The Englishwoman who founded the Poor Servants of the Mother of God was declared “Venerable” by Pope Francis on 13 June – the second stage in the process of being made a saint.
Mother Magdalen of the Sacred Heart, born Frances Taylor in Stoke Rochford, near Grantham, Lincolnshire, founded the religious order in 1982.
Sr Mary Whelan, the Congregation Leader, said:
“We are delighted by this good news. In proclaiming Mother Magdalen as Venerable, the Church has recognised her as a woman of profound faith, who devoted herself to serving the spiritual and practical needs of the poor and vulnerable.
“In her life and work Mother Magdalene embodied a respect and compassion for every person she encountered. She famously said ‘Oh that someone will rise up to plead the cause of the poor and to help them’. That call and her life continue to inspire us as Sisters, Associates and friends throughout the world, as we respond to the challenges of today.”
A Mass of celebration will take place at St Patrick’s Church, Soho in September and other events will take place across the UK, Ireland, the United States and Kenya to mark the occasion.
Born Frances Taylor, in Stoke Rochford, near Grantham, Lincolnshire in 1832, the daughter of an Anglican clergyman, she combined an intense love of God and a desire to serve the poor and sick. Her experiences as volunteer nurse in the Crimean War led her to become a Catholic in 1855.
In 1872, aged 40, she founded the Poor Servants of the Mother of God.
Frances took the name Mother Magdalen and with three companions focused her work on the worst slums of central London and set up refuges for prostitutes and homeless women and children.
She founded the Providence Free Hospital in St Helens, Lancashire, and also took over the running of St Joseph’s Asylum in Dublin.
By 1900 the Sisters were responsible for over 20 houses and institutions.
She was also a prolific author and journalist often campaigning for the rights of the poor. Her book, Eastern Hospitals and English Nurses, exposing the conditions suffered by soldiers in the Crimean War, became a bestseller.
She died in the convent opposite St Patrick’s in Soho Square in June 1900 and is buried in the Chapel of the Maryfield Convent in Roehampton.
Today, the Congregation of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God still works among the poor as well as providing care for the elderly and people with learning disabilities, in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, the USA and Kenya.