In religion MOTHER FRANCIS RAPHAEL, O.S.D.; b. at Bromley near London, in 1823; d. at Stone, Staffordshire, 19 April, 1894. Her parents were both Protestants, her father being managing partner in an East India mercantile house. Her remarkable natural gifts were developed by wide reading at a very early age. In 1837 she moved with her family to Babbicombe, Devonshire, where she read much of the early literature of the Oxford Movement. Burnet's "History of the Reformation ", she declared, was the real cause of her conversion. It was not, however, till 1847 that she grew uneasy as to her religious beliefs, whereupon she consulted Keble and Pusey, but without satisfaction. The influence of Maskell, then Vicar of St. Mary Church, helped her more and she confided to him a scheme called "Ideal of a Religious Order". He told her that such an order existed in the Catholic Church, naming the Third Order of St. Dominic. This made a profound impression on her mind and gradually she was drawn to the Church. She was received at Tiverton, 3 July, 1850, and in 1852 entered the Third Order of St. Dominic at Clifton. On 8 Dec., 1853, she was professed at the new convent of Stone, Staffordshire, and was there employed in teaching and in writing various books, meanwhile making great spiritual progress. In 1860 she was appointed mistress of novices, but in 1863 became mistress of studies instead, thus obtaining more leisure for writing. In 1872 she became prioress under her friend, Mother Imelda Poole, and on the death of the latter in 1881 succeeded her as provincial (25 Nov., 1881), thus taking charge of the whole congregation and the convents of Stoke-on-Trent, Bow, and St. Mary Church. Her character was well summed up by Bishop Ullathorne, when he described her as "one of those many-sided characters who can write a book, draw a picture, rule an Order, guide other souls, superintend a building, lay out grounds, or give wise and practical advice with equal facility and success." She continued to grow in remarkable sanctity till her death, which took place a fortnight after she had ceased to be provincial.
Her works include: "The Morality of Tractarianism" (1850), published anonymously; "Catholic Legends and Stories" (1855); "Life of St. Dominic" (1857); "Knights of St. John" (1858); "Three Chancellors, Wykeham, Waynflete and More" (1859); "Historical Tales" (1862); "Tales and Traditions" (1862); "History of England for Family Use" (1864); "Christian Schools and Scholars" (1867); "Biographical Sketch of Hon. H. Dormer" (1868); "Songs in the Night" (1876); "New Utopia" (1876); "History of St. Catherine of Siena" (1880); "History of St. Dominic" (1891); "The Spirit of the Dominican Order" (1896), and some smaller pieces. She translated the "Inner Life of Père Lacordaire" (1868), edited a "Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan" (1869), "Archbishop Ullathorne's Autobiography" (1891), and "Letters of Archbishop Ullathorne" (1892).
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