Saint Francis de Sales sensed a need for a religious community where women who sincerely desired to grow in holiness -in love of God and of neighbor - could live together in community.

Together with the young widow Baroness de Chantal, this visionary bishop of Geneva established the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary in 1610. In the years following, the Order of the Visitation spread throughout Europe. Saint Jane de Chantal established over 80 monasteries prior to her death in 1641.

Nearly a century and a half later, Archbishop Leonard Neale sought to address the need for the education of young women in the fledging United States.

He invited Alice Lalor to establish a school to meet this need. She was soon joined by the widows Maria McDermott and Maria Sharpe. These women, together with Archbishop Neale, founded the Georgetown Visitation Monastery and the present Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School.

Learn more about the roots of our values: A Gentle Presence in a Threatening World.

Archbishop Neale was certain that his humble foundation at the corner of Fayette and Third Streets (now 35th and P Streets) would be a Monastery of the Visitation. The growing community felt called to embrace the spiritual legacy that Saint Francis de Sales left to his Visitation sisters - and to all who follow his counsel. Perhaps most notably, it was the moderation and well- balanced approach to religious life that attracted Neale to the spirituality of Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jane de Chantal.

Questions regarding the Monastery Archives?

Ask Sr. Mada-anne Gell, VHM, Monastery Archivist, sister.madaanne@visi.org.

Questions regarding the School Archives?

Ask Dr. Susan Nalezyty, School Archivist, ext. 2135 or susan.nalezyty@visi.org, or visit the School Archives webpage.

Learn about The History of Enslaved People at Georgetown Visitation.