October is Significant for the Sisters of St. Joseph
In October, the Sisters commemorate two key dates: the day the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph was born in France and the date on which the first Sisters arrived in Toronto. These periods in the Sisters' history were rendered in two beautiful paintings by the late Sister Geraldine Thompson, CSJ.
Origins in Le Puy, France
On October 15, 1650, the local bishop officially recognized the Sisters of St. Joseph as a religious congregation. Unlike most women religious of the time who were required to remain within their convents, the Sisters of St. Joseph had approval to go out into the world to help the sick and poor. Sister Geraldine's painting shows these early Sisters in the city of Le Puy at the hospice for widows and orphans.
Coming to Toronto
Some 200 years later, four Sisters arrived in Toronto on October 7, 1851 to care for the city's poor and ailing immigrants. The Sisters were initially given responsibility of an orphanage on what is now Jarvis Street and would quickly move into the realms of education and health care. In this painting, Sister Geraldine depicts the warmth and love the Sisters had for the orphans in their charge.
About the Artist
Sister Geraldine Thompson was born in Toronto, Ontario on June 1, 1908 and entered the congregation in February 1933. During her life, she was a high school teacher, a school librarian, a university professor, the dean of female students at St. Joseph's College and an author and painter. She passed away on May 21, 1998.