In 1790 four Carmelite nuns came from Hoogstraeten in the Austrian Netherlands — modern day Belgium — to establish a monastery in Port Tobacco, Maryland. This was the first women’s religious community established within the United States of America. For three of these women, however, this was also a homecoming, since they were members of the prominent Mathews family — one of the original Catholic families to settle in Maryland in the 1630s.
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