Ceremony marks fatal fire of 1912 at St. John's Orphanage in San Antonio

St. John's Orphanage fire killed 3 children, 8 nuns

SAN ANTONIO – A ceremony was held at the Chapel of the Incarnate Word Sunday to mark the centennial of a tragic orphanage fire that killed three children and five nuns.

The blaze ignited on Oct. 30 1912 around 4:30 a.m. at Saint John's Orphanage, which was eventually rebuilt and named St. Peter-St. Joseph's Children's Home.

A total of 90 boys lived in the orphanage along with eight nuns who cared for them.

Reports from the day indicate the nuns had nearly all the children out of the building, when they noticed a toddler was missing.

One of the nuns, Mother Mary of the Cross Rossiter, ran back in to save the boy and became trapped.

"She stood at a window and the firefighters tried to respond to the call, but the ladder was not high enough so they both perished in the fire," said Sister Yolanda Tarango.

The following day, the body of Mother Rossiter was found still holding the child.

The ceremony remembered those killed and the nuns' heroic efforts during the blaze.

The cause of the fire was never confirmed by there was speculation it was faulty wiring or a flammable liquid that caught fire.