Born in Lenox, Massachusetts to Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife Sophia Peabody, she was educated in London, Paris, Rome and Florence. She married author George Parsons Lathrop in 1871; both converted to Roman Catholicism in 1891. The couple had a son, Francis, who died from diphtheria at the age of 5. Rose and George Lathrop separated permanently in 1895.
After her father's death in 1864, she tried to become an author, like him. She did write a handful of poems, but she was never very successful as a writer. She later decided to rededicate her life to restoring her family's reputation after her brother's illegal activities.
She was known for her service near and within New York City, caring for impoverished cancer patients by founding St. Rose's Free Home for Incurable Cancer in the Lower East Side. After the death of her husband in 1898, she became a nun, and as Mother Mary Alphonsa, she founded a community of Dominican religious, now known as the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne.
Rose Hawthorne Lathrop was awarded an honorary Master of Arts (postgraduate) from Bowdoin College in 1925. She died a year later on July 9, 1926. In 2003, Edward Cardinal Egan, Cardinal Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York approved the movement for Lathrop's canonization. She now has the title "Servant of God" in the Catholic Church.
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