When Mother Odilia Berger and her five companions landed on the St. Louis riverfront on November 16, 1872, they had just a handful of possessions and only $5 among them. They spent their first two weeks with a nearby group of Ursuline Sisters, then moved into a second-floor attic apartment where they could live in community.
The long, cold winter nights were dark, as the sisters could not afford to buy a lamp. A kind-hearted neighbor lady, noticing the sisters’ dark windows every night, picked up a kerosene lamp and brought it to the sisters.
For those grateful sisters and for all our sisters who followed in their footsteps, the lamp became a symbol of our dependence on the kindness of others to accomplish our mission to be the presence of the loving, serving, compassionate, healing Jesus.
(When St. Mary of the Angels Convent was built in the late 1920s, many of the light fixtures were patterned on the lamp. The original lamp is kept in the heritage case at the FSM administrative offices.)