Lady Sara Louisa Blomfield
Born: 1859
Death: December 31, 1939
Place of Birth: Ireland
Location of Death: London, England
Burial Location: Hampstead Municipal Cemetery, London, England

Sara Louisa Blomfield was named Setareh (star) Khanum by ‘Abdu’l-Baha. She spent much of her life in London and accepted the Baha’i faith in 1907 making her the first Irish person to become a Baha’i. [1]

She was the second wife to Sir Arthur Blomfield who was the fourth son of Charles James Blomfield an Anglican Bishop of London. Sir Arthur Blomfield was an English architect and responsible for many landmarks; some of his notable works were the designing of the Royal College of Music in London, Bank of England and the last of his works was the year he died in 1899 when he completed the St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Georgetown, Guyana. Sara Louisa Blomfield was given the title Lady Blomfield after her husband was knighted in 1889. They had one daughter Mary. Sir Blomfield was not a Baha’i.[2]

In 1907 Sara and Mary traveled to Paris where they attended a reception at the home of Madam Lucien Monod. It was here that she met Miss Bertha Herbert, who introduced her to the Baha’i Message, saying,

“If I look happy it is because I am happy. I have found the desire of my heart.”

Asked to say more, Miss Herbert said,

“It is true! True! We have been taught to believe that a great Messenger would again be sent to the world. He would set forth to gather together all the peoples of good will in every race, nation, and religion on the earth. Now is the appointed time! He has come! He has come!”

Miss Herbert explained that there was a woman in Paris who had recently visited ‘Abdu’l-Baha and said that a meeting could be arranged for her to hear more. The woman was Miss Ethel Jenner Rosenberg, who had, in the summer of 1899, become the second Baha’i to enroll in the British Isles. The Blomfields met with Miss Rosenberg and the first French Baha’i, the scholar Hippolyte Dreyfus. During this meeting Lady Blomfield embraced the Baha’i Message. On returning to London the Blomfields contacted Ethel Rosenberg and Mrs. Thornburgh-Cropper and dedicated themselves to spreading the Faith in England. They were then living at 97 Cadogan Gardens, London, and in early August 1911 when ‘Abdu’l-Baha visited Great Britain, she invited Him to stay at her house. ‘Abdu’l-Baha left London for Paris on 3 October 1911, and Lady Blomfield, her daughters, and a friend, Miss Beatrice Marion Platt, followed Him, took notes of His talks, and published them under the title  “Paris Talks”. [3]

When World War I began, Sara and Mary were living in Geneva and moved to Paris to work for the French Red Cross. In the spring of 1918 she received a telephone message that disturbed her greatly:

” ‘Abdu’l-Baha in serious danger. Take immediate action.”

She went at once to Lord Lamington, who put the matter into the hands of the Right Honorable Arthur Balfour, secretary of state for foreign affairs, and a cable was immediately sent to General Allenby:

“Extend every protection and consideration to ‘Abdu’l-Baha, His family and His friends, when British march on Haifa.” The Turks had threatened to crucify ‘Abdu’l-Baha, but when Allenby took Haifa, several days before it was believed possible for him to do so, he cabled London, “Have today taken Palestine. Notify the world that ‘Abdu’l-Baha is safe.”

Around 1920 Lady Blomfield decided to spend part of each year in Geneva, and it was there that she befriended Eglantyne Jebb, founder of the Save the Children Fund, and set up an assisting group, the Blomfield Fund, under the sponsorship of Lord Weardale in London. During this time she used her considerable influence to get the five-point text, drawn up by the Save the Children Fund International, of the Geneva Declaration accepted by the League in 1924, which eventually was expanded into the Declaration of the Rights of the Child by the United Nations General Assembly in 1959.[3]

When Shoghi Effendi went to England to perfect his studies of English at Balliol College, Oxford, he became very close to Lady Blomfield to the extent that she accompanied him to Haifa in December 1921, following the news of the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. For several months she remained in the Holy Land assisting him in his new role of Guardian. To the end of her life she remained dedicated to the service of her beloved Faith. In addition to her teaching she served for 8 of the first 11 years on the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles. She died on December 31, 1939.[3]

On learning of her passing Shoghi Effendi sent the following cable:

“Profoundly grieve passing dearly beloved outstanding coworker Sitarih Khanum. Memory her glorious services imperishable. Advise English community hold befitting memorial gatherings. Assure relatives my heartfelt sympathy loving fervent prayers.”

Lady Sara Louisa Blomfield wrote the following books:
The Chosen Highway
The Passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, co-authored with Shoghi Effendi
Paris Talks contains much of her notes

Editor’s note:
An interesting, very early, but indirect link between Guyana and the Faith is through Lady Sara Blomfield. She was a prominent early member of the Baha’i Faith in London at the beginning of the twentieth century. She produced several well-known books and hosted `Abdu’l-Bahá during both His visits to London in 1912 and 1913. It was her husband, Arthur Blomfield, who designed the well-known Saint George’s Anglican Cathedral in Georgetown, Guyanawhich was the tallest wooden church in the world until 2003 when the Peri Monastery near Săpânţa in northern Romania was completed. It must be noted, however, that this was in the 1880’s before Sara Blomfield knew about the Faith. The source for this editor’s note comes from the Guyana Baha’i website.

1 – “Memorial to a shining star” London, United Kingdom, 10 August 2003 (BWNS)
2- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Blomfield, Sir Arthur William”. Encyclopedia Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 76.
3 – Adamson, Hugh. “Historical Dictionary of the Baha’i Faith”. Scarecrow Press. 1998
4 – Youtube video posted by Bahá’í Ireland

Profile photo courtesy of © Bahá’í International Community
Image of St George’s Cathedral courtesy of Wikipedia

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