Maria Monk.

Awful disclosures online

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WiLUAM B. Cairns Collection


American Women Writers




WiLUAM B. Cairns

Professor of English

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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W«li W»J1.










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Aepoiding to Act of Coiwress, in the year Ittli by


la tho CItrk** O^oe of the District Court of the Sputfaem Dittiict of



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This volome embraces the contents of the first editions
of lay •Awftd Disclosures,*' together with the Sequel of
my Narrative, giving an account of events after my escape
from the Nunnery, and of my return to Mcmtreal to pro-
cure a legal investigation of my charges. It also fUrnishes
an the testimony that has been published against me, of
eveiy description, as well as that which has been given ill
eonfirmatioD of my story. At the close, will be found a
tleview of the whole Subject, furnished by a gentleman
well qualified for the purpose ; and^ finally, a short Supple-
ment, givii^, further particulars interesting to the pnb^
lie. ,

I present this volume tsi the reader, with feelings which,
I trust, will be in some degree a;)preciated when it has been
read and reflected upon. A hasty perusal^ and an imper-
fect apprehension of its contents, can never produce such
impressions as it has been my design to make by the state-
ments I have laid before the world. I know that misap-
prehensions exist in the minds of some virtuous people. J
am not disposed to condemn their jgiotives, for it does not
seem wonderful, that in a pure state of society, and in the
ipidst of Christian families, there should be persons ^O
regard the crimes I h^ve mentioned as too monstrous to be
believed. It certainly is creditable to American manners

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and character, that the people are inclintd, at the fint
sight, to turn from my story with horror.

There is also an excuse for those, who, having receiyed
<mly a general impression concerning the natitre of my
I>i8clo6ares, question the propriety of publishing such im-
morality to the world. Th^ fear that the minds of the
young at least may be polluted. To such I hare to say,
that this objection was examined, and set aside, long before
they had an opportunity to make it. I solemnly believe it
is necessary to inform parents at least, that the ruin from
which I hare barely escaped, lies in the way of their child-
ren, even if delicacy must be in some degree wounded by
revealing the fact J understand the case, alas ! from too
bitter experience. Many an innocent girl may ^is jrear
be exposed to the dangers of which I was ignorant. I am
resolved, that so far as depends on me, not one more victim
shall fall into the hands of those enemies in whose power I
80 lately have been. I know what it is to be under the do-
minion of Nuns and Priests ; and I maintain, that it is a
far greater offence against virtue and decency to conceal,
than to proclaim their crimes. Ah ! had a single warning
voice even whispered to me a word of caution, had even a
gentle note of alarm been sounded to me, it might have
turned back my foot from the Convent when it was upon
the threshold ! If, therefore, there is any one now bending
a step that way, whom I have not yet alarmed, I will cry

But the virtuous reader need not fear, in the following
pages, to meet with vice presented in any dress but her own
deformity. No one can accuse me of giving a single at-
traction to crime. On the contrary, I intend my book
shall be a warning to those who may hereafter be tempted
by vice ; and with the ccmfidence that such it will prove to
be, I commend it to the carefVd examination of virtuous
parents, and am willing to abide by their unbiased opin-
ion, with regard both to my truth, my motives, and the in-

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tetMt whidi tlwfiiblie ]ia«« im the ^Byr^^apatuOM-k ^eot^


i wettM ncm 'Spfetl to &e worid, and ask^ wlMtlier 1
lNit« not done all that eosld hare been esrpeeted of «#,
iUui all that iay ui my pawet, to Ining to an inv^edtigBCioii
tke eha«gesrl hiMre bjronght against the priests and nuas ef
Canada. Atthott^^h it was necessaQr to the cause of truth,
that I should, in some degree, hnplieate myself, I have Bet
])?sitated to appear as a voluntary self-accuser before the
-wet id. Wliile there was a hope that the authorities in
Canada might be prevailed apon to bring the snlject to a
legal investigation, I travelled to Montreal, in a feeble state
of health, and with an infant in my arms only three weeks
old. In the &ce of many threats and dangers, X spent
nearly a month in that city, in vain attempts to bring my
cause to a trial. When all prospect of success im this un-
dertaking had disappeared, and not till then, I determined
to make my accusations through the press ; and, although
misrepresentations and scandals, flattery and fear, have
been resorted to, to nullify or to suppress my testimony, I
have persevered, alihotigh, as many of my friends have
thought, at the risk of abduction or death.
I I have, I think, afforded every opportunity that could 1 e
jeasonably expected, to judge of my credibility. I ha/e
appealed to the existence of things in the Hotel Dieu Nuo-
neiry, as the great criterion of the truth of my story. I ha ve
described the apartments, and now, in this volume, have
added many fUrther particulars, with such a draft of tuem
as my memory has enabled me to make. I have offered, in
case I should be proved an impostor, to submit to any pun-
ishment which may be proposed— «ven to a redelivery into
the hands of my bitterest enemies, to suffer what they may
please to inflict.

