Feast of Theodor Fliedner and Elizabeth Fedde (February 25)   Leave a comment

luther-rose

Above:  The Luther Rose

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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THEODOR FLIEDNER (JANUARY 21, 1800-OCTOBER 4, 1864)

Renewer of the Female Diaconate in the Lutheran Church

His feast transferred from October 4

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ELIZABETH FEDDE (DECEMBER 25, 1850-FEBRUARY 25, 1921)

Norwegian Lutheran Deaconess

Her feast = February 25

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theodor-fliedner

Above:  Theodor Fliedner

Image in the Public Domain

Theodor Fliedner revived the female diaconate in the Lutheran Church.  He, born at Eppstein, Hesse, on February 21, 1800, was a son of a Lutheran minister.  Our saint, educated at Giessen, Gottingen, and Herborn, became the minister at a church at Kaiserworth (now Dusselforf) in 1821.  There he became involved in prison ministry.  Eventually Fliedner founded a halfway house for released female inmates.  Our saint also founded a nursery school.

The Moravian Church, the original Protestant denomination, founded in 1457, nearly extinguished after 1620, and renewed in 1727, revived the ancient order of deaconesses in 1745.  Their example inspired Fliedner to do the same for the Lutherans.  In 1836 he founded a deaconess training center at Kaiserworth.  He sent deaconesses around the world.  In 1846 William Alfred Passavant, Sr. (1821-1894), asked Fliedner to send some deaconesses to the United States.  In early 1849 our saint and four deaconesses–Elizabeth Hupperts, Paulina Ludwig, Luise Hinrichsen, and Elizabeth Hess–departed for America.  They arrived in Pittsburgh, where the deaconesses helped to open the new Lutheran deaconesses’ hospital the following year.  Fliedner toured the United States before returning to his home.  In 1864, when Fliedner died, he was responsible for the existence of 30 motherhouses and the fact that 1,600 women were deaconesses.

elizabeth-fedde

Above:  Elizabeth Fedde

Image in the Public Domain

Among the deaconesses for whom Fliedner was indirectly responsible was Elizabeth Fedde, born at Feda, Vest-Agder, Norway, on December 25, 1850.  Her parents were Andreas Willumsen Fedde (1814-1873), a sea captain-turned-farmer, and Anne Marie Olsdatter (1818-1864).  Our saint trained as a deaconess at Christiania (now Oslo), Norway; her trainer was Katinka Guldberg, a deaconess who had trained at a motherhouse Fliedner had established.  Fedde worked at a minimally supplied hospital in Troms for a few years.  Then she received a letter from Gabriel Fedde, her brother-in-law and a lay minister with the Norwegian Seamen’s Mission, encouraging her to come to the United States.  She arrived in New York City in April 1883.

Fedde’s time (1883-1895) in the United States was productive.  In Brooklyn our saint worked as a home nurse, founded the Norwegian Relief Society, and, in 1885, began to rent a hospital.  Also in 1885, Passavant invited Fedde to work at the Lutheran deaconesses’ hospital in Pittsburgh.  She spent some time there.  Then, in 1888, while vacationing in Minneapolis, Minnesota, our saint helped to organize the Norwegian Lutheran Deaconesses’ Home and Hospital there.  She lived and worked in that city for a few years.  Meanwile, Fedde built her first hospital in Brooklyn in 1889.  Three years later our saint opened the Norwegian Lutheran Deaconesses’ Home and Hospital in Brooklyn.  Planning for the Norwegian Lutheran Deaconesses’ Home and Hospital in Chicago, opened in 1897, began in 1895.  Fedde participated in the planning process.

Our saint returned to Norway in 1895.  She married Ole Sletteb and remained wedded to him for the rest of her life.  Fedde died at Egersund, Rogaland, Norway, on February 25, 1921.  She was 70 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL EBER, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HOWELL ELVET LEWIS, WELSH CONGREGATIONALIST CLERGYMAN AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN ROBERTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MURRAY, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants Theodor Fliedner and Elizabeth Fedde,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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