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Rebecca Theresa Reed.

Six months in a convent, or, The narrative of Rebecca Theresa Reed, who was under the influence of the Roman Catholics about two years, and an inmate of the Ursuline Convent on Mount Benedict, Charles online

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Online LibraryRebecca Theresa ReedSix months in a convent, or, The narrative of Rebecca Theresa Reed, who was under the influence of the Roman Catholics about two years, and an inmate of the Ursuline Convent on Mount Benedict, Charles → online text (page 9 of 12)
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improved, and his new church finished,
he should write to the Pope, &c. He
went into a relation of some parts of
ecclesiastical history ; spoke of the Pope's
being the vicegerent of Christ on earth ;
and that although the wicked one pre-
vailed now, it was designed for good, and
the time would come, when all would
look to the Pope as their spiritual director



130 SIX MONTHS

on earth. He thought that America right-
fully belonged to the Pope, and that his
Holiness would take up his residence here
at some future day.

Not long after this, Mary Magdalene
was anointed for death, and tcok her
vows for life, but she continued to wear
the white veil. I thought it singular that
Mary Magdalene should at that time take
her black vows, (as they called them, ) be-
cause (as I learned in the Community)
she had not been there a year ; and her
wearing the white veil after taking them
appeared still more singular.

I will endeavor to give some idea of the
manner in which she took her vows, and
of the anointing. After she had retired
to her couch j* the Religieuse walked
to the room in procession. Sister St.
Clair held a wax taper blazing at her feet,
and the Superior knelt at her head with

• I learned that the usual custom was to place them In a black
coffin covered with a black pall when they were to take the black
voiet i but in this Instance it was omitted.



IN A CONTENT. 131

the vows, which were copied on a half-
sheet of paper. The Bishop then came
in with both sacraments, all of us pros-
trating as he passed. After putting the
tabernacle upon the little altar which had
been placed there for that purpose, he
read from a book a great many prayers,
all of us responding. He asked her a
number of questions about renouncing the
world, which she answered. The Supe-
rior gave her the vows, and after pro-
nouncing them, she was anointed ; Sister
Clair laying bare her neck and feet, which
the Bishop crossed with holy oil, at the
same time repeating Latin. He then
gave her the viaticum, and ended the
ceremony as he commenced, with saying
Mass, and passed out, we all prostrating.
She lived rather longer than was expect-
ed, but her penances were not remitted.
She would frequently kneel and prostrate
all night long in the cold infirmary, say-
ing her rosary and other penances, one or
two of which I will mention. She wore



132 SIX MONTHS

next her heart a metallic plate, in imita-
tation of a crown of thorns, from which I
was given to understand she suffered a
sort of martyrdom. This I often saw her
kiss and lay on the altar of the crucifix
as she retired. Another penance was,
the reclining upon a mattress more like a
table than a bed. A day or two after this,
the Superior, Mother Assistant, and Mary
Benedict, ridiculed the appearance of
Mary Magdalene, because of the dropsy,
which prevented her appearing graceful,
and because she was disappointed in not
going to heaven sooner. The Superior
gave her some linen capes to make, and
said, " Do you think you shall stay with
us long enough to do these, Sister?" She
took them, and said, " Yes, Mamere, i
thank you."* Notwithstanding the Su-
perior's severity, she sometimes appeared
affectionate. One day I failed in ringing
the observances at the usual time. I met



• She would often ask permission to take a little water, as she
was very thirsty ; the Superior always refused it ; but still ths
obedient Magdalene replied "Manure, I thank you,"



IN A CONVENT. 133

the Superior, and fearing she would pu-
nish me, I burst into tears. She embraced
me very affectionately, and wiped my
face with a handkerchief, and said I
should not be punished that time. She
once told me I might sit at meditation
hour, instead of kneeling, as it was very
tiresome. She frequently called me her
holy innocent, because she said I kept the
rules of the order, and was persevering in
my vocation as a Recluse. She said I
should see my friend Mrs. G. before long,
but I did not see her while I was there.

While in the Convent I asked once or
twice for a Bible, but never received any,
and never saw one while there. The
Bishop often said that the laity were not
qualified to expound the Scriptures, and
that the successors of the apostles alone
were authorized to interpret them, &c.

