Back to All Events

Anniversary: First US Foundation of Passionist Nuns

  • Passionist Nuns 8564 Crisp Road Whitesville, KY, 42378 United States (map)
Still seasick from the long boat ride across the Atlantic!

Still seasick from the long boat ride across the Atlantic!

On April 27, 1910, five weary and sea sick Passionist Nuns began a new chapter in our history as they set foot in the United States of America. It was the vigil of the feast of St. Paul of the Cross, our holy founder. Their mission was to found the first monastery of Passionist Nuns in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. These heroic Nuns (pictured at right) would never again visit the monastery from which they came, the monastery founded by St. Paul of the Cross himself in what is now Tarquinia, Italy. Sacrificing even their own native land was just another part of their total gift of self to the Crucified One to whom they belonged.

Known as the “Five Flowers of Tarquinia,” these “Spouses of the Crucified” excelled in natural and supernatural gifts. The challenge before them was great, but the will of God was clear, and like Mary, the Mother of Jesus, they said their total “yes,” their “Fiat” to what God was asking of them. After suffering sea sickness throughout their voyage, the founding Nuns developed disembarkment syndrome, hardly able to stand on dry land. Then they had to wait in line for long hours and endure lengthy interrogation in order to be cleared at customs and immigration control.

These sufferings, and many others known only to their Divine Spouse, were immediately rewarded by God’s gift of new vocations. Three American postulants entered in July 1910 and a year later ten more young women came. The Nuns were able to begin receiving guests in a separate retreat house by July 1911.

In 1926, the community was able to begin making new foundations. Over the next century, eight other monasteries of Passionist Nuns branched forth from the tree of the cross planted by the founding group in Pittsburgh: Scranton (now Clarks Summit) PA, Owensboro (now Whitesville) KY, Erlanger, KY, St. Louis, MO, Japan, England, Philippines, and Korea.