01 Nov MONTH OF THE HOLY SOULS
During the month of November the Church encourages us to remember those we have known and loved who have died, and also those unknown and forgotten ones for whom no one prays. In many Catholic cultures it is a time for visiting cemeteries and tending graves. Here, at Notting Hill we are privileged to have our own cemetery in the garden, so that our departed sisters are buried among us. We remember them with gratitude and love and during each day of November we would like to introduce you to a member of the “Notting Hill of Heaven”, as we visit their graves and recall their lives of prayer and sacrifice.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
Mother Mary of the Blessed Trinity
Elizabeth Thompson was born in London in 1826, the fifth child in a large and prosperous Protestant family. She was received into the Catholic Church in 1857, when she was 31 years old, by Fr. F.W. Faber of the Oratory, whose books had influenced her conversion.
In November 1859 she entered the Carmel in Paris which had been founded from Spain in 1604. Having been given the religious name of Sr. Mary of the Blessed Trinity, she made her Profession in April 1861 and scarcely a year later was appointed Novice Mistress. Four months after this she was elected Sub prioress as well. Then in November 1870, whilst the Franco-Prussian war was raging in and around Paris, she was elected Prioress, and proved her capacity for leadership in the face of siege, the bombing of their monastery, near starvation , and civil unrest after the war had been lost. She then guided the community back to normal and fervent religious life.
It had always been understood that should it ever be possible to found a Carmel in London, she would be ideally suited to lead this endeavour. Plans began to be made from about 1874, when land was bought and a building erected. Finally, in September 1878, she was appointed to lead the little band of seven Carmelites who took possession of the new Monastery. She steered them through the early years of acute poverty, as they slowly established an altar-bread baking business (still flourishing today) and she set the standard for a fervent and supernatural contemplative life in the tradition of St Teresa of Jesus , offering their lives of prayer for the good of the whole Church, and for England in particular.
But Mother Mary of the Blessed Trinity’s health was by now seriously undermined by years of hard work and a serious heart condition. In March 1883 she resigned from the office of Prioress, but continued to serve the new little community as Bursar, more or less until her death on January 8th 1904.