Franciscan Sisters of Mary
- Franciscan Sisters of Mary
The Franciscan Sisters of Mary is a Roman Catholic religious congregation for women based in St. Louis, Missouri that founded hospitals throughout the Midwest.
The order was founded in 1872 by Mother Mary Odilia Berger who emigrated to St. Louis from Germany. Its original name was Sisters of St. Mary (SSM). It shared a door with St. Mary of Victories Church in downtown St. Louis.
Anna Katherine (later Mother Odilia) Berger was born in Regen, Bavaria. In 1858 she joined the Poor Franciscans of Pirmasens, founded by Father (Dr.) Paul Joseph Nardini and was sent to beg in Paris.
In 1866 she co-founded the Sister Servants of the Sacred Heart in Paris with Father Victor Braun (Catholic priest), but had to flee Paris when the city was sieged during the Franco-Prussian War. After living several years in Elberfeld in the Rhineland, she emigrated to St. Louis in 1872. In St. Louis she founded the Sisters of St. Mary. In 1877 the order borrowed $16,000 to open St. Mary's Infirmary in St. Louis. In 1878 a third of the members of the order were sent to Canton, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee, during a Yellow fever outbreak. Five sisters were to die.
In 1894 Mary Augustine Giesen led six other sisters to Maryville, Missouri from St. Louis where they formed the Sisters of St. Francis of Maryville and founded the first full fledged hospital in the town.
In 1985 the two orders merged to form the Franciscan Sisters of Mary.
20 hospitals now are operated as SSM Health Care (SSMHC) in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
* [http://www.fsmonline.org/ Official website]
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