Now, in these circumstances, I would ask the people of
the United States, whether my duty has not been discharg-
ed 1 Have I not done what I ought, to inform and to alarm
themi I woitld also solemnly appeal to the Government

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«f ^n«t BrkaiB, oader whose giiardiuu|y|> is the proT-
ince oppressed by the gloomy institution from which I hart
escaped, and ask, whether such atrocities ought to he toler-
ated, and even protected, enlightened and Christiaa
power 1 Itmst the hour is near, when the dens of the Ho-
tel Dieu wHl be laid open, when the tyrants who havts pat-
luted it will be brought out, with the wretched victims d
their (^ression and crimes.

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CHAPTER I. EABLTBaoouAonoKlK..^...^.. m. ........ 11

F^arlf life— Relidoas fklacation neglected— First 0cboal»— En*
trance into the School of the Ck>ngre«itional Nunnery— Brief Ac-
eottut of the Nimneries in Montreta^lhe eongrefttioBal Nnn«
nerj'— The Mack Nnnoery— The Grer NGomery—PubltelUipect
for these bMtitQtioBS-4nBtrQetio» KeeeWtck-The Cate«lilstti—
The Bible.


Story told by a fellow Pupil against a Priest— Ocker Stories-
Pretty Mary— Confess to Father Richards— My sobseqaent Coiy
lessions— Left the Congrefstio&al Ncnmery.

ORAFl^at m. Blacsk NuKMBBT ..••. • 99

Preparations to beooae a Noviee in file Blade ITiuuiery— &i-
trmee— OecnpatiiAiB of ^e Noviees— "nie Apartments to which
iSiey iMtd Access— nrst interview with Jane Ray— Reverence Ibr
the Superior— Her Relicraea— The Holy €tood Shepherd or name*
less Nun— Confesidon of Novices.


Diqdeased with the Convent^Left it— Residence at St Denis—
Reliqne*— Marriage— Return to the Black Nunnery— Objections
made tif iome Novfees— Ideas of the Bible.

CBAPTERV •...,.;.. 4»

Received Confirmation— Ptfnftil Feelings— Specimen of iMtrac*
tions received on- the Sut^eet

" ■*


Taking the Veil— Interview afterward with the- Boperior— flar-
prise and horror at her Disdosurea— Resotntion to submit


DaUy Ceremonies— Jane Ray among the Nans.

CHAPTER "Vin ,,, .« «

Description of Apartments fa the Black Nunnery, in order— Ist
Fteor— 2d Floor— The Founder— Superior'a Management wtth the
Friends of Novices-Religioas lies-Criminali^ of concealing
JUas at Confbsiion. ...

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Nuns with similar names— Squaw Nuns— First visit to the Cd>
lar— Description of it— Shocking Discovery there— Superior's In-
structions— Private Sgnal of the Priests— Books used in the Nim-
nery— Opinions expressed of thp Bible— Specimens of what I know
of the Scriptures.


Manufacture of Bread, and Wax Candles, carried on in the Con-
vent— Superstitions— Scapularies— Virgin Mary's pincueftUon— Hw
House— The Bishop's power over fire— My instructions to Novices
—Jane Ray— VaciUation pf fealinfs.


Alarming Order A-om the Soperiinr— Proceed to execute it-
Scene in an upper floom^Sentence of Death, and Murder— My
own distress— Bqmrts made to tciends of St. Francis.


Description of the Room of the Three States, and the Pictures
In it- Jane Ray ridiculing Priests— Their criminal Treatment of
us at Confession— Jane Ray's Tricks with the Nun's Aprons,
Handkerchiefs, and Nightgowns— Ai^es.

