Woman of the Century/L. Fidelia Woolley Gillette

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

GILLETTE, Mrs. L. Fidelia Woolley, Universalist minister, born in Nelson, Madison county, N. Y., in 1827. She is the daughter of Rev. Edward Mott and Laura Smith Woolley, and the oldest of a family of seven children Her ancestry was English and French. L. FIDELIA WOOLLEY GILLETTE.jpgL. FIDELIA WOOLLEY GILLETTE. She was an extremely timid and sensitive child, but an enthusiast about her studies. Her father expected her, when she was a mere girl, to read books upon abstruse subjects and to be able to talk about them with himself and his friends, but the distinguishing the following summer to its present site, one mile from Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind. The academy was chartered, the foundation of the present conservatory of music was laid, the art department was fairly started, and the future of St. Mary's was established as an educational center. From that time there stood forth from the ranks of the Sisters of the Holy Cross in the United States a personage so remarkable that even the leveling rule of religious profession could not lessen the charm of her individuality, one who, whether as Mother Superior or Mistress of Novius, or director of studies, or simply Sister Mary of Saint Angela, carried into her obedience the same exaltation of purpose, the same swiftness of execution, the same grace, the same self-denial, the same oblivion of her brilliant place in the world, excepting as the ties of a noble connection could aid her in the work to which she had set her hand, the service of God in the perfection of the religious state according to the rule and the spirit of her order. When the beat of drum, calling on the nation to arm her sons for the defence of the "Stars and Stripes," broke the stillness of seclusion in St. Mary's as well as Notre Dame, that peaceful barge, with its graceful figurehead, was changed into a swift companion of mighty ironclads, not freighted with guns, but with Sisters, taking possession, in the name of charity, of empty warehouses and unfinished barracks, to which they gave the name of hospitals, and which became hospitals in very truth under their transforming hands. Floods were braved, and short rations were made shorter by care for the suffering soldiers. The war over. Mother Angela and her Sisters returned to St. Mary's to take up the old obedience, whatever it had been. The only thing characteristic of her childhood was spontaneous sympathy for every living thing, and all her life it has made her the helper of the helpless and the friend "of such as are in bonds." In 1847 her father removed to Michigan, where she was married, and where she has lived many years. Mrs. Gillette's literary work has continued since her sixteenth year under the pen-names "Lyra" and "Carrie Russell," and her own name. Her poems and prose articles have appeared in various papers and magazines. Her published works are her poems, entitled "Pebbles From the Shore" (1879), "Editorials and Other Waifs" (New York, 1889), and a memoir of her father (Boston, 1855), who was a popular minister in the Universalist Church. There is a faint suggestion of the dramatic in Mrs. Gillette's style of speaking that gives it charm; the elegance of her language, the richness of her imagery, the striking and original character of her illustrations are as refreshing as they are entertaining. Her missionary and pastoral work has been of several years duration. Her lectures have received high praise.