Rose Lathrop (Hawthorne) (1851 - 1926)

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Birthplace: Lenox, Berkshire Co., MA, USA
Death: Died in Hawthorne, Westchester Co., NY
Managed by: Steven Kelley
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About Rose Lathrop (Hawthorne)

   Home of Rose Hawthorne Lathrop (Mother Mary Alphonsa) - 17 Chestnut Street
   from: The Salem Women's Heritage Trail Webpage, Salem Chamber of Commerce, Salem, Essex Co., MA
   @http://www.swht.org/site35.htm, July 22, 2004
   The youngest child of Nathaniel and Sophia Peabody of Salem (see S13) was not born in Salem but in Lenox, Massachusetts. When Rose Hawthorne (1851-1926) was only two years old, her family traveled to England where her father served as consul at Liverpool. When his terms expired, the Hawthornes visited France and Italy, returning to live in England for a year. When Rose was nine, she returned home to a country she could not remember. She was taught at home in Concord, Massachusetts, until her father’s death in 1864. First sent to a boarding school in nearby Lexington, she came to Salem to study in 1867 and lived here on Chestnut Street. Soon after she had finished school, Rose went with her sister, Una, her brother, Julian, and their mother, to live in Germany where she studied art and music, met George Parsons Lathrop, and married him in 1871. Upon returning once more to America, Rose and her husband became very active in the literary circles of Boston and New York. Their son, Francis Hawthorne Lathrop was born in 1876 but died of cancer in 1881. Rose and George separated, and she began to train as a nurse to help patients with incurable cancer who were unable to pay for their treatment. A few years later, this descendent of Puritans who had become a Catholic, founded an order of nuns dedicated to the nursing work she had started. Newly named Mother Mary Alphonsa, she also spoke regularly on the role of women, rejecting the notion that they were merely decorative. In an unusual appearance before the Catholic Congress of 1893 held in Chicago, she argued, “Is she who is the mother of all perfect impulses, to be represented anywhere forever as the adorer of vanity? Is she always anywhere to appear laden with jewels, like a jeweler’s show-case? O woman, the hour has struck when you are to arise and defend your rights, your abilities for competition with men in intellectual and professional endurance, the hour when you are to prove that purity and generosity are for the nation as well as for the home.”68 The Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne continue Mother Mary Alphonsa’s work today from their headquarters in Hawthorne, New York.
   Notes 68. Deborah Culbertson, ed. Rose Hawthorne Lathrop: Selected Writings (Mahwah, N.J., 1993), II: 46.
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   Rose Hawthorne Lathrop - Mother Alphonsa
   from: Eldritch Press's Nathaniel Hawthorne Home Page
   @http://www.eldritchpress.org/nh/rose.html, July 21, 2004
   ROSE HAWTHORNE, the second daughter of Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1891 and founded a religious order to care for victims of cancer.
   Born in Lenox, Massachusetts, May 20, 1851, Rose grew up moving from place to place. She lived in West Newton, Massachusetts; Concord, Massachusetts; and as an infant in Liverpool, England; then London, Paris, Rome, and Florence, Italy. After her family returned to Concord in 1860, her father died in 1864, and her mother and family moved to Germany and then England.
   he had an unhappy marriage to George Parsons Lathrop, who became assistant editor of Atlantic Monthly, and who edited a collected edition of Hawthorne's works in 1883. Lathrop was an alcoholic. Their son, Francis, born in 1876, died five years later.
   Mrs. Lathrop wrote short stories and verse. A book of poems, Along the Shore, was published in 1888.
   She separated from her husband and moved to New York. There she trained as a nurse in order to aid cancer victims. To help raise money, she wrote Memories of Hawthorne, 1897. She opened a refuge for cancer victims on New York's Lower East Side. Her husband died in 1898 and a year later she moved to a larger house, St. Rose's Free Home for Incurable Cancer.
   Rose made her vows as a Dominican nun Dec. 8, 1900, taking the name Alphonsa. With her first companion, Sister M. Rose, she founded the Dominican Congregation of St. Rose of Lima, later called the Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer.
   In 1901, Mother Alphonsa opened Rosary Hill Home in Hawthorne, New York (now the mother home of the order). She died there July 9, 1926, the anniversary of her parents' wedding.
   For further information, see the biographies by Katherine Burton, Sorrow Built a Bridge: A Daughter of Hawthorne (London: Longman, Greens, 1937), Theodore Maynard, A Fire Was Lighted, (1948), Marguerite Vance, On the Wings of Fire: the Story of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Daughter, Rose (1955), and M. Joseph, Out of Many Hearts (1961). A more academic biography is Patricia Dunlavy Valenti, To Myself a Stranger, (Louisiana State University Press, 1991, PS2231V35 1991 90-23670, ISBN 0-8071-1612-2).
   Some of the Hawthorne Family papers, including those of Rose Hawthorne, are at Stanford, Department of Special Collections, Green Library.

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Rose Hawthorne was an immensely cultured woman, part of the most cultured family tree in America -- the Peabodys and the Hawthornes. She and her husband, George Lathrop, were intimates of the leading literary figures of New England, London and Florence. Rose was herself an author, and had a number of pieces published.

And yet she was able to give all of this up and to undertake the work of caring for the poorest of the poor, the most neglected and diseased of her society, in a hands-on way. She took them into her home, changed their dressings, bathed them and fed them, became their friend and their protector. Given that she was dealing with an illness which was considered loathsome and communicable, like leprosy, hers was an act of immense charity and personal heroism.

