 
eight-room high school, completed in 19 14, is the latest edition 
to the group. For thirty years, Sister Lidwina Littenecker, 
appointed Superior in 1880, directed the work of these rapidly 
growing schools, which average over seven hundred pupils, and 
which have trained scores of efficient men and women for the 
commercial and social world, and furnished an incredibly large 
number of vocations to the priesthood and the religious orders. 
The main factor in the foundation of St. Joseph's Orphan 
Home for Girls in Kansas City, Missouri, was the pioneer pastor, 
Reverend Bernard Donnelly, who, after securing from Reverend 
Mother a promise of Sisters to care for the orphans, purchased 
a ten-acre tract of woodland south of the city, and began the 
erection of a building, the corner stone of which he laid on 
May 4, 1879. Prominent among the first band of Sisters who 
assisted at the opening Mass on January 15, 1880, were Sisters 
Delphine Bray and Alicia McCusker, whose long lives were 
identified with charitable work. Many inconveniences were ex- 


perienced in the beginning. The home was in the midst of a 
forest outside the city limits, was poorly equipped, and entirely 
dependent on voluntary subscriptions, which the Sisters were 
obliged to solicit in the city. The earliest benefactor was a 
prominent Kansas Cityan, Major Blake L. Woodson, who pro- 
vided dormitory furnishings to replace the children's first cots, 
improvised out of store boxes. 

"The Sisters will not be left alone in their efforts to befriend 
these children," said the founder, on the occasion of his last visit 
to the asylum a few weeks before his death on December 14, 1880. 
"Good, kind people will perfect the work which I, in my humble 
way, began." ls So it proved. Benefactors were not wanting; 
and on the coming of Bishop Hogan to Kansas City in 1886, 
diocesan funds were appropriated to the use of the Home, partly 
relieving the Sisters of the burden of support. The annual 
picnic given for years under the auspices of the Orphan Asso- 
ciation was another welcome source of income, until the sub- 
stitution of yearly collections in the diocese. The rapid growth 
of the city southward, and the opening of picturesque Penn 
Valley Park and Park Drive, fronting the Home, enhanced the 
value of the property, and added beauty to the surroundings. 
With numerous improvements and additions, notably the erection 
of a large chapel in 1895, tne gift °f Thomas Corrigan and 
family, the capacity and usefulness of the institution was in- 
creased; and under the direction of Sister Brigid Callahan for 
thirty years, hundreds of young girls were trained to fill useful 
positions in life. In February, 1921, the home was almost 
completely destroyed by fire. The Sweeney estate with its ac- 
commodations was immediately turned over by the owner to the 
Sisters and children for an indefinite period; and there rallied 
to the help of the institution many generous friends, foremost 
among whom was Right Reverend Thomas F. Lillis, Bishop of 
Kansas City, with whose encouragement and under whose direc- 
tion the building quickly rose again. Since 1913, the school 

13 The Orphan Girls' Annual, p. 9. Kansas City 1909. 


maintained at the Home is in the unique position of belonging 
to the City's system of public schools, supervised by the Board 
of Education. 

To the initiative of Bishop Hogan was due the establishment 
of St. Mary's Orphanage for boys in St. Joseph, Missouri, on 
a tract donated by John Corby for a cemetery, and known as 
Corby Place. Five Sisters from Carondelet took charge in 
April 1880 of thirty-three orphan boys, housed in a frame build- 
ing which had previously been occupied by the Alexian Brothers. 
Three years later, the boys were removed to a well-cultivated 
farm of forty acres, given to the Sisters by Francis Brown, 
a prominent and benevolent Catholic of St. Joseph, who also 
aided generously in the erection of the buildings. For twenty- 
five years, the Sisters maintained this place, until the orphan 
boys of the diocese were removed to the Perry Home in Kansas 

The number of missions in western Missouri was increased 
by the opening in Kansas City of St. Patrick's School and the 
German School of Sts. Peter and Paul in 1882; Our Lady of 
Perpetual Help in the Redemptorist parish of that name, in 
1884; St. John's in 1887; an< ^ St. Patrick's in St. Joseph, Mis- 
souri, begun in 1892, with an average attendance of three hun- 
dred and fifty pupils. One of the most successful of these is 
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, commenced in a two room frame 
building on a corner of the extensive grounds then belonging 
to the Redemptorist College, and intended to benefit the children 
of a few scattered families living on the "outskirts of the city. 
Two Sisters residing at the Orphans' Home walked every day 
over the country roads, which their most vivid imaginings prob- 
ably never converted into the broad thoroughfares on which are 
located the large church, school and convent buildings of today. 
The high school and commercial departments are important ad- 
juncts, fitting the young people of the parish for college and 
for business life. 

The first mission of the Congregation in the diocese of Green 


Bay was in Shawano, Wisconsin, to which Reverend Mother 
sent a small community in October 1881, at the request of 
Reverend Vincent Halbfus, Provincial of the Franciscan Fathers 
of St. Louis. These Fathers were also in charge of the Cath- 
olic Indians on the Menominee Reservation at Keshena. In 
September 1883, five Sisters were delegated for the Industrial 
School established at Keshena by Reverend Zephyrin Engelhardt, 
then in Wisconsin. There was a government agency at the 
reservation, and a day school was maintained for the children 
of the Menominees, a branch of the Algonquin tribe. In 1880, 
this was converted into a boarding school. The Fathers of the 
mission, opposed by the agent in their efforts to instruct the 
Catholic children, built their own school, which was opened on 
November 21, 1883, in charge of Sister Clarissa Walsh. 

Twice the school was destroyed by fire, the first time on 
February 22, 1884, only three months after the opening. New 
buildings were erected each time ; and the appointment of a 
Catholic agent in 1885 facilitated the working of the school, 
which prospered in the face of great financial difficulties. Several 
buildings are required for the present activities of the school, 
and besides the Fathers and Brothers, ten Sisters are engaged 
in caring for two hundred and thirty-seven boys and girls. The 
skill of the children in the vocational arts was recognized in the 
medal awards of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, 
and their work was awarded second place at the diocesan exhibit 
at Green Bay in the same year. Much attention was attracted 
to the ingenuity and practical turn of mind evidenced by the 
boys in their construction of a miniature steam engine working 
a circular saw, a facsimile of one used on the reservation. For 
twenty years, from 1886 to 1906, a hospital for Menominees was 
supported at the reservation out of their tribal funds. 

On March 25, 1887, a colony of seven Sisters of Saint Joseph 
from France came to the French parish of Oconto in Wisconsin 
on the invitation of its pastor, who had built a convent and 
school. They received an enthusiastic welcome from his con- 


gregation on their arrival, and were met at the convent by 
Mother Saint John Facemaz, who, with Sister Herman Joseph 
O'Gorman, was sent by Reverend Mother Agatha to initiate the 
French Sisters in American ways. Sister Herman Joseph re- 
mained as English teacher to the community in Oconto for two 
years. In 1889, this community, consisting of five professed 
Sisters, two novices and two postulants, were affiliated to the 
Mother House at Carondelet, which then assumed the respons- 
ibility of their school. St. Joseph's School in West De Pere 
was added to the list of Wisconsin missions in 1893; and at the 
same time the Sisters of Saint Joseph inaugurated their long- 
years of successful work in Green Bay. 

"From Green Bay, Missouri received her first initiation in 
the mysteries of faith," writes the historian of the Catholic 
Church in Wisconsin, referring to the expedition of Marquette, 
which began in the Fox River and ended in the Illinois Country, 
and he mentions as a return of that meritorious deed "Missouri's 
gift to Green Bay of its first Bishop," 14 Right Reverend Joseph 
Melcher. The latter was, it will be remembered, before his 
appointment to the northern see, spiritual Father of the Sisters 
of Saint Joseph in St. Louis ; but twenty years had elapsed from 
the time of his death in 1873 before the Sisters from Carondelet 
entered his episcopal city on the invitation of its fourth Bishop, 
Right Reverend Sebastian George Messmer. 

Their first mission in Green Bay was the school of St. John 
the Evangelist, in the oldest parish of northern Wisconsin, 15 of 
which the Dominican missionary, Father Mazzuchelli, was pastor 
in 183 1, and a future General of the Jesuits, Father Anderledy, 
was assistant in 1849. 16 I* was ^ ie erection of the pioneer 
church of St. John that furnished to the former the occasion for 
a graphic description in his Memoirs 1|T of the American manner 

14 h. h. HEMING; The History of the Catholic Church in Wisconsin, p. 570. 
Milwaukee, 1895-8. 

15 Ibid., p. 570. 

16 Ibid., p. 584. 

17 Page 59. 


of building with logs, a process which interested him greatly. 
Two other churches had successively replaced this, the second 
being a handsome brick structure with graceful spires and artistic 
interior. Near this was the large school, opened in September 
1893 with six Sisters and an enrollment of three hundred pupils, 
under the direction of Sister Herman Joseph O'Gorman. 

Three years later, Reverend Mother Agatha, urged by Bishop 
Messmer to begin an academy for girls, secured the grounds and 
monastery formerly belonging to the Good Shepherd Sisters. 
Here a beginning was made on September 29, 1896, with nine 
students. In six years, the building could no longer accom- 
modate those who applied for admission; and in 1902, the Su- 
perior, Sister Mechtilda Littenecker, was authorized to purchase 
property on Astor Heights, an exclusive residence district, for 
a new academy. One hundred and ten pupils were registered 
there in the fall of 1903 ; and in 1905, the school was accredited 
to the University of Wisconsin, having attained great efficiency 
through the efforts of Sister M. Sacred Heart Egan and Sister 
Irene O'Hara. Another academic building was found necessary 
in 1 910, and provided gymnasium, auditorium, larger laboratories 
and additional class rooms, doubling the capacity of the academy. 

Negaunee and Ishpeming — Indian names signifying respec- 
tively low and high — two prosperous cities in the northern penin- 
sula in Michigan, received communities of Sisters from Caron- 
delet in 1882 and 1884. The former, separated by Teal Lake 
from the dense pine forests on the north, untravelled except 
by hunters of bear and wild fowl, was the central depot for the 
iron and copper mines of Lake Superior. Its Catholic population 
consisted of French, Irish, and Germans, to which was added 
in the early days of the mining industry a small sprinkling of 
English converts. Sister Philomene Joyce was in charge of the 
first band of five teachers who opened St. Paul's school in 
September 1882. Large sodalities, organized by the pastor, 
Reverend Frederic Eis, later Bishop of Marquette, prepared 
the way for the success of the school, which registered three 


hundred and sixteen pupils, nearly all the Catholic children in 
Negaunee. A rival to St. Paul's in numbers and success was 
St. John's at Ishpeming, also a center for the copper industry, 
three miles distant from Negaunee along the Michigan roads. 
Six Sisters were sent to Ishpeming in September 1884, and under 
the successive direction of Sister Mathilda, Sister Concordia 
Horan and Sister Agnes Rossiter, the school became in time an 
important factor in the educational system of the city. 13 Worthy 
of remark, apart from the zealous support given the school from 
its inception by the good Catholic people of Ishpeming, was the 
cooperation with the Sisters of the public school authorities 
and teachers. 

The old St. Ann's parish in Hancock, having grown rapidly, 
was divided into St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's, the latter for 
the French and German population. In the former was the 
school begun in 1866; and for St. Joseph's parish a school was 
commenced in 1888 and supplied by Sisters sent from Carondelet 
by Reverend Mother Agatha. The last of the Michigan schools 
which she undertook was St. John the Baptist's at Menominee 
in 1902. In Marquette, on February 17, 1903, the coldest day 
of an unusually cold winter, fire broke out in the chapel wing of 
the academy, where numerous improvements had recently been 
completed. The intense cold and the freezing of the water 
mains hindered the firemen in their efforts to save the convent, 
and it was completely destroyed. The pupils were taken to the 
building on the convent grounds from which the orphans had 
recently been removed to Baraga, and which now furnished a 
residence for Sisters and boarders. The officials of Marquette 
placed at the disposal of the community an entire floor of the City 
Hall, where classes were resumed and continued for two years. 

By that time was completed the Baraga School, a monument 
in brown stone to Bishop Baraga, erected by the parish and com- 
pletely equipped for elementary and academic work for both 

18 rezek, History of Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette Houghton, 
Mich, 1906, vol. II, p. 245. 


boys and girls. At the laying of the corner-stone on November 
i, 1903, the fiftieth anniversary of the saintly Baraga's consecra- 
tion, Marquette showed its appreciation of the long labors of 
the Sisters since in 1871 they had opened their school in the old 
Ursuline Academy. Four thousand people, including the City 
Council and prominent business and professional men, were 
present at the ceremony, which was performed by Bishops Eis 
of Marquette and Messmer of Green Bay. 

In August 1883, a community of four Sisters, accompanied 
by Reverend Mother Agatha, left Carondelet for Denver to take 
charge of St. Patrick's School in what was then North Denver. 
Early as the season was, the travellers were snow-bound for 
forty-eight hours in Kansas. In North Denver they found 
fewer than a dozen houses scattered along mud roads, and sur- 
rounded by wide, uncultivated stretches of country. A com- 
bination church and school was still in an unfinished condition; 
and the temporary church, built of upright planks, let in wind 
and rain. Here, the morning after their arrival, with umbrellas 
raised to keep out the weather, the Sisters heard Mass ; and then 
in a heavy snow storm, drove through wild gorges and rocky 
passes to Central City, where they enjoyed for three weeks the 
hospitality of the small community at St. Michael's Convent then 
in charge of Sister Prudentiana Shine. St. Michael's, perched 
on the side of the mountain, was attended by miners' children, 
hardy little mountaineers, who could enjoy the experience of a 
night spent on pallets by blazing fires in the class rooms, when 
cut off by blizzards from all possibility of reaching their homes. 
On September 29, the Sisters returned to Denver, and while 
Sister James Stanislaus Rogan and one assistant organized the 
classes — a total of forty-nine pupils — Reverend Mother, as the 
self-appointed manager of the culinary department, awaited the 
arrival of Sister Adele Hennessey from St. Louis to accompany 
her on a visitation of the Arizona missions. Like most of the 
schools which had small and unpretentious beginnings, St. 
Patrick's grew and prospered with the growth of the city; and 


in 1893, the Sisters in Denver welcomed another colony sent from 
the Mother House to St. Francis de Sales' School, averaging 
three hundred pupils. In 1887, St. Thomas' School at Newton, 
and in 1898, the Sacred Heart School at Campus, both in Illinois, 
received communities from Carondelet. 

The reputation of the Congregation reached Mexico, and in 
the early nineties there came to Reverend Mother petitions for 
Sisters from the Bishops of Leon, Pueblo de los Angeles and 
Oaxaca, in whose dioceses peculiar difficulties confronted Cath- 
olics in the matter of education, and charitable institutions under 
Catholic auspices were practically unknown, owing to the re- 
strictions placed by the Government on native communities. 
In the spring of 1892, Mother Julia Littenecker and Sister 
Monica Corrigan were sent by Reverend Mother on a preliminary 
visit of investigation to Mexico, and reported conditions favor- 
able in Leon, where elementary schools for poor children were 
desired, and also in Oaxaca, where the venerable Bishop Gillow 
had made preparations for secondary schools for girls. In both 
places, the civil authorities were bitterly anti-Catholic. Before 
arrangements were completed in Carondelet for sending Sisters 
to these distant fields, complications arose in Mexico which 
caused the abandonment of the project, leaving as the only result 
of protracted negotiations between the ecclesiastics of that coun- 
try and the authorities in Carondelet, a voluminous correspon- 
dence which throws interesting side lights on the unenviable posi- 
tion of the Church in Mexico under the Constitution of 1857. 

As a pleasing outcome of the Sisters' extended visit, and an 
evidence of the fertility of the field which they were obliged to 
leave untilled, a number of young Spanish girls of good families 
became students at the academy in St. Louis ; and others, led 
by the grace of religious vocation, sought and obtained admission 
into the novitiate, becoming useful and edifying members of 
the Community. The membership of the Congregation was 
further increased in the spring of 1898 by the arrival from 
Ireland of a large number of capable young girls, the majority 


of whom remained; and in 1900, a small community of diocesan 
Sisters of St. Joseph, 19 who had settled in Oklahoma at the 
request of Monsignor Ketcham and were conducting Nazareth 
Academy in Muskogee, followed the advice of Bishop Meers- 
chaert and applied to the Mother House in St. Louis for affilia- 
tion. They were received, and their boarding and day schools 
then came under the jurisdiction of Carondelet. 

On the outbreak of the Spanish- American War in 1898, Rev- 
erend Mother was called upon for army nurses; and the eleven 
Sisters whom she sent to serve in that capacity were delegated 
to the Second Division of the Volunteer Army, then in training 
at Camp Hamilton, near Lexington, Kentucky. Sister Liguori 
McNamara, for many years Superior of St. Joseph's Hospital 
in Kansas City, Missouri, was in charge of the unit which left 
Carondelet October 28, 1898, for Camp Hamilton, and which 
consisted of Sisters Irmina Dougherty, Bonaventure Nealon, 
Delphine Dillon, Rudolph Meyers, and Raymond Ward, of the 
St. Louis Province, and Sisters Thecla Reid, Julitta Carroll, 
■Blandina Geary, Florentia Downs, and Aloise O'Dowd, ex- 
perienced nurses from the hospitals in St. Paul. On October 5, 
they took the oath of allegiance to the United States at Camp 
Hamilton, a city of tents, where, in temporary hospitals, six 
hundred troops were suffering from typhoid and malaria. Of 
the one hundred nurses in charge, forty-eight were religious, 
the Sisters of Charity from Emmitsburg and the Sisters of the 
Holy Cross having preceded the Sisters of Saint Joseph. 

To Sister Liguori and her band, though they were accustomed 
to sick duty in hospitals, army life at first proved a novel ex- 
perience; but they soon learned to obey taps and bugle calls, 
and in the midst of hardships, found many consolations. Their 
convent was a tent; and in its temporary chapel, Mass was said 
daily by the Reverend chaplain of the Twelfth New York Regi- 
ment, which formed part of the division. Day and night the 
Sisters relieved one another in the wards, their labors sweetened 

J 9 From Brooklyn, New York. 


by the kind and helpful intercourse of the communities, one 
with the other, and rewarded by the restoration to health of by 
far the greater number of their patients. Many of these were 
mere boys, who had volunteered with ardor; but before their 
valor could be put to the test, were overcome by the insidious 
foes of fever and nostalgia. All were full of gratitude for the 
least service that rendered their surroundings more homelike. 
From Kentucky, on the breaking up of Camp Hamilton, 
the Sisters of Saint Joseph were transferred on December 1 to 
Camp Gilman in Georgia, and in the beginning of the New Year, 
to Matanzas, Cuba. Before leaving for the latter place, they 
were visited by Reverend Mother, who, with Mother Seraphine 
Ireland of the St. Paul Province, left St. Louis immediately after 
Christmas for Georgia. The two superiors spent several memor- 
able days in camp with the Sisters before the division started for 
Charleston, South Carolina, its point of departure for Matanzas. 
This city was reached January 3, 1899, just after the sur- 
render of the port. In Matanzas, the Sisters assumed charge 
of a government hospital, fitted up in an old Spanish mansion 
overlooking the bay, where they continued their work of mercy 
until the middle of April 1899, caring for scores of typhoid 
patients, all of whom recovered. On April 1, a young civilian 
died, a victim of yellow fever in a violent form. He had been 
received at the hospital and placed in the care of Sister Liguori, 
who was afterwards quarantined for three weeks in a tent on 
the flat roof of the hospital building. On April 22, there being 
no further need of their services in the Volunteer Army, the 
Sisters resigned their commission and returned to Carondelet. 
They were urged to remain and direct an orphan asylum which 
the United States military authorities in Matanzas wished carried 
on by Americans. To this project, Reverend Mother would not 
consent; nor was it desired by Archbishop Chapelle, recently 
appointed Vicar-Apostolic of Cuba, who wisely desired to effect 
no immediate changes in existing conditions. 20 

20 Spanish War Correspondence. Oct 5, 1898 to April 22, 1899. 


After her return from Cuba, Sister Liguori was sent to take 
charge of a hospital in Hancock, Michigan. This had been for 
three years under a community of Sisters who had failed to 
make it a success ; and at the urgent request of the Administrator 
of the Marquette diocese, Reverend Mother reluctantly took the 
property. The first years were difficult ones for the staff of 
six Sisters, who, in cramped quarters and with poor equipment 
had to make suitable provision for patients and restore the con- 
fidence of physicians and surgeons. To increase their trials, a 
trapper brought from L'Anse for treatment in the summer of 
1900 developed smallpox, which was communicated to four 
other inmates of the hospital. These were placed in quarantine 
in the long-unused pest house, a five-room frame building on the 
outskirts of the city, Sister Liguori and Sister Delphine accom- 
panying them as nurses. During their five week's isolation, the 
two Sisters and their patients received great sympathy and kind- 
ness from the people of Hancock, who continually provided them 
with comforts and conveniences. Two Sisters from St. Patrick's 
convent in the city, where Sister Baptista Montgomery was Su- 
perior, walked every day to the improvised hospital, and from 
the opposite side of the country road which the quarantine regula- 
tions did not permit them to cross, sent cheering messages to the 
voluntary prisoners. 

God rewarded the unselfishness of the Sisters and their faith- 
ful devotion to duty in the face of danger. Success and 
patronage came their way, and good friends were not wanting. 
In August, 1903, ground was broken for the new St. Joseph's 
Hospital on one of the most healthful and beautiful sites of 
Hancock, fronting Portage Lake. Sister Liguori 's long ex- 
perience enabled her to plan well, and a four story Renaissance 
building of brick and sandstone, with attractive pillared entrance 
and complete interior equipment for a limited number of patients 
was dedicated on June 5, 1904. The Mayor and city officials 
of Hancock were among the throng of citizens whose attendance 


at the ceremony testified their appreciation of the good accom- 
plished by the Sisters in the preceding five years. 

The last important work undertaken by Reverend Mother 
Agatha was the erection of Holy Family Chapel in Carondelet, 
the corner stone of which was laid on October 15, 1897, by 
Archbishop Kain of St. Louis. To the building and furnish- 
ing of this, she devoted the closing years of her life. The 
chapel is late Romanesque in style, the lofty arches of the ceiling 
supported on ornate Corinthian columns. An ambulatory runs 
around three sides of the clerestory, beneath which, as a 
unique feature, are the Stations of the Cross in round medal- 
lions, forming part of the decorative scheme. In the sanctuary 
are three marble altars, the main one being the gift of Mary 
Gillick of St. Louis, mother of the architect. A marble altar 
rail, presented by Mrs. Louise Sauer, encloses the transepts, the 
north one of which is the Martyrs' Chapel. In the south tran- 
sept is a memorial altar in black and white marble, above which 
is a sculptured panel representing the death of Saint Joseph. 
This and the statues of the Apostles set around the walls of the 
ground story and the Holy Family group over the main altar, 
were done by Joseph Sibbel of New York. Bishop Eis of Mar- 
quette was the donor of a fine pipe organ, and many other friends 
of the Congregation deemed it a privilege to contribute to the 
noble edifice, a monument to Reverend Mother Agatha's zeal for 
the beauty of God's House. She had, herself, saved for years 
gold ornaments and jewelry, given up to her by different Sisters 
at their entrance into the novitiate ; and this was utilized in the 
making of a chalice, an exquisite bit of workmanship, which, 
a little larger than ordinary size, contains four hundred and fifty 
pennyweight of pure gold, and is set with opals, amethysts, 
topazes and diamonds. Three months of continuous work on 
the part of engravers produced beautiful designs, symbolic wheat 
and grapes in green and gold, and initials outlined with gems. 

In Holy Family Chapel was celebrated the golden jubilee of 


Reverend Mother's profession. The fiftieth anniversary of that 
event fell on October 15, 1902; but the humble Superior-General, 
in order to avoid any demonstration in her honor, such as she 
knew the Sisters were preparing to make, quietly left the Mother 
House in the early fall of 1902 for an extended visitation of the 
province. On her return in February 1903, the postponed 
celebration took place, honoring Reverend Mother and with her 
Sister Mary Frances Thone, her companion of 1850. The first 
of the three days' services was a Solemn High Mass appropriate 
to the occasion in Holy Family Chapel on February 5, the feast 
of Saint Agatha, followed in the afternoon by the academy 
student's jubilee entertainment, a splendid rendition of Gaul's 
oratorio, Ruth, introducing Biblical scenes and characters. On 
the afternoon of February 6, the Alumnae presented a classical 
drama, The Vestals; and an elaborate musical programme on the 
following day at the Convent of Our Lady of Good Counsel 
closed the festivities, which were attended by the Archbishop of 
St. Louis, Most Reverend John J. Kain, and a number of clergy, 
as well as hundreds of Sisters and other friends of Reverend 
Mother. Reverend Mother Mary Bernard Elliot, Superior of 
the Sisters of Mercy in Vicksburg, Mississippi, an alumna of 
the Carondelet Academy, with her companion, Sister Mercedes, 
was the honored guest of her Alma Mater during the celebration. 
For two years preceding this memorable event, Reverend 
Mother, who had always enjoyed perfect health, was weakening 
under the activities of her long and laborious life. Never by 
any conscious sign, did she make known her fatigues or ailments ; 
but a complete breakdown in the early spring of 1903 revealed 
her real condition to the Sisters, who then realized that time 
would soon be at an end for her whom they loved so dearly. 
During a protracted illness, her submission to the decrees of 
Providence found frequent expression in: "God's will is best; 
may it be accomplished in me." Away from the heat of a 
St. Louis summer she was taken to the cooler climate of St. 
Paul, where, at St. Joseph's Hospital, she received every care 


h- 1 


and attention ; but all that love and skill could do failed to effect 
a recovery or bring about more than a slight alleviation of her 

In October, she returned to Carondelet; and until the follow- 
ing January, she endured severe physical pain without complaint, 
receiving her Lord daily in Holy Communion, and though con- 
fined to bed, performing privately every spiritual exercise re- 
quired by rule. To the last she desired and enjoyed the com- 
pany of the Sisters, whom she did not wish kept from her sick 
room even on the plea of giving her thereby rest and quiet. 
On the morning of Saturday, January 16, 1904, the community 
of the Mother House was summoned to answer the prayers for 
the departing soul said by Reverend Bernardine Weis, of the 
Franciscan Fathers of St. Louis; and at half past eleven, Rev- 
erend Mother Agatha, conscious to the end, gave up her strong 
soul without a struggle to its Maker, her death, "a picture of 
moral beauty never to be forgotten by those who witnessed it." 

The solemn Requiem Mass on Tuesday, January 19, was said 
by His Grace, Archbishop Glennon of St. Louis, assisted by 
Reverend Bernardine Weis and Reverend Patrick Dooley as dea- 
con and sub-deacon, Reverend Fathers Connolly and McDonald 
as deacons of honor, and Reverend M. S. Brennan master of 
ceremonies. The sermon on the consoling text, "I am the 
Resurrection and the Life," was delivered by Reverend Patrick 
W. Tallon, a devoted friend of Mother Agatha and her com- 
munity. Members of the Congregation from all part of the 
country, and more than two hundred clergy and religious of 
different orders of men and women filled the sombrely draped 
chapel, down the long aisle of which Reverend Mother's remains 
were borne by six of her life-long friends and co-laborers: 
Mothers Seraphine Ireland and Mary John Cary, Provincial 
Superiors, and Sisters Loyola Ryan, Justine Lemay, Julia 
Littenecker and Liguori Monaghan. 

The interment was at Nazareth, where the services at the 
grave were performed by the resident chaplain, Father Larche, 


assisted by Reverend D. Healy of Sedalia, Missouri, Fathers 
McDonald and Cooney of St. Louis, and the Franciscan Fathers 
Bernardine, Francis and Timothy. The simple headstone which 
marked her last resting place gave no hint of Reverend Mother's 
nobility of soul or of her virtues. These were enshrined in the 
hearts of the poor and the afflicted whom she had so often aided, 
of the orphans whom she had befriended, of eighteen hundred 
Sisters who mourned the loss of a beloved Mother, and cherished 
her memory as a precious legacy. "You are rich in the traditions 
of the past," said her panegyrist, addressing her community, 
"you are rich in the number of your members; but most of all 
are you rich in the example that Mother Agatha has left you." 
Reverend Mother had always disliked and shunned public no- 
tice; but the testimonials to her worth and character which ap- 
peared at her death gave evidence that the great work quietly 
accomplished by her in many fields had not escaped the attention 
of the religious world. A delayed cablegram received just after 
her death from Cardinal Mery del Val communicated the blessing 
in articulo mortis oi Pope Pius X, who was informed of her 
condition by Monsignor Antonini, a friend of the Congregation 
located in Rome. The Alumnse Association of St. Joseph's 
Academy adopted the following resolutions : 

Whereas : It has pleased Almighty God in His infinite wisdom 
to remove from our midst our beloved Honorary President, Rever- 
end Mother Agatha Guthrie ; and 

Whereas: In this dispensation of Providence, the Sisters of St. 
Joseph have lost a truly admirable Superior, a loving and beloved 
Mother, who has endeared herself to all by the simplicity of her life, 
by the tender solicitude manifested not only towards her daughters 
in religion, but towards each of us who came under her care; and 

Whereas: The Alumnae Association has lost a true, tried and 
valued friend, in whose great heart there was room for the best 
interest of every alumna; and who during the long period of her 
wise and beneficent administration has left our Alma Mater an ad- 
mirable example of Christian love and fortitude, and 


Whereas : We desire to give expression to the love and esteem 
which, we entertain for our dear departed Reverend Mother : there- 
fore, be it 

Resolved: That we extend our sincere and heartfelt condolence 
to her bereaved children, the Sisters of St. Joseph, and to all who, 
as pupils of St. Joseph's, have known her tender care : and be it 

Resolved : That the Alumnae Association of St. Joseph's Acad- 
emy hereby give public testimony of the esteem in which Reverend 
Mother Agatha was so worthily held ; and be it further 

Resolved : That we strengthen within ourselves the resolution 
to carry out in our lives the high ideals formed for us by this 
noble Mother, this valiant woman, in whose life were exemplified 
all womanly virtues, that thereby we may the better prove our 
appreciation of her interest in us and our gratitude to God in whose 
presence we confidently hope one day to be gathered around our 
venerated and lamented Mother; and be it 

Resolved : That these resolutions be spread upon the minutes 
of the association, and that a copy of them be suitably engraved 
and presented to the Sisters of St. Joseph's Academy. 

Mary Quinlan, Chairman 



The first house of the Congregation in the diocese of Albany 
was opened at Oswego, in 1858. This diocese differed widely 
in both social and religious aspects from those in the central 
and northern sections of the country which the Sisters entered 
at an earlier period. Primitive conditions had long since given 
place to modern ones; and pioneer endeavors, to old and estab- 
lished customs. General prosperity followed in the wake of 
internal improvements, the building of roads and canals, milling 
and farming industries. In the Catholic population of eastern 
New York, there had been a steady growth for more than half 
a century, when Albany, successively under the jurisdiction of 
Baltimore and New York since 1789, became in 1847 an m ~ 
dependent see. 

