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Deaconesses in Europe and their Lessons for Americ

The old parsonage was for rent


Fliedner,

however, could not rest in this indifference. He says: "The smallness of my charge left me more leisure than most of my clerical brethren, and the opportunities I had enjoyed on my travels of at once collecting information and strengthening my faith imposed a more urgent obligation on me to try to make up by the help of our God for our long neglect." He tried to obtain permission to be imprisoned a few weeks in the prison at Duesseldorf, that he might view prison life from within the walls, but his request was refused. He then obtained leave to hold services every other Sunday afternoon in the prison at Duesseldorf. The efforts that he put forth succeeded in waking the interest of a great many persons, and at last there was formed by his efforts the first society in behalf of prisoners in Germany.

It was while engaged in this work that he met his wife, Frederika Muenster, who was occupied in bettering the condition of the prisoners in the penitentiary at Duesselthal. He married her in 1828, and she became a helpful, inspiring co-worker with him in all his undertakings.

In 1832 he was commissioned by the government to revisit England, to furnish a report on the various charitable organizations, especially those connected with prisons and alms-houses. This brought him into closer relations with Elizabeth Fry, as well as with many other noble men and women of all ranks who were caring for the poor and neglected

of England. He extended his journey to Scotland, met Dr. Chalmers, and found his heart strangely touched by what he saw. His spiritual experience had deepened with the years, and while here he wrote to some friends, "The Lord greatly quickens me."

His heart became still more open to works of mercy and love, and he gathered rich experiences which were afterward utilized in his work.

Fliedner had now attained a certain reputation of his own as a friend to prisoners and outcasts. It was not surprising, therefore, that a poor female convict, discharged from the prison at Werden, should have taken the weary six miles' walk to Kaiserswerth September 17, 1833, to ask the good pastor for help. There stood in the parsonage garden a little summer-house twelve feet square, with an attic. This was offered to the convict Minna as a temporary refuge, and she became the first inmate of the Kaiserswerth institutions. She had arrived at an opportune moment. In the previous spring Count Spee, the President of the Prison Society, had urged the founding of two institutions, one Lutheran and one Catholic, to receive discharged female convicts. Fliedner, who had seen such refuges in England, declared himself ready for the plan, and tried to induce the pastors of the larger and wealthier communities in the neighborhood to locate the Protestant asylum in some one of these cities. No one responded to his appeal. His wife, whose courage was often greater than his own, urged him to make a beginning in the little village where he lived, unpromising as the conditions seemed, and after a little hesitation, seeing no one was ready to assume any responsibility in a matter that he took so deeply to heart, the good pastor decided to follow her advice. The old parsonage was for rent, and he secured it on low terms.


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