Venerable Ann of Jesus
Ann Lobera lived from 1545 to 1621. She was a Spanish Discalced (barefoot) Carmelite nun and writer who founded and furthered the ministries of numerous monasteries throughout Europe.
While she was serving in Madrid she appealed to the Holy See in order to challenge how she and her fellow nuns were being treated. Her requests were granted by the Pope, but she was punished by the friar in charge of the monastery for circumventing his authority by appealing directly to Rome. The constitutions for nuns that were established because of this conflict are still upheld in many Carmelite convents today.
The last three years of her life were spent as the prioress in a congregation in Brussels. It was during this time that she and St. Teresa of Avila worked closely together on several projects and became good friends. Ann made it a point to collect and publish all of the literary works of her good friend until she passed away in 1621
Anne Bradstreet was a well-educated English woman and was known for her great poetry. At about twenty years of age, Bradstreet emigrated with her husband, Simon, and her parents to American soil. They settled in what is now Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bradstreet had contracted small pox when she was a child and caught it again as an adult, paralyzing her joints. Bradstreet’s husband and father were influential in founding Harvard, and two of her sons eventually ended up graduating from there. Since Anne had a good education herself, she had the authority to write about many different topics including politics, history, medicine, and theology. Anne died in 1672, at the age of sixty.
Margaret Fell Fox
Often referred to as the Mother of Quakerism, Margaret began her life in Lancashire, England in the early 1600s. She married when she was eighteen and became the Lady of Swarthmoor Hall, which her husband had inherited. She sought to serve God with the faithful upkeep of her home and often had traveling ministers stay at the mansion, one of whom was George Fox.
He came in 1652 and introduced her, her children, and her servants to his ministry. Margaret experienced God on a deeper level through Fox’s teachings and became devoted to her faith. Her husband allowed the home to become a hub for Quaker ministry and after his death in 1658, Margaret continued to use it as such for the remainder of her life. She was not always there, however, for she was arrested in 1664 due to religious persecution. During her time in prison she wrote many religious pamphlets, including “Women’s Speaking Justified.”
This argument for a woman’s biblical right to be a leader in Christian ministry was crucial for women in the seventeenth century as it explained how God created, gifted, and called both sexes equally. Upon her release in 1669 she married George Fox and together they pioneered the Quaker faith, despite being separated multiple times due to missionary journeys and more imprisonments. She outlived Fox by eleven years and died in 1702 at Swarthmoor Hall, which is still in use today as a Quaker retreat center.