Great tides of immigration in the following decade, much of 
it due to intolerable conditions in Ireland, increased the number 
of Catholics, and contributed to the building of churches and 
the formation of large parishes. The first Bishop of Albany, 
later the first American Cardinal, John McCloskey, came into 
a territory as rich in sacred memories as in historical traditions. 
Missionaries had shed their blood in the country of the Mohawks 
and endured torture and death there that the Faith might live. 
The new prelate was remarkably zealous in spreading the Faith 
for which the martyred Isaac Jogues had suffered at the hands 
of cruel captors, and which had won a gentle daughter, Katarina 
Tegakwitha, from the fiercest of American tribes. Some idea 
of his labors and their success may be gleaned from the fact 

that the twenty-five churches which he found in his diocese in 



1847 had increased in 1861 to one hundred and seventeen, and 
the two parish schools to twenty-seven. 1 

Five of these schools were in charge of the Sisters of St. 
Joseph, who found in Bishop McCloskey during his episcopate 
a staunch supporter and a loyal friend. In contrast to many 
of their western experiences, the Sisters in nearly every instance 
in the East, entered well established parishes with large congre- 
gations and comfortably built schools. In many of these, classes 
for boys and girls under lay supervision were in operation before 
the arrival of the Sisters, who thus began the superstructure 
of Catholic education on foundations already well laid. Children 
flocked to these schools in hundreds, and sodalities, Sunday- 
schools and circulating libraries soon became flourishing institu- 

St. Mary's, in Oswego, was a parish organized by French 
Canadians, whose church, begun in 1848, was consecrated by 
Bishop McCloskey in 1850. Irish and American families came 
in large numbers into the parish, which soon had a dual con- 
gregation, the French members having their own separate hours 
for services on Sundays. A school was commenced in the base- 
ment of the church, and conducted by two English speaking 
teachers, the Misses Halligan and Gilmour. In 1858, the pastor, 
Reverend Joseph Guerdet, secured a building for a parochial 
school, and at his request, six Sisters were sent from Carondelet, 
with Sister Stanislaus Saul as Superior. The other members 
of this first community were Sisters Chrysostom McCann, Pat- 
ricia Pyne, Hyacinthe Blanc, Flavia Waldron, and Eusebius 
Verdin. Flourishing at first, then passing through varying 
periods of struggle and discouragement due to changing condi- 
tions in city and parish, the school maintained a continuous 
existence from the beginning to its present prosperous state. 
In 1905, the first building, after forty-seven years of service, 
was demolished to give place to another on the same site, Sisters 
and children in the meantime assembling in the old church where 

1 shea, op. cit., p. 481. 


classes were conducted for one year under difficulties cheerfully 
borne by all in view of the future's great promise. The new 
St. Mary's was blessed on the first Sunday of September 1906 
by Right Reverend Bishop Ludden of Syracuse, to which diocese 
Oswego then belonged. Eight teachers had been added to the 
original staff of six, and the average enrollment was six hundred 

In July, i860, the second mission of the Congregation in 
eastern New York was established at Cohoes on the invitation 
of Reverend Thomas Keveny. The community consisted of six 
Sisters, Sister Philomene Billex, Sister Flavia Waldron, Dominic 
Fink, Mary de Sales Morrissey, Prudentia O'Reilly, and Mary 
Charles Brennan. The first two were accompanied to Cohoes 
by Mother Saint John Facemaz, then on her way to Rome, as 
stated in a preceding chapter. They reached their destination 
on July 17, and were followed in ten days by the remaining four. 
Five hundred children enrolled in the school, which was opened 
in October under the patronage of St. Bernard. Cohoes was 
in the center of a milling district, and many of the young people 
were employed in factories. For these, evening classes were 
conducted by the Sisters at the convent. A circulating library 
was established and sodalities of the Blessed Virgin, the Holy 
Angels and the Infant Jesus were organized, each with its dis- 
tinctive badge and banner. 

On November 11, i860, less than two months after the open- 
ing of school, Sister Philomene died, and was replaced by Sister 
Angela Hanner, sent from St. Louis, where she had been for 
ten years in charge of St. Vincent's Orphanage. In the fall 
of 1 86 1, a select school numbering forty young ladies was com- 
menced at the convent. A class of four hundred children was 
confirmed in 1862 by Bishop McCloskey, who met the children 
of St. Bernard's a second time in his own city. During a severe 
snow storm in the following winter, Father Keveny, justly proud 
of his fine school, took the pupils to Albany on what was long 
remembered as the "mammoth sleigh-ride." Fifty carryalls 


on runners were filled with happy children; and accompanied by 
pastor and teachers, the long train started for the episcopal city, 
where it was reviewed at the cathedral by Bishop McCloskey and 
his Vicar-General, Father Wadhams. The party was then enter- 
tained at the Cathedral school. Sisters Mary John Cary, Maria 
Joseph Hurley, Clara Denihan and Celestine Degnan, were among 
the teachers who contributed to the future success of St. Bernard's 
School, which was chartered in 1890 as an Academy by the 
University of the State of New York. 

In September, 1861, four schools were opened in the diocese 
of Albany, for which sixteen Sisters were sent from Carondelet, 
leaving there on August 28. Seven of this number were destined 
for Troy, the others for Albany and Syracuse. At Syracuse, 
Salina as it was then called, where the Sisters were invited by the 
pastor of St. John the Baptist's parish, Reverend Michael 
Hackett, the small community arrived on the morning of Sep- 
tember 3, the day on which that zealous priest, described by 
those who knew him as concentrating in himself "all that con- 
tributes to make a perfect man," 2 was being borne to his last 
resting place, his unexpected death having occurred a few days 
before. Under his successor, Reverend Maurice Sheehan, the 
Sisters began their mission in Salina, its material success depend- 
ing for a long time on the fluctuating fortunes of the great salt 
works in which the working population was engaged. Its most 
flourishing period was in 1887, when the school numbered five 
hundred pupils, and the institution was chartered under the 
Regents of New York. Its high school department was later 
abandoned, and the average attendance since has been three 
hundred and thirty in the elementary grades with seven 

Sister Francis Xavier Husey was Superior of the community 
which, on the invitation of Bishop McCloskey, took up its tem- 
porary residence in September, 1861, in an old brick building 

2 History of the Diocese of Syracuse, edited by w.p.h. hewitt, p. 9. 
Syracuse, New York, 191 1. 


on Eagle Street in Albany. With Sister Ephraim Wade, she 
took charge in two upper rooms of the small Cathedral School, 
of the girls and little boys between the ages of six and ten years ; 
and the Christian Brothers taught the large boys. The total 
enrollment was two hundred pupils; and the registry of that 
time contains the names of boys and girls who later distinguished 
themselves in the social, business and professional life of Albany. 
The first girl registered was Mary Lawlor, who afterwards en- 
tered the novitiate in Troy, and was known as Sister Lucina. 
In 1866, the Sisters moved into a new convent on Elm Street. 
With them resided the two Sister teachers of the German school 
in Holy Cross Parish, also commenced in 1861 with a large 
enrollment. In response to a demand for a girls' select school, at 
that time the equivalent of the day academy, additional property 
was purchased on Elm Street in 1872, and a building erected by 
a popular subscription, the Rector of the Cathedral, Reverend 
Patrick Ludden, heading the list with five hundred dollars. This 
school was opened in 1874 with one hundred girls. 

In the meantime, the Congregation had made great strides 
in Troy, and had spread to other parts of the diocese. When, 
in April 1861, Father Joseph Loyzance, of the Society of Jesus, 
requested of Reverend Mother Saint John teachers for St. 
Joseph's parish in Troy, he held out many inducements. The 
congregation there was very large, and its numerous children as 
yet unprovided with other means of obtaining an education than 
that afforded by a neighboring free school under Protestant 
auspices. 3 The Jesuits, having come to Troy with the intention 
of opening a college there, had a large building erected for that 
purpose capable of accommodating more than four hundred pu- 
pils. Here, in September, 1861, the parish school was organized, 
the Sisters' residence near by being a two story brick house of 
the plainest New England type. The school was crowded in 
a short time, and the basement of the church was pressed into 
service for additional class rooms. 

3 Letter of Father Loyzance to Mother Saint John, April 3, 1861, 


Shortly after its opening, the convent in St. Joseph's parish, 
Troy, was selected for the novitiate and provincial house of the 
eastern province of the Congregation, and Mother Agatha Guth- 
rie was appointed Provincial Superior. After an Act of Incor- 
poration by the New York Legislature, secured in 1863 by 
Reverend Mother Saint John on the advice of Bishop McCloskey, 
a piece of property was secured at the head of Jackson Street. 
On this stood a frame house into which the Sisters moved in 
1864; and here on December 8 of that year, the first postulant 
received into the Troy novitiate, Ellen Sheehan of Balltown, 
New York, was given the habit and the name of Sister Alice. 
The novitiate, under Sister Basil Morris as mistress of novices, 
grew slowly at first, and several years elapsed before it attained 
numerical strength sufficient to supply the demands made in the 
East for Sisters. 

In 1862, Binghamton and Saratoga Springs, both ideal as to 
location and surroundings, were provided with Sisters sent from 
Carondelet on the requests of their respective pastors, Reverend 
Fathers Hourigan and Cull. A boarding and day academy for 
girls was commenced in the former place, and a parochial school 
for boys; and two hundred pupils were enrolled in a day school 
in the latter. In September 1864, seven Sisters, with Sister 
Theodora MeCormack as Superior, took charge of St. Peter's 
school in Troy. This was already well organized under four 
lay teachers in one of the largest parishes in the diocese, of which 
the pastor was Reverend James Keveny. The latter had con- 
sulted with Bishop McCloskey on the subject of his school, and 
found the Bishop "well pleased with my preference for the 
Sisters of St. Joseph." 4 In addition to the parish school, which 
numbered four hundred children, a select school for girls was 
organized as in several of the other parishes. The last com- 
munity sent from Carondelet to the eastern province came in 
1869 to Lansingburg, where Reverend Thomas Galberry, an 

4 Letter of Reverend James Keveny to Mother Saint John, January 23, 


Augustinian, a future Bishop of Hartford, organized his school 
under the title of St. Augustine's Free Institute. 

In the meantime, the beloved Bishop McCloskey, raised to the 
Archbishopric of New York in 1865, was replaced by Bishop 
Conroy. With the sanction of the latter, a new provincial house 
was begun in Troy, and brought to completion by Mother Assis- 
sium Shockley, at that time Provincial Superior. To procure 
the funds needed for so great an undertaking as this was in a 
small eastern town in the middle sixties took courage and great 
trust in Providence, both of which were possessed by Mother 
Assissium. She was the descendant on her father's side of an 
old colonial family of Delaware. Her maternal ancestors were 
Quakers, who had emigrated from Pennsylvania to Baltimore 
after the Revolutionary War, and had thence removed to a new 
settlement at Guernsey, Ohio. Here her mother, grown to 
young womanhood, was converted to the Catholic faith by the 
Dominican missionary, Father Fenwick, who, with his nephew, 
Father Dominic Young, was giving missions in that part of Ohio. 

The family was very large, and noted for longevity, two of 
its members attaining to the age of one hundred years. The 
first conversion was followed in the course of time by the entrance 
into the true fold of relatives to the number of fifty. Mother 
Assissium was one of eleven children, and was born at Lancaster, 
Ohio in 1831. She received part of her early training in Cin- 
cinnati, where she also joined the Sodality of the Immaculate 
Conception conducted by the Sisters of Notre Dame. This 
devotion she promoted during her whole religious life, which 
began with her reception of the habit in Carondelet on March 19, 
1857. In the academy, where she was assigned as teacher after 
her profession, she was instrumental in organizing the Sodality, 
which received its diploma of aggregation in 1865 over the 
signature of the distinguished Jesuit General, Very Reverend 
Peter Beckx. 

When she undertook to build in Troy, she confidently invoked 
the aid of St. Joseph, promising that his statue should adorn 


the front of the new convent when finished. Many doubted 
that the statue could be erected without a hostile demonstration, 
as a small remnant of the old Know-Nothing Party was accus- 
tomed each year to build bonfires on the frozen Hudson and 
burn St. Patrick in effigy there. The building was completed 
and the statue placed in position with imposing ceremonies, 
Reverend Clarence Walworth, a well-known Redemptorist of 
Albany, delivering an eloquent address to the assembled Trojans. 
An old resident of the parish, visited on his death-bed the 
following day by the Sisters, lifted emaciated hands in thanks- 
giving that he had lived to see the day when the saints of God 
could be publicly honored without fear of molestation from their 

In addition to the parish school, which soon secured new and 
larger quarters, a private academy for girls was inaugurated 
successfully at the convent in 1868. This, however, with similar 
private, or select, schools at Albany, Cohoes, and St. Peter's in 
Troy, gave place in 1883 to the larger interests of the parish 
schools, which were yearly growing in numbers and importance, 
and which from that time became almost the sole work of the 
Sisters in the Albany diocese. St. Lawrence's in Troy began 
with a large attendance in 1874. In the same year, the historic 
old town of Hudson, and in 1875, Schenectady, of Indian- 
massacre fame, opened their schools, St. Mary's and St. Joseph's 
respectively, to Sisters from the Provincial House in Troy. In 
Schenectady, where the pastor was a converted Hebrew, learned 
and pious, but, singular to relate, with little or no financial 
ability, the second German school in the province was commenced 
and flourished in spite of many discouraging circumstances. 
In 1876, St. Michael's in Troy began its prosperous career in the 
basement of the church built in that parish by the Jesuit Fathers. 
The classes were soon crowded out of those quarters and trans- 
ferred to what was then a very imposing brick school completed 
by the Jesuits just before their departure from the parish. Their 
work was carried on by members of the diocesan clergy, the 


first of whom was Father James Flood. Sister Annunciation 
O'Brien was the first Sister in charge of St. Michael's School, 
which fostered numerous vocations to the priesthood and the 
religious life, and claimed among its past pupils as the years 
went on, many men and women remarkable for loyalty to church 
and state. 

Belonging to the Troy Province in the spring of 1875 were 
one hundred and seven Sisters, having in their care four thousand 
eight hundred and eleven pupils. Mother Gonzaga as Provincial 
Superior had succeeded Mother Assissium, recalled to Carondelet 
in May 1869; and from 1877 to 1882, Mother Teresa Louise 
Crowley, an enthusiastic teacher and student, directed the affairs 
of the province. During this term, in 1879, was established the 
first charitable institution under the Congregation in the East, 
St. Mary's Home in Binghamton, supported at first by voluntary 
contribution, but later by state aid. 

The growth of Catholic and religious sentiment in Troy was 
illustrated in a demonstration on May 22, 1879, such as is rarely 
witnessed, and of which the convent was the center. On that 
date there was placed in the chapel of the novitiate the body 
of the Martyr, St. Theodora, brought from Rome by Reverend 
Mother Agatha in 1877 and given to the Provincial House in 
Troy. For nine days beginning on May 13, it was exposed in 
the Sanctuary of St. Joseph's Church in Troy; and a public 
novena made in honor of the saint was participated in by thou- 
sands. Of the solemn ceremony attending the translation of 
the relics to the convent chapel on May 22, the Troy Press of the 
following day, characterizing it as an impressive contradiction 
of the "idea so prevalent in our day that we have outlived the 
ages of faith," gave a glowing account, which reads in part : 

At four o'clock yesterday afternoon, the block in front of St. 
Joseph's Church was filled with people, and within the portals of 
the church standing room could not be obtained. The altars were 
ablaze with lights and redolent with the fragrance of beautiful 
flowers. The sanctuary was filled with priests, and among them, 


in full pontificals, sat the Right Reverend Bishop McNierney, and 
the chancellor of the diocese, Father Collins of Albany. In the pews 
to right and left could be seen the white cornettes of the Sisters of 
Charity and the black veils of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the white 
dresses of the Young Ladies' Sodality and the blue badges of the 
Young Men's. From the pulpit where he stood, the clear tones of 
Reverend Father Mooney's voice filled the church. With an elo- 
quence born of fervor and sincerity, he spoke of the catacombs 
of Rome, of the sufferings of the primitive Church, of those days 
of eighteen hnudred years ago when the faithful gathered in dark 
chapels in the bowels of the earth to listen to the teachings of a 
Peter or a Paul ; when Popes administered the Sacraments to 
candidates for martyrdom ; when the Church was in her infancy, 
yet strong and enduring as she is today. 

The sermon concluded, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament 
was given ; and then followed a scene which must have recalled 
to the minds of the beholders all that they had read or dreamed of 
early Christian times. Through the opened ranks of the various 
societies, the shrine containing the relics was borne accompanied 
by the Bishop, priests, 5 acolytes, and Sisters, bearing lighted 
candles. The Litany of the Saints was chanted as the procession 
moved slowly through the reverent crowds that lined the streets 
leading to the convent, "and its refrain floated out through the 
open windows long after the last glimmering taper in the line 
had passed from sight." 6 The eager public was later admitted 
to the chapel, where "flowers bloomed on every side, and 
peace and beauty seemed to dwell alike within its hallowed 
walls." 7 

Ten years later, a writer in the above mentioned periodical 
recalled to the minds of its readers "the beautiful May mornings 
and evenings of that novena," when Troy welcomed the stranger 

5 The Jesuit Fathers, Loyzance, Nash, Flynn, Baxter and De Laby, and 
Fathers Collins, Lynch, Mooney, Swift, Connolly, Gavin, Havermans, Han- 
nett, Ottenhues, and Drum. 

6 Troy Press, May 23, 1879. 


saint from across the sea; and he accredited much good accom- 
plished to the intercession of the virgin martyr; for 

When the sweet story of her life became familiar, devotion spread, 
mothers named their little children in her honor, and taught their 
older ones daily to ask her prayers. That she has blessed the house 
wherein she dwells, who can doubt? Quietly, unobtrusively, the 
lives of its inmates go on, the peace of God in their hearts, His 
praises on their lips, and His blessing upon their work. 8 

The schools continued to advance in numbers and efficiency, 
and on all sides the Sisters won friends and patronage. In 
August 1 88 1, at the request of Reverend John P. Mclncrow of 
Amsterdam, New York, six Sisters were sent to his school, 
which had been in operation for several years under secular 
teachers. Sister Genevieve Horine, as Superior, with Sisters 
Columbine Ryan, M. Sacred Heart Dwyer, Stanislaus Vedder, 
Adelaide Melendez and Alice Sheehan, formed the first commu- 
nity of St. Mary's Institute, as the school was called. As such 
it was chartered under the Regents of the University of New 
York, setting in this respect a precedent which was followed 
by all the schools of the province. Its first academic graduates, 
bearing the Regent's diplomas, were sent out in 1885. In 1886, 
Sister Marcella Manifold was appointed Superior, and remained 
in charge of St. Mary's for nineteen years. A deep and untiring 
student, capable of sustained effort, strongly individual and with 
a just estimate of values in character and achievement, Sister 
Marcella infused her own spirit of enthusiasm into pupils and 
fellow teachers, and left nothing undone to continue and expand 
the good work begun by her predecessors. 

In the short space of three years, Mother Mary James Mer- 
naugh, Provincial Superior from 1882 to 1885, won the love 
and confidence of all by her rare gifts and her eagerness in 
contributing by every means in her power to the happiness of 
others. She was in her thirtieth year when placed in the re- 

8 Troy Press, Aug. 10, 1889. 


sponsible position as Superior of a province, and her energy, 
piety and talents gave rich promise for the future; but her 
rapidly failing health in the spring of 188^5 was the occasion 
of her recall to the Mother House in Carondelet, where on 
June 19 her lamented death occurred. Brief as was her regime 
in the East, several important missions were inaugurated under 
her auspices. Six Sisters were sent on January 22, 1883 to 
Glens Falls, which they reached in the midst of a blinding snow- 
storm; but the warm welcome they received was in strong con- 
trast to their rough treatment by the elements. On the feast 
of St. Francis de Sales, a week later, they took charge of the 
boys and girls of St. Mary's parish. The phenomenal develop- 
ment of the school in both grammar and high school departments 
made other buildings necessary; and as the number of children 
increased, the Church itself became too small to hold them and 
their elders. A church building near by belonging to a Methodist 
congregation was secured by the resourceful pastor of St. Mary's, 
Father Curtain, and converted into both auditorium and chapel. 
For thirty years, Sister Florentine Daly, a woman of exceptional 
ability was principal of St. Mary's, contributing to the enviable 
position which it attained as the largest parochial school in the 
Albany diocese. 

In August 1883, Mother Mary James accompanied Sister 
Maria Joseph Hurley and her community of six teachers to 
Syracuse, where, on the invitation of Reverend Joseph Guerdet, 
the French pastor, the same who had welcomed the Sisters to 
Oswego twenty-five years before on their first arrival in the 
diocese, they took charge of a large and splendid school just 
erected in the parish of St. John the Evangelist. This was 
chosen by Bishop Ludden for the Cathedral parish three years 
later, when Syracuse became an episcopal see; and the school 
assumed new importance under the guidance of his Vicar-General, 
Monsignor Lynch, doubling its capacity in five years and estab- 
lishing academic grades chartered under the Regents in 1891. 
In the same year was chartered the Watervliet Academy, also 


inaugurated in 1883 w * tn humble beginnings, and raised to a 
high plane of efficiency through the untiring efforts for many- 
years of Sister Gertrude Conway. 

To the wise government of Mother Mary John Carey, ap- 
pointed Provincial Superior in 1885, was due the advancement 
of the Congregation in the East from that date until her death 
in 1904. Mother Mary John had received the habit at the 
Mother House in 1864, being then in her twentieth year. She 
was sent to the aid of the eastern missions, and after filling the 
office of Superior at St. Bernard's Academy in Cohoes from 
1877 until 1882, she was sent to Troy as Assistant-Provincial, 
proving of invaluable assistance to Mother Mary James until the 
latter 's removal in 1885. Mother Mary John was a zealous and 
humble superior, whose beautiful life was an inspiration to all 
who had the privilege of knowing her. Towards all who sought 
either material or spiritual aid from her, her great heart over- 
flowed with charity, "its motherly instinct making her quick to 
detect pain of mind or body, and prompt to relieve it by every 
means in her power." 9 Her rare judgment, good common 
sense and fine executive ability won commendations from business 
and professional men with whom she had dealings, and by whom 
she was always held in high esteem. 

The special object of her love and care was the novitiate. 
She encouraged religious vocations, and watched diligently over 
the training of the young members, into whose minds and hearts 
she ceaselessly endeavored to instill her own love of Rule and 
religious discipline and her zeal for promoting God's glory at 
any sacrifice. Naturally reserved in disposition, she disliked 
personal notice, which was to her a source of great mortification ; 
but she cultivated friends for the Congregation among the clergy 
and also persons of the world, whose spiritual interests she was 
always ready to serve. Little children she loved tenderly; and 
mindful of their future careers, she spared no pains to further 
the success of the schools and the improvement of the teachers, 

9 Necrology, 1004. 


devoting herself whole-heartedly to building up the institutions 
under her charge. There was no part of the wide field assigned 
her by obedience that did not receive her personal and practical 
attention; and her own many talents were made to yield each 
its hundred fold. 

To the one benevolent institution in the province, St. Mary's 
Home in Binghamton, she added St. Joseph's Home in Troy 
and St. Mary's Hospital in Amsterdam. The former was under- 
taken at the request of the officials in charge of providing for 
the city's poor. These men, finding among Troy's many char- 
ities no place where homeless and forsaken infants were being 
cared for, appealed in 1872 to Mother Mary John. On an 
eminence south of Troy overlooking the Hudson and the sur- 
rounding country, she had secured in 1889 a farm of one hun- 
dred acres, and on this ideal location, called Glenmore, had 
erected Loretto Convent, a retreat for the aged and infirm 
Sisters of the province. A second house on the Glenmore farm, 
a small dwelling, was now thrown open as a temporary home 
for the little waifs, who were brought in such numbers that in 
1895, with the assistance of interested friends, the community 
secured possession of the Winslow Estate, which crowned a 
neighboring hill. Its fine residence was remodelled, and the 
little ones transferred to it from Glenmore in July. 

They had been scarcely five months in their new home, when, 
in December, 1895, it was destroyed by fire. The sympathy of 
the city was extended to the Sisters in their distress, and in so 
practical a manner that in a very short time a large and model 
structure rose on the ruins of the old homestead. Mother Mary 
John superintended the building of the new St. Joseph's Home, 
in which nothing was overlooked that could conduce to the health 
and comfort of the children. It was placed under the city 
Board of Charities, with the agreement that boys and girls to 
the age of eight years would be received, the former to be then 
transferred to the Christian Brothers, the latter to the Daughters 
of St. Vincent de Paul. 


St. Mary's Hospital in Amsterdam, the only one in that city 
under Catholic auspices, established in 1903 through the efforts 
of Reverend Father Browne, pastor of St. Mary's parish, was 
supplied by Mother Mary John with an efficient staff of nurses 
in charge of Sister Mathilda Donovan, whose great charity for 
the sick and suffering eminently fitted her for the direction of 
this work. It had been in successful operation for six years, 
when Right Reverend Bishop Burke of Albany urged on Mother 
Mary John the necessity of hospital work in connection with 
St. Joseph's Home in Troy, where extensive additions were 
being made. His request was complied with, the new institution, 
incorporated under its own special board of directors, serving 
also as a practical training school for nurses. 

Large schools were commenced at St. Patrick's, Troy, in 1889; 
Little Falls in 1890; Hoosick Falls in 1891 ; and in 1893 at 
Syracuse, where St. Lucy's Academy soon increased its original 
staff of six teachers to twenty-two. Saratoga Springs, which 
had maintained a school from 1862 to 1882 and then discon- 
tinued it owing to various adverse circumstances, received a 
community of Sisters again in 1900, Mother Mary John accom- 
panying the band to their destination in St. Peter's parish and 
leaving Sister Clara Denihan in charge. 

These, with other schools of the province, following the 
example of St. Mary's Institute in Amsterdam, the first to secure 
the incorporation of its high school under the State Board, were 
chartered as academies by the Regents of New York University. 
The Cathedral School in Albany, incorporated in 1892, grew to 
enormous proportions under the direction for twenty-four years 
of Sister Rose Aurelia Higgins, frail and delicate in body, but 
tireless in energy, and attained an enviable reputation for ef- 
ficiency; while St. Joseph's Academy in Troy, its charter dating 
from 1896, ranks as one of the largest in the Albany diocese, 
registering over one thousand pupils with twenty-two teachers. 
On the departure of the Christian Brothers from Troy in 1901, 
their classes were taken over by the Sisters, and commercial 


courses inaugurated, fitting many for successful business life. 

For nineteen years Mother Mary John was the central force 
in all these activities. The province developed under her strong 
guiding hand and the influence of her generous heart. Gifted 
with great discernment, she was happy in the choice of Sisters 
for responsible positions, and able superiors aided her on all 
sides, faithfully carrying out her plans and encouraging her by 
their loyal support. Two of her councillors during a great 
part of this time were Sister Esperance Qualey, a woman of 
rare sweetness and strength of character, and Sister M. Annun- 
ciation O'Brien, who remained a member of the Provincial 
Council for over thirty years. In the summer of 1904, Mother 
Mary John was attacked by a serious illness which was a source 
of general anxiety. She herself, however, filled with a great 
desire to live and labor, struggled bravely against increasing 
weakness and disease, and was the last to give up hope. When 
convinced that death was imminent, she accepted it with heroic 
resignation, and yielded up her strong soul on the morning of 
All Saints' Day. 

Her successor, Mother Odilia Bogan, was a woman of charm- 
ing personality, whose sweet disposition and kind heart drew 
others irresistibly towards her. God's will was the strong mo- 
tive power of her life, and she worked towards its accomplish- 
ment with a clearness of vision born of great faith. During 
her ten years' government of the province, she strove to keep 
alive the spirit of zealous devotion to duty infused into it by 
her predecessor. The physical, intellectual, and spiritual interests 
of Sisters and children were subjects of her continual solicitude ; 
and to the promotion of these she bent all her endeavors, too 
broad in her views of life to be discouraged by any trial or 
difficulty. The same story of increasing numbers, added facil- 
ities, and progress towards ultimate success traced by the schools 
up to 1905, was repeated during her decade of office. In 1907, 
Sister Julia Ford was appointed provincial directress of schools, 
and with her wide experience both in New York and in the 


Western States, aided materially in unifying the work of the 
teachers, and in keeping the academies up to the standard re- 
quired by their charters. 

The addition to the school list in 1907 of St. Francis de Sales' 
Academy in Utica, which increased its faculty in ten years from 
five to nineteen Sisters, and of St. Ann's in Albany with an enroll- 
ment in 1908 of six hundred and eleven pupils, brought the 
number of children under the care of the Sisters in the province 
in 1909 up to twelve thousand seven hundred and fifteen. There 
were at this time three hundred and sixty professed Sisters 
belonging to the Provincial House in Troy, fifty-eight of whom 
were located there, together with forty novices and ten postulants. 
The community had outgrown the old St. Joseph's Convent. 
A new novitiate was felt to be an imperative need. Glenmore 
was considered by Mother Odilia and her Council as a suitable 
location; but it was difficult of access. Nearer to the city and 
more convenient was the old ecclesiastical Seminary. 

This, built in 1856 as a Methodist College under the name of 
Troy University, stood on a hill overlooking the city and the 
Hudson, its four tall spires outlined against the eastern sky. 
Loss of patronage followed the outbreak of the Civil War, which 
requisitioned many professors and students of the University; 
and the building, sold for debt in 1862, was bought up by Rev- 
erend Peter Havermans, acting for Archbishop Hughes of New 
York. It was converted by the latter into a Seminary for the 
ecclesiastical province of which he was the head ; and as such, 
under the patronage of St. Joseph, it continued until the opening 
of Dunwoodie in 1896. It remained the property of the Arch- 
diocese of New York, tenanted for a time by a community of 
Dominican nuns, left homeless by a fire that destroyed their 
orphanage at Sparkhill; and later used by the Italians of the 
diocese as a preparatory Seminary. It was sadly in need of 
repair, but Mother Odilia saw its possibilities as a future home 
for her novices ; and though reckoning the cost, which she knew 
would be great, she determined to possess it. Discouraged at 


first on account of the outlay that would be necessary to put it 
in good condition, she gently persisted in her purpose, feeling 
that the investment would be a wise one; and success crowned 
her efforts. 

In 1908, she secured the building, but four years elapsed from 
the date of purchase before the repairs were completed, and the 
finished structure, still to be known as St. Joseph's Seminary, 
was dedicated with imposing ceremonies. These took place on 
December 11, 1912, when His Eminence, Cardinal Farley, blessed 
anew the building first consecrated to its holy purpose by one 
of his illustrious predecessors, Cardinal McCloskey, then Bishop 
of Albany. Bishop Burke was the assisting prelate, and a large 
concourse of priests assembled from all parts of the State. 
Many of these, as well as the Cardinal, had made their studies 
in the old Seminary, and the occasion and the gathering were 
notable. Pontifical Mass, with a choir composed of clergy, fol- 
lowed the dedication; and Monsignor John Walsh, the reverend 
speaker of the day, peopled the historic chapel in retrospect with 
students and professors of olden times, and noted the appro- 
priateness of the Seminary's present use, "where instead of the 
priest, there will be trained the religious teacher, whose influence 
will awaken and guide vocations to the priesthood." He paid 
a graceful tribute to the Sisters of Saint Joseph, so many of 
whose former pupils had received ordination in the sanctuary 
where he now stood : 

We who spent our earlier years with them, and found our voca- 
tions nourished by the purity, beauty and devotedness of their lives, 
know and acknowledge their worth, and rejoice that the home of 
our youth has gone over into the possession of those who prove 
how much they prize it by the colossal sacrifices they have made 
to own and reconstruct it. 

