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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Carmen M. Mangion

impediments. Typically, the impediments were scrupulously used to screen postulants, but exceptions were made in certain circumstances. Forming a novice 91 especially if the candidate was not known to the congregation.10 The final step, an interview with the local superior or novice mistress, was critical; she determined whether the candidate might have the requisite attributes for religious life and allowed her to enter the congregation as a postulant or dismissed her as having ‘no vocation’. Once the candidate was past these hurdles, the real testing began. The

in Contested identities
Carmen Mangion

edited volume The Education of the Novice , a collection of lectures given to fifty novice mistresses in 1955, began by remarking that novitiates posed different problems from those of fifty years earlier. He noted that ‘revolutionary changes’ in society required novice mistresses to become a ‘bridge’ between the life of the secular world and the life of the cloister. Her role was to ‘inculcate firmly the essentials of religious life while interpreting the particular customs and regulations of the convent to the mentality of the newcomers’. He referenced Modern Girls

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
Carmen Mangion

say goodbye to them and I remember being taken to a door … the Novice Mistress said ‘You are now going into enclosure.’ Well. So I raised my body, straightened my back and thought ‘This is it’ … and in I went but I can’t remember feeling happy, not even sad, I wasn’t homesick or anything um because you know this, I was coming home, home. 23 But, of course, the ministries of teaching, nursing and parish work usually required sisters to leave their convent spaces. When outside the convent, enclosure was consciously performed in embodied ways: through distance and

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
S. Karly Kehoe

powerful posts: the superior and the novice mistress. Superiors were ‘good shepherds’, the leaders of religious communities who ensured that vows were fulfilled and the rules were observed.75 They were confirmed by a male ecclesiastical superior after their election by secret ballot, but in diocesan institutes, they could also be appointed by the local bishop and, in very special circumstances, selected by postulation.76 They directed the community’s dayto-day affairs and oversaw the spiritual development of the community, and The recruitment of women religious 97

in Creating a Scottish Church
Carmen M. Mangion

constructed hierarchy of women managing women. Most pontifical-rite congregations developed highly centralised hierarchical structures and systems of administration. The mother superior and her council, which usually consisted of at least one mother assistant, a bursar and a novice mistress, were responsible for managing the internal affairs of the congregation and the novitiate. They directed the purchasing, building and maintenance of physical structures including their convent and the institutions under their care. They supervised the staff of various institutions and

in Contested identities
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Enlightenment, automata, and the theatre of terror
Victor Sage

isolation and habitual obedience of the convent quite early on in her account of life at Longchamp. On the morning of taking her vows, she is undressed by the novice-mistress and her fellows: She had hardly gone out before the novice-mistress and my fellows entered; my religious habit was taken off and I was dressed in

in European Gothic
Carmen Mangion

religious. Women who entered religious life in the 1940s had some awareness that being a ‘nun’, as discussed in Chapter 1 , included ‘dying to the world’ and the sacrifice of familial and friendship relationships. The formation period, the postulancy and the novitiate, trained women to interact in convent spaces. Like other forms of professional training at the time, it was rigorous, structured and rooted in social-class-based ideals of deference that were an everyday part of private and public life. 28 Tutored and guided by a novice mistress, the formation process

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
Laurence Lux-Sterritt

beliefs and positions. One last example will suffice to illustrate this point: the narration of the strange events which occurred in 1634 and 1635 around a new recruit, Dame Aloysia. Whilst a mere postulant at Ghent in October 1635, Aloysia German found her evening prayers disturbed repeatedly by three knocks against her oratory. In ‘great alarm’, she referred to her novice mistress, who tried to reassure her and advised her to calm her overactive imagination and nerves. On 3 March 1636, her perceptions were verified by another Sister, who also heard the three knocks

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

such a ceremony from a fifteenth-century guide for English Benedictine nuns. 2 The event took place at the altar of the convent church with the other nuns looking on from their stalls in the choir. The novice read her profession in the presence of a priest, made the sign of a cross in the book of profession, approached the altar with her novice mistress, kissed the altar, bowed

in Conversions