Our foundress, Venerable Maria Celeste Crostorosa was born into a noble family in Naples on October 31st, 1696.
At the age of twenty she entered a convent in Marigliano near Naples. When the convent was closed down she went to the convent of Scala at Salerno where she had a revelation which ultimately led to her founding of the Redemptoristine Order with its distinctive deep red habit and its own rule.
The spiritual journey of Sr. Maria was favoured with many mystical experiences. She also enjoyed the close friendship and co-operation of St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) the founder of the Redemptorists and St. Gerard Majella (1726-1755).
Maria’s spirituality is characterized by obedience to conscience, the search for the meaning of the Gospels and by the living of a simple life centred on prayer. Mother Celeste was of strong character, was determined and energetic. She was intelligent and with great intuition knew the urgent needs of the society of her time.
She was above all a mystic and lived in deep communion with Christ. She invites us to contemplate and to meditate on the Cross as the great mystery of love and to see in this mystery the desire of love and communion with God. We are to feel that we are co-responsible together with Christ in giving real hope and genuine human dignity to each other, especially to those who feel oppressed by others.
The Redemptoristines, the Sisters of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer, are the hidden members of the Redemptorist family. They are in fact the 'older sisters' of the Redemptorist men, since their community was born in Italy on Pentecost Sunday, 1731 a year earlier than that of their brethren. Redemptorists and Redemptoristines are bound by a common story of origin and by a distinctive spirituality. When Alphonsus Maria de Liguori went to the hill town of Scala overlooking Amalfi to recover his shattered health, he found a community of sisters living in the old monastery according to the Rule of the Visitation but with no canonical links to that Order. This community was under the direction of Alphonsus’ spiritual guide Thomas Falcoia, Bishop of Castellamare. One ofthe members of the community, Sr Maria Celeste Crostarosa, who had born in the city of Naples in the same year as Alphonsus (1696), had been experiencing extraordinary mystical graces in prayer for some years. She had a growing conviction that God was calling her to reform the convent at Scala on the basis of a new Rule she felt was being revealed to her. The distinctive feature of Celeste's Rule was its stress on a contemplative spirituality that the community and each sister in it was to become a 'living memory' of the Father's love revealed to humanity in the mystery of the Incarnation, Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Sr. Jeanne de la Croix
Entering the Enclosure -1949
Walking in the old monastery cloister
From Belgium to Dublin
The first Sisters arrived in Dublin in 1859.
In August 1858, Rev. Mother Marie-Philomène, Prioress of the Redemptoristine Monastery in Bruges in Belgium, received a letter from a friend in far off Dublin. Her correspondent, a Miss Murphy, informed her that the Sisters of the Order of Charity, who had been conducting a Magdalene Asylum in Drumcondra, had recently left their premises for new home at High Park, Upper Drumcondra.7 A Dublin priest, Fr James Smith, had founded the Drumcondra house. According to the terms of his will, if it were no longer required for the purposes of the asylum, it was to be offered to another community of sisters.
Mother Philomène wasted little time. She contacted Fr. Louis de Buggenoms C.Ss.R. then at Bishop Eton, Liverpool who hurried over to assess the property's potential as a possible home for a contemplative community. His first impressions must have been positive, for he returned a month later accompanied by Mother Philomène and another sister from Bruges, the thirty-five year old Marie-Jeanne de la Croix.
A formal request was made in their name by Bishop Malou of Bruges, their ordinary superior. Dr Cullen was then in Rome, but signified his assent in a letter dated 4 February 1859. The sisters arrived in Ireland on the 3 March 1859.
The sisters put on their red and blue Redemptoristine habits for the first time in the new monastery on the 25 March, 1859 the Feast of the Annunciation. In the afternoon, the ceremony of installation took place. Fr de Buggenoms preached a sermon on the contemplative life to the sisters and to a select gathering on the text: 'But he said, 'Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it'. Afterwards, the ladies in attendance visited the interior of the monastery, but the chronicler's account notes, 'since it was Lent, wine and fruit only could be offered' them.
View of the old Monastery
At prayer in the old Monastery Choir
The New Monastery
The first Sisters arrived in Dublin in 1859.
On 30 March, the monastery was solemnly enclosed, and the sisters' religious life began in earnest with the public recitation of the Divine Office. Fr de Buggenoms launched them on their way by preaching the first community retreat, which began on the evening of the enclosure ceremony.
On the 2 May, 2000 the community of 15 sisters moved into the current Monastery to facilitate a more adequate ambience for the sisters liturgical life and the needs of a largely aging and infirm community. There was a steady decline in numbers in the first five years when many sisters went home to God whom they had served and loved so well, bringing the community down to 8. In September 2005 the first postulant joined the new monastery and the community has been blessed with an upsurge in new vocations since. The Monastery therefore remains in the heart of Dublin and plays a pivotal role in the local community.