Lathrop, Alphonsa, Mother
LATHROP, ALPHONSA, MOTHER
Author, foundress of the Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer; b. Lenox, Mass., May 20, 1851; d. Hawthorne, N.Y., July 9, 1926. The youngest child of Nathaniel and Sophia (Peabody) Hawthorne, Rose was taken as an infant to Liverpool, England, where her father served as U.S. consul. The family subsequently spent two years in Italy before returning to Concord, Mass., in 1860. In 1871 Rose married George Parsons Lathrop in London. They lived in New York City until Lathrop moved to Boston as assistant editor of the Atlantic Monthly. During these years, Rose wrote verses and short stories that appeared in the Independent, Harper's Bazaar, the American, Scribner's, Appleton's Journal, and St. Nicholas; a book of poems, Along the Shore, was published in 1888. In 1876 a son, Francis Hawthorne Lathrop, was born, but he died of diphtheria in 1881. Received into the Catholic Church in 1891 by Alfred Young, CSP, the Lathrops collaborated on A Story of Courage (1894), a history of the Georgetown Sisters of the Visitation. At this time, however, Lathrop's increasing intemperance led his wife, with the vicar-general's permission, to leave him. Learning from Young of a young seamstress sent to Blackwell's Island to die of cancer, Mrs. Lathrop determined to devote her life to serving victims of this disease. After training for three months at the New York Cancer Hospital, she began work on the lower east side of the city. For financial assistance she depended on persons who learned of her plans from the articles she wrote. She also found time to publish her Memories of Hawthorne (1897).
Her husband died in 1898 and in 1899 Clement Theunte, OP, received Mrs. Lathrop and her associate, Alice Huber, as Dominican tertiaries. As Sister M. Alphonsa and Sister M. Rose, they made their first vows on Dec. 8, 1900, and established the Dominican Congregation of St. Rose of Lima, incorporated as the Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer (see dominican sisters). As the community grew, its work expanded. The mother-house, novitiate, and a cancer home were established at Hawthorne, and aid for patients was secured through Mother Alphonsa's magazine, Christ's Poor, and through her series of published reports.
Bibliography: k. burton, Sorrow Built a Bridge: A Daughter of Hawthorne (New York 1937). t. maynard, A Fire was Lighted: The Life of Rose Hawthorne Lathrop (Milwaukee 1948). m. joseph, Out of Many Hearts (Hawthorne, N.Y. 1961), unpub. biog.
[m. l. c. dunn]