(Letters of Father Francis Burlando used with permission of the Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)
Documentation of the Daughters of Charity in the Civil War can be found throughout our holdings. Seen here are two letters from Father Francis Burlando, Provincial Director of the Daughters of Charity US Province during the Civil War. The first is from November of 1860. The second is from September of 1861.
St. Joseph’s Novb 30th 1860
My very dear Sister;
The grace of our Lord be with us forever!
From various circumstances it would seem that designing fanaticism threatens to sever the union of our beloved Country.
If the Confederacy of the different States of the Republic is preserved, peace, harmony, confidence & prosperity will reign in our midst and Religion will continue to progress, triumphing over error & prejudice; if on the contrary the union be dissolved, disorder, mistrust, poverty & civil war with all their sad appendages will be the almost inevitable consequences.
In these critical circumstances it becomes our duty to offer violence to heaven by fervent prayer that God in his mercy will avert the impending calamity.
For this purpose the Sisters in every house of this Province will say the anthem Da Pacem &c with the verse Fiat Pax, the prayer Deus a quo Sancta &c and the Remember &c
These prayers to be said every day for nine days. During this Novena, they will have an extra Communion on a day to be designated by the Sister Servant of each house.
I am, in the love of our Lord,
Your truly devoted
Emmittsburg [sic] Sept 15th 1861.
My very dear Sisters:
The grace of our Lord be with us forever!!!
For some months past you have no doubt, anxiously viewed the gathering storm which is threatening the beautiful horizon of our Country — you are aware of the conflicting opinions which disturb the peace of our Cities & distract the minds of our Citizens — Friend is armed against friend, & brothers, Fathers, & Sons enlist on opposite sides, in the struggle — Our once happy land is plunged in anarchy & confusion, & deluged with the blood of its own sons.
In this sad & lamentable state of things, I think it my duty to remind you, my dear Sisters of the maxim of St. Vincent, which was, to refrain from uttering Political sentiments – this judicious silence he left to his children as a legacy after his death as he had practiced & warmly recommended it during life — You, as his devoted Daughters understand the obligation of adhering strictly to the wise lessons he gave you, & consequently, you will carefully abstain from speaking or writing about political affairs of our Country – It is not the sphere of the Daughters of St. Vincent to discourse about Politics of which they are, & should be uninformed – Their only duty is to sanctify themselves in the Exercise of charity according to their Rules; they leave State affairs to God & to those entrusted with them – They have no Enemy but pride & the evil spirit – North, South, East or West are alike to them; every afflicted member of society is their friend & an object of their Solicitude, because he represents their suffering Saviour, the Immaculate Spouse of their soul & the great pattern of charity whom they should strive to imitate especially by the performance of deeds of charity wherever holy obedience sends them. This is their particular duty, their noble mission, their life, their existence. Pressed by the charity of Jesus Christ, they have renounced the maxims of the world & consecrated their life to do good to all whether Christian, Turk, or Jew – While the whole world is tossed to & fro by human passions, & the clasping of arms resounds on all sides the daughter of St. Vincent is like Moses with uplifted hands & eyes beseeching the Father of Mercy to show mercy; or, she is at the death-bed of an agonizing fellow being, soothing his sufferings or whispering to him sentiments of contrition for sins, love of God & desire of Heaven; or, she is drying up the tears of affliction & giving relief to the widow & orphan – Hers is a ministry of love; she walks as it were between Heaven & earth to draw down mercy from above & to bring ungrateful creatures to the love of their Creator. She is at home wherever there are miseries to be alleviated; pains to be soothed, tears to be wiped away, & broken hearts to be consoled; these are the objects of her solicitude & charity — Let therefore, no Political difficulties occupy your thoughts or your precious time, except before the Altar of God — He alone can still the storm & give us peace: may he grant it, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; may our Immaculate Mother, the great Patroness of America obtain it – To this effect you will say daily 3 times Hail Mary, the Da Pacem & the prayer Deus a quo Sancto &c
God be with you all
Yours truly devoted,
F. Burlando C.M. [signed]