A Letter From Head of School, Mary Rose Guerin
Mary Rose Guerin, Head of School


Students visit Mater atop the Spanish Steps during a visit to Rome

Dear Forest Ridge Community, 

On Friday, October 20th, we joined our Sacred Heart family around the world in the celebration of the Feast of Mater Admirabilis. One of our spiritual treasures, Mater has become the patron of all Sacred Heart schools, capturing the hearts of students, alumnae, educators, friends, and Religious of the Sacred Heart.  

The Mater Admirabilis fresco in the Trinità dei Monti was painted in 1844 by a young novice to the Society, Pauline Perdrau. It depicts a young, contemplative Mary, her eyes turned downward sitting between a distaff, spindle and lily, with a sewing basket and open book at her feet. Pauline’s aim was to convey Mary as calm and serene, but when she first finished the painting, it was not quite what she envisioned. The light pinks and blues were much brighter than she intended and Pauline was mortified by the gawdy colors of her painting. She was made to feel worse when the presiding Superior ordered her fresco to be erased. Together, they covered it with a cloth and hid the painting from others to see. However, as time passed, the colors faded to the soft pinks and blues that we see today, and Mary’s facial expression represents a peacefulness that has been difficult to fully replicate.  Two years later, in 1846, Pope Pius IX came to visit the Society and upon seeing the beautiful fresco, he declared it “Mother Most Admirable!”, and from then on, the painting was referred to as “Mater Admirabilis”. 

But why has this painting become so important to Sacred Heart schools? There are many reasons, perhaps the most important one one being that at Mater's Feast we are asked to think of Mary as a young girl, a teenager amidst the universal adolescent struggle of growing into an unknown future. Mary is not yet Jesus’ mother. She has not yet discovered who she is called to be. She has no idea the importance she will play in the lives of so many, the struggle that lies ahead for her, or of the immense strength that lives inside her. She does not know how she will change and shape the world. And yet, she is calm—peaceful even. Her wisdom, industriousness, inner fortitude, and her faith assure her that she is prepared for whatever lies ahead.  

It is easy for me to see each of our students in this image of Mary: young, strong, brave, and open to infinite possibilities. Our students live in a complex, and ever-changing world, characterized by rapid technological advancements, globalization, and unprecedented access to information. Like Mary, they are facing a future that is unknown, maybe even unimaginable for some. And yet, they come to school every day and do their best to prepare. Through their Sacred Heart education, they grow in faith, intellect, character, and determination. They learn the importance of life-long learning, they learn who they are and what matters most to them, and they learn how to trust themselves. As such, they too are prepared to tackle whatever unknown lies ahead.  

While the original Mater fresco can be found in the Trinità dei Monti, the church and monastery at the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome, a statue or painting of Mater Admirabilis can be found in every Sacred Heart school around the world. Forest Ridge’s statue of Mater can be found in the Narthax of the Sacred Heart Center outside of our chapel; all members of our community are welcome to bring their prayers to Mater’s lap when needed. And, if your family is ever planning a trip to Rome, let’s us know and we will make sure you have what you need to be welcomed into the Trinità dei Monti to see the original Mater fresco! 


Mary Rose Guerin
Head of School