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      Sligo Nationalist 6 December 1913
                     Banada Abbey.

(In view of the approaching Golden Jubilee celebrations
in Banada Abbey Convent of the Sisters of Charity
the following verses may be of interest.)

                   SISTER OF CHARITY.

Sister of Charity ! gentle and dutiful,
    And hope, speaking prophecy, smiles on the bier
When life like a vapour is slowly retiring
    Loving as seraphim, tender and mild,
In humbleness strong, and in purity beautiful,
    In spirit heroic, in manners a child ;
Ever thy love, like an angel, reposes
    With hovering wings o'er the sufferer here.
Till the arrows of death are half hidden in roses.
    And hope, speaking prophecy, smiles on the bier.
When life like a vapour is slowly retiring,
    As clouds in the dawning to heaven uprolled,
Thy prayer, like a herald, precedes him expiring,
    And the cross on thy bosom his last looks behold.
And, oh ! as the Spouse to thy words of love listens,
    What hundred-fold blessings descend on thee then!
Thus the flower-absorbed dew in the bright iris glistens,
    And returns to the lilies more richly again.
Sister of Charity ! child of the Holiest !
    Oh ! for thy loving soul, ardent as pure !
Mother of orphans, and friend of the lowliest !
    Stay of the wretched, the guilty, the poor !
The embrace of the Godhead so plainly enfolds thee,
    Sanctity's halo so shrines thee around,
Daring the eye that unshrinking beholds thee,
    Nor droops in thy presence abashed to the ground.
Dim is the fire of the sunniest blushes
    Burning the breast of the maidenly
To the exquisite bloom that thy pale beauty flushes
    When the incense ascends and the sanctuary glows.
And the music, that seems Heaven's language, is pealing —
    Adoration has bowed him in silence sighs.
And man, intermingled with angels, is feeling
    The passionless rapture that comes from the skies.
Oh ! that this heart, whose unspeakable treasure
    Of love hath been wasted so vainly on clay,
Like thine, unallured by the phantom of pleasure,
    Could rend every earthly affection away!
And yet, in thy presence, the billows, subsiding,
    Obey the strong effort of reason and will ;
And my soul, in her pristine tranquillity gliding,
    Is calm as when God bade the ocean be still !
Thy soothing, how gentle ! thy pity, how tender !
    Choir music thy voice is, thy step angel-grace,
And thy union with Deity shrines in a splendour
    Subdued, but unearthly, thy spiritual face.
When the frail chains are broken a captive that bound thee
    Afar from thy home in the prison of clay,
Bride of the Lamb ! and Earth's shadows around thee
    Disperse in the blaze of eternity's day;
Still mindful, as now, of the sufferer's story.
    Arresting the thunders of wrath ere they roll,
Intervene, as a cloud, between us and His glory.
    And shield from His lightnings the shuddering soul ;
And mild, as the moonbeams in Autumn descending.
    That lightning, extinguished by mercy, shall fall.
While He hears, with the wail of the penitent blending.
    Thy prayer, holy daughter of Vincent De Paul !

This poem, though uncredited here, was written by the Irish-born poet,
Richard D’Alton Williams (1822-1862). He was born in Dublin and brought up in Grenanstown, Co. Tipperary. He studied medicine at TCD, Dublin 1843 and contributed verses to The Nation newspaper from 1842. He was co-founder of the Dublin Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

hile pursuing his medical studies he wrote this poem, The Sister of Charity.

joined Young Ireland, which was a political, cultural and social movement of the mid-19th century. It organized an abortive rebellion in 1848. Williams, like many other members, was arrested in 1848 and charged with treason-felony. He was acquitted.

He became a doctor,
practised at Dr. Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin but emigrated to America in 1851. He first settled in Mobile, Alabama, married Elizabeth Connolly in 1856, and they had four children. He taught literature and practised medicine in Thibodeaux, Louisiana, where he died of tuberculosis, 5 July 1862.

A selection of his poetry was published by T. D. Sullivan in Dublin, 1876; a complete collection, edited with a biographical introduction by Peter Aloysius Sillard, was published in Dublin in 1894.

In 1858 the
Jones family gave lands at Benada, Co. Sligo to Mother Mary Aikenhead and her order of the Sisters of Charity. and the nuns formally came to Benada in 1863 and founded a school and a convent there.

The fiftieth anniversary of that founding was celebrated in 1913. The Sligo Nationalist included an ode which was specially composed for the occasion and recited by a local student. The text of the ode is included in the Sligo Champion report of the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

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