Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary

The Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary ( V.H.M., Latin: Ordo Visitationis Beatissimae Mariae Virginis) or the Visitation Order is an enclosed Roman Catholic religious order for women. Members of the order are also known as the Salesian Sisters (not to be confused with the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco) or, more commonly, as the Visitandines or Visitation Sisters.[1]

In 1905 a group of the sisters from St. Louis came to Springfield, Missouri, to start St. de Chantal Academy, a boarding school for girls, at the Elfindale Mansion. They stayed until 1980 when they moved to the Pacific Northwest taking their buried sisters with them.[2]

Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary
Ordo Visitationis Beatissimae Mariae Virginis
MottoVive Jésus
FounderSaint Francis de Sales and Saint Jane Frances de Chantal
TypeRoman Catholic religious order

History of the Order

Saint François de Sales donnant à sainte Jeanne de Chantal la règle de l'ordre de la Visitation Noël Hallé
St. Francis de Sales giving the Rule for the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary to St. Jane Frances de Chantal

The Order of the Visitation was founded in 1610 by Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jane Frances de Chantal in Annecy, Haute-Savoie, France. At first the founder had not a religious order in mind; he wished to form a congregation without external vows, where the cloister should be observed only during the year of novitiate, after which the sisters should be free to go out by turns to visit the sick and poor. The order was given the name of The Visitation of Holy Mary with the intention that the sisters would follow the example of Virgin Mary and her joyful visit to her kinswoman Elizabeth, (known as "The Visitation" in the Roman Catholic Church).

He invited Jane de Chantal to join him in establishing a new type of religious life, one open to older women and those of delicate constitution, that would stress the hidden, inner virtues of humility, obedience, poverty, even-tempered charity, and patience, and founded on the example of Mary in her journey of mercy to her cousin Elizabeth.[3] The order was established to welcome those not able to practice austerities required in other orders.[4] Instead of chanting the canonical office in the middle of the night the sisters recited the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin at half-past eight in the evening. There was no perpetual abstinence nor prolonged fast. The Order of the Visitation of Mary was canonically erected in 1618 by Paul V who granted it all the privileges enjoyed by the other orders. A Bull of Urban VIII solemnly approved it in 1626.[1]


The special charism of the Visitation Order is an interior discipline expressed primarily through the practice of two virtues: humility and gentleness.[5] The motto of the order is "Live Jesus".[4]


A foundation was established in Lyons in 1615 followed by Moulines (1616), Grenoble (1618), Bourges (1618), and Paris (1619). When Saint Francis de Sales died (1622) there were 13 convents established; at the death of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal in 1641 there were 86.[1] The Order spread from France throughout Europe and to North America. As of 2017, there are about 160 autonomous Visitation monasteries throughout the world.[6]


Mosteiro da Visitação Braga
The Monastery of the Sisters of the Visitation in Braga, Portugal

The Order of the Visitation has been present in Portugal since 1784, maintaining today three monasteries: in Braga, in Vila das Aves and in Batalha. The Sisters of the Visitation in Portugal produce and distribute the emblems of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (like devotional scapulars) as Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque did in the past.[7]


At the French Revolution in 1789 when all the religious houses were suppressed many of the French Sisters took refuge in other Catholic countries. The sisters in Rouen, northern France, fled to Portuguese monasteries, having only escaped the guillotine by the death of Robespierre in 1794. In 1803 six sisters left Lisbon in an English packet ship and while at sea they were attacked by French pirates. They were spared because of their nationality (they were French not English) and were returned safely to the Spanish seaport of Vigo. After a brief sojourn in Spain three of the Sisters made a second attempt to cross from Porto and without further encounters with pirates arrived in Falmouth on 29 January 1804. They later journeyed to Acton and founded the first monastery of the Visitation on English soil on 19 March 1804.[8]


In 1835, the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary of Dietramszell acquired Beuerberg Abbey (Kloster Beuerberg), in Eurasburg, Germany. Between 1846 and 1938 they ran a girls' school and a home for nursing mothers at Beuerberg Abbey, and afterwards an old people's convalescent home. The abbey still belongs to the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary.


