First Convent of Nuns in America
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Time Period
1790
Description
In 1790, 36 years after she left Maryland to become a Carmelite nun in Europe, Mother Bernardina Teresa Xavier of St. Joseph (1732-1800) returned to start the first Roman Catholic convent in America. She was accompanied by two nieces who also had left Maryland to become Carmelite nuns and a fourth nun born in England.

Mother Bernardina had been coaxed to return by another relative -- a brother who was a priest in Maryland. "Now is the time to found in this country, for peace is declared and religion is free," he wrote in a letter. They came from Hoogstraet Carmel in Belgium and established a contemplative Discalced Carmelite monastery on three acres in Port Tobacco, Md.

Their farm did not do well. In 1831, the nuns moved to Baltimore, where they started a female academy to help support their monastery.

Today, there are approximately 60 Carmelite monasteries in the U.S.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Catholic Religious Events and People in American History
Religious Groups
Catholicism (Western Liturgical Family): Other Timeline Event Entries
Catholicism (Western Liturgical Family): Other Timeline Biography Entries

Catholicism (Western Liturgical Family): Other ARDA Links

Photographs

Mount Carmel monastery, Camden County, MD- Hathi Trust

Mother Clare Joseph Dickenson, one of the original four nuns- Hathi Trust

Carmelite convent, Baltimore, Maryland- Hathi Trust
Web Source(s)
http://lorettocarmel.org/content/history-carmelite-order
"Carmel of St. Therese of Lisieux (Loretto, Penn.) website, "History of the Carmelite Order"
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mcnamarasblog/2012/07/americas-first-monastery-the-carmelites-in-maryland-1790.html
Patheos website, "America’s First Monastery: The Carmelites in Maryland (1790)," by Pat McNamara
http://www.encyclopedia.com/women/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/mathews-ann-teresa-1732-1800
Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia, "Mathews, Ann Teresa"
Web Page Contributor
Sandi Dolbee
Affliated with: Former Religion and Ethics Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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