facebook pixel

Founder’s Day

Monday, June 12 is Founder’s Day. We celebrate 124 years of Calvary and Annie Blount Storrs, our foundress.

In 1899, a small group of widows inspired by work undertaken by The Women of Calvary in France, began caring for women in New York City who were destitute and had terminal diseases. Led by Annie Blount Storrs, they provided care to people of all faiths in their own homes before establishing the American House of Calvary on June 12, 1899, in Greenwich Village.

Storrs and her colleagues – many of whom were FDNY widows – were inspired by a 19th century French woman, Jeanne Francois Chabot Garnier, a 22-year-old widow and bereaved mother who founded homes for desperately poor, sick women, literally dying in the streets of Lyon.

Incurable Cancer Cases Alone Are Taken Here

Madame Garnier took it upon herself to care for these women and discovered that caring for them lessened her suffering. By the end of the 19th century, she and her organization – deemed Les Dames du Calvaire by the Archbishop of Lyon – had raised enough money and support to establish seven Houses of Calvary throughout France and Belgium. They did not belong to any religious order, but their work sanctified them. They answered a call within them. And so did Annie Blount Storrs.

The Beds Were All Spoken For Before The House Was Opened

Storrs was in Europe in the early 1890s when she heard about the Women of Calvary. Drawn to Garnier’s story and mission, Storrs joined them in Belgium, and learned how to clean patients, dress their wounds, and hold their hands and hearts. Religiously and philanthropically inspired, she researched how the organization worked and developed plans to open her own House of Calvary in the United States.

Back in New York, Storrs spent five years educating local Catholic authorities, hospitals, and community members about Calvary. She made connections, raised funds, and acquired enough resources to open the American House of Calvary to care for eight patients on June 12, 1899, at No. 5 Perry Street.

Awaiting With Resignation The Welcome Visitor

According to Storrs’ obituary in The St. Vincent de Paul Quarterly, Annie was a member of an old North Carolina family and a direct descendant of William Blount, a signer of the United States Constitution. She died suddenly of heart failure on February 19, 1906.

Storrs was deeply consequential for establishing, defining, and advancing the science of end-of-life care in America. She, Garnier, and all the Women of Calvary undoubtedly remain huge inspirations.