Stuart, Janet Erskine
STUART, JANET ERSKINE
Educator and spiritual writer, superior general of the Society of the Sacred Heart; b. Cottesmore, Rutland, England, Nov. 11, 1857; d. Roehampton, Oct. 21, 1914. Janet's father, Andrew Stuart, was the Anglican rector in Cottesmore. At the age of 21 she sought instruction in the Catholic faith from Peter Gallwey, SJ, and was received into the Church March 6, 1879. Three years later she entered the Society of the Sacred Heart, Roehampton, London. From early in her noviceship and for a period of nearly three decades, she served first as secretary to, and then as associate of, the mother superior, Mabel Digby. Immediately after her profession, Feb. 12, 1889, Mother Stuart assumed the duties of submistress of novices, and in 1892 became novice mistress, a post she held at intervals throughout the next 19 years. She rose to the position of superior of the community in Roehampton in 1894, and then to superior vicar of England, and on Aug. 27, 1911, she was made superior general of the society. She directed the society's administration from the motherhouse, which was at Ixelles, Brussels, until 1914. During her tenure of office she traveled extensively, visiting convents of her spiritual daughters around the world from Europe to Egypt, Australia, Japan, Canada, and the U.S. The German occupation of Brussels in August 1914 caused her to leave Ixelles for Roehampton. Her published works include: The Society of the Sacred Heart (1915); Highways and By-Ways in the Spiritual Life (1923); Poems (1924); Prayer in Faith (1936); and The Education of Catholic Girls (first published in 1912 and reprinted in 1964). She is best known to the public, however, through M. Monahan's Life and Letters of Janet Erskine Stuart (London 1946), the definitive biography in which her common sense and deep spiritual insight are revealed.
Bibliography: Tablet 124 (Oct. 31, 1914) 594–595. America 97 (April 20, 1957) 71–72.