Yet the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, founded by the famous author’s daughter, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, were not prepared for the storm of publicity they received after announcing the move.
“This has taken us totally by surprise,” Sister Mary de Paul Mullen told the Register, after completing an interview with National Public Radio. The director of nursing at the order’s cancer care facility in Hawthorne, N.Y., Sister Mary De Paul was serving for a couple of weeks in June as the order’s media contact person. “All we wanted to do was take care of our foundress’ family, as we have always done. But what has attracted everyone’s attention is that this is a love story, the love between Nathaniel and his wife, Sophia, who were buried an ocean apart, but now will be reunited.”
At the heart of the story also is the Catholic practice of reverencing the remains of the dead as a sign of faith in the resurrection, she noted.
“There are no coincidences in God’s design,” she added. “This is a wonderful opportunity for us to witness to our faith, and also to gain recognition for our foundress. We could not have paid for this kind of publicity.”
The cause for canonization of Rose
Hawthorne, known in religious life as Mother Alphonsa,
was opened recently at the
Rose, who died in 1926, is buried
at the Dominican motherhouse in
Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, died in
The modern love story began after
the Dominican Sisters learned that the
“We gave our consent gladly, and thought it was an excellent idea,” she told the Associated Press.
A public ceremony was held June 26
at The Old Manse in
A local funeral home, Charles
Dee’s, which has been in business since before the Civil War, heard about the
re-interment and offered an old horse-drawn hearse for use, believed to have
carried the Alcotts and Emersons.
“Mr. Dee had one of his employees give it a good tune up last week — polishing
it and greasing the wheels,” Sister Mary de Paul said. “The manager of
The interment at Sleepy Hollow was private.
The Dominican Sisters seek to
impart Christ’s love and compassion to incurable cancer patients in their final
days, Sister Mary de Paul said, and are accustomed to
dealing with death and burials. They take only patients who have been declared
incurable by physicians, and provide them with modern palliative care, treating
their pain and keeping them comfortable in a homelike setting. Daily Mass,
prayer and Eucharistic adoration are essential to the ministry of the sisters,
who seek to serve Christ in the suffering and dying patients. They have kept
the practice of the founders, existing solely on donations and accepting no
direct payment from patients or any other private or public sources. The
motherhouse is in
The sisters were not looking to
publicize the transfer of the
“When I heard about the remains of
Sophia and Una being moved, I tracked down Sister
Mary de Paul and asked if I might be involved in the media outreach,” Ewen said. Calling it a “positive, feel-good story,” Ewen said that “Sophia and Nathaniel were a devoted, loving
couple who supported each other throughout their marriage. Both are of
historical significance — he as one of the most acclaimed American authors, and
she as one of the forward-thinking and much-written-about
Ewen wrote a press release that was picked up by the Boston Globe, and then the Associated Press, and suddenly the story of the Dominican Sisters and their foundress’ family was transmitted worldwide. Media outlets were particularly fond of a quote from Sophia that Ewen provided.
While Sophia was forced to
convalesce from an illness in
Maria Caulfield is based in