The Visitation Sisters came to Ireland in 1955 and founded a Monastery at Stamullen, Co. Meath. When Mother Mary Teresa O’ Dwyer, Superior of the Visitation Monastery of Roseland, England learned that the Brothers of St. John of God were moving out of Silverstream, she applied to the Bishop of Meath, Dr. Kyne for permission for the order of the Visitation to enter his diocese. Staffing problems were solved by borrowing three Sisters from America. The Visitation Monasteries of St. Paul Minnesota, Brooklyn New York and Atlanta Georgia each lent a Sister.[9]


In 2005, Visitation Sisters from Manizales, Colombia came to South Korea. The Monastery of the Visitation was established in Jeongok-eup, Yeoncheon County in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea.

In the United States

In the United States there are 10 monasteries in two federations.The monasteries of the First Federation live the purely contemplative life, observing papal enclosure, with solemn vows, and have retained the traditional habit of the Order. Of the ten monasteries of the Visitation in the United States, six belong to the First Federation,[10]

First federation

  • The Convent of the Visitation in Mobile, Alabama was founded in 1833 by Bishop Michael Portier, first bishop of Mobile. Aware of the lack of schools in his diocese, he remembered the fine work of the Visitation nuns throughout his native France. Five nuns from the monastery in Georgetown, Washington, D. C. boarded a sailing ship in November, 1832 and arrived in Mobile a month later. In March, 1840, a tornado leveled the buildings. In the 1950s the school was converted to a retreat house. The monastery also serves as a distribution center for communion breads used by churches throughout the Mobile Archdiocese and for many churches in surrounding states, a service extended to a number of non-Catholic churches as well[3]
  • In 1866 Visitation Sisters from Baltimore, Maryland came to Richmond, Virginia at the request of Bishop John McGill. In 1987 the Visitation Sisters relocated to Rockville, Virginia (where they continue to bake altar breads as their main source of income).[4]
    • In 1846, 11 of the Georgetown Visitation sisters relocated to Frederick, Maryland to carry on a school began by the Sisters of Charity in 1824, which from that date became the Visitation Academy of Frederick - which had an important part in Civil War history when it was occupied in September 1862 (until January 1863) by Union Troops and became General Hospital #5 following the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam. In the spring of 2005 the Visitation Monastery closed its doors and the remaining three Visitation Sisters transferred to the Monastery of the Visitation of Holy Mary Monte Maria in Rockville, Virginia.[11]
  • The Visitation community of Tyringham, Massachusetts was founded in 1853 in Keokuk, Iowa by the Visitation Monastery of Montluel, France. In the 19th Century, it was necessary for Visitation communities, both in France and in the United States, to have academies for girls in order to support themselves. After having moved from Keokuk, Iowa, to Suspension Bridge, New York, and then, lastly, to Wilmington, Delaware in 1868, a generous benefactress enabled the community to close the school in 1893 and live the full contemplative life. In 1993 the community relocated to Massachusetts and moved into its present monastery, Mont Deux Coeurs, in December 1995.[12]
  • The Visitation nuns have been in Toledo since 1915.[13]
  • The Monastery of the Visitation was established in Atlanta Georgia and moved to Snellville, Georgia in 1974.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[6]

Second federation

Sisters of the Second Federation add apostolic monasteries to their contemplative life.

