Jeanne Pierrette (Mother St. Pierre) Cinquin, foundress of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio and pioneer in health care and education, the daughter of Pierre and Claudine (Biellard) Cinquin, was born in Beaujeu, France, on May 22, 1845. On completing her education at the Ursuline Academy in Beaujeu, she entered the Monastery of the Incarnate Word in Lyons, where she was prepared for the mission in Texas. She received the habit and with it the name Sister Saint Pierre on August 6, 1868. Toward the close of the year she arrived in Galveston to join her missionary companions at St. Mary's Charity Hospital.
Bishop Claude Dubuis appointed sisters St. Pierre, Madeleine, and Agnes to begin a new foundation; they arrived in San Antonio in March 1869. At that time San Antonio was a mere frontier village recovering from the effects of two cholera epidemics that had broken out during the two previous decades. The worst epidemic recorded was that of 1849; it was followed by another in 1866, which, though not so severe, was sufficiently grave to arouse the anxiety of the people. But the community, with few doctors, no nurses, and no hospitals, experienced new hope when on December 3, 1869, Sister St. Pierre and her two companions opened the first hospital, known at that time as Santa Rosa Infirmary (now Santa Rosa Medical Center), to begin its long career of service to humanity.
In the spring of 1872 Sister St. Pierre was appointed superioress of her congregation, an office she held until her death. During her administration she recruited new members for the congregation; trained sisters for health care and education; and opened schools and hospitals throughout Texas and beyond its borders, a home for the aged, and an orphanage in San Antonio. Her letters reveal that she was a shrewd businesswoman and a wise and practical administrator, deeply spiritual and dedicated to serving the sick, the poor, and orphans. She died in her native France on December 19, 1891, at the age of forty-six. Her remains were transferred to San Antonio in 1895.
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Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio, Texas (Washington: Catholic University of America, 1925). Incarnate Word Generalate Archives, San Antonio. Martha Ann Kirk, "Ashes Could Not Stop Her: Mother St. Pierre and Community-Building in Texas," Texas Journal 11 (Fall-Winter 1988).
Health and Medicine
Nurses and Nurse Administrators
Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Sister Josephine Kennelly, C.C.V.I.,
“Cinquin, Jeanne Pierrette [Mother St. Pierrette],”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 17, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
December 1, 1994
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: