READERS who pop into the chapel of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus ofMontmartre OSB, at Tyburn Convent, in Hyde Park Place, in London, will be sad to hear of the death on 20 December of Mother Magdalen Gladstone pictured here. She entered Tyburn Convent 76 years ago. Alert almost to the end of her life, she had to he taken to the chapel in a wheelchair in recent years so that she could continue her faithful daily service of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Born (Mary Gladstone, in 1888, in St Andrews, Scotland. she attended Mass in a nowforgotten corrugated iron but in the town, which contained very few Catholics at that time.
While working for the Marchioness of Bute, Mary went to London and, drawn to dedicate herself to a life of prayer, entered the Adorers of the Sacred Heart at Tyburn in 1908. She made her profession on 18th February, 1910.
When Tyburn Convent celebrated the 75th anniversary of its foundation in 1978, the sisters appeared on BBC television (Nationwide) and Mother Magdalen became quite well-known, because her candour and dry humour made an appeal to many people.
Just last year a workman said to the portress: 'Isn't this the convent I saw on the telly some years ago? There was an old nun — is she still here? . . . i said to myself — That sort of life is not for me, but that old lady has something I haven't got, and that's faith. Would you ask her to pray for me?'
On the 75th anniversary of Mother Magdalen's joining the Tyburn community, her former parish of St Andrews not only showed their appreciation of her life of prayer by offering Mass for her, but she featured in their promotion of vocations to the religious life.
She received a giant greeting card from the staff and children of the Catholic primary school there, and also a cheque from an elderly man of the town for 07.50, being 50 pence for every year she had spent as a Tyburn sister. The crowning touch was a letter of appreciation from Cardinal Gray, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh.
Cardinal Gray was also the chief celebrant at her funeral Mass, celebrated at Tyburn Convent on 22 December, after which she was laid to rest in Tyburn's own cemetery at St Benedict's Priory, Wadhurst, in Sussex. May she rest in peace.
While Mother Magdalen, no doubt, continues her perpetual adoration in the very presence of Himself in Heaven, the community of those very bright and valiant Benedictine nuns of Tyburn Convent rejoice that on 8 January Sr Mary Francis Pio Gibson of Dublin made her First Profession in the Convent Chapel, at the Ceremony at which the chief celebrant was Dom Aelred Burrows OSB of Ampleforth Abbey.
What an occasion of joy and of deep gratitude to God that was, and what a fine start for the New Year for the gracious ladies of Saint Benedict.
We wish Sr Mary Francis Pio every happiness and blessing.