Founding Mothers

St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat founded the Society of the Sacred Heart in France on November 21, 1800. Born in Joigny, France, the daughter of a wine cooper, Madeleine Sophie Barat was educated beyond the norms of her contemporaries and well-suited for leadership of a religious community dedicated to prayer and education. In Paris, on November 21, 1800, at the age of twenty, she and three other young women consecrated themselves to “make known the revelation of God’s love.” Centered in personal and communal prayer, they set out to give young women a classical education -- not common in their day -- and to offer religious studies and practical skills. They began to call themselves the Society of the Sacred Heart.

St. Philippine Duchesne

Rose Philippine Duchesne was born in Grenoble, France, on August 29, 1769, into family actively involved in political and commercial life.  Educated by the Visitation nuns at Sainte Marie d’en Haut monastery, she was drawn to their life of contemplation. She entered the congregation when she was 19, against the wishes of her family.

Mary Aloysia Hardey, RSCJ

Mary Aloysia Hardey, a central figure in the expansion of the Society of the Sacred Heart in North America, was born in Piscataway, Maryland, December 8, 1809. Moving with her family to Opelousas, Louisiana, she attended the Academy of the Sacred Heart at Grand Coteau. Upon completing her studies Mary entered the novitiate of the Society of the Sacred Heart at Grand Coteau and took the name Aloysia. A young religious of many talents, she was put in charge of a school in St. Michael's, Louisiana and soon after making final vows was named Superior. In 1840 Aloysia Hardey moved to New York City and opened the first school and convent of the Society of the Sacred Heart in the eastern United States. Named Provincial Superior (Superior Vicar) for the houses in eastern North America in 1844, she opened 16 houses of the Sacred Heart from Canada to Cuba and throughout the eastern United States. In 1871 Aloysia Hardey was appointed an Assistant General for the central government of the Society of the Sacred Heart based in Paris.

Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ

An intellectually gifted child, Janet was the youngest of the thirteen children in the Anglican Rectory at Cottesmore, in Rutland, England. Typical of her social class and time, she was educated at home and was fortunate in her governesses who included very capable, well trained German and Swiss teachers with whom she learned fluent German and French, and studied philosophy, maths and literature. With the help of one, she pursued a theological interest that began when she was 13, sparked by a conversation with a brother who was reading Aristotle and who declared to her that all creatures had a ‘last end’ or ultimate purpose and goal in their lives, and asked her what hers was. Janet did not know, but set herself to find out.

Schools of the Sacred Heart share in the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart as articulated in the Goals and Criteria. The structure supporting Sacred Heart education in Canada and the United States includes the Conference of Sacred Heart Education and the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.  Together they provide services and programs to ensure vitality of mission for the member schools sponsored by the Society of the Sacred Heart.