In the reconstruction of the Seminary, the principal features 
were preserved, the exterior of the main building being left 
unchanged except for a coating of cement stucco and the addition 


of a large and attractive entrance. Two annexes at the ex- 
tremities on the north and south were entirely rebuilt, increasing 
the length of the structure to three hundred and sixty feet. The 
interior, which was almost wholly renewed, consisted of spacious 
north, south and central pavilions, connected by intervening sec- 
tions of classrooms, studies and dormitories arranged along 
corridors extending through the building on a north and south 
axis. The chapel, occupying the second and third floors of the 
central pavilion, was kept in its original state, care being taken to 
preserve the old pews, and the carved wooden altars and statues, 
all of Belgian workmanship. 

In February following its dedication, Archbishop Ireland of 
St. Paul, and Bishops McGolrick of Duluth and O'Gorman of 
Sioux City, Iowa, were guests of the Seminary, and during their 
stay visited many of the institutions of Troy and Albany, ex- 
pressing their great appreciation of the results accomplished by 
the Sisters in those places. The first ceremony of religious 
profession in the chapel of the Seminary took place March 26, 
1913; and on April 16 following, one hundred and sixty clergy- 
men, including many bishops and monsignori, assembled to 
celebrate at their old Alma Mater the thirteenth annual reunion 
of the Alumni Association of St. Joseph's Ecclesiastical Sem- 
inary. The venerable Bishop Gabriels, the rector of 1871, pon- 
tificated at the solemn High Mass, and Bishop Nilan of Hartford 
presided over the business meetings. The Association subscribed 
a generous donation for the new novitiate; and a bronze tablet, 
designed by Reverend Francis P. Moore of the class of 1884, 
and inscribed with the names of the founder, patrons and facul- 
ties from 1864 to 1896, was erected on the north wall of the 
foyer. At a similar gathering on May 5 of the following year, 
the opening Mass was celebrated by Bishop Colton of Buffalo. 

Mother Odilia did not long survive the crowning achievement 
of her ten years' successful labors as Provincial Superior. For 
several years she had been a sufferer from a serious heart affec- 




tion, which became acute in the beginning of 191 5. The opening 
months of this year she spent in St. Paul, where experienced 
physicians and skilled community nurses sought, by every 
scientific means known to them, to ward off a fatal disease and 
prolong her useful life. When hope could no longer be held 
out for her recovery, she was brought back by her own request 
to Troy. The private car of John D. Ryan of New York, 
brother of the Superior-General, Reverend Mother Agnes 
Gonzaga, was placed at her disposal for this last long journey, 
which, accompanied by her nurses and other members of the 
community, she made with all possible speed, to the anxious 
hearts awaiting her arrival in Troy. Her death occurred at the 
Provincial House there on April 26, 19 15, in the midst of her 
sorrowing Sisters. Her successor was Mother Irene Tyrrell, 
who, as her loyal and devoted assistant during ten years, had 
given evidence of fine executive ability as well as of a deeply 
religious nature and of true spiritual vision. Mother Irene re- 
signed after two years on account of failing health. 

The number of schools was increased between 1910 and 19 17 
by St. Patrick's in Syracuse (191 1); St. John the Baptist's, 
Troy, (1912) ; Sts. Cyril and Methodius for the Slavic children 
of Binghamton, (1912); St. Agnes Academy, Utica (1913); 
St Anthony's Italian School, Troy (1914); St. Peter's, Rome 
(1915); St. Vincent de Paul's, Syracuse (1915), and St. John 
the Evangelist's, Oswego (1916). A new department of work 
was inaugurated in the Day Home at Albany in 19 17. Under 
Mother Irene's successor, Mother Margaret Mary Collins, St. 
Patrick's School in Utica, St. Francis de Sales in Troy, and the 
College of St. Rose of Lima in Albany were begun. The 
College of St. Rose was established in response to the urgent 
requests of both the clergy and laity of the diocese. With the 
approval and encouragement of its Honorary President, Right 
Reverend Edward F. Gibbons, Bishop of Albany, the Sisters 
obtained a charter from the Board of Regents of the University 


of New York, empowering the college to grant degrees in arts, 
music and science. In the third year of its existence, (1922) 
it enrolled fifty students in freshman, sophomore and junior 



There were eighteen Sisters of St. Joseph in Minnesota in 
1858. These were located in St. Paul and St. Anthony, and 
were conducting two academies, a hospital and two parochial 
schools, under the direction of Mother Seraphine Coughlin, who 
was closely associated with the early growth of the Congregation 
in the North. 

On December 8, 1858, Monsignor Ravoux, Administrator of 
the diocese after the death of the venerable Bishop Cretin in 
1857, assisted at the ceremony in the chapel of the novitiate 
when two postulants, Ellen Ireland and Ellen Howard, received 
the habit of the Congregation and the names respectively of 
Sister Seraphine and Sister Celestine. These young girls were 
the sister and the cousin of John Ireland, future Archbishop 
of St. Paul, whom Monsignor Ravoux at the bidding of Bishop 
Cretin, had accompanied a few years before to the Seminary 
of Meximieux in France. They had been pupils at the academy 
from 1852 to June 1858, when they were among its first grad- 
uates, receiving their graduation honors privately, as at that 
time the institution was not incorporated. They had finished 
the course then taught in English and French, and entered the 
novitiate in September, each in her seventeenth year. Mon- 
signor Ravoux grew eloquent over the ceremony on December 8, 
the first time in St. Paul that two had received the habit on the 
same day. It was also the only occasion of the kind at which 
he presided. 

The successor of Bishop Cretin arrived the following summer 
in the person of Right Reverend Thomas L. Grace, who, imme- 
diately after his consecration by Archbishop Kenrick in St. Louis 

on July 26, started north by the usual means of travel, the 



Mississippi river steamer, and reached St. Paul on July 29. 
Here his arrival was awaited from, early morning by the Cathe- 
dral congregation, assembled on the river bank. When the 
whistle was heard announcing the approach of the boat that bore 
the new prelate, the church bells rang out a great peal, and the 
entire population of the city flocked to welcome him and conduct 
him to his episcopal church. This, commenced by Bishop Cretin 
and pushed almost to completion by Monsignor Ravoux, was still 
unplastered. The bare walls of the interior were decorated for 
the occasion with branches of tamarack, and great boughs of 
tamarack lined each side of the central aisle, up which the Bishop 
was escorted to the altar for a brief address to his assembled flock. 
Bishop Grace lost no time in manifesting the deep interest 
which he, like his predecessor, felt in the organizing of Catholic 
schools. To those above mentioned there had been added during 
the brief administration of Monsignor Ravoux a school for the 
children of the Assumption parish. The German congregation 
there had built a church, but having no school building, they 
were given the use of one of two small brick houses on the hos- 
pital grounds. Sister Radegonda Proff, sent from Carondelet 
in 1858, took charge of this one room school; and in the second 
house, Sister Margaret Sinsalmeyer, who accompanied her every 
day from the academy on Bench Street, taught a free elementary 
school for the girls of the Cathedral parish. The Indian school 
at Long Prairie was closed before the death of Bishop Cretin. 
The officials at the agency raised many difficulties, even refusing 
at times to deliver food and clothing to the children; and the 
Bishop was often obliged to advance the necessary means for 
their support. 1 On the removal of the Winnebagos to a new 
agency at Blue Earth in the extreme southern part of the state 
in 1855, the Sisters returned from Long Prairie to St. Paul. 
Sister Scholastica Vasques, the pioneer of this first Indian mis- 
sion of the Congregation, was broken in health, and was after- 
wards recalled to St- Louis. 

1 Cf., CLARKE, Op. tit., p. 425. 


Bishop Grace soon transferred the girls' free school which had 
outgrown its one-room abode, to the basement of the Cathedral, 
where both boys and girls were placed under the care of four 
Sisters in what was henceforth known as the Cathedral School. 
Seeing the crowded condition of the academy, still occupying its 
primitive buildings on the old church site, he arranged for a tem- 
porary exchange of houses, and the classes were transferred to 
the large stone hospital, the few patients from there being re- 
moved to the school, which was made suitable for their accom- 
modation. The change of quarters proved of great advantage 
to the academy, and the fall term of 1859 began with increased 
numbers. A site for a new building was secured in i860 on 
St. Anthony Hill, then just within the limits of the city, and the 
foundation laid the following year. 

In the meantime, on the establishment of the St. Louis Gen- 
eralate in i860, the academy was made the Provincial House, 
and Mother Seraphine Coughlin was appointed first Provincial 
Superior of St. Paul. Mother Seraphine commenced the new 
academy and novitiate, but did not live to see its completion. 
For several years she had been in failing health, due to the hard- 
ships of pioneer life in the rigorous northern climate. It was 
partly on this account that she had resigned the office of Superior 
in Carondelet when elected to it by the Sisters on the death of 
the revered Mother Celestine Pommerel in 1857. In January 
1 86 1, she drove to the convent in St. Anthony in order to accom- 
pany back to St. Paul an invalid Sister ; and during the long, 
cold ride, heedless of her own comfort, she bestowed all her care 
on her suffering companion. A severe cold which she then con- 
tracted brought on a lingering and painful illness, which resulted 
fatally on August 1, 1861. 

The Sisters of the St. Paul Province sustained a heavy loss 
in the death of their beloved Superior, taken from them in her 
thirty-fifth year. For eight years she had labored untiringly, 
giving herself with zeal and energy to her numerous duties in 
the promotion of both charity and education. To her share had 


fallen many of the wearying experiences and the discouragements 
of early days ; but while her bodily strength remained, her spirit 
kept up unbroken, for she belonged to that period of which 
Archbishop Ireland writes : 

In the Diocese of St. Paul, those days of long ago were pre- 
eminently days of boundless zeal, of ardent faith, of unstinted 
charity, of holiest simplicity, of deepest consecration to the service 
of religion. The first Bishop of St. Paul was the high exemplar 
and leader of all ; the missionaries who stood by him did not fall 
much below his stature; the sheep whom they shepherded partook 
of their spirit. Into such a community came the Sisters of St. 
Joseph, ready, by reason of their exalted souls, to breathe its atmos- 
phere and enrich it with the perfume of their consecrated woman- 
hood. 2 

Mother Seraphine's successor was Mother Stanislaus Saul, 
who had been for three years Superior in Oswego, New York, 
and who did not arrive in St. Paul until April 1862, Sister Helena 
Coerver administering the affairs of the province in the interval. 
In the novitiate during this period were Sisters Agnes Veronica 
Williams, Aloysia Shelley, Mary Pius Sexton, Columba Auge, 
and Aurelia Bracken, and to these were soon added Sisters 
Josephine Gleason, Scholastica Duggan, and Mary Austin Egan. 
Apart from increasing numbers, an encouraging feature of the 
novitiate was the reception into it of the Sisters' own pupils, 
nearly all of the above being former students of the academies 
in St. Paul and St. Anthony. 

At the former when the new Provincial arrived were forty day 
pupils and fifteen boarders, including two daughters of a Sioux 
chieftain, Hole-in-the-Day, who were the cause of much anxiety 
to teachers and pupils during the Sioux uprising in 1862. They 
were visited at intervals by their brother, Ignace, a pupil of the 
Benedictines, who adopted the manner of life which he deemed 
suitable to a royal prince, driving to the convent in a coach be- 

2 archbishop Ireland, Our Consecrated Sisterhoods, p. 7. St. Paul, 1902. 


hind high-stepping horses. He was afterwards assassinated by 
members of his tribe, who resented his advanced ideas. Typical 
of the old and new order of civilization in the North were these 
two girls. Isabel, the younger, spirited and impulsive, was with 
much difficulty persuaded on her entrance into school to part with 
the small and shining bowie knife which she had been accustomed 
to carry about with her, a treasured but dangerous toy. Her 
elder sister, resembling in piety and gentleness another Indian 
maiden, the Lily of the Mohawks, became an apostle of the 
Faith among her people, loved and reverenced by them. 

In the progress of the pupils Bishop Grace took a lively 
interest, conducting the oral examinations quarterly in the pres- 
ence of parents and friends assembled in the study hall, and 
distributing the honors at the annual closing exercises on the 
lawn. In July 1863, the central wing of the new academy was 
completed. Built of yellow limestone, and three and a half 
stories in height, it presented an imposing appearance to the 
residents of St. Paul at that time. Sunny parlors flanked the 
entrance hall, which led to the library and music room combined, 
and from which the stairway ran to chapel and class rooms on 
the second floor and dormitories on the third. The convent was 
later enlarged by successive additions, extensive wings being 
built at the sides and full fourth story in the center; but in the 
fall of 1863, it was amply sufficient for both novitiate and aca- 
demy. The latter was conducted for the next few years almost 
exclusively as a boarding school, the location being considered 
too far out of the city for day pupils to attend. 

In 1866, two Sisters were sent from the academy to establish, 
under the title of the Immaculate Conception, the first Catholic 
school in Minneapolis, at that time distinguished from St. An- 
thony Falls, now East Minneapolis; and in the following year, 
at the request of Father Genis, three Sisters took charge of the 
district school at Mendota, occupying the old home of Minnesota's 
first Governor, General Warren Hastings Sibley. This eventu- 
ally gave place to a parish school, from which, as it was indif- 


ferently supported, the Sisters were withdrawn in 1879. The 
incorporation of an orphanage for girls in St. Paul in 1869, and 
of another for boys at Minneapolis in 1878; the opening of the 
Guardian Angels School, Hastings, Minnesota, in 1872, of St. 
Michael's Convent, Stillwater, in 1873, and of Holy Angels' 
Academy in St. Paul in 1877, attest the growing strength of the 
province under the successive Provincial Superiors, Mother 
George Bradley 3 from 1865 to 1868; Mother Antoinette Ogg 
from 1868 to 1870; Mother Mechtida Littenecker, who served 
in that capacity for two terms, from 1870 to 1876; and Mother 
Agnes Veronica Williams, whose administration was limited to 
the period between 1876 and 1879. 

The Provincial Superior from 1879 to 1882 was Mother Jane 
Frances Bochet. She was a native of France, where she received 
the habit of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 1861. Coming to 
Carondelet in 1866, she was sent a few years later to St. Paul, and 
there filled successively the office of mistress of novices, Superior 
at St. Anthony's Convent, and at St. Joseph's Hospital in St. 
Paul. With large hearted generosity she united shrewd financial 
ability and a capacity for doing great things in an unobtrusive 
way. She won the love of the Sisters everywhere and left no 
means unprovided for training the teachers and young Sisters. 
Sister Ignatius Loyola Cox was appointed directress of studies 
in the novitiate, where the course embraced Christian Doctrine, 
reading, grammar, rhetoric, mathematics, natural philosophy, 
astronomy, elocution, writing, drawing and music Sister Celes- 
tine Howard, as supervisor of schools in the province, presided 
over the annual summer institutes for teachers and novices, and 
pressed into service the best community talent to supplement the 
efforts of specially trained teachers and lecturers from outside. 
Among the latter was Professor Primm, director of music for 
many years in the public schools of St. Paul. 

In 1882, Mother Jane Frances was succeeded by Mother 

3 Mother George Bradley left the Carondelet Congregation in 1868, and 
formed a diocesan Community, whose Mother House is located in Cleveland, 


Seraphine Ireland. A short time after her profession of vows 
in i860, young Sister Seraphine was called to the Mother House 
in Carondelet, where from 1863 to 1868 she was a member of 
the faculty of St. Joseph's Academy. Here in 1863, after the 
siege of Vicksburg, came on a brief and memorable visit the 
chaplain of the Fifth Minnesota Infantry, Father John Ireland, 
tall, gaunt, and wasted with fever, on his way to the more genial 
climate of his northern home; and on his request in 1868, Sister 
Seraphine was sent by Reverend Mother Saint John to the aca- 
demy in St. Paul. At the time of her appointment to the pro- 
vincialship, she was the beloved Superior of the Girls' Orphan 
Asylum in that city. Here the children had found in her a 
mother than whom their own could not be more tender; and the 
Sisters, a leader who set before them a constant example of the 
most attractive and imitable virtues. 

A prayerful woman of deep faith, an optimist whose enthu- 
siastic endeavors could transmute dreams and theories into prac- 
tical and shining realities, Mother Seraphine possessed many of 
the characteristic traits of her distinguished brother, who, made 
Bishop of St. Paul in 1884 and its Archbishop in 1888, was, 
until his death in 1918, her helper and adviser, the kindest of 
fathers to the Sisters of her province, their sympathetic friend, 
and the active cooperator in all their undertakings. In brother 
and sister were predominant the same vigorous personality, sim- 
plicity of life and manner combined with far-visioned intellect 
and resolute will, the "warm friendliness of the Irish heart that 
could be all to all," 4 and the same noble striving to attain a 
lofty ideal. For nearly four decades, Mother Seraphine, as 
Provincial Superior, bent all her great energies towards guiding 
into ever-widening channels the currents of intellectual and 
Spiritual activity set in motion by her predecessors in St. Paul. 

Shortly after the arrival of the first Sisters in Minnesota in 
1 85 1, they were honored by a passing visit from the Dominican 
missionary of the North, Father Mazzuchelli, who welcomed 

4 Carr, op. cit., p. 975. 


them to the new field in which they were the pioneers. Stepping 
to the door of their humble abode and extending his arms, he 
called the attention of the Sisters to the great and beautiful coun- 
try awaiting the results of their good work, and bade them show 
the world their fervor, capacity, and zeal for God's glory. 5 
Their successors heard a similar strain in the burden of advice 
always given by Archbishop Ireland to the Sisters in St. Paul, 
and eloquently expressed by him on the fiftieth anniversary of 
their foundation in that city: 

With the love of Christ abiding in you and urging you, dare to 
rise ever higher than the world around you could rise ; surpass it 
in all the achievements that it honors and compel it in the name 
of its own ideals to acknowledge that earth is made more beautiful, 
that its power for good and great things is increased when the 
workers are inspired and guided by religion. 6 

It was in pursuance of such an ideal that Mother Seraphine 
trained and directed her Sisters, procured for them the best 
advantages in secular knowledge and helped them to build up 
schools, hospitals and orphanages to the highest point of efficiency. 
When she was appointed Provincial Superior in 1882, there were 
eight houses of the Congregation in the northern province, and 
depending on them for teachers were also ten parochial schools, 
five of which were in St. Paul : the Assumption, St. Louis 
(French), St. Mary's, and St. James'. The teachers for these 
resided at the academy, and were driven to their respective des- 
tinations daily in the convent bus by John Delaney, from boy- 
hood to old age the faithful retainer of St. Joseph's; but the 
distances to be covered were great, and as the number of schools 
continued to increase, the need was felt of a home more con- 
veniently placed for the teachers. 

This was secured in 1884, when a small frame residence near 
St. Joseph's Hospital was rented for the purpose. To help 
finance the undertaking, classes in music and embroidery were 

5 Diary of sister francis joseph ivory, p. 7. (MS.) 

6 IRELAND, Op. cit., p. l6. 





I— I 


















organized. Sister Celestine Howard was appointed Superior, 
and owing to the zeal and skillful management of this admirable 
woman, the small community was able in 1885 to buy a per- 
manent home centrally located on Exchange and Cedar Streets. 
Here for two years a Kindergarten was conducted in addition 
to the music and art classes. All of these proved popular, and 
the building was enlarged to. meet rapidly growing needs. This 
marked the unpretentious beginning of St. Agatha's Conserva- 
tory, one of the foremost and best known institutions of its 
kind in the Northwest. New housing facilities were again and 
again required as the classes increased in numbers and St. 
Agatha's activities expanded, the last of the buildings being a 
seven story main structure erected in 1909. An enrollment of 
five hundred students in 19 10 was doubled in the succeeding 
decade, and at present exceeds eleven hundred, attesting the 
popularity of the courses and the thoroughness of the instruction 
given. Teachers trained in Florence, Rome and Munich, as 
well as in the best schools of the United States, contributed 
to make St. Agatha's an ideal home of true Christian art; and 
Sister Celestine, as Superior of the institution until her death 
in 191 5, gave inspiration to the work which she had inaugurated. 
A lover of art, Sister Celestine was eminently fitted to be its 
patron and promoter by reason of her fine appreciation, and a 
keen critical judgment developed through years of patient and 
persevering study of the masters. It was as community super- 
visor of parish schools, however, that her greatest influence was 
exercised, and she "accomplished much for the welfare of the 
Church in behalf of Catholic education." 7 She infused her own 
progressive spirit and her devotion to the interests of religion 
into her Sisters, and impressed upon all the dignity and impor- 
tance of their profession as moulders of the hearts and characters 
of little children. Her own preference, as a most successful 
teacher, was for Christian Doctrine; and in frequent glowing 

7 Obituary notice of Sister Celestine Howard in Acta and Dicta vol. IV, part 
I, p. 176. 


discourses to the teachers, she stressed the necessity of imparting 
in a thorough and attractive manner this best and highest of 
the sciences. The conducting of Catechism classes in newly 
formed parishes became a noteworthy feature of the Sisters' 
work; and as schools increased in number, the teachers from 
St. John's, St. Patrick's, the Blessed Sacrament, and St. Peter's 
were added to those already domiciled at St. Agatha's. Other 
parochial schools taken by the Sisters were St. Mark's and St. 
Vincent's, attended from St. Joseph's Academy, St. Luke's and 
St. Michael's, the last named dating from 1888. 

In the meantime, many of the out-lying districts were opening 
up institutions under the care of the Sisters from St. Paul, and 
centers were established in other dioceses of Minnesota, and in 
North and South Dakota. In 1885, St. Mary's Academy at 
Graceville, Minnesota, was inaugurated, St. Joseph's at Waverly 
in 1886, St. Mary's Hospital in Minneapolis in 1887, and St. 
John's in Winona in 1888. This, undertaken at the request of 
the Bishop when the newly erected building was given up by 
its original owners on account of financial difficulties, was re- 
tained until 1894. At Graceville, which came into existence as 
a part of Archbishop Ireland's colonization scheme in Minnesota, 
in addition to the academy, the Sisters taught for ten years the 
Indian girls from a reservation in South Dakota, receiving them 
under a government contract which held in force until the break- 
ing up of the contract schools in 1896. The establishment of 
St. John's Academy at Jamestown, North Dakota, in 1890 was 
followed by the opening of boarding and day schools at Anoka 
in 1904, Bird Island in 1897, Marshall and Avoca in 1900, Fulda 
in 1 90 1, Le Sueur and Ghent in 1902, all in Minnesota, and all 
except those in Ghent and Avoca of academy grade, with flourish- 
ing high-school departments. 

St. John's Academy, Jamestown, the first mission of the 
province outside of Minnesota, was opened at the request of 
Right Reverend Bishop Shanley, by whom was blessed the first 
building on December 8, 1890, and two succeeding ones built 


in 1899 and 1907 to meet new conditions, St. John's having 
developed under the direction of Sister M. Irenaeus Egan, Su- 
perior from 1892 to 1 9 10, into one of the largest private institu- 
tions in the North. Its efficiency was recognized by the business 
men of Jamestown, who donated Academy Park in 1906, and 
by John Reilly, a private citizen of Gladstone, North Dakota, 
whose gift of three hundred and twenty acres of improved land 
is the prospective site of a new St. John's. At Bishop Shanley's 
invitation, also, six Sisters — trained nurses — took charge in 
April 1900 of St. John's Hospital in a healthful and beautiful 
location of Fargo, North Dakota. Begun on a small scale, the 
hospital grew rapidly, and in three years new and larger quarters 
were required. Equipped to meet every demand of modern sur- 
gery and medicine, St. John's increased its executive staff to 
twenty Sisters, caring for an average of fifteen hundred patients 
yearly and directing a training school of fifty nurses. 

The erection of St. Mary's Academy at Bird Island in a rich 
agricultural section was an inducement to farmers to secure land 
in neighboring districts, and proved to be an influential factor 
in the upbuilding of the place. The first request for an academy 
at Marshall, Minnesota, came to Mother Seraphine from the 
non-Catholic business men of that city, who, through the Mayor, 
Virgil B. Seward, a capable attorney, expressed themselves as 
fully aware of the "usefulness of your great society to our 
state," 8 and "very anxious to secure the benefits to our com- 
munity." 9 The seat of Lyon County, Marshall was, like Bird 
Island, in a fertile farming region with excellent railroad facil- 
ities. Many nationalities were represented in its population of 
four thousand, only a small proportion of which, however, was 
Catholic. All were public spirited, thrifty and progressive, and 
for the most part possessed of means and culture. 

Twelve prominent citizens with the pastor, Monsignor Guillot, 
welcomed Mother Seraphine and her companion on their initial 

8 Letter of Virgil B. Seward, to Mother Seraphine, Apr. 10, 1879. 

9 Ibid. 


visit of investigation May 30, 1899, an d offered to provide 
facilities for both hospital and school purposes. The school 
proposition only was accepted; and on March 1, 1900, a small 
community was sent to make a beginning, property having been 
purchased in the meantime, from a Methodist named Mahoney, 
who alone among his compatriots had been opposed to Catholic 
interests in Marshall. Music and art classes were conducted 
by the Sisters until the following September, when pupils to the 
number of forty were regularly enrolled in the future St. Joseph's 
Academy. Boarders were received in 1901, and in 1902, the 
first high-school subjects were made a part of the curriculum. 
To the full academic course in 191 2 was added a teachers' course 
leading to certificates of the first grade. As a result, many girls 
who had finished in the consolidated and country schools applied 
for admission; and Catholics from states to the south and east, 
attracted by these advantages, sought permanent homes in Mar- 

While the Congregation was thus extending its influence in 
Minnesota and the neighboring states, the academy at the Pro- 
vincial House in St. Paul, adapting itself to changing require- 
ments, maintained through succeeding years the reputation for 
breadth and thoroughness which it had established early in its 
career. Until the eighties it was devoid of many conveniences 
which are now necessities, but which then were luxuries in the 
Middle West, and within the reach only of the affluent. Wood 
fires, for which fuel was carried by armfuls up long flights of 
stairs, and water sent to upper floors by hand-worked pumps 
were accessories to comfort not looked upon as dearly purchased 
by such labor; and neither the lack of better appliances nor the 
strict discipline in vogue was a drawback to this oldest institution 
of its kind in Minnesota, to which pupils came in large numbers 
from the surrounding country. Daughters for the most part of 
prosperous northern farmers, they were clear-minded and ener- 
getic, good students, and actively interested in all that made for 
civic and industrial improvement. The positive element in the 


character of the school is indicated by the note of color empha- 
sized in the sombre student uniform, bright blue veils for chapel 
use and a dash of crimson on the dark out-door suits. 

The course of study, as outlined in the Year Book of 1876, 
included besides the elementary branches taught in what were 
designated as primary and intermediate divisions : " Mathemat- 
ics, Prose and Poetical Composition, Rhetoric, Sacred and Pro- 
fane History, Astronomy, Botany, Intellectual and Natural 
Philosophy, Chemistry, Book-keeping, French, German and 
Latin; Music on Piano-forte, Melodeon and Guitar; Vocal Mu- 
sic; Drawing and Painting in Oils, Water Colors and Pastel; 
Plain and Ornamental Needle-work, Tapestry, Embroidery, Hair 
and Lace Work, and the making of artificial Fruits and Flowers." 
Religious instruction at this time was given by Reverend John 
Shanley, future Bishop of Fargo, whose powers of story-telling 
in illustration of a dry text made him an interesting and popular 
teacher. To young Bishop Ireland, appointed coadjutor to 
Bishop Grace in 1875, fell the task of conducting the oral exam- 
inations so formidable in anticipation to the students, but occa- 
sions of merriment at times, when the distinguished examiner 
relieved the long-sustained tension of a quiz by so manipulating 
his questions as to force a ridiculous or incongruous answer 
from some eager and unsuspecting miss. 

During forty-three succeeding years, this "athlete of God 
and of His Church" 10 manifested the keenest interest in the 
educational work of the Congregation in the North. 

No Michel Angelo ever had vocation so noble, so blessed, as he 
who moulds the youthful soul, 

is the manner in which he gave beautiful expression to his sen- 
timents before the National Education Association in July, 1902 ; 

Each pupil is the Parian marble, rough-hewn and unformed, and 
every word, every act of the teacher is the stroke of the chisel 
falling upon the animate block to reveal the glory of the angel. 

10 Louisville Record, Dec. 26, 1918. 


Thus ever pointing the way to higher levels, he actively 
cooperated with the Sisters in the attainment of desired goals, and 
drew into sympathy with them and their ideals his own intimate 
and personal friends, many of whom from time to time were 
the honored guests of St. Joseph's Academy, each visit of theirs 
a delight and frequently a rare intellectual treat to both faculty 
and student body. Few of these occasions, numerous in the 
passing years and of singular brilliance in various instances, 
stand out with greater prominence than the welcome given in 
the late autumn of 1887 to His Eminence, Cardinal Gibbons. 
"It was a wonderful event in our lives, and required the very 
best that we could put forth," wrote one of St. Joseph's girls 
many years later. Flaming banners of gold and scarlet, gar- 
lands of red oak leaves, of the Virginia creeper, of sumach and 
the cardinal flower, Wagnerian overtures rendered by a youthful 
orchestra, were but faint means of expression for the enthusiasm 
with which the newly created Cardinal of the Church in America 
was received. An impressive figure in his robes of office and 
attended by Bishops Ireland, Cotter and McGolrick, His 
Eminence addressed all in pleasing vein, and bestowed a blessing 
on Sisters, novices and students. 

The academy numbered at this time one hundred resident 
pupils, and was reaching out for room. As early as 1890, in 
furtherance of a project for greater expansion, a suburban prop- 
erty was secured between St. Paul and Minneapolis for the erec- 
tion of a college and academy. Here, on what came to be 
known as Academy Heights, the lure of the future and the 
pleasures of anticipation led the Sisters to construct the pro- 
posed buildings in imagination many times before the desired 
end was finally realized. Periods of business depression con- 
sequent upon crop failures or the ravages of some insect plague of 
agriculturists were reflected in diminished numbers in the class 
rooms and in the community's depleted income. Vexing school 
and national problems in the nineties occupied the attention of 
the Archbishop, upon whose advice and cooperation much de- 


pended; and another decade passed before the long deferred 
plans became realities. 

