Saturday, 20 August 2011

Franciscan Nuns of the SS Deutschland...built in Greenock sailed from Bremen

Deutschland was an iron passenger steamship built by Caird & Company of Greenock, Scotland in 1866. Constructed as an emigrant passenger ship, the Deutschland's maiden voyage was made on 14 October 1866, from Bremen to New York via Southampton.

In 1875 the Deutschland sailed from Bremerhaven with 123 emigrants bound for New York via Southampton. Weather conditions were very bad, and the ship had ran aground in a blizzard off Harwich.

Among the victims were five Franciscan nuns from Salzkotten, Westphalia who had been emigrating to escape the anti-Catholic Falk Laws during the Kulturkampf. Their death inspired Catholic poet Gerard Manley Hopkins to compose the poem, "The Wreck of the Deutschland". Four of the five nuns were buried in St. Patrick's Cemetery in Leytonstone, London (a fifth who was never found is recorded on the memorial) and their deaths are commemorated every year in a memorial service held on 6 December by the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters of Wheaton, Illinois - the destination of the five Sisters.

This an extract from the poem below...

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89). Poems. 1918.

4. The Wreck of the Deutschland

To the happy memory of five Franciscan Nuns exiles by the Falk Laws drowned between midnight and morning of Dec. 7th. 1875


THOU mastering me
God! giver of breath and bread;
World’s strand, sway of the sea;
Lord of living and dead;
Thou hast bound bones and veins in me, fastened me flesh, 5
And after it almost unmade, what with dread,
Thy doing: and dost thou touch me afresh?
Over again I feel thy finger and find thee.


I did say yes
O at lightning and lashed rod; 10
Thou heardst me truer than tongue confess
Thy terror, O Christ, O God;
Thou knowest the walls, altar and hour and night:
The swoon of a heart that the sweep and the hurl of thee trod
Hard down with a horror of height: 15
And the midriff astrain with leaning of, laced with fire of stress.


The frown of his face
Before me, the hurtle of hell
Behind, where, where was a, where was a place?
I whirled out wings that spell 20
And fled with a fling of the heart to the heart of the Host.
My heart, but you were dovewinged, I can tell,
Carrier-witted, I am bold to boast,
To flash from the flame to the flame then, tower from the grace to the grace.

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