History & Tradition

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The Visitation Crescent

4b46590ccf6e8The story of the Visitation Crescent began on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea in the middle of the thirteenth century. The Count of Savoy was leading an army to assist the Crusaders at Rhodes. In the midst of a furious storm two shooting stars appeared over the deck of his ship. Pierre de Sales, an accomplished mariner, knew that the storm would soon cease, and the fleet of Christian forces would arrive on time to assist in the battle. As a reward for his part in the victory, Pierre was given a coat of arms with the twin stars and the gold Saracen crescent. Pierre de Sales was an ancestor of St. Francis de Sales.

Many centuries later in 1833 in Kaskaskia, Illinois, eight Visitation Sisters from Georgetown, Washington, D.C., arrived to establish a convent and school in the St. Louis Diocese. Three years later, preparing to honor one of the first students of their “Young Ladies Academy,” a sister had the inspiration to bestow on this young woman a gold crescent, taken from St. Francis de Sales’ coat of arms. This began the tradition of bestowing a gold crescent on St. Louis Visitation graduates.

A symbol of youth and promise, the crescent is a mark of approval for completing a Visitation education and a sign of hope that in the years to come the graduate will continue to mature and grow in Christian and Salesian ideals. Fifty years after graduation, an alumna receives a golden full moon as a sign of her years of growth in wisdom and grace.

Below is an oral presentation by Sister Mary Grace McCormack, VHM ’60 on the History of the Visitation in St. Louis.

Visitation Academy: Educating the Mind and Heart 1833-2008


Purchase your copy of Visitation Academy: Educating the Mind and Heart 1833 -2008 today. This coffee table book was written for the 175th anniversary of the monastery and school in 2008 by Sister Marie Therese Ruthmann ’50. Sister Marie Therese combined the work of Jesuit Father William B. Faherty’s Deep Roots and Golden Wings, the history of Visitation Academy’s first 150 years, with her own story and experiences from 1983 through 2008. Visitation Academy: Educating the Mind and Heart 1833 – 2008 features many pictures and highlights alumnae in their personal testimonies of their Visitation experience.

You can obtain your own autographed copy by mailing a check to Sister Marie Therese payable to The Monastery of the Visitation. The cost of the book is $40.00 with an additional $5.00 for shipping and handling. Visitation Monastery, 3020 N. Ballas Rd., St. Louis, MO 63131.