Born on this day in Lenox, Massachusetts, humanitarian Rose Hawthorne Lathrop (1851-1926) lived her life honoring others with love, friendship, and compassion.
The youngest daughter of writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, who called her "Rosebud," she was educated in London, Paris, and Rome, and published her first collection of poetry Along the Shore in 1888.
Rose moved to New York and became friends with poet Emma Lazarus, known for the sonnet inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Lazarus was battling cancer, a disease at the time with a stigma of incurable dread, believed to be as contagious as leprosy.
"A fire was then lighted in my heart, where it still burns," she explained.
Feeling a passionate need to help the poor suffering with cancer, Rose opened her heart. "Rose would carry them up to a fourth floor apartment and nurse them not with medication, but with love," said Cardinal John O'Connor of New York.
In 1900, after converting to Catholicism, she became the Dominican nun, Alphonsa, and founded the Congregation of St. Rose of Lima, later called the Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer. Sister Alphonsa's ministry of compassion continues. Today her Dominican order has seven homes in six states and provides free hospice care to those in need.
"The only way to learn compassion is through your heart," explained spiritual theologian Matthew Fox. "You have to back up and pass through your own pain."
Life's value comes from love, friendship, and compassion.