MAN AND WOMAN IN
THE CREATION OF MAN AND WOMAN,
THE FALL AND THE PROMISE
—CCC, NOS. 355-421
THE HOUSE OF MERCY
On the night before she died in 1926, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop (now known
as Mother Alphonsa) wrote a letter to the editor of the NewYork Times about
her work with penniless patients with terminal cancer:
if accosted by a person asking for a donation would give a sumout
of politeness, mentally asking, “What unheard of thing is this?” We
arepractical enough towant everyone toknowwhat it isand togive
a bit because their hearts are touched, to help us build this house
This angel of mercy, foundress of the Servants of Relief for Incurable
Cancer, was born in 1851, the youngest of three children of the famous
novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife Sophia (Peabody). Soon after
Rose’s birth, the family moved to Liverpool, in England, where Nathaniel
served as the American consul. At the end of his service, the family spent
two years in Italy before returning to New England.
Nathaniel died four years later. Sophia took the family back to Europe.
At age twenty, Rose married the nineteen-year-old George Lathrop in
London in 1871. The young couple moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts,
5 In Diana Culbertson, OP, ed.,
Rose Hawthorne Lathrop: Selected Writings
NJ: Paulist Press, 1993), 83, 183.