In many ways our story is unique. Founded in 1847, ours is the second oldest women’s religious Congregation in Scotland, and it predates by some years the earliest foundations for men. Unlike all the others, which were established as branch houses of Congregations already in existence abroad, our Congregation is the only Congregation in the post-Reformation Catholic Church founded in Scotland. Today we have communities in seven countries, spanning four continents.
Our history is a human one, a story of people, living in community and working in the world. Though shaped by its social and religious context, it is nonetheless, above all, a story of communities of persons, of the journey of the individual, of the impact of mind upon mind and heart upon heart.
Coming to Glasgow’s East End in 1847 from France, Mother Veronica Cordier and Mother Adelaide Vaast began the work of our Congregation by educating and caring for poor and needy children families, including the growing number of Irish immigrants.
The first eight novices were professed in St. Andrews Cathedral in 1851 and from that point our Franciscan Community was established.
- 1847 Sisters Veronica and Adelaide, journeying from Tourcoing in France, arrived in the “Scottish Missions”.
- 1947 Our sisters first went to Ireland.
- 1950 First Missionary Sisters travelled to Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa.
- 1960 A new community was established in Cinderford, England.
- 1971 Our sisters answered a call to ministry in the United States of America.
- 1990 Once more to Africa, this time to Kenya, East Africa.
- 2010 Closer to home, we began ministry in the Scots College, Rome.
- 2016 New Mission to Barbados, West Indies.
A Canticle of Love The Story of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception by John Watts (2006)
It is a rare find indeed to come upon a book which is both an adventure story and a meticulously researched history. But that is what has been achieved in this excellent work.
John Watts has combined the narrator’s pace and energy with the historian’s careful eye for detail to write a worthy history of Scotland’s only home-grown religious congregation.
Painting in a very attractive chiaroscuro the joys and sorrows, the achievements and disappointments of the Sisters whose lives have been spent in the Congregation of the Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception, the author also outlines a fascinating social history of Glasgow, its changing face and its outstanding personalities over the last century and a half.
Those who have known the sisters over many years, and indeed the older members of the Congregation itself, will find in this narrative a recollection of days now past; and those, especially in Africa, who have known it but shortly will rejoice in a tale which exposes the strong and generous roots of what they see today and to which they belong as a new and vibrant shoot.
(Archbishop Emeritus Mario Conti)