Do You Know Rose?
Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, O.P., (May 20, 1851 – July 9, 1926)

Do You Know Rose?

It is not uncommon for the expression of love to change as the years pass. A dramatic example is the life of Rose Hawthorne Lathrop.  

She was born in Lenox, Massachusetts in 1851, but spent her childhood years in Liverpool, England because her father, Nathaniel Hawthorne, was the U.S. counsel there. She came home to Concord Massachusetts in 1860. Rose married George Parsons Lathrop when she was twenty; they settled in Boston. George worked at the Atlantic Monthly and Rose established her reputation as a writer by publishing short stories and poems. After five years, a son, Francis Hawthorne Lathrop, was born, but he died of diphtheria when he was only five years old. Rose and George were both received into the Catholic Church in 1891, ten years after their son’s death. When George developed problems with ‘intemperance’ he could no longer hold a job and their marriage become intolerable. 

With her confessor’s authorization, Rose began to live by herself, took nurse’s training and started work with patients suffering from incurable cancer. This was a heart breaking ministry to which she devoted the rest of her life. After George’s death in 1898, Rose became a Dominican Sister with other like minded women and established the Dominican Congregation of St Rose of Lima, also known as the Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer. Their first center for cancer patients was established in Hawthorne, New York, where Mother Mary Alphonsa, O.P., Rose’s religious name, spent the rest of her years. She died there in 1936.  

Rose was a lady of culture, education and social status who put on an apron and used her gifts to serve Christ’s poor. She lived among the poor, begged for them, and established several homes where they could live their final days in dignity, ease, cleanliness and peace. There was no class system between the residents and religious sisters. The sisters were true servants and the residents were recipients of their care and concern. The Sisters and their mission continue today.

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Written by
Carolyn Humphreys, O.C.D.S.