To all who may be interested,
I have written a number of posts on here, I enjoy doing it, there is so much I would love to write about and so many topics that interest me and I am ashamed I don’t write on all of them!
Today I want my main post to be focused on THE ALL SAINTS SISTERS OF THE POOR an originally Anglican religious order (now Roman Catholic) to which I am very interested in and want to write about, some of you of course will remember them as they were received into full Communion back in 2009….that’s right, the Nuns did not start out in the Roman Church. I would like this post to be able them and their journey, to honour them and say a little something about their history.
I have a slight connection to these former Anglican nuns as they were founded in my own city of London by Lady Harriet Byron, a wealthy Anglican lady of high society back in 1851 at the Parish of All Saints in Margaret Street, not that far from where I live! The sisters were founded at a very special time in England’s History, Queen Victoria was reigning over the largest Empire on Earth and we were one of the richest nations in the world…however on the streets of London there were many poor and hungry people- this was the vision of Harriet Byron who with the help of her parish Priest set up the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, for the purpose to help the poor! Mother Byron took in homeless children and tubercular women, one of whom did the cooking! She begged at the service entrances of the homes of the wealthy where she had once gone as a guest. She was a religious at a very “exciting” time as it was the revival of Catholic Practices within the Church of England, starting with John Henry Newman and now spreading, Mother Byron was one of those brave women who took that step in what was still a very anti Catholic Society and faced a lot of persecution from those outside of the Oxford movement, yet she did receive support from local Catholics as well as Anglo Catholics.
She based the rule and living arrangements of the Order on the Daughters of Charity, she had a great love for prayer and the Eucharist. Mother Byron was a very special lady and you could say she was something of a Mother Teresa on the streets of Victorian London, her sisterhood grew, as was Anglo Catholicism, this attracted many younger and older women in the Church of England who wanted to embrace a religious life and take up the veil- the sisters today say that their journey to Catholicism began with Mother Byron. The Order branched out to America in the 1870s and Mother Byron’s work and mission was spread and continued to do so, her sisters were even sent to the Crimea and nursed along Florence Nightingale, where as there were no “Anglican” Church the sisters would worship in Roman Churches and adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament- the sisters today say that their journey to Catholicism began all those years ago and began with the actions and devotion of Mother Byron…I am sure Mother Byron would have been pleased with her community if she could see all the wonderful things they have done since their foundation in London over 100 years ago!
When the American branch became Catholics in 2009 I was personally moved by it and remember very well hearing and reading of this event, I think it was beautiful. Today the sisters run a retreat house and are visiting and working in Catholic Parishes in the USA, unfortunately the English branch of the Sisters remained Anglican and unlike their American counterparts long ditched the beautiful habit (the two branches had separated long before that). The Sisters were the first group of religious to come into Full Communion as a whole community since the Reformation, two of the community did not become Catholics but supported and accepted the decision of their sisters, who still love and care for them.
I think this true story is a beautiful conversion journey and story- the sisters still keep very much the vision and message of Mother Byron alive and see it as a fulfilment of her work, the fact that they became Catholics is enough to show that. They are still permitted to keep their traditions and customs- as are the Anglican Ordinariate groups and well the
are just an enrichment to our Church and in this case an example to other religious and to religious Orders, especially with this gorgeous habit that they continue to wear!
Let’s pray for these wonderful Catholic nuns!