Feast of Harriet Starr Cannon (May 7)   1 comment

Above:  Harriet Starr Cannon

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

HARRIET STARR CANNON (MAY 7, 1823-MARCH 29, 1896)

Foundress of the Community of Saint Mary

Harriet Starr Cannon founded the Community of Saint Mary (initially the Sisters of Saint Mary), the first stable religious community for women in The Episcopal Church, in 1865.  This new order was quite controversial in the denomination at the time.  Was it a Papist threat to the Protestant purity of The Episcopal Church?  That was what many critics alleged?

Cannon was not religious until the 1850s.  She and her older sister, Catherine Ann, were natives of Charleston, South Carolina.  There, on May 7, 1823, Harriet entered the world.  The girls’ parents died of yellow fever when Harriet was 17 months old.  An aunt with five children in her household already raised the sisters in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  Harriet lost an eye in an accident, but had generally happy childhood.  Not surprisingly, our saint was close to her older sister, who married then moved to California in 1851.  The plan was for Harriet to join her there.  Nevertheless, in 1855, as Harriet was preparing to leave for the West Coast, Catherine Ann died, leaving Harriet feeling alone.

Harriet, thrown into a crisis, emerged and devoted the rest of her life to God.  In 1856, in New York City, she joined the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion (defunct in 1940), under the direction of William Augustus Muhlenberg and Anne Ayres.  Our saint worked as a nurse to the poor at St. Luke’s Hospital.  In 1863 conflict within the Sisterhood led to Cannon and three other sisters leaving the order.

That departure was the prelude to the birth of a new order, the Sisters (later Community) of Saint Mary.  Horatio Potter, the Bishop of New York, received Cannon, Jane Haight, Mary Heartt, Amelia Asten, and Sarah Bridge as the first five sisters of the new order on February 2, 1865.  Our saint served as the first superior of the order, which established institutions (hospitals, convents, schools, mission houses, and orphanages) from Peekstill, New York (the site of the motherhouse) to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to Memphis, Tennessee.  The deaths of Sisters Constance, Thecla, Ruth, and Frances, four of the six Martyrs of Memphis, during an outbreak of yellow fever in Memphis while ministering to victims of the disease in August-October 1878 decreased hostility to the renewal of monasticism within The Episcopal Church.  The legacies of these Martyrs of Memphis included the expanded work of the Sisters/Community of Saint Mary and the founding of the Community of Saint John the Baptist (1881), the Sisterhood of the Holy Nativity (1882), the Community of the Transfiguration (1898), and the Order of Saint Anne (1910).

When Cannon died, aged 72 years, on March 29, 1896, her order had grown to 104 sisters.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM FABER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SCUDDER, U.S. UNITARIAN THEN EPISCOPALIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BYROM, ANGLICAN THEN QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILSON CARLILE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND FOUNDER OF THE CHURCH ARMY

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Gracious God, you called Mother Harriet and her companions

to revive the religious life in the Episcopal Church by founding

the religious community of Saint Mary, and to dedicate their lives to you:

Grant that, after their example, we may ever surrender ourselves to the revelation of your holy will;

through our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Esdras 2:15-24

Psalm 131

Hebrews 13:1-2, 5-8, 15-16

Mark 9:33-37

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 361

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

One response to “Feast of Harriet Starr Cannon (May 7)

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Pingback: Feast of the Martyrs of Memphis, Tennessee, 1878 (September 9) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: