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JUN 2 1916 

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^^ As cheerful as a nun " is a phrase which certain 
Catholics (whom we chance to know intimately) 
always use, to express the acme of serenity, light- 
heartedness, and the sweetest good spirits. Indeed, 
there are no happier or cheerier persons on earth 
than the members of religious sisterhoods. 

Clear consciences, methodical lives, temperateness 
and self-denial, with the cultivation of a habit of 
contentment and gratitude and the marvelously re- 
fining, uplifting influence of constant prayer and 
devotion, all tend to this result. The pure heart is 
like a transparent lake that ripples or sparkles ex- 
quisitely, at the slightest touch of a healthful breeze 
or the gleam of a ray from heaven. And even un- 
der the shadow of agitation or tempest, its depths 
are calm, dear, fed from innumerable springs, not of 
the earth, but spiritual and eternal 

Often, however, we hear just the contrary idea ex- 
pressed, — namely, that religious communities are 
stagnant pools where life stops; into which people 
drop inertiy, from disappointment or because they 
are of no use anywhere else. It is our hope and 


oonviction that these records of the earliest Visha- 
tion Convent in the United States, which we are now 
privileged to lay before the public, will do much to 
disperse misty and mistaken notions of this sort, and 
to establish a firmer and clearer point of view for 
those who have hitherto lacked eyesight, or, possess- 
ing it, have refused to avail themselves of it when 
contemplating monastic institutions. 

The courage of the founders and maintainers of the 
Visitation in Greorgetown — which is the next to the 
oldest convent for nuns in the United States — is not 
only a tribute to Gh)d; it is likewise a shining in- 
stance of the int^rily of human nature when aided 
by grace. This foundation is a historic monument 
of great value, as marking the progress of our gen- 
eral civiliBition and as an early reaKzatbn of true 
spiritual advancement. Further, it appeals to us in 
our modem day as die work of women, who have 
demonstrated through it their power in practical, ex- 
ecutive management as well as in die ezerdse of 
holy influences. And these women have toiled with 
express devotion to the Blessed Virgin, inspired by 
that act of charity iiiiich prompted her to visit Saint 
Elizabeth before Jesus the Incarnate Gh)d was bom. 
Their achievement and the manner of it remind us 
that die whole modem movement for the ^advance- 
ment of women" took its impetus from die venera- 
tion and honor paid by Catholic Christianity to the 


'* Woman aboTe all womeii glorified, 
Oar tainted natnie'i solitary boast " — 

as the Protestant poet Wordsworth wrote of her. 

We hear so miiGh discussion as to possible new ad- 
justments of society, and so many experiments have 
been made in forming secular community associa- 
tions, that it seems proper to point out here the 
important bearing which religious communities have 
upon these problems, agitated more or less in nearly 
every century and conspicuous in ours. The re- 
ligious orders of C!hristianity are the only organiza- 
tions, it seems to us, which have solved the question 
of eommunity life on a great scale, and have made 
their solution good, year after year, century after 
century. They have succeeded in doing this because 
the basis on which they rest is one of reverence, of 
humility, and of absolute good-will thoroughly and 
practically set forth, made real in daily thought and 
conduct. Not all people are fitted to share in such 
a life, but onty a picked contingent of souls equipped 
for it by special qualities of nature, guided by Ood's 
grace. How, then, does the success of religious or- 
ders bear upon the struggle which the majority of 
civilized men and women are constantly brought to 
face, — the struggle of somehow bettering the condi- 
tion of the masses by a closer and more kindly asso- 
ciation among human beings than is now generally 

We think its bearing is simply this: that the 


great Caiholio C!liristian Oiden, formmg oommimi- 
ties of men or of women under roles of perfect obedi- 
ence and of absolute, unflinching folfillnient of ereiy 
pieoept of Christ, keep alive from age to age the 
ideal type of association, after which socieiy must 
pattern if it wishes to be tmly happy or to please 
God. By this we do not mean that all men and 
women are, or ever will be, called upon to become 
celibates and enter such communities ; or that those 
are the only organizations in which life can be led 
welL What we mean is that they supply the type, 
the model ; and that the spirit of religious communi- 
ties must be transferred to or infused into the &m- 
ity and all groups of &milies, before socieiy can allay 
the difficulty of mutual relations, over which it now 
wrangles so savagely. 

Another point requiring mention here is, that 
while religious ccmmiunities thus preserve the purest 
Christian types in humanity, and keep example alive 
for us, they are not — as is often erroneously as- 
serted — a burden upon the rest of society. On the 
contrary, they are a benefit and a gain to it, even 
according to the principles of political economy, and 
as a source of addition to the national wealth. Hip- 
polyto Adolphe Taine, who was by no means favor- 
ably disposed toward Catholicity, writing of the reli- 
gious orders in France, said of the monks and nuns 
that they ^^are benefactors by institution and volun- 
tary laborers, choosing to devote themselves to dan- 


gerons, revoUant, and at least ungrateful servioes, 
— countleBS charitable and educational works, pri- 
mary schools, oiphan asyfauns, houses of refuge and 
prisons, and aU gratuitous^ or at the lowest wages, 
through a reduction of bodily necessities to the low- 
est point, and of the personal expenditure of each 
brother and siBter." ^ He quoted at the same time, 
in support, the calculation of Emile Keller that the 
Talue of the useful labor performed by the monks 
and nuns of Erance (1880), over and above their 
expenses, gave a net gain to the public of 80,000,000 
francs, or 916,000,000 per annum. 

From this, and various other testimony, it would 
appear that religious communities not only set the 
best kind of spiritual example, but also show forth 
the true principles of industry and thrift. 

Begarding one point, touched upon in certain chap- 
ters, it may be well to offer a word of general expla- 
nation, in order to forestall possible misunderstanding 
as to those visions which are said to have been experi- 
enced by some of the persons in this history. Even 
among people who hold identically the same view re- 
specting the supernatural and its capability or power 
of visible and material manifestation, there is a diver- 
sity concerning the exact force of meaning which 
ought to attach to the term ^^ vision." By some, 

^ The OriginM of Contemporary France. The Modem Bigime. By 
ffippolyte Adolphe Taine, D. G. L., Ozcm. Traoalated by Jolin 
DimiML Vol. iL, Book t., p. 100. 

• •• 


also, Ticdans, taken as things external to one's self, 
are thought to be of common ocoonenoe, while, in the 
opinion of others, they are extremely rare, all but 
impossible, and should always be doubted in the first 
instance and subjected to the most rigid test of evi- 
dence, or, since evidence is hardly obtainable, should 
be thrown aside entirely. We prefer, therefore, to 
let each reader consider in his own way the dreams or 
visions mentioned in the narrative. We have aimed 
to avoid leaning towards either side of any discussion 
to which they might give rise, while setting down the 
&cts or appearances as they presented themselves to 
the persons concerned. For this much, at least, is 
certain, that the thought or action of persons of holy 
or ascetic life, who believe themselves to have beheld 
visions or received counsel in dreams, is often dis- 
tinctly influenced by these. 

It remains for us to say, here, that the courtesy 
of the Georgetown Sisters of the Visitation gave us 
access to their manuscript Annals, and that we have 
consulted the Sisters at every point in our work. 
This book is based on the manuscripts, from which 
we have quoted occasionally. But the arrangement 
of the material is ours ; the account of the origin of 
the Order, and the biographies of Saint Erancis de 
Sales and Saint Jane de Chantal are our own work ; 
as the whole form and expression of the narrative 
also are. In brief, this volume is not a mere piece 


of editing, or a compilation, but is an original work, 
though following dosely and accurately the authentic 
records from which it is derived. 

Geobge Pabsons Lathbop, 
BosE Hawthorne Lathbop. 






L The House, The Gaiden, The Gnniiids 

n. TheAeademy 42 


Tbe VniTATioH Established in the United States. 

I. A Prediction by St Fnnois de Sales 66 

n. Arohbiahop Neale 61 

m. Father Heale's Yisioii 60 

The Foundationb in Sayot and Fbangb 76 

Life Sketch of St. Fbanois ds Sales 08 

Life Sketch of St. Jane de Chantal 127 



AnnxAis OF THB Gbobobtowk Gonybkt. 

L Mother Teresa Lalor : '' The Pious Ladies " .... 146 

n. Early Members : Sister Margaret Biarshall 161 

UL Discovery of the Rules and Costame : War of 1812 . . 167 
ly. The Pope's Indult : Admission to Solemn Vows . . . 1T7 

V. Death of Archbishop Neale : 1817 185 

VL Father QoriviAre 193 

VIL Mother Catharine Rigden : The Building of the Chapel 200 

VllL Mother Agnes Brent : Danger of Dispersion . . . .213 

IX. The Lasallfts : Miraculous Cure of Sister Beatrice . . 225 

X. Sisters ApoUonia Diggs and Genevieye King .... 236 

XL Commodore Jones : Sister Stanislaus Jones 247 

Xn. " Sister Stanny " 263 

XHL An Outsider's View : Mother Juliana : Father Clorivi^ 

dies 273 

XIV. Father Wheeler : Sisters from Europe : The Tturbides 280 

XV. The Story of Mrs. Mattingly 289 

XVL Attempt to change the Order: Secesaioii of Sister 

Gertrude 309 

XVn. Liyes of Sisters 322 

XVm. Liyes of Sisters (concluded) 339 

XIX. Past and Present 360 

XX. A Word at Parting 370 


L A Ftetial Chronology of Eyents in the History of Geage- 

town Conyent 375 

IL List of Mother Superiors 377 

UL Important Eyents in American History, on the Dates of 

the Feast of the Visitation, etc 378 

rV. Bey. James Cuzley, & J 380 




^Abcbbibbo^ Nkalb 80 

•'St. FaAirciB db Sales 72 

^ St. jAm DK Chantal 100 

Facbdolx of ths Oriqihaii GmociiAB . • • • 140 

^Thb Chapel 174 

-Sr. Joseph's Walk 210 

'Rby. J. GuBLET, a J 246 

^Thb Vault ukdeb the Chapel 280 

'The Cohybkt Refbctobt S22 

• The Aoai>bmt "PhAYoaouiKD 848 



Tedb time of year at which we first saw the convent 
was perhaps not unfitting for onr first impressions; 
since the December leaflessness, the nnomamented 
aspect of the ground and the stone walls, whose vines 
were mere shadows, typified the stem simplicity of 
the life which the sbters have adopted; while the 
bursts of delicate but cheery sunshine resembled their 
good spirits, which are so entirely spirituaL 

The open landscape, disburdened of veiling foliage, 
and thus disclosing the opalescent colors of the dis- 
tances and of the sly, and revealing the draughtsman, 
ship of nature in the arrangement of trees and hills, 
seemed to mirror the dear outlooks of a life of unself- 
ishness and unworldly schemes, where the larger and 
more beautifully tinted composition of Gh>d*s inten- 
tions is seen, as in no other season of the mind and 
soul. Baphael gave backgrounds of such airy land- 
scape to his holy pictures, and in so doing followed 
an accepted fashion in religious art, with surpassing 

To those who are keen for color, the most delicate 


effects become the most powerful ; and, to the holy 
mind, that beauty which is the least garish, self-evi- 
dent, and crude, and therefore the most refreshing, is 
spiritual beauty. It calls into action the most sen- 
sitive land of perception. 

To eyes which know how to find it, there is in the 
least luxuriant season of the year a beauty which is en- 
tirely sufficient ; and, to the perception of a nun, the 
quiet and solemnity of a convent contain all the love- 
liness she needs ; because, just as there is no season 
without its peculiar beauty, so there is no health of 
soul without beauty; and the beauty of holiness is 
the truest and loveliest of alL It is very necessary to 
acknowledge that this delicacy of \diich we are speak- 
ing is satisfactory, with a far higher satis&ction than 
a redundant beauty can give, if we are to put our- 
selves into a proper relation with conventual life, 
while trying to understand its virtue and attractive- 

It is as necessary to do this, for instance, as for a 
man who looks at a supremely fine painting to know 
what supremely fine painting is. Why should an amar 
teur in the study of convents expect at once to com- 
prehend their value, any more than a tyro in art the 
virtue of a Millet or aMichael Angelo? Many people 
see no beauty in the highest art, who never confess 
their blindness. Is it not almost as mortifying to 
confess that we dislike holiness of life? Yet it is 
a fact that many people consider a convent dedicated 
to the Blessed Virgin of less consequence than an old 
master's portrayal of the Blessed Virgin. The con- 
vent has the unassuming virtue of expending its eneI^. 


gieB for otlien ; while the piotaie has the chann of 
costing a fortune. Hence, half the world knows but 
little of oonTentnal life. 

There is a seriousness at hand, all the time, rxpofa 
setting foot within the monastic door, which means that 
the silent endurance of Christ, and the tmsimZin^ cour- 
age of his life, are never forgotten by the religious 
of either sex. It is easy to see that the religious are, 
as a dass, never, for a single moment, intoxicated by 
any sense or perception. The rare exceptions which 
we have seen to perfect self-control in the doister 
have all been on the lofty plane of loving enthusiasm 
or genial interest, whidi ^^ in the world " would be 
called beautiful exhibitions of feeling. It is with an 
effort that one measures the higher principles of ^^ feel- 
ing " in a convent. 

Human waywardness, doubtless, is sometimes there, 
but so well barred with law and observance that it no 
longer tears the heart This principle of recognizing 
the undying force of nature, and counteracting it by 
rigorous remembrance, is indorsed by every scheme 
of wisdom ever made, and is figured by the knotted 
cord of the saints. Those w1m> complain that, on 
this account, the religious life must be a morbid life, 
might find illumination in the question, — Was the 
Christdiild morbid? 

The religions celibate cheers other human creatures, 
but never relies upon being cheered by them; she 
brightens the lives of others, but she never throws 
aside her solemn adoration of Christ. She smiles, it 
is true, and even turns a happy phrase, or jokes dain- 
tily, with a laugh of genuine mirth ; but her eyes are 


calm, die while. Always there is something that 
tells of the heart once and forever pierced with the 
sword ; the peaceful dwelling of a natoie which has 
been touched and tamed by God. This seriousness 
strikes cold through one's less pure and generous 
nature ; the whole aspect of the convent is too sudden 
a contrast from luxury and confusion to spare one 
a gasp of dread. The poorly equipped rooms, the 
meagre ceUs, the intense clearness of the skin of these 
still human sisters who have clasped hands with the 
superhuman ; the firm lines of their mouths, which 
tell so much in their silent way of batdes won ; in 
shorty the evidence of law as stem as that which takes 
away a man's life, — but in this case, giving life in- 
stead of taking it, — all this is like new wine to the 
intelligenoe which has hitherto been occupied with 
caressing its own desires, upon the level of food, drink, 
snd gayety, with death to-morrow. Ourmaster, ^^the 
world," has trained us to beds of roses, — if we can 
afford them, or get credit for them. He has taught 
us to follow luscious waltz tunes and broken rules ; he 
has loaded us with wasted hours, with muscles relaxed 
and flesh tender with indulgence. Gh)d trains the 
sisters to laws that cannot be broken ; to a system 
that holds back from sin and all intemperance of feel- 
ing ; to hours devoted to the good of the many and 
never to the gratification of self; to muscles tense 
with constant self-denial; and to a sight which can 
see, whenever the spirit thirsts and hungers for it, 
Christ upon the cross, dying to save mankind. 

This image, far from being a spectacle of horror, 
comprises all that went before in his divine existence 


upon eartibu It oomprises, to a refined peroeption, 
Mb loYing sennons, liis tender glance and touch, liis 
radiant thongh never smiling face, and the voice 
which blessed the child and the leper with impar- 
tial holiness. Who will say that this vision of the 
devoted man or woman of the monastic life does 
not console them for their own energy and suffering 
and effort? The truth is, we who are incapable of 
understanding the reward which a keener knowledge of 
Christ brings are in a lower order of development; 
are weeds, not flowers; are sinners, not children of 
God ; are mastodons, great in our own conceit, and 
monstrous as lords of creation ; are devoid of many 
pcnnts of perfection reached by our more f ortcmate 
because more sanctified brothers and sisters, who have 
been actually taught by Christ ; while we have heard 
Him, and yet perhaps have not always literally ac- 
cepted what we have heard. 




The CcmTBnt of the yisitati0n in Georgetown, at 
it eodsts to-day, is (with its academy) a large thiee- 
gided stmoture of brick, enclomng a great garden. 
The front fiices on Eayette Street, a cheerfol thofi- 
ough&re which runs straight northward np the hill, 
in this TBnerable suborb of tiie capital city of the 

Across the street is a row of cosy little dwellingB, 
standing somewhat back from the sidewalk. George- 
town College, conducted by the Jesuits, is dose by, 
graceful^ overlooking the Potomac and the \irginian 
heights ai Arlington just beyond that historic river^s 
current. The city and the suburb have been gradu- 
ally welded into one, by a continuous and expimding 
web of streets and houses, so that now they stretch 
up to the very border of the consent demesne, which 
was of old a quiet and almost remote rural solitude. 
The refreshing wildness of a somewhat open wood- 
land is still preserved, in the tract just behind the 
convent and its academy. But on its front, to the 
east, runs the rectangular street; and up to this 
street, at the southern comer of the convent, the 
patient horse-car from the heart of Washington plods 
its equine way. 


A large edifice is the ocmTeiity as we liave said; 
and added to it at the north is the still more impos- 
ing building of the academy, under charge of the 
good sisters. The convent proper — or, as it is 
often called^ the ** monastery" — is a long, plain 
f oor^itory brick house, the windows of which are 
firmly shuttered with green blinds up to half their 
height, with another blind that may be pushed up- 
ward to cover the rest of the glass ; so that no one 
may gaie in from idle curiosity. The inmatefl have 
no desire to gase out ; for their time is fully occupied 
with duties of teaching, of religious observance, and 
of their household tasks. Their thoughts are fixed 
on Grod, not on the world ; still less on the casual 
street that runs by their door. A narrow strip of 
grass, railed in by a light iron fence, separates their 
dwelling from the sidewalk, and gives them an added 
safeguard in their retirement. All this is in accord 
with the aims of a community like that of the Visita- 
tion. Their object is not so much to prevent the 
inmatflfl from passing out, — because no one ever be- 
comes a member diere without long preparation and 
decision, and a firm resolve to remain in the ideal 
service of religious devotion, — but rather to prevent 
the intrusion of careless, worldly, noisy people, who 
may be inclined to invade the seclusion and sanctity 
of a life who% ordered and consecrated to spiritual 

The countenance, then, — if one may so describe 
it, — of this religious building is calm, neutral, 
neither repelling nor inviting. Although it stands 
on the hill of Georgetown, it is in no way de- 


monstratiYe. Erom a distance yon cannot even dis- 
ting^iiiah it among the otber buildings. It does not 
dominate them. It does not tower up, or threaten, 
or warn you away. Neither does it, by its promi- 
nence, invite you to eome towards it ; although it is 
established on a lofty plane. 

It simply stands there, and waits. When you 
have reached it, — whether by horse-car, or by tlie 
electric road, and part way on foot, — you recognise 
that yon have arrived at a limit, a barrier-line. 
Turn, then, and direct your steps, if you choose, to 
some other quarter. You cannot penetrate the sacred 
enclosure of the convent. It is a line drawn, a bar- 
rier set up, between tiie loose, miscellaneous world 
and Uie things of God. 

If you wish to approach it, and to see and know 
something of those who inhalnt this enclosure, you 
can do so only through reverence and sympathy. 

The convent and the academy make practically one 
front along the street; being connected interiorly, 
and united midway by the chiqpel, except for a narrow 
recess between the latter and tlie school building 
proper; and the three structures, though distinctly 
differing in style, — each one characteristic and sug- 
gestive — form together a massive and interesting 
total effect. The convent part, in the lines of its con- 
struction as well as in its whole appearance, is modest 
and self-effacing. The chapel (to which low steps and 
a pointed door give ingress from the street) bas 
arched and mullioned diamond-leaded windows ; the 
lower ones being iion-grated, part way up ; and its 
four tall clasfflc pilasters <m the front, with Doric 


eajntak, aid in giving it a look of repose, of peaoe- 
fal meditation. Above, rise a Grreek pediment and 
gable, surmounted by an unobtrnsiye gilded cross; 
while fiurther back, about at tiie middle of the roof 
and over the nave, there is a square tower, shuttered 
and loopholed, ending in a quaint balustraded belfry 
spire, on the tip of which, again, is poised a still 
more slender cross. Upon a tablet on the street wall, 
just over the entrance door, is inscribed a text from 
the Sevenly-fifth Psalm : Vaoete et reddite DominOj 
^ Vow ye, and pay unto the Lord your God." 

Set in such a place, this admonition may suitably 
be construed to mean that we must not only make 
vows to Gh)d, but must pay them as well, by constant 
service and self-sacrifice. It is eaey enough to say 
that we vow so and so ; but it is only by life-long de- 
votion and self-denial that we can pay what we have 
promised. In tiiese words of Scripture, then, the 
convent sums up and declares to the whole world, 
quietty, its principle and its practice. Close by, on 
the left or northern side of the chapel, — which, it 
may be said here, covers and includes the spot on 
which was reared the first Catholic Christian sanctu- 
ary ever set upon this ground, — stands the ample, 
prosperous new building of the academy, of brick 
trimmed with brownstone; a stately edifice, with 
tall embrasured windows crowned by heavy ornamen- 
tal mouldings, a canopied porch, high dormers and 
pavilions in the mansard roof; with, in fact, quite 
an air of mundane comfort and even of display, as 
contrasted with the meek home of the nuns and the 
quiet, serious home of worship that adjoin. Is it not 


eminently fitting tliat this hoiue of wonhip, flie 
oliipel, with snbh memorable tbongbt and connsel 
imprinted on its open brow, ahoald stand between 
flie cloistered consent and the hosfataUe sohool, unit- 
ing religion and education ? 

As the academy has its door, independently of tiie 
rest, and the chapel its little portal (never opened 
now to the pnUic), so the convent has its own en- 
trance from the street, an entrance thoroughly in 
keeping, and used bat rarely. For the nnns never 
emerge from their dwelling and their groonds; that 
is, none of them but the ** out sisters," who are de- 
tailed to carry on snch communication witli the exter- 
nal life as may be necessary, or to escort their young 
charges, the academy pupils, when Aey have to go 
into the city. It is very seldom indeed that any 
visitor is admitted by this approach ; nor is any one 
ever allowed to go into the actual convent interior 
without a special permission frmn the ecclesiastical 
head of the archdiocese of Baltimore. This permis- 
sion is never granted for other than exceptional and 
momentous reasons. People are constantly applying 
for this privilege, at the convent door, impelled by 
curiosity or respectful interest. But it is quite use- 
less for them to do so. This calm abode is never, 
under any circumstances, penetrated by even a sin^ 
si^t-seer. In the academy parlor, furnished as is the 
little convent parlor witli a heavy grating, so that the 
sisters who are at times called diere may observe 
their fundamental rule, — that of enclosure, — the 
pupils are allowed to see their relatives or friends 
sent by their parents, on Wednesday and Saturday 


aftomoons. The oonTent has a leoeption-room be- 
hind its well guarded door ; bnt into this no one majr 
pass who does not come with suitable credentials. 

The door, solid and painted a dark ivy-green, is set 
back in a deep embrasure, within which one may 
stand sheltered. So standing, we rang the bell and 
waited, with a cnrions mixture of feeling in our 
minds, and not a little agitation at tlie thought of 
tlie unusual priyil^e and experience which was about 
to be ours. For we were expected, and it had been 
duly arranged that we were to go through the house. 
Presently a panel in the shadowed door was drawn 
aside, showing a heavy gratmg, witli the face of a 
serious woman, the portress, behind it. She dis- 
oovered who we were, and, according to previous 
orders, asked us to enter tlie parlor to our right, 
which was really outside the boundaries of the con- 
vent, being provided witli a separate threshold. The 
parlor was very small, and seemed to express, at once, 
tiie modicum of oonmiunication with social afihirs, at 
they are usually carried on, which the sisters are 
called upon to undergo. However, the little room 
immediately asserted that gentle fascination of quaint 
age that some of us find so sweet. In the next 
moment we were impressed by tlie large and sturdy 
wooden gratmg across one side of the parlor ; behind 
which was another little room, hung with a few tiny 
pictures, and ornamented by one of the most ethereal 
and diminutive air-tight stoves it had ever been our 
fortune to see. Probably its last warmth emerged 
froms savmy biich stick, flickering in its deUcate 
grasp, fifty years ago. We waited for the Mother 


Superior long enough to obflerve tiie sundry small 
portraits and religious pictures here and there upon 
the walls, — a likeness of St. Francis de Sales, an^ 
other of St. Jane de Chantal, and one of St. Francis 
of AssisL The sjnrit of the oonyent bade us pause. 
Then the Mother entered (behind the grate), accom- 
panied by her assistant. The two sisters were some- 
what constrained^ as we ourselyes certainly were to a 
great degree. Probably they instinctively drew back 
from the moment when we were to penetrate the 
sacred precincts of the endosore, where the tormoil 
and distresses of uninspired life were utter strangers ; 
while we two visitors were weighed down by a definite 
sense of the absurdity of that spiritual ignorance 
and cowardice, by which those who dwell in the outer 
world are always more or less influenced and infected* 
All our worldly wisdom and ordinary knowledge 
seemed to take flight, and to be of no account what- 
ever. We felt like children who have strayed into 
some privacy which does not belong to them, which 
they are hardly qualified to share. Nevertheless, the 
Mother met the situation graciously, and by her 
pleasant words and manner soon put us at our ease. 
Among other things, she said that our friend (a 
friend through interchange of letters), the Sister Pro- 
euratrix, whom we had never seen, would soon come 
to speak with us. She also said that we were about 
to do what had not been done by mere visitors since 
her residence in the convent of more than twenty 
years; and that was, to cross the threshold of the 
large entrance door, usually inaccessible to the world, 
unless physicians or workmen were imperatively 


needed. Ab we were finally admitted (and those 
twenty years seemed very long), the Mother stood 
at the door, and took ns kindly by Uie hands. She 
exclaimed most gently : ^^ Yon would be exoommnni* 
cated for this, if yon had not reoeived a special dis- 

We were ushered into the Treasurer's, or Proonra- 
trix's office, where everything was comfortably busi- 
ness-like. Then we chatted for a while, and the 
sister into whose domain we had penetrated ex- 
pressed amusement at our having so much mail 
matter, piled up on her table, which had been await- 
ing us for several days before our arrivaL The col- 
lection included great rolls of newspapers. ** I told 
them,'' she cried, *'*' that I was glad I was not literary 
by profession, if it would entail my reading all that I " 
Various convent matters were discussed, both as to 
historical records and observances, and nuns of re- 
markable, saintly character, who had lived and died 
within this enclosure. It was not long before we 
proceeded to examine all the apartments, the garden, 
and the extensive grounds. 

One of the first places we visited was tiie refec- 
tory. The board-like tables upon which the few 
dishes of the nims are placed are the same that were 
set up for the nuns who were here nearly a hundred 
years ago. A raised desk called a pulpit, in the 
middle of one side of the room, is where the sister 
sits who reads aloud, during the meals ; at which, by 
the way, no conversation is allowed. The spiritual 
food she dispenses is usually the Life of a Saint, or 
passages from saintly writings. At one end of the 


kmg reCeekny, somewliat iBolstod, is the table for 
the Superioress. The sisters showed us Uie ooane 
towel which envelopB the knife, fork, and spoon of 
each ntin ; which towel, at the signal ** In the name 
of Qod " fnmi the Superioress, they open, laying the 
comers down on the table, so that the utensils are 
rcTcaled spread upon the doth. After the meal is 
over, Aey wash their kniyes and forks in a large 
bowl, of which there are a number at intervals along 
tiie narrow tables, holding pitchers of water. The 
dishes are washed outside of the refectory by those 
appointed. The vow of poverty is indeed never lost 
si^t oL The sisters were full of a merry recogni- 
tion of the poverty here enforced. A gourmand or 
an epicure — or a French cook — would have with- 
ered away in the healthy, noonday intelligenoe of the 
convent, which refused to subscribe to the monar- 
chical reign of the stcmiach (that unkind tyrant of 
long dynasty) and had dedaied for the republic of 

Bread, coffee, and meat, at half past seven, usually 
eonstitnte breakfast. Dinner at twelve consists of 
meat and bread and two or tiiree vegetables ; and, for 
occasions, a little molasses with the bread. On feast 
days, there is dessert The bright, hi^ypy young 
sister — a talented musician — who gave us these 
items, was surprised, we could see, at our having a 
special interest in food statistics. The gait is great 
between the refectory and a ^* pink lunch," that very 
shoppy freak of too often shoppy fashion. The 
many windows are all on one side of the hall-like 
i^Myrtment, and look out on a garden, which is attrao^ 


tiye eyen in winter beoanse of pretty trees and box 
borders, where, central amid the pathways and the 
Terdore, stands a statae of St. Joseph, white and 
beneficent. The whole outlook is made more im- 
pressive by pillars of whitewashed brick, forming a 
cloistral arcade outside the windows, and framing the 

In tlie refectory, as all through the convent, every- 
thing is beaatifnlly dean and neat. The long corri- 
dors, the large rooms, the little *^ cells " or bed-cham> 
bers of Uie sisters, are innocent of dust and nearly 
as pure as a spotless conscience. The floors are 
scrubbed almost to whiteness. What peace and pleas- 
antness reign in this interior I Here in the refectory, 
the only seats are benches ranged along the walls. 
There are no chairs. The nuns do not gather ceround 
a table, in the ordinary social way, but sit in order on 
the long, hard benches, at one side of the continuous 
tables, against the wall, and face the middle of the 
room. None of them sit on the opposite side of the 
table, which is left empty and dear, so that the serv- 
ers, who constitute in turn all the sisters, from the 
Superioress to the novices, can convenientiy place the 
dishes for them, from that side. Thus the arrange- 
ment and Uie position of the nuns is like that of the 
apoedes, in the traditional pictures of the Last Sup- 
per, with which the world is familiar. The rule of 
silence which governs them, at their meals, may wdl 
remind tiie rest of us, taking our daily bread amid a 
pleasant babble of the fomily, around a social table, 
that there are thousands of pure and noble women in 
oonvents all over the world who, when tiiey submit 


to the neoessiiy of eating, do not think of thrar ma- 
terial sustenance, or of chat and gossip, but are 
absorbed in thoughts of holiness. The Mother Supe- 
rior was even moTcd to apologize for the &ct that 
they fared well at table. ^^ Oh, we haye very good 
meals," she said, — ^^ often much better than tibose 
of other poor people who have not taken any yow of 

Once a year only is there any social diversion among 
th^n at meal-hours ; any break in the silent routine. 
This little relaxation comes on the eve of Epiphany, 
in January, — the festival which commemorates the 
spreading of the Grospel to the Grentiles ; that is, to 
all hmnan creatures. On the evening before that fes- 
tival, the sisters, at supper, have a bag full of black 
beans, among which there is one white one. Every 
sister has the right to draw a bean ; and she to whose 
hand the white one comes is crowned as Epiphany 
Queen. General conversation is also allowed at sup- 
per, on that occasion. The Epiphany Queen is en- 
titled to receive gifts from the whole conmiunity. 
But what is the chief gift ? Not one of the conmion 
worldly kind, yon may be sure. It is a holy com- 
munion, witii many prayers, partaken of by all the 
sisters. The queen may request them to offer this com- 
munion for some special object that she has at heart ; 
or she may, at her pleasure, transfer it to any other 
member of the sisterhood. From this, the sole annual 
amusement allowed th^n at their table, we may judge 
how rigorous and self-denying is the rest of their ex- 

It was a quick and striking change from the sober 


yet cheerful refectory to ihe bnrial-Yault beneadi the 
chapel, which we viaitod next Here is the tomb of 
the Most Beverend Leonard Neale, second Archbishop 
of Baltimore, the f omider of the monastery ; and here, 
too, lies the body of Father Glorivi^re, who after 
Archbishop Neale's death became the spiritual direc- 
tor of the monastery ; and, by his substantial generos- 
ity as well as by his devoted service, placed it ona firm 
footing and established its success as an institution. 
The mortal frame of Archbishop Neale was buried 
here in the stone-work sustaLning the chapel ; and be- 
low his memorial tablet there is a Boman-arched recess 
containing a plain marble cross, a crucifix, and a 
shelf hol^g vases for flowers. In front of this, just 
at the centre of the vault, stands the severely un- 
adorned marble sarcophagus in which Father CSlori- 
vi^re was laid to rest Around the walls, too, are 
marked on littie boards the names of the nuns who 
have been buried in the niches under or behind 
theuL Five of the former sisters sleep in the earth, 
in the deep alcoves on eitlier side of Archbishop 
Neale's resting-place. These are Sister Teresa Lalor, 
the first Mother of the house ; three members of the 
Neale family; and Miss Yturbide, daughter of the 
former Mexican emperor ; and to each of them there 
has been accorded a small plain tombstone. Black 
crosses fastened into the earth underfoot indicate the 
lowly place of repose of other nuns. On a wall at one 
side hangs a picture gentiy and pensively reminding us 
of ^' the hour of our death," — a picture of a Visita- 
tion nun lying in her coffin ready for burial, with white 
flowers on her sombre habit and dark veiL There is 


sometfaing so calm, so sweet, so mmtterabfy resigned, 
about this quiet figure — crude and periiaps inade- 
quate though the painting be, technically — that the 
sight of it at once relieyes, wonderfully, the melan- 
choly which at first gathers around us on stepping 
into this mortuary place and seeing the memorials of 
those who have passed away. The life of the good 
and the sincere, on earth, is something that we 
are always loath to lose; and we cannot help re- 
gretting the noble dead of the past, even though we 
know that it was a happiness for them to journey 
to another region of Grod's imiyerse, where they still 
live. This burial yanlt, though lighted cheerfully 
by windows on the garden, certainly leads one with- 
out preamble into the valley of the shadow; but it 
seems at the same time to demonstrate how the ter- 
rors of death, burial, and corruption are not the stu- 
pendous finale we are accustomed to consider them. 
By meeting the bugbear. Death, face to face so 
abruptly, we see his gruesomeness more clearly ; but 
also comprehend his pettiness and grotesqueness in 
the scheme of the spheres, and of salvation. As 
well might the butterfly turn to worship the coil he 
has shuffled ofE, as the soul stoop in submission to its 
dead frame and to its coffin or its walled-up tomb. 
While every change in physical life is important, the 
process itself is often decidedly humiliating and tran- 
sient. The apotheosis of death seems a distorted re- 
spect ; and we were glad to have that necessary tran- 
sition rel^ated, by the convent's attitude, to the 
unadorned and useful but somewhat mortifying level 
where it belongs. But tiie Mack crosses in the earthy 


ground were painfnlly pathetic enough to torn away 
from and forget; except that one might naturally 
hasten back again and again to repeat a Hail Mary 
for the risen Bonl, once buried in hmnan life, at tiie 
Tery spot where sympathy becomes the most generous, 
and perhaps most eff ectuaL One of the sisters told 
us that she thought Walter Scott's tales of nuns 
buried alive might have been caused by the finding of 
their bones in the walls of ruined convents, where 
apertures only large enough to receive tlieir bodies 
may have been made, and then evenly bricked up, as 
is the arrangement in the mortuary wall here. This 
allusion to Scott's genius, even though it referred 
only to one of his picturesque mistakes, gave a brighter 
coloring to our mood, as we moved away. 

There was anotlier graveyard at one side of the 
garden, which is embraced by the large quadrangle of 
the convent. The same kind of plain black crosses 
as those in the mortuary chapel vault were stationed 
over these graves; but they were larger. Some of 
the names inscribed on tliem were nearly obliterated ; 
yet the loving sisters knew every mound. Here Sister 
^ Stannic " (Sister M. Stanislaus Jones) was buried. 
She was one of tlie most piquant as well as most de- 
vout and remarkable of all their religious. She was 
small but very handsome, her biographical sketch 
says, and full of talent. However, she none the less 
made a most spiritual and self-sacrificing nun; and 
she understood sileryoe. She was cured once of dis- 
ease by a mirade. ^^ But," said another sister, ^* she 
would not tell us anything about the particulars of it, 
until we drove her to I Oh, what a little rogue she 


was I '' Think of it I she had nearly robbed the sis- 
ters of any knowledge that this convent contained yet 
another miracle, of which there had already been sev- 
eral, and all for the sake of that violet-like humility 
and reticence which the role enjoins. How virtuous 
the roguishness of a nun can be I That the sisters do 
not lose their interest in the bones of their dear ones, 
hidden away in dusty death, is made manifest by the 
following unpretentious verses, which were written by 
a young nun, as one of the sisters says, ^^ for an old 
one, who felt that we should not leave our ancient 
dead, when laying out the new graveyard, without a 
foreweU sigh of regret.'' 

One Bummer eve, "wlieii weary day 

Had olosed its amber wings to rest, 
And sephyxs wafted o'er the brake 

The fragrant wild flowers' rich beqneet, 
In thoughtful mood I strayed alone 

Unto a qniet, shady dell. 
Where trembling lights and changing hnea 

All Nature wrapped in mystio spelL 

The woodland songsters sweet and low 

Their yespers chanted in the tr ees , 
Whose sombre boughs but faintly stirred 

'Neath eyening's soft caressing breese ; 
And twilight shadows creeping fast 

O'er distant hill and winding Tale, 
Seemed resting with a sadder touch 

Around this calm, sequestered dale. 

No sounds of harsh discordance came 

To mar the landscape's blessSd peace ; 
The solemn hush of eyentide 

Bade aU unquiet longings cease. 
Amid this sylyan solitude. 

Within the wildwood's tangled bound, 
Afar from din of worldly strife, 

Our oonyent resting-place is found. 


A lamely spot, whote vexdant iwaxd 

Unbroken yet by lowly grave, 
Awakee the thought — which iiigm soul 

ym Bxtt its quiet shelter orave ? 
YW soma young member of our band 

Whose pathway bright seems just begun, 
With joyful heart aU here resign 

For heayenly erown so quioUy won ? 

Or will death's summons oome to her 

Who bears the burden of the day, 
Whose ceaseless round of arduous toil 

Is stamped with yirtue's ■hiwing ray ? 
Perhaps 't will come to one who yearns 

For that safe port and silent shore, 
Where she may rest with folded hands, 

Life's troubled, amdous Toyage o'er. 

