Nov. 13, 1784 Sunderland Bennington County Vermont, USA
Sep. 10, 1819 Montreal Montreal Region Quebec, Canada
First New England woman to become a nun. She was the eldest child of Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen and Frances Montresor Brush Buchanan Allen, and her father died when she was five. Fanny Allen lived in Colchester, Burlington, Westminster, and Swanton, and was educated at Middlebury Seminary, where she exhibited both an interest in science and religious skepticism. In 1807 she moved to Montreal to study French with the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, where she experienced a traumatic event. She believed she had been saved by Saint Joseph and informed her mother and stepfather that she wished to convert to Catholicism, so they withdrew her from the convent. They eventually relented and allowed her to return to Montreal, and she entered Hôtel-Dieu (a convent and hospital), later becoming a nun in the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph order. Fanny Allen's profession of faith and acceptance into the order was witnessed by many of her American friends and relatives in an era when Catholicism in the United States was rare, an event generally recognized as the start of an improved appreciation of the Catholic religion in New England. She was assigned to work as Hotel-Dieu's chemist (pharmacist) and spent her life nursing the sick and indigent, including soldiers from both sides who were wounded in the War of 1812, until she died of tuberculosis. In 1894 the sisters of her order founded Fanny Allen Hospital in Colchester in her memory. Fanny Allen Hospital later merged with the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont, formerly Mary Fletcher Hospital, to become Fletcher Allen Health Care.