Annie Cecile Ramsbottom Isherwood (1862, in Uxbridge, England - 20 February 1906) was an Anglican nun and founder of the Community of the Resurrection of our Lord in Grahamstown. She was known as Mother Cecile CR (pronounced Cecil).
Annie Isherwood was born in Uxbridge, England on 14 November 1862 to Richard Ramsbottom-Isherwood and Anna Clarendon (born Cox). One of her older siblings was future England rugby international and cricketer Francis Ramsbottom-Isherwood. Annie was educated privately and with the death of her mother in 1870 and father in 1875 she was orphaned by the age of 12. She was brought up by relatives in London where she attended St Peter's Church, Eaton Square.
Founding of the Community of the Resurrection of Our Lord
Isherwood was 21 when Allan Becher Webb, Bishop of Grahamstown, came to preach in St Peter's on the text "I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision", it was at this service she felt called to leave England and undertake work in his diocese. It was agreed that she would start an order of sisters to be known as the Community of the Resurrection of our Lord (not to be confused with the Community of the Resurrection). She was clothed as a novice on St. Mark’s Day, 25 April 1884, and made her final profession on 14 November 1887. Isherwood became the mother superior of the order and was styled Mother Cecile CR.
The Sisters of the Community of the Resurrection of Our Lord opened St Peter's School, the Good Shepherd School a boarding house for the children of railway workers and an orphanage. Mother Cecile CR died at 43 of cancer exacerbated by overwork.
In 1894 the Community founded the Grahamstown Training College, an institution which played a valuable part in the development of education in southern Africa, it was forced to close down in 1975.
Mother Cecile CR is commemorated in the Calendar of saints (Anglican Church of Southern Africa) on the 20th of February. Her image is featured in a stained glass window in St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town and in All Saints' Church, Cambridge.
Notes and references
- Robins, Margaret W. (1939). Mother Cecile of Grahamstown, South Africa: A Record of a Great Educational Work. Gardner, Darton.
- Quinn, Frederick (2002). African saints: saints, martyrs, and holy people from the continent of Africa. CROSSROADS. ISBN 978-0-8245-1971-1.
- Davies, Horton (1951). Great South African Christians. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-8371-3916-6.
- Tindall Page, Brian (1947). The harvest of Good Hope: an account of the expansion of the Church of the Province of South Africa. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.