Our Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary community in Milwaukee traces its foundation back to the early thirteenth century and the foundation of the Order of Preachers by St. Dominic de Guzman. Our spiritual heritage includes contemplative prayer, study, preaching, and communal life, all grounded in the monastic tradition of the Church.

As the first step in founding the Order, St. Dominic established a community of contemplative women at Prouille in southern France. Then he gathered a group of friars whose preaching apostolate would be supported by the prayers of their contemplative sisters.

Dominican contemplatives have been part of the Dominican Family from the very beginning of the Order.

The institute known as the Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary was founded on 20 May 1880, at Calais, France by Damien Saintourens, O.P., then Director of the Association of the Perptual Rosary for the Dominican Province of France. Mother Rose of St. Mary Wehrle, O.P., Co-Foundress of the Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary, came from the Dominican Monastery of the Holy Rosary at Mauleon in northern France, to help Father Saintourens with the foundation.

The photo on the left is the first community of the Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary in Bonsecours de Peruwelz, Belgium. Mother Rose of St. Mary, the first Prioress and Co-Foundress of the institute, is in the center, holding a breviary. To her left (right side of photo) are Mother Mary of the Rosary, Foundress of our Milwaukee community, and Sister Mary Joseph. The two Sisters were the first postulants to enter the institute at Calais. The photograph probably was taken in Spring of 1882.


The final photo is of the Milwaukee Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary in 1903. The Foundress, Mother Mary of the Rosary, is seated in the center. Mother Imelda, then a young religious, stands in the second row, fifth from the left; she was the second Prioress of the community. The postulant in a black cap on the right is Sister Charlotte; she became Sister, later Mother, Mary Dominic, the fourth Prioress.