20 November Priscilla Sellon

Priscilla Lydia Sellon was born in 1821.
She lost her mother early in childhood, and was trained by her father in habits of independence. The want of employment for women impressed her in youth, and, learning printing, she advocated it as an industry for her sex.  She responded to an appeal from the Bishop of Exeter in 1848 for workers amongst the destitute in Plymouth.

The group of women she gathered around her adopted a conventual lifestyle and, in the face of much opposition, she created the Sisters of Mercy. Her crucial rôle in the revival of Religious Life in the Church of England was enhanced when, in 1856, her sisters joined with the first community founded -- the Holy Cross sisters -- thereby establishing the Society of the Holy Trinity, and she became its Mother or Lady Superior. She led her community in starting schools and orphanages. An example of schools she started is St. Andrew's Priory School on Hawaii, in cooperation with the then Queen Emma. Priscilla Sellon, despite increasing health problems, made the long voyage to visit it in person.

An interesting and insufficiently remembered fact is that Miss Sellon organized a band of nursing Sisters to accompany Florence Nightingale to the Crimean War, putting them under Miss Nightingale's authority, and refusing to go herself for fear of causing a division of authority.  In 1866 and 1871, when epidemics of cholera and small-pox raged in London, the members of her societies worked with great vigour.

Her work during the cholera plague in 1849 had brought on a grave illness to herself. In her last years, she suffered three strokes, dying in her mid-fifties on this day in 1876.

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