Page 8, 15th October 1954

15th October 1954
Page 8
Page 8, 15th October 1954 — 5 NUNS 'COPED WITH TERROR'

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Locations: Jerusalem, London, Venice, Paris


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Two graves on the Crimean heights

'Catholic Herald' Reporter

ONE hundred years ago on Sunday five Sisters of Mercy, under Mother Clare Moore, left London for the Crimea to nurse the sick and wounded soldiers stricken by the thousand In the war with Russia of 1854-1856.

Breaking their journey in Paris —they had gone at the entreaty of Bishop Grant of Southwark—they met Miss Florence Nightingale

and travelled on with her to

Constantinople. Thus began the historic association and lifelong friendship between the sisters and the great nursing pioneer.

Tomorrow, in commemoration of the centenary, High Mass will be sung in the presence of Cardinal Griffin in the Church of St. John of Jerusalem at the London Hospital of the Sisters of Mercy dedicated to SS. John and Elisabeth.

A white statue of Our Lady with the Divine Child which the sisters of a century ago carried with them throughout the Crimean War stands in the hospital today near the rosary of Mary Queen of Scots presented to Sister Mary Gonzaga by Cardinal Wiseman in his last illness.

Other relics in the same room include the skullcap of Pqpe Pius IX and—more precious still—a skullcap worn by Pope St. Pius X.

Touching letter Touching letter

Interleaved in a scrapbook which tells the hospital's history are a num ber of original letters written by Florence Nightingale in her old age from her home in South Street, Park Lane, to Sister Stanislas, one of her companions in the Crimea.

There. are letters, too, written home by the sisters on the battle fields. with amusing little drawings of themselves produced by the unquenchable humour of Sister Mary Gonzaga. One of the most touching passages in Miss Nightingale's letters, written on October 21. 1896, reads : "I always remember our dear, dear Reverend Mother [Mother Clare], now a saint in heaven, and I remember you and your gallant duty-loving spirit in the Crimea beside Scutari With love to all who remember me. Ever yours as in old days. F. Nightingale."

The original five sisters were later joined by three mere from Bermondsey and 15 sisters from Ireland. At the Turkish barracks and the Feneral hospital in Constantinople.

in the huts on the bleak hillsides, in the cholera hospital at Scutari, the convalescent hospital in Koulali and the general hospital at Balaclava, the sisters "began to cope with terrors that no words can describe."

A surgeon at the Left-Wing hospital wrote to the superior in the city

barracks: "Your sisters are doing more good up here than so much medicine." They tended the long lines of frostbitten, fever-stricken and wounded laid out in lines along the floor, worked in unspeakable conditions with no privacy for themselves, and eased the sufferings of the dying.

No complaint No complaint One sister wrote: "The look of agony on their dying faces would pierce the coldest heart. And with all that suffering there was never a look of impatience, never a murmur of complaint:* Two white marble crosses and a high iron railing on the Crimean heights mark the graves of Sister Mary Winifred and Sister Mary theth, stricken by cholera and revel contracted whilst nursing the troops and laid to rest by soldiers. Writing to Mother Clare—forced to return home when her health collapsed -Florence Nightingale said: "What you have done for the work no one can ever say. I do not pre sume to give you any tribute other than my tears. . . , You were valued here as you deserved and the gratitude of the army is yours." Nursing with the sisters in the Crimea was Fanny Margaret Taylor, who attributed her conversion to their example. Returning to England, she worked for the poor in the London slums. then became a nun and the foundress of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God. In the Jubilee Year of 1897. Queen Victoria personally decorated four of the sisters with the Royal Red Cross. And when Sister Stanislas died in 1913 the War Office sent a party of R.A.M.C. bearers to carry her coffin from the church to the cemetery. In 1856 Cardinal Wiseman entrusted to the Sisters'of Mercy the first Catholic hospital in England since the Reformation. It arose in Great Ormond Street, London. and was dedicated to St. Elisabeth of Hungary. After the restoration by Sir George Bowyer, a Knight of Malta, the sisters were affiliated to the Okler of St. John of Jerusalem, bound for ever to wear the order's white cross, and the foundation adopted the new title of St. John and St. Elisabeth.

Increasing its scope year by year, the hospital ultimately transferred to St. John's Wood, where it stands today. The new premises were opened by the Lord Mayor of London in 1900. The Church of St. John of Jerusalem, built by Sir George, was re-erected in the new grounds. SS. John and Elisabeth's. still a voluntary hospital, is a training school recognised by the General Nursing Council, adding to the usual studies a course in moral theology and an annual retreat. Nuns of various congregations work side by side with laywomen for the State qualifications. In May of this year Mr. lain MacLeod, Minister of Health, and Lord Horder paid the highest tribute to the work of the hospital and to the sisters when the Minister unveiled a commemoration stone in the partly built new children's department planned to be one of the most up to date in the country at a cost of £30,000.

Venice statue stolen One of the 15th century Greek marble statues standing on the left side of the high altar in the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice has been stolen. The authorities of the basilica have supplied the police with a photograph of the statue.

fear for Tricolor

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