Father Theodore Ratisbonne founded the Congregation of Notre Dame de Sion in France in the middle of the 19th century. His brother, Alphonse, soon joined him in this commitment. Both men were born to a Jewish family in Strasbourg, France and felt drawn to Jerusalem. Father Mary (Alphonse) arrived in Jerusalem in 1855, and within a year he welcomed the first Sisters of Sion there. Little by little, with countless hitches and after several fund raising trips to Europe, Fr. Mary built three houses in Jerusalem, including the one here at Ein Kerem in 1861. The monastery initially welcomed girls who had been orphaned in the massacre of Christians in Lebanon in 1860. Then it served the village of Ein Kerem with a school and a dispensary. Since 1948 it has also offered accommodation, welcoming Christians, Jews and Muslims in a spirit of openness and hospitality. Today a resident community of Sisters, Brothers and Associates of Notre Dame de Sion lives here, welcoming people to our monastery and gardens. Through their work in silence and their prayer, the Contemplative Sisters also support this ministry.