It was a fruitful interval, however, during which there was 
no abatement of the general enthusiasm for greater development. 
The academy under the direction successively of Sister St. Rose 
Mackey from 1884 to 1895, and Sister Hyacinth Werden from 
1895 to 1904, gave glowing proofs of its efficiency, being recog- 
nized by the University of Minnesota in 1896 and placed on its 
list of accredited schools. The Sisters continued their prepara- 
tion for college work by attendance at various American univer- 
sities in courses leading to degrees; and two of their number, 
Sister Hyacinth Werden and Sister Bridget Bohan, gathered 
information abroad relative to higher education for women in 
France, Germany and Belgium. Before returning to America, 
they made an exhaustive study of the organization and practical 
working of the St. Anna Stiff, the Catholic Sisters' College of 
Miinster in Westphalia, finding therein encouragement and 

Plans and curricula were completed; and in 1904, Derham 
Hall, the first building of St. Catherine's College group, was 
erected through the generosity of a pioneer resident of Rose- 
mount in Minnesota, Hugh Derham, whose daughter and ward 
were both members of the community in St. Paul. On January 
5, 1905, the preparatory department was inaugurated by the 
transfer to Derham Hall of the boarders from St. Joseph's 
Academy. The latter, under the supervision of Sister Eugenia 
Maginnis from 1905 until 1919, continued with singular success 
as a day school, registering in 19 10, three hundred and twenty- 
five girls, two hundred of whom were high school students. 
Cardinal Vannutelli, a guest at St. Joseph's on September 20 
of that year, addressing the pupils in the presence of a distin- 
guished retinue, 11 impressed on their minds the importance to 

11 Archbishops Ireland, Christie of Portland, Oregon ; Bishops Lawler ; 
Busch of Lead, South Dakota; O'Connell of San Francisco; Scannell of 
Omaha; Carroll of Montana; Lennihan of Great Falls, Montana; Monsignori 
Le Croy and Lega; Father Wilby and Count Vannutelli. 


themselves and to their country of implanting deep in their lives 
the spirit of religion. He congratulated them on their great 
opportunities, "with Sisters devoted to your spiritual growth and 
your moral well being"; and assured them, with characteristic 
Italian enthusiasm, that on his return to Rome he would tell the 
Holy Father of his own pleasure at their cordial welcome to the 
representative of the Sovereign Pontiff. 

At the College of St. Catherine, in the meantime, the basis 
of a thorough classical training was laid by an efficient staff of 
twelve Sisters with Sister Hyacinth Werden, a woman of ripe 
scholarship and with a genius for organization, as Superior. 
Sister Hyacinth had labored unceasingly for years in the cause 
of higher education, and gave to the establishment of St. Cath- 
erine's the benefit of her talent, her fine judgment and wide 
experience. She enlisted among her assistants distinguished 
lecturers and teachers from the two neighboring institutions, 
St. Paul's Seminary and the College of St. Thomas, among them 
the Reverend Doctors Heffron, future Bishop of Winona, Ryan 
now of the Catholic University of America, Seliskar, McGinnis 
and Schaefer, the last three still members of the faculty. The 
first courses offered were Religion, Ethics, History, Chemistry, 
Physics, Botany, English, Dramatic Art, German, and the 
Classical and Romance languages. 

The classes for the first six years, a crucial period, were small 
and were kept with difficulty through freshmen and sophomore 
years. The idea of the Catholic College for women was still 
novel, and required time to mature, especially in the Northwest, 
accustomed from pioneer days to measure real values by great 
practical results. Confident of ultimate success, Sister Hyacinth 
and her undaunted faculty pursued their way through obstacles 
to the higher levels, encouraged at each step by the wise counsel 
and fatherly interest of the venerated founder of the institution, 
Archbishop Ireland, who with splendid optimism, his eyes on the 
future, visioned a greater St. Catherine's, and lavished on the 
young plant his fostering care and the wealth of his rich ex- 





»/ 4 

, 5: *^ 




perience. It grew and flourished in an atmosphere of hope and 
enthusiasm, of renewed efforts and unconquered wills. St. 
Catherine's offered its first fruits to Heaven, when two of the 
original band of six students who had registered in 1905, 
Adelaide Jennings and Margaret Doyle, answered the call to a 
higher life, and as Sister Catherine and Sister Madeleine, entered 
the seclusion of St. Joseph's novitiate. 

In 19 13, the baccalaureate degree was conferred on the first 
graduates, Gertrude Malloy and Marguerite McCusker. During 
the same year, on a portion of the one hundred acre campus, 
was erected on classic lines designed by Masqueray, architect 
of St. Paul's Cathedral, St. Joseph's Training School, to which 
was removed from its old quarters the novitiate normal as an 
affiliated institution; and in 19 14, the imposing College Hall 
and Auditorium were completed, followed in more recent years 
by Csecilian Hall, the group fully equipped to cover sixteen 
departments of college work, including music, art, and all the 
womanly accomplishments comprised by home economics. In 
19 1 6, St. Catherine's was standarized by the North Central 
Association of Colleges and by an examining board from the 
University of Minnesota. It was next placed on the accredited 
list of the Catholic Educational Association and the Association 
of American Universities, with membership in the Association of 
American University Women. 

Sister Frances Clare Bardon, a prominent figure for years 
in the educational work of the Congregation in the North, a 
woman of gracious presence, wide attainments and practical 
wisdom, succeeded to the presidency of the College in 191 1 ; and 
the appointment in 19 14 of Sister Antonia McHugh as dean, 
gave St. Catherine's a leading factor in its later development. 
Sister Antonia, through her untiring efforts and with the support 
of a highly trained faculty maintained the ideal set forth by the 
institution from its inception, to cultivate in its students "intel- 
lectual vigor, breadth of outlook, clearcut moral convictions, and 
a strong religious life," and thus "to produce women whose 


qualities of mind and heart will enable them to do their share 
of the world's work in a gracious, generous, beneficent spirit." 12 

That these aims have made a general appeal to Catholic 
womanhood is evidenced by the fourteen hundred and ten senior 
college students whose names have been inscribed in St. Cath- 
erine's register since 191 1, representing besides fifteen states in 
the Union, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, and the Philippine 
Islands ; and by the influence exerted through its alumnae, seventy 
per cent of whom are engaged in the teaching profession. The 
impetus given to the intellectual life of the province by this, its 
central institution, is reflected in the number and character of the 
schools and academies which were commenced after 1905, 13 
and which added an aggregate of three thousand children to the 
large number already being taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph 
in the North. The establishment of St. Michael's Hospital at 
Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 1908 and Trinity Hospital at 
Jamestown in the same state in 19 16, increased by two thousand 
four hundred and forty-three the number of patients cared for 
by them annually. 

A casual survey only of these records is sufficient to arouse 
in the mind of the reader an appreciation of the tribute paid by 
the late Metropolitan of St. Paul to religious communities, 

the Church's choicest and most valuable agencies. Were its Sis- 
terhoods to disappear, there would be missed from the harvest field 
of the Church legions of workers whose places could never be filled ; 
there would, be missed from the pages of the Church's story feats 

12 Bulletin of the College of St. Catherine, pp. 1-6. St. Paul, 1922. 

13 These are, in Minneapolis, Minn.: Notre Dame de Lourdes (1906), St. 
Margaret's Academy (1907), Ascension, Pro-Cathedral and St. Stephen's 
Schools (1917) ; and in other parts of Minnesota: St. Mary's Academy, 
Morris (1910) ; St. Mary's Convent, White Bear (1913) ; St. Aloysius 
Convent, Olivia (1914) ; St. Mary's School, Le Sueur Center (1914) ; St. 
Peter's School, St. Peter (1914) ; in North Dakota: St. Michael's Convent 
and St. James' Academy, Grand Forks (1916) ; and in South Dakota, Im- 
maculate Conception Academy, Watertown (1910). 


and triumphs of religion and charity that have won for it the love 
and admiration of the ages, and have ever been among the most 
striking evidences of its divine life and power. 14 

14 Ireland, op. cit., p. 10. 



In 1870, seven Sisters of Saint Joseph went from Carondelet to 
Arizona. The subject of sending a community to this sparsely 
settled territory was first broached to Mother Saint John Face- 
maz, Superior-General, in 1868 by Bishop Lamy of Santa Fe. 
In June, 1867, one of his priests, Father Coudert, had made the 
trip from New Mexico to Carondelet to beg Sisters for Las 
Vegas, where he was about to build a school; and this petition 
Bishop Lamy seconded, asking teachers also for Tucson, then 
part of his diocese under the jurisdiction of his vicar, John 
Baptist Salpointe. 

Arizona was a missionary country, of which Tucson, with 
three thousand inhabitants, more than half of whom were Cath- 
olics, 1 was the capital and largest city. Tucson was one of 
numerous settlements of the Pimeria Alta, first explored by 
Father Eusebio Kino of the Society of Jesus, and referred to by 
him in his diary of November 1, 1699, as San Cosme del Tucson. 2 
Like other missions of Arizona and California, it was attended 
by Jesuit missionaries from Mexico until the suppression of the 
Society of Jesus in 1767. The establishment of a military post 
there by the Spanish government authorities of Mexico in 1781 
as a protection for the Christian Indians against the attacks of 
roving Apaches, brought white settlers, who soon had their own 
church under the patronage of St. Augustine. After the de- 

1 Letter of Bishop Lamy to Mother Saint John. June 26, 1868. 

2 Kino's Historical Memoir of Pimeria Alta, A Contemporary Account 
of the Beginnings of California, Sonora, and Arizona, by Father Eusebio 
Francisco Kino, S. J. Edited by Herbert eugene bolton, ph.d, vol. I. p. 
206. Cleveland, 1919. 



parture of the Jesuits, the mission was attended by Franciscan 
Fathers until their expulsion with the Spaniards in 1827 by the 
Mexican republican Government, which two years later, began 
the spoliation of the mission lands. Tucson was irregularly 
attended by priests from Sonora, Mexico, until 1859, when as 
American territory it was annexed to the See of Santa Fe. 

Father Macheboeuf, afterwards Bishop of Denver, spent four 
months in Arizona as Bishop Lamy's vicar; and finding only 
ruins of churches in Tucson and its environs, made use of a 
private house given him for a place of worship by Francisco 
Solano Leon, a prominent citizen of the former place. After the 
departure of Father Macheboeuf in 1859, Fathers Donato 
Reghieri and two Jesuit Fathers, Mesea and Bosco, filled in the 
interval until August 1864, when Bishop Lamy called for volun- 
teers among his few priests, the Arizona missions being con- 
sidered dangerous on account of hostile Apaches. The two 
priests selected went as far as Las Cruces, but, finding no one 
willing to risk his life by conducting them farther, returned to 
Santa Fe. 3 In 1866, Father Salpointe, who had also volun- 
teered, was appointed to go to Tucson, and in company with two 
priests and a young layman for a teacher, left Santa Fe January 
6 under a military escort furnished by General Carleton of Fort 
Marcy. They reached their destination February 7. 

Father Salpointe finished a church commenced by Father 
Donato and began the erection of a school, his lay teacher, Mr. 
Vincent, in the meantime conducting classes for six months at 
the rectory, a house consisting of one room and an alcove and 
furnished "with three chairs, a writing table and a pigeon-hole 
case for papers," the alcove serving as a store room for the 
rolled-up blankets that did duty at night for beds. 4 The dif- 
ficulty of obtaining the lumber needed for the roofs of the two 
buildings, as related by Bishop Salpointe, further illustrates the 

3 Bishop salpointe, Soldiers of the Cross, p. 241. Banning, California, 
*Ibid., p. 252. 


trials of the missionary, and points to the sacrifices made by the 
good people of Tucson for church and school : 

The lumber was prepared in the Huachuca mountains, about 
eighty miles from Tucson, where there is an easier access to the 
pine woods than at Santa Rita. But as a proof that the works of 
God must be tried in many different ways before success can be 
reached for them, there arose another trouble. The lumber was 
ready, but the wagons could not be easily procured to send at once 
for it, and the Apaches were only waiting for the departure of the 
workmen from their camp to burn the lumber that had been prepared. 
It became necessary to look for wagons, and to send them before 
the coming of the workmen, to move the lumber a distance of twelve 
or fifteen miles to Camp Wallen, where it would be put under the 
care of the soldiers until some good opportunity could be found to 
have it brought to Tucson. This opportunity was offered by the 
firm of Tully and Ochoa as soon as they had to carry provisions 
to Camp Wallen. The so long wished for material was brought to 
Tucson towards the end of 1868 and delivered, free of charge, 
where it was needed. 5 

Reverend Mother Saint John had refused the request made in 
1868 by Bishop Lamy, her reason being that the existing schools 
required all the Sisters at her command. Father Salpointe, how- 
ever, was persistent. Appointed Vicar-Apostolic of Arizona on 
its separation from the diocese of Santa Fe, he proceeded to 
France, where he was consecrated at Clermont on June 20, 1869. 
From Lyons, and again from Clermont, he renewed his petitions 
to Mother Saint John, and expressed his intention of stopping 
at Carondelet on his return, hoping that Sisters would be ready 
by that time to accompany him to Tucson. He arrived at St. 
Louis in the fall, but was obliged to depart without the desired 
community. He had secured a promise, however, from Mother 
Saint John, that Sisters would be sent after the annual pro- 
fession of vows in March. 

On April 20, 1870, a courageous band of volunteers set out 

5 Ibid., p. 254. 


on their long journey. The members of the band were Sister 
Emerentia Bonne foy, as Superior, Sisters Ambrosia Arnichaud, 
Euphrasia Suchet, Monica Corrigan, Hyacinth Blanc, Maxime 
Croisat, and Martha Peters. They followed the route marked 
out for them by Bishop Salpointe, from St. Louis to San 
Francisco by rail — the transcontinental road to the Pacific from 
Omaha was just finished — thence by ocean steamer to San Diego, 
where he expected to meet them and conduct them overland to 
Tucson. They were accompanied by Mother Saint John and 
Sister Lucina Crooks to Omaha, entertained on the way by a 
young Indian violinist who was among their fellow passengers. 
Delayed over night at Omaha, they went to the Convent of the 
Sisters of Mercy, where they heard Mass on the morning of 
April 23, and after receiving the blessing of Bishop O'Gorman, 
resumed their journey. 

Willingly as they had made the sacrifice, they felt keenly the 
parting with Mother Saint John, who with her companion, left at 
this point to return to Carondelet ; but they found much along the 
route to interest them and occupy their attention. In view of 
snow-capped mountains that seemed to touch the sky, over deep 
chasms down which they dared not look, across winding rivers 
fed by impetuous mountain streams, they sped along until they 
skirted Great Salt Lake, where an attractive view of city gardens 
and orchards on one side contrasted with rocks and barren 
mountains on the other. On April 26, they reached Battle 
Mountain in Nevada, where the heat was oppressive; and on the 
following morning, "cold as a Canadian March," passed a dreary 
place called Cape Horn, their train rounding the edge of a sheer 
precipice that fell three hundred feet below them. At seven 
o'clock that evening they reached San Francisco, five days out 
from Omaha. They had made friends on the train, among them 
a worthy couple of San Francisco, who, when that city was 
reached, saw them safe on their way to the Convent of the Sisters 
of Mercy. 

For three days they enjoyed the hospitality of Reverend 


Mother Gabriel and her community, and on April 30 took pas- 
sage on the ocean steamer Arizona for San Diego, which they 
reached on May 3 after a pleasant voyage. Here, to their dis- 
may, there was no one to meet them, the announcement of their 
coming sent from Carondelet to Bishop Salpointe, as they after- 
wards learned, having been delayed. On May 7, they left San 
Diego by wagon trail for Arizona City, at the junction of the 
Colorado and Gila rivers, a six days' journey. "About ten 
o'clock, we passed a white post that marks the southwest bound- 
ary of the United States," wrote Sister Monica in her diary of 
that day. "We dropped a few tears at sight of it, then entered 
Lower California. At noon, we halted and took lunch, twelve 
miles from San Diego. Sister Maxime and I went in search 
of gold. Seeing quantities of it, we proposed getting a sack and 
filling it. Just think, a sack of gold! — but we soon learned by 
experience that 'all that glitters is not gold.' We camped about 
sunset, made tea and took our supper off a rock. All were 

The following day, evidently still in high spirits, they cele- 
brated the Patronage of St. Joseph by plucking the white flowers 
of the yucca and bearing them in procession on foot in advance 
of their conveyance, picturing themselves in Egypt with their 
holy patron. By noon they reached a ranch and accepted the 
bounteous dinner kindly offered them by the owner. These 
solitary ranches were distributed at intervals along the trail, 
but afforded few conveniences beyond a cooling drink of water 
and the opportunity of resting in the shade of the numerous 
small buildings. The next few days their route lay across 
mountains and over desert land, and they suffered much from 
fatigue, from intense heat in the day time and cold at 

For several miles, the road is up and down mountains. We were 
obliged to travel on foot. At the highest point it is said to be 
four thousand feet above the level of the sea. We were com- 
pelled to stop here to breathe. Some of the Sisters lay 


down on the road side, unable to proceed any farther. Besides 
this terrible fatigue, we suffered still more from thirst. Before 
proceeding further, I shall give you a brief description of the 
place. We were going south. Before us lay the American 
Desert, forty miles long. On the right lies a great salt lake, sup- 
posed to have been a part of the ocean, which being hemmed in by 
mountains could not recede with the other waters. On the left, 
rise ugly mountains of volcanic rock and red sand. I wished Sister 
Euphrasia to make a sketch of this scene, but she said it was not 
necessary then, as she would never forget the appearance of it. 
Sister Maxime named it the "Abomination of Desolation. 6 

On the morning of May 13, they crossed the Colorado River, 
their wagon driven on to a tow-boat, which narrowly escaped 
being overturned when the horses took fright at the motion of 
the boat, drawn to the opposite shore by ropes. At Arizona 
City, or Yuma, the Sisters were met by Reverend Francis 
Jouvenceau, Vicar-General of Tucson, who was sent by the 
Bishop on receipt of Reverend Mother's delayed letter, to accom- 
pany them over the remainder of the journey. He came pro- 
vided with fresh horses, tents, plentiful provisions, and a boy 
to prepare their meals, cooked in the open over fragrant pine 
wood fires, all of which thoughtful preparation for their comfort 
was very gratifying to the travel-worn Sisters. The next week 
was comparatively pleasant, as they traveled at night, pitching 
tents and resting during the heat of the day. After passing 
through the valley of the Pima Indians, they were met on May 24, 
by a detachment of United States cavalry, sent from the fort 
at Tucson to conduct them through a dangerous pass near 
Picacho Peak in which a massacre by the Apaches had recently 
occurred. Citizens of Tucson and miners from the neighboring 
regions joined the cavalcade during the day, and with much 
shouting and noise, intended to deceive any lurking natives as 
to their number, they made the pass in safety. Sister Monica 
thus describes this portion of their journey: 

6 Diary of Sister Monica, Apr. 9, 1870. 


At noon we reached the station where the remainder of the es- 
cort from Tucson was awaiting us, sixty-five miles from the city. 
There was great rejoicing among them; but as they could speak 
neither French nor English, we did not understand them. At five 
o'clock in the afternoon, we set out again, every one in fine spirits. 
All passed off pleasantly until midnight. We were then approach- 
ing Picacho Peak, where the Apaches are accustomed to attack 
travellers. A fearful massacre had been perpetrated there only 
a week previous. The road winds through a narrow pass in the 
mountains, where the Indians conceal themselves and throw out 
their poisoned arrows at the passers-by. The place is literally filled 
with graves, sorrowful monuments of savage barbarity. Each 
one prepared his firearms, even good Father Francisco. The citi- 
zens pressed around our carriage. The soldiers rode about like 
bloodhounds in search of prey. In going through the pass, the 
horses began to neigh, which is a sure indication of the proximity 
of the savages. "The Indians ! The Indians !" was echoed from 
every side. Whip and spur were given to the horses — we went 
like lightning, the men yelling all the while to frighten the natives. 
The novelty of the scene kept us awake. We traveled in this way 
until four o'clock in the morning.' 7 

The entrance of the Sisters into Tucson, which was reached 
on the evening of May 26, was spectacular. They were met three 
miles outside the town by a mounted escort and a long train of 
citizens, estimated at three thousand, "some discharging firearms, 
others bearing lighted torches, all walking in order, with heads 
uncovered. The city was illuminated, fireworks in full play. 
Balls of combustible matter were thrown in the streets through 
which we passed. At each explosion, Sister Euphrasia made 
the Sign of the Cross." 8 Amid the ringing of bells, the tired 
travelers, worn out with the hardships of their five weeks' jour- 
ney, reached the convent, where they were welcomed by the 
Bishop and by the women of Tucson, who, after serving a sub- 
stantial repast, left them in quiet possession of their new home. 

7 Ibid., May 25, 1870. 
6 Ibid., May 26, 1870. 


This adjoined the Cathedral of Saint Augustine and was built 
after the fashion of the country, with thick adobe walls, earthen 
floors, and roof of sage-brush and cactus interlaced on pine 
rafters and covered with mud. It was one story in height, and 
its ten large rooms opened into many courts, cool corridors and 
vine covered porches. A double row of trees along one side 
protected from sun and the frequent sand storms. 

The population of Tucson was largely Mexican, and as has 
been said, almost entirely Catholic. Spanish was the prevailing 
language, and proved easy of mastery to the Sisters, the majority 
of whom were French. Both English and Spanish were em- 
ployed in the school, which, as the Bishop had anticipated, was 
soon filled to overflowing with eager and docile boys and girls, 
and became popular with Catholics and non-Catholics alike as 
a boarding and day academy. Such it remained until 1885. 

Several bands of Sisters had come from Carondelet in the 
meantime, the first of them arriving in January 1874. Negotia- 
tions begun in the fall of 1873 for the opening of a school at 
the old Indian mission of San Xavier del Bac under government 
auspices called for Bishop Salpointe's presence in Washington, 
D. C. ; and on his way thither he stopped at the Mother House 
in St. Louis, representing to Reverend Mother Agatha while 
there the advisability of having a larger number of Sisters and 
more mission houses in the far West. Three Sisters accom- 
panied him on his return journey, which was made overland by 
way of Denver. During a brief sojourn in that city, then a 
frontier town, Bishop Macheboeuf, as a former missionary in 
Arizona, gave the Sisters the benefit of his experiences among the 
Papagos in the vicinity of Tucson. Leaving Denver on Decem- 
ber 9, our travelers were able to make only a small part of their 
long journey by rail. They were obliged to go by stage over 
Raton Pass to Trinidad in southern Colorado, thence to Tucson 
in the same manner by way of Las Vegas and Santa Fe. The 
stage was a double wagon such as was then employed in caravan 
traffic, the bows covered with gray blankets; and one of the 


horses was discovered to be blind. A snow storm overtook 
the wayfarers on the afternoon of December 13. They lost 
the trail, but came upon a sheep ranch, where two shepherds 
gave up to them their own small hut. This contained two 
rooms, one of which was half filled with grain. In the other 
were warm buffalo robes and a fire, beside which they made 
themselves comfortable, resuming their journey the following 1 
morning in the snow. 

On December 16, they reached Trinidad, receiving a welcome 
there from the Sisters of Charity; arrived at Las Vegas in time 
to spend the Christmas holidays with the Sisters of Loretto, 
whose guests they were again at Santa Fe. Their arrival in 
Tucson at the end of January after a long and wearying jour- 
ney, was hailed with delight by the small community there. 
The school at San Xavier's had been commenced the preceding 
month by three of the Sisters, whose places at St. Augustine's 
were now filled by the new comers. 

These ten Sisters were the only ones in all of Arizona; and 
their number was diminished on August 1, 1874, by the death 
of Sister Emerentia, Superior at the academy. Her demise 
was the climax to a life of great self sacrifice. She became 
a member of the community in France in 1856, and three years 
later volunteered for the American missions, coming with others 
of her community to Carondelet. Again a volunteer in 1870 
for the West, she bore bravely the great fatigue of the journey 
and the privations of the new life, all of which eventually under- 
mined her health. Advised by physicians to leave Arizona for 
a sojourn at a health resort in Mexico as the only means of 
prolonging her life, and urged by them and by the Bishop to 
do so at once, she insisted on first applying to the Superior- 
General in Carondelet for permission. This was dispatched 
immediately; but owing to the slow transmission of the mes- 
sage, it reached Tucson only after Sister Emerentia's edifying 

Reverend Mother had foreseen from the first the impossibility 


of direct communication with these far distant missions, and 
the difficulty of filling vacancies there while the inconveniences 
of travel were so great as to try the courage of even the most 
stout-hearted. In the spring of 1876, Sisters Basil Morris, 
M. Berchmans Hartrich, Mary Rose and Eutichiana Piccini, 
sent from the Mother House to reinforce the western mission- 
aries, reached San Francisco by rail, boarded there an ocean 
steamer on May 6, which, after stopping at various ports on 
the Pacific coast, rounded Cape San Lucas into the Gulf of 
Lower California, and arrived at the mouth of the Colorado 
River on May 21. A river boat took off the passengers for 
Yuma, which was reached three days later. The remaining 
three hundred miles into southern Arizona were covered by 
stage, and required ten days of tedious travel over cactus- 
bordered roads which connected the small Mexican rancherias 
dotting the desert thirty or forty miles apart. 9 

To obviate the difficulty of providing Sisters in sufficient 
numbers for the West, Reverend Mother considered the ques- 
tion of a Provincial House and novitiate there, a measure 
strongly advocated by Bishop Salpointe as the most satisfactory 
means of keeping up the schools and other institutions needed 
in his diocese. Accordingly, after arrangements were made 
with the Holy See, a Provincial Superior was appointed in 
1876 in the person of Mother Irene Facemaz, and steps were 
at once taken for the opening of a novitiate. For this purpose 
a beautiful location was obtained on an eminence in the foot- 
hills overlooking the city of Tucson. On the north, the Santa 
Catalina Range and to the south the Santa Rita Mountains, 
enclosing the Valley of Santa Cruz, bespoke in their names 
the Catholic traditions of Arizona, and kept alive the memory 
of. the early Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries. On this site 
a building was soon put up of the prevailing materials, adobe 

9 From the Diary of Sister Berchmans Hartrich, June, 1876. The Southern 
Pacific Road was in operation in 1878 between San Francisco and Los Angeles, 
where train connection could be made for Yuma. But it was not until 
1882 that the entire trip to Tucson from St. Louis could be made by train. 


roofed with sage brush. It was ridiculously small and exem- 
plified poverty in every feature; but it was dignified by the 
name of Mount St. Joseph, and became a home of the happiness 
and peace promised to those who forsake the world's goods for 
the "folly of the Cross/' 

Mother Irene remained but one year in Arizona. She was 
succeeded by Mother Basil Morris, who served one term of three 
years. It was during this time, in 1878, that a small hospital 
was begun in Prescott, then the seat of government in the 
Territory. In 1880, another was inaugurated by Bishop Sal- 
pointe, who bought sixty acres of land opposite Mount St. 
Joseph on the same elevation, and put up the first of the stone 
buildings known as St. Mary's Hospital. It was placed in care 
of the Sisters, but remained under diocesan management until 
after the arrival of Mother Gonzaga Grand, Provincial Superior 
from 1 88 1 until 1890. Mother Gonzaga was widely ex- 
perienced in the affairs of the Congregation. She had been 
closely connected with its general administration, was succes- 
sively superior in many of its large houses, and had governed 
the Troy province for eight years. Calm and serene in manner, 
and remarkable for deep piety and keen spiritual insight, she 
had also acquired practical business methods during her long 
exercise of authority; and with the view of improving the 
hospital conditions, she negotiated with Bishop Salpointe for 
the purchase of building and grounds, which became the prop- 
erty of the Community on October 7, 1882. She then secured 
a desirable place for a convent near the recently erected stone 
cathedral; and here in 1885, she built the new St. Joseph's 
Academy for girls, the old one at St. Augustine's being retained 
as a parochial school for boys and girls. Both schools were 
well patronized, and for such as could not attend either, the 
Sisters conducted Catechism classes at St. Augustine's in English 
and in Spanish. 

In the same year, 1885, Mother Gonzaga, advised by Bishop 
Bourgade, who had succeeded to the see of Tucson, commenced 


at Prescott the pioneer Catholic school in that place, and closed 
the hospital opened there in 1878. There had proved to be little 
need for this hospital, which at the time of its inception, received 
encouragement and financial aid from John C. Fremont, ap- 
pointed Military Governor of Arizona in that year, and from 
his estimable wife, a Missourian, 10 who had known the Sisters 
in St. Louis during the Civil War. One of the first Sisters 
stationed at this institution was Sister Berchmans Hartrich, 
whose death occurred there on June 14, 1879. The pathetic 
scene of her burial is briefly described by Elizabeth Benton 
Fremont, daughter of the Pathfinder: 

There were no hearses in the town, and so the top was removed 
from an army ambulance ; and with General Wilcox and my young 
brother Frank representing my father as leading pallbearers, the 
mournful procession wended its way to the lonely graveyard over 
the hillside, where a rude grave was made, and loving hands covered 
it with wild flowers and blooming cactus. 11 

The academies in Prescott and Tucson, as the only Catholic 
institutions of the kind in central and southern Arizona, rose 
rapidly into favor and prospered. The number of novices re- 
ceived, however, remained too small to meet the need for 
teachers and was recruited from time to time from St. Louis. 
The healthful climate of Tucson made the convent there an 
asset for the Congregation at large; and not a few delicate 
novices received at Carondelet found strength and vigor while 
completing their term of probation at Mount St. Joseph. There 
developed few vocations in the Territory; and largely on ac- 
count of its foreign aspect and primitive conditions, Arizona 
as a place of residence had little attraction for girls of other 
western states who felt the call to a religious life. These went 
by preference to St. Louis, and the admitting and training of 
novices in Tucson was discontinued indefinitely after a religious 

10 Daughter of Thomas H. Benton, Missouri's great Senator. 

11 Recollections of Elizabeth Benton Fremont, compiled by I. c. martin, 
p. 161. New York, 1912. 


profession in March 1890, when five Sisters, the last received 
at Mount St. Joseph, made their vows. The old novitiate was, 
at Bishop Bourgade's request, converted into a home for or- 
phans, where a 'limited number of children, never exceeding 
twenty-five, was received and cared for by the Sisters out of 
their extremely limited resources until the building was de- 
stroyed by a cyclone which swept the state in 1901. 

Academies were begun in the interval at San Diego and 
Los Angeles; a parish school at Florence, Arizona, which was 
short-lived; others in Oakland, Monterey and Oxnard; a deaf- 
mute institute in Oakland; Indian missions at Fort Yuma, San 
Diego (Old Town), and Banning, all in California; and at 
Komatke in Arizona. 

At Yuma, Arizona, was the Sacred Heart School, to which 
the Sisters were first sent from Tucson in 1875. The first 
settlers of Yuma were attracted to it by the discovery of placer 
gold mines in the vicinity; but when these proved less lucrative 
than was anticipated, the seekers after wealth departed; and 
the permanent residents who followed devoted themselves to 
other pursuits. They were home makers, mostly of Spanish 
nationality; and their gardens, orchards and vineyards inci- 
dentally added beauty to a picturesque landscape. In February, 
1 89 1, a great flood occurred, when, after continuous heavy rains, 
the Gila River left its banks, sweeping away all the adobe build- 
ings in its path, including convent, school and rectory, and 
destroying half the business and residence sections of the place. 
The church, on slightly higher ground, was saved by the men 
from a nearby Federal prison, who, under the direction of 
officers, erected around it a protecting levee. The Sisters 
escaped across the Colorado River to Fort Yuma, and from the 
higher level there, watched with regret the submerging of the 
little city and the melting of the walls that held all their earthly 
goods. One piano, which the eager but excited rescuers seized 
on as the convent's most valuable asset, was carted by them in 
triumph across the bridge. Much distress followed the flood, 




which left three hundred people homeless. The Sisters did 
not return, though the school was later rebuilt. 

