Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Mother Aubert

Over the last few days I have been on a residential study workshop at the Sisters of Compassion house in Wellington. Knowing nothing about the place imagine my delight to find myself in the home of Mother Aubert the women who is said to be New Zealands first saint. In my list of one day I will…Mother Aubert holds pride of place on my list of New Zealand icons I would like to paint. It was truly an honour to be at the place she founded and indeed where she is buried.

The listener quotes her as being ‘a proto-feminist, uncowed by the church’s patriarchal hierarchy, a nurse tested on Crimea’s killing fields, a healer whose natural-remedy formulas are still in use today, a passionate advocate for Maori and a saviour of orphans and women in the face of church opposition. She founded New Zealand’s only indigenous order, the Sisters of Compassion.By any secular understanding of the word, Aubert is a saint, particularly for Maori’.

One of the things that haunted me whilst I was there (besides am I ever going to be able to answer all of the bazaar questions this study biso raises?) were the photos around the walls. Photos of the abandoned children, the disabled, the neglected that she took on in such huge numbers. There were several of young nuns in the nursery's with babies in baskets and an obvious love for their charges.

Below one of the photos it said something along the lines of “Summer fever hit very hard this month, we lost 9 of our babies”. I stood some time looking at these women who had given up in their calling the traditional role of women at the time of wife and mother. I wondered what it was like for them to nurture and love these children who died in such great numbers back then. To move between attachment and distance. I wondered about the transference that bounced around those walls and what it was that kept them so strong in their faith.

I will never know the stories of these women there hopes, fears, loves, and losses, but in those photos sat the faces of the shunned and despised , and in the centre there was Mother Aubert the women who followed prophecy, who took herself off to the Vatican when members of the church here would curb her acts of compassion with the ‘unacceptable’ and stood before the then pope gaining his total support for her mission.

A simple blog here can do nothing to give the her the tribute she deserves but my hope is you look her up on the net and have a read about this awesome women of faith


mompriest said...

Welcome to the Revgals blog! I am introducing you, tomorrow, Mond. Feb. 4 on the Revgals blog. Reading other blogs and leaving comments will also draw readers to your blog...again, welcome!

Mary Beth said...

I will definitely be coming back to read this carefully! But for now, WELCOME! to Revgals!

Sally said...

What an amazing woman I really enjoyed this. Welcome to revgals.

Iris said...


Cathy said...

Welcome welcome welcome to Revgals!