Georgetown Visitation Monastery
  • Georgetown Visitation Monastery was the first house of the Visitation founded in the United States. In 1799, three sisters in the order were given permission by Archbishop Leonard Neale to start a girls' school located next to Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C., called the Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School. In 1816, the Georgetown Visitation Monastery was founded with Teresa Lalor as superior.
  • On May 3 of 1833, eight sisters from the Georgetown Visitation founded the first Visitation Academy in the midwest at Kaskaskia, Illinois. On the final leg of their trip from Georgetown, the Sisters crossed the Mississippi River from Missouri into Illinois. First person accounts tell of the Sisters "sitting in a ferryboat that took them across the river. They sat dangerously close to the brown water." In April 1844, six sisters left to begin the Visitation Academy of St. Louis in St. Louis, Missouri. On June 24, the flooding Mississippi River forced evacuation from Kaskaskia, and a steamboat bearing visitors to the monastery rescued sisters, students, and furnishings through the second story windows, and transported them to St. Louis. In 1992, five sisters from the Rock Island, Illinois Visitation merged with the St. Louis community. Later eleven sisters from Rock Island re-located to the Mercy Sisters' retirement facility, Catherine's House, in Rock Island.[14]
  • The Visitation monastery in Brooklyn, New York was founded in 1855.[15]
  • In 1873, six Sisters of the Visitation from St. Louis, Missouri traveled by steamship for eight days up the Mississippi river to the fast-growing river town of St. Paul, Minnesota at the request of Bishop Grace who asked them to make a new foundation and open a school. In 1966 the sisters moved to Mendota Heights where the larger facility allowed for expanded programs and enrollment.[16] In 1989, the Leadership of the Second Federation of the Visitation Order in the United States of America established an urban monastic community in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As part of their ministry to families they offer education sessions, such as cooking and nutrition, finance and budgeting, college preparation, etc. for neighborhood teens.[17]

The Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy was founded in 1848 as the Wheeling Female Academy in downtown Wheeling, West Virginia and in 1865 assumed its current name. While grades five through twelve were all female, Mount de Chantal's Montessori and Elementary schools were co-ed. The school ceased operations on May 31, 2008, and the nuns re-located to the Georgetown Visitation in Washington, D.C. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, before being razed on November 7, 2011.

Noted Visitandines

The best known saint of the Order is St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who reportedly received the revelations of the Sacred Heart resulting in the First Friday Devotions and Holy Hours. On May 10, 1998, seven Visitandines of the First Monastery of Madrid, Spain, martyred during the Spanish Revolution of 1936, were beatified in Rome by Pope John Paul II.

  • Blessed Maria Gabriela de Hinojosa Naveros (b. July 24, 1872 in Alhama, Granada)
  • Bl. Teresa Maria Cavestany y Anduaga (b. July 30, 1888 in Puerto Real, Cadiz)
  • Bl. Josefa Maria Barrera Izaguirre (b. May 23, 1881 in El Ferrol, La Coruna)
  • Bl. Maria Ines Zudaire Galdeano (b. January 28, 1900 in Echavarri, Navarre)
  • Bl. Maria Cecilia Cendoya Araquistain (b. January 10, 1910 in Azpeitia, Guipuzcoa)
  • Bl. Maria Engracia Lecuona Aramburu (b. July 2, 1897 in Oyarzun Guipuzcoa)
  • Bl. Maria Angela Olaizola Garagarza (b. November 12, 1893 in Azpeitia Guipuzcoa[6]

The nuns were members of the Madrid House of the Order of the Visitation. In early 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, as religious persecution intensified, most of the community moved to Oronoz, leaving a group of six nuns in the charge of Sr Maria Gabriela de Hinojosa. By July they were confined to their apartment, When a neighbour reported them to the authorities, and in November 1936 their apartment searched. Nevertheless, they refused to seek refuge in the consulates.[18]

The following evening, a patrol of the Iberian Anarchist Federation broke into the apartment and ordered all the sisters to leave. They were taken by van to a vacant area and shot. Sr Maria Cecilia, who had run when she felt the sister next to her fall, surrendered shortly after and was shot five days later at the cemetery wall in Vallecas on the outskirts of Madrid.[18]

In 2010, in honor of the worldwide Jubilee Year for the Visitation order, Pope Benedict XVI granted a plenary indulgence to those who would make a visit to and pray in a Visitation monastery.[19]

Léonie Martin, the sister of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, became a nun of the Order of the Visitation. She received the veil on the 2nd of July 1900 and took the name Sister Françoise-Thérèse Martin. On the 24 January 2015 the process for Leonie's beatification began and she is now known as Servant of God.[20]