For old and young alike will find 

A home within this quiet glen. 
Whose peaceful beauty brings repose 

From all that pains in haunts of men. 
The coDYent bell tolled twilight's hour. 

As wandering homeward lost in thought, 
I paused before another spot, 

"^l^^th deepest, holiest memories frao^^ 

Dear honored dead I who sweetly rest 

Within the cloister's hallowed shade. 
Will ye forgive the stem demands 

That bid us seek yon burial glade ? 
Oh I would that coming years might see 

A band as noUe, pure and braye. 
As those whose lives f ore'er are hid 

Within each lonely moaiy grave I 

With high courageous love they toiled, 

Kor faltered in the rugged way, 
Till Jesus called his dear ones home, — 

Their labors crowned with endless day. 
^len, chosen souls I sleep on in peace I 

With loving hearts your place of rest 
We '11 guard, untQ, life's conflict o'er. 

We, too, are numbered 'mong the blest. 


The gFomid mm Yery damp, fonniiig into puddles 
wliere we stood ; and the sisters had no rabbers on ; 
so that our inquisitiye anxiety for their health led us 
to glance at their shoes, which we diaooTered were 
extremely solid. They take general precautions, but 
leave shivering dread to worldlings, and a stout shoe 
or a thick dress are considered in conventual life 
quite good enou^ for rain and wind, or dry weather 
and summer days. 

At the end of the garden diere is a wall, thickly 
mantled with ivy ; and here oa the academy side we 
found a structure of rock-work representing, or sug- 
gesting, radier, the grotto at Lourdes where the 
Blessed Virgin iqppeaied to Bemaidette Soubirous, 
the devout and unsophisticated peasant child. A 
figure of Bemardette, kneeling in prayer and hold- 
ing a candle, is placed at the foot of the rocks, pray- 
ing to the Blessed Virgin, who is seen standing widi 
clasped hands in a nidie near the top of the grotto, 
over which diere clambers a profusion of leafy vines. 
Those who know the marvelous and carefully authen- 
ticated results which have come from that vision 
granted to the French peasant girl at Lourdes, and 
from her inspired discovery of the healing spring, 
may well pause here for a moment to breathe an ear- 
nest thanksgiving and a prayer for grace. Just at 
this point, however, it is fitting to remark that many 
of the children and young ladies who study in the 
academy of this convent are Protestants ; the parents 
of sudi children having discovered, by long experi- 
ence, that they can obtain here the benefit of certain 
rare qualities in tiie training of character which can- 


not be had daewliere. These pupils, doabUess, know 
litde or nothing of Loordes and its miracles. They 
probably are quite willing to believe in the miradea 
of the New Testament time, because that is now con- 
veniently isa away ; but would find it more difficult 
to believe in miracles which happen every day in this 
enlightened but prosaic nineteenth century, right un- 
der the eyes of living men, women, and children. 
Yet, while they may be ignorant of Lourdes and of 
contemporaiy Christian mirades, it certainly can do 
tiiem no harm to be confronted with mute memorials 
of holy things. They are never interfered with, nor 
pressed to give their attention to these things. But 
the lesson of self -Abnegation, the quiet influence of 
prayer, and the silent benediction of the Blessed Yir^ 
gin, at the typical Lourdes grotto, have most proba- 
bly influenced them for good, even though they knew 
it not. 

From tiie convent garden we proceeded to the new 
graveyard, laid out in 1887, where one of the sisters, 
a cherished friend, the niece of Balph Waldo Emer- 
son, and formerly an intimate visitor in the household 
of Nathaniel Hawthorne, is buried. The pretty bit 
of ground is reached through an extremely attractive 
path, winding along under the protection of the high 
stone wall, and called <* Saint Joseph's Walk,'' since 
in the angle of the wall turning towards the grave- 
yard is an old oratory dedicated to this great saint; 
and the last object seen upon leaving the convent 
quadrangle, or garden, is his benignant statue ; while 
the first object to greet the eye in the new graveyard 
is Saint Josei^i's likeness again, as if to say, ^ Here, 


too, all is welL" Different sorts of trees and flower- 
ing shmbs border the right-hand side of the path ; 
and Tines at intervals beaatify the high wall on the 
left. Here, in sommer, there is a wealth of bloom 
and verdure, and the sweet orchestration of birds ao- 
oompanies the flickering play of sunbeam and shadow 
along the peaoefol, charming promenade. Upward 
from the path rises the gentle aodivily of the hill, 
not veiy high, but still stately and broad, where 
trees and sward are brightened by sonlight. The 
gate of the graveyard is made admirable by the 
grouping near it of some very graceful oaks ; while 
the ground itself is somewhat curved, convezly, and 
is surrounded by many trees, outside the tall board 
fence. The hill-like shape of the little enclosure is 
just suffident to display all these trees aa two sides, 
and to give a view of fields beyond. 

There is no attempt to ornament the severe fact of 
bodify extinction, even in this sweet spot. There are 
no funereal cottages of marble or granite ; no open- 
air galleries of sculptured art ; there are no cascades 
of potted plants or dressy shrubs to hide the mound 
of the grave. Saint Joseph, Hbe patron of a happy 
death, is not fer absent, as his effigy reminds us, and 
a rosebush hangs over our friend's last resting-place ; 
while the trees soften all the outlines in accidental 
loveliness, as if Nature herself had qrmpathized ; and, 
indeed, precisely as though she knew more of heaven, 
and human systems in relation to heaven, than we 
usually admit to be possible. 

In tiie convent our friend was called Sister Jane 
Frances (in veneration for Saint Jane IVanoes de 


Chaatal) ; but we had loved her as Fhoebe Bipley, 
one of the wannest geniuses, in music, and one of 
the most reticent women we had ever met; though, 
like all reticent women, flashing a fire of feeling at 
certain chords of thought. She became a nun here, 
and for several years was directress of the Academy 
of the Visitation. 

Farther on swells the hillside and the elevated 
brow of land already mentioned, bordered or crossed 
by paths, provided with seats, and at the summit a 
small rose-embowered oratory. The slope stretches 
upward, and rises isa enough ioto the world to obtain 
several fine glimpses of the neighboring G^rgetown 
College, with its effective poiots of pinnacled arehi- 
tectnre. This hill-crown also gives us a glance in the 
opporite direction, at the House of the Ghx)d Shep- 
herd. Hereabouts stand more oaks, — one pleasant 
slanting spot being known as ^ Under the Oaks," — 
and, among them, a great specimen six or seven feet 
in diameter. The nuns come to its shade in summer 
at the approach of sundown, to ^< recreate.'' The 
Mother Superior said (alluding to the convent seen 
in the distance) in a particularly gentle voice and 
with a gleam of tears : <^ The sisters of the House of 
the Good Shepherd are doing a wonderful work. 
Among them are many ladies of the greatest refine- 
ment and sensitiveness ; yet they devote themselves to 
tiie jNxir, wretched creatures who come to them, and 
fnake good women of them, very often I " 

Under the sky and the trees the Mother's energy 
became still more apparent; and the unconscious 
intonations of her voice suggested laughter now 


and dien, but instantly melted back into tiie mono- 
tone of solemn remembrance. £[er mind was fresh 
with a healthy joy of rectitude; and her calm qres, 
with innocent faith, looked further than we could 
see. The Mother seemed to r^aid all the features 
of the convent grounds, familiar to her for more 
than thirty years (since she had herself been a pupil 
in the academy before entering the sisterhood), as 
though they were intimate friends; and called our 
attention to a hundred pretty things. At the oratory 
we found rosebuds soft and ruby-tinted, and sprouting 
ivy. To see was to gather, with the Mother Supe- 
rior ; and she made us a bouquet in the twinkling of 
a dewdrop. 

One elderly sister, a conTert from Lutheranism, 
many years ago, had toiled bravely after us, up to 
this moment, with in^ doak and skirt held at a safe 
distance from the wet path; but now went back. 
The other dear sister of our party, also elderly, but 
with the glow of youth not yet extinguished in her 
heart, began to show signs of breathlessness, too. 
She gave us a bright history of the pecan-trees, 
whose beginnings were interesting, and then also 
bade us a temporary adieu, and turned back to Saint 
Joseph's Walk. 

The pecan-trees stand cm the borders of the es- 
tate. They have grown from nuts, as tradition and 
probability have it, which were sent to Greorgetown 
by President Jefferson. This will be inferred from 
tiie subjoined literal copy of a note to Mr. Threlkeld, 
grandfather of one of the nuns of the Visitation. 


WAiHivaTOJi, Mabgb 20, 1807. 

Sib, — I thank yoa for your kind offer of the trees 
mentioned in your letter of yesterday, the peach apricot 
which yon saw at Hepbnm'Si was lost on the road : bat I 
recieved with it from Italy at the same time a supply 
of the stones of the same fmit, which are planted at 
Monticello, and from which I hope to raise some trees, 
tho' as yet I do not know their soccess. should these 
fail I will avail myself of your offer the next fall or 
spring, the two peach trees yon propose wiU be very 
acceptable at the same time. I am endeavoring to make 
a collection of the choicest kinds of peaches for Monti- 

presuming you are attached to the culture of trees, I 
take the liberty of sending yon some Paccan nuts, which 
being of the last years growth, recieved from New Orleans, 
will probably grow, they are a very fine nut, and suc- 
ceed well in tUs climate, they require rich land, be- 
tween the two lobes of the kernel there is a thin pellicle, 
excessively austere and bitter, which it is necessary to 
take out before eating the nut. Accept my salutations 
and assurances of respect. 

Th. Jeffebson. 


The existence of pecan-trees in this locality is a 
most Tinusaal thing ; but they have so well consoled 
themselves for their exile from wanner latitudes as to 
be still tall and healthy. 

From another source we learn of a legend that 
some pecans were sent from Texas and planted by 
a Mr. Grayson, of G^rgetown, on these grounds. 
There is no documentary evidence of this. On the 
other hand, the tradition in the community is that the 
nuts from which the trees sprang were of Jefferson's 
gift, and his letter seems to support it 


The Motiber Superior led us on, showing ns the 
place where the girl stodents of tiie academy play 
lawn tennis; and where a number of swings were 
ready for the youngest to romp and scream over; 
where there were seats for on-lookers at the games, 
sheltered by trees; where the &nnyard flourished, 
and the limpid spring, down in a glade, rejoiced the 
temperate cow, speaking coUecti'vely. Returning 
slowly towards the inner garden (under the convent 
windows) she told us of the May-day festivity of 
olden times, when up the path and terraces to the hill 
tiie girls used to come, two and two, to crown the 
May Queen, who stood under a flourishing pear-tree, 
noticeable even among the tall, towering growth of 
boxwood, and the many other trees all around. The 
terraced lawns make two distinct waves of green- 
sward, forming a fitting emtowrage for the sway of the 
queen of springtime. A band of music, in other 
days, added further merriment. Many women, after- 
wards of note in the social world, have been May 
Queens at the Convent of the Visitation. The Mother 
pointed out to us two English copper beeches, flourish- 
ing of course, and so similar, as they stand side by 
side, that they are called the twins. Her tranquil 
voice became cheerfully sympathetic as she described 
the phases of loveliness of the beeches, which, she 
said, pass through, really ^ almost every shade of 
color in the world, beginning with the tenderest tints 
in earliest spring, and so going on and on in their 
enchanting variety of shades, until winter at last 
gathers away every one of the leaves. If the Mother 
Superior ever desired ^^ variety," it was apparent 


that the twin beeches gave it to her in abundance. 
The nuns are poetB in actual lif e-yerses, and all the 
more classical because they are Homeric in their 
respect for practical detaiL 

Passing along an ayenue arched by tall sycamores, 
on our return to the garden, we stopped and inspected 
the new brick steam-laundry, where all the washing 
for more than two hundred persons is carried on. 
Mother was proud to say that it had not required 
more than three months for the sisters to learn from 
an engineer the use of the apparatus, so that now the 
laundry has been conceded entirely to their unaided 
skill. A strong, large, pink and white cheeked sister 
was busily stirring the clothes in a ealdron, as we 
stepped in at the door. Very little, to be sure, these 
sisters care to say to people from the fretted world ; 
and their gentle reserve and downcast eyes (yet 
happy peace, withal) are very soothing, and sugges- 
tive of possible peace for one's self, likewise. The 
great boiler and engine, indeed, seemed too large to 
be manipulated by even a stalwart woman ; but these 
monsters of steel and iron really had succumbed to 
feminine intelligence. 

We now wound our way back through the gate in 
the lofty wall of the convent garden, and, through 
the green box-bordered paths of the latter, reached 
the academy, where we were to take lunch. The 
Sister Frocuratrix had met us again, in the white 
doister under the first veranda of the nuns' house, 
— the three verandas, in fact, provide convenient 
doisters for each floor, running the whole length of 
the convent's rear, — and she urged us to take a cup 


at tea willioiit a momeiii's delay. We were nahered 
into the inner parlor of the academy, coming upon 
an appetudng famcheon-table, deeoratiyely arranged 
for ns ; and a tall, elderly out-sister attended to serve 
ns, earnestly setting aside any idea that she was of 
day too fine, or culture too good, to stoop to service 
when required. A connoisseur in convent hmcheons 
can affirm that good cooks often get caught in the 
golden meshes of that wise life; — golden, because 
nowhere is silence so well observed* Everything they 
cook is of the best, and concocted in the best way. 
The sisters do everything perfectly, with an exqui- 
sitely &ithful and neat workmanship, from cake to 
portraits of Bishops. 

Mother sat by, for a short time, while we grate- 
fully b^;an to feast ; thinking of the meagre benches 
we had lately seen in the refectory, and that no such 
china — a present to one of the sisters — as we were 
now using was allowed on the tables there. ^^ You 
will excuse me, I'm sure," she said. ^^I do not 
refrain from joining in your lunch because of lack of 
hospitality ; but our rule does not allow us to eat in 
the reception-room." We somewhat rashly answered, 
having in mind the long excursion we had taken in 
the damp, appetizing air for an hour or more : ^^ But 
will you not have your lunch in the refectory while 
we are having ours here? Dear Mother, it cannot 
be according to your role to go without eating alto- 
gether ! " Our excessive alarm, or something else, — 
probably the consciousness of the ease of fasting 
when you know how, — amused the Mother and made 
the good-^iatured out«ster smile. 



After ft little pause of indifferenoe and demur, the 
Mother Superior kindly aooepted our propoeition, and 
swiftly disappeared. 

Luncheon finished, we met several of the sisters. 
One was the Directress,^ a lady of noble looks, un- 
pressing us as a person of the highest intellectualily. 
She had long been in charge of the academy, to 
which she had given her best talent and attention, 
endearing herself, through disinterested inspiration 
for their wel&re, to the many bright graduates who 
xemember her vividly in the midst of present worldly 
cares. Another sister had been a special friend of 
Sister Jane Frances Bipley. We perceived at a 
glance that she was a very sweet and sympathetic 
person, and we were glad that Fhoebe Bipley had had 
llie sdlaoe of ber companionship, in the absence of 
her own sisters by birth, and the still greater absence 
in want of sympathy with her religious views and 
aspirations. We met, moreover, the sister who 
teaches literature; nor shall we ever lose the pleas- 
ure that meeting gave us. To those who know her, 
need more be said? We now went to the infirmary, 
and saw first the cell in which Sister Jane Frances 
died. It is one of the largest, just capable of mak- 
ing room for two single beds, and a small stove, with 
adiair or two against the wall; the beds old-&sh- 
kmed and utterly simple, curtained with dimity, and 
appearing to be too narrow for tempestuous death. 
However, they were suited to those calm &reweUs to 
this life which the deaths of nuns are most apt to be ; 
and such a placid ending was Phoebe Ripley's. 

^ Sister Loretto^ sinee deoMMd. 


We were especially moved by the little rooms we 
saw in the infiimaiy ; for in these were very andent 
nuns, sitting out the old year of their earthly exis- 
tence ; nuns &ding into aged death, who would have 
given even to palatial apartments a tinge of mdan- 
choly. But, after all, it is humanity, and not the 
convent, which makes the scene so sombre. Turn 
down a street in New York, where an accident has 
happened. Perhaps a fashionable woman has been 
run over, and lies upon the pavement. The body is 
surrounded by brilliant shops, splendid carriages, and 
handsomely dressed people, just out from a perform- 
ance by Sothem or Sarah Bernhardt. Why do you 
see, in all the burly glitter of the hurrying cily, only 
the searching whiteness of this dead woman's cheek? 

And further, death ^^ in the world," in a luxurious 
room, among a group of relatives and friends, may 
(possibfy) be more agreeable to ua. But let us 
remember that to our relatives and friends our death- 
scene must be an almost unmitigated suffering. Is it 
not fortunate, tlien, to be a nun, dying in braver 
solitude? Yet, while we are adjusting ourselves to 
the ri^t point of view, we shiver. The bedroom of 
a person ^^in the world" is supposed to contain 
sundry dear mementos and luxuries and ornaments ; 
sundry easy-chairs and soft pillows and cosy nooks, 
which are considered adequate to console the bruised 
spirit after its daily tussle in the arena of men. 
Withdraw hither, and you are, for a brief and deli- 
cious hour of change, in a sphere of your own ; with 
a good novel, or other book of leisure, or with some 
subject of study in hand, so congenial as to be a 


Uessing. Bat in the nun's life her cosiest, quietest 
nook is an altar before which to pray. Are we strong 
enough to keep in reserve no lair, no robber's cave, 
where we can steal away from Gbd, nursing our pet 
bncies, or handling the fairy gold of self-indulgence ? 
Are we generous enough to merge ourselves wholly 
in the uuflelfishness of divinity? If not, we recoil 
from the frank rimpUcity, the austere plaiimess, of a 
nun's cell. Here there is no place for withdrawal 
into a self which is mere selfishness. Over each door 
stands the name of a saint, and the mention of some 
special virtue to be remembered and cultivated. The 
little beds are prim and hard ; the pictures are few, 
and in their intention point heavenward. G>ld, liter- 
ally, the tiny rooms are; — the only heat coming 
from roisters in the halls, — with one big window 
i^iece giving plenty of light and air ; no carpet, one 
chair ; and the only richness to be detected in all this 
region of simplicity is that richest blessing — the 
consolation of fiuth. But, behold, we soon felt that 
the nuns (and we felt it with the whole heart) had 
cheefffd rooms! 

There is arithmetio in all this; and one is at a 
disadvantage until one learns to figure it out. A 
religious life is very nice in its calculations. If you 
follow the deductions of the cloister, you find out 
what seems good and remunerative in worldly life, 
and what is good and remunerative in a cloistered 
life, by a perfectly dear process of division and sub- 
traction. The delusive speciousness of elegance in 
what we can buy is challenged by the genuine values 
of what the virtues can give us, even out of the seemr 


ing banenness of a ocmTeaat cell ; and victoiy follows 

The rule of the Convent of die Visitation is strietty 
aoeoiding to its earliest traditions in America; and 
whereyer bleakness appears, it is the pride and joy of 
the sisters ; a pride and a joj that never yet hnrt or 
overbore, so sweetly rniselfish are these traits when 
transmnted by self-sacrifioe. It must be admitted 
also that even kings have, by a like pref eienee, 
oocopied small and primly nnomamented private 
chambers ; that is, the kings who have accomplished 
things and have been ^^ heard from." For, as tibat 
wise man and monarch Marcos Anrelins said : ^^ Even 
in a palace, life can be led welL" 

Before leaving the portion of the convent above 
described^ we met the Infirmarian, a sister as white 
as her veil was black, and possessing that gentleneas 
of expression which Rembrandt conld so well portray 
with what seems a positive movement of light over 
the features. It was near the dispensary that we 
found her ; and this department is well worth noting, 
with a comment. Neat and pretty as a toy it was, 
this quiet little dispensary, with its wholesome medi- 
cinal jars, its glasses and paraphernalia for com- 
pounding pills, draughts, or electuaries, and its reas- 
suring aromatic odor of drugs. One felt inclined to 
stop there and play apothecary for a while. The Sis- 
ter Infirmarian who has that privil^;e is to be envied. 
And now the serious comment to be made is as fol- 
lows : Those who, in their vague thoughts, associate 
with convents only mortification of the fiesh — in 
fasts, self-denial, plain living, early rising, hard toil 


— general^ are ignorant of, or forget, that other 
equally Catholic principle and practice that the body 
must be respected and preserred, must be treated as 
a temple of the Holy Ghost ; and that a sin of disre- 
gard for health is to be dreaded as other sins are. If 
the sisters overtax themselves, it is not with an inten- 
tion of self-injury ; and the efficient, though simple, 
appointments of their little cabinet of drugs and their 
infirmary show how well they provide for maintaining 
or restoring health. Although naturally not under^ 
taking to practice medicine, they have gathered much 
experience, which is passed on by tradition from one 
to another, so that there are always two or three mem- 
bers of the community competent to preside in the 
dispensary and prepare simple remedies. 

Stepping from the corridor, a little farther on, we 
went into the long choir, whose dear windows look 
out over the garden; a spacious room fitted with 
numerous dark stalls on either side, where the sisters 
sit, or kneel, chanting their offices ; matins and lauds, 
the last devotion at night, then prime, terce, sext, 
and none; at different early hours of the morning; 
vespers in the afternoon; and, in the evening, com- 
pline. It is in this place — which is not a part of 
the chapel, but is a room in the convent, simply look- 
ing into the chapel — that they hear mass and per- 
form their other religious exercises; their voices 
heard, themselves unseen by the young girls and 
children of the academy, who come to the chapeL 
The choir, though on the second floor, is on a level 
with and opens directly into the sanctuary, the open- 
ing taking up the whole end of the room. It is 


doeely grated with iron, and is famiahed with fold- 
ing acreen-flhutters of doth, so that it can be dosed 
entirdy, if this be desired. Its position at rig^t 
angles from the diapd nave also protects the occu- 
pants of the choir from being seen. In the centre 
of the long space between the stalls is a lectern, and 
on the walls, opposite or between the windows, hang 
many interesting religions pictures, old and new, 
oil paintings, engravings, or colored reproductions; 
among them a copy of the famed, miraculous picture 
of Our Liady of Grood Counsel, the original of which 
is at Grenaszano, in Italy. The ^^ little gallery" for 
the infirm or invalid sisters is just above the grated 
opening of the choir, and from this the sbters can 
look down into the sanctuary. This little gallery is 
reached from the second floor by ascending a flight of 
steps, and passing down a long corridor on each side 
of which is a row of ^^ceUs." Here, in the small 
room, we found wooden chairs, glistening with the 
polish of a hundred years or more, and probably con- 
trived by carpenters who were learning their trade, in 
a country then, at best, largety experimental. But, 
by their very quaintness, the chairs were particularly 
attractive to-day. They were part of the long-treas- 
ured furniture brought to the house by sister Mary 

Into the gallery the li^ f dl from a window reach- 
ing to its floor. Below, the diapd looked narrow, 
high, sacred, meUow with mingled colors, and lovety 
in its vague richness and cahn. Portraits of St. 
Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Qiantal are to be 
seen, in what may be called dark luminodty, on 


either side of the sanctnaiy ; and an ancient picture, 
browned by time, represents Martha and Maiy in a 
composition of much dignity, and hangs directly over 
the altar. This picture was painted by order of 
Charles X., and presented by him to the Greorgetown 
chapel, through Rev. Father Clorivi^re, S. J«, whose 
&mily were devoted French royalists. Descending 
to the second story again, from the gallery, we found 
the grated confessional, adjoining the chapeL It is 
a wholly unadorned apartment, where the nuns kneel 
to make confession ; the Father confessor being on 
the other side of the grating ; for no habitual intrusion 
upon the privacy of the actual convent enclosure may 
be permitted, even in the performance of this holy 
office. In this room. General Winfield Scott — the 
^ Hero of Lundy's Lane," victor in the Mexican War, 
and, at the outbreak of the war for the Union, gen- 
eral of the army of the United States — was allowed 
to see his daughter Virginia, dying of consumption, 
who had entered the order of the Visitation, here, 
under the name in religion of Sister Maiy Emmanuel 
Scott The old warrior, who had served his country 
with so much ability and patriotism, had also a con- 
ception of his duty to his Gbd ; and, although he did 
not share with his daughter the faith she had won, he 
fully consented to her taking the vows of religion. 
It was in this very room that she died ; and her father 
visited her here, only after it became evident that her 
health, always delicate, was hopelessly broken. 

We were led to the assembly room, an ample apart- 
ment, where the sisters gather for an hour after 
dinner, and about two hours in the evening, meeting 


Booialty for wbst thfij caU theb ^ leareati^ Then 
tliey busy tibemselyes with knittiiig or plain sewing, 
or witih any &ncy-w0rk or embroideiy they may have 
to do ; bdng carefol to keep their fingers alert, on 
aoooont of the advice of St. Jane de Chantal — that 
the hands should be employed ^liienever possible. 
No games are indulged in; but much pleasant chat 
goes on, and a harmless joke pleases every one. 

Even here, in this apartment chiefly designed for 
rest and leisure, for pleasant chat and light occupa> 
tikm, there are many reminders that a higher purpose 
is always to be kept in view. One of these is a 
written scroll of paper attached to the wall, near the 
flreplaoe, and called the ^ CEhallenge." But it assur- 
edly is the gentlest challenge ever known, and, by its 
character, seems to neutralise its own titie. For the 
purport of this paper is simpty to remind the sisters, 
at each and every season of the Christian year, that 
itis desirable at that season, in their social intercourse 
and recreation among themselves, to give special at- 
tention to some particular virtue — patience, humilily, 
gentleness, cheerfulness — wiiichever it may be that 
is specified on the scroIL Briefly, it is a quiet appeal 
to them, putting them on their mettle or their honor 
and conscience, to make an additional effort to excel 
in that virtue. There is a challenge for Advent, for 
Christmas, for Epiphany, for Lent, for Easter, for 
Pentecost. It establishes among the sisters a friendly 
competition, not a rivalry. No award is made, no de- 
cision IB rendered as to who among them has surpassed 
the rest. The arbitrament is solely of the conscience 
and God. 


Now it may seem, to tiiose who are wholly unaoous- 
tomed to suah methods of thought and action, that 
this ever present watehftdness of self, and this con- 
stant endeavor to rise to the higher plane even while 
engaged in amusement or social converse, must become 
intolerably monotonous and a frightful strain. But, 
on the contrary, this conventual system of mingled 
self-examination and unselfish activity results in the 
greatest buoyancy of spirits, and in a healthy, happy 
IxCe. There are no human beings so deliciously light- 
hearted as the nuns. They turn their whole natures 
in the direction of adoration, and of every virtue, as 
easify as they walk, talk, eat, sleep, or wake. 

Their system, too, is absolutely the one that has 
been copied in every religious society or brotherhood 
or league formed for spiritual and Christian purposes 
outside of the Church ; with this difference, that these 
organisations outside follow the lead only so far as it 
is convenient and in accord with self-indulgence to 
do so. They adopt the general principles, to a cer- 
tain extent ; but, while trying to arouse emulation in 
well doing, they seldom deny themselves the selfish 
gratifications of the world; and they insist upon 
having individual superiority in goodness promptly 
rewarded with prizes, honors, distinctions of some 
Idnd, flattering to the unconsecrated life. But the 
sisters work without expectation of material reward, 
or even of an honorary one. They succeed in making 
religion and self-sacrifice perfectly natural, unaffected, 
joyous, day by day, at the same time that both it and 
they are enveloped in and sustained by the fine, sweet, 
enliyening atmosphere of the supematuraL 


The prevaQing giay tone of the ocmvent creeps into 
the oommnnily room, as well as into the broad corri- 
dors, graced on each floor by altars. Bat there are 
interestmg pictures on the walls; likenesses of the 
patron saints of the order, so constantlj repeated in 
different parts of the hoose ; and purely sacred groups. 
The phalanx of windows on the outer side of the 
room, oTerlo(^ing the garden and its trees across the 
cloistered piazza, gives deoorativeness to the long 
room, as a similar phalanx does in the refectory. 
There is a large painting over the mantelpiece of 
the Blessed Virgin meeting St. Elizabeth. The tone 
is a pale nut brown, and the figures are rather in- 
distinct, as if the voluntary pensiveness of the general 
deportment of the convent had embraced this picture 
of the Visitation. A truer example of the underlying 
and frequently manifest good cheer of the nuns is 
given by the sturdy portraits of the saints, and 
the beaming representations of angels. Within the 
clear monochrome of these pictures is caught the 
bright courage of religious zeal and sublime law. 
Their firm glances, their steady poise of head, their 
sweet but uncompromising lips, express the only gen- 
uine satis&ction and happiness ; namely, those which 
last through etemily. They remind us of the sort 
of people we trust, — not those who profess most. 
They remind us of those faces which, throughout our 
own lives, have given us the most solid comfort and 
the deepest refreshment. Were those the faces of gay 
young companions, laughing too much, and quick to 
pout in disappointment or even anger? Or were they 
the faces of eager beginners of life, willing to eaqpend 


ihemselyes layiahly in all pleasurable ways for each 
otlier, but crushed or indignant when called upon to 
expend themsdves for each other in suffering? Are 
not the faces we look back to as being sublimely en- 
couraging, lastingly good, those of mothers, sisters, 
nurses, that smiled gently in the hour of calumny or 
sickness ; &ces which were merciful in their ezpres- 
irion, when v>e were fiercely unjust ; wHch were sternly 
strong in the wild hours of anxiety or anguish well 
known to every life? Such faces are the faces of 
religious superiors. 

There is a story of St. John the Evangelist, who, 
while at Ephesus, took a young man of great promise 
under his care. Afterwards he was himself called to 
Borne, and the youth became dissipated, and the 
leader of a band of robbers. On St. John's return 
he sought the outlaw, discovered him, talked with 
him. He noticed that the young man tried to con- 
ceal his right hand (which had committed so many 
crimes) from the eyes of the apostle. St. John seized 
it, kissed it, and bathed it with his tears. We recall, 
too, that St. Francis de Sales was so ** charitable, 
tolerant, and gentle towards those who disagreed 
with him, as well as those who led wicked lives," 
that he was sometimes remonstrated with ; and then 
he would reply : ** Ebd Saul been rejected, should 
we have had St. Paul?" 

In evidence of the charity illustrated by those two 
episodes, the pictures of religious devotees in the 
assembly-room made it reassuringly pleasant and 
restfuL Sundry tables stand adown the centre of 
the fk)or, and numerous simple little chairs of quaint 


like thoae in iiie invalids' galleiy, bring with 
tiiem the memoiy of Madame Ytnrbide, ex-empreas 
of Mezioo, one of the first benefactors of the oonyent^ 
who gaye these chairs to the oonunnnity about a hun- 
dred years ago. They are now especially priied by 
the sisterhood on account of their associations, their 
antiquity, and their freedom from undue hxuri- 


In our conversation with the Si]q>6rioress we real- 
iaed that the academy, as conducted from its origin, 
had been permitted only by a special dispensation 
(which will be referred to later on).^ The intention 
Oif the holy founders of the Visitation order was that^ 
idien perfected, the institute should rank among the 
contemplative, rather than the active orders of the 
church, without question of utility to the outside 
world, other than the utility of prayer. 

Nevertheless, even during the lifetime of the found- 
ers, it was deemed well to receive into certain parts 
of the monastexy children called ** sisters of the little 
habit," who were to be reared either for the religious 
life or for the world, as their vocation might develop. 
Somewhat later, many of the Visitation houses of 
Eoiope were 0(^pdM to lesort to »^ teachii^ 
as a means of livelihood ; although this did not force 
them to depart from even the least of their rules and 
customs. In a new and non-Catholic country the 
case was different, and some divergence from these 
became necessary. When the G^rgetown convent 

^ Clapter ziv. of Annsln, in this Tidimie. 


founded, there was great need of a good Catholic 
school for girls near Washington ; and this work was 
undertaken by the rising oommnnitj, which looked to 
it for material support, having no endowment or 
other means. The points of yariation from the strict 
rule thereby involved were about as follows: a 
change in the hours of meals, on account of the cli- 
mate, as well as the arrangement of classes and reci^ 
tations; the admission of day-pupils, with a more 
frequent opemng of the academy door, consequently, 
than would otherwise have been allowed ; compliance 
with the wish of parents and guardians to inspect 
the academy building, on bringing their children to 
school ; the employment of ** extems " as teachers, if 
needful ; a benevolent school for the parish children, 
kept by the sisters (within their own enclosure, how- 
ever, very near the academy) ; and some minor, non- 
essential changes resulting from these. 

In their honest, earnest endeavor to place their 
sdiool on a level with the best in the land, the first 
object held in view l^ the pioneer sisters was to pre- 
serve and spread the faith, to save souls ; an object 
often better forwarded and more surely attained when 
sought for in connection with the highest cultivation 
of mind and heart. The foresight of the ecclesiasti- 
cal superiors who obtained these privileges from the 
Holy See (witiumt which there would probably have 
been no school at all) has been fully justified. All 
through the country the good results are witnessed to 
by grandmothers, mothers, and children, who turn 
witfi grateful hearte to their Alma Mater as the 
source from which they imbibed the faith more pre* 


obiis tiban life itself. Some of the sisters of tihe 
present day bear similar testhnony . 

But, in order that readers may not misapprehend 
the nature and extent of the dispensation just re- 
ferred to, we may add a few words here. As privi- 
l^es are always liable, at one time or another, to be 
ooonted on too far, thoogh not necessarily lft»/ling to 
abases, the power of authorizing ^* the changes which 
may perhaps in process of time be made on account 
of the circumstances of place and government " ^ were 
intrusted to the Most Beverend Archbishops of Bal- 
timore. These same superiors, as years passed on, 
wisely reminded the sisters to hold themselves in 
readiness (as every religious community is in duty 
bound to do) to return to the primitive rule in strict 
observance, or to adopt it as nearly as possible, when 
there should no longer be need of privilege or dispen- 
sation. Such injunctions the sisters hold from the 
archbishops of fifty years back; before which time 
the convent was much more assailed by attacks from 
ignorance and prejudice than has been the case in 
subsequent years. Thus does the church, in the per- 
son of her chief pastor or his representatives, either 
loosen or draw more closely the lines of a monastic 
rule, according to circumstances, for the true benefit 
and use of those cloistered few who separate then^ 
selves from the world in order to live closer to God. 

In view of the work done for souls in the Greorge- 
town House of the Yistation, this authorized depar- 
ture from scMue details of the rule may be r^arded as 
a circumstance of great and happy moment. The im- 

^ Chiqpter zir. Annsln, ttf npitL 


pression that it is so is deepened when one enters the 
spacious, the almost immense academy, which has ex- 
panded so vastly since the days of Madame Ytorbide 
and Sister Mary McDermott The academy bmlding 
is large and stately, towering above the convent, yet 
as we have before pointed out, closely attached to it ; 
like a tall, strong child still clinging dose to the de- 
mure little mother whom it has outgrown in size. 
When you step into the hall beyond the reception 
room, connecting with the chapel and the convent's 
sacred and sombre precincts, the Mother tells you that 
all is now in sharp contrast to monastic quiet and 
poverty. Yet you will have your opinion, because it 
is too agreeable to relinquish, that the calm of the 
doister fills and softens and hushes the regions de- 
voted to the girl students ; whose rippling chat and 
laughter is not louder, in these large spaces, than the 
merriment of a brook. The girls move about in 
groups or singly ; in black dresses, but rosy of cheek 
and golden or glistening-dark of hair, and as pretty 
as pictures ; often with a style about their dresses as 
unmistakably fashionable as it is simple in general 
effect Sometimes the girls we came across bowed 
gracefully and with delidous respect to the Superior- 
ess, the figure in black veil and white barbette, and 
with a glimmering smile upon its lips, which had sud- 
denly appeared among them. 

Everything about the academy has the effect of 
largeness. The staircases are of a noble width ; the 
rooms and halls are very high. Here and there, 
beside the wide passageways, hang large paintings, 
sometimes only excellent in intention; but that — a 


rdigions expressum of holineflB — made the jnetares 
loYely. The laboratory was the most interestmg place 
of alL Some fine old brass electrical mstnmieiits of 
handsome proportions, and scnne modem specimens as 
well, a portrait of Father Curlej — and twenty other 
things — were pointed out to ns, and filled us with 
admiration. The Mother turned a wheel, making the 
sparks iqipear with a sadden crackling sound of 
power ; or, toaching her finger to the brass cylinder, 
emitted a resounding star of electricity by the gentle 
contact. In this charming room she teaches piques 
and chemistoy to the older girls. Other very attrac- 
tive rooms are the art studios, where the seyerities of 
Ae monastic rule really are merged in those elements 
of life which do no more than soothe and please 
dmnigh the eyesight. Some of the woric was very 
good, and all of it imbued with artistic feeling. 

Still another pleasant spot was the library, every 
inch a library. Then we saw the large hall for musical 
entertainments, lectures, and graduating exercises, — all 
confined to the pupils, except the last, to which the par- 
ents and friends are invited. With accommodations 
for seven or ei^t hundred listeners, its qualities are 
admirable for its purpose, in that it has no suspicion 
of the oUong shape which seems to relegate some people 
to the second-best place ; and its acoustic properties 
are excellent, under the proper conditions of a large 
audience. Opposite the entrance there is a spacious 
platform, over which is placed a picture of the high- 
est excellence. It represents the Blessed Virgin and 
In&nt Saviour, with St. John. It was given to the 
nsters by the fiither of Greneral Meade, the famous 


oommander of the Aimy of the Potomao at the Battle 
of GettyBborg. Mr. Meade had a fine collection of 
paintings, obtained while he was on a visit to Spain, 
and this was one of them. For a long time the sis- 
ters supposed it to be a MuriUo ; but while it was 
on exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New 
York, G^rge William Curtis and other critics in art 
decided that it must be a Vandyke, which opinion was 
confirmed by the art authorities of Seville, to whom a 
photograph was sent. 

