History

The Congregation of Franciscan Sisters Minoress originated in London in 1888.


Mother Frances Murphy
Mother Francis Murphy, Foundress  of the Franciscan  Minoress  Sisters was born in County Wexford on 29th March 1842. She was educated at home sharing a governess with three sisters. Her home was a deeply religious one where daily reading of the Bible was part of family life. Later sisters who had lived with Mother Francis would remark, 'She seemed to know the Bible by heart'. This love of The Word of God prepared the heart of Mother Francis to resonate with Saint Francis of Assisi whose Rule of Life, based on the Word of God, she would eventually embrace.

On 22nd July 1888, with the approval of Cardinal Manning Mother Francis began a new ministry committed totally to the destitute. Her wonderful human courage, illuminated by faith in Christ Jesus and the Poverello's spirit of compassion, inspired her new Franciscan ministry. It was  a work of mercy to help the itinerant and immigrant people of London, who were poor to the point of destitution.



Cardinal Manning
Cardinal Manning belongs in a significant way to the history of The Franciscan Sisters Minoress. He was profoundly moved by the appalling conditions of the poor and by the destitution of the Irish immigrants who came to England in great numbers in the 19th century. The zealous Cardinal sought religious sisters who would assume special responsibility for home visiting  in the hazardous society of Long Acre and Covent Garden areas of London. Providentially, he found a response in Francis Murphy.

Cardinal Manning and Mother Francis were alike in their devotion to Saint Francis of Assisi and admiration of the Poverello's love of the poor and disadvantaged. Their mutual Franciscan compassion found means to overcome obstacles and began an apostolate which has, under God, borne much fruit these past 120 years. Mother Francis' response resulted in the creation of a new congregation : The Franciscan Sisters Minoress'.

Home visiting was the initial call of the sisters and they sought to relieve the poverty of the people, by providing them with the necessities of life. In this a desire was born and is still part of the life of each sister today, to be of service to people of all ages - to touch their daily lives and to have them touch ours.

At the invitations of local Bishops we moved to areas other than London, to work in their dioceses. We now have convents in England, Ireland, Scotland and South Africa. Nowadays the sisters are involved in various ministries: education from nursery to adult level; nursing from conception ( pro-life), to death ( care of the elderly) and Aids nursing, child care, retreats ,prayer and chaplain ministries, parish ministry, including visiting, parish missions, catechetics and youth work.

In all our convents we try to keep alive the spirit of minority, by living in the simplicity and joy of the gospel. Caught up in St Francis's hymn of praise to God, who is Creator of all, we are grateful for the privilege of being servants of all that is created.


The Mother Mouse, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire

In 1900 Mother Francis was approached by Bishop Bagshawe of Nottingham to accept ministry in Melton Mowbray Leicestershire. The sisters moved to a convent in Sherrard Street, Melton Mowbray but this house soon became too small for the sisters. They then moved to 9 Thorpe End, Melton Mowbray and opened a private convent school. Four little Catholic children enrolled - forever inscribed in the history of catholic education in Melton Mowbray. Sunday school instruction and the meetings of Children of Mary sparked active interest. Enrollment of catholic and non - catholic students demanded more space.

Saint Francis School, Melton Mowbray
By 1903 another move was necessary and this time the move was to Tower House, Dalby Road where the sisters remain to this day. Tower House is the Mother House of the congregation and there is also a thriving primary school dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi.

Education of the young has always been a priority for our Congregation. According to the gifts of  the sisters our involvement  varies from nursery to adult level. We take to heart the words of Pope John Paul II stated in his historic visit to England, 'Our beloved young people : the Church of today and the hope of tomorrow'.

Saint Clare's Convent is the House of Formation for the Congregation. Here we receive candidates, postulants and novices who wish to explore the gift of vocation as a Franciscan Minoress Sister.


Saint Clare's Convent, Clay Cross
From 1903 until 1983 the noviciate was at the Mother House in Melton Mowbray . Inspired by Church teaching and our Franciscan tradition it was decided to have the noviciate as a separate foundation from the Mother House. Saint Clare's was established as a noviciate in 1983. 

Within the grounds of Saint Clare's Convent we also have a purpose built Franciscan House of Prayer and Solitude: The Portiuncula. Realizing that the call to solitude lies at the heart of our Franciscan vocation, the Franciscan family continues to discover new ways of interpreting and living Saint Francis' Rule for Hermitages. Our Portiuncula is one example among many.



The Portiuncula, Clay Cross



San Damiano Convent, Alfreton, Derbyshire
Saint Clare, the first woman follower of Saint Francis of Assisi,  continues to be an inspiration and encouragement to our sisters. To mark her special year in 1993 we established a new Convent in her honour : San Damiano Convent.

The Lord has called us to this greatness: that those who are to be effective mirrors and examples for others, should see themselves mirrored in us. Therefore, if we have lived according to this form of life which I have already spoken about, we shall leave a noble example to others. (Testament of Saint Clare)


Saint Anthony's Convent, Cabra, Dublin
Saint Anthony's Convent was opened to mark the centenary of our Congregation. In our early history Mother Francis had established a foundation in Carlingford, County Louth, Ireland to do home visiting and give religious instruction. Today, in Cabra, the sisters are  involved in this inner city parish  where their varied gifts bring to this ministry the creative, evangelizing gifts inherited from Saint Francis and our Foundress Mother Francis.

At the request of Archbishop Campbell of Glasgow our sisters opened a Convent in Scotland in 1946.  Our nursing apostolate in Glasgow has embraced all areas of nursing care from conception to death. Our present convent is situated close to the sisters ministry of care of the elderly in Saint Francis Nursing Home.


Saint Francis Nursing Home, Glasgow

Franciscan Convent, Glasgow















In 1965, the Franciscan Friars in the Prefecture of Volksrust asked our Congregation to send some sisters to help in their mission work among the desperately poor in the Eastern Transvaal of South Africa. In 1966 six sisters departed from London airport -  the first missionary venture of the Minoress Sisters.


Saint Theresa's Convent, South Africa
Today in the spirit of Mother Francis, our sisters in South Africa reach out to the poor in many different ministries including Aids Nursing, Child Care, Catechetics, provision of food and housing for those in need.

Saint Theresa's is also a house of welcome for those who wish to explore our Franciscan Minoress way of life.




In 2011, a new convent was built in South Africa, called Saint Elizabeth's




You have not only a glorious history to remember and recount,
but also a great history still to be accomplished!
(Pope John Paul II)