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Deaconesses in Europe and their Lessons for Americ

But his earnest plea for deaconesses


philanthropic views and her

generous deeds. "When I was eighteen years old," she relates, "I first learned about the charitable sisterhoods in Catholic lands, and the knowledge seized upon me with almost irresistible power. Like a lightning's flash came the thought, What if you were appointed to found a similar institution for our Protestant Church?"[25] The thought stayed by her, and disposed her to receive willingly a similar suggestion coming from the great Prussian minister Von Stein, the Bismarck of Germany during the first quarter of this century. He had been favorably impressed by what he had seen of the Sisters of Mercy in the camp and in hospitals. He consulted with one of his councilors about increasing their number, so that they could be employed in all the Hospitals, Insane Asylums, and Penitentiaries which had women inmates. To another minister he complained with warmth that the Protestant Church had no such sisterhoods by which the beneficent stream of activities among women could be directed into well-regulated channels. "The religious life of Protestantism suffers from the want of them," he said. These words were repeated to Amalie Sieveking and stirred her to make the endeavor to fulfill her own long-cherished wishes, which were those of Stein. Just at this time, in 1831, the cholera broke out in her native city. She took this as a providential opening, by means of which deaconesses could begin their work, and went at once to one of the cholera hospitals, offered her services as a nurse,
and at the same time issued an appeal for sister-women to join her. But no one came. The only outcome of her effort was a woman's society which she formed to care for the sick and the poor of her native city, and to work for this she devoted the remainder of her life. Stein and Amalie Sieveking had in mind an order of women closely resembling the Sisters of Charity. That their efforts were not crowned with success seemed to the evangelical Protestant promoters of the deaconess cause in later times providential.[26]

Shortly after, in 1835, Count von der Recke, already well known as the founder of two charitable institutions, issued the first number of a magazine called _Deaconesses; or, The Life and Labors of Women Workers of the Church in Instruction, Education, and the Care of the Sick_. Only a single number appeared, but his earnest plea for deaconesses, and the elaborate plan he devised for an institution and officers, aroused wide attention, and brought him a letter of warm commendation from the crown prince, afterward King Frederick William IV. Evidently the idea was ripening, and a near fruition could be anticipated. But neither to minister of state, count, nor prince--to no one among the distinguished of the earth--was the honor given of reviving the female diaconate. It was to a humble pastor of an obscure village church that this work was committed.

The little village of Eppstein lies in a beautiful country, full of high mountains and deep-lying valleys, about a dozen miles from Wiesbaden. At the village parsonage of the little hamlet was born, January 21, 1800, a son, the fourth of a family that numbered twelve children. The pastor, whose father before him had filled a like office, was a favorite among his people for his pleasant speech, sound advice about every-day matters, and his faithfulness in instructing the children in the Bible and the catechism, and caring for the sick and the afflicted.

The little boy proved to be a strong, healthy child, and as he grew older developed a liking for books. His father taught a class composed of his children and some boys in the neighborhood, and when Theodor became old enough to join it he soon outstripped the rest, giving his father no little pride by his fluent rendering of Homer. Theodor Fliedner was not quite fourteen years old when the sudden death of


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