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This book examines the changing nature of Catholicism in modern Scotland by placing a significant emphasis on women religious. It highlights the defining role they played in the transformation and modernisation of the Catholic Church as it struggled to cope with unprecedented levels of Irish migration. The institutions and care-networks that these women established represented a new age in social welfare that served to connect the church with Scotland's emerging civil society. The book examines how the church reacted to liberalism, legislative reform, the rise of evangelicalism and the continued growth of Irish migration between the late 1820s and the late 1850s. A mutual aversion to the Irish and a loyalty to nation and state inspired a recusant and ultramontane laity to invest heavily in a programme of church transformation and development. The recruitment of the Ursulines of Jesus, the first community of nuns to return to Scotland since the Reformation, is highlighted as a significant step towards legitimising Catholic respectability. The book focuses on the recruitment and influence of women religious. It also focuses on the issue of identity by considering how gender and ethnicity influenced the development of these religious communities and how this was connected with the broader campaign to transform Catholic culture in Scotland. The book also examines the development of Catholic education in Scotland between the late 1840s and 1900 and prioritises the role played by women religious in this process.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on the themes of gender, ethnicity and class. It shows how the Catholic Church developed into a multifaceted institution on a national scale that worked to secure and safeguard a civil society and a national identity that was distinctively Scottish. The book considers the state of Catholicism up to 1834 and begins with a brief sketch of Scottish Catholicism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to reveal just how disorganised and divided the church actually was. It examines how the church reacted to liberalism, legislative reform, the rise of evangelicalism and the continued growth of Irish migration between the late 1820s and the late 1850s. The book examines the development of Catholic education in Scotland and prioritises the role played by women religious in this process.
This chapter begins with an outline of the state of Catholicism in Scotland during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a period when persecution, priest shortages and incessant financial hardship plagued church development. It highlights the cultural tension operative between an indigenous Scots clergy and many of the Irish missionaries who, through their common language and shared customs, had formed strong and definitive connections with pockets of faithful in the remote Highlands. The chapter examines the evolution of Catholic relief, the process of repealing the legislation that imposed numerous civil disabilities and restrictions upon Catholics and dissenters, between 1779 and 1829. Collective assertions were welcomed by a Catholic leadership whose growing confidence was helping them to capitalise upon the situation and agitate more publicly for emancipation and social integration.
This chapter shows how developments such as Catholic emancipation, reform, and the rise of evangelicalism and liberalism forced Catholic authorities and the state to reconsider Catholicism's position within society. This reappraisal would result in a complete transformation of the church's existing infrastructure and change the way in which it absorbed the influence of ultramontanism. The 1830s, 1840s and early 1850s witnessed an explosion in religious voluntarism. Events such as the Disruption, which was when the evangelical Free Church split away from the established Church of Scotland in May 1843, and the Irish Famine encouraged competition between dissenting groups and denominations. Across Europe and North America, women religious successfully navigated the patriarchal terrain to achieve a level of autonomy that was unavailable to most women, let alone Catholic ones.
The establishment of convents was the first major step towards the wide-spread overhaul of Catholicity in Scotland. This chapter provides an introduction to the women religious who spearheaded the cultural change. It charts the recruitment of four teaching communities of women religious to Scotland's two cities: the Ursulines of Jesus and the Sisters of Mercy in Edinburgh and the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and the Sisters of Mercy in Glasgow. According to Canon Law, there were three types of religious institutes: contemplative, active and mixed. The Ursulines of Jesus and the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception were mixed communities, whereas the Sisters of Mercy were active. The chapter investigates how gender and ethnicity influenced the development of these communities. Clerics regularly interfered with convent affairs, because they were uncomfortable with women who crossed traditional boundaries and 'modified' gender limitations to acquire moral authority.
This chapter shows how women religious took female elementary education and catholicity in Scotland to a new level. It considers the role that women religious played in the development of Catholic education and examines how this was interlinked with the state's ambition to reduce working-class radicalism and with Scotland's emerging national identity. The chapter outlines educational provision at mid-century and compares it to what existed on the eve of the Education (Scotland) Act of 1872. It also considers the impact that state funding and the Catholic Poor Schools Committee, a body largely governed by English interests, had upon the direction of Catholic education in Scotland. Recusants supported the establishment of an education system that would 'denationalise' the Irish and enhance Catholicism's overall image, but they were opposed to a system that would undermine their autonomy or attempt to redefine or Anglicise their identity.
This chapter considers Scottish associational culture in the Catholic context. It investigates the relationship between Catholicism and civil society and looks at how the church mediated social and religious culture through the creation of an extended devotional and associational culture. The chapter examines how Catholic associational culture in urban Scotland created closer links with the nation and with the ambitions of the British state by looking at the kinds of organisations being established. There was a marked increase in the number and variety of societies and associations after 1870 that enhanced people's spiritual commitment to the church and promoted community consolidation. The roots of the devotional initiatives had been sown by the religious communities through their education and social welfare work, and they helped to connect people more closely with the local parish and the wider church.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book considers the transformation of Catholicism and the Catholic Church in the nineteenth century. It reveals that before the late nineteenth century, widespread diversity characterised European Catholicism. The collision of old and new Catholics forced a reappraisal of the state of the church which intensified as the number of Irish in Scotland increased. The book highlights the progressive lay element that emerged in the 1830s and 1840s and worked to inject money, time and energy into the church. It argues that the communities of teaching sisters were actively renegotiating the boundaries of education by committing themselves to the development of elementary and female education. The book also considers the rise in devotional activity and associational or organisational culture between 1870 and 1900.
This chapter considers how the Irish female migrants, who entered religious communities, functioned as immigrants with distinct identities. It examines the extent to which their Irishness influenced the development of Catholic culture in Scotland and Canada. Whilst both nations attracted significant numbers of Irish during the nineteenth century, each had a fundamentally different relationship with the British state and its empire and it was these relationships that shaped the responses to the Irish migrants. Mass emigration from Ireland during the nineteenth century introduced a new dimension to Britain's imperial identity and facilitated the establishment and formation of new Catholic communities that would help to cement Britain's authority as a governing power. The chapter considers the process of nation-building and identity construction, and presents local examples to illuminate broader trends.