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Deaconesses in Europe and their Lessons for Americ

Fliedner had long been looking toward Jerusalem


In

one place after another deaconess homes arose, sometimes simply through Fliedner's advice, more often by his direct co-operation. From 1849 to 1851 he was chiefly engaged in traveling from one land to another, occupied in kindling the zeal of Christian women to devotion to the sick and sorrowing, and finding fields of service for their priceless ministrations. He visited the United States, England, France, and Switzerland, as well as various cities of the East, including Jerusalem and Constantinople.

The work in our own land was begun at Pittsburg, where Fliedner came with four sisters in the summer of 1849, at the invitation of Pastor Passavant, of the German Lutheran Church.

The deaconesses at once entered upon hospital work, and their care of the sick met with warm appreciation, but their numbers did not increase. An orphanage was afterward started at Rochester, and hospitals under the same auspices exist at Milwaukee, Jacksonville, Ill., and Chicago. Still the work has not grown, and it has proved the least successful of any initiated by Fliedner. Upon his return he aided in opening mother-houses in Breslau, Koenigsberg, Dantzic, Stettin, and Carlsruhe.

We have now come to the period when Kaiserswerth institutions met with a notable extension. Fliedner had long been looking toward Jerusalem, hoping to found a deaconess home there. "Who would not gladly render service on

the spot where the feet of the Saviour once brought help and healing to the sick?" he had said.

Now, through Dr. Gobat, the Bishop of Jerusalem, the opportunity was given. The king offered two small houses in Jerusalem that were his private property, and volunteered to pay the expenses of the journey. Associations were formed in all parts of Germany to provide an outfit for the mission. Gifts flowed in rapidly, and March 17, 1851, Fliedner, accompanied by four deaconesses, two of them being teachers, set out on this new and peaceful crusade to the holy city. From that beginning has resulted a net-work of stations throughout the East.

There is at Jerusalem a hospital[33] where, during 1887, four hundred and ninety-three patients were given medical aid and nursing, and seven thousand seven hundred and two patients were treated in the dispensary. No woman in the city is better known or more justly honored than Sister Charlotte, the head-deaconess.

The Mohammedans at first regarded the work of the sisters with fanatical distrust, but a glance at the statistics of the last report will show how completely they have cast aside their prejudices.

Of the 493 patients in 1887, there were 404 Arabians, 43 Armenians, 30 Germans, 5 Abyssinians, 4 Greeks, 3 Roumanians, 2 Russians, 1 Italian, and 1 Hollander. As to religion, there were 235 Mohammedans, 97 Protestants, 78 Greeks, 23 Roman Catholics, 45 Armenians, 6 Copts, 3 Syrian Christians, 4 Proselytes, 1 Jew, and 1 Maronite; so that in all nine nations and nine religious faiths were represented in the hospital.

There is also a girls' orphanage, called "Talitha Cumi," just outside the city walls at Jerusalem, where one hundred and fourteen native girls were last year taught by the Kaiserswerth deaconesses. Over a hundred more made application to enter, but there was no room to receive them. In Constantinople, Alexandria, Cairo, Beirut, and Pesth there are also well-appointed hospitals, some of them of spacious dimensions, and all having excellent medical service and nursing that cannot be surpassed.


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