The other institutions of Arizona began a remarkable develop- 
ment in the nineties which kept pace with the growth and 
prosperity of the State. In 1893, Sister Fidelia McMahon was 
appointed Superior of St. Mary's Hospital, which until then, 
consisted of the original stone building put up by Bishop Sal- 
pointe. Sister Fidelia remained twenty years in charge of the 
institution, and under her supervision, two large wings, the 
first erected in 1894, were added to the main building, more 
than trebling the size of the hospital. In 1900 was constructed 
the unique Sanatorium, a perfect rotunda, encircling an open 
court and graden, with all rooms opening on wide verandas. 
Numerous tent houses for individual patients, and Isolation 
Hospital and Nurses' Home completed the institution, each de- 
partment of which is supervised by graduate nurses, whose 
three years' training is obtained at St. Mary's under an ex- 
perienced staff of physicians. 

St. Mary's received a temporary check to its progress when 
the storm of 1901 tore out the front of the main building with 
the exception of the entrance, over which — auspicious omen — 
a large statue of the Blessed Virgin remained undisturbed. 
The irreparable damage inflicted by the same storm on the 
orphan asylum proved the proverbial blessing in disguise. The 
children were sent to relatives or placed in private families 
until 1905, when they were gathered together again in the new 
St. Joseph's Home. This was put up on an elevated tract of 
forty acres two miles south of the city, given to the Sisters by 
Peter Lonergan, a resident of Tucson. The great main build- 
ing, finely proportioned in Old Mission style, and gleaming 
white through groves of pepper trees and oleander, was planned 
for the accommodation of one hundred boys and girls. The 
home is supported by voluntary contribution; and the children, 
after receiving a complete primary and grammar school education, 
are placed in good homes or in lucrative positions. Its records 


fail to show one child whose later 1 career has not reflected 
credit on his early training at St. Joseph's. 

At Prescott, in 1904, a mission building of native granite 
on the pine hills overlooking the city was erected under the 
direction of the Superior, Sister Aurelia Mary Doyle, and 
equipped for academic and commercial work, to replace the old 
academy, the first, and for many years the only secondary school 
in Prescott, whose alumnae, singularly successful, were occupy- 
ing positions of prominence in the social, business and educa- 
tional life of the state. St. Joseph's Academy in Tucson, en- 
larged and transformed by numerous improvements to meet 
modern conditions, became also a temporary novitiate, previous 
to the transfer of the provincial government to Los Angeles. 
This was effected in 1903 with the approval of Right Reverend 
Bishop Conaty of the See of Monterey and Los Angeles, and 
of His Excellency, Diomede Falconio, Apostolic Delegate. 

Nine mission houses had been established in California at 
that time. The first of these, to which the Sisters were sent 
in 1882, was at San Diego, a place of hallowed associations, 
inseparably connected with the history of the Church in that 
state. Here Junipero Serra landed with his devoted mission- 
aries in 1769, and began the work of evangelization which gave 
to California its Mission Churches and its heritage of Christian 
faith. Near the banks of the San Diego River, on a hill over- 
looking the bay and the harbor, he raised a cross on July 16, 
and on a rude altar under the trees celebrated the Holy Sacrifice 
of the Mass. 12 On the hill he prayed for nine momentous days 
that help might be sent his starving neophytes, else this first 
of his mission settlements must be abandoned; and from its 
summit, on March 19, 1770, the day before that set for his 
departure to more prosperous fields, he watched the arrival of 
the relief ship, San Antonio. 13 Six miles up the river in lovely 

12 Zephyrin engelhardt, O. F. M. Missions and Missionaries of California, 
vol. II, p. 19. San Francisco, 1912. 

13 Francisco Palou, Noticias de la Nueva California. Tomo II. p. 257. 
San Francisco, California. Ed. of 1874. englehardt, op cit., p. 64. 


Mission Valley, he built his church and established a permanent 
mission; 1 ^ 4 and on the place of his landing, there sprang up 
in later years what was known as Old Town. 

In 1866, Father Antonio Ubach was appointed pastor of Old 
Town, where a small church was built in 1850, four years after 
the last of the mission property was sold by Pio Pico, Mexican 
Governor of California. To Father Ubach's care fell the rem- 
nant of the Mission Indians, who had been neglected since the 
expulsion of the Franciscans. The noble race appealed to his 
great heart, and the betterment of their condition became one 
of the leading motives of his life. In order to obtain teachers 
for them and also for a school in San Diego, to which he had 
transferred his residence from Old Town, he applied to Rev- 
erend Mother Agatha, making a visit to Carondelet for that 
purpose. It was a great disappointment to him that both of 
his requests could not be acceded to at that time, and that the 
one refused was the one which he had most at heart, the sending 
of teachers to the Mission Indians. 

This was deferred for several years, but on April 18, 1882, 
the first community, consisting of Sisters Ambrosia O'Neill, 
Eutichiana Piccini, Amelia Leon, and Coletta Dumbach, arrived 
at San Diego. On May 10, they began their day school in a 
small frame house on a terrace overlooking the bay, registering 
on that day twenty-eight girls and two boys. On June 13, the 
first Mass was said in the tiny chapel of the convent, which was 
dedicated to Our Lady of Peace. Small and poor in its begin- 
ning, it was the grain of mustard seed sown in fertile soil; and 
in 1884, was removed to a new site, where three years later the 
main building of an academy for both boarders and day pupils 
was put up by the Superior, Sister Valeria Bradshaw, who also 
erected in 1893 an additional hall containing music rooms, art 
studios and an auditorium with a seating capacity of six hun- 

14 Mission San Diego. It was here that Father Luis Jayme suffered 
martyrdom at the hands of hostile Indians. 


Sister Valeria was a woman of high ideals and broad vision. 
She had a rare faculty for making and keeping friends for 
herself and for the Congregation, to which she was devotedly 
attached. To promote its best interests, and to do all the good 
possible to everyone with whom she came in contact, were the 
great aims of her beautiful life. Her gentleness and refinement, 
her kind thought fulness for others, and above all her charity for 
the poor and suffering and her remarkable tact in rendering them 
assistance, won her the love and respect of all classes. To the 
members of her own household she was a continual inspiration; 
to all the missions of the Congregation in California a bene- 
factress by her sympathy at all times, and by her advice and 
material aid whenever these were needed. 

Sister Valeria remained in charge of the academy ten years. 
She was succeeded by Sister Margaret Mary Brady, who main- 
tained the high standard set by her predecessor for the institu- 
tion. The progress of the pupils at Our Lady of Peace, and 
the character of their attainments were illustrated on the occa- 
sion of its twenty-fifth anniversary. The preparations for 
properly celebrating this event were commenced in 1907 by the 
people of San Diego, loyal supporters of the academy. The 
death of Father Ubach, its life-long friend, occurred in March 
of that year; and the anniversary exercises, in which he would 
have proudly participated as the co-worker of the Sisters for 
a quarter of a century, were postponed until June 11 of the 
following year. A mission play, Carmelita, was composed in 
commemoration of the occasion by an alumna, Madge Mannix, 
daughter of Mary E. Mannix, whose delightful stories for 
children find a place in every Catholic library. The artistic play 
was enacted by the girls of the academy before an enthusiastic 
audience, the gifted young author assuming the title role. 

The Los Angeles Tidings of September 21, 1921, paid tribute 
to the efficiency of the academy : 

It is difficult to estimate the work done by the Sisters who for 
so many years have promoted the growth of the Academy of Our 


Lady of Peace, in addition to which they supervise the parochial 
schools of the city. They have not only labored in the cause of 
educational expansion and influenced the ambitions and aims of the 
young women of San Diego, but have also earnestly sought the 
promotion of that truer education which results in refinement of 
mind and the achieving of standards and ideals. 

The parochial schools attended from the academy are St. 
Joseph's, St. John's and Our Lady of the Angels. The growth 
of the city gradually bringing the business districts into close 
proximity to the convent property moved the Academy Corpora- 
tion to seek a new site on Mission Hills, unsurpassed for beauty, 
and full of historic interest as overlooking the lower height 
from which Father Serra watched with longing eyes for the 
San Antonio. 

The second mission of the Congregation in California was 
in Oakland, to which place Reverend Mother Agatha accom- 
panied the first band of Sisters in the fall of 1883. They went 
on the invitation of Reverend Bernard McNally, the zealous 
pastor of St. Patrick's parish, and a prominent figure in the 
educational work of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Five 
Sisters composed the first teaching staff, with Sister Florence 
Benigna O'Reilly, a young woman of earnest purpose and lofty 
ideals, as Superior. They organized on January 1, 1884, St. 
Joseph's Institute, a school for girls and small boys. Two hun- 
dred pupils were received, and the number increased so rapidly 
that two Sisters were added to the teaching faculty the following 
summer. Temporary quarters only had been used, and in 
August 1885, the school and convent were built. New class 
and music rooms were added in 1888. In 1886, Sister Florence 
was replaced by Sister Xavier Mahoney, and succeeding Su- 
periors were Sisters Columba Banyard, Louis Nugent, and Julia 
Ford, who in 1907, was transferred to the Eastern Province as 
directress of schools. A commercial department for girls com- 
menced in 1909 met with great success; and in 191 2, on the 
departure of the Christian Brothers, who had taught the large 


boys, their school was taken over by the Sisters. The separate 
arrangement of classes was preserved until the following year, 
when, under the direction of Sister Demetria Reynolds, then in 
charge of the Institute, co-education was introduced. The 
death of Father McNally in 1913 bereft the school and com- 
munity of a devoted father and friend, one who had promoted 
the interests of both for thirty years. 

For eighteen years, Father McNally was also the friend and 
active patron of the Deaf-Mute Institute commenced in Oakland 
in 1895. This benevolent undertaking was due to Margaret 
McCourtney, a charitable widow, who gave for that purpose her 
estate in what was then a suburb of Oakland known as Temescal. 
She obtained from Archbishop Riordan the necessary permission 
for its foundation, and requested that it be given into the care 
of the Sisters of St. Joseph. The first teachers, Sisters Alphon- 
sus Peters and Rose Catherine Casey, were sent from the deaf- 
mute school in St. Louis, and the institution was placed in charge 
of Sister Valeria Bradshaw, who was assisted in her undertaking 
by numerous friends and benefactors. Without endowment, and 
almost wholly dependent on charity, the home was never able 
to support large numbers; but its influence among adult deaf 
through the St. Francis de Sales' Society for religious training 
and for the promotion of social intercourse among Catholics of 
this class was widespread in the city and its environs. An 
Ephpheta Society, actively interested in the work of the school, 
numbers four hundred members. 

On January 6, 1889, five Sisters from Carondelet, accom- 
panied by Reverend Mother Agatha, arrived at Los Angeles, 
and were met by Sister Valeria, who had come from San Diego 
to supervise the equipping of St. Mary's Academy, built in St. 
Vincent's parish by Reverend Father Meyer, of the Congrega- 
tion of the Mission. On Monday following the arrival of the 
Sisters, the school was opened under the direction of Sister 
Evelyn O'Neill with an attendance of sixty-five pupils. Year 
by year, it extended its influence and activities, and in 1903, 


already enlarged by the erection of a new wing to the original 
structure, was occupying two buildings, to which a third was 
added in 1904. On May 1, 1903, His Excellency, Diomede 
Falconio, celebrated Mass in St. Mary's chapel, his first on 
California soil, and imparted the Papal blessing to the assembled 
community and students. It was on this occasion that the 
initial arrangements were made for the transfer of the Provincial 
House to Los Angeles. In the following November, Mother 
Elizabeth Parrott, Provincial Superior, who had been residing 
in Tucson, took up her official residence at St. Mary's; and on 
March 19, 1904, six postulants received the habit of the Sister- 
hood from the hands of Bishop Conaty, and formed the nucleus 
of the California novitiate. 

In the fall of 1906, Mother Herman Joseph O'Gorman as 
Provincial Superior, arrived in Los Angeles, which had grown 
from the small pueblo of the early nineties to a large and enter- 
prising center. St. Mary's was again calling for greater accom- 
modations, and a twenty acre tract had been selected southwest 
of the city, on rising ground eight miles from the ocean. The 
site commanded a fine view of the city and the Sierra Madre 
Range on the north and east, and the slopes of the Palos Verdes 
on the south. Here on June 15, 19 10, the corner stone of the 
new St. Mary's was laid by Bishop Conaty, who, also, on August 
19 of the following year, blessed and dedicated the completed 

Built in Spanish Amission style, it embodied the best traditions 
of that form of architecture, the interior arrangements being in 
keeping with the general design. Deep arcades, flower-filled 
patios, and pergolas in the midst of tropical gardens, form at- 
tractive external features; and within the attention is arrested 
by well-lighted studios looking out on unrivaled views; the 
library with its rich collection of rare books and paintings; 
and the chapel, where a perfect harmony of tone and color — 
the work of the Tiffany Studios of New York — produces an 
effect of beauty more easily visioned than described. Besides 


the novitiate and community apartments, the academy contains 
accommodations for four hundred students. 

At the dedication of St. Mary's, attended by scores of en- 
thusiastic friends and patrons, Bishop Conaty reviewed the work 
of the Sisters, referring in grateful terms to their honorable 
record in the West, the heroism of their lives, and the sacrifices 
made by them from the time of their original foundation at 
Tucson in 1870 to their latest achievement in his episcopal city. 
He expressed the confident hope that the new St. Mary's 

would grow and flourish and be in the future even more than in 
the past a center of power by which the Church of God might reach 
the minds and hearts of the people and bring them to a better 
knowledge of God and a greater love for the things of religion. 

That it realized this hope is evident in the later careers of its 
two hundred graduates, and in the large enrollment of pupils 
drawn from Mexico and British Columbia, from every State 
between the Pacific and the Rocky Mountains, and from 
Missouri, Alabama, Minnesota, Dakota and the District of 
Columbia. The class of 191 1 sent four of its members to the 
novitiate, where they were followed by others of succeeding 
classes; and several of its alumnae fill responsible positions in' 
the University of California, to which the academy is affiliated. 
Closely associated with the growth of St. Mary's since 1899 is 
Mother St. Catherine Beavers to whose ability and foresight is 
largely due its broad cultural development. She was named Pro- 
vincial Superior in 1916, to succeed Mother Marcella Manifold, 
whose death occurred that year after a brief illness in Tucson 
during her visitation of the province. 

Mother Marcella had given much care and attention to unify- 
ing the work of the parochial schools, which were multiplying 
rapidly. For sixteen years, from 1898 until 19 14, San Carlos 
School in Monterey was in charge of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. 
In 1905, St. Joseph's Institute at Oxnard, California, and in 1906, 
Our Lady of Guadalupe for Spanish speaking children were added 



to the list. A school under the patronage of the Star of the 
Sea, opened in San Francisco December 8, 1908, numbered at 
the end of ten years seven hundred pupils, and had increased its 
faculty from five to sixteen teachers. Two of its alumni in the 
ecclesiastical Seminary at Menlo Park, forty boys in the service 
of their country, and five of its girl graduates in the novitiate 
at Los Angeles, is the enviable record of its first decade. St. 
Vincent's, Holy Cross, St. Patrick's, and St. Cecelia's Schools 
in Los Angeles; St. James' at Redondo Beach, and Our Lady 
of Victory in Fresno, complete the line of California missions, 
another camina real, which the Sisters of Saint Joseph have fol- 
lowed along the earlier road traced by Father Serra and his 
devoted missionaries from San Diego to San Francisco. 



In the center of the Santa Cruz Valley, nine miles from Tuc- 
son, lies the old mission church of San Xavier del Bac. The 
Mission was founded in 1700 by the Jesuit, Father Kino, for 
the Indians whom he first met there in 1692, and whom he 
designates in his diary as the Sobaipuris of the north. "I found 
the natives very affable and friendly," he wrote August 23, 1692, 
"and particularly so in the principal rancheria of San Xavier 
del Baac, which contains more than eight hundred souls." x 
They listened eagerly to his instructions and signified their wish 
to become Christians. On his fourth visit to them, which, in 
company with two Jesuit companions and three soldiers, he made 
in October 1699, "more than forty boys came forth to meet us 
with crosses in their hands, and there were more than three 
hundred Indians drawn up in line just as in the pueblos of the 
ancient Christians. Afterward, we counted more than a thou- 
sand souls." 2 

In 1700, Father Kino determined to build a temple to the 
Lord, and on April 28 that year 

began the foundation of a very large and capacious church and 
house of San Xavier del Baac, all the many people working with 
much pleasure and zeal, some in digging for the foundations, 
others in hauling many and good stones of tezontle from a little 
hill which was about a quarter of a league away. 3 

What progress was made at that time on the church, Father 
Kino does not say. He makes but one other mention of it in 
his Memoirs, which end in 171 1 ; but that the practical mission- 

1 Kino, op. cit., vol. I, p. 122. 
2 Ibid., vol. I, p. 205. 
*lbid., vol. I, p. 235. 



ary was building for the future is evident from the manner in 
which the work was carried on: 

For the mortar for the foundations, it was not necessary to haul 
water, because by means of irrigation ditches, we very easily con- 
ducted the water where we wished. And that house with its 
great court and garden near by will be able to have throughout 
the year all the water it may need, running to any place or work- 
room one may please, and one of the greatest and best fields in 
all Nueva Biscaya. 4 

In 1768, after the expulsion of the Jesuits, Father Garces, 
one of fourteen Franciscans sent from the College of Queretaro 
in Mexico to carry on the work of the earlier missionaries, was 
assigned to San Xavier. The dozen or more years which he 
spent there were years of great hardship. He was entirely 
devoid of personal comfort, his bed the bare ground, his food 
consisting often of roasted corn and wild thistles, the rude fare 
of the Indians, whom he won "by his zeal in accommodating 
himself to their barbarous customs." 5 His successors, begin- 
ning in 1783, continued to build in a rare setting of white desert 
and green mountain, the splendid architectural pile, the church 
of San Xavier, their own memorial in an alien land, the com- 
pletion of which required fourteen years. The church of white 
stone and brick was cruciform, with two square towers, carved 
fagade, and rounded dome above the tile-roofed transept. Fres- 
cos and statues of martyrs and apostles adorned the interior, and 
a harmonious chime of bells, cast at the Mission, called the 
natives to morning prayers, said in common on the square before 
the church, to Mass and breakfast, and then to work. 

The overthrow of colonial government in Mexico in 1822, 
and the subsequent confiscation of the property of the Church, 
spelled doom for this as well as for so many prosperous settle- 
ments. When Arizona was annexed to the diocese of Santa Fe 
in 1859, tne Indians of San Xavier, though years without a 

4 Ibid., p. 236. 

5 J. B. Salpointe, San Xavier del Baac, p. 6. Phamphlet, San Francisco, 


resident priest, were found to have retained the Faith, were of 
excellent moral character, and had not forgotten the prayers 
taught them in Spanish by the early missionaries. They could 
even sing parts of the Mass, and a pious chief had kept in his 
possession the gold and silver vessels of the church, chalices, 
monstrance, cruets and censer, lest these should be lost or stolen. 6 

The buildings were in a ruinous condition and no trace re- 
mained of the marvelous mission life of early days, when, in 
1873, the first Sisters of St. Joseph were sent to San Xavier. 
The Papago tribe, numbering then about four hundred, was 
under the protection of the United States Government, and the 
Indian agent there had asked for Catholic teachers. East of the 
church was the mission cloister, of which six rooms remained, 
two adjoining the tower, the other forming a south wing. These 
were put in repair by the Government with the sanction of 
Bishop Salpointe, and used for class rooms. The school was 
proceeding prosperously, when in April 1876, it was discon- 
tinued by an order from the Interior Department consolidating 
the Papago Agency with that of the Pimas. 

The Papagos remained without an agent or any educational 
provision for twelve years, until in 1888 the Sisters were called 
a second time to San Xavier. In September of that year, Sisters 
Florence Benigna O'Reilly, Bernadette Smith, and Agnes Orosco 
went from Tucson, to find the school again in a dilapidated con- 
dition and the natives suffering from long years of neglect. 
With patient labor these three Sisters made a few rooms habit- 
able, and protected themselves as best they could from the noc- 
turnal visits of innumerable bats that found a hiding place by 
day in the cactus covering of the broken roof. A small room 
in the church tower was their chapel, reached by a single narrow 
stairway cut out of the thick rock wall. 

In January, 1889, Sister Aquina Duffy became a member of 
the small staff at San Xavier; and when the Sisters, who at 
first returned every Friday evening to Tucson, began to reside 

6 J. D. Salpointe, Soldiers of the Cross, p. 227. Banning California, 1898. 

.k, \:.rmcM, 










I— I 




permanently at the mission, she was made Superior, and spent 
thirty years in that capacity among the Papagos. To her exer- 
tions and self-sacrifice are principally due the wonderful results 
accomplished in that time. When the Sisters arrived, these 
people had reverted in their manner of living to the first stages 
of civilization. They had never been nomadic, and at this time 
they lodged in huts called "wickiups," made of sticks and straw, 
with very low doors and no windows. Their principal food 
was the mesquite bean cooked in water. To this was added a 
deer or other wild game, whenever, on very rare occasions, a 
native overcame his indolence sufficiently to use a bow and arrow. 
Their cooking was done out of doors, and the bare floors of the 
wickiups served as receptacles for all utensils. Cleanliness and 
work of any kind were alike unknown to them. The women 
and girls were scantily clothed, the men and boys used blankets; 
and all, with the exception of the very young children, who were 
left neglected at home, played with balls, which the men kicked 
before them for miles, spending nearly the entire day in this 
sport. The time which was not devoted to play was given up 
to tribal dances on the mountains, in which all the adults took 
part; and the children ran wild and unclad about the village. 
These the Sisters gathered up and brought to school, where the 
first exercise of the day was an ablution, not always willingly 
submitted to by the little Papagos. Gradually, thirty children 
were registered as regular attendants. In order to reach the 
parents, few of whom then knew either English or good Spanish, 
it was necessary to speak their language. After two years 
study of this, Sister Aquina was able to converse with them. 
She visited their huts, access to which was neither easy nor 
agreeable ; and after repeated efforts, induced the women to give 
up games and care for their homes and children. Long after 
stoves were placed in their huts, they continued their out door 
preparation of meals ; and ten years elapsed before any of the 
village women would use a sewing machine. . The first machine 
at the Mission was a curiosity, and drew hundreds to see it. 


The school girls were adepts before their mothers would dare to 
touch the humming" instrument that wrought such wonders as 
they saw performed with thread and cloth. Finally a Papago 
woman, more venturesome than her timid sisters, tried her 
skill ; and her delight over her own unsuspected ability was com- 
municated to others, who promptly emulated her example. 

In 1896, the school had so increased in numbers that a new 
room was built for the small children. The first adobe house 
on the reservation was put up in 1900, replacing a straw hut. 
Others succeeded until the wickiups had disappeared, and a 
village of neat and comfortable homes sprang up, each with its 
surrounding farm or garden. The men had learned to till their 
land and plant crops. When these, as sometimes happened, were 
washed out by heavy rains, the patient toilers, without a murmur 
planted again and waited for new results. The women kept their 
houses in order, made their clothing, and had learned to mold 
pottery and weave baskets. Their first attempts at these dis- 
tinctively Indian arts were crude; but aided by the Sisters and 
their own native instinct, they became experts, using for the 
pottery the red and white clay of the region, which they burned 
over a fire of cactus wood and painted with juice of the mesquite; 
and for the basketry, the pliable stems of the yucca, bear grass, 
and the black leaves of the devil's claw, a plant indigenous to 
southern Arizona. The peculiar mysticism of the race is ap- 
parent during the process of weaving. To the low and rhythmic 
crooning of Indian melodies, the women work into their baskets 
unique designs of symbolic meaning, expressive in many instances 
of the wild yearning that had filled their hearts for a knowledge 
of the better things so long denied them. 

All the villagers looked on the Sisters as their guides and 
arbiters, referring to them various difficulties, and even family 
disputes. Men and women came seeking instruction, and after 
weary hours spent in the class rooms with the children, the 
Sisters gave their evenings to the parents preparing these for 
the sacraments. On account of the small number of priests in 


his diocese, the Bishop was not always able to give a resident 
chaplain to San Xavier. In consequence, the Sisters were 
obliged to baptize many who were at the point of death, some- 
times going great distances to reach them, and risking their own 
lives in crossing swollen streams. On one occasion a dying 
woman who had begged for baptism was carried by her com- 
panions to the convent, where she breathed her last before the 
brief ceremony performed by Sister Aquina was concluded. 

In 1906, extensive repairs were made on the Mission buildings, 
the men contributing out of their small earnings after a season 
of bad crops a sufficient sum to floor the church, in which until 
then they were accustomed to kneel or sit on the bare ground. 
Many improvements made in the school modernized the ancient 
cloisters without destroying the Mission architecture. A com- 
bination dining and entertainment hall provided a place for the 
annual closing exercises given by the children to their parents, 
the agent, and the Bishop. A grotto of Lourdes, excavated in 
1908 in the side of Holy Cross Mountain east of the Mission, 
and provided by Bishop Granjon with an imported statue, life- 
size and of fine workmanship, became a scene of yearly pil- 
grimage, where hundreds of devout worshippers gather to honor 
the Virgin Mother and obtain the favor of her who, under 
another title, Our Lady of Guadalupe, showed by a shower of 
roses her love for a simple race. At this shrine, in May and 
October, the Indians of the reservation join with the children 
in processions, the recitation of the Rosary and the singing of 

An annual event of exceptional solemnity, and one on which 
the native population makes publicly a touching Profession of 
Faith, is the feast of the Mission's patron, St. Francis Xavier. 
The three days' celebration, civic and religious in character, is 
directed by twelve chiefs chosen from the tribe each year as 
part of an ecclesiastical function presided over by the Bishop, 
who is loved as a father, and who pontificates at Mass and 
Benediction of the third day, addressing the assembly in English 


and Spanish, sometimes in Papago. After the Rosary, said in 
the musical Spanish that is the Mission Indian's second mother 
tongue, and the chanting of the Litany to an ancient melody, the 
twelve chiefs, kneeling before the shrine of St. Francis and with 
hands reverently touching his banner, promise fidelity to the 
trust imposed on them for the following year; and one of their 
number, chosen to be their head, receives from the Bishop the 
symbol of authority, a curiously wrought sceptre of gold and 
ebony. An observer of this yearly demonstration, writes : 

To one witnessing this celebration for the first time, it seems like 
a vision of centuries past. Plowever, it is but one of many lessons 
that these people have learned from their good missionaries ; a les- 
son that has been instrumental in keeping them close to God and 
their Catholic religion. 7 

In 1913, the Franciscan Fathers, after a lapse of nearly one 
hundred years, were again given charge of the spiritual affairs 
of the Mission. They were instrumental in erecting a large hall 
for the use of the young men, clubs and social recreations having 
become a feature of life in the reservation. 8 The patriotism of 
the Papagos during the World War was a subject of comment, the 
women, under the direction of the Sisters, making valuable con- 
tributions to the Red Cross, and the men investing their savings 
in Liberty Bonds. Many of San Xavier's boys, though not 
subject to draft, enlisted for service, among them Sergeant 
Charles Solis, whose death at Camp Kearney was one of the 
earliest fatalities in the ranks, and who was buried at the Mission 
with military honors. 

The fiftieth anniversary of the arrival in Arizona of the Sis- 
ters of Saint Joseph was observed at Tucson as a civic holiday, 
proclaimed as such by the Mayor, and participated in by the 
municipal authorities. The Tucson Sentinal of May 23, 1920, 

7 Nicholas Perschl, o. f. m. in The Indian Sentinel, p. 27. July 1917. 

8 Prominent among these are the San Xavier Club, a Mission Band, and a 
Farmers' Association, 


referring to the Americanization of the Papagos, and attributing 
it wholly to the Sisters, writes : 

Fully as remarkable and worthy of pen and paint as San Xavier 
itself, is the civilization of the Papago. The golden anniversary 
of the Sisters of St. Joseph can have no brighter or more honorable 
feature than the stupendous work against superhuman odds out 
at San Xavier. There is perhaps no record of like achievement 
with like instruments on like objects in the history of the United 

While the Sisters were thus engaged among the Papagos, 
reviving the former usefulness of San Xavier, fittingly named 
by tourists the "White Dove of the Desert," similar scenes were 
being enacted north of them by other members of the Congrega- 
tion. In 1886, Reverend. Mother Agatha was requested by 
Reverend J. A. Stephan, acting for the Commissioner of Indian 
Affairs at Washington, to send a community of her Sisters to 
Fort Yuma on the Indian reservation of that name in California. 
Fort Yuma was located on high ground along the Colorado River 
near its junction with the Gila, nine miles from the Mexican 
border. The reservation of forty-five thousand acres stretched 
along the Colorado for twenty miles, and with the exception of 
a narrow strip near the river bank on which the natives grew 
their corn, wheat and melons, was desert land. It was occupied 
by the Yuma Indians, a tribe numbering between eight hundred 
and a thousand souls. 

The Yumas were pagans. More than a hundred years had 
passed since a vain attempt had been made to Christianize the 
natives of this region by Father Garces, who, from his mission 
at San Xavier del Bac, made occasional entries into the country 
of the Yumas. According to Reverend Zephyrin Engelhardt, 
the Franciscan historian of the missions, Father Garces on these 
occasions illustrated his instructions by a large canvas having 
on one side a picture of the Blessed Virgin, and on the other one 
of a lost soul in hell. "The Yumas were highly pleased," he 


relates, "with the picture of the 'beautiful lady/ but the sight 
of the 'lost soul' they abhorred. They were not such fools, they 
declared, as not to know that the good people were above and the 
bad ones far down under the ground." 9 They welcomed the 
presence of a priest among them; and on their petition, two 
missions were established, one of which was near the site of 
the present Fort, and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin under the 
title of La Purissima Conception. 

Friendly and docile at first, the Yumas were rendered des- 
perate by the interference of the Mexican Commandante, De 
Croix, who appropriated the best of their lands for his soldiers 
and other white settlers. They rose in rebellion on July 17, 
1 78 1, set fire to the missions, murdered the soldiers and mission- 
aries including Father Garces, and carried women and children 
into captivity. They then reverted as a tribe to their former 
ignorance and superstition, very few retaining any memory of 
the missionaries; but a strange tradition lingered among them 
that a band of white-robed figures could be seen walking among 
the ruins of La Purissima Conception, bearing crosses and chant- 
ing hymns. The Yumas resisted any further attempts to 
Christianize or educate them, and maintained an unfriendly if 
not a hostile attitude, until, in 1852 the United States Govern- 
ment erected the Fort, and placed troops there mainly as a protec- 
tion against the Apaches. In 1884, the control of the Fort was 
transferred from the War Department to the Department of the 
Interior; and an executive order of January 9, 1884, established 
the Yuma Reservation. 10 For two years after the withdrawal of 
the soldiers in 1884, a school was maintained at the Fort by a 
Presbyterian teacher and her assistant ; but it had not succeeded, 
being looked upon with disfavor by the chief of the tribe. It 
was on this account that the Indian Commissioner, John H. 
Oberly, appealed to Father Stephan for Catholic teachers. 