We had come to the hall to hear some remarkably 
good piano playing and singing, and to learn how 
gifted some of the G^rgetown Academy pupils can 
be. A young creature, whose ardent enthusiasm was 
somehow oonyeyed across the spaces of the hall in 
spite of her quiet demeanor, played for us ; and the 
piano being a superlatively good one, her melodies, 
nobly modulated and phrased, rolled out with fine 
expressiveness. The next number was a piece of the 
utmoet religious sweetness, played veiy beautifully by 
another young woman ; and then a sparkling child in 
her teens sang, with the pure fire of a girl's ardor, 
and with an astonishingly strong, dear voice, a rich, 
naive love-song. These three ingenuous girls, one 
could easily see, were immensely happy. Success and 
the joy of earnest endeavor glowed all around them. 
The young sister, their teacher, was a healthy-minded, 
spirited nun, possessed of a graceful air ; yet there 
was scmiething about her quite as distinctive as her 
sombre dress, to bring an Novating influence of *^ re- 
collection " and 8elf-<X)rrecting humility to these pretty 
dftutantes, who are soon to shine in the world with- 


out The tolerant and gentfy kind snperiority of the 
sisters towards the inevitable girl of sooieiy, who most 
be cnltiYated and then cast upon her omel, though 
fiur-seeming &ite of usefulness to creation, is typical 
of their state of mind towards the world. The nun is 
a kind of woman so entirefy^ appreciatiYe, that she has 
all a woman's geniality towards feminine charm and 
talent. But in being also, as all nuns must be, dif- 
ferent from all other kinds of women, she proves 
clearly that all this charm and talent is mere &nci- 
fnlness, in comparison to the life of spiritual adora- 
tion; that consciousness which embraces the whole 
aystem of religious science, of which the science of 
humane love of our kind — usually ^*in the world" 
exemplified perfectly only in a mother's love — is but 
a part In the world we are apt to think this *^ bro- 
tiberly " love among the human &mily is the most spir- 
itual thing possible, the atnimttim howuan^ the com- 
plete circle of everything not material and selfish. To 
liie nun, this mother's love, brother's love, love of 
liie friend, is the mere a & c, or b^;inning, of the 
language of spiritual woriks ; — the instrument of the 
poetry of highest action, which must be brought into 
play towards all human creatures alike. 

But if the girls of the academy are happy, are 
gently treated, and are fully appreciated as the 
mothers of the future, still the good sisters would not 
deprive them of a little flavor of discipline, without 
which their lives might, of course, become so vapid as 
to weigh upon them I The vchide of justice, used 
for discipline in the academy, is a pretty and modest 
old-&flhioned artide of furniture, seemingly alive. It 


18 nothing less than a yenerable dock, standing in 
a corner of the large hall on the first floor, and lit 
whitely by an adjacent window. It is one of two 
timepieces given to the community by Sister Maiy 
McDermott, the early teacher and benefactress of 
the convent, whom we have mentioned before. The 
clocks must therefore be a hundred, and may more 
probably be a hundred and fifty years old ; but they 
both keep perfect time (one in the convent itself, and 
the other in this academy hall), deriving, you imagine, 
not a little benefit from coming under the dominion of 
the ascetic rule of St. Frauds de Sales and St. Jane, 
and could not possibly stoop to falsifying time or los- 
ing vigor, like docks devoted to secular uses. To tell 
the truth, much of the merit involved must be due to 
the faithful care which the quiet sisters give to every 
farthing's worth of commodity whidi finds itself 
under their charge. This old dock of the academy 
has a subordinate executive, an ally in the punishment 
of offenders, that looks as if it had been originally 
designed for nursery merriment and dolls' play. It 
is a very small old-fashioned diair, which has been 
reserved, time out of mind, to bring rosy-cheeked and 
pouting delinquents to repentance, when the mischief- 
makers «egaai7 of insubordiiiationrf any Bort. For 
untold years — so a girl of sixteen would call the in- 
terval — to ^ sit by die dock " has been a penance at 
G^rgetown Convent Academy, bringing misery to 
these who have, a moment before, experienced the 
brief joys of revolt. The clock of justice proudly 
bears a mirthful moon upon its disk of numerals, 
which seems, in its semicircular orbit, to peep over 


Ife whole wurid at Ae fitde gbi idio bw Ind As 
Mdaotf to defy Ae Snten of Ae IHnlalioo. We 
CBB see lier oonelTes witli distinctiiesB, seated wiA 
bowed liead, and an qre eaiefadfy observant; aaaaD 
bandfol of wickedness, not by any means so toj 
wieked. It is jostfy considered to be a tenible letii- 
bntioQ tobe oidered ^ to sit by AedodL;" and yet, 
steansne to 88t« and easr to wmiiw LMMi- umma 
now *l»wwi»« of tbe academy, idio were ooee 
gades of tbe diair, look bade widi ardent affeetion to 
Sister McDennott's dodL and its tiny stool of disci- 

One day^ one of the bri gb t es t and nangfatipst of the 
sdbobtfs (idio was it? ) bad been doomed to sit out 
ber ponisfament at tbe feet of time. Wbo sboold 
eome along, tbron^ tbe buge, dadL^wooded ball but 
ber pqpaand a party of friends, acomnpanied by a sis- 
teririiowas tbe veiy directress iriio bad sent Aeyom^ 
damsd ^to the clodL." Tbe pqpa and bis friends 
were bent on seemg the diib], to eongratobUe ber 
i^Krn being in so safe and beneficial and lu^](iy a 
borne; — the sister directress may ba?e hoped that 
tbe encoonter, fraogbt with bnmiliatian, would do 
much to sobdne ber little charge. Tbe observant eye 
of tbe delinqiient took in the whole sitoation at a 
^ance, and ber tender and guileless youth arose in de- 
fence. She rapidly decided upon breaking the iron 
law not to leave the small, bumorous-loddng chair 
until the last moment of penance bad been ticked out 
by the stately dock. What was the directress's as- 
tonishment to see ber rise, advance towards ber proud 
papa and bis surrounding friends, and explain that 


her teacher had asked her to watch and see if the 
dock kept regular time! She enacted the part she 
had assumed, of useful little dock-superintendent, to 
perfection ; and was commended for her patience and 
reliability, even by her &ther ; who had nevertheless 
guessed the truth of the matter at once. The direc- 
tress had not the heart to interfere, for, after all, dis» 
dpline in the convent academy is loving. 

Near the academy dock was a little anteroom, 
where were hung a number of pictures of flowers and 
fruits, which we were told bdonged to one of the nov- 
ices who was in that state which may turn either wholly 
spiritual, or back to the wholly worldly. At least, iqi 
to a certain point the postulant, no matter howfervently 
religious, is regarded by her superiors as one who 
may find that, after all, her vocation is not for a life 
of such complete abnegation, and may at the final 
hour dedde to recede from the great renunciation of 
worldly pleasures. Our religion, in its wisdom and 
generosity, asks of us all our perishable possessions, 
before fiUing our hands with the imperishable ; and 
even the ordinaiy layman, if he has Uf e at all, must 
labor for that bliss which he receives back from his 
fidth a hundred fold in excess of his deserts. These pic- 
tures before us bdonged, as we have said, to a young 
woman still in the doubtful phase ; and were to be re- 
turned to her if she returned to ^^ the world." They 
produced the same sensation as does the reading of a 
dead person's wilL The nothingness of them beside 
the great beauty and value of the heavenly Ufe argued 
very f ordbly that it would be unwise to retrace one's 
way for their sake. They were a gay and tempting 


ilhistratioii of the mess of pottage for wliieh we often 
resign onr inheritance, unless we bravely launch omv 
sdves upon the nusts of eternity, — when, in response 
to onr faith, angels hold us up ; and, rising as we 
surely do aboye the mists, dear visions fill onr si^t, 
which we never need and never can forget. 

In the reception room, to which we at last returned, 
where we met several interesting and charming nuns, 
tibere is a portrait of Archbishop Leonard Neale, 
whose twenty years of &ith in respcmse to a vision 
of die Order of the Visitation, was at last crowned 
with success in the establishment of tiiis convent. 
The portrait is supposed to be by a Dutch painter, and 
is eminently fine ; homely, exquisite, touching, sweetly 
stem, in the true Dutch contradiotoiy style of £as- 
fBuating art And so, as we came vmvf^ we bore 
with us in onr minds and hearts the gentle, firm, and 
earnest visage of the American Founder. 

A word, and more, should have been said here of 
the clusters of girls trooping out merrily along the 
walk of the garden, into the wider domain of the 
grounds, under charge of some watchful yet smiling 
and companionable sister ; of the indoor play-rooms, 
where the younger or more delicate children — idiom 
it was not advisable to emancipate into the dampness of 
that day, out-doors — frolicked mildly, but gayly, like 
so many lambs or fledglings of various age and sixe. 
Then, too, there was the shiningly neat, commodious 
academy refectory , sparkling with plain glass and china 
on white tablecloths ; and with a high shelf around 
two sides of the wall, where dessert-plates stood 
aixayed on edge with expectation, and rosy apples 


glowed invitiiigly. Up-stairs, the long donnitories 
extended their vistas of snowy little beds and linen 
onrtains in a peaceful series; with stataes of the 
Blessed Virgin or of St. Joseph at either end of the 
apartment, and a small ever-bnming crimson lamp 
before every statue, like a heart aglow with love and 
charity. On a floor above these dormitories were spe- 
cial rooms for young ladies domiciled there to take 
some special course in music or languages, beyond 
the regular curriculum. And, highest of all, at the 
veiy top, were the music-rooms, each fone — like a 
big melodious bird-cage — enclosing a captive piano. 
In this high and airy precinct, also, may be heard the 
warbling of violins. 

From the windows of the music-rooms we became 
suddenly aware of broad, &r-reaching, and delightful 
views over the whole reahn of Washington, with the 
wide and winding flood of the tan-colored Potomac 
eddying along its southwestern verge, and the pictur- 
esque, fast-growing city far below our feet. The mass 
of houses, interspersed with abundant trees, appears, 
because of the irregularity of the ground, to heave 
and billow away beneath us like a material surge of 
Time ; and across and beyond it rises again, majestic, 
the white-pillared Capitol of the United States, its pure 
dome crowned by a solemn figure of Columbia, typify- 
ing Liberty, in dark bronze. As we stand here in 
^^ the upper room " of a Catholic Christian convent, 
it is interesting to reflect that the figure presiding 
there on the summit of the nation's chief place of 
government was designed and modelled by the sculp- 
tor Crawford — &ther of one among the greatest and 


most famons of American novelistB, Marion CSrawf ord, 
who IB an ardent Catholic 

Below US lies the city that seethes with a turmoil 
of politics concentrated frcmi all quarters of the 
Union. It is the whirlpool in which all the conflict- 
ing currents of jealousy or ambition meet and Strug- 
s' ; in which the strivings of individuals or of parties, 
for wealth, social or commercial snprenuusy and the 
power of control, go on unoeasin^y. Many are 
wrecked there ; some go down in the 'vdiirl^xx)! and 
are lost completely. A few snrviYe, for a while. 
On all this we can look down calmly, though witik 
intense compassion, from the serene point of view of 
the convent schooL But it is well that the sombre 
statue which represents civic Liberty there, on that 
eminence of Capitol Hill — overlooking so much of 
intrigue and corruption, so much of angry rivalry, 
greed or disappointment, mingled with virtue and 
honest endeavor — should be aUe to exchange glances 
always with the spirit of self-sacrifice and self -<x)ntrol, 
dominant ever in the holy house of the Visitation, on 
the Georgetown heights. For pure religious fidth, 
true self-renunciation and self-sacrifice are always the 
basis and the beacon-light of a people's genuine 

In those soft, half -soliloquizing tones which are so 
usual with them, the nuns bade us good-by. But, 
although that parting meant the end of immediate 
personal association, a link between us had been 
wrought, which we gladly accepted as something that 
would join us to them, in a manner, permanentiy. 

They had confided to us the manuscript Annals of 


their Greorgetown Convent of the Visitation, with the 
privilege of arranging the contents for publication. 
Unassuming blank-books filled with interesting rec- 
ords, these volumes (some of them very old), bound 
in marbled boards, or carefully covered with smooth 
brown paper or dark doth, hold registered in mann- 
script, penned by the patient, industrious sisters from 
tiJto^e, Jwhok vivid, pathetic and inspirii^ 
narrative of the founding and the growth of this 
first American house of the Visitation Order. It is 
from them that we have drawn the authentic Story of 
Courage, which is related in the course of the en- 
suing chapters. 

As we came away, the Mother Superior said 
quietly, with a subdued and gently resigned fear lest 
we might not look upon the convent as it shone to her 
eyes and lived in her spirit: ^^ It is all very old- 
&shioned and plain, but we love it. It is our home, 
on earth, and" — hesitating again — ^^we think it is 
a little above and more than eajrth." 

The history of it, will, we believe, cause our readers 
to share her feeling. 





The reooid of the establiahment, in the United 
States, of the Order of the Visitation of the Blessed 
Virgin Maiy — like the record of all great instito- 
tions rooted in age-long foith — leads ns at onoe to 
an interesting chain of drcomstances and results, 
which to the world's eye might seem like a series of 
earioas ooincidmoes or aoddents. To the more dia- 
oeming mind, these drcomstances and resoks form 
portions of a plan in which the guiding touch of Grod, 
the far-reaching influence and help of the Hoty Spirit, 
are clearly apparent; working simply, naturally, yet 
with supernatural power and design, throu^ finite 

The lights of history, and in especial of reUgioua 
history, resemble those signals of the heliograph 
which are given by flashes of sunlight reflected from 
a small mirror. With the heUograph, men standing 
on high eleyations can communicate at enormous dis- 
tances. Although they may be so &r apart as to 
remain invisible to each other, yet, from points where 
no other form or motion can be discerned, they send 
their messages of dear intelligence by a r^^ular sys- 
tem of glancing sun rays, — so that, from mountain 


range to mountain range, from peak to peak, the word 
is made to travel on wings of illumination for a him- 
dred miles. 

In the same way, if we ascend to lofty heights of 
observation we may catoh the lights of history, the 
signals of faith as they are flashed upon the mind 
from century to century, across the deep valleys and 
the heavy mists of time. 

And so when, in 1893, we contemplate the fact 
that the Visitation Order in America had its tenta- 
tive beginning here at Greorgetown in the District of 
Columbia in 1793 (though not actually established 
until 1798), another luminous fact comes to us itom 
the remote past, which — like an actual sunbeam — 
shows us that the f oimdation here is closely connected 
with an event which occurred one hundred and sev- 
enty-flve years before that date. 

The event we refer to is a prediction by St. Fraiih 
ois de Sales, himself the originator of the Order of 
the Visitation in France; and this prediction was 
made in 1619. He had been deputed in that year 
to the court of France, where a marriage was to be 
celebrated between Victor Amadeus of Savoy and 
Princess Christine, daughter of the late King Henry 
IV. On the same occasion he was also introduced to 
the youngest daughter of the deceased monarch, Hen- 
rietta Maria. 

Henry IV., her father, had, as we know, enter- 
tained toward the saint a special esteem and affec- 
tion ; ^ shown by cordial aid given to his missionary 
labors in Chablais and Gtez, nearly twenty yean 

1 See the life sketeh of St Franeis in this Tolimie. 


earlier. St. Francis, therefore, who was now Bishop 
of Greneva, must have taken particnlar pleasure in 
witnessing the union of the houses of France and 
SaTOj, through the marriage of Henry's eldest daugh- 
ter, Christine, to Victor. Yet even while allowing 
himself this pleasure, — noticing, too, the vivacity of 
little Henrietta Maria and her delight at the splendor 
of her sister's wedding, — he said, placing his hand 
on the younger princess' head : ^^ Qod has reserved 
for this child a higher destiny^ a more solid glory. 
He designs her for the support of the church.^* 

Words of great import, worthy to be noted and 
emphasized; uttered as they were with a confidence 
which only the pure heart, the clear vision of the seer 
and holy man could authorizel And mark in what 
direct manner the prophecy came true; not only in 
Henrietta's services to the church in England and 
her founding a house of the Visitation many yean 
afterward in France, but also and especially in her 
planting the Catholic colony of Maryland, as well 
as in the work which was to be done a hundred 
and seventy-five years later in the United States — a 
nation unknown and non-eziBtent when St. Francis 
spoke — by the descendants of a &ithful lady at- 
tached to Henrietta's own court. 

For, six years after her sister's wedding, Henrietta 
Maria also became a royal bride, the spouse of 
Charles I. of England. The earthly career of 
Charles ended in tragedy; but, while he reigned, 
Henrietta Maria, as Queen of England, did much to 
better the condition of the persecuted Catholics of 
that country. By the secret articles of her marriage 


treaty it was stipulated that not only she and her 
household were to enjoy their religion without re- 
straint, but that the oppressed Catholics of England 
and Ireland should likewise be protected against the 
rigor of the penal law. 

King Charles, in spite of opposition, did his best 
to cany out these articles of the contract, l^bum 
gallows, which almost daily had been dyed with the 
blood of martyrs, now stood idle. The Tower of 
London and the Tarious jails gave up those large 
numbers of priests and laymen who had been im- 
prisoned for conscience' sake; and although the 
public exercise of Catholic Christian worship was still 
prohibited. Catholics were at least freed from the 
cruelties and oppressions which had weighed upon 
them heavily for many years. 

Notwithstanding tibe general prohibition. Queen 
Henrietta maintained in her court ten priests and ten 
choir musicians, and mass was openly celebrated 
with pomp in her chapel at Whitehall Palace. Ulti- 
mately she erected three stately churches, to which 
were attached bodies of Capuchins, Oratorians, and 
Benedictines. But even with doing so much in Eng- 
land itself she was not satisfied. 

Hitherto no Catholic colony had been settled in the 
new world. Henrietta made it her special care that 
one should now be organized here, under her patron- 
age and with her aid. 

Maryland, the cradle of Catholicity among the 
English-speaking colonies in this hemisphere, was 
named after her, — and thus the holy name of Mary, 
or Maria, bestowed upon this queen, was permanently 


impreflsed also upon a oonsidenible territory idiieh 
wa8 afterward to become part of the United States. 

But Parliament and the Puritan party became en- 
raged with King Charles for his toleration of *^ pop- 
ery; " and because of this, quite as much as on account 
of his unbending views of royal prerogative, took up 
arms against him. When he was defeated and had 
suffered death by decapitation, at the order of the 
ill-&ted court of r^icides, Henrietta — after twenty 
years of life in England — was compelled to fly to 
France, in 1649. Here she sought solace for her 
grief in retirement from the world, and much of her 
time was spent at the Visitation G>nTent in Paris. 
Worldty disaster, the piteous death of her husband, 
and the loss of a thrcme had all ccmtributed to fulfill 
tihe destiny which St. Francis de Sales had, even in 
her young girlhood, foreseen and predicted for her. 
Yet it is plain that her choice of a convent as her 
place of rest and consolation was not due to a mere 
inert and fruitless mourning. For, two years later, 
she proceeded actively to build the third convent of 
Paris (ChaiUot), idiere she entered into a still deeper 
religious seclusion. It was at Chaillot that her 
funeral obsequies were performed, and there, also, 
her heart was enshrined. 

Now, between these events and dreumstances and 
the origin of the first American Visitation house, 
toward the last of the eighteenth century, and its 
complete habitation early in the nineteenth, there is 
an unbroken connection. It was this very convent of 
Chaillot) founded by Henrietta Maria, which first 
acknowledged the community of religious ladies in 



G^rgetown as belonging to the Visitation, and sent 
them (under charge of secrecy) the rules, customs, 
and writings of the Order. 

We must further observe, in the connection of 
G^rgetown with the past, a most important and 
vital link, which is supplied in the life of that faith- 
ful Catholic lady of Henrietta's court, to whom a gen- 
eral allusion has be^i made, — Madam Anna Neale, 
ancestress of the holy Archbishop Neale and of sev- 
eral eminent Jesuits. Madam Neale was a favorite 
^th Queen Henrietta; and it toi by her porteriiy 
that two female religious orders were to be introduced 
into this republic of the United States : the Carmel- 
ites and the Visitation Order. 

The story of her descendant, Archbishop Neale, 
founder of the Visitation in America, — astory which 
we are now to retrace briefly, — is of absorbing and 
impressive interest. 


On the outbreak of the civil wars in England, so 
the annals of the Oeorgetown convent inform us. 
Captain Neale,^ — finding it impossible longer to 
enjoy the comforts of his faith immolested, or to 
serve the captive king — left England with his wife. 
Madam Anna Neale, and their family, betaking him- 
self to the all but wilderness of Maryland, in the 
New World. Yet even into this ^^ Land of the Sanc- 
tuary " Protestant intolerance penetrated. 

^ He WM also, by some penons, said to have been an admiral 
in tbe Royal Navy. 


After the nsorpation of Cromwell, and during the 
xeign of ihe earlier Protestant princes of England, 
the Maryland Catholics found themselves laid under 
tiiose yery privations and disabilities from which they 
had fled in the Old World. Even before then, in- 
deed, scarcely ten years subsequent to the landing of 
Governor Leonard Calvert in 1634, the Puritans — 
whom he had welcomed to the benefits of that gentle 
religious tolerance proclaimed by him for this Catho- 
lic province — rose in aimed insurrection against the 
Catholics and their chief magistrate. 

On the downfall of Charles, many Jesuits in Mary- 
land were seized by the Protestants and sent off to 
England, where they underwent long and cruel impris- 
onment, Finally, in 1654, the Provincial Assembly 
deprived Catholics of their civil rights, and decreed 
diat liberty of conscience should not extend to ^ pop- 
ery, prelacy or licentiousness of opinion." Catholics 
were forbidden to build churches or maintain schods. 
The Mass was prohibited. Catholic Christians were 
not allowed even to walk with their fellow citizens in 
front of the State House at Annapolis, and were sub- 
jected to insult and persecution. Up to the time of 
the American Bevolution, in fact, as the historian 
O'Shea tells us. Catholics were forbidden on pain of 
death to enter any of the other colonies except Penn- 
sylvania ; and in Maryland not a single public place 
of Catholic worship was permitted to exist. Some 
of the Jesuits, however, had succeeded in maintain^ 
ing a few chapek in secret, and also a fine gram- 
mar school on their secluded farm, known as *^ The 
Bohemian Manor," upon the eastern shore. 


It was in this school that Charles Carroll of Car- 
rollton, with the future Archbishop Carroll, and Arch- 
bishop Neale, reoeiyed their first education. 

The generation to which Leonard Neale, afterward 
Archbishop of Baltimore, belonged, seems not to haye 
been recorded with precision. But, as he was bom 
in 1748, the opinion is probably correct, that his 
mother was the grand-daughter of Madam Anna 
Neale. She was left a widow, with six sons and one 
daughter. Yet, although death had taken bom, her 
the companionship of her husband, this fearless and 
deyout woman did not hesitate to consign her life to 
a still deeper loneliness, for the sake of keeping her 
children's faith intact. 

The persecution of Catholics in Maryland, the en- 
forced secrecy of their worship, the suppressing of 
Catholic education by law, upon which we haye 
touched, placed Catholic parents in the dilemma of 
either seeing their children grow up ignorant, or else 
of exposing them to the danger of losing their faith if 
they attended schools hostile to Catholicity. Those 
who could afford it, therefore, were led by a strongs 
and high motiye to send their children to Europe, for 
education. Mrs. Neale, the mother of Leonard, had 
the material means for doing so; and, with a mag- 
nificent deyotion worthy of the cause for which she 
liyed and made her sacrifice, she sent from her side 
all her sons and her only daughter ; placing them in 
the Cadiolic schools or colleges of France and Bel- 

It is a memorable &ct, to be noted here, that fiye 
of these sons (William, Benedict, Charles, Leonazd, 


and Erancb) entered the Society of Jesus. The 
other one made a fitting and creditable marriage. 
The only daughter, Ann, joined the Poor Clares in 
France, and remained there, *^ giving np the com- 
forts of an opnlent home, to embrace the poverty of 
Jesns Christ m a strange hmd." 

** This heroic woman, like the mother of the Mach^ 
abees, was the mother of seven chiMren, whom in 
Hieir early youth she had sacrificed, in order to secore 
dieir eternal happiness itom periL'' But faith made 
this a joy to her. Snrely we may say there could 
hardly have been a nature better fitted than hers to 
bring forth and give early guidance to the character 
of that wise and brave archbishop who was to take 
80 great a part in the first developme n ts of this 
** Story of Courage." 

Leonard and his brother Charles, having ended 
tibeir preparatory course at the Bohemian Manor 
School, were to continue their studies in Europe. 
From one little episode of their departure — slight, 
perhaps, yet pathetic and fall of significance — we 
may judge of the suffering inflicted on these devoted 
people by the bigotry which oppressed them and 
forced them to such a Beparation. Itgiyesus an in- 
nght, also, into the heroic resolution of Mrs. Neale. 
When Leonard, only ten years old, was brought to 
the dock where lay the ship that was to cany him 
from home, he made such resistance to going on board 
that his poor mother, even in that hour of terrible 
trial to herself, was obliged to whip him before she 
could make him leave her. 

But her unyielding self-denial received a tangible 


reward, in this world. The reluctant blows with 
iduoh she drove him from her, while lacerating her 
own heart, had, we may think, some premonitory 
touch of consecration in their scourging. Both Leon- 
ard and all her priestly sons — excepting Bey. Wil- 
liam Neale, who died in EngLmd — returned to her 
long afterward. They then remained in America, 
and were the comforters of her old age, as well as a 
glory to the church in this country. 

Leonard, as we have said, became a Jesuit. For 
rixteen years he stayed in Flanders; five years he 
spent in England, and four more in Demerara, South 
America ; coming back to Maryland at last in 1783. 

Many instances of Mrs. Neale's piety have been 
remembered ; and some things were told of her which 
verged upon the miraculous, but have not been veri- 
fied. One instance of her spirituality was, however, 
told by the archbishop himself to Mother Agnes, and 
often repeated by her to the sisters at G^rgetown. 

(( Being ill one Sunday and unable te go to church, 
Mrs. Neale wished, at least, to hear mass in spirit 
and to unite with the congregation in prayer. Ac- 
cordingly, at the hour of service she seated herself 
at a window looking towards St. Thomas Manor, and 
here— like Daniel gazing toward Jerusalem — she 
yearned for the holy sacrifice and for the temple. 
God heard her prayer, — dare we conjecture to what 
extent? . • • Yet this we know : that on the return of 
her household from church, she was able to rehtte to 
them the entire sermon, assuring them she had heard 
every word preached that morning at St. Thomas, 
three miles distant." 


She liYed to a venerable age, dying, it is thongliti 
prior to 1793 ; the exact date has not been obtained. 

Ten years before that date, Father Leonard Neale 
arrived at home from Demerara, after a perilous voy- 
age during which he was captured by British cruisers. 
He had sailed in Januaiy, 1783, and he landed in 
April of the same year. The revolt of the colonies 
and the dose of the Bevolutionary War had brought 
great changes; among them a decided relaxation of 
tihe former intense hostility to Catholics. The upris- 
ing against Grreat Britain had made it essential to 
conciliate Catholics for the sake of unily in resisting 
the crown. And in truth they were found extremely 
useful in fighting the battles of freedom, contributing 
as they did to the continental army large numbers of 
gallant American soldiers and officers. 

In 1774 was passed the Act of Catholic Emanci- 
pation ; and in that very month of April, 1783, when 
Father Neale again reached his native land, (George 
Washington, at the head of the army, — on the 19th 
of April, the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington 
and Concord, — issued a proclamation of peace. 

With its broadening light of a truer liberty and 
the equal rights of Catholic citizens, this was the 
dawn of a better day for America, when consecrated 
priests of the Christian foith could live and move 
unhindered in the country of their birth or their 
adoption. It was of hi^ypy omen that Father Neale, 
whom Providence (as we shall see) had chosen for 
tihe rearing of a living monument to Catholic &ith at 
the capital of the new United States, should return at 
such a time. 


He was now thirty-fiye jeats of age, and for twenty- 
five years of his life he had been absent from home. 
It is recorded that, when he came to the fiunily man- 
sion at Port Tobacco and asked for Mrs. Neale, she 
received him with the formality properly used towards 
an entire stranger. Father Leonard, seeing that she 
did not know him, feared that if he should reveal 
himself suddenly his mother might be too greatly 
surprised, perhaps overcome, by the meeting and the 
recognition. He asked that they might withdraw 
together to a more private room, smce he had business 
of importance to communicate. When they were 
alone, he told her that he had been acquainted with 
her sons in Europe ; had himself been a fellow-student 
with them at St. Omer and Li^ge ; was at Bruges 
when the " stunning edict " of the suppression of the 
Jesuits was declared and was followed by the break- 
ing up of their collies, with the dispersion of priests 
and students, and the pillage of their houses. 

So, by answering all her inquiries and drawing her 
on to questions about her Poor Clare daughter and 
himself, he led her to the surmise that he was no 
stranger, but her veritable long-lost son. The dis- 
closure came to her then as a great happiness* Had 
she not well earned it ? 

It was permitted to this noble mother and her 
noble son that they should remain together in the 
happiness of this reunion for ten years ; Father Neale 
being stationed at Port Tobacco during that period. 
He was with her at her death, and had liie consolation 
of administering to her, himself, the last sacraments. 
In this he used to say that he resembled St. Frauds 


de Sales, yAo did the same for his own Tenerable 
mother. Here, again, we have one of those ooind- 
dences which are still something more than ooinci- 
dence, that oontinually crop out like little veins of 
gold ranning through the simple, solid, onpretentioas 
&ct-stratam of this Visitation history. 

After his mother's death. Father Neale was ordered 
to Philadelphia, to replace Fathers Grasler and Flem- 
ing, who, while attending the dying, in the frightful 
yellow fever epidemic there in 1793, had themselves 
&]l6n victims to the plague. Father Neale hastened 
to *'^ the city of pestilence and death, where he cheered 
by his presence the terror-stricken flock, or soothed 
the last hours of the departing ; encouraging all by 
his tender and undaunted charity." 

On the reappearance of the same e[ndemie in 
1797-98, his heroic exertions were renewed and con- 
tinued, until he liimaAlf was attacked by the deadly 
fever. Laid prostrate, he now showed by his exam- 
ple of patience and resignation what he had pre- 
viously taught in words. Heaven spared his life for 
further and greater service in the Church; and in 
the following summer he was nominated President of 
G^rgetown College. 

In the spring of 1799 he left Philadelphia, to assume 
the duties of this new post But we must now go 
back for a few moments, to the time of his mission in 
Demerara, in order to show how the idea of establish- 
ing the Visitation in America was first presented to 

in. VATJUfiK NEAIiB's yibion. 

Wlien ihe Jesuits in Europe were suppressed in 
1773, Father Leonard Neale, who had become a 
priest of that society, was in Flanders. After this 
eyent and the dispersal of the Jesuit Fathers in all 
directions, his time for five years was occupied with 
the care of a small congregation in England. But, 
longing for a wider field, and being especially anxious 
to aid in Christianizing American Indians, he set out 
for the mission of British Guiana, South America, 
where he took up his abode in Demerara, — the Eng- 
lish name of which, singularly enough, ia also Greorge- 

The mission was a difficult and painful one ; yet, 
during his service there, hundreds of savages were 
converted and baptized. Encouraging though these 
results of his zeal imdoubtedly were, his work was 
constantly opposed and checked by the English set- 
tlers and authorities, who would not permit him even 
to buiU a ohuieh. The young missionaiy was there- 
fore compelled to suffer all the seyerity of the op- 
pressive local dimate, while attending his daily duties 
and offieUtbg among his scattered oommmdcuits in 
the vast, swampy forests, with little or no shelter 
from the violent showers of the rainy season, which in 
those latitudes continues through more than half the 

The greater portion of the coimtry was a lowland, 
which even at a distance of several leagues from the 
sea was flooded at high tide. The swampy soil was 
covered with a dense wilderness, infested by 


tors, jaguars, led tigers, rattlesnakes, boaroonstriotors, 
and innumerable yenomous reptiles or insects. Arcli- 
bishop Neale used to recall in later years bow, at tbat 
time, the path which he trod through the forest was 
often so black with swarms of noxious insects that the 
very ground seemed to be alive and moving. 

Father Neale — as he then was — bore up under 
the weight of labor, suffering, and continual exposure 
for four years. But his health at last began to give 
way. His robust frame betrayed symptoms of an 
alarming nature. Cough and fluxion asserted them- 
selves, and never wholly left him again. The failure 
of physical strength would hardly have induced him 
to quit Demerara. But sectarian hostility, and the 
refusal of the British authorities to allow the building 
of a Catholic church edifice, made it certain that the 
fruit of his labors would soon wither, since his power 
to meet the demands of so arduous a life was continu- 
ally diminishing. 

Still another circumstance seemed to overrule his 
desire to stay and sa^uard his dusky neophytes. 

A mysterious vision had come to him, which beck- 
oned him elsewhere and pointed out a work of an- 
other kind, — a work that he was indeed destined to 
accomplish though as yet he could apprehend it but 

While he was in Demerara, the South American 
G^rgetown, he beheld — whether in dream or in a 
waking trance, we do not know — a long procession 
of religious women, headed by Saint Jane de Chantal 
and dad in a peculiar costume which he afterwards 
learned was the prescribed ^^ habit," or dress, of the 


Visitatbn Order. In the picture, or yision, which 
tiuiB presented itself to him, stood St. Francis de 
Sales, who, looking stead&stlj at the nussionaty, 
said : ^ Tou will erect a house of this Order.^^ 

Not far away, in this vision, was a fountain or res- 
ervoir, from which an angel pumped streams of lim- 
pid water, while crying out repeatedly : ^^ Pax super 
I&rad ! ** (Peace unto Israel.) 

It would seem that, dear and vivid though the 
apparition was. Father Neale did not know the two 
principal persons in it as St. Jane and St. Francis. 
In those days, when portraits could be reproduced 
only by engravings, which were of limited and slow 
oironlation, it might easily — indeed, it would most 
probably — be the case, that even an ecclesiastic who 
had spent much time in Europe would not have that 
familiarity with the personal appearance, the features 
of men and women eminent in religion, which is open 
to us of to-day through countless books and illustra- 
tions. Moreover, there was no house of the Visita- 
tion in the cities where Father Neale had lived. He 
therefore had no acquaintance with its members, their 
institute, or the garb of the nuns. But it is written 
that he was a prof oimd admirer of the teachings of 
St. Francis de Sales, and in after years hoped to in- 
still the saint's peaceful and humble spirit into the 
natures of his own spiritual daughters. 

What the dream or spiritual disclosure meant, he 
was wholly at a loss to decide. How was he to exe- 
cute the mandate to found a house of an Order 
strange to him and unidentified? What could be de- 
noted by the angel ciying out, ^^ Peace unto Israel " ? 


Althoogli the whole thing remained an enigma to 
him, it yet impressed his mind so deeply that he conld 
not forget it. All the details fixed themselves in his 
memory, firm, distinct, nndimmed. The figure of 
the holy man in pontifical insignia, resplendent with 
glory and accompanied by St. Jane de Chantal with 
her train of saintly daoghters, lived always radiant 
before his eyes ; and, notwithstanding that the indi- 
viduality of each was unknown to him, the words of 
the Bishop of Greneva rang ever in his ears. From 
that moment he was on the watch to discover, in each 
event of his life, some due to the fulfillment of those 
words; some indication of Grod's will towards the 
carrying out of a behest or prophecy so direct and 

As we shall see, the full accomplishment of this be- 
hest was reserved to be almost the final act in the 
career of this consecrated servant of Grod and the 
Church. What could the poor outcast missionary 
priest, struggling to perform his Master's wiQ in the 
poisonous swamps of Demerara, g^ess of the earthly 
future in store for him? Did his thoughts then turn 
from the Greorgetown of British Ghiiana to the Greorge- 
town in the District of Columbia, where his final work 
was to be done ? 

We think not. For no human being could have 
foreseen or planned the train of circumstances by which 
he was to achieve, in this more northern Greorgetown, 
the task which had been set for him in those words 
uttered by the St. Francis de Sales of his vision at 
the South American Greorgetovm. We know that he 
Game home to Maryland from Demerara, and served 



as a priest at Port Tobaooo and in Philadelphia for 
fifteen years longer, before there was the slightest hint 
from any source that he would be called to Greorge- 
town in the District of Columbia, where the oppor- 
tunity was given to him of realizing in solid actuality 
the ghostly command of St. Francis, by means and 
instruments which Providence had prepared. 

Those means and instruments had been brought to- 
gether from independent sources, without his know- 
ledge. They were utterly beyond his touch or con- 
trol, at least until 1796. And even when he came to 
Gteorgetown, D. C, in the spring of 1799, and began 
to realize his possible opportunity, the obstacles and 
indeed the actual opposition of fellow Catholics to the 
achievement of his task — as our narrative will soon 
make clear — were such as would have persuaded any 
man not guided by a supernatural idea, and by the 
Catholic confidence in supernatural aid, that it was 
hopeless for him to persist in carrying out the plan 
entrusted to him by the vision and the mandate of a 
saint. But, no ; Uke St. Francis, he was inspired to 
feel the need of this particular Order ; and when, sub- 
sequently, he was urged to merge it in that of the 
TJrsulines, or otherwise deprive it of a peculiar virtue 
all its own, he would insist that the Church is a gar- 
den, the variety of whose plants (the different Orders) 
adds to its beauty. 

It is interesting to note, that as the angel in 
Father Neale's vision, cried ^^ Peace unto Israel," — 
an exclamation, which at the time seemed to have no 
special relevance, — so Father Neale, at the end of 
the voyage home, which was to result in realizing his 


dzeam, reached the United States in the veiy month 
when peace was proclaimed. 

We leave to psychologists or natural scientists, 
if they choose, all disputation as to the origin or sig- 
nificance of Father Neale's vision. To us, these are 
dear and simple. We but limit ourselves to record- 
ing the plain &cts. At the time when the vision 
came. Father Neale did not understand it. He 
labored patiently for many years in other directions, 
like the true priest that he was, without receiving any 
further indication as to how he was to achieve the 
prophecy. He worked hard, exposed himself without 
fear to pestilence, and was nearly stricken to death by 
yellow fever. At last he was brought to die scene 
where he was to accomplish the joyful task set for 

Yet, all through this time, he had no exact know- 
ledge of the Order of the Visitation. Not until iMrty 
years later — when he was more than sixty years old 
— did he succeed in finding a picture of St. Jane de 
Chantal, the foundress of the order, and, when he 
found it, he recognized there the face and the con- 
ventual dress which he had seen in his vision in far- 
off Demerara ; although at that time he had had no 
previous knowledge of it. 