CHAPTER Xm , \4 ...,•».,. US

Jane Ray'a TMcka eontinued-^The BroomsUck CUiost— Sleep-
.walking-^-Salted Cider— Chaaging Beds— Oi^>e6tsaf«ome oCher
Trieks— Feigned Humility— Aiaimr-Treatment of a new Nia«-A
Nim made by strati^pem.


Influeu^iug Novices— Difficulty of convincingPersons firom the
Hilited^States— Tsle of the Bishop in the Ctty-<-The Bishop in the
Cenveat^The Prisoners in the CeHs— Pracltce ia Singiiig-^Nar-
ratives— Jane Ray's Hymns— The St^perior's bast Trick.

CHAPTER XVI,.. ...^... • «. »S

FIrequeoev of -the Priests' Visits to the Nomwry— Their Free-
dom and Crimes— Difficulty of learning their Names— Their Ho^
Retreat— Objections in.iour mmds— Means used to counteract
ConscieAoe— Ingenious Arguments.


Treatment of young Infants in the Convent— T^dking in SleejH-
Amusements — Ceremonies at the public interment of dorca<trt
Kuns— Sudden disappearance of the Old Superior— IntroductlMi
of the new one— SuperstitioDf-rAIarmof a Nun—IMffleul^ of CoBi*
munication with other Nuns.

CHAPTER XVni \ 164 .

Dfsappeaifanoeof Ntms-«-8t. Pierre— Oags-'My temporary Con-
finement in a CeU^The Cholera Season— )iow to avoid it—Occu-
patiens in the OMvent durioff the PeeUlwi s» " M Mmfcelte ef

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Wax CaiiAe»-TlM BleetkHi Riota— Alanft uaaag tii» l^nuH-Pr*-
paratioos for Defmce— Penances.

GHAPTEE XIX........ ►.... 180

Tbe Priests of tbe District of Ifontrsal bare free access to tke
Kack Nunnery— Crimes committed and required by them— Tl^e
Pcme'a Ciommand to commit indecent Cri|teft«Oiaracters of like
Old and New Superiors— llie timidity of tm latter— I becan to be
employed in the Bospitals— Some account of them— Warning ftren
meby a sick Nun— Penance by &nging.

CHAPTER XX.....'..... m

More visits to the imprisoned Nuns— Their fears— Others tern*
porarily put into tbe Cells— EeUques— The Agnus Def— The
Priest^ wivate Hospital, or Holy Retreat— Becret Rooms in the
Eastern wing— Reports of Murders hi the Coownt— The Superi-
or's private Records— Number of Nuns in the Convent— uertre ef
Escape— Uigent reason for itr-Plan— Deliberation— •AM«Bap(-*0ao^



nnvmofitf haadbllL 207— Montreal Affidavits, 2ia-letter of T. B.
JfaMihoa, 2afr~Eztracts from American Pu>ers, SSlr-Reply to

the Montreal Affidavits, 233-New York Certffieates and^AffldiMit^

SB)6— GhaUenge to the Roman prieiMs, 246.


CHAPTER I ..••••,..... 8B7

At liberty—DotibtiuI what to do— Found reA^ for the night—
IHsappointmen^^My first day eat ^ the Csnw i i to l itade— Re-
eoUeeoons, fears, and plans. ^

GHAPTBR n... aes

Start for Ctuebec^Recosnised— DIsappohited agahn-Not per*
mStted to land— Return to Montreal— Landed and passed thnAigh
the city before day— Lachine Canal— Intended eloped my Ufo.

OHAPTERin • .w............^ 98r

Awake among strangers— Dr. Robertson— Imprisoned asava-
gran^IntrDductSon to my mother— Stay in her hou8»— Removal
from it to Mrs. McDonald's— Retnni tomy moflier»»-Deslre to get
to New Tork— Arrangements for going.

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10 O^NtSNTt.

