Bodil Katharine Biørn

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Bodil Biørn

Bodil Katharine Biørn (27 May 1871 – 22 July 1960), also known as Mother Katharine, was a Norwegian missionary.


She was born on 27 January 1871 in Kragerø, Norway, in a family of a wealthy ship owner. In 1905, after studying nursing in Germany, she was sent by "Women Missionary Organization" to the Ottoman Empire and worked as a missionary nurse in Mezereh, Kharberd province and later in Mush, Ottoman Empire. In cooperation with the German missionaries she tried to help the widows and orphans. A witness of the Armenian Genocide, along with her colleagues she saved the lives of many homeless women and children. She also documented the tragic events she witnessed through her testimonial diary and her photography. In the Near East, Biørn took care of Armenian orphans in Syria, Lebanon and Constantinople. In 1922 she founded an orphanage named "Lusaghbyur" in Alexandropol, Soviet Armenia. Then she continued her work by aiding the Armenian refugees in Syria and Lebanon. She died in Oslo in 1960.

By the initiative of the Armenian community of Aleppo, the Norwegian city of Kragerø has erected a statue honoring Bodil Biørn.

About Bodil Biørn and four European humanist women's lives and activities tells film "Map of Salvation" (2015).

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