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Our History Since 1869


CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System was founded in 1869 by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. The sisters heeded the call from the Catholic bishop of Texas to care for the multitude of sick, infirm, and orphaned in the Texas frontier. When the sisters arrived in San Antonio, the population was only 12,000 and there was no public hospital - until the sisters founded CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital.

Our Legacy

In March of 1869, a cholera epidemic in the growing city of San Antonio prompted Bishop Dubuis to seek help from the Galveston sisters. Three sisters responded, Mother Madeleine, Sister St. Pierre and Sister Agnes. In May, 1869, they left Galveston by stagecoach for San Antonio, traveling more than 280 miles on roads that were essentially nothing more than wagon ruts. When they arrived, they found that one building intended for their use had burned to the ground.

Undaunted by the tragedy and fortified by their faith, the Sisters set out to rebuild the burned structure. After eight months of arduous effort, the hospital was finished and named Santa Rosa Infirmary.

On November 25, 1869, Sister Madeline submitted an announcement to The Weekly Express informing the public that San Antonio's first private hospital would be open to "all persons without distinction of nationality or creed." On December 3, the day of the hospital's opening, the nine-bed hospital admitted eight patients. 

Santa Rosa Infirmary, has undergone many changes and additions since its inception. A clinical pathological laboratory was established in 1910. In 1918, Santa Rosa became the first hospital in Texas to devote a separate unit for the care of crippled children. In 1930, five years before it became the first Texas hospital to install air conditioning, the Santa Rosa Infirmary was renamed Santa Rosa Hospital.

Incarnate Word Pioneered a Health System

Gradually, the concept of a complete system of health care began to emerge. In effect, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word pioneered the idea of a total system of medical care that would offer the latest preventive, diagnostic and treatment facilities to care for the mind, body and spirit of all the inhabitants of San Antonio and South Texas. To this end, the Sisters opened a children's hospital in 1959. CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children's Hospital is dedicated to the treatment of children who suffer from chronic illnesses and cancer. With a solid base of acute hospitals for children and adults, specialty centers and technological advances began to rapidly increase.

Today, the people of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health Care reach out to the people of San Antonio with new medical technology and high standards of excellence, a mission of caring is planted firmly in the efforts of the founding Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.