This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book argues that religious belief provided nineteenth-century Catholic women religious with the tools to transcend the normative boundaries of femininity and to redefine the parameters of womanhood. It looks at the developing identities of women entering religious life. Women's religious congregations in England, as in other parts of the world, entered a period of dramatic growth in the nineteenth century. The book explores various identities of women religious in order to bring to the forefront the lives of women who established and managed significant Catholic educational, health care and social welfare institutions in England. It shows how religious activism shaped the identity of active, simple-vowed Catholic women religious. The book develops the working identities of women religious.
Roman Catholic women's congregations are an enigma of nineteenth century social history. Over 10,000 women, establishing and managing significant Catholic educational, health care and social welfare institutions in England and Wales, have virtually disappeared from history. In nineteenth-century England, representations of women religious were ambiguous and contested from both within and without the convent. This book places women religious in the centre of nineteenth-century social history and reveals how religious activism shaped the identity of Catholic women religious. It is devoted to evolution of religious life and the early monastic life of the women. Catholic women were not pushed into becoming women religious. On the basis of their available options, they chose a path that best suited their personal, spiritual, economic and vocational needs. The postulancy and novitiate period formed a rite of passage that tested the vocation of each aspirant. The book explores the religious activism of women religious through their missionary identity and professional identity. The labour of these women was linked to their role as evangelisers. The book deals with the development of a congregation's corporate identity which brought together a disparate group of women under the banner of religious life. It looks specifically at class and ethnicity and the women who entered religious life, and identifies the source of authority for the congregation and the individual sister.
The efforts of women religious in encouraging religious practice and devotions were essential in the battle against 'leakage', and women's congregations had an important role in the work of salvation of nineteenth-century England and Wales. Women's Catholic congregations often concentrated their efforts on women and children. The medium used most often by women's congregations to evangelise the Catholic family was education, although their efforts in health care and social welfare also aimed to place the Catholic faith at the heart of the family unit. This chapter examines women religious as religious activists and links the services they performed to their religious identity. The missionary identity of women religious was a facet of their religious identity: they were active in both domestic and international missionary work. The chapter also examines their missionary identity as missionaries in England, the home mission field.
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.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book begins in with the evolution of religious life in England, paying particular attention to early monastic life, and then continues with an analysis of the growth of women's religious congregations in England. It compares women religious of England and Wales with Irish, French, North American and Australian women religious to provide an understanding of the similarities and differences in religious life. The book considers how the training for religious life shaped the identity of women religious. It presents the development of a congregation's corporate identity which brought together a disparate group of women under the banner of religious life. The book looks specifically at class and ethnicity and the women who entered religious life. It concludes by identifying the source of authority for the congregation and the individual sister.
The labour of women religious in the fields of education and health care and in the provision of social services was intricately linked to their missionary and professional identity. Religious activism, even if parochial, extended the boundaries of their identity and propelled many women religious into roles as administrators, educators and health care professionals. As Kathryn Gleadle observed in her work on nineteenth-century British women radicals and Unitarians, 'Evangelical notions of women's religious and moral vocation were reconciled uneasily with the notion of the female professional.' Approximately seventy per cent of the women's religious institutes located in England and Wales had education as a primary focus in the nineteenth century. Although religious education was certainly an important aspect of Catholic education, the English bishops convened at that First Provincial Synod were adamant that secular education should be 'modern' and competitive with that in non-Catholic schools.
The Armorial of Bianca
Maria Sforza, Copied for August of Saxony by Lucas Cranach the Younger
(Manchester, John Rylands Library, German MS. 2)
German MS. 2 is a previously unstudied armorial dating from the mid-sixteenth
century. This article shows that it was produced in the workshop of Lucas
Cranach the Younger for Elector August of Saxony, and that it was copied from an
earlier armorial of c.1500 which was kept in Cranach’s
workshop, probably as reference material. Much of the original content and
structure of this ‘old armorial’ has been preserved in Rylands
German 2. On this basis, the original armorial can be located in a late
fifteenth-century Upper German tradition of armorial manuscripts known as the
‘Bodensee’ group. It was also closely linked to the Habsburg
dynasty, and appears to have been dedicated to Empress Bianca Maria Sforza. The
armorial therefore opens significant new perspectives on the relationships
between artists and heraldry and between women and heraldic knowledge, and on
ways of visualising the Holy Roman Empire through heraldry.
Alex Sanders (1926–88), one of the founders of modern pagan witchcraft in
the UK, worked briefly at the John Rylands Library in 1962 as a book duster
before being dismissed for ‘neglect of his duties’. The full
circumstances were more complex, and although Sanders is now the subject of an
article in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography the
episode has never been fully investigated. This article makes use of all
relevant sources, including unpublished records at the John Rylands Library,
books damaged by Sanders, and interviews with former staff, to establish what
happened and what bearing the events had on Sanders’s future career as an
occultist and propagator of pagan witchcraft.
Contextualising a Forgotten Missionary
Translator of Southwest China
Elise Scharten (1876–1965) was a pioneering Dutch missionary who
translated texts into and out of the language of the Naxi people, a Chinese
minority group living in the Himalayan foothills of Yunnan province. She was the
first to translate the Naxi creation story into English, and the only translator
of a western text into Naxi. Her legacy has, however, been overshadowed by the
achievements of more prominent Naxiologists. Today, Scharten is almost
completely unknown. Nevertheless, Scharten’s unique contribution to the
transmission of cultural knowledge between westerners and the Naxi has been
preserved in museum and library archives. From these sources we can build a
clear picture of her importance to the study of this unique people.
Augustus Toplady’s ‘Calvinism’ and the Anglican
This article analyses the theological development of the eighteenth-century
Church of England priest Augustus Montague Toplady through two manuscript
collections. The first of these is a copy of John Wesley’s
Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament that Toplady heavily
annotated during his time as a university student in 1758. This book is held in
the Methodist Archives and Research Centre at the John Rylands Library.
Toplady’s handwritten notes total approximately 6,000 words and provide
additional information regarding the development of his views of John Wesley and
Methodism, ones which he would not put into print until 1769. Toplady’s
notes demonstrate how he was significantly influenced by the works of certain
Dutch, German and Swiss Reformed theologians. The second is a collection of
Toplady’s papers held by Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Together,
these sources enable Toplady’s own theology and his controversies with
Methodists to be viewed from a new perspective. Moreover, these sources provide
new insights into Toplady’s conceptualisation of
‘Calvinism’ and changes in the broader Anglican Reformed tradition
during the eighteenth century.