Sisters of the Holy Cross


In 1841, Father Basil Moreau founded the Sisters of the Holy Cross in LeMans, France. Two years later, four sisters came to the United States to provide nursing and domestic services to the newly created College of Notre Dame (now Notre Dame University).

Over the years, the Sisters expanded their service into education and nursing – working in schools, orphanages and hospitals in several states. By the 1860s, 80 Sisters of the Holy Cross had served as nurses and administrators in six U.S. hospitals across the country. Holy Cross Sisters also volunteered as the first Navy nurses during the Civil War, serving on the hospital ship, Red Rover. There they cared for up to 1,400 patients, including many prisoners of war.

Saint Agnes’ story begins in 1894, the year the Sisters of the Holy Cross came to Fresno and opened a boarding and day school for girls. In 1929, at the request of the local bishop, eight Holy Cross Sisters established the original Saint Agnes Hospital on Fruit and Floradora avenues.

Throughout our nine-decade history, the Sisters have played a direct and integral role in shaping our ministry by establishing and nurturing our faith-oriented mission, providing hands-on patient care, holding executive leadership roles, and developing firm pillars of community outreach. Their legacy is present in every aspect of our ministry and continues to be the guiding light for our future.