An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Constance, Nun, and her Companions

(Commonly Called “The Martyrs of Memphis.” In 1873 a group of sisters of the Sisterhood of St. Mary went to Memphis, Tennessee, at the request of Bishop Charles T. Quintard, to establish a school for girls adjacent to the Cathedral of St. Mary. They were confronted by an epidemic of yellow fever and began to care for the sick. Yellow fever returned in 1878. The sisters stayed in Memphis to continue to minister to the sick while others fled the city. Sister Constance and six other Sisters of St. Mary, Sister Clare of the Society of St. Margaret in Boston, and a number of Memphis clergy ministered to the victims of the deadly disease. More than 5,000 people died, including Sister Constance on Sept. 9, 1878, Sister Thecla on Sept. 12, Sister Ruth on Sept. 17, and Sister Francis on Oct. 4. The high altar at the Cathedral of St. Mary is a memorial to the four martyred sisters. These martyrs are commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on Sept. 9.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.