Founding History - up to 1877

Nov. 1864 - With nationalistic tension rising, the Sisters of the Holy Cross withdraw from Herford. (This would have been just after the end of the Second Schleswig War.) Sister M. Xavier remains behind to establish a local community under the Rule of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. She is joined by two postulants who had been Sisters in her previous community. They are then joined by two new postulants from the area, one of whom was Theresia Krasse.

Feb. 11, 1868 - Sixteen Postulants receive the habit of the new community, the “Poor Sisters of Mercy of the Third Order of Saint Francis”  (Today they are called the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, Iowa). Theresia Krasse takes the name Sister M. Frances.  (Of course this would have been in German, Schwester Maria Francisca.)

Nov. 19, 1869 - The sixteen novices pronounce vows for five years and seven postulants receive the habit.

1870 - The Franco-Prussian War starts. A number of Sisters volunteer to nurse the wounded and dying soldiers. Five Sisters died of tuberculosis contracted while nursing the soldiers.

Jan. 1872 - The Iron Cross for distinguished service (or perhaps more accurately, the The Prussian Cross of Merit for Women and Young Women) was presented to Sister M. Xavier in recognition of the services rendered by the Sisters. Father Pywick, S.J. warns them “Do not be elated by the praise you are receiving now. In a few years these same officials that now flatter you will banish you.”

May 31, 1875 - A law passed under Bismarck’s Kulterkampf “closed all monasteries in Prussia, and expelled from Prussian territory all members of religious orders, with the exception of those who cared for the sick—and they were variously restricted.”

Aug. 21, 1875 - As a result of Bismark’s May Laws, the whole community of 25 sisters and four postulants boarded the P. Caland and sailed to America. 

Sept. 6, 1875 - The Sisters land in New York

Sept. 8, 1875 - The Sisters are welcomed in Iowa City, Iowa. (Father William Emonds, a German priest at St. Mary's church in Iowa City, had offered to help them establish a house in his parish.)

Father Bernard Baak headstoneMay 22, 1876 - The Sisters open their new orphanage and school “Mount Mary”. Due to their poverty, Mother Xavier had to send Sisters out on extensive begging trips to raise funds to support them. They came to Peoria on one of these begging trips and met a Father Bernard Baak, pastor of St. Joseph Church, who asked them to set up a hospital in Peoria. 

Oct. 28, 1876 - Six sisters, led by Sister M. Frances Krasse, arrive in Peoria to set up a Hospital in a rented three-story house on Adam’s Street. They named the hospital St. Francis Hospital.

When Sister Mary Frances Krasse and her five companions arrived in Peoria in October of 1876 to begin caring for the sick, they first went to St. Joseph’s Church on the South side of Peoria for a visit. They became familiar with the parish Church and its German pastor, Father Bernard Baak on earlier begging trips to Peoria. The Sisters walked into the Church and went up to the front. Sister M. Frances Krasse said out loud in the hearing of her companions: “I promise you, God, I will never turn anyone away you send to me for care.” And then, after a brief pause, and almost as if she had heard a response to her promise, she turned to her companions and said: “The God who called us to Peoria will be the God who will always provide for us.”

Nov. 4, 1876 - They admit their first patient to the hospital.

Feb. 16, 1877 - Mother Xavier comes to visit. After seeing their great need for help, she sends them more Sisters.

March, 1877 - The city requests that the Sisters take charge of the old city hospital and the connected contagious hospital.

May 1, 1877 - The first Bishop of Peoria, Bishop John Lancaster Spalding, was consecrated in New York.

May 22, 1877 - Bishop Spalding arrives in Peoria.

July 16, 1877 - At the request of the new Bishop, the Sisters are released to form their own separate congregation, The Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis of Peoria, Illinois. Mother M. Frances Krasse is elected their first Mother General.