Archive for the ‘Edith Cavell’ Tag

Feast of Edith Cavell (October 12)   2 comments

Above:  A Stamp Depicting the Death of Edith Cavell

Image in the Public Domain

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EDITH LOUISA CAVELL (DECEMBER 4, 1865-OCTOBER 12, 1915)

English Nurse and Martyr, 1915

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I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved.

–Edith Cavell

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Edith Cavell comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Church of England, where her feast day is October 12.

Cavell, born in Swardeston, Norfolk, England, on December 4, 1865, grew up to become a pioneering nurse and a martyr.  Her father was a priest in The Church of England.  Our saint grew up in a loving home and shared a pleasant childhood with her siblings.  Cavell, a governess in Belgium (1890-1895), returned home and took care of her ailing father.  Next she studied nursing in London (1896-1898) and became a nurse.  After working in various hospitals, Cavell became the matron of the Berkendael Medical Institute, Brussels, Belgium, in 1907.  She revolutionized the nursing profession in Belgium and trained other nurses.

Cavell might have led a longer life had she not returned to Belgium in 1914, after the outbreak of World War I.  In the summer of 1914, when the Great War started, our saint was visiting relatives in Norfolk.  She knew she had to return to Belgium and work as a nurse, given the need for her abilities there.  Our saint, committed to saving lives, regardless of wartime politics, provided medical care to both Allied and Central Powers soldiers.  Saving the lives of military personnel of the Central Powers scandalized many on the Allied side.  On the other hand, when Cavell helped to smuggle more than 200 Allied soldiers out of German-occupied Belgium, she became a target for German military “justice.”  Our saint, arrested for treason on August 3, 1915, and later convicted, died via firing squad on the morning of October 12, 1915.  She was 49 years old.

On October 11, 1915, Cavell had told a visiting Anglican priest:

Standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough.  I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.

Yet the British Government counted on bitterness and hatred toward the German Empire for executing her.  The British Government used her death as part of a military recruitment strategy.

Cavell’s story has become the basis of movies:

  1. Nurse and Martyr (1915),
  2. The Martyrdom of Nurse Cavell (1916),
  3. Nurse Cavell (1916),
  4. The Woman the Germans Shot (1918),
  5. Dawn (1928),
  6. Nurse Edith Cavell (1939), and
  7. Nurse Cavell (1948).

Cavell’s legacy stands for the propositions that human life is sacred, and that a state of war does not alter, minimize, or negate this reality.  Nationalism and patriotism have their places, but when they dehumanize the “other,” they become morally destructive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BENSON WHITE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyr Edith Cavell:

Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love,

that we who rejoice in her triumph may profit by her example;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 715

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