Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary
Ordo Visitationis Beatissimae Mariae Virginis
AbbreviationV.H.M.
Formation1610; 412 years ago (1610)
FounderFrancis de Sales and Jane Frances de Chantal
TypeRoman Catholic religious order
Websitewww.vistyr.org

The Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary (V.H.M., Latin: Ordo Visitationis Beatissimae Mariae Virginis), also known as the Visitation Order, is an enclosed 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]

History

St. Francis de Sales giving the Rule for the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary to St. Jane Frances de Chantal
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 Francis de Sales and 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, an event celebrated in Christianity as "The Visitation".[2]

De Sales 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 Mary at half-past eight in the evening. There was no perpetual abstinence nor prolonged fasting. 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]

Charism

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]

Expansion

A foundation was established in Lyons in 1615 followed by Moulines (1616), Grenoble (1618), Bourges (1618), and Paris (1619). When Francis de Sales died (1622) there were 13 convents established; at the death of Jane Frances de Chantal in 1641 there were 86.[1] The Order spread from France throughout Europe and to North America. As of 2021, there are about 150 autonomous Visitation monasteries throughout the world.[6]

Portugal

The Monastery of the Sisters of the Visitation in Braga, Portugal
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 Margaret Mary Alacoque did in the past.[7]

England

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. They subsequently re-located to Waldron[8]

Germany

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.

Colombia

The nine Visitation Sisters from Madrid, Spain came to Colombia in 1892 and founded the first Monastery at Santa Fe, Bogotá.

Ireland

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]

Korea

In 2005, The six 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.

First federation

Second federation

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

Georgetown Visitation Monastery
Georgetown Visitation Monastery

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 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.

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. 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 (1863-1941), the third sister of Thérèse of Lisieux, became a nun of the Order of the Visitation after many failures and hardships in her life. She received the veil on the 2nd of July 1900 at the Visitation in the French city of Caen and took the name Sister Françoise-Thérèse. On the 24 January 2015, the process for Leonie's beatification began and she is now known as Servant of God.[20]

References

  1. ^ a b c Pernin, Raphael. "Visitation Order." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 13 Jun. 2013
  2. ^ Bowles, Emily. The Life of St. Jane Frances Fremyot de Chantal, London. Burns and Oates, 1872 Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  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". Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
  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". Archived from the original on 2013-12-11. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
  10. ^ Hernandez, Nancy. "Sisters of the Cloth" The Frederick News Post, Frederick, 15 March 2005.
  11. ^ Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary, Tyringham, Massachusetts
  12. ^ The Sisters of the Visitation, Toledo, Ohio
  13. ^ Sister Ruthmann, VHM, Marie Therese. "The Visitation Sisters’ Move from Ballas Road to Geyer Road: One Year Late"
  14. ^ Brooklyn visitation Monastery
  15. ^ Capecchi, Christina. "Visitation Monastery in Mendota Heights to close", The Catholic Spirit Archdiocese of Saint Paul & Minneapolis, December 5, 2018
  16. ^ "About Us | Visitation School". www.visitation.net. Retrieved 2021-12-18.
  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". Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  20. ^ "Home". Léonie Martin, Disciple and Sister of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Retrieved 2016-08-22.