CHAFCBRXV^.^««,..., ,.., 2rS

(Kngular concurrence of cfrcumstanceai tvfaich enabled me to
get to the United 9taite&— Intentions in foiof there— Conunence
mjr jonriiey-'Fears of my oompanifm-^^op at Whitebafi— Injury
received in a Canal bo«^ Arrival aCMew York— ▲ aoUtary retreat

CBAPTEft V • 2e

Reflections and sorrows in solittide— Night—- Fears^Ezposaro
to rain— Discovered by strangers— llieir unwelcome kUnlness—
Taken to the Bellevue Almshouse.


Reception at the Ahnsfaouse— Message fh)m Bfr. Conroy, a Ro-
man prrest in New York— His invitations to a private interview—
His claims, propositions, and threats— Mr, Kelt's message— Ef>
fects of readSng the Bible.

CHAPTER Vn i ..«• 267

1 to go to Montreal and testify against the priests—
lent of my journey— Stop at Troy, Whitehall, Bur-
iban'a, Plattsburgn, and St. John's— Arrival at Men-

Proposition t
Commencement \ , _

lington, St. Alban'a, Plattsburgn, fcuu ou .fwuu v
troal— Reflections on passing the Nunnery, 4tc.


Received into a hospitable fiunily— Fluctuating feelings— Visits
from several persons-^Fbdier Phaun's deelarations against me in
his church— Interviews with a Journeyman Carpentex^Argu-
ments with him.

CHAPTER X '. 313

Milkman— An Ushwoman— Difficulty in hmtog my Affidaslt ta-
ken— Legal 4>l;(ia6tioB to it when taken.


Interview wi^ the Attorney eeneral'of the Province— Attempt
to abdoct me — ^More interviews — ^A mob excited against me — ^Pro-
tected by two soldiers^Gonvinced that an Investigation of my
chaiges could not be obtained— Departure from Montreal— Glosin|^

Tia Truth o? tbb " Awfdl DisoLOsimHS by Mabia Monk" db-

JfONSTRATBD ..,. 3^,

Different classes of Directors— Question of prol)abilify— Wit-
kiesBcs in ftvomr^Corrpborations— Cfrcumstantnl evidence— Pa*
|D8t books warrant these Crimea— Bztracta— list of pzjesta seen in


DssCbuvion op thb VxnnaacgiJSfc. m thb Fbohtispibob>* •••••••• 364

Errors corrected— Additional partioulara about the interior of
the Nunnery— The Nunnery Grounds.

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IRkkhY KBC01.LB07X01I8.

JEarlp I^fe—Htligioue EducaHon tugUcted—Mr^t ShhooU—
Entrance into the School of the Congregational Nunnery
Brief Accottni of the Nunneries in Montreal— 7%e Congre-
gational Nwnnay—7%e Biaek Nunnery^Tlu Grty Nun-

. nffrtf^Publia Respect for these InstitaUons^InstructUm R^
ceived—The Catechism — T%e Bible,

My pafents were both £rom Scotland, but had been
resident in Lower Canada som^ time before their
nutrriage, which 4ook place m Montreal ; and in that
city I have spent mo^ of my life. I was bom at St.
John's, where they lived for a short time. My £ither
VOLS an officer under the British goretnment, and my
mother has enjc^ed a pension on that account ever
since his death.*

According to my earliest recollections, he was
attentive to his &mily ; and a particular passage from
Ae Bible, which often occurred to my mind in after
life, I may very probably have been taught by him, as

♦ See the affidavit of William MiUer, in the Appewfa.

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after his death I do not recollect to have received any
religious instruction at home; and was not even
brought .up to read the scriptures: my mother, aU
ihough nominally a Protestant, not being accustom-
ed to pay atteix^n to her children in this respect.
She was rather inclined to think well of the Catho-
lics, and oil^i attended their churches. To my want
of religious instruction at home, and the ignorance
of my Creator, and my duty, which was its natural
effect, I think I can trace my introduction to Con-
vents, and the scenes whi«h I am to describe in this

When about six or seven years of age, I went to
school to a Mr. Workman, a Protesttmt, who taught
in Sacrament-stre^ and remained several months.
There I learned to read and write, and arithmetic as
fiir as division. All the progress I ever made in
•Chose brandies was gained in that school, as I have
never improved in any of them since.

