Cornelia Connelly

Cornelia Connelly

Cornelia Connelly

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Cornelia Connelly (January 15, 1809 – April 18, 1879), born Cornelia Peacock, was the American-born founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, a Roman Catholic religious order. She was born in Philadelphia in 1809, began her conversion to Roman Catholicism in the southern US, and in 1846 founded the first of many Holy Child school, in England.

After both her parents' deaths, she came to live with her older sister and her sister's husband. She married Pierce Connelly, an Episcopal priest, despite her family's protests, in December 1831, and the two moved to Natchez, Mississippi, where Pierce had accepted the rectorship of the Holy Trinity Episcopal church. During this time their family grew, and experienced tragedy. In early 1840, still grieving the death of a baby daughter while living in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, Cornelia made her first retreat of three days. God touched her deeply, and her interior life was profoundly changed. In February, her two-year old son John Henry was playing with his dog when the dog accidentally pushed him into a vat of boiling sugar. He died of severe burns in Cornelia's arms after 43 hours. From this anguish Cornelia's lifelong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of Sorrows was born.

Pregnant with her fifth child in October of the same year, Pierce told her he felt called to the priesthood. Despite their youth, Cornelia agreed to move to Rome. Soon afterward Rev. Connelly elected to enter the Roman Catholic priesthood, where in...
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