Daily life and observation, as well as the records of 
natural science, prove that there is such a thing as 
mirage. A mirage, imder certain conditions of the 
atmosphere, lifts up above the horizon the outline and 
the image of distant objects which, ordinarily, are not 
visible to the eye or through the telescope. A mirage 
raises before our vision objects which we had not seen 


before and did not think were ¥rithin our ken, — ahips 
journeying afar, or continentB and islands beyond the 
range of our conunon sight. 

May there not be a mirage of the mind, the soul, — 
as exact as this of the eye and the atmosphere, — dis- 
dosing not only natural but also supernatural things, 
which are absolutely real although not perceived by 
us before? 

Perhaps it was such a condition that enabled Father 
Neale to see, beyond the desert or the liquid plain of 
years, and through the ha2se of the future, the duly 
habitated nuns of the Visitation house which he was 
to establish. 

Let those who think the supposition fanciful or 
trifling examine with care the history of his achieve- 
ment, which we are about to give. But first we must 
describe the Visitation Order and its beginnings in 
Savoy and France. 




It was in the year 1604 that St. Francis de Sales, 
Bishop of G^eva, and St. Jane de Chantal, then a 
widow, first met. St. Francis in that year preached 
the lenten sermons at Dijon, whither the Baroness 
de Chantal had been invited, by her father, to repair 
and hear him. Before performing this mission of 
lenten preaching, for which he had become famous, 
St. Francis went into retreat at his ancestral home, 
tiie Chateau de Sales, situated in the centre of Savoy, 
and not far from La Roche. This house was a haven 
of rest, where the saint's most saintly mother pre- 
sided happily over a large &unily of married sons and 
daughters, who lived in exquisite harmony. One day 
St. Francis became, in the chapel, ravished in ecstasy^ 
receiving a great access of light upon the mysteries of 
the faith, and also a vision of the Order of the Vis- 
itation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The saint was 
allowed to see distinctly the principal persons who 
were to assist him in founding the Order, so that he 
afterwards easily recognized them in the flesh. 

On her own part, the baroness recognized in the 
Bishop of Greneva the spiritual director whom she 
had seen in a vision, when praying that Grod would 
send her some one to advise and lead her in religion. 


She was now filled with joy and hope, and, sitting in 
front of the pulpit, gazed eagerly up at the preacher^ 
who did not fail to notice her dear-skinned, dark- 
eyed young face. It happened to be to the baroness's 
brother that St. Francis appealed, one day, inquiring 
yAo she was, and an introduction was soon effected. 
This brother was Andr^ Fremyot, the young Arch- 
bishop of Bourges, and through him the two founders 
of the Visitation Order were enabled to meet and 
oonverse a number of times. In the attempt to leam 
whether the baroness was ready to renoimoe the 
world, St. Francis took occasion to remark upon cer- 
tain ornaments which she wore. At the next inter- 
view these ornaments had disappeared. In every 
other possible way she proved most firmly her abso- 
lute desire to devote herself to religion. 

Upon returning to his episcopal residence at 
Annecy, which is situated in Savoy (Canton of 
G^eva) south of the Savoy mountains, St. Francis 
opened a correspondence by letter which was a source 
of great spiritual development to St. Jane, and 
brought steadily forward the imdertaking of the new 

The reasons for that imdertaking were as follows : 
Asylmns had been established for all sorts of people 
except delicate females, old or young, who were per- 
haps even seriously infirm, and who desired to devote 
themselves to God without the severe vows of self- 
crucifying observances and coporeal austerities, com- 
mon to other Orders. These sisters of the human 
family, without winning renown in the eyes of the 
world, being in some cases feeble, deformed, or of 


Immble capacity, ** might nererdieless grow beantifiif 
in the estbnation of angels," said their friend, the 
IKshop. He exclaimed : ^ Oh, how I love the little 
Tirtoes which jBow through the valley of our misery : 
gentleness of heart, humility of spirit, and simplicity 
of life and spiritual exercises I " And these little 
virtues he foimd indigenous to women's generosity. 
Moreover, St. Frauds planned to make the Order 
one of usefulness to all who, outside of it, could feel 
its benefits. The name was chosen in honor of the 
mysteiy of the Visitation, because, if the sisters 
visited the poor and sick as their founder ruled, they 
would try to imitate the ardor and generosity of 
Mary, who, disregarding her own love of solitude, 
and breaking her retreat from the world, climbed the 
hills of Judea, with burning charity, to cany abun- 
dant joy to Elisabeth. He was extremely earnest 
upon this point of the active charity of this particular 
Order, founded as much for the succoring of the mis- 
erable in the world, as for the harboring of delicate 
nuns, although the usual law of strict enclosure would 
thus be relaxed. The innovation was emphatically 
opposed by many, who thought that the religious life 
would tiiereby lose much of its spirituality and dig- 

All attacks, and advice intended for his discourage- 
ment, were met by the saint with quiet determination ; 
and yet a readiness to retire from his positions at the 
first sign that Book was Grod's wilL St. Jane was, 
tliough so noUe, often alarmed at the threatening dif- 
ficulties on all sides, and received from her director 
admirable words of reassurance. **We should be,'' 


he wrote to lier, ^^ (if it be Grod's will) as willing to 
&il as to sucoeed." And also : *^ If it does not please 
Grod that onr project flourish, it shall not please me 
either, and it is not necessary to lose an hour's sleep 
over the matter." *^Grod makes people cooperate 
with him when they are least aware of it." 

These were splendid answers from an enthusiasm 
which had perceived a vision of the Visitation and its 
chief personages, and kept St. Francis occupied much 
of the time for years in energetic planning for his 
undertaking. Force and gentleness were his constant 
companions. ** I hold myself as low aud very little ; 
I seize the humiliations which present themselyes; 
and if I do not meet with any, I humble myself 
because I am not humiliated," was the expression he 
once gave to his fearlessness concerning rebuff. The 
Visitation Order would never have been built up, if 
it had been built for the honor of St. Francis de 

He finally, in 1616, relinquished the regulation 
which directed the nuns to carry holy help to the 
poor. Sisters of Charity were reserved for the insti- 
tution of St. Vincent de PauL The circumstances 
of his changing so important a clause were as follows : 

One morning, during 1616, four or five French 
ladies, who came from Lyons, appeared at the mon- 
astery in Annecy, desiring to investigate the compar- 
atively new Order. One of them was a religious of 
die Paraclete, and the others were devout vridows. 
The Sisters of the Visitation received them with the 
cordiality for which they had come to be widely 
distinguished. Madame Colin, one of the ladies thus 


teoeired^ realized that she now saw the Order of 
which she had been aooorded prophetic knowledge in 
a dream ; one of the many yisions connected with the 
history of the Visitation, which was so replete with 
diem; as, indeed, seems particularly appropriate, 
since the mystery itself was heralded by a vision* 
Madame Colin had not been able to imagine where 
she was to look for the Order she had seen in a dream, 
nntil she found herself at Annecy. The religious 
was Madame de Grouffier, member of an illustrious 
fiimily, who desired to leave for a more fervent Order 
the one to which she belonged, and which had greatly 
declined. She had read the ** Introduction to the 
Devoted Life " of St. Francis, and immediately 
desired to study the sisterhood which he had called 
into being. She became a novice, remaining at 
Annecy. Madame d'Auxerre, another of the little 
company of visitors, returned to Lyons to begin the 
establishment of a house of the Visitation in that city. 
She had been fortified by several interviews with St. 
Francis, and she was most kindly assisted by the Car- 
dinal de Marquemont, Archbishop of Lyons. Every- 
thing had been prepared for the reception of the sis- 
ters of the house of the Visitation at Annecy, who 
were to come and make the foundation ; as it is the 
custom, in establishing a new house, to have the assist- 
ance of some most venerable members of the Order 
which is to be further augmented. But suddenly 
the jealousy of certain influential people of Lyons 
intervened, and the Cardinal de Marquemont was 
asked whether Grod only worked miracles through the 
Bishop of Gteneva, and why other bishops could not 


ereot congregations as perfect as that of Anneqy. 
Without much reflection or delay, it was decided that 
the Archbishop of Lyons should erect a congregation 
under the title of the PreserUcstion. New roles were 
made, and the establishment began with much pomp, 
having, in obedience to the wishes of the Archbishop, 
Madame d'Auxerre as Superioress. But in a few 
months this venture expired. The wise delays, the 
patient reconsiderations, the heroic poverty and trust 
of the true f oimdation were wanting. Madame d'Aux- 
erre implored the Archbishop to at last allow the erec- 
tion of the Visitation Order itself ; and she and her 
companions begged the forgiveness of St. Francis for 
haying altered his roles in their monastery. A 
remarkable fact here came to view. The royal let- 
ters patent which had been expected from Paris, 
authorizing the institution of the house of the Pres- 
entcstion^ now arrived, and it was discovered that 
wherever the word ^^ Presentation " was to have been 
inserted in the text, ** Visitation " had been used in- 
stead. Briefly, the Archbishop asked that M^re de 
Chantal and those sisters who had assisted her in the 
earliest days of the Order, should come and establish 
it in Lyons. This was done to the profound delight 
of St. Francis, who sent, so he himself said, *^the 
cream of the foundation" at Annecy to this great 
enterprise and first branch of the mother house. It 
was at this point that the Archbishop of Lyons began 
to show his disapproval of semi-enclosure, and wrote 
a treatise upon the subject, in which he defended the 
absolute cloistering of all nuns. He thought that 
in Lyons, and other large cities, great danger might 


result from allowing tbe sisters to pass into the out- 
side world on errands of mercy. St. Francis replied 
by anotber treatise; which, however, his friend the 
Cardinal, was too timid to accept as condnsiye. Then 
St. Francis acceded to his superior's wishes ; and he 
did so, said he, ^^ not only humbly and reverently, as 
I ought, but cordially and cheerfully, in all good feel- 
ing." Nevertheless, he insisted imswervingly, and in 
spite of all controversy, upon that danse in his rale 
wldch permitted invalids to be received, not arguing 
fnrdier widi the worldly who thought it unwise in 
economy tx> do so, than to say: ^^Yes, it must be 
done : I am a partisan of die infirm I " Some even 
of the sisters thought that diey might be hampered if 
many lame and blind applied for admittance to the 
Older. **' Have no fear," he answered ; ^ Grod shall 
send a sufficient number who are beautiful and agree- 
able, according to the opinion of the crowd I " And 
«his was particularly true. 

During the time allowed them for outside benefi- 
cence, before complete enclosure was endorsed by the 
saint, the sisters performed wonders of mercy, where 
any other than angels would have feared to tread. 

The life of a nun of the Visitation was directed, as 
above stated, far more gently than that of any odier 
religions of that time. Various severities were as- 
sumed by die most devout, but diey were not compul- 
sory, and were sometimes forbidden when discovered. 
There was for her no more abstinence than in ordi- 
nary life, and scarcely more &sts. She did not rise 
before dawn; she was not less well provided for in 
food or bed than die common run of people* In con- 


fleqnenoe, many persons desired to join the Order who 
had neyer before dared to contemplate entering oon- 
yentual life. But in relaxing some of the chains, St. 
Francis created others by which human nature might 
be subdued, if not, as was said above, by self-crucify- 
ing obserranoes, stUl by a method of Jral disciple 
as profound as it was exquisite. The poverty which 
he commanded the nuns to accept was complete. Not 
even an individual medal, crucifix, rosary, or cell 
could be used by a sister for more than a year, that 
the idea of self might be merged in the idea of loving 
others even to the last step of personalily. The many 
r^ulations embraced nothing which could injure the 
b^th, but also forgot nothing that could purify the 
spirit through renunciation. In all religious orders 
the presiding aim is so powerful that it even moulds 
the facial expression of the members. In die Visita- 
tion the presiding aim is a concord of sweetness, 
mutual support, and holy cordiality. It was a law 
that the Superioress should be always cheerful and 
kindly of &ce, though firm in her direction ; full of 
love, but unbending in dignity. St. Francis unceas- 
ingly reiterated all this. He wished the sisters to be 
ever affable and gracious in consequence of deep 
charity. At last his inspiration reached as it were 
the heart of tlie Order, never to be lost ; as we may 
see, after three hundred years. 

To return to the still younger epoch of the Order 
from which this digression has been made; — the 
time had come, in 1610, for choosing a house at 
Annecy for St. Jane de Chantal and her several nuns, 
and fortune seemed particularly propitious. There 


was aa opulent family of which tibe three memben 
were strongly inclined to retire from the workL The 
&ther and son wished to enter the Order of the Friars 
Minor ; and the mother wished to form a new Order 
for women, devoted to seclusion and prayer. Many 
were anxious to join this congregation, and public 
opinion endiusiastically approved of it. St. Francis 
was asked to unite his congregation to the one de- 
scribed. He did not greatly &ncy the measure, but, 
always humble, and willing to let others have their 
will if at all practicable, he at last lent liiTnaAlf to the 
suggestion. The requisite house was to be given to 
the two combined Orders by the rich patroness, and 
Pentecost had been chosen as the day for the estab- 
lisfament. As the time approached, and St. Frands 
heard nothing from die lady who had promised the 
convent house, he wrote to her that the eve of her 
sacrifice was near, and that she must dedde whether 
she had the courage to make it. The lady decided 
that she had not die courage. This want of good 
&ith was die harder to meet, as the saint had now no 
house provided in which to establish the Visitation ; 
and St. Jane, thinking the pecuniary needs of the 
Order would be supplied by the prospective patroness, 
had deeded all her own wealdi to her children. Nev- 
ertheless, die two founders were equal to the emer- 
gency, and were really glad that the rule of poverty 
was to be so completely carried out. In the faubourg 
de la Perri^re, almost upon die border of the lake, St. 
Francis chose, and immediately bought widi part 
mortgage, a little house with a court on one side, and 
an orchard on the odier ; the latter separated from 


tihe house by a road, but connected by a covered gal- 
leiy, thrown like a bridge over the way. It was there- 
fore called **' the little house of die Galerie^^^ and has 
ever since been affectionately known by that name. 
St. Francis declared that he had never been happier 
in his life than upon finding '^ a secure cage for his 
doves." But in consequence of die defection of 
the would-be, and would-not-be nun alluded to, the 
foundation of the order was necessarily postponed 
until Trinily Sunday, which came in this year upon 
the Feast day of St. Claude, the 6th of June ; and 
thus, aldiough no one remembered it until the last 
moment, was fulfilled a prophecy made in vision to 
St. Jane long before, that she would '^ enter the re- 
pose of die children of Grod through the gate of St. 
Claude," — an assurance which she could in no wise 
imderstand until the event. 

It had been attempted to keep secret die hour at 
which she and her two companions were to retire to 
their litde convent ; but, after all, a great crowd was 
gathered upon the streets, and devoudy watched the 
foundresses of die Visitation as, at evening, diey 
passed along to the House of die Galerie^ accom- 
panied by die noblesse of Annecy, the magistrates, 
and the people of die middle classes. The three 
brave and devoted ladies were conducted by the three 
brothers of St. Francis de Sales. Benedictions were 
uttered around them, and all hearts were touched at 
this peaceful triumph of humilily and charily. At 
their entrance into their house, Anne^Facqueline 
Coste met diem and threw herself at dieir feet ; for 
she was to be out«ister and portress, and was one of 


tiKMe seen by St. Francis in liis ymon of the ea^ 
members of the Order. 

The hoQse was filled with a bevy of hidies, mostly 
the connections and friends of the foundresses, who 
desired to be the last to embrace them as they bade 
ttaaeweH to the world's customs and delights. 

Nig^t fell, and the three novices found themselyes 
alone with Grod. A great peace enfolded them. 
They read tibe rules laid down for their immediate 
use. Absolute enclosure was enjoined for this first 
year of solemn test, after which they were to visit 
(according to the first intention) the poor and sick, 
and teach the ignorant. Mademoiselle Favre and 
Mademoiselle de Br^chard promised all filial obedi- 
ence to Madame de ChantaL Faithful Anne-Jacque- 
line Coste was embraced as a sister. The three ladies 
Hien went to theb simple little cells, and gladly put 
aside their worldty attire. Mademoiselle de Brdchard 
went so far as to trample her fashionably-trimmed 
clothes under foot ; and she often in subsequent years 
spoke of the blessed content which filled her heart as 
she felt herself freed forever from the dominion of 
empty elegance ; so that she slept more sweetly than 
at any time before in her life, although upon a hard 
and narrow convent bed. 

All night Madame de Chantal was awake, adoring 
God's mercy towards the enterprise. Yet at break 
of day her joy and peace were disturbed She was 
assailed by the fear that she had tempted Grod by 
undertaking the guidance of this religious family. 
The trial was nobly borne, and after two hours of 
agony she again felt profound trust and hope. She 


awakened her dear daughters in religion, and they all 
dressed lihemselves in lihe habit of the novitiate. It 
was a simple Uaok gown, with a white linen ooUar ; 
a Uaok band covering the forehead half way down to 
the eyebrows, and concealing all the hair. Then, a 
large head-ooyering of black taffeta, without the least 
trimming, enveloped the head and shoulders, and, if 
lowered, could entirely hide the face. 

At eight o'clock St. Francis came to celebrate 
Mass. After dinner he returned again to visit them, 
accompanied by another crowd of interested specta- 
tors, and he concluded the day by ordering enclosure 
for this initial year. The foundation had been hap- 
pily established. 

Anne-Jacqueline Coste, at sundown, set about pre- 
paring the first meaL This was a matter of some 
perplexity, as there was no food in the house and no 
money with which to buy it. In the morning she 
had asked some advice upon the subject of St. Jane, 
who had smiled and said : ^* My good daughter, Grod 
will provide for us." Anne obediently tried to be 
reconciled to this answer. But after ten hours she 
felt that she must bestir herself, and so went into the 
garden, picked a bunch of herbs, begged a trifle of 
milk of a neighbor, and concocted a broth. As the 
novices sat down to sup upon this fine fare there 
came a knock at the door. A friend had sent wine, 
bread, and meat. Anne was now a little ashamed of 
her too great energy, and her want of absolute faith. 

As long as six months afterwards their poverty 
was equally great Perhaps three sous worth of 
charcoal were needed ; and, according to the careful 


rule, all thiee f onndresBeB would take tbeir keys and 
go together in eager haste and perturbation to peep 
into the money-box. St. Jane recounts that on such 
an occasion exactly three sous were found ; and she 
adds that diey were much relieved to discover diey 
had so many I Some one had given diem in charily 
a small barrel of wine. They drew from it for more 
than a year, and the tiny barrel faithfully responded 
with its contents. Then another barrel was sent 
tiiem, and the first one promptly refused to supply an 
additional drop. St. Jane assured die sisters diat it 
would not have tlius refused if its resources had still 
been needed. Their poverty, be it said, was largely 
voluntary. A bequest was left to the convent by a 
very rich lady, who, without letting the sisters know 
of it before her death, had made them her legatees. 
However, her relatives began a suit to annul the wilL 
St. Francis would not let his religious children be 
disturbed by any wrangling widi meroenaiy greedy 
and ordered the convent to cede all its rights in the 
matter. None the less, die sisters offered die Mass 
every Saturday in memory of dieir dead friend, as 
her will had requested. In this way religious Orders 
are built up, — by relinquishments, humilily and 
peace, and laboring poverty. 

At die dose of die year during which the com- 
munity at Annecy had been faithful to the strictest 
enclosure, the profession of the sisters was made witli 
great solemnity. The surviving children of St. Jane 
were at her side at tlie moment when she irrevocably 
dedicated herself to the life of a nun* Far from 
abandoning these children, her care for them was 


eyein more efficient than ever before. Her eldest 
daaghter was married to a young brother of Sti 
Francis, and lived in a chateau in die neighborhood, 
from which she could easily come to visit her mother, 
or to which St. Jane could go at need. Her daughter 
Fran^oise spent her girlhood with her mother in the 
convent, and was die first pensioner, or little student, 
received there. Novices had already been admitted, 
and the outlook for the Visitation was most hopefuL 

St. Francis decided to organize still more minutely 
the rule of life. He decreed that the labors for which 
the sisters had been especially called togetlier should 
begin on January 1st, 1612. He had intended to 
dedicate die communily to the patronage of St. Mar- 
tha, die model of all those who would serve the poor* 
But St. Jane deeply desired that her daughters in re- 
ligion might be devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. 
She did not say so to St. Francis, but she prayed to 
Qod that her wish might be fulfilled. Soon her 
prayer was answered, and the saint told her that he 
had placed the communily under die care of the 
Blessed Virgin, and had chosen die mystery of die 
Visitation as die most appropriate illustration of their 
mission. The sisters were at first called FiUes de 
Scdnte-Marie ; but when they began actively to carry 
on their ministrations diey were called Visitandines, 
as has ever since been the custom. From the day of 
profession, the 6di of July, to the 1st of January, 
there were six months in which to add still more 
amply to their numbers. The saint held council- 
meetings among the sisters, to facilitate all final ar- 
rangements, and the dear understanding of the rules. 


The first meeting was called together in tibe oichaid 
on a loTely June afternoon, when the holy founder 
amved with his secretary, M. Michel, who was al- 
ways in attendance during his visits to the convent ; 
and the nuns seated themselves comfortably on ter- 
races and banks in a semicircle around their beloved 
director. Thus St. Francis b^;an: ^^My very dear 
risters, now that our numbers are going to increase, 
we must put our afihirs in order. In the first place, 
we must get up at five in the morning. As for me 
and my Sister AnncnFacqueline, it is easy for us to 
do so, because we are rustics from the village ! " 
[This was no doubt an allusion to the fact that the 
nuns were all members of the highest &milies, and 
hitherto accustomed to die usual relaxations of 
wealth.] ^^ Another thing; we must use great re- 
spect towards each other. I happen to know that the 
Jesuits, if they meet the same religious a hundred 
times a day, will raise their hats to him eveiy time. 
So let us incline the head each time we meet'* It 
was in this easy and cheerful style that all those mat- 
ters were arranged which did not require solemnity. 
The Catholic mind, of all others, has the opportunity 
to learn where solemnity becomes ridiculous, and 
wbere hearty cheer is fitting and refreshing. The 
sisters once asked the saint what ho most desired of 
them. He answered: ^^ Humility. We should seek 
nothing, but refuse nothing coming from Grod." 

^^And should we warm ourselves when we are 
cold? " some one inquired. 

^^ If the fire is already made^^^ he replied, smiling. 
^ But acts of exterior humility are not humility. They 


aie, howeTer, very nsefuL They are the rind of vir- 
tue. Humility is not only having a low opinion of 
one's self, but accepting wiUingly the scorn of otliers. 
Be joyously humble before Grod and man." One day 
St. Jane asked him to speak a little further about 
affability^ which, as has been mentioned, he consid- 
ered a virtue of the first importance. The sisters 
again seated diemselves upon die sward at his feet, in 
the orchard, where all was enchanting summer. Sud- 
denly a diunderbolt sprang over the heavens, fright- 
ening the nuns, who made great signs of the cross 
upon their breasts as each flash of lightning appeared* 
St. Francis laughed, and told them to take courage, 
since a thunderstorm only killed saints and great sin- 
ners, and they were neither the one nor the other. 
When the noise had subsided, the instruction pro- 
ceeded ; that instruction which so gently introduced 
divine austerities into the devoted existence of women, 
whose lives had been and were still to be stories of 
most excellent beauly. Widi such a joyous tone the 
saint gave his advice; and with such delicate free- 
dom he formed the rules that are honored widi im- 
mortal fidelily at the present time. When St. Francis 
withdrew, he always left '^ his doves " peacefully 
happy, and endiusiastic for their future labor ; — la- 
bor which should be unflinching in the midst of hor- 
ror or death, although their hearts beat high at a 
thunderclap, and their director soothed them and en- 
couraged &em from the abundance of his humorous 

In her description of the early convent, St. Jane 
writes that, among many lovely virtues, the sisters 


made a matter of oonsoienoe of every act One day 
two of them were walking in the orchard, and found 
flome pears on the ground. They wished to decide 
whether it was time to pick all the pears ; and each 
bit a litde piece without swallowing it. But it was 
against the rule that they should eat between meals ; 
and upon realizing that tliey had not kept strictly to 
observance, they confessed their fault to St. Francis, 
and asked pardon of St. Jane, who approved of the 
utmost fidelily in even the least matters ; dius estab- 
lishing a perfectly dean and healdiy innocence at all 

The house at Annecy having been strengthened 
with sisters and postulants, and being enridied by 
good works for the suffering, St. Francb wrote to 
St. Jane : — 

^^Grood morning, my very dear Superioress; (hA 
has this night given me the idea that our House of 
the Visitation is noble enough to deserve its coatof- 
arms, its emblazonment, its motto. In fact, I have 
thought, my dear mother, if you are willing, that we 
should take for our coatof -arms a heart pierced widi 
two arrows, surrounded by a crown of thorns; this 
poor enclosed heart supporting a cross which sur- 
mounts it ; and upon die heart shall be engraved the 
names of Jesus and Mary. My daughter, I will tell 
you as soon as we meet a diousand little thoughts 
which have come to me upon this subject; for 
surely our young communily is a work belonging to 
the heart of Jesus and Mary. In dying, die Saviour 
created us by the opening of his Sacred Heart" 

This letter was written many years before die com> 


ing of Blessed Margaret Mary, who was the inspired 
apostle of the Sacred Heart, in the Order of the Vis- 

Very soon the oonvent was subjected to slanders 
and persecutions from persons of low character, al- 
though it was loved and praised by the just of the 
neighborhood. So flagrant did the calumnies become 
that St. Francis finally set about writing a refutation, 
which he put into the form of a defense of pious con- 
gregations in generaL ^' Time," said he to St. Jane, 
«« spent for Grod is never lost. Trouble and persecu- 
tions are the fruitful seeds of righteousness." Slan- 
ders often choose points of attack that are so gro- 
tesque as to indicate the calibre of soul from which 
they spring. A young postulant was once told, when 
a storm of abuse arose from the camp of the unright- 
eous: *^It is well known that every morning each 
sister is asked what she would like to have prepared 
for her dinner." This nonsense succeeded in some- 
what disturbing the gentleness which the rule enjoined 
should be exhibited at all times, and the sister cried 
forcibly that such a report was not true ; adding that 
the order of life thus attacked had been arranged 
according to the laws of the great St. Augustine, 
under the guiding judgment of a great bishop (St. 
Francis de Sales). 

The nuns admitted to the convent of Annecy a 
number of children as pensioners, whom their poor 
or rich parents hoped to dedicate to the religious life. 
It was a great charge ; but, as St. Francis said, ^^ is 
it better in our garden to have thorns because we 
have roses, or to have no roses because no thorns ? " 


He loved little dhildren welL One day M^re Blonay 
notioed, when the saint was calling upon her, as she 
sat behind the grating in the parlor, that he was 
placed in a draught. She allowed her anxiely to be 
discovered by him. St. Francis got up to shut the 
door, but came back without doing so; explaining 
that there was such a crowd of children looking at 
him from an inner room with the best courage in the 
world, that he could not '^find the heart to shut the 
door on their noses." Very soon, however, M^ie 
Blonay managed to have the door mysteriously closed 
&om the other side, by sending thither little Anne, 
tiie daughter of Madame Colin ; she who had come 
&om Lyons after receiving her vision of the commu- 
nily at Annecy. Little Anne was especially lovable, 
and was often in attendance upon the foundresses of 
tibe Order, when they went to the parlor (though ever 
remaining behind their grating) to receive visitors. 

Eventually, and after much demur, St. Francis 
extended his hospitalily towards children destined for 
conventual life to children who needed to be taught 
in an atmosphere of religion. Apostaoy had become, 
through the assumptions of Luther, a vast evil, and 
religious instruction was looked to by innumerable 
parents as their children's only safeguard. Jesuits 
and others opened colleges; Ursulines and others 
devoted themselves to teaching young girls. Every 
parent interested in the Yisitandines implored St. 
Francis to allow the sisters to become a teaching 
Order. Oenerosity and courage demanded the sacri- 
fice of the sisters, and it was made. The wisdom of 
the concession was soon apparent, as the spirit of the 


Visitation entered into the nmnerons scholars, bring- 
ing many to conyentnal life, and raising the others to 
a sense of religions responsibility, a sense of the expe- 
diency of love for the sake of Grod. 

Two years after the foundation in the little house 
of the Qalerie, it became necessary to remove to a 
larger habitation in the centre of Annecy, since the 
sisters needed to reach the sick without the delays of 
distance. This second house was in all respects a 
monastery, although not yet all that was required. 
The monastery was placed under the protection of a 
powerful noble, as was frequently done in tliose times 
of revolutionary danger. St. Francis chose for die 
protectress of his Order the Infanta of Savoy, widow 
of the Duke of Mantua. The brother of the Infanta, 
the Duke de Nemours, ceded to the community a 
large tract of land in a convenient quarter; and it 
was here that the final monastery was built, whose 
oomer-stone was laid in 1614, with stately rites, 
stately attendance of nobles, and stately music. For 
the altar the Infanta gave a large crystal Crucifix, set 
with precious stones. In a reliquary of crystal set 
with precious stones is the heart of St. Francis de 
Sales, treasured by die Sisters of the Visitation in 
Venice, whither the community of Lyons fled diiring 
the Revolution, and where diey were allowed by the 
little republic to remain unmolested. 

Built the first of all the houses of the Order, di- 
rected for ten years by St. Francis, and during 
twenly-nine jrears by St. Jane ; and having had the 
good fortune, after the deadi of these saints, to 
take ohazge of their sacred bodies, the monastery of 


Ajmecy has exercised a great influenoe. A name 
lias been given to it which well describes its position 
among the houses of the Visitation, loving and help- 
fnl ; — it is called the Holy Source. All difficulties 
of nusapprehension of the rules and spirit were ad- 
justed by recourse to it, and its early members lent 
their support to the founding of many monasteries, 
of which one hundred and sixty exist in the world 
to<iay. The history of these foundations in France 
and ebewhere is such an interesting study that it is 
difficult not to select at least a few more of its pages 
for insertion in this chapter. The circular letters, 
which it has always been the rule to send yearly from 
monastery to monastery, written by the sisters them- 
selves, and incorporating every item of real value, are 
tiie chief material of the history as printed in France. 
St. Francis once remarked that he did not know 
why people called him the founder of the Visitation 
Order, since he had not made it what he wished, but 
what he did not wish. He alluded to the radical 
changes in regard to semi-enclosure and the visit- 
ing of the needy ; and to his objection to letting the 
sisters teach extensively, which they after all were 
permitted by him to do. The usefulness of the 
sisterhood could not be suppressed by enclosure, since 
loving good-will was the inspiration it had received. 
Advice and courage were sought for at the grating 
(which screened its nuns from die world) by crowds 
of people. E[ings and queens and their children met 
there to find spiritual help. Marie de Medicis and 
Anne of Austria came constantly to see M^re de 
Beanmont in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, recom- 


mending to her prayers the affairs of the kingdom. 
Doke Charles de Lorraine, when he held his court at 
Besan^on, found that no one told him the truth so 
well as M^re Marie-Marguerite Michel, whom he 
went to see every week. The Duohesse de Longue- 
ville, Queen Christine of Sweden, and Louis XIV. 
himself, who came with his mother and all his court, 
were some of those who, in spite of power and pride, 
disooyered that the strength of courage and the wealth 
of faith belonging to the nuns of the Visitation (and 
usually joined to the greatest refinement and intelli- 
gence), made a source of holiness for the thirsty world 
which they themselyes were eager to recognize and 
benefit by, as the least of us may benefit forever. 



The &ther of Francis de Sales — Bishop and 
Prince of Greneva, bom at Chateau de Sales, Savoy, 
in 1567 — was a worldly-wise, warlike, warm-hearted 
noble, who regarded the tenets of the Protestant re- 
ligion as palpably false, because, as he said, having 
sprang from the brains of certain unprincipled men, 
it ^ moreover younger than himseK by as much as 
twelve years ! Although the baron's ambition for the 
career of his son knew no bounds, jet he opposed each 
of the steps by which this divinely called youth rose 
to the lofty plane of his vocation* His mother, on 
the contrary, dedicated him from the first, in her own 
mind, to Grod. Not long before his birth she ven- 
erated the Holy Winding Sheet at Chamb^ry, and wept 
over the imprints of our Lord's wounds. In after 
years, St. Francis having grown to be &mous for his 
eloquent preaching and perfect charity, the Holy 
Winding Sheet was exposed in his honor, and he saw 
it for the first time. He prostrated himself before 
it, and burst into tears, as his mother had done, on 
beholding the traces of our Lord's blood. 

He was baptized when only a day old, and even 
then he gave to all who saw him an impression of 
angelic predestination. His god&ther, the prior of 


the Benedictine Monastery of Salengy, declared that 
during the ceremony he himself felt an inexpressible 
holy peace; and a strong conviction jBlled him that 
the child was never to lose his baptismal innocence. 

During the first two years of his life his blessed 
nature was evident from his countenance, always 
sweet, his love of holy objects (which he touched and 
kissed eagerly and respectfully), and from his instant 
generosity towards all the poor children whom he 
met, and to whom he gave whatever he had in his 
hand. His nurse was obliged to carry with her, on 
their daily walks, various fruits and cakes for these 
children, because he cried if they were not made 
happy by some gift ; and he caressed them joyously 
when he saw that they were satisfied. THien the 
time came for him to perform miracles, if he caressed 
or gently touched the cheeks and heads of mad peo- 
ple, he cured them. If permitted to go to the church, 
he would run towards it, and was never weary of 
staying before the altars; and on returning home 
would imitate the services as well as he could in his 
play. By such a childhood we may guess something 
of the childhood of our Lord. From his infant face, 
which at a day old could bring spiritual comfort to 
those who looked upon its lovely peace, we can pic- 
ture the tender expression on the face of the Child 
Christ, that made the surrounding light seem shadow 
by comparison. 

He was so loving as never to overlook the claims of 
those who are often imposed upon and ignored ; and 
showed by his charity and courtesy that consideration 
for the people whom we can forget is the basis of 


Baintship. If , to liis knowledge, Ids attendants drove 
a aharp bargain with a Balewman, little Francis paid 
the difference out of his own purse. He detected un* 
erringly, and immediately righted, all such injustice 
and moral vulgarity. In his mature years he said of 
servants: **Love as ourselves these neighbors who 
are so near us I Treat them as we would wish to be 
treated in their position." 

At the age of ten he had begun to rise early in 
order to study, and was so avaricious of time that he 
economized every moment of the day. Through his 
insistance he received the tonsure at twelve ; and he 
made his first sacrifice in giving up his splendid 
golden curls, of which he was rather vain. He 
bravely cut them off, realizing that this trivial beauty 
had prevented him from giving his heart entirely to 
Gh>d. It had now come to the point of choosing the 
Parisian college to which he should go. The College 
of Navarre was patronized by the flower of the nobil- 
ity ; but he earnestly begged to be sent to the Jesuit 
College of Clermont, saying that he was inclined to 
evil, and feared that he should succumb to tempta- 
tions and follies if thrown in their way. From child- 
hood he was wise, choosing that road and that means 
which saved the most time and strength for the ser- 
vice of God. His motto upon leaving his &ther's 
house for life work was Non Eoccidet : ^^ He will not 

After St. Francis de Sales became a bishop, he 
b^ged his priests not only to be saints, but to be Mh 
vant% in their particular field. ^^That is, study on 
lines which will render you useful to others, or which 


sanctify yon, which is also well." He evidently 
beHeved that what a priest mnst do, that he should 
do admirably. And as deportment is of consequence, 
the priest's deportment shonld be perfected. There- 
fore, in order to train his bearing, the holy youth 
took lessons in fencing, dancing, and riding; with 
the result that in after years the ease and majesty of 
his presence, whether at court or at the bedside of 
a dying soldier, filled the onlookers with reverence. 
To appropriate and serious studies of all sorts he 
added another study, — that of holiness. He chose a 
wise director, and under his guidance set out upon a 
thorough system of religious observance. He fasted 
three days in the week, wearing at those times a hair- 
shirt, because he held that a body which is too gently 
treated enervates the soul. When asked why he con- 
fessed and communicated so often as once a week, he 
answered : ^^ For the same reason that I would speak 
to my professor or to my tutor, since my Saviour is 
my teacher in the science of a saintly life.'* 

At seventeen he was tested by the temptation of 
doubting whether he was approved by God and was 
in a state of grace ; again fearing that, if dangerous 
occasions presented themselves, he would &11 into 
mortal sin. And in this torment of uncertainity he 
dreaded less the agonies of hell than the fact that in 
hell he should blaspheme God ! He lost his health, 
but did not on that account relax his religious exer- 
cises ; and he studied the question of predestination 
in the writings of St. Augustine and St. Thomas 
Aquinas, until he became convinced of the truth of 
their reassuring principles and conclusions upon the 


great sabjeot. Fmally he wrote ^ while prostrate at 
their feet," as he said, a beaatifal prayer, expressive 
of his secure hope, yet his entire sabmission to the 
hidden will of God; and, moreover, expressing in 
prayerful adoration his determination to win from the 
divine mercy pardon if he should after all be con- 
signed to hell, so strenuously woidd he plead for for- 
giveness to the Father ; so that whatsoever his agony 
of trial, he believed he should at last be permitted to 
adore EQm in Heaven. 

He was full of courage in the affairs of daily life. 
Having transferred his studies to Padua, whither his 
father sent him to learn jurisprudence, his devout 
behavior there was in such great contrast to the 
habits of the other young men, that he was attacked 
in boisterous fun by his classmates, who waylaid him 
one evening from ambush in a retired street, through 
idiidi they knew he was to pass. They supposed 
him to be physically incapacitated, by rigorous fast- 
ing and mental application, from defending himself. 

However, he forthwith put them to flight at the 
point of his sword, whidi he would not have hesitated 
to use with thorough effect, if necessary; and alto- 
gether conducted himself with a determination and 
skill which took the place of rugged strength. He 
proved himself to be equally vigorous and terrible in 
resisting the various attacks upon his virtue which 
were contrived by his companions, in envy of his 
purity; thus answering his own doubts as to the 
depth of his moral endurance. Out of this experi- 
ence he spoke, no doubt, when years afterwards he 
dmed : ^^ He is happy who suffers severe tempta- 


tion« When the enemy eries so loudly without, it is 
a sign that he is not within I " Yet he added : ^* Do 
no^ force yourself to vanquish temptations, for these 
efforts strengthen them. Scorn them, without con- 
sidering them." 