  1. ^ a b c Pernin, Raphael. "Visitation Order." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 13 Jun. 2013
  2. ^ The Springfield News Leader: Steve Pokin
  3. ^ a b Visitation Monastery of Mobile Alabama
  4. ^ a b c The Monastery of the Visitation of Holy Mary, Rockville, Virginia
  5. ^ Second Federation of the Visitation
  6. ^ a b c Visitation nuns of Philadelphia
  7. ^ Federaçäo de Portugal
  8. ^ Monastery of the Visitation, Waldron Essex
  9. ^ The Visitation Order, Stamullen, County Meath
  10. ^ "Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary", Salesian Spirituality
  11. ^ Hernandez, Nancy. "Sisters of the Cloth" The Frederick News Post, Frederick, 15 March 2005.
  12. ^ Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary, Tyringham, Massachusetts
  13. ^ The Sisters of the Visitation, Toledo, Ohio
  14. ^ Sister Ruthmann, VHM, Marie Therese. "The Visitation Sisters’ Move from Ballas Road to Geyer Road: One Year Late"
  15. ^ Brooklyn visitation Monastery
  16. ^ Visitation Monastery, Mendota Heights, Minnesota
  17. ^ Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis
  18. ^ a b "Biographies of Blesseds", L'Osservatore Romano, 1998
  19. ^ O'Kane, Stephen. "Local Visitation Nuns Honor 400-Year Anniversary", The Georgia Bulletin, Archdiocese of Atlanta, 10 December 2009
  20. ^ "Home". Léonie Martin, Disciple and Sister of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Retrieved 2016-08-22.

External links

Château de Sales

The Château de Sales is a ruined castle in the commune of Thorens-Glières in the Haute-Savoie département of France. It is often confused with the nearby Château de Thorens.

Claudine Françoise Mignot

Claudine Françoise Mignot (commonly called Marie; 20 January 1624 – 30 November 1711) was a French adventuress born near Grenoble, at Meylan.

At the age of sixteen she attracted the notice of the secretary of Pierre des Portes d'Amblerieux, treasurer of the province of Dauphiné, and Amblerieux promised to promote their marriage. Instead, he married her himself on 29 July 1640 and left her his fortune.

His will was disputed by his family, and Claudine went to Paris in 1653 to secure its fulfilment. She sought the protection of François de l'Hôpital, marshal of France, then a man of seventy-five. He married her on 25 August 1653, within a week of their first meeting, and after seven years of marriage died on 20 April 1660 leaving her part of his estate. They had one son (c. 1654 – c. 1657).

By a third and morganatic marriage on 14 September 1672 with John Casimir, former king of Poland, a few weeks before his sudden death, she received a third, enormous fortune. In the testament, written on 12 December 1672 in Nevers, John Casimir called himself her debtor. Immediately on her marriage with Amblerieux she had begun to educate herself, and her wealth and talents assured her a welcome in Paris. They had one daughter Marie Catherine (1670 - after 1672), to whom her father left fifteen thousand livres, and asked her to join the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary.She retired in her old age to a Carmelite convent in the city, where she died on 30 November 1711. Her history, very much modified, was the subject of a play by Bayard and Paul Duport, Marie Mignot (1829).

Convent and Academy of the Visitation

This article is about an establishment in Alabama. For the location in Washington, D.C., see Georgetown Visitation Monastery.The Convent and Academy of the Visitation, properly known today as the Visitation Monastery, is a historic complex of Roman Catholic religious buildings and a small cemetery in Mobile, Alabama, United States. The buildings and grounds were documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1937. They were added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 24, 1992 as a part of Historic Roman Catholic Properties in Mobile Multiple Property Submission. It, along with the Convent of Mercy, is one of two surviving historic convent complexes in Mobile.

Convent of the Salesas Reales

The Convent of the Salesas Reales is an 18th-century architectural complex in central Madrid, Spain. Formerly a convent, specifically the convent of the Visitación de Nuestra Señora (Visitation of Our Lady), it was constructed and occupied by the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, which had been founded by St. Francis de Sales and St Jeanne de Chantal. The convent's church (dedicated to St Barbara) is now a parish church, and the remainder of the complex houses the Supreme Court of Spain.

