A copy of an 1841 edition of Thomas Aquinas’s Commentary on the Four Gospels (first volume) turns out to have belonged to none other than Mother Marian:
The inscription dates from 1842, when Mother Marian would have been 25 years old, and is written from Shenington, her birthplace in Gloucestershire. A year earlier, Marian had become the first female since the Reformation to take religious vows, inspired by an essay of Edward Bouverie Pusey’s she had read in 1839. She took her vows privately before Pusey early in the morning of Trinity Sunday before receiving holy communion. At a time when there were no Anglican sisterhoods, this move demonstrated the strength of character and force of will for which Marian later became renowned.
A pencil note in the same books also reads, ‘This copy came from the Convent of the Holy + Undivided Trinity, Southleigh, when that Society dispersed its books. It is of interest as bearing the name of the foundress.’ Marian officially founded the Society of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, later noted for its austerity, in Oxford in 1851, and based it on the character of the French Ursulines. She remained Mother Superior of the convent until her death in May 1912, aged 95. During her life, as well as after her death, she was celebrated for her altruism, such as her work during the cholera epidemic of 1854 and commitment to helping the poor. She and the other members of her sisterhood also ran schools and an orphanage. Further information and the Mother Marian archives can be accessed at Pusey House Library.