Friday, July 13, 2007

Saints: Constance, Nun, and her Companions

The Martyrs of Memphis
Today I want to bring to our attention Constance, Nun, and her Companions, (“The Martyrs of Memphis”) whose feast day is September 9. These six individuals are remembered for their work in the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1878 in Memphis, Tennessee. Constance was a Superior of the Sisters of St. Mary, an Episcopal Order of Nuns. She and six other nuns had lately come to Memphis to establish a girl’s school in connection with the Cathedral of St. Mary.

When the Yellow Fever epidemic broke out, they found that the Cathedral was in the heart of a highly infected section of Memphis. They could have left town just as 30,000 other people did, but instead they chose to stay and minister to the sick and dying. They also found homes for orphaned children. Approximately five thousand people died in the epidemic. Constance and three of her nuns died of the disease, as did two Episcopal Priests who were also physicians.

There are still nuns in Tennessee who are of the Order of Sisters of St. Mary. They reside in a convent in Sewanee on the Cumberland Plateau. They went there to establish a school and to help their neighbors. Our Bishop’s wife, Jan Louttit, attended St. Mary’s School at Sewanee, which has since been turned into a retreat center.

Although their numbers have dwindled over the years, the Sisters of St. Mary still have Morning Prayer and Holy Eucharist six days a week in their chapel. Occasionally I go there to visit and I am always warmly welcomed at the service and at breakfast afterwards. Go and sit with them sometime, and gain a refreshing perspective on life.

In peace,


The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

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