The Bishop, in one of his visits, spoke
particularly of the cholera. He told us
we must watch and pray more fervently,



134 SIX MONTHS

or ' ' the old Scratch would snatch us off
with the cholera." It was recreation
hour, but Mary Magdalene was at work
in the refectory. When she came to the
community, she appeared like a person in
spasms; she tried to say li Ave Maria, 7 '
and immediately fainted : we were all very
much alarmed. At that moment the bell
called us to the choir for visitation and
vespers. When I retired, I felt much
hurt to see Mary Magdalene in the cold
infirmary, but did not dare to express my
feelings. Next day, at recreation, the
Superior, Mother Assistant, and Mrs.
Mary Benedict, made a short visit to
Mary Magdalene, and on returning they
told us she was better, and in a spiritual
sense well ; for she had refused taking her
portion, or any thing eatable, as she did
not wish to nourish her body, because the
will of God had been made known Jo her
in a vision. We all had the promise of
conversing with her. but we were so con-






IN A CONVENT. 136

stantly employed in our various offices
that we had no leisure.
• The next day, it being my turn to see
that all the vessels which contained holy
water were filled, &c, I had an opportu-
nity of looking at Mary Magdalene. Her
eyes were partly open, and her face very
purple ; she lay pretty still. I did not
dare to speak to her, supposing she would
think it a duty to tell of it, as it would
be an infraction of the rules. The next
night I lay thinking of her, when I was
suddenly startled, hearing a rattling noise,
as I thought, in her throat. Very soon
Sister Martha (the sick Lay Nun) arose,
and coming to her, said, " Jesus ! Mary !
Joseph ! receive her soul ;" and rang the
bell three* times. The spirit of the gen-
tle Magdalene had departed. The Supe-
rior came, bringing a lighted wax-taper,
which she placed in the hand of the de-
ceased. She closed the eyes, and placed

* The bell was struck three times to call the Superior, twice to
call the Mother Assistant, and once to call Mrs. Mary Benedict,



136 SIX MONTHS

a crucifix on the breast. Sister Martha
had whispered us to rise, and the Supe-
rior, observing my agitation, said, " Be
calm, and join with us in prayer ; she is a
happy soul." I knelt accordingly, re-
peating the litany, until the clock struck
two, when we all assembled in the choir,
in which was a fire and wax- tapers
burning. After meditation, matins, lauds,
and prayers, and a No vena (a particular
supplication) that our requests might be
granted, we assembled for diet, and for the
first time we had some toasted bread. We
also had recreation granted in the time of
silence. The Superior sent for us, and
instructed us how to appear at the burial
of our Sister Mary Magdalene, and ac-
companied us to view her corpse. She
was laid out in the habit of a professed
Nun, in a black veil; her hands were tied
together, and her vows placed in them.
The Superior remarked, that this was
done by the Bishop's request. At the
evening recreation the Bishop appeared ixk



IN A CONVENT. 137

high spirits, and rejoiced that so happy a
soul had at last arrived in heaven ; and
commenced the " Dies illce" on the pi-
ano forte, accompanied by the voices of
the others. He told me I should have
Miss Mary Magdalene for my intercessor,
for she was to be canonized. The Mother
Superior permitted me to embrace the
Sisters, and gave me the Mother Assistant
for my Mother. She then presented us
with the relics of Saints, that by their
means we might gain indulgences. She
mentioned a "retreat" as being necessary
for our perseverance in a religious life.

The second day after this, the coffin was
placed in the choir, and the funeral servi-
ces were performed in the following man-
ner : Dr. O' Flaherty sang the office, while
the Bishop chanted it. Father Taylor
officiated at the altar. Four or five of
the altar boys were present, and dressed
in altar robes, &c. ; two of them held wax
tapers, a third holy water, a fourth a
crucifix. One swung incense in the cen-
6*



138 SIX MONTHS

ser over the corpse, and another, at the
same time, sprinkled holy water upon it.
We performed our part by saying the


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Online LibraryRebecca Theresa ReedSix months in a convent, or, The narrative of Rebecca Theresa Reed, who was under the influence of the Roman Catholics about two years, and an inmate of the Ursuline Convent on Mount Benedict, Charles → online text (page 9 of 12)