Sister M. Claudine (Marie) Lederle, CSC (1882-1918)
First CSC Member to die from Spanish Influenza
Marie Lederle was born in Endignen, Germany. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross from Germany in 1905, receiving the Holy Habit on January 12 and the religious name of Sister Mary Claudine. Her first profession was on December 8, 1907 and final profession on August 15, 1911. All these ceremonies took place at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister’s ministry was at Holy Cross Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana from 1906 to 1918. She served in the laundry and helped with the fluting of the big cap–the headdress of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. She also helped in the kitchen and in the Student Infirmary.
In October of 1918 she was nursing a young Minim, Bob Corrigan, who died from pneumonia on October 13. In a letter printed in The Notre Dame Scholastic, vol. LII, no. 3, October 26, 1918, Notre Dame President Rev. John W. Cavanaugh’s words are preceded by the editorial statement that “The following letter of the President of Notre Dame University ought to check any wild rumors about sickness at the University.” Father Cavanaugh writes: “Altogether there are now fifty boys ill enough to require any kind of nursing. These are distributed as follows: The University Isolation Hospital (SATC) 25; The College Infirmary 16; The Minims 1; [and in] St. Joseph’s Hospital 8. At the present time there are just three very sick boys. They have pneumonia. All others are in a very satisfactory condition, and there is no cause for special worry. In general, we have very little of the presence of the so-called Spanish Influenza. I make this statement so as to prevent ignorant and malicious people from frightening the public needlessly and, also, to clip the wings of sensation mongers. I believe that the happy conditions existing at Notre Dame are due to the tireless labors and intelligent care of the Sisters of the Holy Cross.” The following obituary was published in The Notre Dame Scholastic, vol. LII, no. 4, November 2, 1918. “There was general sorrow and regret at Notre Dame on Sunday October 20, at the news of the death of Sister M. Claudine, the gentle and unselfish nurse who for several years past had ministered to the students in the college infirmary. Sister Claudine contracted pneumonia which caused her death, in caring for the sick students. She will be prayerfully remembered by the faculty and students of the University.” Sister Claudine died seven days after Bobby Corrigan. And, finally, in 1919, Father Cavanagh wrote to theologian Francisco Marín-Sola that “we have gone through serious experiences since my last letter to you. The influenza was almost the death of all human joy.”