Venerable Jane Ward

Venerable Jane WardAlso known as

  • Mary Ward


Mary was raised in a pious family, and early felt drawn to the religious life. In 1606 she entered the Poor Clare convent at Saint-Omer, France as a lay sister. Founded a Poor Clare house for English sisters in Gravelines, France in 1607. However, feeling drawn to an active rather than contemplative life, she and several like-minded women founded a religious community and a school for girls in Saint-Omer in 1609. She wanted to form a women‘s equivalent of the Jesuits, but the idea of non-cloistered nuns was a radical one at the time, and though her school was a success, the combination of active nuns, English women in France, and a congregation modelled on the Jesuits led to suspicion and opposition, both in the laity and the Church hierarchy. She had many powerful supporters, including Pope Paul V, Pope Gregory XV, and Pope Urban VIII, and in 1629 she spoke to the college of cardinals in support of her community and her ideal of an active religious life for women. Her community was suppressed in 1630. However, Pope Urban VIII invited her to Rome, Italy where she gathered a group of her like-minded sisters under the protection of the pope. In 1639 she returned to London, England, and 1642 moved north to found a convent in Hewarth, Yorkshire, England. Her original institute was eventually revived and received papal approval of its rule by Pope Clement XI in 1703, and as an institute by Pope Pius IX in 1877. Founder of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto Sisters) and Congregatio Iesu.




MLA Citation

  • “Venerable Jane Ward“. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 November 2019. Web. 24 November 2020. <>