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Deaconesses in Europe and their Lessons for Americ

45 There is also a large institution at Riehen near Basel


The

deaconess house in Neudettelsau stands in closest union with the Lutheran Church. The sisters are mostly from the higher ranks of society, and intellectual training is made prominent. Certain liturgical forms are used, and in the main deaconesses are employed in preparing ecclesiastical vestments and embroideries for church adornment.

In marked contrast to Dettelsau is the deaconess house at Berne. It is almost a private institution, having only slight connection with the State Church. It owes its origin to Sophie Wurdemberger, a member of one of the old patrician families of Berne. A visit to England made her acquainted with Elizabeth Fry, with the usual beneficent result of increased interest and activity in good works. On her return to Berne she gained the support of a society of women, and through their aid secured a hospital and deaconess home. It is now fourth in number among the largest mother-houses, has two hundred and ninety-seven deaconesses, five affiliated houses, and forty-five different fields of work.

The oldest mother-house in Switzerland is at St. Loup, not far from Lausanne, standing on one of the beautiful heights of that picturesque region. It was founded by Pastor Germond in 1841, through the direct influence of the work at Kaiserswerth. There are now seventy-three deaconesses, mostly acting as nurses either in private homes or public institutions.[45]

There

is also a large institution at Riehen near Basel, which sends out two hundred deaconesses. The greater number are of the peasant class, and are nearly all employed as nurses. The home at Zuerich was at first a daughter-house of Riehen, but is now an independent institution with twenty-seven stations. In Austria there is a mother-house at Gallneukirchen from which sisters are sent forth, four of them working in as many Vienna parishes. The story of deaconess work in Austria is an interesting one, and is told by Miss Williams in a recent number of _The Churchman_, from which the following extracts are taken:

"The Protestants of Gallneukirchen were first formed into an independent parish in the year 1872, and it is the only one lying between the Danube and the Bohemian frontier. It is very widely extended, but numbers only three hundred and eighteen souls, and is so poor that with the greatest effort it can raise only four hundred florins a year (about one hundred and sixty dollars) for church and school. With the aid of those interested in the work a parish-house has been secured, where the pastor and his wife reside, and in which is the deaconess asylum for the aged, infirm, and insane of all classes. It has not as yet been possible to clear off the debt on the purchase. Still the sisters strive in every way to enlarge their usefulness, so that they now possess extensive buildings and farms--only partly paid for, it is true--wherein to house the many afflicted who apply to them for aid. In one building, standing alone on a hill, they purpose to collect the insane patients, and suitable additions are now being made to insure their safety and comfort. In another village, two hours' drive from here, is their school, where more than sixty boys and girls are taught, fed, and clothed, in most cases gratuitously, at worst at a nominal charge."


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