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Mother Jesu Emmanuel O.S.R.N (formerly Sister Jesu) was the Mother Superior of the Order of St. Raymond Nonnatus. She appeared in two episodes and was played by two different actresses (by Kika Markham in S01E06, and by Marty Cruikshank in the 2018 Christmas episode).


Mother Jesu Emmanuel was first seen in the last episode of the first series where she first visits a sick Sister Monica Joan. Later, when Sister Monica Joan is arrested for shoplifting and some jewels are found amongst her belongings, Nurse Jenny Lee brought Mother Jesu to court, where she told the jury that the jewels had belonged to Sister Monica Joan's mother. She had left them to her when she died and they passed into the Order's hands when Sister Monica Joan took her final vows in 1904. Mother Jesu also said that she had given them to her as "balm for an old wound", and that she recognized neither the jewels nor her petty thefts due to her fragility, and the charges were dropped.

Mother Jesu S1

Mother Jesu as portrayed by Kika Markham

Mother Jesu's name crops up numerous times throughout the series until her only other appearance. When a struggling mission hospital in South Africa is faced with closure, she asks that a small working party from Nonnatus House go to save it. During this time, she sends Sister Ursula to run Nonnatus House whilst Sister Julienne is in South Africa. Impressed with Sister Ursula's work, Mother Jesu names her the new Sister-in-Charge upon Sister Julienne's return to Poplar. However, this proved to be short-lived as one of Sister Ursula's new rules almost resulted in tragedy when a newborn baby was hospitalised with carbon monoxide poisoning. After the baby pulled through, Sister Ursula, realising she was unfit to run Nonnatus House, returned to the Mother House, handing the reins back to Sister Julienne.

In the 2018 Christmas special, Sister Julienne receives a phone call from Sister Hilda from the Mother House, telling her that Mother Jesu is dying of a brain tumour, and she has asked that Sister Julienne, Sister Monica Joan, and Sister Winifred return to the Mother House until a new Superior is elected, but Sister Monica Joan falls ill and is left at Nonnatus House. When everyone arrives, Sister Hilda reveals that Mother Jesu is confined to her room and has resigned from her duties completely. She also takes Sister Julienne to Mother Jesu's office which is in terrible disarray, and she also tells her she is the one most likely to be picked as Mother Jesu's successor, but the just mere thought of that fills Sister Julienne with dread.

The next day, while the nuns are saying their morning prayers, Sister Julienne is given a note telling her that Mother Jesu wants to see her. When Sister Julienne enters her room, Mother Jesu reveals she has lost the sight in one eye, and then tells Sister Julienne she wants her to take her place, but Sister Julienne is resistant. After the Sisters cast their votes to elect a new Superior, all they can do is wait. When the church bell rings to announce the vote has been declared, we get a short scene of Sister Hilda conversing with Mother Jesu. and the scene ends with Mother Jesu crossing herself. She isn't seen again after this scene, but Sister Julienne is not elected new Mother Superior, and the title goes to Sister Mildred instead, much to Sister Julienne's relief.

It's more than likely that Mother Jesu died some time after the events of this episode as she had been given only a handful of months to live.


  • According to the 2018 Christmas episode, Mother Jesu Emmanuel entered the religious life around the same time as Sister Julienne.
  • Kika Markham, the first actress to play Mother Jesu, was married to Corin Redgrave from 1985 until his death in 2010. Corin Redgrave was the brother of Vanessa Redgrave, the voice of Mature Jenny, the shows narrator.
  • Mother Jesu Emmanuel is one of two characters to be played by two actors, the other being Jenny Lee. This number increased to five when all three of Rhoda Mullucks children were recast for the 2022 Christmas Special.


It's one of the things I missed when I was voted Superior and stopped going into peoples homes: the smell of hand cream, the talcum powder, even baby soap. You don't imagine you will mourn those small connections to ordinary things as Mother Superior, but you do.

- A dying Mother Jesu Emmanuel conversing with Sister Julienne