Saturday, 29 September 2012

Appreciations of Teresa Helena Higginson: Margaret Murphy

From the booklet Appreciations of Teresa Helena Higginson, Schoolteacher and Mystic, by Brian Honner.

There is one friend of Teresa who must certainly not be omitted from our list, and that is Margaret Murphy, the former mill-hand who became housekeeper to Canon Musselly at Rawtenstall.  She met Teresa in the summer of 1887, Teresa as has been mentioned staying then with Minnie Catterall and Helen at Newchurch, and having come to Ravenstall for mass.  Margaret fell under the spell of her personality, visited her several times at Newchurch, and later when the Canon moved to St. Patrick's, Manchester, had her there as a guest on several occasions.  Her devotion was exceptional.  She attended Teresa's funeral and the family offered to open the coffin for her. 

Lady Kerr gives a touching account of how a visiting priest found her sitting alone by the fire and asked her how she passed her lonely days of retirement.  Her face lit up, and pointing to Teresa's photo she said: "I speak to her, and she speaks to me."  Two days later she died a holy death.  This was not the well known photo of Teresa in the mantilla, but a gravely beautiful one of her seated and holding flowers, evidently taken towards the end of her days.  Was she perhaps presented with it after the requiem at Neston?  Margaret was a reserved person who kept things in her heart, and is said to have given evidence under oath with much diffidence and pleading her prayers.  I have not heard that she left anything in writing.  Teresa's letters she destroyed at death, also a lock of her hair.

Photo of Teresa in 1904 in Margaret Murphy's possession

Margaret's protege Kitty Deady also knew Teresa at St. Patrick's and went to church with her.  She became a Sister of Mercy and was sent to their convent at Gravesend, taking the name Sr. Mary Evangelist.  She died in 1938.

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