Artistic Expressions – Flowers by Mother Margaret George

Between 1840 and 1868 Mother Margaret George (the founding mother of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati) was part of the movement of clipping or copying articles, quotes, poems and pictures that were found meaningful; it was referred to as scrapbooking. One of Margaret’s scrapbooks - found in the Sisters of Charity’s Archives – contains 15 pages devoted to “The Language of Flowers,” a comprehensive list of flowers and their symbolism, something obviously interesting to her. Included, also, was a  handwritten poem entitled “Flowers”, which was set to music in 1987 by S. Terry Thorman. The composition was performed and recorded in 2003 with soloist S. Dolores Johnson.

Margaret Farrell George was a founding member of the Sisters of Charity in the U.S. and a woman intimately involved in the growth of Catholicism in our country.  She was born in Sligo, Ireland, on Dec. 27, 1787 and immigrated with her family in 1793 to Norfolk, Virginia. Shortly after arriving her father and siblings died of yellow fever; Margaret and her mother, Bridget Farrell, moved to Baltimore, Maryland; there she met George Lucas. The two were married in 1807, but he experienced an untimely death in 1809. Margaret gave birth to their daughter, but the baby succumbed to whooping cough; during this time of sorrow Margaret met Elizabeth Seton (founder of the Sisters of Charity) who became a trusted, life-long friend. In 1812 she joined the Sisters of Charity followed a few months later by her mother Bridget Farrell. Margaret’s gifts as a leader were soon recognized. She opened and conducted schools and orphanages in New York City, Frederick, Maryland, Richmond, Virginia, and Boston, Massachusetts, before becoming the founding mother of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. In 1852 Margaret led a small group of women in choosing to remain an American congregation rather than joining with the French Daughters of Charity; in their discernment they chose to remain true to the vision of Elizabeth Seton and continue to respond to the needs of the American Church. Throughout her life Margaret was looked to for her wisdom, experience, enthusiasm and drive which helped the community to grow rapidly. In 1862 Margaret suffered a stroke which confined her to an invalid chair; she died quietly in 1868.