Saints Series: Elizabeth Fedde

Elizabeth Fedde

Elizabeth Fedde is a Lutheran saint. By that I mean that her feast day is only celebrated by the ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Her name should sound familiar, if you can recall the communion liturgy from Reformation Day. Elizabeth Fedde was born on Christmas Day 1850 in Feda, Norway to Captain Andreas Willumsen Fedde and Anne Marie Olsdatter. Her father was a sea captain who became a farmer after his wife became ill. Elizabeth was one of seven children. After the death of her father in 1873, Elizabeth began training as a deaconess at the Lovisenberg Deaconess House in Christiania (Oslo) which was around 250 miles away. She and another deaconess established a medical house in Tromsǿ, where they lived and worked until 1882 when Elizabeth received a letter from her brother-in-law challenging her to set up a ministry in New York City for Norwegian sailors.

In 1885, Elizabeth began training other women to become deaconesses as well as opening up a nine bed hospital that would grow to thirty beds and eventually become the Lutheran Medical Center of Brooklyn, a 450 bed hospital. In 1888, Elizabeth moved to Minnesota where she established the Lutheran Deaconess Home. She help found three more Lutheran hospitals in the Midwest between 1888 and 1895. In 1895, Elizabeth moved back to Norway and got married. She passed away on February 25, 1921.

Elizabeth Fedde was one of the first deaconesses in the Lutheran Church. Deaconess were known for their willingness to serve. They worked in hospitals and were instrumental in the development of our modern nursing profession. In fact the hat that we associate with nurses today, has its origin in the Deaconess Community. We can emulate Elizabeth Fedde and the other deaconesses by living lives of service. We can do that by share our gifts with others and doing some of the things that we do best.

This is part of a monthly series of newsletter articles written by Intern Bridget.