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Passionist Nuns Foundation Day

  • Passionist Nuns 8564 Crisp Road Whitesville, KY, 42378 United States (map)

In 1771, on the feast of the Finding of the True Cross - May 3, in the old calendar - the first monastery of Passionist Nuns was canonically erected in the city of Corneto (now Tarquinia), Italy, and the first 11 Passionist Nuns were vested with the holy habit and began their new life.

Below is a letter of St. Paul of the Cross to Mother Mary Crucified, the first superior of the Passionist Nuns, written in December 1770, just five months before the foundation was made. Paul was sick in bed for all of 1771 and was unable to be present at the foundation.

The original kitchen in the first Passionist Nuns' monastery, Tarquinia, Italy.

The original kitchen in the first Passionist Nuns' monastery, Tarquinia, Italy.

Most Reverend Mother and My Beloved Daughter in Jesus Christ, 

I am forcing myself to answer your letter, which arrived last night. In the first place, I thank you from my heart for the pasta you sent me, and to obey you I will eat some of it.

It will be a great grace that God will do me if I have the good fortune to give you the habit of the holy Passion when the new convent will be finished. But I doubt it, for I am always coming closer to the grave. Meanwhile, you should prepare yourself always more with divine grace to receive those graces and gifts that His Divine Majesty is holding ready.

Such a preparation consists principally in humility of heart, that is, a contempt for yourself with a profound knowledge of your nothingness. This brings with it the exercise of all the virtues, the queen of which is holy charity, abstraction and detachment from everything created, and a total abandonment to the Divine Good Pleasure. Be a true dweller in the interior of your soul and be well enclosed in that sacred desert, since that is a solitude rich in every good. In that divine solitude, with doors shut against every creature and entirely clothed with Jesus Christ, allow yourself to be lost in the Immense Divinity in a sacred silence of faith and holy love. Contemplate the Highest Good and allow yourself to be set on fire with the fire of Divine Love. Never lose this holy solitude wherever you find yourself or in whatever work you are doing.

I am not failing, nor will I fail, to make you part of my poor prayers, especially in these holy days, more especially in the holy Solemnity of the Birth, so that His Divine Majesty may have you reborn in the Divine Word-Made-Man to a godlike life so that you may no longer live, but Jesus Christ live in you. Out of charity do the same for me and for all our Congregation. I greet you in the Lord and your good sisters, placing all in the pure Heart of Jesus, whence I pray for copious blessings and proclaim myself in haste,

Your unworthy, obligated servant,

Paul of the Cross