9 Missions and Missionaries of California, vol. II, p. 192. San Francisco, 

10 Executive Document No. 68, p. 6. 520I Congress, 2d Session, 1894. 


The Yumas were still pagans in 1886. They believed in two 
deities, a good one, who dwelt on grassy plains somewhere to 
the south and west of their own arid lands ; and a bad one in the 
center of the earth, whose restless turnings on his subterranean 
bed caused the earthquakes that sometimes destroyed their small 
mud houses. They burned their dead on funeral pyres with 
weird rites, and then destroyed the huts of the deceased lest the 
spirits of the departed should return. The children ran about 
without clothing of any kind; the women wore a single short 
garment woven of the bark of trees; and the braves, except when 
they donned some sort of civil apparel to appear in the city, 
made themselves hideous with paint, laying on first a coat of dark 
scarlet, over which they traced parallel lines of black, blue, or 
green, and set off the whole with an abundance of white paint 
in round dots or in curious filigree patterns. All wore their 
hair long and believed that if it were cut, they would be deprived 
of their strength and of their speed as runners. 

Reverend Mother, knowing something of these conditions 
from her frequent visits to the West, refused the first requests 
that were made to her in behalf of the Yumas. She feared that 
efforts to bring them to a knowledge of God would prove fruit- 
less, especially since the school was to be directly under govern- 
ment auspices. Pressure was brought to bear on the matter by 
members of the Catholic Indian Bureau. These represented the 
favorable attitude of the Government towards religious instruc- 
tion as just expressed in President Cleveland's message to Con- 
gress, wherein he drew attention to "the self-sacrificing and pious 
men and women who have aided in the good work by their 
independent endeavor," and recommended that "their valuable 
services be fully acknowledged by all who under the law are 
charged with the control and management of our Indian 
wards." 11( Assured that the Sisters would be in no way ham- 

11 First Annual Message of Grover Cleveland, Dec. 8, 1885, in Messages 
and Papers of the Presidents, 1903, vol. VIII, p. 356. These sentiments were 
in accordance also with the "Peace Policy" inaugurated by General Grant 
in 1870. 


pered by the Administration, Reverend Mother delegated six 
'teachers for this mission, five of whom remained in Tucson 
while the superior, Sister Ambrosia O'Neill, accompanied by 
Mother Julia Littenecker, then on a visit to the western houses, 
went on March 16 to Yuma City, Arizona, opposite the Fort, 
there to await the formal transfer of the school from the Colo- 
rado Agency. This took place, after many preliminaries and 
much signing of bonds, on April 15. 

The two Sisters profited by the interval to study their sur- 
roundings and to become acquainted with the tribe and its 
venerable chief, Pasqual. They were residing, during a tem- 
porary closing of the convent school in Yuma, with a good 
Catholic widow, Pieta Redondo, and her interesting family. 
This excellent woman knew and understood the Yumas well, and 
testified to their character for honesty. They had been taught 
by their chief to hate drinking, lying and stealing; and any one 
found guilty of these vices received chastisement by flogging 
at the hands of Pasqual himself. The introductory meeting of 
the Sisters with this white-haired warrior, an imposing figure 
of giant stature, straight and lithe in spite of his great age, 
took place on March 18, the occasion being their initial visit to 
the Fort. Seeing them coming, he advanced to meet them, kiss- 
ing their hands and showing them every mark of respect. He 
then kept aloof for weeks studying them from a distance. The 
friendly natives crossed the river almost daily to assure the 
Sisters of their own and their chief's good-will. They brought 
frequent requests from the latter for an interview, which finally 
took place a month after their first meeting. Mother Julia wrote 
to Reverend Mother of this event on April 15: 

We met Pasqual at the Fort this morning. As soon as he saw 
us, he sent a messenger for his interpreter, who was on the 
spot in a little while. We had then a long conversation with him 
in which he told us all the troubles and grievances of his people. 
He wanted to know who sent us, and what we came to do for them. 
After we told him, he said that though an old man (he is over a 


hundred years old), he would do his part towards us; that if we 
came to do tjiem good, he would be good to us, and would also teach 
his people to be good to us; that hitherto many fine promises had 
been made to him and his people by persons sent by the Government, 
but these were not carried out, and now he would like to see proofs, 
he has been so often disappointed. 

The old man was distrustful of the whites, and refused to 
ask anything from the "Great Father" at Washington, but would 
be happy if the Sisters could obtain help for his people, who, in 
seasons of drought or when the inundations of the Colorado 
washed out their crops, were driven to the verge of starvation. 
The desert provided no game, and their only sustenance came 
from the strip of fertile land along the river banks. 

The meeting over, the chief sought out a prominent Mexican 
living at Yuma and asked the latter's opinion of the Sisters. 
When satisfied that their intentions were of the best, and that 
they meant to do great good to his children, he sent runners to 
all parts of the reservation, summoning the tribesmen to a great 
council, which did not take place until two weeks later. In the 
meantime, the remaining Sisters arrived from Tucson under the 
escort of Father Juan Chaucot, and on May 1, all took up their 
residence at the Fort. 

This was well constructed, and consisted of a dozen or more 
large, one-story buildings arranged in the form of a parallel- 
ogram around an open court, in the center of which stood a lofty 
flagpole. Here the Indian councils were accustomed to take 
place. There were, besides, the captain's house of eight rooms, 
a laundry, a bakery, a workshop and stables. The whole com- 
manded a magnificent view of the Colorado and Gila rivers at 
their junction, of Yuma City and of the surrounding valley, 
with the mountains in the distance. The best preserved of the 
one-story buildings was selected as a chapel ; the others were for 
class rooms and apartments for the children from the reservation, 
who were kept as boarders. The captain's house, apart from 
the rest, made an excellent convent, and the Sisters called it 


El Monte de Buena Esperanza, the Mount of Good Hope. Sister 
Ambrosia was dignified by the Yumas with the title of El Capitan. 
Dusky young braves vied with each other in clearing out the 
accumulated rubbish of two years, and making the rooms habit- 
able. Until the arrival of government supplies, which were 
furnished generously, the Sisters contented themselves with a 
few chairs for furniture, a table, a rickety stove, and borrowed 
cots without mattresses or pillows. 

The great council took place on May 3 in the courtyard of 
the Fort, where Indians, assembled from all quarters, gathered 
around the flag-pole and were addressed by their chief on the 
subject of the school. They were exhorted to send their children, 
especially the young ones, who could learn readily "while their 
heads were tender." The Sisters were present by request of 
the chief, and his words were interpreted for them by a Mohave 
who could speak English and Spanish. The School was organ- 
ized after a first Mass said in the chapel on May 5. Ten children 
were registered on that day as boarders, and before June the 
number had increased to sixty. On May 13, Mother Julia 
wrote : 

It is quite amusing to see old men, and squaws with their papooses 
running towards the school when the bell is rung for class. They 
are all anxious to see the little ones in rank marching into the school 
room. After all the children are in, the grown Indians, fathers, 
mothers and relatives, enter, too, and sit down on the floor in the 
back of the room, as still as mice, watching everything going on. 
For the present we have to suffer it in order to gain them. We 
are glad to have them present for Catechism. The Interpreter is 
always present to translate it into the Yuma vernacular; thus some 
of the older ones are instructed with the children. 

At the time this letter was written, eight days after the open- 
ing of school, the little Yumas were able to make the Sign of 
the Cross and say the Lord's Prayer in English, and could sing 
the hymn "O Sanctissima" with the Sisters. The class hours 


were from nine o'clock in the morning until half past three in 
the afternoon. The ordinary branches were introduced grad- 
ually, with sewing and domestic work for the girls under the 
tutelage of the Sisters, and manual labor for the boys, taught 
them by an industrial teacher sent from Washington. Police- 
men, matrons, and numerous other officials were appointed from 
the tribe. The children learned English readily, and were fond 
of singing; but they gave up their wild, free life reluctantly. 
On one occasion, all were found to have disappeared from the 
Fort, leaving the class rooms empty. Hours of search revealed 
the boys enjoying a plunge in the Colorado river; the girls had 
fled to their huts on the reservation, and were brought back in 
a body by the chief. 

As was expected, the placing of Sisters in charge of the school 
caused much comment, especially on the part of some non- 
Catholics who were bitterly opposed to the plan, and who in the 
beginning looked upon it as an experiment, doomed to certain 
failure. The first public expression of hostile sentiment was an 
abusive letter published by the San Francisco Argonaut of 
November 15, 1886, calling attention to the existence of 
"a governmental nunnery at Fort Yuma." The anonymous 
writer declared that the state of affairs "is galling in the extreme, 
and silent mutterings may develop into public indignation." 
Public indignation was indeed aroused, but it was directed against 
the writer and the Argonaut. Both were brought to task by 
their critics. The prominence thus given the school won it 
many defenders, and government inspectors gave it their hearty 

None were louder in its praise than Chief Pasqual, who, 
leaving his hut on the reservation, made his home in one of 
the buildings at the Fort, and observed closely all that was going 
on. To some of the officials, he expressed himself as satisfied 
that his children were well treated. If they were not, he said, 
he would order them all home. At the close of the term, on 
June 30, assembling the pupils before they separated, he warned 


them to return in September; and during the vacation, he made 
a four days' journey for the purpose of meeting the Diegueno 
chiefs, thirty miles distant, and entreating them also to send 
their children to the school. 

Ninety boys and girls were registered as boarders in the fall; 
and in 1887, the Government sent fifty Papago girls from 
Arizona. In 1891, the total number had risen to one hundred 
and fifty-two. Many improvements were made on the reserva- 
tion, among them a steam pump for irrigation. The boys were 
becoming skilled in agriculture ; the girls in the use of the needle 
and sewing machine. They cut and made their own dresses, 
as well as the garments which their mothers and small brothers 
and sisters at home had been with much difficultv induced to 

The first baptism among the Yumas occurred on May 15, 
1886. It was that of a boy of twelve years, a relative of the 
chief, who was brought to the hut of the latter in a dying con- 
dition. The old man called on the Sisters, and asked if the 
"Sister Doctor," Sister Alphonsus Lamb, could not do some- 
thing for the little sufferer. It was too late, however, for earthly 
remedies ; and, with Pasqual's permission, the child was baptized 
and given the Christian name of John. Pasqual's own conver- 
sion was one of ninety-six which occurred the following year. 
He had early expressed his intention of becoming a Christian, 
but desired to be well instructed. Mother Julia, he said, was 
the first who had ever told him any thing about God, and for 
this he "was grateful in his heart." He had grown very feeble 
in the spring of 1887 ; and the Sisters, knowing that he could not 
live much longer, asked if he did not wish to be baptized. "Do 
you think it would be good for me?" he asked of Sister Ambro- 
sia ; and upon being told that it would be very good, he answered 
decisively, "Then I will be baptized." On May 1, Father 
Chaucot, the beloved Padre Juan of the Yumas, poured the 
waters of salvation over the head of the centenarian chief, and 
called him Philip after the patron of the day. 


A dramatic scene followed, when the ancients of the tribe, 
after an angry council, reproached their dying chief for desert- 
ing the gods of his ancestors at the bidding of the Sisters. With- 
out a word to them, Pasqual sent his interpreter for the Sisters, 
and in the presence of all, declared in a loud, firm voice, that he 
had become a Christian of his own free will, because he thought 
that it was good to do so. His death occurred on May 9, and he 
was buried with the usual pagan rites. The Yumas were event- 
ually induced to give up the practice of burning their dead, 
especially those who had been baptized; but they could not lay 
aside the time-honored custom in the case of their great chieftain. 
He was arrayed as a warrior in showy apparel, the insignia 
of his office — a green silk scarf adorned with a rosette — wrapped 
about his head. His bow and arrow with other war trophies 
were laid beside the body, and the whole burned amid great cries 
and lamentations. Two of his favorite horses were decked out 
in gaudy trappings, and after being ridden thrice around the pyre, 
were killed and buried beside it. 

The example of the chief in embracing Christianity was con- 
tagious. In 1888, two hundred and seventeen children and 
adults were baptized; in 1889, three hundred and one; and in 
1890, two hundred and twenty-five. In the same year, 1890, 
one hundred and ten children made their first Communion and 
were confirmed by Right Reverend Francis Mora of Los Angeles, 
assisted by Father Chaucot, and Father William Demflin, a 
Dominican missionary widely known among the western tribes 
as Padre Guillermo. The latter had prepared the neophytes for 
the sacraments. The parents of the children and many non- 
Catholics from Yuma crowded into the small chapel to witness 
the impressive ceremony, and to hear the Bishop's address. The 
girls wore white, with white veils; and all sang feelingly to an 
organ accompaniment the Communion hymn, the Veni Creator 
and the English Te Denm. 

The difficulties which the Sisters experienced in bringing 
about these happy results, and the annoyances to which they 


were subjected, sometimes by officials and at other times by 
unfriendly members of the tribe, cannot be over estimated. A 
large number of the Yumas remained pagan; and to this pagan 
class belonged Pasqual's successor, Chief Miguel. The latter was 
unpopular with the best of his tribesmen, and numerous mis- 
demeanors of a serious nature on his part increased their dis- 
satisfaction. He was deposed in May, 1893, and another chosen 
in his stead. He became the leader of a faction, and induced 
his followers to keep their children away from school. In this 
he was upheld by members of a denominational church in Los 
Angeles, who sent him a token of respect for the stand which 
he was taking against the Sisters. 

Emboldened by the support which he received, he secretly 
planned the death of El Capitan, whose influence, he thought, 
was responsible for his deposition. The attack was set for the 
night of October 27, 1893. The unusual activity of the pagan 
group, "Bad Indians" they were called, aroused the suspicions 
of Sister Ambrosia, who with one Sister — the others were dis- 
tributed by twos in the different buildings with the children — 
spent an agonizing night listening to the death songs of those 
who were preparing the pyre. Time and again as the hours 
wore on, the would-be assassins approached the convent; and 
then as if seized by an irresistible impulse, turned and fled. At 
an early hour the following morning a faithful Yuma rushed 
in with the warning to Sister Ambrosia to leave the house at once 
and seek refuge below the hill. She had scarcely reached her 
hiding place, when the convent was filled with a furious mob 
of pagan Indians, who, finding instead of El Capitan a hastily 
summoned guard, fell to fighting the latter until they, themselves, 
were overpowered. Miguel, with eight of his followers, was 
brought to trial, and all were given prison sentences to be served 
out in the penitentiary at Los Angeles. 

When his evil influence was removed, tranquility again reigned 
on the reservation; and in the following year, 1894, the tribe 
showed its gratitude to the Sisters and its indorsement of their 


work in a very effective manner. A commission 1|2 was appointed 
by the Secretary of the Interior 13 to negotiate with the Yumas 
for the "cession to the United States of such portions of their 
reservation as they might be willing to cede." 14 this land to be 
sold and the proceeds used for improving the remainder by 
building levees and irrigating ditches, and for the general benefit 
of the Yumas. The latter demanded as a sole condition of their 
considering the cession, that the Sisters be left in possession of 
the school, and be allowed in addition a half-section of land for 
farming purposes, 15 nor would they affix a single signature 
to the agreement drawn up by the commission until they were 
assured that their demand would be complied with. Their wishes 
were respected, and embodied in Article VIII of the agreement, 
which was then signed by two hundred and three adult Indians. 16 
There were one hundred and eighty-two children in school at 
the time, and this remained the average number during the suc- 
ceeding six years, at the end of which time Reverend 
Mother Agatha withdrew the Sisters permanently from Fort 

This decision on her part came about as an indirect result 
of the government policy adopted in 1895 for the elimination of 
contract schools. 17 Congress began in that year a gradual with- 
drawal of the appropriations made to these institutions, which, 
at the end of the year 1900, had ceased to exist as such. 1 ^ Fort 
Yuma, being under government control, was not affected by the 
new legislation; but seemingly as part of the general movement 

"Washington J. Houston, Peter R. Brady and John A. Gorman. 
*3 Hoke Smith of Georgia. 

14 Executive Document 68, p. 2. 

15 Ibid., pp. 8-1 1. 
18 Ibid., p. 29. 

17 Schools conducted by religious organizations and receiving by agreement 
with the Department of the Interior a fixed per capita sum for supporting 
and educating Indian pupils, cf. Speech of Hon. I. 7. Fitzgerald of New 
York in Congress Feb. 2 and 3, 1900, p. 7. 

18 Ibid., May 24, 1900. Cf. also, "Religious Garb and Insignia in Govern' 
ment Schools." wm. h. ketcham, 1912. (Pamphlet.) 


involving schools under religious auspices, the Commissioner 
of Indian affairs appointed over the Sisters a lay superintendent, 
rejecting a Catholic recommended for the purpose by the Catholic 
Indian Bureau, and appointing a Protestant, whose intolerance 
was soon shown in matters so vital to Catholic children as their 
attendance at Mass. In consequence, the Sisters, in obedience 
to Reverend Mother's directions, tendered their resignations at 
the close of the spring term in 1900, to the satisfaction of the 
superintendent, but to the lingering grief of the grateful Yumas. 
The statistics of the mission at that time showed a total of one 
thousand six hundred and seventy-one baptisms, two hundred 
and thirty-three Indians confirmed, and forty-five Christian 
marriages performed among them with nuptial Mass. 

At the time that the Sisters were withdrawn from Yuma, 
other members of the Congregation had been engaged for nearly 
ten years on the Indian missions in California. On November 1, 
1 89 1, Mass was celebrated on the site of the old San Diego 
Mission in the center of Mission Valley, the first since Father 
Serra had left it more than a hundred years before. The occasion 
was the opening of St. Anthony's Indian School, removed to 
this place from Old Town, where it had been established five 
years before by Father Ubach, and taught by Sister Hyacinthe 
Blanc and Sister Teresa. Father Ubach, the Padre Gaspara of 
Helen Hunt Jackson's masterpiece, Ramona, is described by the 
gifted author true to life: 

He had a nature at once fiery and poetic. There were but three 
things he could have been, a soldier, a poet or a priest. Circum- 
stances had made him a priest, and the fire and the poetry which 
could have wielded the sword or kindled the verse, had he found 
himself set to fight or sing, had all gathered added force in his 
priestly vocation. The look of the soldier he had never quite 
lost . . . and it was the sensitive soul of the poet in him which had 
made him withdraw within himself, year after year, as he found 
himself comparatively powerless to do anything for the hundreds 


of Indians that he fain would have gathered once more into the 
keeping of the Church. 19 

He had endeavored to obtain aid from the Government, even 
going in person to Washington for that purpose; and had finally 
commenced his small school in cramped and narrow quarters, 
giving to it what support he could. Obtaining at length a small 
appropriation, to which was later added some assistance from the 
Catholic Indian Bureau, he erected in 189 1 two large frame 
buildings, one for boys and one for girls, on either side of the 
old Mission Church, a portion of which was still standing in 
the shade of giant palms and fronting an olive orchard of three 
hundred trees planted by the Padres a century before. The 
school was an industrial one, where the ordinary branches in- 
cluding music, were supplemented by farming, shoe making and 
other useful trades for boys under special instructors, and sewing 
and domestic work for girls. Between ninety and one hundred 
children was the average number in attendance. They were 
docile and gentle, with the strong simple faith preserved by their 
fathers under adverse circumstances, and exemplified in their 
own baptismal names, bestowed on them in all reverence, of 
Rosa Mystica, Alta Gracia, and even Jesus and its soft dimin- 
utive, Jesucita. 

In the winter of 1891-92, a severe earthquake shock, the worst 
experienced in California for years, shook the frame buildings, 
damaging them considerably and causing terror to the inmates 
of St. Anthony's. While the earth tremor was at its height, 
the Indian children promised that if they were saved through 
the terrible night, they would build a shrine to Our Lady of 
Sorrows on the mountain side, and would themselves carry the 
stones for that purpose. True to their promise, they began their 
task, some carrying the burden on their heads, others on the 
palms of outstretched hands ; and a path was worn to the favored 
spot, where the corner stone of the shrine was laid on June 16, 

19 H. H. Jackson, Ramona, p. 86. Boston, 1920. 


1892. A visitor to the mission, seeing the faithful devotees at 
their self-imposed task, and hearing the circumstances, gave 
publicity to the project through the pages of the Ave Maria, 
and many, reading it, desired to share in the work. A statue — 
the Pieta — an altar, stained glass windows, a votive lamp, were 
among the larger gifts received by the delighted little builders; 
and the completed shrine, its original plan somewhat altered, 
was dedicated in a solemn ceremony on the Feast of the Seven 
Dolors, September, 1893. 

The Mission Indians dwindled to a small remnant of their 
former number; but the school was kept up for many years by 
the Catholic Indian Bureau in deference to Father Ubach, the 
patron and apostle for forty years of the tribes around San 
Diego. After his death, which occurred in 1907, the children 
were transferred to St. Boniface's Industrial School at Banning, 
California, established in 1890. 

In a beautiful valley between the San Jacinto and San Ber- 
nardino mountains, this school was built by the Catholic Indian 
Bureau, with the assistance of Mother Katherine Drexel; and 
Father Willard, Vice-President of the Bureau, placed in charge. 
He contracted typhoid fever after a few months' residence at 
Banning; and this resulted in his death under circumstances of 
peculiar pathos, there being no one at the mission during his 
illness but the Indian boys. In the meantime, Reverend Mother 
was requested by Monsignor Stephan, and also by Archbishop 
Ryan of Philadelphia, to send Sisters to the school. Six Sisters 
were sent, with Sister Celestia O'Reilly as Superior. Reverend 
Florian Hahn, of the Congregation of the Precious Blood, was 
appointed superintendent, and an appropriation secured from 
Congress for the support of one hundred children. When this 
appropriation was withdrawn a few years later, St. Boniface's 
received support from diocesan collections, and from the results 
of the children's industry. One hundred and twenty children 
were enrolled the first year, and others refused for want of room. 
The school was blessed with appropriate ceremonies on January 


6, 1 89 1. Another memorable day that year was April 22, when 
President Harrison, on a western tour, made a brief visit to 
Banning, and the pupils of St. Boniface's were presented to him 

The curriculum at St. Boniface's followed the lines of other 
industrial schools, with horticulture as a specialty for the boys, 
the vineyards and orchards of fruit and almonds, with gardens of 
great variety, presenting a practical field for their endeavors. 
With the first appearance in October 1895, of the Mission Indian, 
a monthly periodical, printing was added to the other useful 
arts ; and the accomplishments of the girls include the finest bead 
work, and the making of Cluny and Torchon laces. Military 
drill under a commissioned officer was early made part of the 
daily routine. The Indians' proverbial love of music found 
expression in the well organized Mission Band and in three 
hours' weekly vocal practice enabling them to sing High Mass 
and Benediction on Sundays with surprising effect. St. Boni- 
face's is now the only Catholic boarding School for Indians in 
California. The death in 19 16 of Father Hahn, who from his 
headquarters at St. Boniface's visited and instructed the Indians 
to the south and east of Banning, was a severe loss which was 
eventually filled by the Franciscan Fathers, coming again into 
their birthright as the earliest friends and teachers of the Mission 
Indians in the state. 

These zealous Fathers also direct the mission at Komatke on 
the Pima Reservation near Phoenix, Arizona, which was com- 
menced by them in 1900. When Reverend Mother Agatha was 
asked in March 1901 to send Sisters to St. John's Mission at 
Komatke, she delegated the Provincial Superior, Mother Eliz- 
abeth Parrott, to see the place if possible and report on condi- 
tions there. Mother Elizabeth, securing at Phoenix a competent 
driver, started with a companion for the distant site, eighteen 
miles out on the desert. The driver, an old-timer and accus- 
tomed to the region, missed a familiar turn in the road, and 
without perceiving his mistake, drove on for hours, until to his 


great surprise he drew up again at Phoenix. A severe sand 
storm during the succeeding days hindered a second attempt 
to reach the Pima Reservation, and urgent duty called the 
Provincial and her companion back to Tucson. These circum- 
stances were afterwards looked upon by the Sisters as due to 
Providence rather than to chance; for had the real situation at 
Komatke been known to Reverend Mother, she would have 
refused the desired community of teachers, in view of the great 
hardships ahead and the seeming impossibility of a successful 
outcome to their labors and sacrifices. 

Always zealous to better the condition of the Indians, how- 
ever, she accepted the mission, and the appointed community, 
Sisters Anna de Sales Powers, Mary Joseph Franco and St. 
Barbara, arrived at Komatke on August 29. They had made 
the trip from Tucson by way of Phoenix, where they were the 
guests for three days of the Sisters of Mercy. From Phoenix 
they went by stage over desert roads and under a tropical sun, 
its heat and glare intensified by stretches of white sand, and their 
courage kept up by the driver's assurance after every few miles 
of the journey that they were near its end. Shortly after mid- 
day, they reached the small adobe house that was their convent, 
built beside another of the same material that served the double 
purpose of church and school. There was no other human 
habitation in sight, as the small huts of the Indians were scattered 
about the desert at considerable distances from the church, or 
were so low as to seem part of the sandy waste. The pastor 
was absent on a sick call, and the driver of the stage, after 
depositing his passengers, turned and left in all haste, as though, 
writes the chronicler of the mission, "he were afraid that we 
would change our minds about staying and return with him." 
There was no sign of life about the desolate looking place except 
the scorpions running in and out among the trunks and boxes 
which had been sent on ahead and were waiting to be unpacked ; 
but, cheerless as the prospect was, Sister Mary Joseph, veteran 
Indian missionary who had spent many years at Fort Yuma, 


expressed the feelings of all in an emphatic exclamation: 
"Thank God, we are home !" 

On the Sunday following their arrival, they made acquaintances 
among the parents of their future pupils. The majority of 
these were of the Pima tribe, but there were among them also 
some Papagos, Apaches, and Yaquis. All welcomed the Sisters 
in their simple fashion, shaking hands and offering gifts of 
watermelons raised on their small rancherias. One hundred and 
twenty day pupils were registered at the school on the following 
day, ranging in age from six to eighteen years of age. The 
Pimas were wretchedly poor, depending even for their clothing 
on contributions from outside the reservation ; and the ingenuity 
of the Sisters was taxed to keep the children clean and properly 
dressed. These responded readily, however, to instruction : and 
on December 8, after much patient drilling on the part of Sister 
Mary Joseph Franco, sang at the first High Mass said in 
Komatke, their sweet young voices making a pleasing contrast 
to the quavering tones of the old women who had hitherto led 
in the singing of Spanish hymns and litanies. Their first 
Christmas at the school was made happy by Reverend Mother 
Agatha, who sent gifts for all and a crib, the only one which they 
had ever seen, though the significance of Christmas was well 
known to them, and all came to early Mass decked out in the 
fantastic fashion which they thought suitable to the occasion. 

Forty of the children were from other reservations, and as 
they lived at a distance, were accommodated during the first 
year at the homes of friendly Pimas, in order to be near the 
school. The parents of these requested that provision be made 
to keep them day and night at St. John's. Accordingly, in 1902, 
Father Justin, with the aid of two Indian men from Casa Blanca 
— to which settlement, twenty-five miles distant, some of the 
children belonged — erected two small houses, one for girls and 
the other for boys. The houses, built after the prevailing mode, 
were made of arrow weed interlaced on mesquite posts, and 
covered with mud, and served in turn the purposes of kitchen, 


dining room, recreation halls and dormitories. The girls pre- 
pared for themselves and the boys the simple meals of bread, 
coffee and beans, which they cooked over open wood fires and 
served on a cloth spread out on the floor. At night, all wrapped 
themselves in their blankets and slept on the ground. 

During the first week, St. John's "boarding school" presented 
the unusual sight of thirty or more small Indians scattered about 
on the sand hills wrapped in shawls, aprons or pieces of blanket, 
while the large girls helped the Sisters to wash and make present- 
able the one suit of clothing which constituted the outfit of each 
pupil. The first Sunday found all clean, and "as happy as if 
clothed in silk." Trunks and boxes of needed materials sent 
from Carondelet and other houses of the Congregation were used 
to replenish gradually the meagre wardrobes; and the laundry 
problem was eventually solved by the Franciscan Provincial, who 
provided the first washing machine. Before the end of the year 
1902, Father Justin, enlisting the assistance of the large boys, 
began to build a new church, for which the faithful Pimas made 
thirty thousand adobe blocks. 

In the following year, the neighboring Maricopas, having 
learned that there were Sisters at Komatke who spoke their 
language, abandoned a Protestant Church which they were 
attending, and came in to St. John's. The confidence of all in 
the Sisters was exemplified on numerous occasions, when, during 
long absences of the pastor to distant parts of the reservation, 
the Indians brought their dead to church and called on the Su- 
perior, Sister Anna de Sales, to perform the funeral ceremonies. 
She satisfied their simple faith by joining with them in prayers 
for the departed. Mourners, school children and Sisters then 
formed in procession, and reciting the Rosary, wended their way 
to the place of burial, where the body was sprinkled with holy 
water and more prayers said over the newly made grave. The 
relatives of the deceased, with many expressions of gratitude 
and reverence, then departed for their homes, comforted because 
their dead had been interred with Christian rites. 


The aged mother of the Pima chief was among the first com- 
municants in May, 1905 ; and both Pimas and Papagos vied that 
year in building shrines around the reservation for the Corpus 
Christi procession, which everywhere among the Indian tribes 
is an occasion for a public demonstration of their faith. In 
1908, one hundred and eighty-six children were residing per- 
manently at the mission, the two poor shacks of 1902 having 
given place to comfortable adobe houses. These houses in- 
creased in number as the school continued to grow, two large 
dining halls and a sanitarium, both electrically lighted and fur- 
nished with modern equipment, being the latest additions to the 
group; and palms and tropical vegetation altered completely the 
appearance of the desert mission. Three Franciscan Fathers 
are in charge of St. John's, assisted by three Brothers of the 
same Order, nine Sisters, and two disciplinarians. The present 
enrollment is five hundred and twenty-five, and children are 
refused yearly for want of room. 

The instruction is largely vocational, including training in 
hospital service for the girls, and plumbing and electrical en- 
gineering for the boys. Many of the girls, when their course 
is completed, remain as matrons, seamstresses and assistants in 
the sanitarium ; and from the boys are recruited skillful mechanics 
and electricians. St. John's won notable distinction during 
Industrial Week at the State capitol in 1921, when, at the request 
of Governor Campbell of Arizona, it entered into competition 
with the large schools of Phoenix and vicinity in an endeavor to 
make known the educational and industrial achievements of the 
Salt River Valley. Other schools competing were the Union 
High School of Phoenix with fifteen hundred pupils, and the 
Phoenix Indian Boarding School, a government institution, with 
eight hundred children. The silver cup awarded to the best 
school section was carried off by St. John's, the exhibit made 
by its pupils showing the marvellous development of twenty 



In the spring of 1905, an election was held at the Mother 
House to fill the place left vacant by the death in the preceding 
year of the beloved Superior-General, Reverend Mother Agatha 
Guthrie, the interim between her lamented demise and the as- 
sembling of the Chapter having been filled in by her Assistant, 
Mother Gonzaga Grand. The election, presided over by the 
Most Reverend John Joseph Glennon, Archbishop of St. Louis, 
resulted in the choice of Sister Agnes Gonzaga Ryan, who im- 
mediately assumed the responsibility of Mother-General, the 
fourth in line from the revered Mother Celestine. 

