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From Brothel Madam to Mission Founder
The San Antonio, Texas brothel run by Mary “Madam” Volino would in 1895 become a rescue ministry for young women in prostitution. The change came after Volino’s dramatic conversion. The Methodist-supported ministry would soon shift its focus, arranging adoptions of babies born there to young women pregnant out of wedlock. This undated photo shows the infant room.
She ran one of San Antonio’s most popular brothels. Then she came to Christian faith and turned that bawdy house into a Methodist mission.
With her conversion in 1895, Mary “Madam” Volino began to rescue the young women she had employed as prostitutes from that trade.
“Girls, I’ll give you shelter and God will give us bread,” she reportedly said at the end of a worship service in her former house of ill repute in downtown San Antonio’s red light district.
Volino died long ago, but her ministry is in its 122nd year and continues to be supported by United Methodists.