Denis-Simon de Marquemont

Denis-Simon de Marquemont (30 September 1572 – 16 September 1626) was a French cleric who became Archbishop of Lyon in 1612.

Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School

Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School is a private Roman Catholic college-preparatory school for girls located in the historic Washington, D.C. neighborhood of Georgetown. Founded in 1799 by the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary (also known as the Visitation Sisters), it is one of the oldest continuously-operating school for girls in the country and the city as well as the oldest Catholic school for girls in the original Thirteen Colonies. It is located within the Archdiocese of Washington.

Holy Union Sisters

The Sisters of the Holy Union of the Sacred Hearts are a religious congregation of the Roman Catholic Church founded at Douai, France, in 1828, by Father Jean Baptiste Debrabant (1801 - 1889).The congregation was approved by the Holy See in 1877.

Its rules are taken principally from those of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, founded by Francis of Sales.

The Holy Union Sisters devote themselves to the education of youth.

Jane Frances de Chantal

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal (Jeanne-Françoise Frémiot, Baronne de Chantal) (28 January 1572 – 13 December 1641) is a Roman Catholic saint, who was beatified in 1751 and canonized in 1767. She founded the religious Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary.

Les Subsistances

Les Subsistances is a cultural centre of diffuse artistic production and located in the 1st arrondissement of Lyon. Since 2007, it has housed a creative laboratory (theater, dance and contemporary circus) and the École nationale des beaux-arts de Lyon. The site has 22,500 square metres of buildings (including 8,300 square meters of renovated surface) and 16,000 square meters of land, and is partly classified as monument historique. The director of Les Subsistances is Guy Walter, and the vice director is Cathy Bouvard.

List of schools in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore

This article contains a list of the schools, colleges, and universities in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Louise de La Fayette

Louise Angélique Motier de la Fayette (8 November 1618 – 11 January 1665) was a French courtier and close friend and confidant of King Louis XIII. She later left the court and entered a convent. She was known for her influence upon the monarch both before and after she left the court.

Marie Catherine Vasa

Marie Catherine (1670 – after 12 December 1672) was the legitimated daughter of ex-King John II Casimir of Poland with his mistress and morganatic wife Claudine Françoise Mignot.

On 12 December 1672 her father gave her 15000 livres. When she grew up she went to the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary. She was born and died in France.

Marie de Sales Chappuis

Venerable Marie de Sales Chappuis (16 June 1793 in Soyhières, Canton of Jura, Switzerland – 7 October 1875 in Troyes, Aube, France) was a Roman Catholic nun and a spiritual leader in the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary. She also co-founded the congregation of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales along with Blessed Father Louis Brisson.

Salesian Sisters

The title Salesian Sisters may refer to one of these Roman Catholic orders for women:

Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco, also known as Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, founded in 1872

Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, also known as Visitationists, founded by in 1610 by Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

San Salvatore a Camaldoli

San Salvatore a Camaldoli is a Renaissance-style, former Roman Catholic church and convent located in front of Piazza Tasso, in the quartiere of Oltrarno, Florence, region of Tuscany, Italy.

Santa Bárbara, Madrid

The Santa Barbara, also known as Church of the Monastery of the Salesas Reales is a Catholic church, built in Neoclassic style, in central Madrid, Spain. It is one of a number of Spanish churches dedicated to St Barbara.

Santa Chiara, Treia

Santa Chiara is a Baroque-style, Roman Catholic church located on Piazza Cervigni in the town of Treia, province of Macerata, region of Marche, Italy.

Temple du Marais

The Temple du Marais, sometimes known as the Temple Sainte-Marie, or historically, as the Church of Sainte Marie de la Visitation, is a Protestant church located in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, in the district of Le Marais at 17 Rue Saint-Antoine. It was originally built as a Roman Catholic convent by the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, whose sisters were commonly called the Visitandines. The church was closed in the French Revolution and later given to a Protestant congregation which continues its ministry to the present. The closest métro station is Bastille

Visitation Academy of St. Louis

Visitation Academy of St. Louis is a private, all-girls, Roman Catholic school in St. Louis, Missouri, in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. It is a work of the Visitation Sisters who founded it in 1833.

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