While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »

HARRINGTON, MARGARET [MOTHER ST. PIERRE]

Sister Ignatius Miller, O.S.U.

HARRINGTON, MARGARET [MOTHER ST. PIERRE] (1828–1872). Margaret (Mother St. Pierre) Harrington, second foundress of the Galveston Ursulines (see URSULINE SISTERS), known as the Soldiers' Friend, was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1828. After her father's death she accompanied her mother to New Orleans. When her mother died in 1840 Margaret became a ward of the Deveroux family. In 1844 she entered the Ursuline Convent in New Orleans and took the name St. Pierre. In 1859 disagreement over religious observances had seriously disrupted the Galveston Ursuline community, then composed of Ursulines from several French convents. When Bishop John M. Odin asked the New Orleans Ursulines for a strong religious to lead the Galveston community, Mother St. Pierre was sent. She was immediately elected superior, an office she held until 1870. She restored peace among the sisters and improved standards enough that the school attracted a large number of students.

In August 1861, when the port of Galveston was blockaded and the city under bombardment, Mother St. Pierre offered the Ursulines' new school wing to city officials as a hospital and selected sisters from the community to serve as nurses. When Gen. John Bankhead Magruder's forces arrived before the battle of Galveston (January 1, 1863), Magruder sent carriages to convey the Ursulines to safety. Mother St. Pierre offered the carriages instead to the crowds of women and children who had come to the convent for shelter. "They had turned their convent into a hospital ward," wrote one of the Confederate soldiers later, "and when I went in, boys in blue and boys in gray—more than eighty of them—were laid out in rows on blankets. The nuns treated them all alike—didn't make any difference to them. . . . They had even picked up a few negroes who had got shot somehow and had them laid out there too."

Mother St. Pierre died in Galveston on December 4, 1872. Her name heads the list of Ursulines on the monument erected in 1918 in Washington, D.C., to honor the nuns of the Civil War battlefields. For many years, delegates of the Grand Army of the Republic and of Confederate veterans' organizations came to decorate her grave in the Ursuline convent cemetery in Galveston.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Catholic Archives of Texas, Files, Austin. S. M. Johnston, Builders by the Sea: History of the Ursuline Community of Galveston, Texas (New York: Exposition, 1971). Sister Ignatius Miller, O.S.U., Ursulines of the Central Province (Crystal City, Missouri: Ursuline Provincialate, 1983).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Sister Ignatius Miller, O.S.U., "HARRINGTON, MARGARET [MOTHER ST. PIERRE]," accessed July 09, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhadd.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on February 13, 2020. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...