Feast of Louisa Marthens (July 16)   4 comments

Above:  The Sisters’ House, Passavant Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Image in the Public Domain

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CATHARINE LOUISA MARTHENS (JULY 17, 1828-JANUARY 12, 1899)

First Lutheran Deaconess Consecrated in the United States of America, 1850

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And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

–Matthew 25, 40, Revised Standard Version, Second Edition (1971)

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Deaconess Catharine Louisa Marthens (the spelling of her name on her grave marker) comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year With American Saints (2006).

Marthens, from a devout Lutheran family, found her vocation via her pastor and mentor, William Alfred Passavant, Sr. (1821-1894).  Marthens, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on July 17, 1828, was a daughter of Henry Christian Marthens (1782-1857) and Catherine Slator Marthens (1788-1868).  Our saint learned her catechism from Passavant, the pastor (1844-1855) of the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh.  Passavant had an interest in social services, especially for the most vulnerable members of society.  He founded hospitals and orphanages from 1849 to 1871.  In 1849, at Passavant’s invitation, German Lutheran minister Theodor Fliedner (1800-1864), the renewer of the order of deaconesses in the Lutheran Church, visited Pittsburgh.  Fliedner brought four deaconesses with him.  The North American Lutheran female diaconate had begun.

Through Passavant’s influence, Marthens became interested in the deaconess movement.  She even visited Germany to observe Fliedner and the deaconesses there in action.  Marthens had found her vocation.  In 1850, at First English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh, Passavant consecrated her a deaconess.  The name of the authority for which our saint worked was the Institution of Protestant Deaconesses.  Marthens worked at Passavant’s hospital in Pittsburgh; she was both a nurse and an administrator.  When a mob, fearful of cholera patients, attacked, our saint protected her patients.  Later, she served as the first matron of the orphanage in Pittsburgh.  In 1859, Marthens helped to start the orphanage in Germantown.  Subsequently, she served as the matron of the girls’ orphanages in Rochester, Pennyslvania, and Jacksonville, Illinois, in order.

Marthens, aged 70 years, died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on January 12, 1899.  She had spent her life well, devoting most of it in the service of Christ, present in the “least of these.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 6, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN WYCLIFFE AND JAN HUS, REFORMERS OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DUFFIELD, JR.; AND HIS SON, SAMUEL DUFFIELD; U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS AND HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF HENRY THOMAS SMART, ENGLISH ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOSIAH CONDER, ENGLISH JOURNALIST AND CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER; AND HIS SON, EUSTACE CONDER, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF OLUF HANSON SMEBY, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Lord God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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4 responses to “Feast of Louisa Marthens (July 16)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of William Passavant (January 3) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

  2. Wonderful woman!

  3. Pingback: Feast of Lucy Jane Rider Meyer (September 9) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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