Cover Image

Nuns Across the Orange: A History of the Pioneering Anglican Community of St Michael and All Angels, Bloemfontein

When Sister Emma and the five women who accompanied her from England crossed the Orange River early in 1874, they exchanged the comfortable mainstream of Anglican Church life for the rigours of pioneering new works in an undeveloped country. Living conditions were primitive, travel was hard, and money was always in short supply. The newly-formed Community of St Michael and All Angels opened the first girls’ schools north of the Orange and the first hospital in the Free State. At Kimberley, Sister Henrietta achieved a world first through her successful campaign for the State Registration of nurses. Four Sisters were besieged in Kimberley during the Anglo-Boer War, and in Bloemfontein their Mother House became a military hospital. By faith and determination the Community recovered. St Michael’s School was raised to new standards of excellence, while the Sisters expanded their mission to include Lesotho and the eastern Free State. Decades of work with Bloemfontein’s sick and deprived led to Sister Enid becoming known as Ma Mohau (Mother of Mercy), and to national acclaim in the 1970s as South Africa’s Mother Teresa.
This book studies the development of the Community’s religious life, and charts the progress of their work among all races from their foundation until the death of the last Sister in 2016. Across the Orange, their relative isolation from the strong centres of Anglicanism eventually contributed to their demise, but not before they had established an enduring legacy. The work they began in Lesotho is continued by the Community of the Holy Name, while St Michael’s School in Bloemfontein is recognised as one of the finest girls’ schools in South Africa.

Michael Sparrow
Oblate of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield

Product details


  • 1. Who will go for us?
  • 2. Afar off upon the sea
  • 3. A journey unattended by an accident is an accident
  • 4. Forming the Sisterhood
  • 5. Establishing schools in Bloemfontein
  • 6. A great door opens on the Diamond Fields
  • 7. Kimberley Hospital, Sister Henrietta, and the development of nursing
  • 8. Dust and Diamonds – Ninety years in Kimberley
  • 9. Harrismith
  • 10. Mission boxes
  • 11. Called to nurse at the Zulu War
  • 12. Nursing in the Transvaal War of Independence
  • 13. Bereft of the founders
  • 14. Building on the foundations and extending the work in and around Bloemfontein
  • 15. The Anglo-Boer War – Medals for St Michael’s
  • 16. Consolidation and growth
  • 17. St Faith’s Orphanage
  • 18. I stand before God - St Michael’s School comes into its own
  • 19. Uphill all the Way – Fifty-two years in Basutoland
  • 20. Caves, Cows and Contemplation – Thirty years at Modderpoort
  • 21. The English Committee of Help and a London House
  • 22. A Genuine Religious – the third Superior in changing circumstances
  • 23. Ma ’Mohau – Mother of Mercy
  • 24. Getting their boots on with the fourth Superior
  • 25. An experimental house
  • 26. A House of Prayer and other projects
  • 27. To a smaller house
  • 28. Going home
April 1, 2021

Details about the available publication format: PDF

ISBN-13 (15)
Date of first publication (11)

Details about the available publication format: Paperback

ISBN-13 (15)
Date of first publication (11)
Physical Dimensions