These are indeed princely moral manners, full of 
dignity and just indifference ! In contemplating the 
holy men of the religious Orders whom he saw, he was 
£red with the desire to become a better Christian ; 
and he struck another note in his saintly yocation by 
delighting to inspire his friends with the same ambi- 
tion. He pointed out the example of the monks, to 
those who had neyer thought of applying it to them- 
aelves. ^^ We trouble our consciences so seldom about 
salvation I " he said. ** But here are men who think 
cf nothing else I They treat with contempt pleasures 
and objects which pass away, and persistently remem- 
ber those which last forever. Should not this sight 
open our eyes ? " He became familiar with the works 
of all the great religious writers; and at this time 
received from Father Scupoli his ^* Spiritual Com- 
bat," of which, — eighteen years later — he declared : 
^^ It is a letter descended from heaven I It is my dear 
book, and I have always carried it in my pocket, re- 
reading it constantly with unfailing edification." 

At twenty-five he visited Bome. It was a long 
hoped for and devoted pilgrimage. He armed him- 
self with humility and gentleness; and these shields 
immediately protected him from death, as will be 
seen from the following circumstance. Some persons 
of the highest rank arrived at the hotel where he had 
put up for the night, and he was ruthlessly made to 


Taeate his qnarters for tiheni, and go elsewliere. He 
sabmitted without dispute or ill feeling. In a few 
hours the Tiber had risen and had inundated the 
hotel, of which every one of the inmates was drowned. 
He fulfilled a longing of many years in visiting the 
Holy House at Loretto (translated from Nasareth) ; 
and he kissed the walls and the floor of this stone 
dwelling in which the Blessed Virgin had lived. He 
renewed there his vows of consecration to the church, 
and of chastity. His young face was overspread with 
an extraordinary rosy hue, and shone like a star. 
His tutor and companion of many years, M. D&ige, 
never forgot this wonderful revelation of his sanctity, 
and always r^arded him thereafter with reverence. 

When he returned to Savoy from Bome, his father 
gave him the seignory of Y illaroget, and arranged a 
rich marriage for him. The Prince of Savoy, also, 
pressed upon him a senatorship at Chamb^ry. But 
he declared that Grod was his portion forever, and 
rejected all these proud projects. He conferred his 
seignory upon his younger brother, and entered the 
Cihuroh as provost of the Chapter of Greneva. 

His saintly mother had long looked forward to this 
step, and had some time before quietfy prepared for 
him the cassock which he now put on at his instal- 
lation. While dressing himself in the cassock, he 
showed so much reverence and solemnity that a wit- 
ness remarked : ^* One would think you were donning 
the garb of a Capuchin I " To which he replied that 
he was taking the habit of St. Peter. ^^ It is only by 
dispensation that we of the Chapter are allowed to 
go in secular attire ; and wUhin we should be always 



mider the rule and the ohains of the prince of apos- 
tles." He was leoeived into the Order of the Friars 
Minor a month later, on June 8th, 1593. It was 
then found that he was already familiar with the use 
of the breviary, whioh he held in veneration next to 
the Holy Scriptures. 

The young saint began to evince that power of 
charming his listeners in religious conversation which 
made him one of the greatest teachers of his day. At 
his father's table the guests forgot to eat and drink, 
except of heavenly food, while he talked to them. He 
assumed the behavior of an apostle in all things ; vis- 
iting the sick, reconciling enemies, and suffering from 
the sorrows of others; but more than all from the 
calamities of the Catholic Church. War, famine, 
and heresy invaded life on all sides. Not content 
with offering prayers, he conceived the idea of found- 
ing at Annecy the Confraternity of Penitents, whose 
members, embracing the laity, should mourn for their 
own sins and for those of all the world, and should 
constantly perform works of charity. He believed 
that brotherhoods of a religious nature sustain heroic 
measures by mutual example and mutual needs, as 
religion is inspired by charity, without which devo- 
tion becomes egotism. Whereas, in the philosophical 
world, men withdraw themselves from their fellows 
and occupy themselves with a wealth of words, but 
never with a wealth of benevolent deeds. In Septem- 
ber, of 1593, with his usual expeditiousness, we find 
that his ever-growing authority had been used to erect 
the above Confraternity, of which his own father was 
the first member. He placed it under the patronage 


of the Holy Cross, the Lnmacalate Conception, and 
the apostles St Peter and St PauL On the 18th of 
December following, he was ordained priest, and his 
labors became more and more arduous ; — in inspired 
preaching, in notable conversions, in the writing of 
religious treatises, in the establishment of missions 
in various parts of the neighboring country where 
Protestantism was most rife, and in organizing con- 
ferences for the priests whom he sent on these mis- 
sions. At twenty-seven his zeal was fully developed, 
and his life utterly dedicated to his office of brotherly 
love. Bealizing that special devotions of an unusual 
nature keep alive the ardor of faith, and conduce to 
spiritual health, he decided to conduct his Penitents 
of the Cross upon a pilgrimage to Aix, where there 
was deposited a reUc of the True Cross, brought from 
the Holy Land during the Crusades. He rejoiced to 
find that the success of this pilgrimage surpassed his 
hopes in impressiveness and devotion. A branch of 
the Confraternity had been established at Chamb^iy, 
and the two brotherhoods met, en route for Aix, 
chanting the litanies of Jesus crucified, and speaking 
only of divine things, their rosaries and prayer-books 
in their hands. 

Taking advantage of various attacks upon the 
merits of the True Cross, the young priest defended 
it with his superior ability, saying: ^^Grod attached 
virtue to things which had belonged to his saints, as 
to the mantle of Elias and the rod of Moses. How 
much more, therefore, to the Cross whereon his son 
had been enthroned ? If the mere touch of Christ's 
garment healed the sick, how much more powerful 


must be the cross which has been bathed in his blood? 
The Protestants say that the Holy Scriptures do not 
refer to the veneration of the cross ; but what of that? 
There are many points of doctrine, accepted even by 
Protestants, of which the Scriptures say nothing. The 
early Christians made crosses and venerated them; 
churches and highways bore the cross set up before 
the sight of all to be honored ; it was carried in pro- 
cession ; its image is an incentive to saintly thoughts 
and useful reflections ; and the sign of the cross, 
iohen made in the name of Christy can perform won- 
ders. All misfortunes, looked at in comparison with 
the Cross of Jesus, disappear like stars in the presence 
of the sun. In short, the only enemies of the cross 
are the enemies of Christ." 

His preaching became so famous that he was sought 
for in the highest quarters, especially during the Len- 
ten season. He was finally asked to preach during 
Lent, at court, and did so with remarkable results as 
to conversions, winning at the same time the profound 
admiration of Henry IV. But of flowers of rhetoric 
he said : ** They are of the kind which do not bear 
fruit." His power was of a different order. When 
he preached, he was accustomed to make a long pause 
before beginning, while he looked carefully around 
upon his audience. Some one happened to ask him 
why he did this, and he answered: *^I salute the 
guardian angel of each of my auditors, and pray him 
to prepare the heart over which he keeps watch. I 
have received very great favors by this practice." 

Among those who became devotedly attached to the 
saint was M. Deshayes, Henry IV.'s secretary. The 



king tried to make Deshayes tell him point-blank 
wkether he loved his sovereign or St. Francis de 
Sales the best. M. Deshayes was yeiy much per- 
plezed, bat was determined to s^d tme to his prefer- 
ence for the saintly priest, who was also yeiy fond of 
him, and he conveyed this idea to the king. Then, 
with exqnisite kindness, Henry IV. replied: ^^I am 
not angry, Deshayes, — I only ask to make a third in 
this friendship I '' The Dnchesse de LongaeviUe of- 
fered the saint a rich present of money in recompense 
for his preaching ; but he insisted that he wished to 
give gratoitonsly what he received gratoitously, and 
the gift was retomed. The king afterwards offered 
him a pension, and this he accepted ; — but he never- 
theless requested that as, GU>d be praised, he had at 
present no need of the pension, it might remain in 
the custody of the royal treasurer until called for. 
The king was enchanted with this ingenious method 
of meeting the difficulty ; a method which amounted, 
so gracefully, to a refusaL 

He was chosen to go upon a mission to Chablais, 
in which vicinity Protestantism was dangerously ag- 
gressive and violent. The Bernese and Grenoese were 
barbarous in their hatred of Catholics, and the few 
faithful who were left there were obliged to carry on 
their religious observances in secret. The position 
was one of the greatest danger, and the saint's es- 
capes from assassination were narrow. But he even 
preached in the open aur, as if inviting death ; and 
traveled alone to the surrounding villages, especially 
to Thonon, armed only with his Bible, breviary, and 
rosary. The particular winter of this mission was 


mnisiially severe, yet he allowed neither wind nor 
cold to hinder him. If snowdrifts prevented his go- 
ing on his way by the highroad, he fastened ice-nails 
to his shoes and olambered oyer the rocky hills, some- 
times creeping on hands and knees, nntil the blood 
flowed from his torn flesh. He once saved hinn^ lf 
from the wolves by climbing a tree, where he re- 
mained imprisoned for the whole night, exposed to 
freezing winds. All these sufferings only increased 
his zeal and his prayers for heretics, whose hatred of 
him did not discourage his love. He knew that fear- 
lessness, patience, and devotion in the priest would 
inspirit the persecuted Catholic laymen, and to some 
extent win the sympathy of his enemies. At one 
time, when left entirely alone on his mission, and 
deprived of even the necessaries of life, he ^^ tasted 
an ineffable consolation in feeling himself to be 
thrown wholly upon the care of God." 

He added, that he then had great hopes of imitat- 
ing St. Paul in supporting himself by the labor of 
his hands* But he confessed that he was very stupid 
at it, and could only mend his clothes a little. His 
saintly mother managed to convey to him clothes and 
linen, and money sufficient to keep him alive, by pro- 
curing for him food and warmth. With great secrecy 
and precaution (and with that courage which risks 
all, at the will of Grod, for a sublime cause of mercy), 
she even sent her second son to see Francis several 
times; which proved to be an immense consolation 
both to him and to her. 

^^ Suffer,'' he said, ^^ for it is almost the only good 
we can do in this world, that is unmixed with wrong. 


Onr Lord is never so near ns as wbea we suffer with 
patient love of Him. Patience changes our soffer- 
ings into benefits. Bender thanks to God, who has 
deigned to give you a little portion of the Cross of His 
Son.'' He used often to say, in his eagerness to suf- 
fer for Christ, and in his consciousness of the refining 
power of suffering, that he was ^ never better than 
wben little welL" 

Not being able, in spite of their brave promises, to 
induce the Protestant preachers to come and hear his 
semions and enter the lists witii him, he set about 
writing his first work, the ^ Book of Controversies." 
It was composed in spare moments and in great haste, 
but he therein presented the Catholic religion with 
inesiBtible force, so that the apostolic commissioners, 
during the process of his canonization, decided that 
the Athanafliauflj Ambrosians, and Augustinians had 
not sustained the &ith more admirably. The Holy 
Esther, Clement VLLL, desired him to have an inter- 
view with Theodore de Beze, or Beza, then the head 
of die Calvinistic sect at Greneva. The meeting was 
on many accounts difficult to effect When they at 
last &ced each other, the first question the young 
priest put to Beze was this : ^ Can a man find salva- 
tion in the Boman Catholic Church?" Beze long 
hesitated to answer, retiring to a room apart, where 
he excitedly paced up and down. If he replied ^^ No," 
it would be as much as to say that when Luther and 
Calvin b^;an their ** Beformation '' there was no true 
church ; which would, further, be to say that the deda- 
ration of Jesus Christ that he would be with his 
ehnrch *^all days, even to the consummation of tiie 


world,'' was a false statement. And if he said ** Yes," 
it would be a confession that ihe Church of Borne 
was the true church of Christ, since all Protestants 
announced that outside tiie true church no one could 
be aavedf B^ concluded to reply in ihe following 
manner : ** Yes ; certainly a man can be saved in the 
Boman Church, because it is the mother church.'' 
The same answer, given by various Protestants to 
Henry IV., and to Louis Bodolph of Brunswick, 
caused many abjurations of heresy. 

The saint, whose habit it was never to lose a 
moment in useless quiescence, instantly put another 
question : *^ If one can find salvation in the Catholic 
Church, why had the Caivinists shed so much blood 
in France to establish their form of religion ? " 

**' Because," answered B^ze, ^^ there are abuses in 
the Boman Church, although one can be saved in it. 
For example, it teaches that ^ good works ' are neces- 
sary to salvation. Now, some people are incapacitated 
by nature from performing good works, and so they 
are damned against their will. We are more merci- 
ful, and only require of human nature that it shall 
have &ith«" 

^^Holy Scripture," remarked the saint, ^^ affirms 
that we cannot be saved by bad fruits, but only by 
the good." Of a certainty he believed tiie assump- 
tion to be false, that some degree of good works are 
not possible to every one. 

His perfect equanimily was famous; yet he ex- 
plained that it was the result of the utmost vigilance, 
and sometimes covered extreme perturbation of mind. 
In argument his grace and gentleness brought out 


iveQ the brilliancy of his answers. A person who 
is conscious of being in die right can afford to be 
self-possessed, bat he does not alwajs realize his 
opportunity for ease and calmness. 

Beze, under his load of mistake, lost his temper in 
a fory of anger; whereupon his visitor concluded: 
^Your anger convinces me that you see the justice 
of my conclusions. But I did not come here to annoy 
yon ; so we will not discuss theological subjects any 
longer.'' Beze then cooled off, and b^;ged the saint 
to return frequently. 

The Protestants of Greneva were incensed at his 
temerity in coming among them and attempting to 
convert their chief, and they sought to kill him. But 
he did not fear them. That very day, being asked 
in secret to take the Blessed Sacrament to a dying 
Catholic, who was lodging in the house of S(Hne here- 
ties, he proceeded to do so. As he went out of 
G^eva he ** wept abundantly,'' with a love akin to 
our Lord's when leaving Jerusalem. 

He desired to convert Ferdinand Bouvier. (It was 
finally estimated that the number of conversions he 
had made was 70,000.) Bouvier, with that childish 
F^K»testant ignorance which advances toy arguments 
to confound the grown-up wisdom of tiie church, flat- 
tered himself that the saint was to be enlightened by 
Ferdinand Bouvier ; and he therefore asked him to 
read a treatise on the Mass, written by DuplessLs- 
Momay, distinguished as an author and soldier, and 
also called ^* the Pope of the Huguenots." St. Frau- 
ds showed that this so-called pope had falsified five 
hundred passages of the writings of the fathers ; and 


he aooordmgly dubbed him ** the most impudent 
of whom he had ever known." **The church," he 
said, *^ has no weapons against violence, but against 
calumny she has those of innocence, truth, and au- 
thority." Bouvier realized that a champion was in 
the wrong who won a temporary advantage only 
through dishonorable measures, and, having beheld 
witii his own eyes the passages in the writings of the 
Fathers to which St. Francis referred, he left Du- 
plessis-Momay to his fate, and became himself a de- 
voted Catholic It was on account of such insults as 
the above to the Blessed Sacrament, that the saint 
established at Annecy the confratemily of the Blessed 
Sacrament, for a service of adoration, on every Thurs- 
day, not already occupied, during the year. 

At Thonon now arrived the Duke of Savoy, the 
cardinal l^ate from ihe Holy See, and the Bishop of 
Oeneva, to attend the devotions of the Forty Hours. 
Finding how much the saint had accomplished in 
bringing peace and religion into the midst of un- 
christian lawlessness, they met him with unlimited 
praise. The heroic young priest looked down, blushed 
in modest confusion, and kneeling, kissed the robe of 
the cardinal with all humilily. 

In 1602, he himself became Bishop of Greneva, 
being then thirty-five years of age. He was deeply 
moved by the responsibilily placed upon him. He 
touched the insignia of his office with veneration, and 
Ihe sight of them could plunge him into the utmost 
humilily, or raise him to a state of rapture. He 
arranged his house on a basis of simpUdty, and 
according to the utmost strictness of religious rule. 


He would permit the preaenoe of no women-servants, 
however worthy ; and even annoonoed that his mother 
should not dwell with him, supposing for a moment 
that she would care to leave her chateau of Annecy ; 
— ^^ because all the women who came to visit her 
would not be my mother I " said he. 

As a special duly of his own, he chose to hear the 
confessions of those penitents who were on sundry 
aoeoimts shocking to the other priests ; precisely as all 
the saints have followed faithfully Christ's brotherly 
mercy towards those most abandoned ; because hope, 
above all, is tiie element to be imparted to tiiem who 
have it least He called penitence ^^a second in- 
nocence." He inaugurated Sunday-school classes, 
which became, from his fascinating skill in expound- 
ing the Scriptures and teaching the catechism, so 
popular that no chapel would hold the crowds throng- 
ing to hear him. Two Sundays of every year he 
walked in a procession of children and poor people, 
singing tiie litanies with tiiem, and softly reciting the 
rosary. Whenever he appeared upon the streets the 
children ran from all sides, until a crowd surrounded 
him as he advanced. He was told that he lowered 
the doctors of tiie church by putting their thoughts 
into brief and simple forms for the ignorant folks 
and the children, and that he lowered himself also in 
descending to the motley crowds upon the streets, and 
caressing the children of the masses witii sympathetic 
deyotion. It must have seemed strange to the saint 
that the self-righteous had forgotten so easQy the 
words which he was obliged to repeat to them : ^ Un- 
less yon be converted, and become as little children. 


you ahall not enter into the kingdom of heayen/' 
He declared simply that the poor and forlorn rustic 
was to him as the prodigal son, whose father did not 
hesitate to embrace him, though he came home in a 
disgusting state of dishevelment. 

His forgiveness was of marvelous simplicity and 
strength, and could not be surprised at a disadvan- 
tage. ^^If Gh)d," he said, ^^ commanded me not to 
love my enemies, I should hardly be able to obey 
Him I" And certainly ail those who were foes of 
purity and self-sacrijfice were inclined to be his ene- 
mies. On one occasion he said to an attorney, who 
made an attempt to kill him because the Bishop's just 
judgment in a case had overruled his own ends : *'!£ 
you tore out one of my eyes, I should look affection- 
ately at you with the other." A gentleman of bad 
habits, allied to the aristocracy, and — in spite of his 
abandoned life — having considerable influence, be- 
came possessed with a desire to satisfy his heretical 
opinions by persecuting the saint through the most 
insulting methods. This person began his persecution 
with an attack upon the residence at night, assisted 
by a crowd of roughs, who threw stones, fired pistols, 
and made a deafening noise with shouts and groans, 
while St. Francis within, in his private room, knelt in 
prayer. He refused to permit any counter attack 
from his servants. Chancing the next day to meet 
upon tiie street the apostate who had instituted this 
attack, tiie Bishop went up to him and embraced him 
as if he were his best friend. The diabolic man was 
so touched by a religion which could cause a mortal 
to treat cordially and gently an active persecutor, that 


he returned to the churcL The Bishop's mode of 
behavior was of that sort which it seems to us f oUy 
and even madness to adopt in our dealings with the 
outrages, fe^ or great, committed by our neighbors, 
more or less often ; and yet it was wise behavior, of 
the sort prescribed by Christ, as the only cure for the 
world's depravity. ^^ Those," said the saint, ^^who 
cannot live in peace in the world, can at least live in 
patience. I am a good-for-nothing, and subject to 
anger ; but since I have been shepherd, I have never 
said a passionate word to my sheep." 

A b^gar who was tired of his small success in ob- 
taining help found it an excellent plan to dress him- 
self up as apriest, for every one then gladly responded 
to his i4[>peals with alms. However, he happened to 
be discovered by some people who knew his real 
identily, and who set about punishing him within an 
inch of his life. The Bishop passed that way, to 
eelebrate Mass at an adjacent chapel, and at once 
direw himself into the enraged crowd; although in 
the confusion he was subjected to blows and insults. 
**What are you doing, my friends?" he cried. 
^ Even f eUow-beings who increase tiieir misfortunes 
by sin should be treated kindly ; for if we get angry 
with them, we add our own sin to the sum of theirs ! " 

Preaching one day upon the text: ^^But if one 
strike you <m the right cheek, turn to him also the 
other," he was addressed unceremoniously by a Cal- 
vinist, who called out : ^^ If I should strike you, would 
you do as you say? No ; like all the rest, you preach, 
and do not act up to your preaching." ^^ My friend," 
answered the Bishop, *^ I know well what I ou^t to 


do, but I do not know what I might do, being full of 
miserable faults. However, I have confidence in the 
grace of GU>d. But if, unfaithful to that grace, I did 
not bear the injury received from you like a Christian, 
still, the Evangelist in the same place from which you 
cite, when he reproved the preachers who sen/ and do 
not do as they say, teaches you to do that which they 
scdd, and not that which they did/ " When Protest- 
ants were arguing fiercely with him, he quietly re- 
marked, according to 1 Cor. xi. 16, *^But if any 
one seem to be contentious : — we have no such cus- 
tom, nor the church of God." He called Protest- 
ants what the early Fathers had called, in their time, 
heretics, ^^ Brothers ; " since, as he explained, we are 
all children of one Father. *'I believe," he once 
averred, *'that those who preach with love preach 
sufficiently against heretics, although they say not a 
word of argument." 

When Madame de Chantal once exclaimed : *^ Oh, 
my Father, your gentleness is excessive ! " he an- 
swered: *^In following the example of our Lord, 
we need fear no excess I " 

At Annecy he established an Academy of hdle^ 
lettresy philosophy, theology and jurisprudence, mathe- 
matics and the general sciences, and he gave it the 
device of an orange tree in flower, with the motto : 
*« Perennial Flowers and Fruits." He called it 
Florimontane, to indicate that there, upon the moun- 
tains of Savoy, could be found the flowers of all 
useful knowledge. This undertaking he felt to be 
indispensable, because he saw the common run of 
youth leaving school without having been sufficient^ 


cultiTated in the lo^e of sdenoe and classic study, so 
tbat they soon ceased to occupy themselyes with re- 
fining thoughts. 

Another of his estaUishments was a Cooperatiye 
Uniyersily and Mechanic School at Thonon, on ac- 
count of the custom in the large neighboring towns 
of charging a higher price for ammiodities when 
they were sold to Catholics, which became a great 
temptation to the poor of Thonon. He called the 
Uniyersily the Holy House, and made out the r^u- 
lations after much study of other Orders, and after 
asking adyice of the wisest counselors, as well as 
after making many prayers for GU>d's help. Much 
as he studied and read, it is said that ** he consulted 
God more than books.'' 

^ Haye you been long without thinking of GU>d? " 
he was once asked. *^ Sometimes, almost for a quarter 
of an hour I " he admitted. He declared that most 
of our &nlts come from not putting ourselyes often 
enough into the presence of the Father; which 
obseryance he called ^^the garden of purity and 

So busy was he in many directions that he was 
induced to mourn a little oyer his **dear books," 
which, as time went on, he was frequently obliged to 
leaye to tiiemselyes. But eyen illness could not pre- 
yent him from attending to his duties and tiie calls 
of his flock ; and how much less, therefore, any self- 
indulgence, howeyer ascetic! Eyerything was post- 
poned or disregarded, except the labor of his life. 
Wheneyer a great demand was made upon his time 
and inspiration, he pressed promptly and in spite of 


personal danger or barriers of storm and flood, to 
the post to which he was summoned. 

Those who think that ilhiess or discouragement on 
account of obstacles may justly debar tiiem from 
efforts for their fellows, may well consider St. 
Francis de Sales, who suffered a continuous fever 
for years, in the most useful position of his diligent 
and long existence. 

When his old friend and former tutor, M. D^age, 
complained that tiie Bishop would wear himself out 
with overwork, he smilingly answered: *^ Ah, but 
how much honored you would be if your pupil 
became a martyr in dying to fulfill his service to 
his Grod I But you have ruled me too carefully, and 
have made such a coward of me that I shall never 
procure you this glorious reputation. Martyrs are 
so rare, nowadays I " 

He gave himself the freedom of being witty, when 
his sense of humor could be made serviceable. The 
good spirits of a good conscience have often led the 
saints and martyivmissionaries to see the amusing 
side of this mundane sojourn. A preacher who was 
distinguished for learning having come to Anneqy 
during Lent, lo and behold, very few people went 
to hear him. However, the saintly Bishop and some 
other persons were present. The learned divine 
spent most of his time in scolding about the small 
audience, which amused the saint very much. After- 
wards, he ezdaimed : ** What does he want? He pun- 
ished us for a fault which we did not commit, since 
we were present. Did he wish us to divide ourselves 
up into little pieces ? He has scolded the innocent 


and let the offenders go, smee he might have run 
into the street and talked to tiie multitude who stayed 
outside the church ! " He was much diverted with 
the fasts of a man who did not care to eat. ^^ Do not 
fast ! " said he. ^ Why, my father/' the devout lay- 
man cried; *^are not fasts highly recommended in 
die Scriptures ? '' '' Yes," replied the Bishop. «" But 
for tiiose who have a better appetite I '' Among the 
heretics who, as his fame grew, were often arrested 
by his sermons, and who desired to come and argue 
irith him, was an extremely valuable old lady, so 
deeply impressed by a sense of her own social im- 
portance that she was hardly willing to credit any one 
else witii having quite so much* Of all things she 
could not comprehend the desire of other people to be 
heard. After much elocution (on successive visits)^ 
at the expense of the Boman Catholic Church, she 
touched the subject of its abominable tyranny in 
TTuriidnTig upon Hbe celibacy of priests. Fearing that 
nobler weapons than wit might not succeed well with 
the self-important busybody before him, St. Francis 
ingeniously remarked : '^ But how should I, if I were 
married, carry on tiie duties of my profession, while 
at the same time fulfilling those of a husband and 
father? Should I be able, for instance, to receive 
from you, madam, visits so long and frequent for dis- 
cussing all these interesting questions, if I had a 
wife and children to add to my oiiber pressing Miga- 
tions f " This was a ray of light to the old lady. 
She consented to listen to his remarks, and ended by 
abjuring her heresy. 

At the profession of two sisters, an old eodesiastio 


wept during the ceremony of the yonng women's re- 
ception into conventual life. The Bishop was asked 
the cause of the old man's depression, and he an- 
swered that it was '* because the aged priest has lost 
his aureole I He was once a married man, and these 
young women are his daughters. Then he became a 
priest; and so, from a martyr he has turned con- 
fessor I " 

One day, somebody expressed contempt for the 
practice of praying to St. Anthony to find lost things. 
The Bishop replied that GU>d had proved that tiiese 
prayers were according to His pleasure, by having 
hundreds of times permitted things to be thus recov- 
ered. And he added : ^^ Do let us each make a vow 
to St. Anthony, that he may recover for us what toe 
have lost; — you, Christian simplicity, and /, hu- 

At another time, after preaching, he was surrounded 
by a crowd of ladies, who asked him to solve several 
religious points that had puzzled them. He smiled, 
and asked: '^Ladies, I will reply to ail your ques- 
tions if you will answer one of mine. If, in a debate, 
every one spoke at once and no one listened, what 
would be the result? " Of a young priest of high 
birth, who did not like to be placed in the low posi- 
tion of walking through the streets by the Bishop's 
side, instead of driving, he said, mirthfully : ^^ See M. 
I'Abb^ ! He has still a Uttle vanity left I " 

Henry IV. showed his fine penetration in trying 
his best at different times to acquire St. Francis as 
a preacher at court. But the inspired one would not 
consent. He said that he ** had made a novitiate of 


tbe oourti^ life, but that nothing ahoold indnce him 
to profess." At last, as the onfy means of learning 
Us ihonghts in Paris, and as a precaution for pre- 
serving him to the fatore of this world, the king or- 
dered St. Francis to write a book on religicm, which 
should be of the most generous application to a pious 
life among the affiiirs of ordinary roiidane. This was 
the origin of the ^^ Introduction to a Devout Life." 
He blended in it all tiie graces of the highest social 
intercourse with all tiioroughness in religion; and 
showed that we can rise from a state of mere natural 
goodness and fly to heaven *^ little by litde like doves, 
even if we cannot mount to it like the eagle ; that is, 
to sanctify ourselves in common vocations, when we 
are not called to a more perfect human destiny." His 
definition of devotion was this: ^^That love whidi 
makes us acceptable to God, is grace ; that love whidi 
leads us to do good, is charity; that love which 
reaches the perfection of leading us to do good care- 
fully, frequently, and promptly, is devoHon.^^ **A 
rectitude," said he, ^ which is not charity, proceeds 
from a charity which is not truly righteous." 

The sainity Bishop was veiy poor, and it was no 
easy matter for Greorges Bolland, his life-long friend 
at service, and now his steward, to keep the Bectoiy 
going with the money available. As for his clothes. 
Us valet looked most of them up, because he was 
always giving them away. Howeyer, if the weather 
were veiy bitter and the beggar very needy, he 
divested himself of his flj^TinftlR, and would calmly 
sUver in this half -clad condition, until his crime of 
benevolence had been detected. ^ I use the goods of 


ibis world,'' was one of his moto, ** as ihe dogs of the 
Nile drink its waters — running^ for fear of being 
oanglit by the crooodiles." He was on the alert for 
ilie enervating influences of comfort and dazzling 
emolnment, and so kept his system of life altogether 
meagre, though, at several points in his career, for- 
tunes were at his command* If occasion required 
that, for the dignity of the church, he should be 
magnificent, he showed how easy it was to assume 
princely state, if one was both noble and saintly. 
Moreover, he respected prudence. ^^But," said he, 
^ I would willingly give a hundred serpents for one 
dove I The serpent could destroy the dove, but the 
dove would never hurt the serpent." 

Some poor people came to him with a petition that 
he would allow them to take the property of a priest 
who had died, of whom they were only distant rela- 
tives, nor were they named in a will ; under which 
oonditions tiie property of a priest always reverted to 
the Bishop of the diocese. They offered a paltry 
som in compensation (twenty dttcatona^^ which St. 
Francis — Georges Rolland being momentarily ab- 
sent — accepted; much to the subsequent horror of 
his steward, who proceeded to scold him rather sharply. 
^* Ah, well, my friend," cried the saint, *^ if this good 
priest had lived, should not we still have had some- 
thing to live on? But, at all events, my dear Bol< 
land, I wiU never do so again. As for the twenty 
ducatons^ I have already given them to the poor. 
May God defend us from worse misfortune ! " 

The good spirits of a good conscience did not inter- 
fere with his outward holiness of aspect. Many times 


in his life he was surrounded by rays of light, emanat- 
ing from his holy body. One day, being before the 
Kessed Sacrament, he was filled with such an abun- 
dance of grace that he cried out : ^^ Hold back. Lord, 
hold back the waves of your grace ; remove yourself 
from me, for I cannot support the torrent of your 
consolations I " During the rest of the day he ap- 
peared like a seraph. ELis face seemed to ray out 

Once at Annecy there was arranged a contrivance 
over the altar which was much in vogue, representing 
clouds, from which a live dove was made to descend 
at the moment of consecration. St. Francis was the 
celebrant. The dove became frightened by the music 
and the people, and flew about, bewildered. But at 
last it alighted upon the head of the saint, who stood 
before the altar. He did not attempt to disturb it, 
being absorbed in the desire to receive that which the 
dove prefigured. At other times, also, doves had 
sought to hover about him. The light which was seen 
now and again to emanate from him came of a blessed 
state which these gentle birds could perceive, and de- 
sired to bask in. It was a state resulting from deter- 
mined self-purification. He believed, as has been 
shown, in fosting and other physical severities : and 
endorsed, with other saints, flagellation, that most 
direct and most humiliating pain of discipline, which 
stoops to the level of physical arrogance and indul- 
gence. But he often gave to others very mild forms 
of penance ; as, to a penitent soldier, that of repeat- 
ing one Our Father and (me Hail Mary. The soldier 
was astonished. However, the saint told him to rest 


ttt ease, since Grod's mercy was even greater than the 
sins committed. '^ Besides," he added, ^' I will assume 
the remainder of your penance for you." These few 
words were a revelation to the man. As soon as he 
had received his dismissal from the army, he returned 
to St. Francis and told him he was about to enter the 
Monastery of Chartreuse. He had met charity face 
to face, and longed to become a part of it, if he might. 
*^We should always treat God as Grod," the saint 
says. While we may trust everything to Grod's mercy 
working through our chariiy, we may well shed our 
own blood as a tribute to His forgiveness of another's 

^^ Do hclily that which you do by necessity," was 
auother of the maxims of St. Francis de Sales. 
Necessity is of the earth, earthy. At the moment 
when we rmiBt do a thing, we are at the depths of 
humiliation, and possibly of revolt. It is then that 
the sublime effort of consecration to God's wiU makes 
of the earth color and light. 

And so we see, at every step in the saint's Ufe, that 
the heaviness of earthly rebuff was changed to the 
elation of heavenly endurance, because he realized 
that the death which is suffering must always precede 
the resurrection which is holiness. And when we 
read that, in his dying hours, he was subjected, by 
medical ignorance, to scorching upon the crown of 
the head with red-hot irons, in the endeavor to arouse 
him from the weakness of exhausted vitality, we dis- 
cover that, instead of being filled only with horror 
for his agony, we are refreshed by his example of 
wondrous patience. His attendants asked him if his 


denoe meant tliat lie did not feel the pain. ^^ Yes, I 
anfbr," lie said. ^ But do all that yon wish to the 
rick man.'' He snffered Tohmtarily, as well as by 
neoearity. He had given the following adyioe to a 
person who was snbjected to constant physical an- 
goiBh: ^^Pictoie to yoniself Jesus Christ crowned 
with thorns, so emaciated that one might ooont his 
bones, and ask yoorself which endnres most, you or 
be. Tmagine that the red-hot ircm which singes your 
limb is a nail piercing his foot. Yon say that in 
jour angnish yon can hardly meditate npon holy 
things. Well, it is better to be upon the Cross 
than to look at the Cross. St. Paul did not con- 
gratolate himself that he was raised to the third 
heaven, bnt npon having endnred mnch for his Ma»- 
ter." He was troe to his own advice. The example 
d any sort of pain nobly borne is elevating to all who 
witness it ; and if we once daie to test the purifying 
efficacy of suffering, we never afterwards teach that 
it need be useless. 

St. Francis passed from earth, November 28, 1622, 
at the age of fifty-five. During his lifetime he had 
enred nineteen deaf and dumb persons, two lepers, 
twenty blind, one hundred and two parafytics, thirty- 
seven mad people, and others. Thus he proved to 
the world how perfect the sacrifice was, which he had 
offered upon the altar of daily courage. And St. Vin- 
cent de Paul, wlumi he had placed in spiritual charge 
of the Convent of the Visitation in Paris, said of 

"How good Grod must be, since Monsieur de 
Genibve is so good 1 " 



St. Jane was bom at Dijon, Cote d'Or, in the six- 
teenth century. Her father, M. Fr^myot, was pre- 
sident of the parliament of that ciiy. She married 
the Baron de Chantal, and for a number of years 
ruled her household with a rare mingling of simplieily 
and dignity, in the castle of Bourbilly, which long 
afterwards was inherited by her granddaughter, the 
Marquise de S^vign^, of literary fame, and only child 
of the saint's only son, Celse-B^nigne. The poor of 
Bourbilly said that they took pleasure in being ill, 
because of their visits from the baroness. On her 
side, at twenty-nine years old, she confessed: '^The 
longest and most wearisome day is that upon which 
no one comes for my care." 

Having been left a widow, she went with her four 
children to Monthelon, to live with her father-in-law ; 
and, laden with sorrows, and persecuted by an in- 
dulged and insolent servant of her father-in-law's ill- 
regulated household, she made up her mind to think 
only of others, and to suffer in silence. The culmi- 
nating evidence of her heroism was her behavior 
when obliged to return to Bourbilly, after some years, 
to investigate the state of her children's property. She 
there found great sickness among the poor. Every 


moining, rising at dawn, ahe made her hour-long 
mental prayer, and then set out to cany remedies 
to the sick, and to cleanse eveiything about them with 
her own hands. She next went to Mass ; after which 
she visited the most distant patients. At sundown 
she again made the rounds ; and on returning home 
to the castle received an account of the workmen's 
labors upon the estafce through the day, and looked 
into the financial condition of the property. She 
never allowed her religious devotions to render her 
less vigilant in increasing the revenues for her chil- 
dren. It would often happen that at evening, when 
she was almost exhausted, messengers came to call 
her to a deathbed ; and she immediately went thither, 
and passed the night in prayer, serving the dying like 
a mother, and inspiring them to die holily. Seven 
weeks were spent in this manner, during which there 
was not a day that she did not bathe and enshroud 
three or four dead. At last she succumbed, nearly 
dying herself of the disease. But at the moment 
when she seemed to be dying, she made a vow to the 
Blessed Virgin, and was immediately restored to such 
health that she arose, put her affiurs in order, and 
mounting her horse, rode back to Monthelon. There 
she was received by her children, and the crowding 
poor, and her father-in-law also, with ecstasies of wel- 
come. At Bourbilly she had been called, ^' the Holy 
Baroness ; '' and at Monthelon she was called ^' Our 
good Lady." 

Her generosity and &ith were such that during a 
fomine she gave almost the last morsels of grain to 
the poor : the first miracle granted by Almighty Grod 


to her ardent faith and charity was similar to that of 
the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, — a single 
barrel of flour remaining perpetually supplied, and, 
according to her order, dispensed freely by her very 
loth servants to those whose necessities compelled 
them to beg. It was winter, but until the next har- 
vest (six months) this miracle continued. She felt 
with St. Francis de Sales that ^'the poor are not 
merely suffering hiunan beings; they are our Lord 
himself concealed under rags." And it was this 
belief which gave her courage to suffer so keenly in 
the service of the poor during her whole life. She 
once told a nun that the martyrs to charity are as 
great martyrs as those to death ; for those to charity 
suffer more in living to carry out the will of Grod, 
than if they had died a thousand times to show their 
faith, their love, and fidelity. *'*' How long," another 
nun asked her, overhearing this remark, ^' does such 
martyrdom for charity's sake last ? " 

^* From the moment when we let the soul lean upon 
Gt)d until the hour of death," said she. ^^ But this is 
only given to generous persons. Weak souls are not 
80 tried, for our Lord fears they will abandon him." 

