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Pope Francis makes Florence Nightingale nurse 'Venerable'

20 June 2014


POPE FRANCIS has advanced the cause of the canonisation of Frances Taylor (right), daughter of a former Rector of Stoke Rochford, in Lincolnshire. She tended dying soldiers in the Crimean War before her reception into the Roman Catholic Church, and was later, as Mother Mary Magdalen of the Sacred Heart, Foundress of the Society of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God.

The Pope has determined that Mother Mary Magdalen lived a life of "heroic virtue". He has given her the title "Venerable", and has authorised the search for miracles required as evidence of sanctity for her beatification and canonisation.

Mother Mary Magdalen, the youngest of Henry Taylor's ten children, was influenced by Tractarianism and associated, as her sister Emma was, with the early Anglican Sisterhoods. Aged 22, she volunteered to join Florence Nightingale in Scutari, Turkey, in 1854, when Britain, with France and the Ottoman Empire, was at war with Russia. She became a Roman Catholic after being impressed by the faith of dying Irish soldiers for whom she was caring.

After her mother's death, the Congregation of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God opened refuges for prostitutes and homeless women and children in London, before spreading its work throughout Europe.

She also founded the Providence Free Hospital in St Helens, Lancashire, and took over the running of St Joseph's Asylum, in Dublin. She died in her convent in Soho Square, London, in 1900, after falling ill on the way to Rome. She was the author of many books and articles.

She was buried at Mortlake Cemetery, having established 20 institutions in her lifetime. Her remains were transferred to Maryfield Convent, Roehampton, in 1959.

Her order continues to work with poor, elderly, and disabled people.

Sister Mary Whelan SMG, Mother General of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God, said: "We are delighted by this good news. In proclaiming Mother Magdalen as Venerable, the Church has recognised her as a woman of profound faith, who devoted herself to serving the spiritual and practical needs of the poor and vulnerable."

The causes of a number of British women are under consideration in Rome. They include Elizabeth Prout, founder of the Passionist Sisters; Mary Potter, who founded a nursing order; Margaret Sinclair, a Scottish nun; Mother Riccarda Beauchamp Bambrough; and Mother Katherine Flanagan.

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