English Preacher, Mother of Eight
Known as the Mother of the Salvation Army
1829 – 1890 A.D.
Catherine Booth, an English preacher, known as the Mother of the Salvation Army. She was the only daughter of John Munford, and was early taught by her mother to love the scriptures. Before she was twelve she had read the Bible through eight times.
When a mere girl she became the secretary of a juvenile temperance society, arranged meetings, wrote articles for the papers, and was a brilliant talker, always on the sick of the weak or unfortunate. For a number of years she conducted a Sunday-school class for young girls, visited the sick, and prepared herself by study and work for the broad field she was one day to occupy.
In 1855 she was married to a young evangelist, William Booth, the future General of the Salvation Army, and two years later, with much timidity, Mrs. Booth began speaking in public, assisting her husband in revival services. For almost thirty-five years she was a heroic figure, attending to the education of her eight children, preaching constantly to vast audiences, meeting patiently violent opposition and prejudice, helping and inspiring William Booth in his great task of spreading the Salvation Army’s work in England and America. Her magnetic power in preaching the gospel was felt by high and low, rich and poor, in elegant halls and in forlorn waste places.
When the Salvation Army was organized, a uniform was chosen for the men, and a plain garb for the women, designed by Mrs. Booth. When the procession of Salvationists appeared on the street, the press jeered, and the pulpit condemned; the mob, encouraged by such high authority, stoned and shot at the cursed men and women whose only offense was singing gospel hymns while clad in the garb of soldiers. With all this reviling, the worst and the poorest were reached as they had never been before, and the Salvation Army grew beyond all expectation.
John Bright, the great statesman wrote to Mrs Booth: “The people who mob you would doubtless have mobbed the apostles. Your faith and patience prevail.”
Queen Victoria sent her a message: “I learn with much satisfaction that you have been successful in your efforts to win many thousands to the ways of temperance, virtue and religion.”
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.