Spalding, Catherine, Mother

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The cofounder of the sisters of charity of Nazareth; b. Charles County, Md., Dec. 23, 1793; d. Nazareth, Ky., March 20, 1858. She migrated to Kentucky in 1799 with the Thomas Elder family, her mother, and her sister Ann. When Bp. Benedict J. Flaget of Bardstown and his future coadjutor John Baptist David announced their plans for a religious community to instruct frontier youth, Catherine, Teresa Carrico, and Elizabeth Wells responded to the call in December 1812. In March 1813 Catherine was elected first superior of this third congregation for religious women founded in the U.S. Their first convent was a log cabin on St. Thomas Seminary farm about five miles southeast of Bardstown. Their early years were marked by poverty and hard work, but by 1829 they had obtained a charter of incorporation from the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the congregation had begun to expand. At the time of Mother Catherine's death, the original membership had grown to 145, and there were 16 convents located in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Bibliography: a. b. mcgill, The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Kentucky (New York 1917). c. fox, The Life of the Right Reverend John Baptist Mary David, (17611841) (U.S. Catholic Historical Society 9, New York 1925).

[a. g. mcgann]