In every age and in times of great need God raises men and women with prophetic Charims, who under the guidance of the Holy Spirit carry out a particular mission in the world. The Founding of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross too occurred in the year 1844 in a small village called Menzingen- a scenically beautiful village in Canton Zug in Switzerland -by Fr Theodosius Florentini a dynamic Capuchin priest and Anna Maria Heimgartner (later Mother Bernarda Heimgartner), a silent but courageous young girl with a great dream.
Anna Maria Heimgartner was the first young girl to join Fr Theodosius OFM Cap to help him realize his dream of establishing a congregation of teaching sisters who would work in primary schools and empower the women. This she did at a time when convents were being suppressed by the radical Swiss Govt. In the face of great obstacles and problems she continued to cherish the dream of working in the public schools to educate the rural girl children and she continued to believe in the realization of this dream.
From Menzingen village the Congregation grew fast and spread mainly to the poorer central parts of Switzerland in a very short span of time. Mother Bernarda’s life was very short, just 19 years as head of the congregation and at the time of her death on 13th Dec. 1863, there were 59 poor Public schools where our sisters were teaching. There was also a teacher training institute which trained committed quality teachers.
Today about 2000 Sisters live in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Southern Africa, in 14 Provinces. It is when we meet at an international level that we recognise our differences in languages, appearances, the way we dress, think and live.
What unites us in our multiplicity of cultures and over continents is our common origin and our roots out of which our congregation grew.
In 1906 the first group of missionaries from Europe landed in India at Trivandrum. It was a humble beginning. The pioneer sisters started working in the various Govt.
hospitals of Kerala and improved the standards of Nursing and initiated Nursing education in Kerala. They did not own any house as their own till 1950 when they started their first house in Kottiyam, Quilon district.
Holy Cross sisters, because of their commitment and hard working nature, are known as excellent health care providers from the time they started their work in Kerala. From Kerala the congregation spread to other parts of India and Sri Lanka.