A number of girls of my acquaintance went to
school to the nuns -of the Congregational Nunnery,
or Sifters of Charity, as they are sometimes called.
The schools taught by them are perhaps more nu-
merous than some of my readers may imagine.
Nuns are sent out from that Convent to many of the
towns and villages of Canada to teach small schools ;
and some of them are ei^tablishecl as instructresses
in differeiiLt parts of the United States. When I was
about ten years old, my mother asked me one day
if I should not like to learn to read and writo
French ; and I then began tq think seriously of at-

d by Google

, I kadalreadjF anae ae^uaaAtaj^ce wkbthai kogtia^,
i^fficket rio q;)ea]i it a little, fs I beard it eyery day,
ai|^ mf nK>th^ kaew aomc^tbiog of it

I kav6 a (K^roctreeellecti^i cfjfaj first entraiiee
i^ti}#j[!^u]ailery; i»^tbe4ay wasan impoita&tone
ip my life, as- on it jUimm^mceA ray acquaii^ance
w^ a^ C9Qv«[)ty I was coaduicled by some <^ my
ycmjBg friesda alon|f Ndt^e I)ama-8tre^t till we
reached the ^te. £]^^g J^al, we walked some
distance along tbj^^ side of a bmldiog towiards the
chapel, until we reacbied a door^ sta}^ed« and i^unga
b^l). This was, noon op^aed, and entering, we pro-
*eeeded throtigh a k»ig covered passage till we took
a short turn io the left, soon after which we reached
the door of the school-room. On my entrance, the
Sttfierior m€t me, tamd t^Hme first of all, that I inust
always (fip my fi»gers into the' holy Water at her
door, cross m^/velj^ and say a shtart prayer; and this
As told me waa always required of Protestant as
well as Catholic children. -

There were about fifty girls in the scho<4, and
the nuns professed to teach something of readings
writing, arithmetw, iand geography. The nwthods
however were very imperfect, and little attention W3S
devoted. to them, the time being in a great degree
engrossed with lessons in needle-work, which was
performed with much skill. The nuns had no very
regular parts assigned them in the management of
the schoolsv They were rather rough and unpol-
ished in their rnanners, often exclaiming, "c'cst ua

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f 4 ^WLt mnrt^tn^drWHU,

Bl6iiti,^ (xBiMhi ft He,) and ''inon Dieu,'' <my O^)
on the most trivial oecasioBs: Tfaeir writing w^
quite poor, and it was not unconimon for them to pM
a capital letter in tke middle of a word. Tke only
book on geograpiy which we studied, Was a cate-
chism of geography, from which tre leatilt fey imai
a few questions and answers.- W^ were som^mes
rderred to a map, %ut it ivas only to point out Mon-
treal or Quebec, or some other prominent name,
while "we had no instruction b^ond.

It may be necessary for the information of "some
<^my readers, to mention that there ^re three dis-
tinct Convents in Montiieal, all of different kinds;
that is, founded on difKsrent plttns; and: governed hy
dfflerent rules. Their names are as follows: —

1st. The Congregational Nunnery.

2d. The Black Nunnery, tJt Convent of Sl^er
'> 3d. The Grey Nunnery.

The first of these profei^fses id be devoted entirely
to the education of girls. It would require however ^
only a proper examination to prove that, with the ex-
ception of needle-work, hardly any thing is taught
excepting prayers and the catechism ; the instruction
in reading, writing, &c., in feet, amounting to very
little, and often to nothing. This Convent is adja-
cent to that next to be j9pok<Hi of, being separated
firom it only by a wall. The second professes to
be a charitable institution ^or the care of the sick,
and the supply of bread and medicines for the poor ;
and something is done in these departments of char-

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nifitk Ae size of the iNuldingfirr and Uie ni^b^r Qf
tlie mmates. . ,

T]^ ^x^t .^tii9i»a^, whk)i i» 3itttiU«d ja a 4iar
tdnl pari: of the cky« is alae a laift edifice, (HUitaiii-
in^depa^BieDtB fef the cafe of iaaaae perwrns and
foWHyipf^. Wkhr ttii^i however, I have las^ persons^
acquaualance thm with either of 4he c^ers. I ha?e
often seea two of the Qrey nuns, and know that
thm rules, as w^ as thdse pf the CongragaticMial
NunnerjTf ^0 not eonfioe them ahvays wiUiin their

Online LibraryMaria MonkAwful disclosures → online text (page 1 of 25)