Forming a novice
in Contested identities
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Mary Heimann's comprehensive analysis of Catholic devotions in nineteenth-century England suggested that increasingly 'more Catholics heard mass, received communion and made confessions, and did so more often; confraternities and other religious societies multiplied in number and grew in membership'. The formation that occurred in a postulant and a novice created the basis of the identity of women religious. In religious congregations, two ceremonies marked the most significant events in the life of women religious: the ceremony of reception and the profession ceremony. The public nature of the clothing ceremony offered an important opportunity to promote the Sisters of Mercy and religious life to a well-to-do crowd of Catholics and Protestants and to encourage future postulants and benefactors. Just ten years after the Catholic Emancipation Act, this clothing ceremony garnered a good deal of positive publicity for the Roman Catholic Church and the Sisters of Mercy.

Contested identities

Catholic women religious in nineteenth-century England and Wales


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