A Victorian nun known as the ‘Mother Teresa of Manchester’ is expected to take a step closer to sainthood later this year.
Mother Elizabeth Prout, who died in 1864, could be declared ‘venerable’ in the coming months, putting her on the path to becoming the first female British saint of modern times to be canonised, the Times reports.
Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, who is promoting her Cause, said that Prout came to Manchester at the same time as Marx and Engels and was appalled at the conditions of the poor. “If Marx and Engels merely observed the condition of the poor, Elizabeth desired to live and die among them,” he said.
Prout was born in Shrewsbury in 1820. She was baptised into the Church of England but was received into the Catholic Church by Blessed Dominic Barberi – the same man who received St John Henry Newman – in her early 20s.
She became a nun at the age of 28 and was given a teaching post in some of the poorest areas of industrial Manchester. Mother Elizabeth earned a reputation for her tireless efforts in teaching, sheltering and feeding the needy, helping establish a chain of schools and hostels.
Along with more than 20 other women, she founded the Passionist Sisters in 1857 and was named their first Superior General. The sisters faced criticism for their “revolutionary ideas”, namely obliging their members to earn their own wages and teach other women how to do the same.
Mother Elizabeth died of tuberculosis in St Helens, Lancashire in 1864 at the age of 43. She is buried alongside Blessed Dominic Barberi and Fr Ignatius Spencer.
Bishop Davies said: “Elizabeth saw the great human and spiritual crisis of her time and responded by dedicating her life with courageous faith and perseverance.”
If canonised, she would be the first female English non-martyr saint since Margaret of Wessex, who was canonised in 1250.
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