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Deaconesses in Europe and their Lessons for Americ

And declared that Strasburg must have a similar institution


magistrates appealed to the pastors to find at least two Protestant women of experience and ability to oversee the nurses, but the most persistent search in the various churches of Strasburg failed to procure suitable candidates. Years afterward, when death entered Haerter's family circle, and his life became clouded and darkened, he was called as a pastor to the largest church in Strasburg. He entered upon his new pastorate with a heart heavy and sad, and not until after ten months of struggle, in which the depths of his soul were stirred, did he come forth strong, confident, and positive as never before that "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." Henceforth there was force to his life, conviction in his words, and never-ceasing energy in good works.

When he heard of Fliedner's new undertaking below him on the Rhine he remembered the difficulty in finding Protestant nurses for the hospital, and declared that Strasburg must have a similar institution. He won the support of a number of Christian men and women, and the house was opened in October, 1842. From its beginning many branches of charitable and religious work were undertaken. Especial attention was at first given to preparing Christian teachers, and the schools in connection with the deaconess house were filled with pupils. The success in this particular aroused apprehension lest the deaconesses should be diverted from their legitimate duties in caring

for outside interests, so for a time the schools were discontinued. They have been resumed, however, and are to-day prosperous as of old.[42] There are also a hospital, a home for aged women, a servants' training-school and a foundling asylum under the charge of the deaconesses. They are, as a class, of higher social rank than these of Kaiserswerth, the preponderating number of whom are from the lower grade of social life. They are also better educated. This is partly a necessity, from the fact that the city is on the border-land between two great nations and if the deaconesses are to be effective they must be familiar with the spoken and written speech of both peoples. Strasburg continues to be a great and powerful center of deaconess activities, having a number of branch houses and various fields of work.

The affiliated house at Muelhausen has obtained an especially good report for its successful use of parish deaconesses. No other house has so systematized their labors or developed their possibilities as has the deaconess house at Muelhausen. All the authorities on deaconess work agree that the office of the parish deaconess is the crown and glory of the diaconate, and approaches most nearly the type of the deaconesses of the early Church.

The parish deaconess has occasion to use every gift which she can possibly acquire in the varied training of the deaconess school. She must know how to care for the poor, the weak, the sick, and those needing help for either body or soul, as she finds them in her visits from house to house. She must be able to pray at the bedside of the rich man, and to serve in the kitchen of the poor man; to be motherly to children, sympathetic with the sorrowing, and silent with the complaining. She must be an intelligent nurse, having some knowledge of medicine, able to faithfully carry out the instructions of the physician. She must be keen in detecting imposition, and wise in the administration of charity, knowing that "to deny is often to help, and to give is often to corrupt." Truly, there is no gift of Christian womanhood which has not here its use.


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