Sisters of the Holy Cross

The Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Holy Cross (CSC) is located on the grounds of Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana. The Sisters of the Holy Cross are one of three Catholic congregations of religious sisters which trace their origins to the foundation of the Congregation of Holy Cross by the Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, CSC, at Le Mans, France in 1837. The other two congregations of religious women in the tradition of the Holy Cross Family are the Marianites of Holy Cross (New Orleans, Louisiana) and the Sisters of Holy Cross (Montreal, Quebec, Canada).

They are distinct from the Sisters of the Holy Cross Menzingen, a teaching congregation founded separately in Switzerland in 1844.


In 1837, Father Moreau, established the Congregation of Holy Cross. The congregation took its name from the neighborhood of Sainte Croix in Le Mans, where the 12th-century church, Notre Dame du Sainte Croix, was to become the mother church of the new foundation.[1] In 1841 Fr. Moreau founded a society of sisters within the Congregation.[2]

American Civil War

Oliver P. Morton, governor of Indiana, requested the assistance of 12 sisters from the congregation. Mother Angela Gillespie along with five other sisters volunteered as nurses. The sisters were sent to Cairo, Illinois, where they met General Ulysses S. Grant. The sisters were then sent to the regimental headquarters of General Lew Wallace’s brigade in Paducah, Kentucky. Eighty sisters nursed the wounded and ill soldiers in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee. The sisters also served on the hospital ship, the "Red Rover." The sisters were the first navy nurses.[3]

Post Civil War

Commander Davis of the Western Flotilla presented Mother Angela with two civil war cannons, "Lady Polk" and "Lady Davis." During WWII, the cannons were melted down for scrap iron. There is a monument that stands in memory of the sisters that served in the Civil War erected September 20, 1924. It is located in Washington D.C., across from St Matthew's Cathedral.[4]

For a history of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, see the Sisters of the Holy Cross History.


The Sisters of the Holy Cross are represented in the following countries (with their year of first arrival in parentheses):