Here are expressed very simply but very power- 
fully both the honor there is in being called to suffer, 
and the pathos there is in our Lord's love for those 
creatures who fade spiritually as they seem about to 
bloom. There is no contradiction between the desire 
for this charitable mission and its pain : to suffer for 
Gt)d is called, by those who know what it is, a true 

St. Francis said of her : ^^ She is simple and sincere 


as a child, wiUi a solid and noble judgment, a lofty 
aoal, and a courage for saintly enterprises nnnsnal 
in her sex. In shert, I have f oond at Dijon what 
Solomon conld scarcely find at Jemsalem: a good 
woman of strong intelligence, Madame de ChantaL'' 

St. Jane frequently received indications that she 
was to have a remarkable vocation. She tells us that 
in the little wood near the castle at Monthelon, she 
was praying as she walked along, when suddenly she 
was seized with a strong mental summons, and she 
stopped as if under the complete dominion of a higher 
power. She was then irresistibfy led to the neigh- 
boring church. In the church it was shown to her 
liiat the divine love was consuming in her all that 
bdonged to herself, and that she was to have spiritual 
and corporeal labors without number. (Towards the 
dose of her life she said to a friend : *^ It is twenty- 
seven years since I have thought only of others, with 
no time to think of myself.") At the time of the 
vision her whole body trembled and shivered, prob- 
ably with a forecast of the ordeals she was to meet. 
But her heart was filled with joy in Grod, because, '^ to 
die to one's self for Grod seemed to me the nour- 
ishment of love on earth, as praise of Him is the 
nourishment of love in heaven." 

She strongly desired a spiritual director of greater 
inspiration than the one who already guided her, that 
she might make no mistakes and delays in fulfilling 
her duty as a servant of the divine wilL She finally 
obtained the help of one of the greatest teachers in 
the annals of the church, St. Francis de Sales. St. 
Jane was long tormented with, as she supposed, 


temptationB against entire faith. St. Francis always 
laughed these ideas to soom, and begged her, in many 
a brilliant argument, to soom them also, and pass 
them by. ^^ No, no, my child," he wrote in one of his 
letters from Annecy, ^^ let the wind roar, and do not 
imagine that the friJUis of the leaves is the clash of 
hostile weapons I " 

She afterwards cried : " Oh, how terrible the attack 
was I I could find no other remedy than to take the 
Cross of our Lord in my hands, and say to m3^self : 
* Child of little faith, what do you fear? If you 
walk upon the waters, it is with Jesus Christ ! ' " 

During her young widowhood she was sought in 
marriage by a number of rich suitors; and at last 
one asked for her hand whom her family could not 
bear to have her reject. He was extremely wealthy, 
and proposed that (he being a widower with children) 
Madame de Chantal's children should form alliances 
with his, thus accumulating all the large estates of 
both families into one great aggregate. St. Jane's 
relatives joined in an attack upon her desires and 
better judgment, so that she was very nearly ex- 
hausted by the conflict. She says that the persecu- 
tions which she had suffered in her father-in-law's 
house were roses compared to these thorns, with 
which she was now torn. Escaping suddenly from a 
oonclave of parents and cousins, she went to her cham- 
ber, threw herself upon her knees, prayed a long time 
with many tears, and then decided to accomplish an 
act which she had thought of for months past. She 
traced deeply, with a red-hot iron, the word Jestis 
upon her bosom. When, thirty years after, she died. 


the giflters diaoovered that these letters were an inch 
bmg, and for the most part still very distinct. '^ With- 
out suffering," said Thomas a Kempis, ^^ there is not 
love." She was made very ill by this severe wound ; 
but there was never again any doubt in her mind as 
to her duty in regard to re-marriage. 

Both St. Jane de Chantal and St. Teresa took 
the vow du plus parfcdty — to do always that which 
seemed the most perfect action under the circum- 
stances. Upon reflection, it would appear that this 
vow could not be rejected by any one devoted to re- 
ligious — and therefore Christian — development ; yet 
at the same time it is only such a vow that leads 
inevitably to immeasurable agonies of self-denial and 
self-expending for others. It is the very limit of all 

In the year 1603, — she had then beoome a widow, 
— she was affiliated to the Order of the Capuchins, 
as many persons in the world were affiliated to differ- 
ent Orders at that time in religious history, without 
any expectation of entering the communities to which 
they thus belonged. In the next year, 1604, the Car- 
melites had been brought from Spain by Cardinal de 
B^rulle, assisted by the illustrious Madame Acarie, 
now Sister Mary of the Incarnation; and in 1605, 
Venerable Anne de Jesus, the first companion and 
principal confidante of St. Teresa, came to Dijon to 
establish the third Monastery of the Carmelite Order 
in France. Every one pressed into the little chapel 
Vhich the Carmelites opened, wishing to hear, as they 
said, '^the good Spanish Mothers" sing. St Jane 
desired to join this Order, but St Francis would not 


hear of it. He was already b^;iimmg to study her 
character with the hope that she would one day be 
found equal to the work of establishing an Order such 
as he had most interest in, because he considered it 
to be now most needed. He remembered that she 
resembled the Superioress of his vision. An Order 
such as he desired to see newly inaugurated was pos- 
sibly of a higher type than those which were more 
severe. The latter had perhaps disciplined religious 
fidelity by coporeal sufiFering and abstinence into a 
condition proper for a purified gentleness. As yet 
he said nothing to her of his plans, and urged her to 
devote herself to her children and her poor. *^ No- 
thing prevents our perfecting ourselves in our voca- 
tion so much," he vouchsafed to remark, " as wishing 
for another." There is an astonishing difference be- 
tween St. Jane's character and the intentions of the 
Order of the Visitation. This difference might be 
thought unfavorable, but it was really beneficial The 
strongest type of woman was to help found one of 
the gentlest Orders; thus proving that the outward 
gentleness only covered an adamant of refined self- 

««I esteem greatly," said St. Francis, '^the sano- 
tification of women, who followed our Lord in his 
steps even to the foot of the Cross, when he did 
not find there a single apostle." He declared of 
saintly Madame Acarie, whom he had the delight of 
knowing and conversing with often before she became 
a Carmelite, and who was eventually beatified by 
Pius YI. : ^^ She inspired me with such respect for 
her virtues that I never had the hardihood to ask her 


ci what she was tiiinking ; I dared onfy listen to what 
die chose to reveal to me.'' With such an attitade 
towards the Tslne of feminine perception and sweet- 
ness, he was able to gauge the usefolness to religion 
of Madame de ChantaL 

When she decided to enter oonTentnal life, and St 
Francis agreed to her importonities, feeling himself 
that the right hour had arrived, she was considered 
hj every one in her &mily and acqtiaintanceship al- 
most iTi>inTinan for daring to propose to leave her four 
children and her father and her aged father-in-law 
to take some care of themselves. But the result 
proved her wisdom. Her service for her children, her 
care for them, and her inspiration given to them, 
were helps such as few children receive from their 
mothers. She not only had the capacity to be a nun, 
but a consummate woman of business as welL She 
attended carefully, for years after she entered the 
Yisitatkm Order, to her children's interests. 

In 1611 and 1612 she did not hesitate to leave the 
dmster in order to husband the estates of her chil- 
dren, and by her intelligent care, in a few years she 
doubled their fortunes. The chorus of antagonistic 
reproaches which went up about her was eventually 
changed to fulsome praises, equally loud. Said 
St. Francis during the storm of criticism : ^^ If you 
had re-married yourself, this time to a nobleman of 
Grascony or Brittany, you would have abandoned all 
your family, and no one would have blamed you. 
Now you give yourself to a life which allows you to 
care for your children ; but it being a lifeybr Grodf 
every one is angered! " 


At ihe moment of parting from her family, she 
suffered to the limit of human capacity. Her son 
threw himself upon the ground before her, and she 
passed, trembling and sobbing, but firm in her faith 
and loyally to the divine summons, over his prostrate 
body. He, Celse-B^nigne, lived to acknowledge that 
his desperate opposition to her course was a supersti- 
tious mistake ; a superstitious regard for the conven- 
tional habits of families. He would, in any case, 
have been almost constantly separated from his 
mother by Mb absence at college and in the army. 
As it was, he saw her as often as he could absent 
himself from his pursuits; and her ideally noble 
reputation for piety and moral power, her renown 
as a foundress of most important houses of the Visita- 
tion, were incentives to noble living on Ids own part, 
and gave him prestige at court and elsewhere. 

She went to Annecy, and began preparations for 
founding the religious and benevolent Order of whose 
first years a brief account has been given. Her en- 
trance into Annecy was the occasion for the collecting 
of a great crowd, who had heard of her remarkable 
kindness to the poor. The instantaneous effect of 
her presence upon several young girls who met her 
was like that of visible inspiration. Their refined, 
delicately-natured souls, naturally good, though in 
some cases deeply enmeshed in worldly vanities, ap- 
prehended her wonderful power for leading to holi- 
ness. They became the first shining lights among 
the postulants of the Order. 

The eloquence of St. Jane was such as to arrest 
attention and remain in the memory. No doubt a 


few words from her lips oould teach a young girl to 
look to the saint for that strength and unfaltering 
direction which is the acme of motherly support In 
her early youth she sometimes talked badinage, and 
she was indeed bright and fascinating as the most 
enchanting of women are ; but the range of her per- 
sonality went far beyond this sort of value. They 
say that her sallies of wit were very soon diverted by 
herself to serious discourse. It is to be hoped that 
many people know in some one among their acquaint- 
ance, in man or woman, this delightful union of in- 
tellectual mirthfulness and spiritual dignity. 

When scarcely five years old, St. Jane overheard a 
gentleman saying to her father, that he did not believe 
in the real presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacra- 
ment. She then revealed that unflinching force of 
utterance which distinguished her so much in later 
life, though it was not till much later that her earnest- 
ness was invariably joined to the utmost sweetness 
and repose of expression. Said she, approaching the 
heretical gentleman with a great emotion depicted 
upon her little face : ^' Sir, we must believe that 
Jesus Christ is there, because he has said it; and 
when you do not believe it, you call him a liar I " 

At the age of thirty-seven, having become a Visi- 
tandine and Superioress, her conversation with the 
ladies who came to see her was so noble, and deadly 
to the follies of worldly life, that, among many more, 
one young girl at once took off her ear-rings and other 
jewels. She broke them into pieces, lest she should 
be tempted to wear them again, and had a cross made 
of the fragments, which, years afterwards, she showed 


to her daughter, who was about to beeome a nnn of 
the Visitation, saying : '^ This was the fruit of my 
first interview with the Mere de Chantal." 

The saint's natural aptitude for verbal expression 
was fostered in a school of circumstances that gave 
her every opportunity for development in this direc- 
tion. In 1619, for instance, St. Francis de Sales 
arrived in Paris to preside over the founding of a 
convent of the Visitation to which the most violent 
opposition was raised. He sent for St. Jane de Chan- 
tal, who gave her wonderful aid to the founding of 
such monasteries of the Order as were threatened with 
the gravest difficulties. She was just at that time in 
a new monastery of the city of Bourges, where her 
brother was Archbishop. He (fearing for her safety 
in Paris) refused to give her a carriage in which to 
traveL ^^ Monsignor," she cried, turning upon him a 
firm glance ; ^' obedience has good legs I " She would 
have walked the whole distance ; and her brother 
realized it. The carriage was soon in readiness. St. 
Francis was surrounded, when St. Jane arrived, by 
the powerful help of the Cardinal de B^rulle, P&re 
de Condren, St. Vincent de Paul, and others ; and all 
these faultless Christians, strengthened by the mag- 
netic and loving skill of St. Jane, met successfully 
the avalanche of opposition to the new monastery, 
which was fiung upon them by the Jansenists and 
self-interested persons. In such a company, her gen- 
ius for eloquence could not but grow more and more 
vigorous. The beauty of the preaching of Pere de 
Condren was such that the Cardinal de B^rulle 
always knelt while he wrote down what he had heard 


tiie saintly Father say. On May 1st of the same year 
St. Francis established the monastery as he had set 
out to do. St. Jane was placed in charge of its first 
months of trial, and its spiritual direction was placed 
in the hands of St. Vincent de PaoL Not long af- 
terfrards the plagoe appeared, driving the friends 
of the convent out of the city. The sisters were re- 
ported to be rich, but they were in reality withont 
tiie necessaries of life. St. Jane, with the rest of 
tiie nuns, sat apon the floor ; there being no chairs. 
Daring the fiercest cold of the winter there was almost 
no fad ; and they had no covering on their beds at 
night, except an occasional drift of snow, sifted 
between the cracks of the insecare bailding. This 
was the poverfy-laden monastery which its enemies so 
well knew had in it the mastard-seed of irresistible 
virtae, that should grow to the subduing of those 
enemies, at last I When the hour for repast arrived, 
St. Jane would retire to the church and pray for 
food, reciting an ^^ Our Father '' in request for daily 
bread. The moment she learned that the necessary 
sustenance had been sent, she would stop the recitation 
of the prayer, saying that it was not best to pray for 
a superabundance. Now comes the point for which 
this allusion to the monastery of Paris was made. 
When the sisters used to recotmt their vicissitudes, 
they always assured their hearers that those of them 
who had had the good fortune to sustain with St. Jane 
de Chantal the poverty of this heroic experience, had 
never passed happier days, because of the great cheer- 
fulness of their Mother. They had all been brought 
up in luxury ; but they had never happened to find 


that luzniy oould command the zest of St. Jane's 
genius for brilliant but ever holy verbal help, and for 
oheer in the very heart of bitterness. 

For thirty-one years she received Holy Communion 
every morning; and this saintly observance never 
ceased to be new in its inspiration to her. She had 
great care that there should be fine flowers in the 
monasteiy garden, which were to be placed before the 
Blessed Sacrament. Every Sunday, and on Feast- 
days, the sisters made a practice of offering her a 
bouquet to cany. But, after having held it a minute, 
she would send it by the sister sacristan to the altar. 
When this bouquet was faded, she had it brought and 
placed in her cell, before her crucifix. She always 
kept some of these dry flowers there. Once a sister 
asked her what her idea was, in doing so. To this 
she answered that it was not worthy to be discussed. 
When further urged, she said : '^ Color and fragrance 
were the life of these faded flowers, which they gave 
up slowly before the Holy Sacrament. I desire that 
my life should be given away little by little, until fin- 
ished before Grod, in the constant honoring of Holy 

St. Jane must have derived her forceful speech in 
some degree from her father, the parliamentary presi- 
dent, Fr^myot. He was a very devout man, and a 
very brave one. It is told of him that while fighting 
beside Henry IV. he had attracted the attention of 
the king by his daring. A few days after this par- 
ticular battle, the king, victorious, while resting at 
his ease, demanded of Fr^myot what he would have 
done in defending his sovereign if his sovereign had 


remained a Huguenot. ^* Sire,^ replied M. Fr^nyot, 
^< I confess that if yon had not cried, ^ Long live the 
Chorcli of Some I ' I should not have cried, ' Long 
liye Henry lY. ! ' " The king could not have been 
more charmed than he was by this honest answer. 
Eb tamed laughing to one of his cronies. ^' If you 
haye any cheating to be done," said he ; ^^ find some 
one besides iWmyot to help you ! " 

Her color was uniform, brunette, and very pale; 
a trait of physique belonging to strong heads and 
hearts, to spirituality and steady earnestness. Her 
d^ent^ singly fine, and combined with 
gentleness. She was as strong-willed and full of the 
fire of executive ability as a man, but was also in 
possession of a woman's lavish mercy and sensitive 
recognition of her dependence upon divine power. 
Here were two opposing forces in the noble soul of 
St. Jane de Chantal; and her great director, St. 
Francis, strove with unfailing patience and wisdom to 
train them into harmonious labor for Grod. He and 
his disciple were crowned, in the midst of hard effort 
and constant opposition from others, with success in 
St. Jane's development for her vocation. ^^ELappy 
are those who find holy directors ! " once averred 

At the same time that St. Jane had renounced 
vanity, she had vowed herself to labor. Her fingers 
were never idle. She never allowed her diligence to 
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At thirty years old she had found herself in a 
oommunion with God which astonished her by its 
completeness. There were certain times when she 
felt herself raised to superior regions of feeling, of 
which she had not dreamed before. Miraculous 
visions mingled themselves with her ardent thoughts 
of Gt>d. Not long before her death she declared 
that, if she were not held back by the fear of throw- 
ing into anger and confusion those persons who had 
from time to time spoken to her with scorn, she 
would kneel at their feet and thank them with 
clasped hands. Yet, though so grateful for human 
humiliations, which lashed all traces of pride from 
her being, she was permitted to rest, like St. John, 
(as her director expressed it), upon the bosom of our 
Lord, in the prayerful peace which took possession 
of her in her contemplation of the Holy of Holies. 

Eloquence was the especial impidse of St. Jane 
when dealing — as it was her vocation to do — with 
her fellow-beings. She had to perfection the art of 
arresting attention in personal intercourse, which is 
always more or less the attribute of those who are 
sent by Heaven to teach and lead. But her natural 
aptitude for social brilliancy and leadership was nev- 
ertheless chastened by constant self-mastery into hum- 
ble service for the sole end of beneficence, and even 
nourished in the midst of its rich capacity a reverence 
for quiet and solitude. 

** Headstrong^ liberty U lashed with woe. 
There *s nothing situate under heaven^s eye 
But hath his bound, in earth, in sea, in sky.'* 

Why should we mortals desire to stand exempt 


from this law of obedience to a mle which even 
guides the hurricane? Power guided with reference 
to the Highest is the only kind which does not msh 
to waste. St. Jane, of all personalities the best 
adapted to be headstrong with the g^reatest amount 
of success, very early decided that such liberty would 
lead her to some sort of destruction ; if to no other, 
to that destruction of her usefulness to suffering hu- 
man beings which her saintly heart considered to be 
the sweetest usefulness of alL 

** I know a soul," she said when dying, ^^ that char^ 
iiy has separated from the things that were pleasant- 
est to it, more absolutely than tyrants could have 
separated his body from his soul by the wielding of a 
sword." If she referred to St. Erands de Sales, as 
she well might, yet we may apply the same phrase to 
her, and bless her name. 

At first she was annoyed and made wretched be- 
cause people cut pieces from her cbthes as holy relics, 
and so on. Finally, as she grew in age and humility, 
dying to herself, she gladly held out her hands to be 
kissed, and gently received the honors paid her. This 
was because she realized a truth which was exempU- 
fied by St. Erands of Assisi. When he first went 
into the world after the stigmata had appeared on his 
body, he would try to conceal his hands from the 
crowds who gazed at them, blushing and confused at 
the attention given him. If any one cut his robe, or 
his cord hanging from his waist, he would murmur: 
^ These people are foolish to honor a sinner so much." 
But he later met the pilgrims who came to visit him 
with outstretched hands, and said to a young priest 


wbo was astonished: **Do you imagine that these 
people are thinking of me ? '' 

St. Vincent de Paul said of her, that of all her 
saintly traits her faith seemed to be the greatest, 
although she had all her life been tempted by con- 
trary thoughts. In short, he had never observed in 
her (he was her director after the death of St. Fran- 
cis) a single imperfection ! Of her faith, here is an 
example. She lost her dear and brave young son. 
During many days she was utterly sUent, and even 
at Recreation sat with eyes shut, twirling her distaff. 
But the joy that her son, whose salvation she had 
feared for, as he was hot-tempered, and frequently 
engaged in duels, — the joy that he had died nobly in 
a battle for the faith, gave her a consolation greater 
than her sorrow. 

Of her innocence we may gain some idea from the 
following public confession, at the time that she for- 
ever gave up her power as Superioress, and came and 
knelt in the choir, before the successor to St. Fran- 
cis de Sales, his cousin, Jean FrauQois de Sales, then 
Bishop of Greneva : — 

^* Monsignor, I confess very humbly my sin of hav- 
ing often broken silence, even that of vespers, without 
necessity ; of my being dispensed of the Assemblies of 
the Community without urgent occasion ; of not hav- 
ing served our Sisters as I should ; for which I ask 
most humbly pardon ; and from you, monsignor, par- 
don for the inconveniences I have given you." 

Her penance was three Paters and three Avea. 

Towards the end of her life she made the rounds of 
many convents already established. She was seventy 


years old, bat she often rofle at two o'clock in order 
to make an early start from one place to another, and 
to attend Mass first She was the awakener of all 
who were with her. She frequently had no nourish- 
ment from this time until three or four o'clock in the 
afternoon ; and even then was often not able to find 
anything but milk and black bread and cheese, in the 
Tillages she passed through. But her cheer was un- 
fuling ; she kept every one in good spirits. 

The sisters of the Visitation vied with each other 
in humbling themselves; ^^that our lives may be 
hidden with Christ in Grod," as St. Jane prayed. 
She took her turn in all menial work; serving at 
table in the refectory, sweeping stairs, cooking in the 
kitchen. She called the week when she did all this, 
in turn, her best week. There is a pretty story of 
her guarding the cow in the early days at the house 
of the Gcderie, This cow was indeed an animal in 
all respects to be envied, as it grazed near the little 
fruit-trees, and was necessarily attended by first one 
angelic nun and then another. 

No sooner had St. Jane grown to be a part of the 
Order which she helped to found by constant labors, 
and increased by branches which she tended with 
continued labors as fearless and devoted, than she 
became subject to illnesses which made her exist- 
ence a severe trial to her. We have seen that illness 
did not prevail to make her relinquish ardor and 
effort In the lives of the saints this peculiarity of 
trial is very frequent ; and we who are not ^' called " 
especially to give our days to Grod's requirements 
for others, know how hard it is to press on in our 


worldly responsibilities, if the body is assailed by dis- 
ease. There is a proverbial belief that only mothers 
ignore physical suffering to fulfil their duties to their 
children. But we may learn that tkere are mothers 
who are not so by blood, who ignore their bodily pain 
for the sake of souls that need to know God, because 
these women love God so much that every soul He 
has created is as dear to them as a child of their own. 
St. Jane went to heaven, December 13, 1641, aged 
sixty-nine. At her side was her cherished friend, the 
Duchess of Montmorency, niece of Pope Sixtus V., 
who had taken the veil not long before; and the 
beloved saint was surrounded by kneeling nuns, who 
prayed for her joy and peace with humble ardor and 
that faith which shall see perpetual light. 




We have shown, in onr opening diapters, how ihe 
pcophecy of St. Francis de Sales conoeming Queen 
Henrietta Maria ; the dose associatimi of that royal 
woman with the Visitation afterward; the coorage 
and religioas fidelity of her friend Madam Neale 
and of Madam Neale's granddanghter, in America; 
together with the entrance of Leonard Neale into the 
priesthood, his vision, his retam to tiie United States 
and appointment to Greorgetown Co]I^;e, were all 
parts of a long, bat dear and r^olar sequence, lead- 
ing to the establishment of the Visitation in this 

These were the roots from which a fine, yet hardy 
qnritiial growdi was to spring and flower here. 

It remains to introduce the other persons and foe- 
tors providentially brought together in order to make 
Ae culmination possible. 

The foundress of this Greorgetown Convent, the 
first Visitation house in America, was Miss Alice 
Lalor, known later in religion as Mother Teresa. 
She was bom in Queen's County, Ireland; but her 
parents removed to Kilkenny, and there her childhood 
was passed, there she grew up. Her tender piety and 


her bright and cheerful character won the affection 
and regard of every one around her, and especially 
of her pastor, Father CarrolL When at the age of 
seventeen she received the sacrament of confirmation 
from Bishop Lanigan, he also was attracted by her 
fervor and modesty; and, having instituted with 
Father Carroll a confraternity of the Blessed Sacrar 
ment at Kilkenny, he named Alice Lalor as its first 
president or prefect. She soon resolved to consecrate 
herself unreservedly to God, and was permitted to 
make the vow of virginity, although complete renim- 
ciation of the world was not then practicable, because 
there was no convent in the neighborhood. Several 
of her friends took the same vow, each receiving a 
ring marked with a commemorative inscription ; and 
she and they were looked upon as forming the nu- 
cleus of a future religious community. 

One of Alice Lalor's sisters married an American 
merchant, Mr. Doran, who was desirous that his wife 
should have the companionship of Alice in her new 
transatlantic home, for a while. Alice, who was now 
thirty-one, agreed to go with them, but promised 
Bishop Lanigan that she would come back in two 
years to aid in forming the religious community so 
long contemplated. She sailed from Ireland with her 
sister and her brother-in-law, in the winter of 1794. 

Among the passengers on the sailing packet were 
Mrs. McDermott and Mrs. Sharpe, both widows. 
During the long voyage they formed an intimate 
friendship with Alice, and it turned out that they, 
as well as she, longed to enter the cloistered life. 
On the eve of Epiphany, 1795, when their ship was 


diawing near the coast, they agreed that so soon as 
tiiey should land they would go to church for confes- 
sion and communion, and that whatever priest they 
might find in the confessional they would r^ard as 
appointed to be their spiritual director. 

They landed at Philadelphia, and the priest whom 
they found and accepted as their director was, happily. 
Father Neale. These three devout penitents, brought 
thus unexpectedly to his feet from beyond the sea, 
were the women destined to cooperate with him in 
forming the community of his vision, which he had 
never ceased to hope that he might realize. 

It is true, Alice Lalor felt herself bound to return 
to Ireland, bound by the ring which Bishop Lanigan 
had placed upon her finger at the time of her virgin 
TOW, and bound by her promise to him. But Father 
Neale saw the greater service she could render to 
religion in America. He asked her to remain, not 
to revoke her vow, but to fulfill it in this new field, 
under these altered circumstances ; and, as her con- 
fessor, he offered to dispense her from her promise to 
go back to her native land. She accepted his advice. 
Yet a certain uneasiness lingered in her mind at the 
thought of her responsibility toward those who were 
awaiting her at home. Father Neale, perceiving this, 
said to her one day: ^Let me see that ring, my 
child." She drew it off, and gave it to him. He 
took it, looked at the inscription ; and then, to her 
astonishment, twisted it in two and threw the frag- 
ments away. 

She felt as though her very heart were wrung ; yet 
Father Neale's aotkm, as he intended, destroyed the 


last, reluctant tie which was drawing her back to 
Ireland. The broken ring was the type of a divided 
mind, which must be cast aside before she could go 
forth along the pathway of her new resolve with sin- 
gle purpose. 

Miss Lalor, Mrs. McDermot, and Mrs. Sharpe, 
after this, settled in Philadelphia, hired a house there, 
and lived in community. Upon entering a state in 
which she could devote herself to following obser- 
vance8 wHch might most thorougUy purify her heart 
for the service of God, Alice Lalor made frequent 
use of the discipline, the hair shirt, the cord of St. 
Francis of Assisi, and fastings, watchings, and prayer. 
Custom rendered these austerities, as St. Aloysius de 
Gonzaga has said, ^^ sweet and easy ; " but she be- 
came emaciated, pale, and weak, having trusted too 
much to her splendid constitution, and Father Neale 
directed her to moderate the fervent practices. Her 
rugged health and fresh bloom soon returned. Mrs. 
Sharpe had her daughter with her, a child of eight 
years ; and a young American postulant was ad- 
mitted. Suddenly the yellow fever broke out afresh. 
The postuhmt died, and Father Neale narrowly es- 
caped death. Alice Lalor and her companions were 
faithful to their adopted vocation of courage and 
helpfulness, and remained persistently in the midst 
of danger (while every one who could leave the dly 
fled), ministering to the pest-stricken. 

When, in 1798-99, Father Neale was ordered to 
Georgetown, as president of the Jesuit College there, 
he sent for the three devoted, religious friends, and 
domiciled them for a time with three Poor Qares, 


wlio, being driyen from France to this oonntry by 
die Revolution in 1793, had set up a little oonyent 
not far from the college. The Poor Clares attempted 
to keep a school, as a means of support; but their 
poverty was so extreme, and their life so rigorous, 
tliat the scholars were mostly frightened away, and 
die nuns, it is told, were once reduced to such indi- 
gence that they were obliged to sell a parrot which 
diey owned in order to save themselves from starva- 
tion. These women, barefooted, according to their 
role, and abjectly poor, came of noble blood, and had 
been bom to luxury. 

A lay brother named Alexis, their protector, dur- 
ing the flight from France, continued with them so 
long as they remained in this country. For several 
months Alice Lalor and her two friends boarded and 
tanght in this convent ; but it soon became apparent 
tliat the austere role of Saint Clare differed widely 
from that which they wished to adopt, and was un- 
congenial to their own spiritual attraction, as well as 
to the needs of the time and the locality. Father 
Neale, therefore, bought a house and lot near by, and 
installed them in it; very much as St. Francis de 
Sales had made provision for the first three mothers 
of the Visitation at the Gralerie, in Annecy. 

*^ Thus was b^un by these three ladies an estab- 
lishment which to the world appeared a folly, and 
which indeed met with many difiLculties and so little 
assistance, that but for the invincible perseverance 
of Archbishop Neale and his unshaken confidence in 
Grod, the enterprise must have been abandoned." ^ 

^ Ciradar Lettar, 1882. 


In 1800 Father Neale was oonseoratod coadjutor 
to Archbishop Carroll; but, as he continued to be 
president of Georgetown College, he did not remove 
to Baltimore, but hired a dwelling near his nascent 
sisterhood, and acted as novice master for it. 

From the manuscript records collected and kept by 
the nuns, it cannot be ascertained at what period, 
precisely. Bishop Neale formed the idea of placing 
this germ or bud of a community under the Visita- 
tion rule ; but it is said that he had a preference for 
that Order. Knowing nothing of its rules, however, 
he conformed the life of the sisters to the rules of 
the Society of Jesus, with some abatements and 
modifications. They had regular hours for rising, 
for meditation, for Mass — in the Poor Clares* 
chapel — for reading, and silence, and for examen of 
conscience, with morning and evening prayers and 
the rosary, their fasts and mortifications, also. They 
opened a school, which was hailed with delight by 
the Catholics of the neighborhood, and received solid 
encouragement from them. The little group in« 
creased from three members to five, all of whom 
were known round about as ^^The Pious Ladies;'' 
their only appellation for some years. Although 
the sisters kept as much as possible within their 
own premises, enclosure was only partially observed. 
They did their own shopping and marketing, went 
out to church, and accompanied their pupils in daily 
walks to the beautiful surrounding forests. 

Suddenly their modest progress received a check 
in the long illness and the death of their principal 
teacher, Sister Ignatia (Mrs. Sharpe), who was buried 


in the pariah oemeteiy of Trinity ChnrcL And, 
althoagh they had made a small beginning, with 
some &yorable prospects, it must not be supposed 
tliat their condition or their slight saccess was in 
any maimer easy, or free from trials, anxiety, and 
obstacles. In 1804, however, the Poor Clares re- 
turned to France, — where Catholicity had been 
restored, after a brief, wild orgy of revolutionaiy 
^reason" and a Beign of Terror. Mother Teresa 
(Alice Lalor) was able to buy the house and land 
which the Poor Clares had occupied; and Father 
Francis Neale purchased their simple altar and fur- 
niture, as well as their library of French books. 
This library, by the way, became later on the source 
of a ^^find,'* which was of great practical value to 
die sisters in ascertaining the constitution of the 
Vkttation Order. For a time, the sisters attended 
Mass in the coll^;e chapel; then the Qarist altar 
was set up in the largest room of the ^ Academy " 
building, and afterwards was again transferred to 
the building which had been the Poor Clare convent, 
and was now occupied by ^^ The Pious Ladies." In 
1808 Bishop Neale's term as president of the col- 
lege ended, and he then to<^ a dwelling dose by the 
eonvent, separated from it only by a narrow alley. 
This arrangement, while enabling him to be dose at 
hand for the free access of all his parishioners, and 
to receive visitors from a distance on business of the 
diocese, and give them shelter, also made it possible 
for him to supervise closely these new daughters of 
a still unformed community, whom he was endeavor- 
ing to train for a monastic life. So it came about 


that ^^ The Pious Ladies '* not only began to enjoy a 
sequestered and well-defined little territory of their 
own, but that the coadjutor Bishop was able to give 
much more time than before to instructing and ad- 
vising them. 

The crude and simple convent and '' Old Acad- 
emy" now occupied a square of roughly cultivated 
ground on the heights of Georgetown. Through the 
middle of the plot ran, from north to south, a creek 
which emptied into the Potomac far below at the foot 
of the hiU. Its banks were somewhat steep on the 
western side, but sloped more gradually on the east- 
em, where lay the convent garden, orchard, and 
meadow. On the west, the land rose in a series of 
green-sodded terraces bordered with raspberry bushes, 
lilacs, and other shrubbery ; and here stood the ^^ Old 
Academy," which was the house that Mother Teresa 
removed to when she and her associates withdrew 
from the Poor Clares. To the east, in the garden 
and near the street, were the convent and the Bishop's 
house. At first, and for a long while, both the nuns 
and their pupils were obliged to get over the creek 
as best they could in their constant passing to and 
fro between convent and academy, from chapel to 
school, or vice versa ; though inclement weather and 
heavy rains, or ice and snow, sometimes made it 
impossible to cross. Afterwards a rustic bridge was 
built to span the stream. A spring and fishpond, 
overhung by forest and fruit trees, made this a charm- 
ing spot in summer. The fishpond and the dam had 
been made by the Poor Clares, who needed such pro- 
vision, their rule not allowing them to eat any meat 


The foliage was thronged with birds; and Sister 
Agnes Brent recalled how, when a child, she used to 
watch them with delight, from bridge or bank, as 
they bathed in the stream or fluttered amcmg the 
trees or in the arbors of honeysuckle and grape on 
the hiUside. But, to offset all this prettiness of som- 
mer^ime, there were many hardships in the school 
and convent life of that day. 

Sister Agnes Brent remembered that, when she 
entered the novitiate in 1812, the buildings were in 
a state of total disrepair. The monastery was but a 
foriom -looking two-story frame house, containing six 
or eight rooms. To this the nuns had attached a 
schoolhouse, — a still more wretched structure, built 
on log foundations which had rotted and sunk, caus- 
ing the building to lean so much that it was consid- 
ered unsafe, and had to be propped up, inside and 
out, with posts and poles. The stairway was sup- 
ported in like manner, and was so rickety that Sis- 
ter Agnes dreaded to go up and down its trembling 
steps. It was quite necessary to do so, however, as 
the dormitory — a single large room — was upstairs. 
On the ground floor the space was partitioned into 
an assembly room and a refectory; the assembly 
room opening into the convent proper, where the 
choir, chapel, novitiate, parlor, and kitchen were 

None of the rooms in the old schoolhouse were 
lathed or plastered at first. But in 1811 Sister Mar- 
garet Marshall — of whom we shall have something 
more to say — succeeded, by her own energy and the 
toil of her own hands, in lathing and plastering the 


assembly room. This aohievement of hers oontri- 
bated greatly to the warmth and comfort of the room 
in winter. Her work was well done, too, and lasted 
as long as the hmnble old building was able to hold 
itself together. 

There remains now scarcely a vestige of these 
primitive structures. The Poor Clares' convent and 
their schoolhouse have vanished ; so has the house of 
Bishop (later, Archbishop) Neale; giving place to 
the neat little chapel and the fine array of solid build- 
ings which to^lay present a striking contrast to the 
memory-picture of that poor, bare, gloomy-looking 
cloister in which the early sisters uttered their first 
vows and spent their twenty long years of probation. 

From the death of Sister Ignatia Sharpe in the 
summer of 1802, until 1822, or somewhat later, the 
community was in very straitened circumstances. The 
loss of this their best teacher caused the school to 
decline so that it barely yielded them subsistence. 
Only the commonest branches could be taught, now ; 
— reading, writing, geography, and arithmetic, with 
no music or other special studies. The terms were, 
of course, low, but the patronage remained small; 
hardly extending beyond the circle of Bishop Neale's 
relatives and friends, who wished to uphold an infant 
Catholic institution — for a while the only one in the 
United States — where their daughters might become 
well grounded in the principles of their religion, pre- 
pare for their First Communion, and be shielded from 
the dangers to which their faith would be exposed if 
they were sent to the non-Catholic schools of the 
district Sister Agnes Brent has recorded that her 


nude, in placing her there, told her plainly that he 
did 80 for the sake of her religion, and not with the 
expectation of her acqnmng mneh literary knowledge. 

Everything at the nunnery and school bore the im- 
press of extreme poverty. Provisions were dealt out 
by measure ; only a fixed quantity of food or fuel for 
eadi person or place. Wheat bread was never seen 
tiiere. Com bread was used, made from com which 
the sisters themselves had raised^ and had husked and 
sheUed before sending it to the mill to be ground. 
They cleaned, salted, and put up their own fish and 
meat; grew all their own v^etables, and for that 
purpose kept a fine garden, the heavier work of which 
was done by their negro man or men, the lighter by 

Butter was rarely a part of their diet; and wh«i 
tins luxury could be allowed at all, it was carefully 
distributed in small pieces, — one piece at the plate of 
each sister or child. Their coarse com bread was 
divided in the same careful manner, — a single slice 
to each person ; and if any one found this insufficient, 
she had to endure the lack of more. From the sketch 
of the life of Mother Juliana Matthews we learn that, 
being Bef ectorian and at one time Dispenser, she had 
charge of giving out the provisions, and that while 
carrying around the bread basket before meals she 
often felt tempted to pick out a specially large slice 
for herself. To avoid all fault or inequality in the 
matter, she used to shut her eyes and take whatever 
bit of bread her hand chanced upon. Sister Agnes 
did the same thing. ^Yet,'' she was wont to add, 
;, when she told of it, *^ it never entered my 


mind that this stinted &re was occasioned by neces- 
sity. I thought it entirely voluntary and suggested 
by a desire of practicing holy poverty." 

In winter, the Dispenser was obliged to stand in 
the cold while the sisters were getting their appointed 
supply of fuel for the ensuing day. When there was 
snow on the ground, she stood on a log in order to 
keep her feet dry, and watched the others as they 
took, each one, the quantity allowed for her apart- 
ment or office. Four sticks of wood each day were 
given for the large assembly-room stove. For the 
amaU stoves six or eight smaUer pieces were set apart 
If coal was burned, two scuttles made the daily por- 
tion. The bedclothes of the plain couches on which 
the sisters slept were too scanty to keep them warm. 
Through the crevices of their rough, unplastered, 
board-walled dormitory the snow blew in freely; so 
that the floor and the very beds were often covered 
with little snowdrifts. The beds, at the best, were 
narrow cots of straw; but most of the sisters slept 
on the floor, being obliged to give up their cots to 
the children. And so constant and severe was their 
exposure to the cold, that their hands frequently be- 
came purple and swelled, the skin cracking open with 
the frost. 