Reverend Mother Agnes Gonzaga was born on January 22, 
1855, m Houghton, Michigan, and was baptized by the renowned 
missionary Bishop, Frederic Baraga, then Vicar-Apostolic of 
the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Her early training she re- 
ceived from her parents, devout Irish Catholics in affluent cir- 
cumstances, who instilled into their five children, of whom she 
was the eldest, their own characteristic traits of generosity and 
of delicate and thoughtful consideration for the poor and the 
unfortunate. When the Sisters of St. Joseph opened in 1866 
the first Catholic school in Hancock and one of the very few 
in all of upper Michigan, Alice Ryan became their apt and 
diligent pupil. Her devoted teachers, struggling bravely against 
adverse circumstances in the primitive conditions then prevailing 
in the Lake district, were a source of great edification to the 
alert-minded, impulsive young girl; and when she felt herself 
called to the same life of generous sacrifice, she did not hesitate 

to break the strong ties that bound her to home and friends, 




In the fall of 1873, she entered the novitiate of the Provincial 
House in Troy, New York, attracted to that place rather than 
to the Mother House in St. Louis by the presence in Troy as 
Provincial Superior of Mother Gonzaga Grand, whom she had 
known and loved in Hancock as one of its pioneer community. 
With two other postulants, she received the habit of the Sister- 
hood on December 25, 1873, the date an unusual concession to 
the ardor of the young aspirants. After her profession on 
March 19, 1876, she taught for several years in Troy. Her 
quick, keen intellect, thorough grasp of educational needs and 
problems, ready and understanding sympathy with pupils, 
parents, and fellow-teachers, early won the confidence of her 
superiors; and on the opening of St. Mary's School in Glens 
Falls, New York, in 1883, sne was selected as Superior of that 
large and prosperous mission. She was transferred in 1887 to 
Albany, where, as Superior of the convent there, she was also 
supervisor of the parochial schools in the province ; and served 
in that capacity until a threatened collapse, due to strenuous work 
and a delicate constitution, necessitated her removal to Denver, 
Colorado, From 1896 until her election as Superior-General 
in 1905, she was a member of the Council at the Mother 

Endowed with rich natural gifts, high-minded and generous, 
and skilled in the execution of well-made plans, she found an 
outlet for her tireless energy in the many onerous duties which 
fell upon her willing shoulders during Reverend Mother Agatha's 
declining years. More and more did the latter recognize and 
appreciate the keen mentality of the junior councillor, her tact 
in management, and her equanimity in facing the difficulties 
inseparable from a share in the administration of a large Com- 
munity whose members were spread from New York to Cali- 
fornia, and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. The 
penetrating mind and quick insight of the aged Superior-General, 
experienced in the ways of grace and full of faith in a guiding 
Providence, may have pictured a future not so distant, when 


the bark of which she had long been the worthy pilot would be 
steered by the hand of Sister Agnes Gonzaga, to whom she 
entrusted many important affairs, and whose active and almost 
impetuous zeal she tempered by her own more conservative 
ideals. Thus was Sister Agnes Gonzaga prepared for the great 
responsibilities of the twelve years during which her religious 
government bore abundant fruit to the Congregation. 

Serving with her as her Council for these twelve years were 
Mother Agnes Rossiter, Assistant-General, Sister Aloysius 
Andres, Sister Concordia Horan and Sister Columbine Ryan, 
women of long and varied experience and recognized ability in 
the Congregation, ready to encourage every movement that stood 
for religious or intellectual advancement. Such movements, 
whether local, diocesan or national, enlisted the active interest 
and practical assistance of Reverend Mother Agnes Gonzaga, 
who, while giving minute attention to Community affairs, kept 
in touch with the most recent trend of thought, especially in 
education, and shaped her policies along broad lines. "Quietly 
and unobtrusively she worked, as all great souls do work in the 
realms of nature and of grace; but grandly, too, and most success- 
fully did she perform the many and varied tasks calling for her 
life-giving touch, her forward propulsion." * 

She knew intimately the workings of her Community as one 
who had taken a part in all its activities. Through her official 
visits, enlivened by her stimulating conversation and made fruit- 
ful by her sympathy and advice, and through a correspondence 
remarkable for its literary excellence as well as for its spiritual 
unction, her intercourse with her numerous houses was kept up 
without interruption; and hospital and asylum, college, academy 
and parochial school felt her vivifying influence and the effect of 
her forceful personality. Her problems were not those which 
had confronted her predecessors in office, who in new and ever 
widening circles had helped to spread the Kingdom of Christ 
on earth by surmounting in many instances almost insuperable 

1 Archbishop Ireland in Ariston, p. 7. St. Paul, 1917. 


obstacles; but into each line of work which they had well estab- 
lished she infused renewed spirit and vigor. New conditions 
of progress in education, in medical and social service, were 
calling for adjustment, and the Superior-General was responsive 
to each demand. In special schools and universities at home and 
in art institutes abroad, she procured for the Sisters the best 
opportunities of perfecting themselves in their various avoca- 
tions; and she encouraged each to the highest individual efforts 
in science, letters, music or art, whatever the part assigned 
might be. 

The fall of 1908 found her on her way to Rome in the interests 
of the Congregation. With Mother Agnes, Assistant-General, 
and Mother Seraphine, Provincial Superior of St. Paul, she 
embarked November 26 on the steamer Provence, another com- 
panion of the voyage being Archbishop Ireland. On December 
3 they arrived at Havre, and after several days in Paris, left 
December 8 for the Mother House in Lyons. At Rome, where 
they arrived December 14, they were joined by Sister Celestine 
Howard, who in company with three of her Sisters bound for 
Florence, had preceded them. On January 9, they were received 
in private audience by Pius X. His Holiness expressed a lively 
interest in the history and progress of the Congregation, urged 
continued efforts towards increasing its strength and unity, and 
sent his blessing to the Sisters in America. A privilege much 
appreciated by Reverend-Mother and her companions was that 
of being present in the consistorial chamber of the Vatican 
on January 24, 1909, for the pronouncement by the Holy 
Father of the beatification of Clement Hofbaur and Joan of 

Florence, Milan, Venice, Genoa and Lourdes were visited by 
the travellers before returning to St. Louis, which they reached 
in April. They had collected some valuable art treasures for 
the American houses, among them the Stations of the Cross by 
Gagliardi, the last great work executed by that distinguished 
artist. The Sisters then in Florence and others sent from the 


Mother House in 1913 and 1914 increased the Community's 
small but prized collection, which includes originals from the 
brushes of Raphael, 2 Veronese, and Murillo, by first copies of 
Van Dyke, Botticelli, Perugino, Raphael, Carlo Dolci, Alberti- 
nelli and Philippino Lippi, made from masterpieces in the Pitti, 
Ufizi and Ferroni Galleries. 

Like her predecessor, Reverend Mother Agnes Gonzaga made 
the training of teachers for the grade schools a special care, 
and in 1906, appointed as supervisor Sister Marcella Manifold, 
who had made a life-long study of the chartered schools in New 
York, and who became a recognized force in the organization 
of the school system in St. Louis. When a movement was 
started there for free diocesan high schools, it received its 
strongest impetus from the authorities in Carondelet. In the 
early nineties, Mother Agatha had at heart a similar project; 
and in the hope of bringing it to fruition, announced a central 
high school for girls at the Convent of Our Lady of Good 
Council, outlining a course and selecting teachers for the same. 
In the absence of encouragement and of correspondence with her 
far-seeing plans, the idea was abandoned, to be taken up as a 
matter of general interest thirty years later. In 191 1, two Sis- 
ters were given by Reverend Mother Agnes Gonzaga as teachers 
for the Kain High School, one of two begun that year for girls, 3 
the second being the Rosati in charge of two School Sisters of 
Notre Dame. These schools were merged the following year 
in the Rosati-Kain, a diocesan high school, which both com- 
munities working jointly, and with a faculty composed at present 
of twenty Sisters — ten from each community — have brought to 
the highest point of efficiency. It was recognized in its third 
year by the State University of Missouri as an affiliated institu- 
tion, and in 1917 was accredited to the Catholic University of 

2 A Madonna and Child from the Certosa in Florence, presented in 1874 
by Reverend Father Browne of Mobile, Alabama. 

3 The boys high schools were placed in charge of the Brothers of Mary. 


Besides this high school, ten parochial schools 4 were supplied 
with teachers from the Mother House in the years between 1905 
and 1917; and in the fall of 1909, the corner stone of the new 
St. Teresa's Academy and Junior College in the Country Club 
District of Kansas City was laid by Archbishop Glennon of St. 
Louis, assisted by the venerable Bishop Hogan and Right Rev- 
erend Thomas F. Lillis of Kansas City. The old site of 1866 
had long since been surrounded by business districts ; and the 
pioneer academy, a landmark of the city and the center of its 
earliest intellectual life, abandoned on the completion of the new 
convent and given over to wreckers a few years later, excited 
general interest, and admiration for the builders and materials 
of the half century past. The school had been chartered by the 
Missouri University in 1908 through the efforts of Sister Evelyn 
O'Neill, under whose direction the new St. Teresa's was planned 
and one of the proposed three buildings erected for academic 
and collegiate work. 

A second institution in Kansas City which suffered from its 
changed environment as the progress of industrial life shifted 
the center of population southward, and smoking factory chim- 
neys replaced the trees that had shaded well kept lawns, was 
St. Joseph's Hospital. Founded in 1875 in a private residence 
known as the Waterman House on Penn Street, it had, under 
its early superiors, Sisters Celestia O'Reilly, Virginia Joseph 
Burns and Liguori McNamara, and with the co-operation for 
forty-eight years of the eminent physician and surgeon, Dr. 
J. D. Griffith, overcome difficulties of limited space and help, had 
attracted to itself the best medical talent, and grown up with the 

4 These were as follows: St. Agnes' in St. Louis (190$) ; Holy Angels', 
Indianapolis (1907) ', St. Francis de Sales, Denver (1908) ; Sacred Heart, 
Manitowac, Wis. (1908), from which the Sisters were withdrawn in 1921 ; 
St. Viator's (Elementary and High) Chicago (1910) ; Holy Cross, Champaign, 
Illinois (1912) ; Sacred Heart, Columbia, Mo. (1912) ; and in Kansas City, 
Mo., the Cathedral (1910) ; the Assumption (1913) ; and Our Lady of 
Guadalupe (Mexican), (1917). 


city as part of its great, pulsing life. In 19 17, it transferred its 
patients to the newly erected building on Linwood Boulevard, 
a marvel of up-to-date construction and equipment. 

Reverend Mother Agnes Gonzaga, who had supervised the 
plans for the great Renaissance structure, was among those 
present when ground was broken for it on September 1, 191 5. 
Before its opening two years later, those who loved her best 
could not conceal the dread of her approaching end. "What 
has God not done for us? How shall we thank him adequately?" 
she had written in her community letter in 191 1, announcing 
the seventy-fifth anniversary of the American foundation at 
Carondelet. In her "thoughtful looking backward," she had 
recalled to the minds of present earnest workers the hundreds of 
others "who have entered into a rest which is still work because 
of the example and impetus once given." Of such a character 
was the rest into which she prepared to enter, when, after a 
sojourn in Denver in the fall of 19 16 in the vain effort to regain 
her failing strength, she returned to the Mother House, and 
with an unbroken spirit, endured months of physical suffering. 

In May, she tendered her resignation to the members of the 
Chapter then in session, and welcomed their choice of a successor 
in Mother Alary Agnes Rossiter and of the latter's Council : 
Mother Rose Aurelia Higgins, Assistant-General, Sisters Aloysius 
Andres, Hyacinth Werden, and Margaret Mary Brady. At day 
break on the morning of June 14, Commencement Day that year 
for the girls of the academy, Mother Agnes Gonzaga's ardent 
soul, chastened by long hours of pain, went forth to meet its 
Maker. Twenty successive groups of white-robed seniors had 
received from her a greeting and a God-speed on their graduation 
day; the twenty-first viewed her still form with the awed gaze 
which exuberant youth turns on death. Everywhere was missed 
her welcome presence, "yet her spirit lingered in the old familiar 
places; sweet memories haunted study room and cloister; the 
charm of her personality was felt at every turn. Never had 
she so dominated a Commencement Day," writes a Sister cor- 

st. joseph s hospital, kansas city, missouri 
st. mary's hospital, Minneapolis, Minnesota 


respondent of the Ariston; 5 "other classes had felt her friendly 
hand-clasp, had heard her inspiring words; but the Class of 1917 
knew that her spirit, reaching down from eternity, blessed them 
and commended them to her Lord and King." 

At her obsequies on June 16, the Most Reverend John Joseph 
Glennon, Archbishop of St. Louis, paid tribute to the character 
and virtues of Reverend Mother Agnes Gonzaga, from whom 
had come the first word of encouragement for the erection of 
a wondrous Cathedral, of a great Seminary for young Levites, 
and whose sympathy and support were back of every movement 
that "stood for the soul of the Church, for the spirit of faith, 
for the progress of the Kingdom of God." It was with these 
noble ends in view that she made unceasing efforts for the 
progress of her own Congregation; and an approving Providence 
crowned her labors, as it had crowned those of her predecessors, 
with blessings that bore fruit according to the promised hundred- 

She had a faithful co-operator in Mother Mary Agnes Rossiter, 
who, as Assistant-General from 1905 until 1917, was intimately 
associated with her in all her undertakings. Reverend Mother 
Agnes Gonzaga relied much on the calm, clear judgment of her 
devoted assistant, whose sympathetic friendship and loyal sup- 
port lightened her burden of responsibility. During twelve 
years, their united energies were directed to the increase of God's 
glory, and to the welfare, spiritual and temporal, of their large 
religious family. In the character of Mother Mary Agnes, a 
rare combination of firmness and gentleness inspired confidence 
and won all hearts. She was universally loved and esteemed by 
the Sisters, who received with joy the announcement of her 
election in 191 7 as Superior-General. 

The Sisters belonging to the St. Louis Mother House, at 
present (1922) under the government of Reverend Mother Mary 
Agnes Rossiter, number two thousand, four hundred and forty- 
one. They are located in twenty-four dioceses, with provincial 

5 Vol. XII, No. 1, p. 8. 


houses and novitiates in the dioceses of St. Louis, St. Paul, 
Albany, Los Angeles and Savannah. 6, They conduct one hun- 
dred and sixty-five parochial grade schools, thirty-four high 
schools, eighteen academies, one conservatory of music and art 
with over eleven hundred pupils, and three colleges. They 
have also one school for colored children, and four Indian in- 
dustrial schools registering one thousand Indian boys and girls. 
The pupils in the schools average sixty thousand, three hundred 
and sixty of whom are college students. Of this number two 
hundred and eighty are in the College of St. Catherine in St. 

The benevolent institutions in charge of the Congregation 
include ten hospitals, eight orphan asylums, two institutes for the 
deaf, a day nursery, an infant asylum, and a temporary refuge 
for homeless children, with an average yearly record of four 
hundred and fifty inmates received and permanently placed. The 
average number of patients cared for yearly in the hospitals is 
sixteen thousand six hundred. 

While the Congregation is chiefly devoted to education, it 
has never relaxed in its care of the sick, the afflicted and the 
homeless. The purpose of its founders, that its members while 
laboring for their own perfection, might "serve their neighbor 
with care, diligence and cordiality," 7 was followed out, as we 
have seen, in the first work undertaken by the Sisters as an 
organized body, among the orphan girls of Mont-Ferrand. "We 
must labor to establish an Institute of self-annihilation," wrote 
John Paul Medaille to the first Sisters of St. Joseph at Le Puy 
in October 1650. "It should be lowly and hidden like Jesus in 
the Holy Eucharist, wherein He is so concealed as to be almost 
invisible. Let it be nothing in the eyes of the world; but before 
God, whatever He in His infinite mercy may design to make it." 

6 The Sisters in this diocese, originally from Le Puy, France, and until 
recently under Episcopal jurisdiction, were affiliated to the St. Louis 
Congregation in 1922, and with the approval of Pope Benedict XV, were 
received as a distinct province. 

7 Constitutions, p. 4. Lyons, 1847. 


After its establishment *in Lyons in 1696, we find the Sisters, 
following the lead of Divine grace, engaged in all the active 
works of charity, caring for the sick in hospitals, instructing 
prisoners conducting dispensaries for the poor, and even main- 
taining a refuge for penitent girls. 8 Their schools were located 
in places where no other teaching community existed, and were 
chiefly for the children of the poor. 

The Revolution, dispersing the congregation, left as one of its 
most dire consequences an almost total ignorance of God and 
religion among the young; and the necessity for religious 
teachers, in the opinion of the Cardinal-Archbishop of Lyons, 
over-shadowed every other need of the period immediately fol- 
lowing those diastrous years. 9 He emphasized this necessity in 
the reorganization of the Congregation, realizing the great in- 
fluence which well-instructed young women, as the future mothers 
of France, would exercise on society; 110 and the training of 
teachers became an object of special care and attention on the 
part of Mother Saint John Fontbonne and her successors, though 
the works of charity were also zealously promoted. 

''They will make good infirmarians," wrote their spiritual di- 
rector, Father Cholleton, in 1836, enumerating to Bishop Rosati 
the qualifications of the Sisters who left France that year to make 
the American foundation; and their weekly ministrations to the 
poor and sick in the neighborhood of their primitive dwelling 
bore eloquent testimony to the justice of the characterization. 
Many years passed, however, before they assumed the role of 
nurses in an official capacity. When the need for such service 
came, it did not find them wanting, though no scientific prepara- 
tion, such as is common today, was given to the few Sisters who 
were sent in 1853 m answer to Bishop Cretin's urgent demands 
to establish the pioneer hospital in Minnesota and the first per- 
manent one in charge of the Community. The sign-manual of 

8 BOUCHAGE, Op. Clt., p. 21. 

*Ibid., p. 75. 
10 Ibid., p. 75. 


their profession was the compassionate heart, eager to soothe 
away pain from the weary sufferers, the woman's intuition guid- 
ing their fingers in the accomplishment of their new and difficult 

Monuments to the success and perseverance of that small band 
and of the devoted Sisters who followed them, are the great 
structures of today, into the plans and equipment of which have 
entered the latest and best ideas of chemist, physicist and surgeon, 
and where small armies of registered nurses and pharmacists 
and expert technicians supplement in ward and sick room, in 
the laboratories, electro-therapeutic and X-ray departments, the 
labors of skilled physicians in making each hospital or sanato- 
rium a temple of science as well as of mercy. 

The last contribution to this group of activities was made 
when the new St. Mary's in Minneapolis was opened in 1918 
and registered under the College of Surgeons. It superseded 
the earlier one — pretentious and well equipped in its time — built 
on a slight elevation above the right bank of the Mississippi and 
commanding refreshing views of water and woodland. From 
service plants and laboratories for specialized research, to ex- 
quisite chapel, expansive sun-parlors and roof-gardens, it forms 
a complete unit, evidencing the scientific builder, and contributing 
in its every feature, not the least important of which is a free 
clinic and dispensary for the poor, to the ease and comfort of 
those who suffer. The Government recognized the high standard 
maintained at St. Mary's when it requisitioned a department for 
rehabilitation work among veterans of the World War. 

An average of one thousand seven hundred is the yearly record 
of orphaned or homeless children for whom provision is made 
in the various institutions of the Congregation. One of these, 
the Home for the Friendless, in Chicago, is unique in furnishing 
a temporary refuge for destitute children until permanent homes 
are found for them. It is located on the border of Lake 
Michigan in the old historic building that from 1871 until the 
opening of the diocesan Industrial Home in 1912 was St. Joseph's 

■■-* ■^-■; j \ 


Orphan Asylum. In its present capacity, the Home fills a press- 
ing need of the great city, where daily tragedies in child life 
bring pitiful bits of humanity to the convent door, beyond which 
lies for many of them the first homelike experiences in their 
dwarfed and sunless years. Applicants are admitted through the 
Central Bureau of Catholic Charities, to which they are referred 
by all the welfare agencies of the city, including the Municipal 
and United States District Courts. 

The great majority of these unfortunate children arrive at 
the Home in a wretched condition; but each emerges from the 
isolation ward, to which he is first consigned, transformed by 
care and cleanliness into an apparently new being, and enters a 
cheery class or playroom with a brighter outlook on life than 
has ever before been vouchsafed him. Permanent records kept 
at the institution show four thousand inmates received in eight 
years, and given, during the temporary sojourn which each is 
allowed to make until parent, relative or Good Samaritan is 
found to provide for a better future, daily secular and religious 
instruction to aid them in their battle with life. 

In the field of deaf-mute education, the extent and quality 
of work done by the Sisters of Saint Joseph are comparatively 
unknown outside the circles of the deaf and those sympathetically 
interested in this afflicted class. From 1837, when Sister Celes- 
tine Pommerel and Sister Saint John Fournier responded to the 
appeal of the first Bishop of St. Louis for laborers in what was 
then an uncultivated field, until the present, the Congregation in 
America has never discontinued the onerous and at times most 
discouraging task of conveying a knowledge of truth to those 
silent ones, for whom there is "no charm in music, no joy in 
children's voices," and of teaching them to give forceful and 
beautiful expression to the imprisoned thoughts struggling in 
their eager minds for utterance. 

Left almost wholly without material aid in the difficult under- 
taking, the devoted teachers could count for decades together 
only on the assistance and example of the Great Teacher, whose 


"Ephpheta!" spoken nearly two thousand years ago and fol- 
lowed by miracles of speech and hearing, gave evidence of His 
divine compassion for this portion of His flock. The children 
brought under the care of the Sisters were often of the most 
destitute class, and the problem of supporting them was added 
to that of providing capable instruction. On the withdrawal 
in 1847 °f tne State funds granted in Missouri by a legislative 
act of 1839 for the maintenance and education of the deaf, the 
Sisters were thrown on their own resources and the charity of 
well-disposed friends in keeping up their school for deaf-mute 
girls. In 1870, they were able to begin at Hannibal, Missouri, 
a branch for boys. This was transferred in 1885 to St. Louis, 
where both boys and girls have since remained. 

Under the combined and oral methods of instruction, the latter 
including lip-reading and articulation, the students are given an 
eight year course, supplemented by high school subjects for those 
who desire to pursue them. The industrial branches enter 
largely into this course; and young men and women, equipped 
for life and citizenship, yearly leave the school to become useful 
members of the business world and the makers of happy Cath- 
olic homes. Graduates of the institution are found in shops, 
manufacturing plants, offices and banks, and wherever efficiency 
is not dependent on the ability to speak and hear. The girls 
become adept seamstresses, typists and accountants, and in rare 
instances have developed great skill in art and music. Six of 
their number answered the call to a religious life, and as members 
of the community known as "The Little Sisters of Our Lady of 
Seven Dolors," u in Montreal, Canada, are devoting their talents 
to the education of those afflicted like themselves. 

The community annals of the deaf give prominence to the 

11 This Sisterhood, founded in April 1887 for deaf-mute girls who desire 
to consecrate themselves to God, is affiliated to the Sisters of Charity of 
Providence. Its labors are confined to the large institution for the deaf 
conducted by the latter community in Montreal. Of this school, Sister 
Teresa (Ouida Erd) the first to enter from the St. Louis institute, was for 
years the only English teacher. 


work of Sister Adelina Whalen, whose whole religious life of 
forty years was spent in teaching hundreds of eager and grateful 
students, to whom the sound of her voice was unknown, but 
whose understanding hearts hold her in grateful remembrance; 
of Sister Mary Suso Colgan and Sister Mary Borgia Davis, the 
last named connected for twenty-seven years with the deaf-mute 
institute in St. Louis. On these and their assistant teachers 
devolved for many years a great part of the religious instruction 
of the adult Catholic deaf in St. Louis and in Oakland, California, 
there being very few priests in either place acquainted with the 
signs. Since 19 14, Jesuit Fathers of St. Louis University, 
having mastered the different methods of teaching the deaf, 
direct the sodalities, literary and debating societies, and other 
benevolent, social, and religious activities of which St. Joseph's 
Deaf-mute Institute is the center. 

Thus is perpetuated the labor of sacrifice and love which our 
pioneer Sisters inaugurated in the diocese of St. Louis, emulating 
the zeal of John of Beverly and Francis de Sales, of the devoted 
Abbes de l'Epee and Sicard, and adding a most praise-worthy 
avocation to the numerous others by which the Sisters of Saint 
Joseph in the United States endeavor to co-operate with the 
Divine Exemplar in the salvation of souls. 



i. Community Archives. The principal manuscript sources 
for this work are in the archives of the Mother House, St. Louis, 
Missouri. They consist of (i) annals, documents and records 
( 1 836-1 922) ; (2) diaries, letters and memoirs written by mem- 
bers of the Congregation, and covering much of the period 
between 1836 and 1890; (3) memoirs of Eliza McKenney 
Brouillet (1841-1846); (4) memoranda and letters from the 
Sisters of St. Joseph in Brooklyn, Buffalo, Wheeling, Toronto 
and Philadelphia; also copies of records (prior to 1857) f rom 
the community archives in Toronto and Philadelphia; (5) letters 
from the Mother House in Le Puy relative to the martyrs of 
the Revolution; (6) copies of official documents from the Mother 
House in the Diocese of Tarentaise, Savoy; (7) "A Sketch of 
Our Saints and Martyrs," Sister Julia Littenecker; (8) Spanish 
War correspondence (Sisters) (1898-1899); (9) European 
journals of Mother Mary Agnes Rossiter and Reverend Mother 
Agnes Gonzaga Ryan (1 908-1 909) ; and Roman and Florentine 
diary of Sister Baptista Montgomery (1913-1914) ; (10) letters 
of Pope Pius IX; Cardinals Barnabo, Quaglia, McCloskey; 
Archbishops Peter Richard Kenrick, Feehan, Elder, Salpointe, 
Lamy, Bourgade; Bishops Baraga, Mrak, Amat, Juncker, Grace, 
Conroy, Duggan, Foley, Hogan, Ludden, Gillow, of Oaxaco, 
Mexico; Fathers St Cyr, Abram J. Ryan, G. Raymond, Baxter, 
S.J., Menet, S.J., Terhorst, Jacker, Donnelly, Loyzance, S.J., 
Keveny, Paris, Melcher, Madame de la Rochejaquelin, and nu- 
numerous others; (11) official documents from Rome authenti- 
cating the relics in the Martyr's chapel. 



2. Diocesan Archives. From the archives of the St. Louis Di- 
ocese were obtained (1) extracts from the diary of Bishop 
Rosati; (2) copies of an official document from the Mother 
House in Lyons; (3) letters of John Paul Gaston de Pins, Simon 
Brute, Charles Cholleton, Edmund Saulnier, Sisters Celestine 
Pommerel, Febronie Fontbonne, Delphine Fontbonne, Saint John 
Fournier, Madame de la Roche jaquelin. 

3. Parish Records. A few items of historical interest were 
found in the records of Holy Family Church, Cahokia, Illinois; 
the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Sts. Mary and 
Joseph) Carondelet; the Church of St. Vincent de Paul, St. 
Louis, Missouri. 

4. Municipal Records. Some important facts regarding the 
early history of the Sisters in Carondelet were obtained from 
the minutes of the Carondelet Council proceeding prior to 1851. 



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hynes, Robert. "The Old Church at Cahokia." Illinois Cath- 
olic Historical Review, vol. 1. April, 1919. 
holweck, f. g. "Reverend John Francis Loisel." St. Louis 

Catholic Historical Review, vol. 1, 1909. 

"Vater Saulnier und Seine Zeit." Pastoral-Blatt. St. 

Louis, April, 1917. 
Ireland, john. "Memoirs of Lucien Galtier." Minnesota 

Historical Society Collections, vol. III. 1870-1880. 
kenny, laurence, s. j. Missouri's Earliest Settlement and 

Its Name." St. Louis Catholic Historical Review, vol.i, 

lins, Joseph. "Savoy." Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XIII. 
lord, daniel a., s. j. "The House of Silence." Queen s 

Work. St. Louis, April, 1920. 
m c nulty, Ambrose. "The Chapel of St. Paul and the Begin- 


nings of Catholicity in Minnesota." Minnesota Historical 
Society Collections, vol. X, part 2. 1900- 1904. 

rothensteiner, john. "Kaskaskia — Father Benedict Roux." 
Illinois Catholic Historical Review, vol. I, 19 18-19 19. 

souvay, charles l., c. m. "Rosati's Elevation to the See of 
St. Louis." Catholic Historical Review, vol. Ill, 191 7. 

Thompson, Joseph j. "The Illinois Missions." Illinois Cath- 
olic Historical Review, vol. I, July, 1918. 

vermeersch, a. "Nuns." Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XL 



(Statistics of 1921-1922) 


37. Louis, City and County. 

No. of Lay No. of 

School or Academy Sisters Teachers Pupils 

Mother House & Novitiate 115 

* St. Joseph's Acadamy 11 3 222 

All Saints School 4 231 

Assumption , 6 ........ 1 ....... 296 

Cathedral 8 . 347 

Holy Angels 5 1 243' 

Holy Name 11 529 

Holy Rosary , 12 639 

Nativity 3 1 241 

Notre Dame 7 1 366 

Our Lady of Lourdes 2 1 49 

Rosati-Kain, Diocesan High 511 

10 Sisters of St. Joseph 
10 Sisters of Notre Dame 

St. Agnes 7 3 375 

St. Ann 4 173 

St. Anthony 14 . . . 978 

St. Bridget 3 169 

* Institutions with High School Departments. 

* * High Schools only. 



No. of Lay No. of 
School or Academy Sisters Teachers Pupils 

St. Cecilia 6 . . ., 300 

St. Columbkille 3 139 

St. Edward 7 3 461 

St. John 2 1 88 

Sts. John & James 3 100 

St. Lawrence O'Toole 5 . . . 266 

St. Leo 11 2 ........ 668 

St. Luke ,. . ., 3 174 

St. Margaret 11 533 

Sts. Mary & Joseph 4 140 

St. Mary Magdalen 2 ,. . . 64 

St. Matthew 12 2 732 

St. Philip Neri 4 231 

St. Rita 2 69 

St. Roch , 5 156 

St. Vincent 8 ,. . . 457 

Fontbonne College, to be constructed at Hill Crest. 



