Feast of Isabella Gilmore (April 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  Isabella Gilmore

Image in the Public Domain



Anglican Deaconess

The Church of England commemorates the life of Isabella Gilmore on April 16.

Gilmore was one of the leaders of the movement to revive the ancient order of deaconesses in The Church of England and in the wider Anglican Communion.  She, made a deaconess in 1887, stood in the spiritual lineage of Elizabeth Ferard (1825-1883), the first deaconess in The Church of England.

Isabella Morris, born in London on July 14, 1842, was a daughter of William Morris (a financier) and Emma Morris.  Our saint’s famous brother was William Morris (the artist, author, architect, and political activist), who lived from 1834 to 1896.  [Aside:  The English custom of naming a son after his father without using suffixes, such as “Jr.” and “III,” can be very confusing.  I like to know of whom I am thinking, writing, and speaking–grandfather, father, or son.]  William Sr. died when his daughter was just five years old.  The family relocated to Walthamstow, where Isabella studied under a governess then at schools in Brighton and Clifton.  The family moved again–to Leyton Hall, Essex–in 1856.

Our saint had a family life.  In 1860 she married naval officer Arthur Hamilton Gilmore.  She as the wife of a sailor, moved often.  After her husband died in 1882, our saint moved in with her family.  She also trained to become and became a nurse, a profession unfit for a woman of her social class, according to social conventions.  In 1884 Gilmore began to care for the children of her recently deceased brother, Randall.

Gilmore put her experience in taking care of others to good use as a deaconess.  In 1886 Anthony Thorold, the Bishop of Rochester, recruited the reluctant Gilmore to pioneer deaconess work in the diocese.  The following year she became a deaconess.  Our saint, active in the order until she retired in 1906, trained had deaconesses for other dioceses.  Her influence was widespread.

Gilmore died, aged 80 years, on April 16, 1923.





Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Isabella Gilmore,

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

Raise up in our own 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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