We have noted how meagre was the fare with 
which they poorly nourished themselves to sustain 
these physical hardships. It may be added that their 
breakfast and supper consisted only of a cup of rye 
coffee or of milk and water, with the ever constant 
single slice of com bread already mentioned. At 
dinner a spoonful of molasses by way of dessert, after 


die salt fish or meat and Y^;etables, was sometiiiiea 
granted as a special dainty on the occasion of grand 
festivals, and was highly esteemed. They also saved 
the parings and cores of apples, and by boiling these 
prepared a sweetish drink with which to vaiy their 
simple list of beverages. 

Each sister was provided with a tin cap and a 
pewter spoon for use at table, besides a tin basin 
and pitcher in the dormitory. But their wardrobe 
was lamentably deficient. Not having nnderdothes 
enough for even a weekly change, they changed only 
every twelve or fifteen days; one half of the com- 
mmiity, alternately. The Sister Agnes, who has been 
several times referred to here, was the onfy one to 
whom dean linen was permitted weekly; and this 
exception was made only because her clothes were too 
small to fit any one else. Instead of ^^ linen," how- 
ever, we ought to say cotton ; that being the material 
generally used for their garments, which were nearly 
all home-made and often so patched that the original 
pieces could not be identified. 

For brooms, thqr used weeds; or, rather, thqr 
manufactured very good brooms out of a particular 
kind of weed ; and they did not even make a pretence 
of indulging in chairs. Only one chair was to be 
seen in their assembly room, and that one was re- 
served for Mother Teresa. The other sisters sat on 
trunks or chests, which completed the furniture of 
the apartment. In the evenings, when thqr gathered 
together for recreation and converse, the room was 
illuminated by a ^save-all;" that is, a vessel filled 
with grease from the pot skimmings of the kitchen. 


Yet not even this was used on moonlight nights ; and 
if, at any time when the save-all was burning, the 
supply of grease that supported it gave out suddenly, 
the sisters oontentedly sat in darkness or enjoyed the 
faint glimmer of the firelight. When this accident 
happened on Saturday nights, and any one of the 
sisters had a rent to draw up or some stitches to 
take in her severely tried wearing apparel, she lit a 
pine-knot reserved for such emergencies. No one 
thought of keeping a lamp for her private use ; and 
the solitaiy candle used in the convent was burned 
only in the choir. 

But during all the years that this condition of 
things continued, no word of complaint was ever 
heard. On the contrary, the sisters were very gay, 
and made meny over the ahifts and inventions to 
which they were driven by their poverty ; the absurd 
conduct of their ^^ save-all," in relapsing into dark- 
ness just when it was most needed, being sure to 
bring out hearty laughter. 

Like St. Jane de Chantal, Mother Teresa was 
sure to be most cheerful when circumstances were 
most appalling. As sighs and tears have no uses 
for God, and we are expected to find Grod's burden 
light, she literally shone joyously beneath a burden 
of discomfort. If starvation threatened, and even 
mouldy bread became too precious. Mother Teresa's 
gayety fairly changed the sisters' hunger to cheerful- 
ness. If the ^^ save-all " refusexl to dispel darkness, 
as above said, her amusing tales and anecdotes intro- 
duced a brilliancy which left nothing to be desired. 
At last the sisters used to say, when their Mother 


was partioalarly genial with iimooent entertainment : 
M Ali^ she has something to tell us which will give ns 
pain, and is trying to raise our courage first I " All 
this extreme privation was not intended by the rule ; 
the nuns were entitled to better fare. However, they 
remained the victims of such distress, and, moreover, 
happy ones. 

There were, at this time, thirteen pupils in the 
school ; children delicately reared, to whom the pri- 
vations and severities of life under these circum- 
stances offered a Spartan ordeaL Yet they flourished 
under it, and became strong and hardy; in this 
respect prefiguring the growth and strength that the 
school and convent were to attain. The advances 
made in the beginning, however, were very slow. 
The little sisterhood was not yet assimilated to the 
"Visitation, or to any religious order whatever; and 
it was obliged to remain thus informally or partially 
organized for years, often in doubt as to whether it 
would be able to cohere at all, and constantly endur- 
ing the hardest of work, the most meagre of fare, the 
severest anxieties. 

When, after many years, Mother Teresa's mother- 
hood was changed to obedience to young Superiors 
who had been her novices, a new loveliness in her 
character was manifested. She ^^ honored, respected, 
cherished them, and gave them her whole confidence 
for her interior guidance." 

She delighted in feeding the pigeons and poultry. 
The pigeons knew her so well that they flew down 
from a great height to alight on her head and shoul- 
ders, and on her hands* St. Francis de Sales was 


especially loved by the doves. Mother Teresa is said 
to have united the humility, simplicity, and cheerful- 
ness of a child with the prudence and dignity becom- 
ing to her station. She died when about eighty years 
old. A little while before her death she said to the 
Superioress : ^^ My life appears to me as a dream ! *' 
Her hope of heaven had been the chief reality of her 


In the first nine years only four postulants joined 
^^The Pious Ladies." These were Sister Aloysia 
Neale (1801), Sister Stanislaus Fenwick (1804), 
Sister Magdalene Neale (1805), and a lay sister, 
Mary (1806-7), whose surname is unknown. She 
could not give the date of her birth, but stated that 
she was sixteen at the time of Braddock's War ; and 
she lived to be one hundred and five. In 1808 an- 
other postulant came ; Miss Catharine Anne Rigden, 
a convert and a native of Georgetown, who ten years 
later was chosen as Mother Teresa's successor. Ad- 
mitted October 2, the feast of the Ghiardian Angels, 
she made the seventh in the group; and Bishop 
Neale, who was cheered by her arrival, decided that 
as they were now so many they should b^rin to ob- 
serve enclosure more striJy. 

But after this no one sought admission, for a long 
while; the prospect of any increase in numbers ap- 
peared hopeless, and it seemed that the Bishop's 
cherished design must fall through. His position 
resembled that of St. Stephen, abbot of Citeaux, 
previous to the arrival of St. Bernard* But the 


interval of stagnatum was broken, in the midwinter 
(February) of 1810, by the unexpected arrival of a 
stranger, a yomig woman from Conewago, Warren 
County, Pennsylvania; Margaret Marshall by name 
and nineteen years of age, who asked to be admitted 
to the novitiate. The story of her coming is re- 

Her parents were pious people, of Grerman origin ; 
but as she was their only daughter, and the mother 
was in declining health, thqr opposed her vocation to 
religious life. Finding that they were planning a 
speedy marriage for her, against her will, she re- 
solved to leave her home, since neither the parish 
jnriest nor her brother, who was preparing for the 
Jesuit novitiate, could be induced to take her part. 
Her brother, however, in arguing against her purpose 
of consecrating herself, gave her the very information 
and the hint she needed. ^^ There is no convent in 
this countiy," said he, ^* except the Carmelites at 
Port Tobacco, Maryland ; and their rule is extremely 
austere. They are forbidden to eat meat, wear no 
shoes summer or winter, and go without fire. At 
Georgetown there is a small community of pious 
ladies under the direction of Biahop Neale ; but they, 
too, are &r beyond the Alleghanies." 

Margaret resolved to make her way to George- 
town, in obedience to what she felt was a call from 
Grod. Rising early on a stormy winter Sunday, she 
put on her warmest wrappings ; tossed out from her 
window into the deep snow a package which she had 
secretly prepared containing a few necessaries; and 
then, passing through her mother's room without a 


word of farewell, left the house, took up her litde 
burden from the snow, and set out on her long 
march. The family supposed that she had gone to 
early Mass ; and, when she did not reappear, they 
bncied that, because of the storm, she must have 
stayed with a relative who lived near the church. 
But ''God help the Mass I heard that day! " Sister 
Margaret used to exchum, in after years. ''Before 
church was over, I was several miles on my journey ; 
and so afraid was I of being overtaken, that I did 
not stop until I had walked twenty miles, although 
the snow was knee-deep." 

Conewago is near the northwestern boimdary of 
Pennsylvania. At the time of Margaret's flight no 
stage-coach was known on the rough roads of that 
unfrequented wilderness. The deep gorges of the 
Alleghanies were filled with snowdrifts encrusted 
with ice, often treacherous beneath her steps. The 
dense forests were haunted by wolves, and the brave 
girl had to pilot her own route, making inquiry 
when she could, and putting up at night in the 
rude huts which occasionally gave shelter to trav- 
elers. Her hands and feet were frost-bitten, but 
she plodded on unremittingly, traversed Pennsylvania 
and, having reached a resting point in Maryland, 
was about to resume her journey on foot, although 
frightfully fatigued, — when she perceived a wagon 
standing at the door. She asked whither it was 
boimd, and the answer was " To Georgetown." 

This, to her, seemed a veritable ray from heaven 
shining on her path. " May I put my bimdle in your 
wagon?" said she to the driver. And he replied: 


^ Not only your bundle, madam ; but if yoa wish yoa 
may ride yourself.'' 

She did not hesitate, but quickly mounted to the 
seat. The drive was long ; yet, as they rode on and 
on, she and her companion hardly spoke a word, the 
whole way. It was not until dusk that they entered 
Greorgetown, — too late for her to think of going to 
the convent for that night. Being of course without 
friends or acquaintance in the place, she asked the 
driver to draw up in front of Trinity Church, where 
she alighted. But as she turned to thank her un- 
known benefactor for his kindness, she was aston- 
ished to find that both he and his team had disap- 
peared! ^^I looked up and down the street," she 
said, in telling Sister Josephine Barber of the epi- 
sode, later, ^^ but could find no trace of either." 

Margaret was impressed with the conviction that 
the ^unknown" who had so opportunely appeared, 
had befriended her, and then so mysteriously disap- 
peared again, was her Gruardian Angel made visible 
in homely form, to help her and bring her to what 
proved to be her life's destination. This conviction 
she always retained Tired and possibly bewildered 
though she might be, by the strain of toilsome travel 
and the momentous act of leaving her home forever, 
it is hardly probable that she could have been un- 
aware of the noise of wheek and horses turning away 
in a quiet street, or that her imagination could cause 
the wagon to vanish in an instant. And certainly 
imagination could not have brought her and her 
bundle over the long country road to Greorgetown. 
If we admit the direct action of the supernatural on 


what we are pleased to call solid mundane &cts, — 
as we must admit it, — there is nothing astonishing 
XQ the thought that an angel may use horses as well 
as wings, or other means of effecting results. To a 
rationalist, angels are a nothing, or an abstraction. 
To us they are realities, dealing with realities. We 
can therefore perceive, at times, how the words of 
St. Francis de Sales are yerified, that ^^ Grod would 
rather send an angel to guide us, than suffer us to 
want for a conductor when we are seeking Him." 

Margaret's next movements did not disclose any- 
thiQg of bewilderment or disordered imagination. 
She entered the church and adored the Blessed Sac- 
rament on the altar. Then, in simple pilgrim fash- 
ion, she applied at a neighboring house for food and 
a night's lodging, and obtained both. 

At daybreak the next morning, Saturday, — for 
so energetically had she kept in motion, that she 
had completed this long journey of two himdred and 
fifty miles, or more, in six days, — she approached 
the oonyent. Here another singular thing happened. 
The portress of the convent. Sister Frances, heard a 
rap at the door, and opened it. To her surprise, no 
one was to be seen there. The new-fallen snow, un- 
der the early morning gleam, showed no trace of a 
footprint. But while Sister Frances still stood on 
the threshold, looking out and wondering, the stran- 
ger Margaret — bundle in hand — made her appear- 
ance, just coming in at the gate from the street. 
Sister Frances waited for her to come up the walk to 
the door and then bade her enter. 

Margaret, footsore and spent, needed no farther 


inyitatiaii, but stepped in, threw herself into a chair, 
and laid down her bundle. 

*« What do you want, my good friend?" asked the 

^I have oome to live and die with you," said 

^^But we don't take strangers without a recom- 
mendation. At least you will have to go to the 

^^ Could not some one go for me?" asked the gbL 
^ I don't know where the Bishop lives." 

Sister Frances smiled, and pointed out the house, 
dose by. Then, as Margaret rose to go, in order to 
obtain an interview with him, the portress — appar- 
ently doubting that the unlooked-for visitor would 
have any occasion to return — called to her to take 
her bundle with her. 

''No," said Margaret ''I'll leave that until I 
omne back." 

And come back she did; for the Bishop, quickly 
discerning her strong vocation and settied purpose, 
granted her petition. She entered the novitiate that 
same day, Saturday, February 16 ; just a week from 
the time of her resolute departure from her distant 

Sister Margaret was a person of strong mind, pow- 
erful energies, and robust frame. She it was who 
lathed and plastered the assembly room with her 
own hands. But her courage, vigor, and resolution 
were fully matched by her goodness and gentieness. 
She became a most useful and inspiring member of 
the community; and in 1834 performed heroic and 


wonderful work in founding a Visitation house at 
Mobile, Alabama. 

In all the early annals of the Greorgetown conyent, 
it seems to us, there is no stronger figure, no more 
striking picture, than that of this energetic, spiritual 
young woman appearing at the convent gate when 
her approach had been announced by a mysterious 
ttgnal at the door beyond. 



Sister Margaret Marshall was the ninth member ; 
and the next accessions were Bishop Neale's two 
grand-nieces, Eliza Matthews (1811), who took the 
name of Sister Juliana, and Henrietta Brent (1812), 
who became Sister Agnes. Both of them, as found- 
resses and afterwards Superiors, rendered eminent 
service to the Order. But at that time success 
appeared impossible, with only one new member 
gained each year. 

A prime reason of this slowness and hesitation in 
growth was, that the American clergy would not 
recommend to their communicants and penitents a 
religious house which they believed would soon fall 
to pieces. It had no papal or ecclesiastical approval, 
and was unable to realize its pretensions to the rule 
of the Visitation, of which it knew nothing more 
than the name. The mother house at Annecy had 
been suppressed during the French Revolution, and 
was not restored until 1822. The other houses in 
Europe were unwilling to send a copy of the consti- 
tutions to Georgetown, because this community had 


not been founded in the nsoal way, by prof eased 
members of the Order. 

The whole undertaking, in short, was looked upon 
as irr^^ular. Bishop Neale's Jesuit brethren them- 
selves told him that it was a thing unheard of in the 
Church that any house of aA established order should 
be founded except by professed monbers of that 
order. They said that Bome would never approve, 
and that, of necessity, he would have to alter his 
plans. The difficulty might have been solved, if the 
Bishop could have paid the traveling expenses of 
sisters from one of the foreign convents, who might 
then have brought the rules, the proper ^^ habit" or 
costume, and all other necessary information, together 
with authority. But this, in his dire poverty and 
diat of the community, he was unable to do. - 

Archbishop Carroll therefore urged his coadjutor 
to change the character and object of the community, 
and to merge it in another enterprise which was then 
about to be undertaken by Father Dubourg, of Bal- 
timore. The latter had induced Mrs. Seton to come 
from New York and open a select school in Balti- 
more, with a view to enlarging it later and erecting 
H permanently in some neighboring place. This 
school ultimately became Mount St. Mary's Academy, 
at Emmitsburg. But Bishop Neale could not consent 
to abandon his own scheme, which came from an 
inspiration unknown to any one but himself. The 
Archbishop then — still firmly convinced that the 
establishment was doomed to failure, from the lack 
of both spiritual and temporal resources — proposed 
another plan. A rich lady living in Baltimore, who 


had been educated with the Ursuline niuis in Ireland, 
had heard of the embarrassments at Georgetown, and 
had offered the Archbishop her means and influence 
for the benefit of ^^ The Pious Ladies " there, if they 
and their director would consent to transform their 
house into an Ursuline convent. She volunteered to 
go to Ireland and to return with Ursuline nuns, 
herself paying all the expenses of the journey and 
providing further funds to carry on the work. To 
Archbishop Carroll this offer, very naturally, seemed 
to be of a kind that could not be n^lected or 
refused. He came with the lady to see Bishop 
Neale, and the generous proposal was laid before 
him. But the founder of the American Visitation 
was not controlled by motives of mere human pru- 
dence.' Politely and respectfully thanking the Arch- 
bishop, and the excellent lady who had shown such 
liberality, he told them that — notwithstanding his 
deference to their views and his appreciation of their 
interest in the welfare of the community — he could 
never consent to the proposed change. The Arok- 
bishop found it hard to understand this refusal ; and 
one day, when he came with Bishop Neale, Mrs. 
Seton, Mr. Cooper, and several gentlemen, to visit 
the convent, the subject was again discussed before 
all the sisters, who happened to be at work in the 
assembly room, picking wool. But argument and 
persuasion were unavailing. The Bishop remained 
firm. Mother Agnes remembered well that the 
Archbishop, seeing how invincible was Bishop Neale's 
purpose to continue on the lines already laid down^ 
ended the discussion by saying: ^Well, sir, I give 


yon power to do what you can, but — expect no help 
from me ! " 

Other adviflers of the Bishop finally tried to get 
him to unite his nims with the Caimelites who had 
been established by his brother at Port Tobaooo. 
But this proposition he also n^atived. The Visita- 
tion idea was now too firmly planted in his mind to 
be uprooted, or to be grafted upon any other growth. 
And, in his unflinching refusal to accept tempting 
offers of money and help, even at this time of sorest 
need and trial, we see clearly reproduced the spirit 
of St. Francis de Sales, who also — during the adyer- 
sities that beset his young Order in France — had 
oalmly declined to be misled into struggle and litiga- 
tion even for the securing of wealth which had been 
willed to his nuns ; wealth that had seemed essential 
to their continuance and success. 

Good Mother Teresa herself shared in the fore- 
bodings of failure which now became rife. But at 
last a ray of genuine simshine burst upon her devout 
and simple household. Money the sisters of course 
were sadly in want of ; but that was as nothing com- 
pared with the necessity they felt of obtaining the 
rules of the Order to which they wished to belong, 
and the exact costume prescribed for Visitation nuns. 
In a matter of this kind, the guiding principle is 
that people devoting themselves to the monastic life 
must do so in every detail, even down to precision 
of costume. The nun's ^^ habit " is, to her, quite as 
important as the imif orm of a company of United 
States soldiers, or of the National Guard, is to the 
members of such organizations. The soldier has an 


honorable desire that his uniform shaU prockim him, 
beyond possibility of mistake, a loyal servitor of his 
coimtry and goyemment, and member of a distinct 
raiment or corps. The nun has a desire, at least 
equally honorable, that her costume and discipline 
shall make her known, at a glance, as loyal to Grod, 
the church, and the special phase of disinterested 
service represented by her order. 

It was, therefore, to Bishop Neale and to ^^The 
Pious Ladies," a boon beyond all computation by 
money values, that suddenly one day, among the 
books of the tiny library acquired from the Poor 
Clares, they found a duodecimo bearing on its title- 
page the name of St. Francis de Sales, and the word 
** Visitation." This volume, on examination, proved 
to contain the rules of the Visitation Order, which 
they had sought so long, had so ardently prayed for. 
The library had been bought after the death of Sister 
Ignatia Sharpe ; and the other sisters were ignorant 
of French. This fact, together with their daily toils 
and incessant privations, probably caused them to 
take little account of the books, which were all 
French. But here at last the very thing they had 
most desired came to light in one of these same neg- 
lected volumes ! Unfortunately, no exact record was 
kept of the time and manner of this discovery; 
though it appears to have been made certainly after 
the admission of Sister Catharine Anne Itigden, which 
was in 1808. The finding probably did not occur 
until 1809 or 1810, or even considerably later. But 
it has been remarked as an interesting circumstance, 
that the book came from the Poor Clares, who are 


qnritoal daughters of St. Francis of Assisi, into the 
hands of these daughters of St. Francis de Sales, who 
was himself a special client of Francis of Assisi ; had 
been bom in a room dedicated to him, named after 
him in baptism, and admitted to membership in the 
Third Order of Franciscans, the cord of which he 
wore throughout his life and in death. 

Bishop Neale brought into the assembly room and 
showed to the sisters the ^^ Treasure yolume," as it 
came to be called. Great was the rejoicing that en- 
sued. Curiously enough, also, they learned from it 
that, in their eagerness to approximate to the monas- 
tic rule of the Visitation, they had been practicing 
greater rigors, fasts, and austerities than the consti- 
tntions required. 

And now, having the rules, they lacked only the 
dress of the order. The Bishop had always been 
anxious to obtain this just as he had beheld it in 
his vision. At present, the sisters wore a quasi-con- 
ventual dress, which he had several times modified 
without satisfaction. The long black veil and habit, 
the barbette and silver cross, were wanting. At 
length he determined to let them wear the Teresian 
oostume, and wrote to his brother Charles at Port 
Tobacco to send him a model of it, from the convent 
there. ^^A large doll, fully equipped, was immedi- 
ately forwarded; and the Bishop, calling together 
Mother Teresa and such of the sisters as were most 
dexterous with the needle, had the dimensions taken, 
and the habit, the gimp, etc., cut out in his presence. 
While thus engaged, with the deepest interest, he was 
not perhaps aware that several of those on whom he 


most depended found their courage flagging. No 
wonder, when they could not get even the costume 
of their own order! Mother Teresa, drawing Sister 
Agnes aside, exclaimed : ^^ My Grod ! Sister Agnes, 
we shall never succeed. Ask him to let us become 
Carmelites." ^ (The convent at Port Tobacco was a 
Carmelite house, deriving its origin from one founded 
at Antwerp by an intimate associate of Saint Teresa, 
the Venerable Ann of St. Bartholomew.) Sister 
Agnes, however, though yoimg, possessed a firmness 
and courage that seldom yielded; and her calm 
confidence doubtless reassured Mother Teresa, thus 
averting a momentary panic. 

While the costume adopted provisionally at this 
time was Carmelite in the main, it was changed in 
one particular. In the volume containing the rules 
of the Visitation, the Bishop had f oimd the regula- 
tion laid down : *^ Their bandeaus [or binders] shall 
be black." The white bandeau of the Teresian Car- 
melites was therefore replaced with black; and in 
this respect at least the Greorgetown sisters were 
able to conform to Visitation requirements. Ebving 
gained this much, the Bishop — undismayed by those 
doubts and tremors which beset even some of his 
loyal co-workers — resolved to admit the sisters to 
simple vows. This was done on the feast of St. 
Francis de Sales, January 29, 1814, after they had 
made a *^ retreat" of eight days. As they still had 
not obtained the custom book and ceremonial of the 
order of their choice, the ceremony was conducted 
somewhat in the Jesuit style. The sisters donned 

1 MS, Annals by Sister M. Josephme Barber. . 


flieir liabit and yeil in private, before going into 
the chapel where, kneeling before the Blessed Sacra- 
ment and in presence of the Bishop, they repeated 
aloud in concert the formnla of their vows. 

His work was far from consummated; yet the 
good Bishop was made very happy by seeing this 
step taken; and, crossing the garden on the even- 
ing of that day and looking up at the sisters where 
they stood dad in their new dress, on the piazza 
above, he said with great joy ; *^ Now I see you all 
as I saw you in my dream at Demerara." 

But he did not relax his efforts, long continued, 
to procure in absolute exactness all the details of the 
desired monastic dress. Whenever packages of de- 
votional objects came from Europe, he was wont to 
search them in the hope of finding what he needed, 
and ¥ras especially careful to scrutinize all pictures ; 
insomuch that the other Jesuit Fathers, not under- 
standing his eagerness or the object of his quest, 
used to laugh at him and to remark jocosely that he 
was ^^as fond of pictures as a child." There was 
truly a great deal of the childlike in his earnestness 
and trust, and this beautiful trait was rewarded. 
For a large box at lengA arrived, in examining the 
contents of which he came upon a handsome litho- 
graph of St. Jane de ChantaL Raising his hands 
joyously, he exclaimed : ^^ There it is, at last I " 

It was the same countenance, the same stately 
figure, the same costume he had so long ago looked 
upon in his vision. When this portrait of the holy 
Foimdress of the Order was shown to the sisters, 
they were pleased to find that they could trace in 



it a strong resemblanoe to their own Mother Teresa 
Lalor. In their eager study of the long-sought 
costume of the Foundress, they observed, as they 
thought, three or four little plaits or tuoks on each 
side of the gimp. Their anxiety to put every iota 
of the rule and garb into practice drew their atten- 
tion to this point ; but, being too poor just then to 
provide a new supply of gimps, they agreed that for 
the present it must suffice to give the Superioress 
alone this distinction. Accordingly they made for 
Mother Teresa a new set of barbettes, carefully 
plaited at the sides; and these she wore on festivals, 
much to their satis&ction and deUght, at seeing her 
personate so well her illustrious prototype, St. Jane. 
Not until 1816 and 1817, however, did they all re- 
ceive from Europe authentic costumes and silver 

Meanwhile the secluded life of the community, 
with its constant, patient, obscure struggles, and 
peaceful joys, was threatened with interruption by 
the War of 1812. During the winter following, 
Chesapeake Bay was blockaded by the British fleet, 
and the &rms and villages of the Potomac were 
repeatedly invaded and pillaged by Admiral Cock- 
bum's forces, who even reached G^rgetown, but in- 
flicted little damage there. In the summer of 1814 
a more formidable movement was begun against the 
capital city, Washington, by Cockbum and General 
Boss. The Battle of Bladensburg was fought, with 
results disastrous to the Americans. The sisters, 
greatly alarmed by news of this and of the enemy's 
rapid advance, were roused to still keener anxiety by 


aeemg, that night, about dusk, a dense oolumn of 
smoke rising from Capitol HilL In a few minutes 
the entire summit seemed to be ablaze. The govern- 
ment buildings, President's house, arsenal, and great 
Potomac bridge, as well as many fine private man- 
sions, were all burned to ashes ; and the fieroe flames 
Ut up the country for miles around, throwing a 
bright glare into the convent at G^rgetown, where 
the sisters — unable to retire to rest — watched the 
conflagration from their garret windows, in momen- 
tary expectation that G^rgetown would also be fired. 
But they were spared this ordeal. The hostile army 
passed on to the northward; and at early morning 
the next day, the Vigil of the Assumption, the sis- 
ters, repairing to their chapel, offered up a heartfelt 
thanksgiving for their preservation from a great dan- 
ger. Like other women, it may be added, out of 
respect to a cherished anecdote of the convent, the 
sisters when agitated were capable of being a little 
fanciful in their political perceptions. One of the 
elder nuns used to recoimt that at this time she was 
a child in the Academy, and she was surprised to 
hear the following announcement from a sister who 
spoke to the assembled scholars : ^^ My children, raise 
your hearts to Gt)d, for the British have captured 
Washington, and we are all slaves I " 

Another episode of this war ought to be mentioned 
here. That is, the brilliant naval victory of Com- 
modore Jacob Jones, in capturing the British sloop 
Frolic off the coast of North Carolina, after an ac- 
tion of only forty-five minutes' duration. The vic- 
tory was won October 17, 1812; the date of the 


feast of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque, a saint 
of the Visitation Order. Thirteen years later, when 
Sister Agnes Brent had become Mother Superior, 
Commodore Jones's daughter Wilhelmina entered the 
same novitiate as a convert, in 1825, and eventually 
became a valuable member of the order, with a most 
interesting history, which we shall give later on. 



We pass now from January, 1814, when the com- 
munity took simple vows, to December 3, 1815, when 
Archbishop Carroll died, at the age of eighty years, 
and his coadjutor, Bishop Neale, succeeded him in his 
high of&ce, becoming Archbishop of Baltimore. 

Six years earlier, — that is, in July, 1809, — French 
troops, under the orders of Napoleon I., had broken 
into the Vatican by night, and had carried off Pope 
Pius Vn., a prisoner, first to Savona, afterwards to 
Fontainebleau, where the Emperor held the Sovereign 
Pontiff captive, seeking to force him into submission 
to make him the ^^ puppet " (as a Protestant writer has 
said) of the Emperor's own designs. There he had 
kept the Holy Father all this time, under a guard of 
soldiers, neither allowing him to speak with any one 
alone, nor to have books or writing materials : all of 
which the Pope endured with a dignity and simplicity 
that commanded the respect even of his enemies. 

But the day of retribution had now come. Napo- 
leon had seen his Grande Armee melt away amid the 
snows of Russia. He had fled from the flames of 
Moscow, and, according to the very terms of his own 


flaorilegious threat against the Pope, had seen the 
muskets fall from the frozen hands of his soldiers. 
On the bloody field of Leipsic he had been defeated 
(October 19, 1818), and six months later he beheld 
tiie allied armies of Bussia, Prossia, Austria, Grermany, 
march triumphantly into Paris. In that same castle 
of Fontainebleau, within which he had so long held 
the Pope a prisoner, they forced from him his own 

It was on April 4th, 1814, that, having been de- 
throned by a decree of the senate. Napoleon signed 
the abdication at Fontainebleau, and he departed 
thence into the enforced solitude of a petfy sover- 
eignty at Elba. 

On the 24th of May, Pius VII. returned with 
aedaim to Bome. But after nine months — in Feb- 
ruary, 1815 — Napoleon came back to France, rallied 
troops about him, resumed imperial power. Then 
once more the Pontiff was obliged to leave Bome, his 
territory being invaded by Murat. Soon, however, 
the combined forces of the English, Dutch, and Grer- 
mans met Napoleon and crushed him at Waterloo, 
June 18, 1815. On the Fourth of July — anni- 
versary of the day, thirty-nine years earlier, when 
freedom and independence had been proclaimed in the 
American colonies, as against another, but a Grerman- 
British, tyrant — these victorious allies entered Paris 
as their predecessors had done after Leipsic ; Napo- 
leon again surrendering, and, this time, being given 
over to final, humiliating banishment to the island of 
St. Helena. 

There, on that lonely rock a thousand miles from 


any other land, he remained, oaptdve to his most hated 
foes, the English, imtil his death, a period of six 
years; thus expiating, in measure of time at least, 
the six years' imprisonment to which he had subjected 
the Pope. 

All these historic events have a significant bearing 
on the simple yet brave story of the Greorgetown con- 
vent ; for it was in December of this same year, 1815, 
when Napoleon was finally and completely erased from 
public affairs, that Bishop Ncale became Archbishop 
Neale, and was thus brought into direct correspon- 
dence with the Pope. Throughout the six preceding 
years, while he had struggled on with his little com- 
munity, vainly seeking to establish relations with the 
Visitation Order in Europe, no recourse could be 
taken to the Pope. Even had such recourse been 
allowable, the Pope was a prisoner and inaccessible. 
But now, through the absolute downfall of Napoleon, 
Pius yn. was securely enthroned again in Bome. At 
the same time, also, it became the duty of Archbishop 
Neale to report to him what had been done toward 
forming a sisterhood in the District of Columbia. 

It is said that he had been misrepresented regard- 
ing this matter, to the Holy See, though we have no 
precise details. The annals report that he was ^^ very 
sad " at the thought that he might thus have fallen 
under the displeasure of the Holy Father. But his 
suspense did not last long, for, on the 14th of July, 
1816, Pius Vn. sent him a Brief commending his 
zeal, and permitting his daughters of the Visitation 
to take solemn vows. This Brief, or Indult, was 
received November 10th. Even the best of tidings 


traveled slowly, in thoae days I filled with unspeak- 
able joy, the American Yisitandines, in thanksgiving, 
prostrated themselves for some time before the Blessed 

Letters of greeting, full of charity and helpfulness, 
and accompanied with gifts of books, rosary beads, 
ete«, came before long from several of the Visitation 
monasteries in the Old World ; that of St. Mary, in 
Paris, first ; then from Chamb^ry, from Bome and 
from Shepton Mallet, England. The house of Chail- 
lot, Paris (that which Queen Henrietta Maria f oimded 
in 1651), dispatehed a complete model of the habit, 
together with silver crosses, which did not arrive, how- 
ever, until 1817. But, before this, the Chaillot house 
had sent to the Archbishop the ^* Book of Customs " 
which he so earnestly desired. It came to him early 
in the summer of 1816. 

So, when the Pope's Indult reached his hands, he 
set about having the sisters trained in choir duties, 
*^ both as to straight and chanting voice, upon which 
they entered with great eagerness." ^ It was their cus- 
tom in early days to hold each a lighted candle in 
saying Matins and Lauds, and there was but one office 
book for two. One can imagine the lovely picture 
thus presented by them, quietly carrying the as quietly 
burning candles, and standing lovingly side by side, 
with their faces grouped two and two over the books. 
They began to perform these duties the first Sunday 
in Advent (December, 1816). Father Bestcher, for- 
merly of the Papal choir, but now in Greorgetown, was 

1 Letter of Aiohbiahop Neale to the Monastery of Anneoy, April, 


leqpiested to instract the sisters in the chant and reci- 
tation of the office. This he did willingly ; devoting 
an hour or two daily to the work, and making up for 
any lack of detail in the rubric by his own knowledge 
of the Vatican practice. The sisters were very back- 
ward and timid, especially one or two of them who 
lacked an ear for music. ^^ Having not the slightest 
idea of music, they were particularly puzzled by the 
term *key,' which the reverend Father occasionally 
employed. When, at the Magnificat, it became neces- 
sary to raise the tone, the Chantress entirely mistook 
his meaning, and, supposing that he required her to 
give more voice, vainly endeavored to comply. This 
was quite a trial to Sister Mary Joseph [the Chant- 
ress], who had the best will in the world, and was 
gifted with voice^ but no musical ear to guide it. 
Father Bestcher strove to make the best of the former, 
making her repeat the verse again and again, leading 
the chant himself. She endeavored to follow ; singing 
* Mandrag,' ^ MarBrag,' louder and louder, about 
twenty times over, without any success. The sisters 
pitied and sympathized with her. Sometimes they 
were amused, seeing where the misapprehension lay. 
... * If,' said Sister Mary Joseph, ^ he had told me 
to change my voice, I should have understood what he 
meant I ' 

*^ A misapprehension of the same word [key] hap- 
pened later on. The community were at Matins, when 
the assistant, perceiving a discord, came behind the 
stalls and whispered to Sister S. : * You've got the 
wrong key*' Sister S. was Befectorian, and never 
thought o£ any key but that of the refectory, which 


she carried in her podket Instantly putting her hand 
down, she drew out the key and held it up, ahnost in 
the assistant's &oe, by way of reply. The latter oould 
not repress a smile, and was obliged to withdraw from 
the choir for a few minutes until able to recover her 
gravity." ^ 

Notwithstanding these little serio-comic difficulties, 
the industry of the sisters in studying the office was 
so great, and Father Bestcher was so kind and patient 
in training them, that they had the happiness of cele- 
brating the office publicly, with entire correctness of 
chant and ceremony, on the first Sunday in Advent 
(as already mentioned), December 1, 1816. Ever 
since that moment, the office has been daily and de- 
voutly chanted in the choir of this convent, — now 
seventy-seven years. 

A point of utmost importance, after this had been 
achieved, was to complete that admission to solemn 
vows, for which the Archbishop had received author- 
ity. The date he fixed upon was the Feast of Holy 
Innocents, December 28th, which was also the hun- 
dred and ninety-fourth anniversary of the death of 
St. Francis de Sales. The three who were chosen for 
admission first were the oldest members, those who 
were considered to be the best fitted for the office of 
Mother Superior : Alice Lalor, in religion Sister 
Teresa of the Heart of Mary ; Mrs. McDermott, in 
religion Sister Frances ; and Henrietta Brent, Sister 
Agnes. The first was appointed Superior, the second 
Assistant ; the third, Mistress of Novices. All these 
having previously gone into retreat, the other sisters 

^ MS. Aimalij written by Sitter M. Joiephiiie Barber. 


proceeded, under considerable drawbacks, to prepare 
their veils and habits, together with worldly attire for 
the ^^ Beception." Of costumes suitable for this pur- 
pose there was almost a complete dearth. The white 
dresses for the two elder candidates, therefore, were 
made somewhat roughly out of white muslin, without 
regard to style, and for Sister Agnes, who like her 
patron saint was extremely small and slender, one of 
the children's dresses was borrowed. 

It was a Saturday ; ^^ intensely cold, and the ground 
covered with snow." Long before dawn, ^^ while the 
stars were still glimmering in the wintry sky, the 
community knelt in meditation before the altar," 
preparing for an event the greatest that should ever 
occur in the history of the Visitation in America. In 
repicturing that scene, the mind recalls those pure 
and sympathetic verses written by Al&ed Tennyson, 
long afterward, in his ** Eve of St. Agnes : " — 

" Deep on the conyent roof the snows 
Lie sparkling to the moon. 
My breath to heaven like Tapor goes : 
May my sonl follow soon I " 

The ceremonies took place before Mass: first the 
Beception, then the Profession; Archbishop Neale 
himself being the celebrant, assisted by Father 
Grassii, provincial of the Jesuits. No seculars were 
present, except the twelve or fourteen pupils. Every- 
thing was conducted strictly according to the Book of 
Admission. ^^ Thus, by the happy disposition of Di- 
vine Providence," wrote the Archbishop to the mon- 
astery of Annecy, ^^on the anniversary day of the 
departure of St. Francis de Sales from this life, exia- 


tenee and life were imparted to the fini eetaUished 
eammufUty of his Order in America.^* 

After bieak&st the Aidibiahop and Eaiher Graarii 
called at the convent and saw all the siaten, ^ about 
tlurty-tliree in number, novices indnded," in tlie 
aasembly room, say the Annals. ** The Aiehbialiop, 
radiant with joy, said that now, like holy Simeon, he 
coold sing his Ifunc DimittiSj and was ready to 
depart ; since his eyes had beheld this day * a light 
to the Grentiles and a gloiy to IsraeL' " Prophetic 
words I In less than six months from that time, he 
who spoke them had departed from this life in peace 
and joy. 

