The Power of Mothers’ Prayers
Eliza Vaughan, an English family mother, is a particularly encouraging example of a woman with a priestly spirit who prayed very much for vocations.
“Let us give our children to God”
Eliza came from a strong Protestant family, that of Rolls-Royce. Yet even during her childhood education in France, she was deeply impressed by the exemplary efforts the Catholic Church made for the poor. After she married Colonel John Francis Vaughan in the summer of 1830, Eliza converted to the Catholic Faith, despite the objection of her relatives.
During the time of the Catholic persecution in England under Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603), the Vaughan’s ancestors preferred imprisonment and expropriation to being unfaithful to their beliefs. Courtfield, the ancestral family home, became a place of refuge for priests during the decades of terror in England, a place where the Holy Mass was often celebrated secretly. Nearly three centuries had now passed, but the Catholic beliefs of the family had not changed. Eliza was someone who converted with all her heart, so much so, that in her religious enthusiasm, she even proposed to her husband that they offer all their children back to God.
The many vocations from the Vaughan family are really a unique legacy in British history and a blessing which came especially through Mother Eliza. At the age of 16, Herbert, the oldest son, shared with his parents that he wanted to become a priest. Their reactions were very different. His mother, who had prayed a great deal for it, only smiled and said, “Child, I have known it for a long time.” The father, however, needed a little time to come to terms with the decision, since the inheritance goes to the oldest and he had hoped Herbert would have a prestigious military career. How could he have known that his son would one day become the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, founder of the Mill hill Missionaries as well as founding The Westminster Cathedral Choir School? Yet the father also bowed to his wishes, stating in a letter to a friend, “If God wants Herbert for himself, He can have all the others as well.”
This remarkable woman made a habit of praying for an hour each day before the Blessed Sacrament in the house chapel at Courtfield. She prayed to God for a large family and for many religious vocations among her children. And her prayers were heard! She gave life to 14 children and died shortly after the birth of the last child, John, in 1853.
Of the 13 children that lived, six of her eight boys became priests: two priests in religious orders, one diocesan priest, a bishop, an archbishop and a cardinal. From the five daughters, four became nuns in religious orders.
What a blessing for the family and what an impact on all of England!
Vocations Guide to Priesthood