Nursing the Poor with Incurable Cancer

In the fall of 1896, after having taken a three-month nursing course at New York's Cancer Hospital, Rose Hawthorne moved into a three-room cold-water flat on New York City's impoverished Lower East Side and began to nurse the poor with incurable cancer.

She said at the time: "No description had given me a real knowledge of how dark the passages are in the daytime, how miserably inadequate the water supply, how impossible that the masses of poor in tenements should keep themselves or their quarters clean." But keeping her focus on God, she resolved "... to take the lowest class we know both in poverty and suffering and put them in such a condition, that if our Lord knocked at the door we should not be ashamed to show what we have done."

Rose as a Crusader and Inspiration

The letters and essays of Rose Hawthorne "offer a portrait of a vigorous and inspirational woman who could look at the social evils of her day and see them not merely as deplorable but as a challenge," observes Diana Culbertson, O.P., editor of Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, Selected Writings.

"Rose Hawthorne," Sr. Culbertson writes, "was an exceptional woman whose dedication, sacrifice, and sharp intellectual dialogue set an example that in any age would be hard to emulate. She was far ahead of her time in her thinking on and commitment to social justice. Her essays on spirituality and charity are inspiring and challenging. She was also a very loving woman, with close, tender relationships with her husband and family, and with strong spiritual female friendships. In Rose's time, strong friendships such as that which existed between Rose and Emma Lazarus [author of the poem "Give me your tired, your poor..." on the Statue of Liberty], and Rose and Alice Huber were very common and beneficial."

Rose Hawthorne Proposed for Sainthood

On Tuesday, February 4, 2003, having determined that Rose Hawthorne (Mother Mary Alphonsa, O.P.) earned a "reputation of sanctity," Edward Cardinal Egan of the New York Archdiocese gave his blessing and approval to begin the diocesan process which opens the cause for her canonization. He named Rev. Gabriel O'Donnell, a Dominican friar, Postulator of the campaign. The Postulator serves as the voice between the Congregation of Rites of the Holy See, and those who are participants in the process, including the Archdiocese, the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, and the Rose Hawthorne Guild which will promote the cause by distributing information and religious articles.

The Cardinal also appointed a diocesan tribunal and a historical commission whose joint purpose is to investigate the life, virtue and reputation for holiness of Rose Hawthorne (Mother Mary Alphonsa, O.P.), Servant of God. This needs to be demonstrated through the brief of the historical commission. Since there are few living people who can witness to her life, the bulk of the brief will be formed from the documents and records in the Archives of Rosary Hill Home, the motherhouse of the Community Rose Hawthorne founded.

The road to canonization is long and uncertain. A candidate must first be declared "venerable," or worthy of being a role model for Catholics. The next step is beatification by the Pope which requires, among other things, that a miracle be attributed to Rose Hawthorne's intercession. The final step normally requires that a second miracle be attributed to the candidate. -------------------- ROSE HAWTHORNE, the second daughter of Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1891 and founded a religious order to care for victims of cancer. Born in Lenox, Mass., May 20, 1851, Rose grew up moving from place to place. She lived in West Newton, Mass.; Concord, Mass.; and as an infant in Liverpool, England; then London, Paris, Rome, and Florence, Italy. After her family returned to Concord in 1860, her father died in 1864, and her mother and family moved to Germany and then England. She had an unhappy marriage to George Parsons Lathrop, who became assistant editor of Atlantic Monthly, and who edited a collected edition of Hawthorne's works in 1883. Lathrop was an alcoholic. Their son, Francis, born in 1876, died five years later. Mrs. Lathrop wrote short stories and verse. A book of poems, Along the Shore, was published in 1888. She separated from her husband and moved to New York. There she trained as a nurse in order to aid cancer victims. To help raise money, she wrote Memories of Hawthorne, 1897. She opened a refuge for cancer victims on New York's Lower East Side. Her husband died in 1898 and a year later she moved to a larger house, St. Rose's Free Home for Incurable Cancer. Rose made her vows as a Dominican nun Dec. 8, 1900, taking the name Alphonsa. With her first companion, Sister M. Rose, she founded the Dominican Congregation of St. Rose of Lima, later called the Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer. In 1901, Mother Alphonsa opened Rosary Hill Home in Hawthorne, New York (now the mother home of the order). She died there July 9, 1926, the anniversary of her parents' wedding. Also: Born in Lenox, Massachusetts to Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife Sophia Peabody, she was educated in London, Paris, Rome and Florence. She married author George Parsons Lathrop in 1871; both converted to Roman Catholicism in 1891. The couple had a son, Francis, who died from diphtheria at the age of 5. Rose and George Lathrop separated permanently in 1895. After her father's death in 1864, she tried to become an author, like him. She did write a handful of poems, but she was never very successful as a writer. She later decided to rededicate her life to restoring her family's reputation after her brother's illegal activities. She was known for her service near and within New York City, caring for impoverished cancer patients by founding St. Rose's Free Home for Incurable Cancer in the Lower East Side. After the death of her husband in 1898, she became a nun, and as Mother Mary Alphonsa, she founded a community of Dominican religious, now known as the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne. Rose Hawthorne Lathrop was awarded an honorary Master of Arts (postgraduate) from Bowdoin College in 1925. She died a year later on July 9, 1926. In 2003, Edward Egan, Cardinal Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York approved the movement for Lathrop's canonization. She now has the title "Servant of God" in the Catholic Church.

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Rose Lathrop's Timeline

1851
May 20, 1851
Lenox, Berkshire Co., MA, USA
1871
September 11, 1871
Age 20
New York City, New York, New York, United States
1876
1876
Age 24
Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
1926
July 9, 1926
Age 75
Hawthorne, Westchester Co., NY