Rose Hawthorne Lathrop Founded Religious Order That Still Helps Terminally Ill

HAWTHORNE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There are only a dozen Americans who have been named saints by the Vatican.

Now, another name is being put up for consideration, and this one’s from New York.

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The daughter of a famous 19th century author founded a religious order that is still working with terminally ill cancer patients.

As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported Thursday, for sisters like Mother Mary Francis, to have the founder of her order proposed for sainthood is a blessing.

“Yes, it’s coming to fruition. Not yet, but it is coming to fruition. It’s on its way,” Mother Mary Francis said.

The Vatican is now considering sainthood for Rose Hawthorne Lathrop. She was the youngest child of Nathaniel Hawthorne, who wrote “The Scarlet Letter,” about a woman branded for adultery. But Hawthorne’s daughter was anything but a sinner.

“She moved into a flat on the Lower East Side with the immigrant population because she said she wanted to be for the poor and of the poor,” Sister Mary Joseph told Slattery.

It was a time when cancer was considered contagious, Slattery reported.

“The cancerous poor were the most rejected individuals of the day so she decided she was going to try to do something about it,” said Sister DePaul.

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After a failed marriage and the death of a son, in 1900 Hawthorne moved from New England to New York, became a Catholic and a sister, Mary Alphonsa.

In 1901, she founded the Dominican Order of St. Rose of Lima and moved her work to Rosary Hill in Hawthorne.

More than 100 years later, the Vatican will consider whether to name her a saint.

Vatican investigators must consider heroic virtue and verify two miracles through her intercession.

“We’ve had significant, certainly significant favors from Mother’s Intercession,” Mother Mary Francis told Slattery.

Whether Mother Alphonsa attains sainthood or not, the legacy she left lives on with 53 sisters who care for the terminally ill.

Rosary Hill, which does not accept Medicare or Medicaid, relies strictly on donations. Its patients pay nothing.

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