The healing art.
Hanne heard the crying of her child and went and sat with them by their bed. Her child cried, “Oh if I had lived in the days of Jesus, I know He would and could have taken me by the hand and let me walk.” Her child had had a terrible accident, and the recovery was long, severe and painful. Hannah, a trained midwife and nurse, was well-suited to looking after Hanne’s child through the process, but they both still had to be patient through the recovery. On that evening when Hanne’s child was suffering and wishing for a miracle, Hannah sat with them and in Hannah’s words, “We wept because such power was no longer in the reach of suffering mortals.”
Hanne Sørensen herself did all she could to lessen the physical suffering of others, in particular women and children. Hanne grew up in Thisted, Denmark, and married Jens Hyldahl in 1859, having ten children with him. Sadly, she wasn’t happy in her marriage as he developed an addiction to alcohol and gambling. Hanne studied at Den Kongelige Danske Fødselsstiftelse (Royal Danish Maternity Institute), graduating in 1862 as a trained midwife and nurse when she was twenty-six. She began working for the Danish government as a midwife, where she worked for twenty-two years.
While the money Hanne got was valuable for her and her family, she genuinely loved and cared about her career and was very proud of her work as a midwife. She also believed that God had an important role in her work as a midwife and nurse, writing: “Above all other desirable qualifications, a nurse should be a spiritual-minded woman, not a long-faced penitent preaching one, but one who has an unwavering faith in God and His power. Such a woman is happy and cheerful, knowing that God is the true restorer of health.”
After twenty-four years of marriage, Hanne Sørensen’s husband left her and her youngest children, who were still at home. It was around this time that Hanne met the missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She hadn’t heard nice things about the Latter-day Saints, but because it was a friend who introduced them to her, she listened to them and felt comfort from what they were teaching. After listening to the missionaries, she decided to study their words and pray to God. After much praying, she felt strongly that what they taught was true. She also strongly felt that through her faith she would be blessed with a greater ability to help the sick.
She wrote: “In the blessed day when the beautiful gospel was brought to me and its penetrating power had made clear to my understanding that once more the heavenly gift to heal the sick was restored to the earth, my hopes for brighter days were realized. For I had all my life been a searching pilgrim, searching for something I did not know what until the gospel was brought to me in all its beauty and grandeur. Now, my dear sisters, I wish to tell you that above all other people, we have the true healing art among us; … I believe that the power to heal the sick belongs to God alone. He uses [us] as His instruments to bring about his purposes.”
Hanne continued to work tirelessly as a midwife and nurse throughout her life and taught many other women about midwifery and nursing. She believed strongly that all women should understand basic hygiene, medicine and health to help themselves and their children. She also believed strongly that when all was said and done, God was the true healer, and she put her faith in Him.
Research: Michelle Graabek
Writing: Michelle Graabek
Editing: Amy Epps & Louise Paulsen
Sørensen, Hannah. “Life Sketch of Sister Hannah Sorenson”, Young Woman’s Journal, BYU Library Digital Collections, 1890.
—.What Women Should Know, Salt Lake City, Utah: George Q. Cannon & Sons Company, 1896.