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Our History

​It was during a smallpox epidemic in 1872 that Mother Mary Odilia Berger and four companion sisters arrived in St. Louis. Their mission was clear — to serve God by tending to the poor and sick. The day after they arrived from their native Germany, the sisters began nursing to St. Louis' smallpox victims.

Forty years later, eight more sisters followed Mother Odilia's mission when they arrived in Wisconsin at the request of several Madison physicians and local clergy to establish a "Sisters' Hospital" for the city of Madison. Through the vision and hard work of the sisters, four physicians and four lay nurses, SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital - Madison opened its doors and its 70 beds on Sept. 22, 1912.

To this day, SSM Health St. Mary's remains faithful to the original mission of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary — to provide compassionate and expert health care to every patient who enters its doors.