Mobile, Cathedral Boys' School 

Creole " 66 

St. Patrick's " 80 

Denver, St. Francis de Sales. ... 10 ...... .» 348 

St. Patrick's . 8 .. 161 

St. Catherine's ....... .1 


Campus, Sacred Heart 4 . . ., 80 

Champaign, Holy Cross 4 132 

Chicago, Nativity 25 1 106 

*St. Viator 14 ..650 


No. of Lay No. of 

School or Academy Sisters Teachers Pupils 

Newton, St. Joseph 3 74 

* Peoria, Academy of Our Lady. . 13 206 

Cathedral School 6 260 

Waterloo, St. Joseph 6 180 


* Indianapolis, Sacred Heart .... 19 1 789 

Holy Angels 6 212 


* Hancock, St. Patrick 11 400 

St. Joseph 9 250 

Ishpeming, St. John 11 370 

* Marquette, Baraga (Cathedral 

School) 16 716 

Negaunee, St. Paul 8 410 


* Chillicothe, St. Joseph's Academy 11 60 

St. Columban's School . . 3 84 

* Hannibal, St. Joseph's Academy. 10 ....... 2 . 307 

Kansas City, Assumption...... 2 98 

Cathedral School 7 315 

Holy Rosary (Italian) . 7 4 02 

Our Lady of Guadalupe 

(Mexican) 3 109 

* Our Lady of Perpetual 

Help 12 500 

St. Teresa Junior College 22 ....... 5 ...... 150 

Visitation 2 31 

* Ste. Genevieve, Ste. Genevieve 

School 11 380 

St. Joseph, St. Patrick 11 406 

Immaculate Conception. . 5 186 


* Muskogee, Nazareth Academy.. 13 331 


No. of Lay 

School or Academy Sisters Teachers 


* Green Bay. St. Joseph's Academy 13 

St. John's 7 

Keshena. Indian Industrial .... 10 

Oconto. St. Peter (French) ... . 5 

Shawano. Sacred Heart 6 

West De Pere, St. Joseph . 4 

No. of 





St. Paul. 

St. Joseph's Novitiate Normal ... 77 . 

* St. Joseph's Academy 31 . 

College of St. Catherine 15 . 

Derham Hall Academic Dept. 

Cathedral School 17 . 

Blessed Sacrament 4 . 

St. Agatha's Conservatory 24 . 

St. James , . 8 

St. John 8 .. 

St. Louis (French) 5 . 

St. Luke , io< 

St. Mark 16 . . 

St. Mary . 9 . 

St. Michael 12 ., 

St. Vincent 8 


Ascension School 16 

Holy Angels Academy 15 

Our Lady of Lourdes 1... 8 

Pro-Cathedral 16 . 


16 ...... . 280 



...... 195 




....... 183 

•• 437 



. . . ... . 544 







No. of Lay No. of 

School or Academy Sisters Teachers Pupils 

St. Anthony 12 . ., 580 

* * St. Margaret's Academy .... 14 270 

St. Stephan - 8 404 



Anoka, St. Ann's Academy 9 186 

* Bird Island, St. Mary . 9 222 

Currie. Immaculate Heart .... 7 140 

* Fulda. St. Gabriel ., 11 250 

* Ghent. St. Agnes 6 171 

* Graceville. St. Mary's Academy 12 323 

Hastings. St. Teresa 6 113 

Kilkenny. St. Canice . ., 7 97 

* Le Sueur. St. Ann 11 190 

Le Sueur Center. St. Mary... 7 138 

* Marshall. St. Joseph's Academy 10 294 

* Morris. St. Mary 10 254 

Olivia. St. Aloysius 5 168 

Stillwater. St. Michael 9 203 

St. Peter. St. Peter 6 98 

* Waverly. St. Mary 8 190 

White Bear. St. Mary 8 256 

North Dakota. 

* * Grand Forks. St. James 

Academy 14 1 120 

Pro-Cathedral School 13 445 

* Jamestown. St. John's Academy 24 1 350 

South Dakota. 

* Water town. Immaculate 

Conception 12 , ...... 401 



New York. No. of Lay No. of 

Troy. School or Academy Sisters Teachers Pupils 

St. Joseph's Seminary & Novitiate 89 

St. Anthony (Italian) 2 3 245 

St. Augustine 12 2 511 

St. Francis 4 188 

St. Joseph 20 950 

St. John the Baptist (French) ... 4 170 

St. Lawrence (German ,. 4 182 

St. Michael 4 215 

* St. Patrick's Academy 1 11 1 ...... 476 

St. Peter's Academy 13 ... ....... 575 


St. Ann's Academy 12 506 

St. Anthony (Italian) 2 1 115 

Cathedral Academy 20 2 760 

College of St. Rose ........... 8 3 50 


St. Mary's Academy 13 1 734 


St. Mary's Academy 12 613 

Sts. Cyril & Methodius (Slovak) 8 374 


St. Bernard's Academy . 15 3 630 

Glens Falls. 

St. Mary's Academy 26 1202 

Green Island. 

St. Joseph 3 . .: , 135 

Hoosick Falls. 

St. Mary's Academy 8 , 340 


St. Mary's Academy 12 1 ...... 428 

1 Academies in Troy Province all chartered under the Regents of New- 
York as high schools. 


No. of Lay No. of 
School or Academy Sisters Teachers Pupils 

Little Falls. 

St. Mary's Academy 17 7 ...... 872 


St. Peter 11 397 


St. Peter 9 245 


St. Joseph's Academy 10 425 


Sacred Heart Academy 7 400 

St. Lucy's " 18 763 

St. John's 11 472 

St. Patrick's " 12 1 656 

St. Vincent de Paul 9 390 


St. Agnes Academy 10 514 

St. Francis de Sales 19 823 

St. Patrick 7 389 


St. Bridget's Academy 9 1 406 



Los Angeles 

St. Mary's Provincial House .... 65 

* St. Mary's Academy 18 3 325 

Holy Cross School 9 510 

St. Cecilia's 5 243 

St Patrick's 5 300 

St. Vincent's 11 573 

Banning. St. Boniface (Indian) 7 120 

Fresno. Our Lady of Victory. . 4 100 


No. of 
School or Academy Sisters 
* Oakland. St. loseph's Institute t t . . . 


No. of 

. .• 373 
... 156 
. . . 100 

* Oxnard. St. Joseph's Institute 
Redondo Beach. St. James 

* San Diego. 

Academy of Our Lady of Peace. 
Our Lady of the Angels 

St. John's " 

IO . . . 

4 ••• 


5 ••• 
. 4 ... 

4 ... 

14 .. 

5 ••• 

7 ••• 

9 ... 

3 F ™ 
IO . . . 

... 2 ... 

. . . 172 

... 2 ... 

. .. 256 
. . . 1^ 

* San Francisco. Star of the Sea 

* Tucson. St. Joseph's Academy.. 

St. Augustine's School 
San Xavier del Bac 
(Papago Indians) . . 
Komatke. St. John's (Pima 

* Prescott. St. Joseph's Academy 



Sacred Heart 

..... 750 

. . . .201 

, . . 200 

. . . TOO 

.♦• 2 525 

nciscan Brothers. 


5 .-. 
IO . . . 

. . . IK 

. . . 210 



St Francis Xavier 


. . . IO^ 

4 ... 

7 ••• 

. . . cn 


Sacred Heart 

. . . %02 


... 70 


Hospitals Sisters Nurses Patients 



Tucson. St. Mary's 20 12 760 


St. Paul. St. Joseph's 34 . .. 88 6098 

Minneapolis. St. Mary's 34 ...... 118 44 2 9 


Hancock. St. Joseph's 15 700 


Kansas City. St. Joseph's .... 29 70 4545 

New York. 

Amsterdam. St. Mary's 12 700 

Troy. St. Joseph's 3 379 

North Dakota. 

Fargo. St. John's 30 5 2626 

Grand Forks. St. Michael's ... 17 21 1343 

Jamestown. Holy Trinity .... 8 25 1 100 

Other Institutions Sisters Inmates 


Tucson. St. Mary's Orphanage 6 100 


Oakland. Deaf-Mute Institute . . 6 25 


Washington. St. Joseph's Orphan 

Home 5 45 


Chicago. Home for the 

Friendless 8 91 

Minneapolis St. Mary's Orphanage, 

(Boys) 18 138 


Other Institutions Sisters Inmates 

St. Paul. Girls' Orphan Home . . 1 1 90 


Kansas City. St. Joseph's Home 

(Girls) 14 150 

St. Louis. St. Joseph's Home 

( Boys ) 20 90 

Deaf-Mute Home. . . 24 62 

New York. 
Binghamton. St. Mary's 

Orphanage 24 175 

Troy. St. Joseph's Orphan 

Home 19 262 


Abbey, the, 40-42. 
Academy Heights, 242. 
Academies: in Arizona, 258, 259, 262; 
in California, 260, 268; in Illinois, 
137, 138; in Michigan, 146, 147, 
152; in Minnesota, 84, 86, 91, 
232, 234, 238, 243, 246; in Mis- 
souri, 114, 116, 142-145; see also, 
St. Joseph's Academy, Caronde- 
let; in New York, see Regents of 
New York University; in the 
Dakotas, 246; in Oklahoma, 200; 
in Wisconsin, 195, 196. 

Albany, 207. 

Alumnae Association, 206. 

Amat, Thaddeus, 65, 126. 

American missions, volunteers for, 31. 

Americanization of the Papagos, 277. 

Amsterdam, chartered schools in, 

Approbation of Holy See. See Con- 

Appropriation for deaf-mutes, 52. 

Arizona, pioneer Sisters in, 251, 255- 

Art collections, 299, 300. 
Audience of Superiors with Pius IX, 

119, 121; with Pius X, 299. 
Autonomy, 67. 

Baccalaureate degree at St. Cather- 
ine's, 245. 

Baraga, city of, 153- 

Baraga, Frederic, 121, 146, 147. 

Barnabo. See Cardinal Protector. 

Barron, Edward, Vicar-Apostolic of 
Liberia, 64. 

Beckx, Peter, 124, 214. 

Benevolent institutions, 304. 

Benneyton, Mademoiselle, 132. 

Black Sisters, the, 18, 19. 

Blessing of Pius X, 299. 

Blow, Henry T., gift of, 133- 

Bochard, Marie Claude, 22. 

Bochet, Sister Jane, 234. 

Bogan, Mother Odelia, 223, 226, 227. 

Bonald, Cardinal de, 108. 
Boniface VIII and religious enclo- 
sure, 1. 
Bouchage, Leon, 102. 
Boute, Sister Felicite, 59, 60, 171. 
Bradshaw, Sister Valeria, 263, 266. 
Byrnes, Mary Josephine, 60. 

Cahokia: arrival of Sisters in, 37; 
blessing of bread in, 38; blessing 
of chapel in, 42; buildings in, 40; 
confirmation in, 41 ; commons of, 
37; inundation of, 63; revival of 
mission at, 99; withdrawal of 
Sisters from, 100. 
Calcassieu, parish of, 131. 
Camp Father Matthew. See Yellow 

fever in Memphis. 
Canandaigua, 75, 76. 
Cardinal Protector, 121. 
Carey, Mother Mary John: 220-223. 
Carondelet: arrival of Sisters in, 45; 
ceremonies at, 99; cradle of con- 
gregation in America, 108; com- 
mons of, 44; in 1836, 44; history 
of, 43-44; a city, 97. 
Carondelet, Baron de, 44. 
Carondelet Road, 97. 
Catholic Indian Bureau, 279, 290. 
Centralized government, 107, 108. 
Chambery, diocese of, 25. 
Chanay, Mother St. Joseph, 25, 83. 
Chapel of the Holy Family, 203; of 

St. Joseph, 135. 
Chapellon, Sister Febronie, 39, 174. 
Charbonnel, Amandus de, 73. 
Chateau of Yon, 22. 
Chicago fire, the, 141, 142. 
Chippewas in Minnesota, 81 ; in Wis- 
consin, 147. 
Cholera, in St. Louis, 100; in St. 

Paul, 90. 
Cholleton, Charles, foreign vicar of 
St. Louis diocese, 39; letters of, 
48, 50, 305 ; member of Society 
for Propagation of the Faith, 29; 




Spiritual Father of Sisters in 
Lyons, 23, 24. 

Cholleton, Claude, 17, 19. 

Church of St. Augustine, Tucson, 248. 

College: of St. Catherine, 243-245, 
304; of St. Rose of Lima, 227; 
of St. Teresa, 144, 301. 

Condamine, Matthew, 41. 

Congregation of St. Joseph; appro- 
bation of, 118, 121, 122; authori- 
zation of, 21 ; name of, 8; fiftieth 
anniversary in America, 174; 
founders, 3-5; origin, 6; purpose, 


Congregations, laws against, 14. 

Conservatory of St. Agatha, 237. 

Constitutions : authors of, 8 ; com- 
mendation of, 119; editions of, 
10, 23 ; preparation of, 8. 

Contract schools, 287. 

Corrigan, Sister Monica, journal of, 
253, 254. 

Coughlin, Mother Seraphine : 66, 89, 
112, 231, 232. 

Course of studies, 234, 244. See also, 

Cox, Sister Ignatius Loyola, 91, 234. 

Creoles, education of, 190. 

Cretin, Joseph : among Winnebagos, 
86, 87; Bishop of St. Paul, 73', 
death, 112; episcopal palace, 84; 
in Ferney, 82; in St. Louis, 54, 
99; pen picture of, 92. 

Crowley, Sister Teresa Louise, 58. 

Curriculum, 95, 96, 143, 172. 

Damen, Arnold, S. J., 155. 
Daughters of the Visitation of St. 

Mary, 2. 
Deaf-mutes: education of, 31, 51; 

first pupils in Carondelet, 52; 

method of instructing, 309; state 

funds for, 52; teachers of, 48. 
Deaf-mute Institute: in Buffalo, 78; 

in Oakland, 260, 266 ; in St. 

Louis, 136. 
Deboille, Sister St. Protais, 40, 41, 45, 

46, 92, 174, 151. 
Decrees regarding congregation, 107, 

119, 120. 
De Smet, Father, 143. 
Devie, Alexander Raymond, 25, 82, 

Dillon, Anne Eliza, 50, 57, 60. 

Diocesan high schools, 300. 
Diocesan Seminary, 62, 98. 
Disguise of religious dress, 35, 70. 
Donnelly, Bernard, 142, 192. 
Doutreluingue, Father, 35, 40. 
Du Bourg, Valentine, 28. 

Elder, John Henry, 106, 121, 131. 

Enclosure, 1, 2. 

Episcopal approbation : of Armand de 
Bethune, 10; of Henry de Mau- 
pas, 9; of Henry Villars, 10. 

Erection of provinces, 117, 118. 

Facemaz, Mother St. John : assem- 
bles general chapter, 116; death 
of, 170; in Rome, 121; leaves 
Moutiers, 102; life of, 112, 113; 
missions founded by, 129 ; sends 
colony to Arizona, 250, 251; su- 
perior in Carondelet, 112; Su- 
perior-General, 118. 

Falconi£>, Diomede, at St. Mary's, Los 
Angeles, 267. 

Feehan, Patrick A., 98, 121, 188. 

Ferrari, Marchioness de, 123 ; Mon- 
signor Joseph de, 123. 

Ferney, 82. 

Fesch, Cardinal : and the suppressed 
Congregations, 16; and civil au- 
thorities, 25 ; and reconstruction 
of the Congregation of St. Jo- 
seph, 19. 

Fire at St. Lawrence's School, 178; 
destroys St. Joseph's Academy, 


Fitzpatrick, Miss Ellen, 136. 

Flood of 1844, 42. See also Cahokia, 
inundation of. 

Fontbonne, Sister Delphine : in Ca- 
hokia, 54; in Carondelet, 31; in 
Canada, 73; in Philadelphia, 72; 
in St. Louis, 65 ; death of, 106. 

Fontbonne, James, 32, 34, 40, 47, 61. 

Fontbonne, Mother Febronie : 31, 32, 
34; life of, 39; in Cahokia, 47; 
returns to France, 63; death of, 
174 (Note). 

Fontbonne, Mother St. John: at 
Fourvieres, 32; disregards civil 
regulations, 12; community of 
Rue de la Bourse receives, 20; 
foundations made by, 26 ; in her 
father's home, 14; in Lyons, 18; 



in Monistrol, 12; in prison, 13; 
restores Congregation, 16, 19; 
sends mission to Missouri, 29. 

Fort St. Anthony, 81. 

Fort Yuma. See Yuma Reservation. 

Fournier, Mother St. John, 48, 59, 
60, 66, 69, 71, 72, 73, 89. 

Fourvieres, Our Lady of, 32, 103. 

Franciscans in Komatke, 295 ; at 
San Xavier's, 276. 

Free elementary school, 230. 

Fremont, John C., 259. 

French Revolution, religious com- 
munities during, 7. 

French Town, 37. 

Gallard, Monsignor de, II, 12; in 

exile, 14; letter of, 14, 15. 
Galtier, Lucian, 81, 82. 
Gaston, John Paul, 23, 32. 
Generalate, 112, 116, 231. 
General chapter, 127. 
Gibbons, Gardinal, in St. Paul, 242. 
Glenmore, 221. 
Glennon, John Joseph, 205, 296, 301, 


Gondi, Anne of, 3. 

Grace, Thomas L., 229, 233. 

Grand, Mother Gonzaga, 102, 116, 

Great Council of the Yumas, 282. 

Guthrie, Mother Agatha : character 
of, 158; conversion of, 172; early 
lifv., 155; golden jubilee of, 204; 
government of, 158 ; in Georgia, 
201 ; in Michigan, 147 ; in Rome, 
166; in Wheeling, 74; Provincial 
superior in Troy, 213 ; Superior 
General, 157; last illness and 
death, 204-206. 

Habit, original form of, 8, 9. 

Hennessey, Sister Adele, 160. 

Hill of the Chartreux, 24. 

Holy Family, Church of, 37. 

Holy Family, village of, 37. 

Hogan, John Joseph, 145, 192, 193. 

Home of the Friendless, the, 306, 307. 

Hospital : in Arizona, 258 ; in Colo- 
rado, 175 ; in Dakota, 246 ; in 
Michigan, 202, 203 ; in Minnesota, 
90, 91, 303, 306; in Missouri, 166, 
301; in New Yonc, 221, 222; in 
Philadelphia, 72. 

Hotel-Dieu, Vienne, 10. 

Howard nurses. See Yellow fever in 

Howard, Sister Celestine, 229, 234, 

237, 238. 
Hughes, John, 71. 

Illinois country, the, 128. 
Illinois, early French villages in, 28. 
Immaculate Conception School, in 
Canandaigua, 76; in St. Louis, 

. 6 5- . 
Indian industrial schools, 194, 260, 

Indian reservation, 86. 
Institute, teachers', in St. Louis, 176. 
Ireland, John, 71, 72, 229, 232, 235. 
Ireland, Mother Seraphine, 136, 201, 

229, 235. 
Ivory, Sister Francis Joseph, 75, 78, 

87, 142. 

Jacker, Edward, 147, 149. 

Jaricot, Pauline, 28. 

Journey of Sisters to Arizona, 251- 

254; to St. Paul, 83, 84. 
Jouvenceau, Francis, 253. 
Joux, Madame de, 7. 
Jurisdiction of Lyons, 107. 

Kain, John Joseph, 178. 

Kaskaskia, 27, 37. 

Kennedy, Sister Mary Joseph, 140. 

Kenrick, Francis Patrick, 70, 71. 

Kenrick, Peter Richard : arrival in 
St. Louis of, 61 ; benefactor of 
St. Joseph's Academy, 136; death 
of, 179; dedicates St. Joseph's 
chapel, 135 ; interest in negro 
school, 63, 64; at Diocesan 
Seminary, 98; presides at gen- 
eral election, 118; promotes gen- 
eral government, 117, 118. 

Kino, Eusebio : apostle to Indians, 
248; builds San Xavier, 270; 
memoirs of, 270. 

Komatke, arrival of Sisters at, 291, 
292; St. John's in, 294. 

Lamy, J. B., 248. 

L'Ange, Francis Joseph, 97. 

L'Anse, 146, 149 

L'Anse Bay, 147. 

La Purissima Conception, 278. 



La Rochejaquelin, Madame de, 30, 31, 

49, 125. 

Le Couteulx Institute, 78. 

Le Couteulx, Louis, 77. 

Le Puy, 7, 8, 10, 12, 24. 

Letters patent, 10. 

Lillis, Thomas F., 192, 307. 

Littenecker, Sister Julia : Assistant 
General, 159; education of, 160; 
in Canandaigua, 76, 77; in Mich- 
igan, 147 ; in Rome, 121 ; in 
Yuma, 280, 282; in Ste. Marie, 
187; in Mexico, 199; travels of, 

Loisel, John Francis Regis, 42, 63. 

Long Prairie, 86, 87, 230. 

Loras, Bishop, in St. Louis, 53. 

Loyzance, Joseph, 212. 

Lutz, James Anthony, 70. 

Maison Pascal, 17. 

Manifold, Sister Marcella, 218, 268, 

Marchionni, Pietro, 166. 

Marcoux, Sister St. John, 19, 24. 

Marsteller, Sister Mary Rose, 61, 94, 

Martin, Sister Leonie, 102, 106. 

Martin, Augustus Mary, 103. 

Martyrs: of the Revolution, 13, 14; 
of Japan, canonization of, 123; 
relics of, 167. 

Marquemont, Denis de, 2. 

Marquette, 152, 197, 198. See also 
Academies, in Michigan. 

Mater Amabilis, 162. 

Maupas, Henry de : at beatification 
of Francis de Sales, 4; in Evreux, 
10; in Le Puy, 4; founds Con- 
gregation of St. Joseph, 8; life 
of, 3- 

Mazzuchelli, Samuel, O. P., in St. 
Paul, 235. 

Medaille, John Paul, 5-9, 304. 

Melcher, Joseph, 117, 195. 

Mellier, Sister Euphrasia, 102, 103. 

Menet, John Baptist, and mission of 
Sault Ste. Marie, 147. 

Method of instruction, 95. 

Miege, Abbe, 102; John B., 102 
(Note), 103. 

Minneapolis, first school in, 233. 

Minnesota, pioneers in, 80. 

Miraculous cure of Sister Laura 
Kuhn, 181, 182. 

Mission Indian, the, 291. 

Mission Hills, 263, 290. 

Missions in California, 262. 

Mission San Xavier, 272. 

Mission property in Cahokia, 38. 

Mississippi, secession of. See Civil 

Missouri session laws regarding edu- 
cation of deaf, 52. 

Monaghan, Sister Liguori, 160, 162, 

Monistral, 10-12, 14, 16. 
Mont-Ferrand, orphanage at, 8. 
Mount St. Joseph, Tucson, 258, 260. 
Moutiers, 118, 125, 162. 
McCloskey, John, 208, 210, 211, 213, 

McDonald, Sister William, 138, 172. 
McKenney, Mary Eliza, memoirs of, 


Napoleon, and reconstruction of the 
Congregations, 16. 

Nazareth Retreat, 170, 187. 

Negroes : schools for, 63, 105 ; edu- 
cation of, 65. 

Neumann, John Nepomucene, 73, 86. 

New Orleans, Sisters arrive in, 28, 

Novitiate: general, 21; in Lyons, 24; 
in St. Paul, 91; in Troy, 213; 
in Los Angeles, 262; at Nazareth, 
168, 170. 

O'Connor, Sister De Pazzi, 144, 152. 

O'Gorman, Sister Herman Joseph, 
136, 179, 180, 267. 

O'Hanlon, John, 98, 156. 

Old Town, San Diego, 263. 

Opelousas, 131. 

O'Regan, Anthony, 75, 98. 

Organization, benefits of, 21. 

Orphanage, in Binghamton, 216 ; in 
Chicago, 139, 142; in Kansas City, 
191, 192; in St. Joseph, 66, 175; 
in St. Louis, 63, 101, 130, 175; 
in Philadelphia, 71, 73; in St. 
Paul, 234 ; in Troy, 221 ; in Tuc- 
son, 261. 

Orphan girls in Carondelet, 46, 50, 
51 ; in St. Louis, 94. 

Oswego, 114, 208, 209. 



Our Lady: of Good Counsel, 114, 
208, 209; of Mount Carmel, 
church of, 45, 69; of the Woods, 
see Sulphur Springs. 

Paincourt, 44. 

Papagos at San Xavier, 272, 273; at 
St. John's Komatke, 293 ; patriot- 
ism of, 276. 

Paris, Augustus, 63, 64, 76, 108. 

Parochial schools, in : Alabama, 165 ; 
Arizona, 258, 260; California, 
260, 265, 268, 269; Coloiado, 166; 
Georgia, 326; Illinois, 137, 139, 
142, 165, 199; Indiana, 166, 190, 
191 ; Michigan, 130, 146, 147, 196, 
197; Minnesota, 230, 233, 234, 
236, 238, 246; Missouri, 130, 145, 
146, 165, 166, 175, 177, 193; New 
York, 78, 207, 210-213, 214, 215, 
218, 219; Oklahoma, 200; Wis- 
consin, 194, 195. 

Parochial school system in St. Louis, 

Pater amabilis, 162. 

Petit, Madame, 28. 

Picot's Castle, 135. 

Picot, Louis G., 62. 

Pima Indians, 272, 293, 295. 

Pima Reservation, 291, 292. 

Pimeria Alta, 248. 

Pioneer Sisters in Arizona. See Ari- 
zona; in San Diego, 263; in St. 
Paul, 83, 84. 

Pius V and religious enclosure, 1. 

Pius IX, letter of, 127, 128; brief of, 
122; receives Mother St. John, 

Planche, Lucrece de la. See Madame 
de Joux. 

Pommerel, Mother Celestine: arrives 
from Lyons, 48 ; aids Cahokia 
sufferers, 59, 60; appeals to Lyons 
for recruits, 106; in the East, 71 ; 
in Philadelphia, 68, 86; in St. 
Paul, 86; in Wheeling, 74; life 
of, 55 ; last illness, and death of, 
no; superior in Carondelet, 54; 
plans general visitation of Con- 
gregation, 108. 

Postulant, first American. See Dil- 
lon, Ann Eliza. 

Postulants, first in Philadelphia, 71 ; 
in St. Paul, 90. 

Prati, Mercurialis, 166; Nicolas Sa- 

vorelli, 167. 
Privileged altars, 122. 
Propagation of the Faith, annals of, 

102, 103, 303, 304; Association 

for, 136. 
Provincial House, in St. Paul, 240; 

in Troy, 213, 215 ; in Los Angeles, 

262, 267; in Savannah, 304; in 

Tucson, 257. 
Public school, first in Carondelet, 


Quaglia, Cardinal, 120, 121. 
Quebec priests, the, 27, 37, 38. 

Ravoux, Augustine, 81, 82, 112, 229, 

Regents of New York University, 
218, 222. 

Relics, 166, 167, 168, 216, 217. 

Renot, Sister Cecilia, 104, 106. 

River Des Peres, 43, 59, 135. 

Rosati, Joseph : Bishop of St. Louis, 
29, 30, 31 1 blesses chapel at Ca- 
hokia, 42; diary of, 35 (Note); 
in New Orleans, 35, 36; plans 
for deaf-mutes, 51; receives 
vows, 51, 69; visits to Caronde- 
let of, 47. 

Rossiter, Mother Mary Agnes, 152, 
203, 298, 302. 

Roux, Benedict, 63, 65. 

Rue de la Bourse, 17, 19, 24. 

Rue Mi-Careme, 20. 

Ryan, Abram J., 137. 

Ryan, Mother Agnes Gonzaga, 296- 
298, 302, 303. 

Ryan, Patrick J., 98, 164, 167, 290. 

Salpointe, J. B., 248, 249, 250, 255. 
San Xavier del Bac 250, 270, 271, 

Saulnier, Edmund, 45. 
Sault Ste. Marie, 146, 148. 
Serra, Junipero, 262, 269. 
Sexton, Sister M. Pius, 159, 160. 
Shockley, Sister Assissium, 214. 
Sisters of Charity in Carondelet, 37, 


Sisters of a Good Death, the, 18. 

Sisters of St. Joseph (with Euro- 
pean Mother Houses) in : An- 
necy, 25; Bordeaux, 25, 26; 



Bourg, 25; Chambery, 24, 25; 
Departments of Loire and Rhone, 
26; India, 102, 112; Le Puy, 7- 
10; Lyons 10-21; Moutiers, 102; 
Rome, 25. 

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, 
in dioceses of: Albany, 118, 131, 
208; Alton, 137; Belleville, 143; 
Chicago, 137, 139, 169; Denver, 
166, 108; Fargo, 238, 239; Green 
Bay, 194, 196; Indianapolis, 166, 
190; Kansas City (Missouri), 
142, 193 ; Los Angeles and San 
Diego, 260; Marquette, 146, 148, 
196, 197; Mobile, 163, 183; Mon- 
terey and Fresno, 260; Natchez, 
see Sulphur Springs ; Nashville, 
145, 188; Oklahoma, 200; Peoria, 
137; San Francisco, 260, 268; 
Savannah, 304; St. Joseph, 145, 
166, 193; Sioux Falls, 246 
(Note) ; St. Louis, 27 fi\, 164, 
165, 305; St. Paul, 82, 83, 229, 
232; Syracuse, 210, 222, 227; 
Tucson, 145, 256, 257. 

Sisters of St. Joseph, in Philadelphia, 
68, 73; in Toronto, 73. 

Sisters of St Joseph, diocesan : in 
Boston, 118; in Brooklyn, 99; 
in Buffalo, 77, 78, 79; in Cleve- 
land, 234; in Erie, 118; in 
Rochester, 77; in Wheeling, 74. 

Spanish American War, Sisters of 
St. Joseph in, 200, 201. 

Spencer, Mother Agnes, 73, 74. 

Starr, Eliza Allen, at St. Joseph's, 

St. Anthony Hill, 143. 
St. Anthony Falls, 89. 
St. Etienne, 18, 31. 
St. Cyr, J M. I., 168-170, 114. 
St. Francis Xavier, village of, 43. 

Ste. Genevieve, 27, 43, 114, 116. 

St. Louis, diocese of, 27, 28, 29; Ca- 
thedral of, 36. 

St. Joseph's Academy: the log cabin 
Convent, 51 ; "Madame Celestine's 
School," 56; additions to, 56, 57; 
chartered, 97; first boarders, 57; 
teachers at, 58; early school life 
at, 59, 60; in 1846, 94-99; de- 
stroyed by fire, 113; during Civil 
War, 133-136; from 1873 to 1886, 
172, 173. 

Statistics, 163, 288, 303, 304. 

Sulphur Springs, 104, 105, 130, 131. 

Sullivan, Sister Winifred, 133, 134, 

Tezenas, Mother Sacred Heart, 66, 

Timon, John, 36, 77, 78, 99. 
Tucson, 248, 255. 

Ubach, Antonio, 263, 264, 288, 289. 
University of St. Mary of the Lake, 

Ursulines in Marquette, 147; in New 
Orleans, 35. 

Van de Velde, James Oliver, 104, 106. 
Vasques, Sister Scholastica, 87, 230. 
Vide Poche, 44. 
Vienne, 10. 

Vilaine, Sister Philomene, 41, 56, 60, 
80, 132. 

Yellow fever: in Florida, 183, 184; 
in Memphis, 185, 188; in Missis- 
sippi, 105, 106; in Mobile, 189. 

Yssingeaux. 7. 

Yuma City, 260, 261, 280. 

Yuma Indians, 277, 279, 284, 285, 287. 

Yuma Reservation, 253, 278, 281. 

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