The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration arrived in the young city of La Crosse in 1871, at the request of the bishop of the newly formed diocese of La Crosse. They had come from Bavaria in 1849, settling first in Milwaukee and then Jefferson, Wisconsin, before arriving here and founding St. Rose of Viterbo Convent as their permanent home.
The order began with a two-fold mission that they adhere to to this day: to provide healthcare and education to the community while also practicing around-the-clock prayer or “perpetual adoration.”
In La Crosse, the Sisters ran St. Michael's orphanage for boys and girls and taught in several parochial elementary schools plus Aquinas High School.
They established the first hospital in western WI, St. Francis’ Hospital (now Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare), with the intention of providing care for the men who worked on the riverboats, and followed this with St. Francis School of Nursing. In 1890, St. Rose Normal School was accredited to train Sisters to be teachers. That was the predecessor to what is now Viterbo University.
Today the FSPA sponsors three spirituality centers and is committed to working to end homelessness and human trafficking. They continue to sustain Perpetual Adoration in their 141st year of continuous prayer.
Location: 912 Market Street, La Crosse
1929: St. Rose Convent
2019: St. Rose Convent
Habit worn by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.
From the collection of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration