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Living spirituality

Between 1598 and 1800, an estimated 3, 271 Catholic women left England to enter convents on the Continent. This study focuses more particularly upon those who became Benedictines in the seventeenth century, choosing exile in order to pursue their vocation for an enclosed life. Through the study of a wide variety of original manuscripts, including chronicles, death notices, clerical instructions, texts of spiritual guidance, but also the nuns’ own collections of notes, this book highlights the tensions between the contemplative ideal and the nuns’ personal experiences. Its first four chapters adopt a traditional historical approach to illustrate the tensions between theory and practice in the ideal of being dead to the world. They offer a prosopographical study of Benedictine convents in exile, and show how those houses were both cut-off and enclosed yet very much in touch with the religious and political developments at home. The next fur chapters propose a different point of entry into the history of nuns, with a study of emotions and the senses in the cloister, delving into the textual analysis of the nuns’ personal and communal documents to explore aspect of a lived spirituality, when the body, which so often hindered the spirit, at times enabled spiritual experience.

Laurence Lux-Sterritt

4 • The missionary spirit of enclosed nuns Despite the strict decrees of the Council of Trent on conventual enclosure, female religious institutions in the seventeenth century were in frequent interaction with the outside world. Communities depended upon it for their economic stability and growth. In return, nuns played an active role in the spiritual welfare of their patrons. They educated the young, and they provided counsel and offered retreats for adults; they also prayed for the souls of the departed. Because of the situation of Catholics at home, and

in English Benedictine nuns in exile in the seventeenth century
Britain, 1945–90
Author: Carmen Mangion

Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age examines the changes in religious life for women religious in Britain from 1945 to 1990 identifying how community and individual lives were altered. This work is grounded in three core premises: women religious were influenced by and participated in the wider social movements of the long 1960s; women’s religious institutes were transnational entities and part of a larger global happening; and the struggles of renewal were linked to competing and contradictory ideas of collective, institutional identities. The work pivots on the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), but considers pre and post Vatican II social, cultural and religious events and social movements of the 1960s as influencers in these changes. It interrogates ‘lived experience’ by examining the day-to-day lives of women religious. Though rooted in the experiences of women religious in Britain, the book probes the relationships and interconnectivities between women religious within and across national divides as they move from institutions embedded in uniformity to the acceptance of cultural plurality. It also engages with the histories of the social movements of the long 1960s. For too long, religion has been relegated to its own silo, unlinked to the ‘radical sixties’ and depicted as ultimately obstructionist to its social movements. To contest this, female religious life is examined as a microcosm of change in the Catholic Church pointing to the ‘new thinking and freer lifestyles’ that allowed for the questioning of institutional cultures.

Carmen Mangion

Introduction In 1972 Alan Whicker, a British journalist and presenter of the widely watched Whicker’s World , together with his television crew, entered the silent and hidden world of the cloister. 1 As part of a series entitled ‘Whicker, Within a Woman’s World’ he had secured permission to film for a twenty-six-minute programme about the Poor Clares, an enclosed Catholic community of nuns, whom he introduced as ‘the most unliberated women in the world’. Pruriently entitled A Girl Gets Temptations , the programme opened evocatively with barefoot young nuns

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps, Lasse Heerten, Arua Oko Omaka, Kevin O'Sullivan, and Bertrand Taithe

like a business with a huge budget. Bertrand: Again we’re talking about what we would now call ‘faith-based organisations’ – and I wonder, Kevin, if you could say what is the specificity of this kind of religious presence in the response to Biafra? Kevin: Nigeria was a land of missions in the 1960s. For example, when the war broke out, there were over seven hundred Irish Catholic nuns, priests and brothers in the Eastern Region [ Missionary

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Laurence Lux-Sterritt

philosophies in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In his Tractatus de Anima (published posthumously in 1621), Suarez provided a detailed commentary on Aquinas’s theories on emotions. English Benedictine nuns, like those of other Orders, were familiar with the works of Francesco Suarez and owned copies of his publications. They were therefore aware of the debate upon the nature of emotions. In the early seventeenth century, the Benedictine monk Augustine Baker (1575–1641) condemned human nature and what he perceived as its tendency to seek self-gratification at the

in English Benedictine nuns in exile in the seventeenth century
Abstract only
How did laywomen become nuns in the early modern world?
Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt

‘T he maiden that shall be made nun.’ 1 This medieval description of a novice on the brink of her profession ceremony is simple and yet profound. It highlights the point at which a young woman, after her novitiate, announced her intentions to become a full member of the convent community. At the same time it obscures or at least elides the dramatic transformation that

in Conversions
S. H. Rigby

English’. For Robertson, the theological doctrines which underlie the Canterbury Tales in their entirety are explicitly set out in the ‘Parson’s Tale’; for Donaldson, the ‘Parson’s Tale’ is alien, in its morbid negativity, to the healthy affirmativeness of many of the other tales. For Robertson, the mentality underlying medieval poems such as the ‘Nun’s Priest’s Tale’ was profoundly different

in Chaucer in context
Laurence Lux-Sterritt

1 • The contemplative ideal of dying to the world [A]s you seem to bid adue to the world for ever (& to your selfe; in outward apearance) soe likewise, inwardly in your hart wholy turn & aply your selfe to the Love of God, Dying to your selfe, and to all worldly Loves & fears.1 In her address to chapter in Paris, Prioress Justina Gascoigne voiced one of the universal precepts of early modern cloistered life: becoming a contemplative nun was to be dead to the world, to others and to oneself, to embrace life in the spiritual pursuit of God only. This ideal was

in English Benedictine nuns in exile in the seventeenth century
The body as witness
Laurence Lux-Sterritt

8 • Illness, death and beyond: the body as witness The previous chapters have largely focused upon the personal writings of English Benedictine nuns, their correspondence, their collections, their meditations, their prayers; these documents are ideally suited to the study of the lived experience of contemplative life, since they tell readers of that experience in first-person narratives, with the vocabulary chosen by the nuns themselves. But when they were very ill, or in their final moments, when the goal of their contemplative lives appeared within their reach

in English Benedictine nuns in exile in the seventeenth century