Venerable Cornelia Connelly
Her Life, Faith, and Cause for Canonization
“The more we love God the more perfectly we shall be in the joy and liberty of His children.” -- CORNELIA CONNELLY
Dear Educators, Parents, Guardians, and Friends,
Thank you for your interest in the Foundress of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, Venerable Cornelia Connelly. We are delighted to share with you Cornelia's story, including her cause for canonization. Her life, legacy, and devotion to God continue to inspire us today, 175 years after she founded the Society.
The content featured in this section of our website is geared toward students in elementary through high school. However, all are welcome to use it!
Peace and Blessings,
Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus
Lesson Plans for Elementary, Middle, and High School Teachers
Foundress of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus
Cornelia Augusta Peacock Connelly, an American-born wife, mother of five children, convert, and Catholic Sister, founded the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, an international community of women religious, on October 15, 1846, in Derby, England. Sixteen years later, Cornelia sent six Sisters to the United States to establish what is now the American Province.
Cornelia's life leading up to establishing the Society was filled with challenges—the loss of her parents before she was 14; her marriage and subsequent separation from her husband Pierce, when he became a Catholic priest; and the tragic deaths of three of her young children.
Even in the midst of suffering and loss, Cornelia embraced life and even joy through her unshakable faith. She channeled her trials into "a love full action" and established a religious community and an education system rooted in joy, compassion, zeal, and respect.
Today, the Society of the Holy Child Jesus carries on Cornelia's work in Africa, Europe, North America, and South America through its educational, social justice, health, and spiritual ministries.
Cornelia's educational philosophy—while unconventional at the time—is widely praised today for its innovation and vision. The Society's motto is "Actions Not Words."
On Easter Friday in 1879, Cornelia died at the age of 70. As early as 1911, petitions for cures through Cornelia's intercession were recorded. The official Cause for Cornelia's canonization was opened in 1959. Cornelia Connelly was declared Venerable by the Church in 1992. A miracle is needed to confirm her holiness and declare her Blessed.
Tour Cornelia's Philadelphia
Born in 1809, Cornelia Connelly spent the first 22 years of her life in Philadelphia.
See below to visit some of the Philadelphia landmarks that shaped Cornelia’s life, from Filbert Street, where she was born, to Christ Church, where she married Pierce Connelly. You and your students will be captivated as you take a virtual walk through Cornelia’s Philadelphia. Enjoy!
Click here for a PDF version of the tour.