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Catholic women religious in nineteenth-century England and Wales

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.

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-Dehquani, Religious Feminism in an Age of Empire: CMS Women Missionaries in Iran, 1869–1934 (Bristol: University of Bristol, 2000); Gulnar Eleanor Francis-Dehquani, ‘Medical Missions and the History of Feminism: Emmeline Stuart of the CMS Persia Mission’, in Morgan, ed., 2002, pp. 197–212; Sean Gill, ‘Heroines of Missionary Adventure: The Portrayal of Victorian Women Missionaries in Popular Fiction and Biography’ in Anne 114 Working identities played in the development of British Protestant missions in the nineteenth century provides a comparative assessment of the gendered

in Contested identities
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5 Professionalising1 It is not praising a nun to say that she is a good teacher or a good cook (though these qualities are valuable acquisitions to their Community), but the praise of a nun is to say ‘She is a good religious’.2 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. As discussed in the previous chapter, salvation – their own and that of others – was at the core of their way of life as simplevowed women religious. Their

in Contested identities
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promoting religious reform, fostering denominational pride, and asserting their loyalty to the United Kingdom.3 These comments suggest that Presbyterians should not have been concerned with Patrick and the early Irish Church. However, from the 1830s onwards, a variety of Presbyterian writers grappled with Ireland’s patron saint and in so doing used Patrick as a means of contributing to contemporary debates about historical scholarship, Church organisation, missionary activity, and identity politics. A study of Presbyterian interpretations of Patrick in the nineteenth

in Making and remaking saints in nineteenth-century Britain

women religious. Women religious were unable to know everyone in the congregation yet they imagined their 68 RSM Bermondsey: ‘Bermondsey Annals’, 1852, p. 191. When new convents were opened, experienced Sisters of Mercy would often be loaned temporarily to them. 69 Ibid, 1867, p. 117. 70 SND: BX EV/1 in BH2, ‘Everton Annals’, 3 August 1873. 71 SND: C3 ‘London Diary: Clapham’, 1847–80, 8 August 1861. 72 RSM Bermondsey: ‘Bermondsey Annals’, 1872, p. 194. 73 FCJ: A1856 ‘Isleworth Annals’, 1899. 172 Corporate identities unity and connectedness.74 As missionary entities

in Contested identities
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missionaries happened to arrive in India in 1841 is the subject of the first section of the book, from the origins of their Calvinistic Methodist denomination in the eighteenth century, their split from the LMS as an assertion of Welsh identity, the voyage to India and their arrival in the hills at a time when earlier missionaries from Serampore had already wielded some influence. The second section

in Welsh missionaries and British imperialism

from sources spanning centuries, and from various Orders.51 120 MUP_Lux_Sterritt_Revised.indd 120 04/01/2017 14:50 THE MISSIONARY SPIRIT OF ENCLOSED NUNS English Benedictine nuns wrote, copied and translated texts with the keen awareness that they were building a strong legacy; these texts both shaped and stated the contours of their spiritual identity, and were meant to be inspirational for future generations. This legacy was revived and vindicated with the edition and publication of many of the communities’ annals in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

in English Benedictine nuns in exile in the seventeenth century
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gendered space of early Chicago’, The Catholic Historical Review, 90 (2004), p. 475. 56 Susan O’Brien, ‘French nuns in nineteenth-century England’, Past & Present, 54:1 (1997), p. 142. 57 Carmen Mangion, Contested Identities: Catholic Women Religious in NineteenthCentury England and Wales (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2008.), p. 8. 58 Susan O’Brien, ‘Coda – missing missionaries: where are the Catholic sisters in British missiology?’ Unpublished paper delivered at the 4th annual Consecrated Women Conference, Divinity Faculty, Cambridge University, 16

in Creating a Scottish Church
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options, they chose a path that best suited their personal, spiritual, economic and vocational needs. Chapter 3 considers how the training for religious life shaped the identity of women religious. The postulancy and novitiate period formed a rite of passage that tested the vocation of each aspirant. The second part, ‘Working identities’, explores the religious activism of women religious first, in Chapter 4, through their missionary identity. The labour of women religious in the fields of education and health care and in the provision of social services was intricately

in Contested identities

.11 After Europeans stumbled into a ‘New World’, lust for wealth and power combined with a desire to spread the light of the Gospel; this potent combination legitimated the destruction of native peoples and the exploitation of over ten million transplanted Africans and their offspring.12 Missionaries of all sects and Christian-minded slaveholders alike rationalised the inhuman cruelty of bondage by arguing that without slavery both Indians and slaves would remain in heathen darkness. It is not coincidental that by 1760 the society most active in spreading

in Religion and rights