In his letter to Anneqy, the reverend prelate wrote 
tliat on the Feast of tlie Epiphany seventeen received 
ijbfd haUt and white veiL ** All of these had nnder- 
gone a noviceship and trial for many yean ; some 
sixteen, some seventeen, others more or lees." On 
Ae octave of tlie Epiphany, those who were in the 
novitiate received the habit and white veil ; some of 
whom had already been there more than a year. At 
this time, April, 1817, he put the whole number at 
thirty-five ; thirty ^^ choir sisters," four *^ lay sisters," 
and one ^^ out sister." Most of these were admitted 
te their solemn vows on the Spousals of our Blessed 
Lady, January 23d, 1817, and the others on the 
Feast of St. Francis de Sales, January 29th. 

It was necessary to divide the sisters into groups 
and admit them to solemn vows at different times, in 
order that they might make a retreat previous to 
their profession, while other sisters attended to the 
school and household duties. The old Carmelite 


dress remained in use until the pattern of the true 
Yisitandine costume came, in the following summer, 
after Archbishop Neale's death. He did not live to 
see it ; but what he had actually accomplished justi- 
fied his words to Annecy : ^^ Thus is this house fairly 
established to run its course, which I hope will never 
be interrupted but by the cessation of time." 


It had been a peculiarly happy Christmas-tide, 
dosing the old year, and a gladsome Epiphany, open- 
ing the new ; for now the pure and spiritual desire 
formed by Father Neale, prompted of dream or vision 
more than thirty-five years earlier, — and so reso- 
lutely aided by the perseverance of a few sisters 
through seventeen years of sharp trial, — had become 
a triumphant reaUty. A new and greater happiness 
was about to be conferred upon the same faithful ser- 
vant, now Archbishop ; but it was one which, to the 
oommunity, must mean inevitable sorrow. 

that his death so closely followed the achievement of 
the plan so dear to him. Yet, in the natural course, 
it might have been expected ; for he had reached his 
seventy-first year. For fifty years he had been a 
member of the Society of Jesus, for seven years 
rector of Greorgetown College, and sixteen years a 
Bishop. In spite of his advanced age, however, and 
although he had suffered from cough and fluxion ever 
since his stay in unwholesome Demerara, he gave no 
sign of breaking health in the spring of 1817. 

Before going on to speak of the change that soon 


oame upon him, and of his dosing days, we must giye 
a short aooount of Sister Isidora McNantz, — a mere 
ohild-sister, — whose departure from this life seems 
to have been associated with his own. Sister Isidora 
was one of three children, daughters of a poor widow, 
who died in 1818. The widow was attended in her 
last illness by Bev. Wm. Matthews, — the spiritual 
&ther of the community, — who was unde of the 
-venerated Mother Juliana Matthews, and related to 
Mother Agnes Brent, as well as to Ardibishop Neale. 
He had promised Mrs. McNantz to care for her 
daoghters ; and, at his own expense, he placed them, 
when they were left orphans, as pupils in the oonyent 
sohooL All three became professed nuns ; but Char- 
lotte (Sister Isidora), although only about twelve 
years old when she entered the school, was especially 
remarkable for a wisdom &r beyond her age. ^^ A 
singular prudence marked her conduct and conversa- 
tion," wrote the Archbishop. *^ To hear her speak 
was sufficient to inspire all with respect and admira- 
tion. It was apparent how deeply she thought, and 
that her sentiments emanated from a soul especially 
fttvored and enlightened by the Holy Ghost." So 
great vnw her love of Gt)d, her zeal in religion, that 
she begged earnestly to be received into the novitiate. 
This petition was refused on account of her extreme 
youth ; but the promise was held out that she should 
be admitted when sixteen years old. She did not live 
so long. On the very Christmas night (1816) when 
Mothers Teresa, Frances, and Agnes went into retreat 
to prepare for their solenm vows, Charlotte McNantz 
was taken vnth a violent cold, which developed into 
quick consumption. 


Three physicians attended her; but, finding the 
case difficult, they declared that there was something 
on her mind; which mental distress, they thought, 
annulled the benign effect of their medicines. Two 
cf the doctors were Protestants ; the other is said to 
have been an infideL They appeared to suspect that 
the child (now approaching fourteen) was unhappy at 
being in the convent-schooL To satisfy them. Mother 
Teresa told the medical men that anything Charlotte 
wished would be granted, and questioned her accord- 
ingly. ^^ Mother," said the child, ^^ I have never 
known earthly love. One sole desire consumes me : 
one sole love possesses my heart, — the love of my 
Jesus, and the desire to consecrate myself to Grod by 
the holy vows of religion. Mother, you have long 
known this : you are aware how it has preyed upon 
my mind." In compliance with this answer, Char- 
lotte was allowed to be removed from the Academy to 
the Sisters' Infirmary, where she should be at once 
considered as a postulant and a member of the com- 
munity. There she remained, greatly rejoiced by the 
granting of her petition, until the spring; when it be- 
came clear that she had but a short time to live. Far 
from being terrified, she hailed with delight the ap- 
proaching moment of reunion with Grod, beyond the 
hnman state, and received the last Sacraments with 
exultant fervor. Still, she sighed for the habit and 
veiL In Passion Week these were granted her, and 
she was admitted to solemn vows. 

Praying that she might depart on the Feast of our 
Lord's Besurrection, she died on that day, Easter 
Sunday, April 6, 1816. Her presence in tihe school 


and oonvent, the memoiy of Iier exquisite innooenoe 
and piety, left a deep impression akin to that made 
by some of the child saints and martyrs in the early 
history of the church. 

Four or five weeks after little Isidora's death, 
Mother Teresa Lalor, while conversing on business 
with the Archbishop one day, noticed that his atten- 
tion was withdrawn suddenly, and that his eyes be- 
came fixed upon some object, in the room apparently, 
but to her invisible. Struck by the strangeness of 
his manner, Mother Teresa exclaimed, ^^ What is the 
matter?" Waving his hand to her slightly, he an- 
swered, ^^My child, go: laidora has come.^^ Too 
much frightened to await a second bidding. Mother 
Teresa hurried away, although her knees trembled so 
that, after closing the door, she sank upon the steps 
without and was obliged to rest there until she recov- 
ered strength enough to go on. This occurred at 
eleven in the morning, and after the midday dinner 
she called Sister Agnes Brent, saying to her, *^ I am 
afraid the Archbishop is going to die I What could 
Sister Isidora have come for? Did she come for 

In her anxiety she returned with Agnes to the ven- 
erable prelate, and said to him, ^^ My lord, I entreat 
you to explain to me the meaning of what you said 
this morning. Did Sister Isidora really appear to 
you?" He made no answer, and Mother Teresa, 
weeping, repeated her inquiry, asking whether Isi- 
dora had come for him. To this he responded, *^ My 
child, you must not be too curious," and would make 
no other answer, except that after a time he added. 


** I will not be with you long." Thereupon the wor- 
thy and pious Foundress again fell to weeping ; but 
^ Do not cry,'' said the Archbishop. ^^ Look at Agnes : 
she does not cry. Be courageous, like her." But 
Mother Teresa, whose attachment to her saintly Di- 
rector was like that of St. Jane to St. Francis de 
Sales, remained inconsohible. In everything the 
Archbishop did, she fancied that she could see con- 
firmation of her fears. Nor was she wrong. 

Immediately thereafter he began writing and dis- 
patching many letters, chiefly to the clergy of his 
diocese, but also to others, among whom were his 
brother Francis, together with the Bev. J. P. de 
Ck>riyi^re of Charleston, South Carolina, and busily 
made preparations as though for a final leave-taking. 
It turned out, afterward, that his missive to Father 
Cloriviere contained an urgent request that the latter 
should come on at once and take charge of the com- 
munity. He was also especially anxious to see his 
brother. Father Francis Neale, as to whom he made 
constant inquiry whether any news had come from 


On June 16th ^ (just ten weeks after the death of 
Isidora) he said his last Mass, at which three of the 
sisters took Holy Communion. Mother Agnes, the 
last of the three, observed that his hand shook exceed- 
ingly as he gave her the sacred wafer. He was able 
to return to the altar and complete the Holy Sacrifice. 

^ The 140Ui anmyeraary of the reTelation of the Saored Heart to 
Bl oio d Margaret Biary Alaooqne, of the Visitatioii B. V. M. 

On Jane 16, 1875, — the thirtieth anniyersary of the election of 
Fins IX., — the whdle chnreh was conseorated to the Saored Heart 
of Jeans. 


Bat BO great appeared to be his weakness, that Father 
Grassii was quickly sent for from the college, and for- 
bade him to hear confessions that day. Daring the 
forenoon the Archbishop grew better, and was able to 
give a short sitting to an artist who was painting his 
portrait, the same as that reproduced in this book; 
bat he scarcely touched his dinner at noon, and an 
hoar later he went to bed, never to rise again. As 
he grew worse in the night, a physician was called, 
who soon declared the case hopeless. The Archbishop 
was dying of apoplexy. Father Grassii came in the 
morning with several priests and lay brothers to ad- 
minister Extreme Unction and the Yiatioom, and re- 
mained with him during the twenty-six hours that he 
lingered alive. ESs brother Charles arrived fortu- 
nately, also, in time to receive his faureweU and to 
witness his holy death, which occurred at one or two 
o'clock in the afternoon of Wednesday, June 18, 
1817. But his brother Francis, whom he had so 
earnestly longed to see and confer with, did not reach 
Georgetown imtil the following day, when the dead 
Archbishop already lay in state in Trinity Church. 

The funeral obsequies took place Jime 20th, the 
body of the Archbishop being carried to the little 
convent chapel, where, only four days previously, he 
had celebrated Mass for the last time, and then buried 
in the vault below the sanctuary. 

That Archbishop Neale was a worthy imitator and 
follower of St. Francis de Sales is clear to those who 
have studied the lives of both. His spiritual daugh- 
ters have always delighted, furthermore, in tracing 
certain dose and specific resemblances between their 


characters and careers, wliioh we may here briefly 
gummarize : — 

1. Archbishop Neale was remarkable for great 
meekness, equanimity of soul, of conduct, and of 
speech. He never betrayed irritation or impatience, 
bitterness or resentment toward any one, whatever 
provocation he might have ; ^^ and the peaceful spirit 
which accompanied him seemed," as the sisters have 
recorded, ^^to extend itself to all who approached 
him." ** Whether it rained, snowed, or the sun 
shone," says Sister Agnes Brent, ^^his gait was al- 
ways the same, and his coimtenance showed that he 
was conscious at every moment of the presence of 

2. Like St. Francis de Sales, he was blessed with 
a mother of singular piety, who generously sacrificed 
her feelings of natural affection to the spiritual inter- 
ests of her children and their priestly vocation. 

8. Madam Neale on her death-bed, like Madame 
de Boisy, received the last sacraments from her son, 
and expired in his presence. 

4. EUs first labors as a priest were among heretics 
and pagans, where his health and his life were in dan- 
ger. So with the Apostle of Chablais. 

5. St. Francis de Sales received a supernatural 
intimation of God's will regarding the Order of the 
Visitation, and Father Neale also beheld in vision or 
dream the work to which the saint directed him. 

6. His first three members at Georgetown remind 
us of the first three at Annecy. 

7. The opposition encountered by the holy founder 
at Annecy was closely reproduced in that endured by 


Aiohbishop Neale, against whom, in the work of the 
Greorgetown foundation, were directed the same bitter 
pleasantries and malicioas sneers as were flung at the 
Bishop of Greneva. Mother G-eneyieve King, who in 
those days was a young lady in the world and a resi- 
dent of Greorgetown, heard many of these sarcasms, 
but as she knew their &lsity, they did not prevent her 
from aakmg for a place in his community. 

8. Archbishop Neale was likewise denounced to 
the Pope, on those identical points which had been 
bhosen long before by other men for attack upon St. 
Francis ; lack of zeal for the spread of the faith, and 
a charge of non-fidelity to the churck. The deep sad- 
ness thus caused to him, the loyalty evinced by him, 
and the complete vindication he received from the 
Holy Father, were all repetitions of St. Francis de 
Sales' experience. 

9. Like St. Francis, too, the Archbishop died of 
apoplexy, having, like him, said Mass the veiy morn- 
ing of the stroke ; and as the founder of the Order 
had done, he asked to be buried at his dear Visitar 

The daughters of the convent he established lov- 
ingly dwell upon the thought and the trust that those 
two pure-souled Bishops are joined in heaven, and 
that all their spiritual children may be gathered round 
them there, as stars in the firmament ; or, as St. Fran- 
cis de Sales himself said, ^* covering their shoulders as 
a mantle of honor, and their head as a crown of glory 
for all eternity 1 " 



The American Founder of the Visitation, as we 
have noted, sent off — only a few weeks before his 
death — a letter to Rev. Joseph P. de Clorivi^re of 
Charleston, S. C, asking him to come immediately 
to Greorgetown in order to direct the oommimity, from 
which he felt that he was so soon to be taken away. 
Meanwhile he used the precaution of speaking to the 
sisters about this clergyman and his merits; giving 
them, as it were, an introduction to him, which might 
prepare them to appreciate his guidance or direction. 

It is thought that Archbishop Neale's anxiety to see 
his brother. Rev. Francis Neale, was due to his desire 
that he should assume at least temporary charge of 
the community ; because, at best, Father Clorivi^re's 
journey from South Carolina would occupy some time. 
When Father Francis arrived on the scene, just after 
the death of his brother, the American Foimder, he 
did indeed take charge. But he was an invaKd, hav- 
ing suffered a stroke of paralysis. Another stroke 
soon followed, and he was obliged to give up his duties 
as director. Father Ghrassii meanwhile had gone to 
Europe, being appointed confessor to the Queen of 
Sardinia (grandmother of the unhappy Victor Em- 
manuel). The withdrawal of Father Francis by ill- 
ness, therefore, left the nims in a sad state of 
forsakenness, — ^*of real orphanage," as one of their 
annalists called it, — because the scarcity of priests 
in this country, at the time, made it difficult to find 
any one who could or would accept the spiritual charge 
of the house. EKs Jesuit confreres in the Greorgetown 


CoU^e, close by, were reluctant to add to their already 
numerous duties by delegating one of their number to 
serve as spiritual director of the convent. 

These excellent Fathers, in the extreme difficulty 
of their situation at not being able to provide for 
ihe sisters, had recourse to citing, in self-defense, tiie 
remark of St. Ignatius Loyola, that ^*he had more 
trouble in directing five or six women, tiian in govern- 
ing his whole institution." 

Rigorously exact though this reference to St. Igna- 
tins may have been, it ^ hardly adapted to bring 
comfort to our newly established sisters of the Yisitar 
tion, who almost at the veiy moment when their house 
had been so firmly instituted, with sanction of the 
Pope and helpful good-will from the older monasteries 
in Europe, seemed to find themselves deserted at home 
and plunged into a new era of new trials. Like other 
pioneers in the foundation of monastic houses destined 
to possess great influence for good, the nuns were led 
through the noble initiation of bitter suffering for love 
of the suffering Christ. Before the tide of their for- 
tunes turned, the bare necessaries of life were wanting. 
The sisters do not beg ; they pray. If their friends 
desire to help them, a sharp lookout must be kept for 
their condition. And though assistance comes faith- 
fully to faith, Grod's mercy insists upon exercising, for 
their greater strength, the virtues of endurance and 
perseverance. As one of these Yisitandine scribes 
writes : ^^ The consolations of heaven must always be 
mingled with afflictions, lest those who enjoy them 
might attach themselves rather to these sweetnesses 
than to Him who gives them." 


Immediately the prophets of ill, who had all along 
predicted failure, resumed their song and asserted that 
it was evident the convent community could not sur- 
vive the life of its f oimder. 

But now, in this hour of emergency, the foresight 
and careful preparation of the dead Archbishop Uxik 
effect and brought rescue. Father Qorividre, after a 
seeming delay of months, — but really as soon as he 
could accomplish the change and the journey, — ap- 
peared in Greorgetown and took spiritual charge of the 
convent, in January, 1818, just when the nuns were 
nearing the point of despair as to the direction of 
their house ; if such a feeling as despair could ever 
really enter their devoted hearts. Grod never despairs ; 
and the true nun or priest or monk, being wholly 
dedicated to Grod, cannot despair either. Yet the 
trial of their human patience, the depression of their 
mere human spirits, was extreme when Father Qori- 
vi^re came to their relief. 

Let us now, in few words, tell who he was ; what 
his life had been ; whence he came, and how. 

One of his uncles, of the same name, had been con- 
fessor to the third Paris monastery of the Visitation, 
and Superior of the Jesuits in France ; had been im- 
prisoned by Napoleon from 1804 to 1809 ; was made 
Provincial of the Society of Jesus, on its restoration 
in 1814, and died in Paris in 1824. Another uncle 
had been martyred during the Beign of Terror. Fa- 
ther Clorivi&re had gained possession of the blood- 
stained shirt worn by this martyr, which he kept with 
great reverence. EUs family were of the Bretagne 
aristocracy, and Joseph himself, in his twenty-fifth 


jeastj being affianced to a young lady of Versailles, 
was about to marry ; indeed, as he was wont laugh- 
ingly to tell the sisters, the day was fixed, the wed- 
ding-cake and wine had been provided. Suddenly, 
ihe gathered fury of the French Bevolution broke 
bounds. Louis XVI., so long virtually dethroned, 
was made prisoner : Paris shook with tumult ; priests 
and religious were driven into hiding, to escape death 
or outrage at the hands of a mad populace ; and, among 
ihe laity loyal to the king, many of those who could 
escape at all took up arms against the revolutionists. 
Such an one was Joseph de Clorivi^. As a military 
officer he rendered valiant service, and in 1800 re- 
ceived from the Count d'Artois (afterward Charles 
X«), on behalf of his brother Louis XVULL, the deo- 
oration of the order of St. Louis.^ 

After Napoleon's return from Syria and election as 
first Consul, Monsieur de Qorivi^, suspected of com- 
plicity in the affair of the ^^ infernal machine" that 
came so near ending Napoleon's life, was in great dan- 
ger of himself being put to death. For a time he was 
hunted through Bretagne and La Vendue, and avoided 
capture only by assuming various disguises. Once, 
dressing himself like a fop, and carelessly twirling a 
rattan, he passed imrecognized in front of a detach- 
ment of soldiers who were watching for him. So 
many and so narrow were his escapes from his ene- 
mies, that he was afterward disposed te r^;ard his 
preservation as little less than miraculous. Precisely 
how his engagement of marriage came to be finally 

1 John GUiimry O'Shea: HUtory of the Catholic Church in the 


broken off is not oertun. One account attribnteB 
this to a vow made by him, in a moment of great 
danger, that if his life were spared it should be conse- 
crated to the church, and that his betrothed afterward 
gave her full assent to the resolution. Others have 
said that the vow of renunciation was made by her, 
for his safety. 

However this may have been, when Napoleon 
jBnally seized the supreme power in France, succeeded 
in making a concordat with the Pope and received the 
crown from his hands. Monsieur de Clorivi^re, loyal to 
the spiritual headship of the Pontiff, but still devoted 
to the Bourbon dynasty, so &r as state rule was con- 
cerned, quitted France and came to the New World* 
Here, at Baltimore, he studied for the priesthood in 
the seminary of St. Sulpice, and was ordained in 
1812. ^' At this epoch," says the historian O'Shea, 
t( the church of Charleston, S. C, was torn by divi- 
sions and saddened by scandals." It was to this dif- 
ficult post that Archbishop Carroll assigned the new 
priest, and there he remained some five years, man- 
fully and piously battling to root out old local abuses 
and sow the seeds of peace. He succeeded in the 
work, though met by desperate opposition. But fresh 
difficulties arose from the fact that some among his 
congregation were men of revolutions^ ideas, sym- 
pathizers at heart with the anti-religious party in 
Europe. Again, although now in the discharge of a 
peaceful ministry, his life was threatened. Non-Cath- 
olics in Charleston were bitterly opposed to all who 
professed and practiced entire loyalty to the Pope in 
religion, or who declared in favor of the Bourbon mon- 


ttdij in Franoe. This hostOify seems to have been 
sharply aooentoated by the final downfall of Napoleon, 
the restoration of the Bourbons, and the liberating 
of the Pope from his long imprisonment. Father 
Clorividre was twice shot at by would-be ^MM^Minft 
Qnoe he was compelled to remain hidden in the house 
of a faithful Catholic for three days, while those who 
designed to kill him prowled in search of him. 

In these complications of political with religions 
sentiment, that disrupted even his own flock, he wrote 
to Archbishop Carroll for counseL The Archbishop 
thought the priest would in the end triumph over 
tnnident ^lenoe, by his piety, virtue, and concilia, 
tory manners. Nevertheless, when Bishop Neale be- 
oame Archbishop, Father Cloriyi^ appealed to him, 
seeking relief, once more, from his difficult position, 
and demanded permission to go back to France. 
Archbishop Neale replied, sympathiang with him, 
but urging him by all means to remain in this coun- 
try, where priests were so greatly needed; and, in 
order to open to him a field where he might be freed 
from the strifes of his South Carolina parish, invited 
him to come to Greorgetown and direct the Visitation 

This was the letter that the Archbishop wrote, a 
little before his death. It came to Father Qorivi^re 
just when he had made up his mind that he must 
leave America. He had in fact engaged passage on 
a vessel bound for Havre ; his trunks were on board ; 
but, on receipt of the Archbishop's message, he 
had the trunks immediately brought ashore, and at 
onoe made ready for the journey northward. 


Had the Archbishop's letter been a day longer in 
reaching Charleston, it would have come too late: 
Father Cloriyi^re would then have been embarked 
and wafted by sail-wings over sea. Bat, as events 
tamed, he reached Greorgetown soon after Christmas, 
on Tuesday, January 13th, the octave of the Epiph- 
any, 1818, — seven months after the death of the 
Archbishop, but in the very nick of time to save the 
community from its forlorn plight. 

He had not intended to take back with him to 
France the altar ornaments and vestments he had 
brought from there. But, on changing his destina- 
tion, he changed his mind in regard to their removaL 
The ladies of his Charleston congregation insisted 
upon his carrying everything to Greorgetown, and 
Helped him to pack altar linen, vestments, cruets, 
crucifixes, altar bells; two gilt expositions; orna- 
ments for the Repository in Holy Week ; several fine 
paintings made by a lady of the congr^ation ; and 
his whole libraiy, containing many valuable ascetio 

Near noon of January 18th, the sisters were gath- 
ered in the Assembly Boom, where the tables — 
brought from the Befectory — had been spread with 
a repast somewhat out of the common ; for it was a 
^^ profession day," and three new brides ^ were there, 
awaiting with the rest the sound of the Angelas belL 
Suddenly, Mother Teresa was called out of the room ; 
little did she or the others guess for what reason* 
Presently she returned, with a strange priest. It was 
Father Clorivi^re, their new director. 

^ Sisten De Chaatal Goriah, Xayier Hughes, and ApoHaBiM Diggm. 


With heartf dt gratitude, the sisters knelt and re- 
ceived his blessing. 



Father Clorividre was now in his fiftieth year; 
therefore not an old man ; but much worn with the 
struggles, the fatigues, the perils, and amdeties of his 
active career on battle-fields, in exile, and in the 
churchly fold. Yet his unfailing and charming 
nai* vet£ and directness are apparent in the quotations 
from his letters which appear in the manuscripts of 
the convent, and in accounts of his generous and 
devout conduct, giving an idea of vivacity too ener^ 
getic to collapse. It was a welcome relief to him, as 
well as a deUght, to find himself drawn by the will 
of Grod, at the hands of the departed prelate, into 
this peaceful solitude of the cloister, where he was 
to end his days in diligent and happy ministration 
to the sisterhood. To them, also, his coining was as 
welcome and as providential as to him; for he re- 
stored to them that which they had lost in Arch- 
bishop Neale, — a father, friend, and holy guide. 
The Circular Letter sent out from Georgetown in 
1822 said of him: ^^He has given himself — or 
rather, as he says truly — Grod has given him to us, 
with all he has in the world, without our being able 
to make the least return. In everything he ani- 
mates, assists, and encourages us. In a word, he is 
a true father, and makes our interest his own." 

He took especial pains to initiate the sisters fully 
into the practice of their Bule and Constitutions, 


88 also the Customs and Ceremonies, a portion of 
wliioh he daily translated and explained. He exer- 
cised them in the chant of their office, in Gregorian 
mnsic, in litanies, hymns for Benediction, and Liamen- 
tations for Holy Week. In the course of these in- 
structions, he read to them what is prescribed as to 
the Annual Visit, the Annual Chapter, the triennial 
election, and the requirement that there should be a 
change of superiors every three years, or, at longest, 
once in six years. These points were new to them ; 
as there had been no occasion for the questions in- 
volved to come up, between the time when the Pope's 
Indult was received and the date of Archbishop 
Neale's death. 

Father Qoriviere also raised the standard of the 
school (teaching French himself) ; thereby increasing 
the attendance. He established the '^benevolent 
school," which Archbishop Neale had promised (to 
the extent at least of seven scholars) in his appeal 
to the Holy See, as an offset to the permission to 
the sisters to support themselves by taking paying 
scholars. This latter school finally taught, and 
largely clothed and fed, from one to two hundred 
poor children. 

The Sisters of the Visitation of Chaillot, France, 
where, as stated. Father Qoriviere's uncle had been 
director, and whom he also knew, often sent him 
linen and articles, worked by their own hands, in 
gratitude for their many obligations to the uncle. 

It now appeared that Mother Teresa, who had 
continued to be Superior for nearly twenty years, 
during all the experimental or probationaiy period 


of the oommimity, was entitled — sinoe the papal 
approbation and a regular estaUisliment had been 
aohieyed — to remain in office three years longer. 
But the humble foundress preferred to give up her 
oharge to other hands. Archbishop Mar^chal yielded 
te her simple entreaty ; and a new election was ao- 
oordingly held, on the Feast of the Ascension, 1819, 
when Sister Catharine Ann Rigden was chosen by 
the sisters to be their Superior. 

Bom in 1782, of Protestant parents who lived in 
Georgetown, Sister Catharine, at the age of thirteen, 
had formed a friendship with a young Catholic girl, 
whom — for mere pastime — she accompanied to her 
catechism lessons. Then, wishing to learn how to 
answer the questions of the priest, as the other chil- 
dren did, she began to study. The result was that, 
with the aid of grace, she received conditional bap- 
tism, was admitted to the Sacraments of Penance 
and the Holy Eucharist ; in short, openly professed 

The original sketch of her life, prepared by Sister 
Mary Josephine Barber, and transcribed by Sister 
Stanislaus Jones, tells us that Mother Catharine's 
father and mother did everything in their power to 
thwart her in the practice of her religion, and even 
to compel her, if possible, to abandon it. They 
allowed her to have no books except such as were 
opposed to her faith; forced her to see Protestant 
ministers and listen to their exhortations; and tried 
also to turn her aside into the paths of society and 
of worldly gayety, in the hope of dissipating her 
serious thoughts. Catharine preferred to wear only 


the plainest of gowns and bonnets. Her parents tore 
these up, insisting that she should dress fashionably ; 
but to violence of this kind she replied by refusing 
to wear what was offered to her in place of the torn 
garments. So, too, when they denied her fast-day 
fare, she went without food altogether. On one 
occasion an aunt, with whom she was staying in 
the country, declined to let her have a carriage for 
returning to town, on a day appointed by her con* 
f essor ; presumably a feast or holyday of the church. 
Catharine, however, undismayed, set out for the city 
on foot, quoting at the same time the sturdy remark 
of St. Jane de Chantal : ^^ Obedience has very good 


Attractive in appearance as well as in manner and 
disposition, she might easily have secured freedom 
from the oppression exercised upon her at home, by 
marrying ; and, in truth, she had partly or condition- 
ally formed an engagement with a young man who 
had declared himself as a suitor ; but when she con- 
sulted Bishop Neale, her spiritual director, on this 
matter, he assured her with strong conviction that it 
was not what God willed of her. The engagement, 
or beginning of an engagement, was broken off ; and 
tlie unhappy suitor, in his anger and disappointment, 
threatened to commit suicide. From this he was 
restrained by his friends ; but as he disappeared from 
the neighborhood some time afterward, they feared 
that he had yielded to the mad temptation, after all, 
and had wrought upon himself ^* the act of despair." 
Many years later, a little before the death of Mother 
Catharine, a gentleman came to the convent parlor, 


inqairing for her, and learned that she was seriously 
in. He entreated the sisters to tell her how earnestly 
he wished to see her, only onoe more, before her 
death, or his own ; but this, of course, the rule made 
impossible. It was then that Mother Catharine, hear- 
ing of the yisit, disclosed to Father Cloriyi^re that 
the caller was her old suitor. 

In the ardor of her faith, Catharine would gladly 
have entered the convent as a postulant, immediately 
after giving up the idea of this marriage ; but Bishop 
Neale delayed her doing so for several years. Then, 
finding that time had no effect in reconciling her 
parents, he decided at last to take her under shelter ; 
although these same parents, consistently with their 
tyrannical and almost ferocious course from the be- 
ginning, threatened that, if she were admitted, they 
would bum the convent down. 

Catharine Bigden was admitted, nevertheless, on 
the Feast of the Ghiardian Angels, October 2, 1808, 
making the sixth member of the little flock, — and 
the convent was not burned. 

She at once entered upon the practice of all the 
rules then observed; and, having excellent health, 
willingly lent herself to the most fatiguing labors. 
Extremes of heat and cold, and the many privations 
of that early time, she bore without sign of suffering ; 
and when there was a special press of work on hand 
she diminished even the moderate hours of sleep 
allowed, in order to do extra duty. Being quick and 
adroit at all manual tasks, and never making any 
difficulty about them, she was constantly called upon 
for every sort of service or assistance. Her equa- 


nimity, meekness, and patience, Sister Stanislaus has 
recorded, were unalterable; in simplicity and obedi- 
ence, she had the spirit of a child. Yet she re- 
proached herself for what she beUeved to be her 
shortcomings, and was inclined to practice extreme 
austerities, both for her own mortification and on 
behalf of souls in purgatory. These her wise director 
felt obliged to interdict; and a cilice, or hair-doth 
garment, which she wore almost constantly, was taken 
from her for the same reason, that it represented an 
excessive self-discipline. For several years she acted 
as ** Mistress of Pensioners,'* and of her service in 
this capacity Sister Stanislaus says : *^ Her meekness 
and charity won to her these young hearts. She 
taught them many little practices of piety ; and not 
a few of us who have come from the school gratefully 
acknowledge our indebtedness to her for impressions 
that led to our religious vocation." 

From even this brief review of her history and 
her traits, it is easy to see how well the Bishop was 
justified in discerning her true destiny, and that the 
sisters' choice in making her their first duly-eleoted 
Superior was very fitting. 

By her character and aspirations, she was well 
prepared to accept eagerly the devotion to the Sacred 
Heart of Jesus, which the new spiritual father of the 
house introduced and zealously advocated. He had 
brought with him from the South a Life of Blessed 
Margaret Mary, the originator of the devotion and 
eminent in the history of the Visitation in Europe. 
This he translated to the sisters, making them ac- 
quainted with it for the first time. It produced 


a deep impression upon thenu Soon the pracidoe of 
General Conmiunion and Benediction on the first 
Eriday of each month was adopted. Father Cloriviere 
always reading aloud before the altar, while the 
Blessed Sacrament was exposed, the Act of Bepara- 
tion of Honor. It was felt by every one in the 
community that there ought to be a picture, or per- 
haps an oratory, of the Sacred Heart in the convent ; 
and their director himself had long been absorbed by 
the desire of erecting a church or chapel dedicated 
to the same holy object. This he inclined to think 
oould hardly be accomplished for some years to come ; 
but he pointed out a site upon the grounds where the 
dhapel, if it ever should be built, would best be 
placed. Then he drew a sketch of the plan he had 
in mind, and the sisters became so interested in it 
that they could think and speak of little else. Mean- 
while, the first Annual Visit had been made by Arch- 
bishop Mar^chal and Father Cloriviere; at the end 
of 1818, also, the first Annual Chapter was held: 
the Aids were given, the cells, crosses, books, beads, 
pictures, were all changed, — no sister, after this, 
being permitted to retain the same cell or furniture 
for more than one year at a time. The examination 
of accounts, made at this juncture, showed thafc the 
community was even poorer than it thought itself ; so 
much so, that it became dear that unless Providence 
should send help now unforeseen, or unless the school 
should flourish greatly, the convent would stand in 
much embarrassment for means of subsistence. The 
prospect of even beginning a chapel, therefore, was 
exceedingly slight. 


Yet the need of a larger place of worship was 
acute. The esdsting chapel inherited from the Poor 
Clares could scarcely contain its triple congregation 
of sisters, children, and servants. Sister Genevieve 
King used to recall that, at her profession, May 20, 
1819, none of the family except her father could be 
admitted; and he was obliged to sit near the altar, 
with the priests. Archbishop Neale, foreseeing this 
need, had made humble beginnings during his life- 
time toward accomplishing the object. The manner 
of his doing so is interesting and characteristic. 

The only menial labor then obtainable in the Dis- 
trict was that of slaves. The Archbishop had one 
n^ro slave, whom he hired out to a brick-maker in 
Washington ; taking the amount of his weekly wage 
in bricks, which the n^ro carted back to the rude 
archiepiscopal dwelling, every Saturday night. By 
this arrangement, many hundred bricks were gath- 
ered in a promising pile, for future use. 

A fine chime of bells had also been presented to 
the good Archbishop ; and these now lay sleeping in 
the garret of his old home ; silent, yet full of melody 
that was to ring forth gladly over the peaceful en- 
closure, soon, and to continue sounding through a 
long term of recurrent years. This much had been 
gained, then; a foothold of solid brick to serve as 
the basis ; and a responsive peal of chimes, destined 
to be raised aloft as the crown of the edifice. But 
how, and from what, was the intermediate structure 
to be formed? Apparently from the stujS of dreams ; 
for the whole project still looked visionary. 

It is time, therefore, to mention here that Mother 


Catharine, so long robust in health and of untiring 
energy, suffered a severe attack of pneumonia in the 
autumn of the year (1819) following her election. 
The same illness returned frequently; until at last 
she succumbed, passing away in the autumn of 1820. 
In the last year of her life she had many dreams of 
a singular and significant kind. Dreams are always 
debatable; but we shall not discuss these. That 
great master of romantic fiction, Charles Dickens, 
has set forth in a Christmas story how one Scrooge 
— a miser and curmudgeon — was transformed into 
a beneficent citizen, full of charitable Christian im- 
pulses, by a mere dream. This is often spoken of 
by critics as an impossibility ; and yet they all admit 
that it is at least a perfectly true type of the re- 
markable alterations which take place in personal 
character or spirit, and of the effect of an idea, sud- 
denly received, upon an individual's subsequent mood 
or conduct. All people — prosaic or imaginative, 
materialists and idealists, religious and irreligious — 
are disposed to regard some of their dreams with a 
good deal of respect, as well as with curiosity and 
wonder. It is undeniable that a new impression, 
fully grasped, whether it come to us when we are 
waking or when we are sleeping — often changes the 
whole direction of a life or a character. Mother 
Catharine Rigden's dreams may, according to the 
pleasure of one reader or another, be attributed 
either to ill health, or to chance imagination, or even 
(if it gratify anybody to entertain so unprovable a 
guess) to deception ; although we ourselves wholly re- 
ject this last surmise as impossible, and inconsistent 


with her pure, exalted nature. The one thing which 
immediately concerns us is, that she told of her 
dreams simply and directly; that she seemed not 
always to understand their full purport, — some of 
them being symbolical and slightly obscure, — though 
their meaning soon became clear to others ; and that 
she often dreamed that the late Archbishop was 
present, speaking with her and advising her. In one 
of these instances his counsel was definite. *^My 
child," she seemed to hear him say ; *^ tell the Bey« 
erend Father Clorivi^re to begin the church." She 
remonstrated at this, and fancied that she asked him 
how such a thing was to be done without funds. 
'« That matters not," replied the Archbishop. '' Tell 
him to b^in. He will finish my work." 

She recounted this curious dream to Father Clo* 
riviere, who, notwithstanding his predisposition to at- 
tempt the work, told her plainly that, considering the 
poverty of the community and its clouded outlook so 
far as temporal afbirs were concerned, it would be 
downright folly to think of building. 

Still, on returning to his house, he found that her 
recital of her dream had taken strong hold upon his 
mind. As he afterward wrote: ^^I calculated what 
money we had on hand and what might be coming 
in, and I came to the conclusion that we might at 
least lay the foundation of the church, and then 
await further supplies." As to ^^ further supplies," 
evidently a new idea had occurred to him : the result 
of Mother Catharine's dream, or — if you choose to 
call it so — hallucination. It would be well for us 
if all human hallucinations were so sweet in kind, so 


beneficent. Father Clorivi^re owned a patrimonial 
estate in Bretagne. This he now resolved to sell, 
and apply the proceeds to the building of the chapeL 
He was also in receipt of a pension from the French 
gOTcmment, paid to him annually for his past ser- 
vice in the army and because of a wound he had re- 
ceived in battle. This, also, he determined to devote 
to the same purpose. Even those resources, he knew, 
would hardly be sufficient ; for they were not large. 
So far as they went, they would do some good : the 
rest he trusted to Divine Providence. 

Thus, what he had at first condemned as folly, he 
now speedily stood committed to with all the mate- 
rial resources at his command, — as it frequently 
happens, in the case of works undertaken with a 
spiritual aim. But, instantly, a new obstacle was 
raised. The permission of the Archbishop was neces- 
sary, before the first effort at building could be 
made. Archbishop Mar^chal immediately put a veto 
on the proposal, and was astonished that the sisters 
and their director should even think of such a thing, 
in their impoverished condition. Mother Catharine 
and her flock had recourse to prayer ; and presently 
the Archbishop revoked his decision. 

Thereupon Father Cloriviere, overjoyed at the op- 
portumty of dedicating and giving aU his remaining 
worldly possessions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 
and of actually building the chapel, assembled the 
whole community in choir ; whence — after the Veni 
Creator^ and prayers — they moved in procession to 
the site long held in view; all carrying picks and 
spades. Mother Catharine took up the first spadeful 


of oommoQ earth; her assistant, the next; then all 
the sisters, in turn, lifted with their spades a little 
burden of the soil ; making room for the foundation 
of a hallowed edifice. 

This ceremony occurred July 11, 1820 ; and in 
such manner was the first church of the Sacred Heart, 
in the United States, begun. 

The completing of the chapel, however, was at- 
tended with many trials and discouragements, and 
much anxiety ; with alterations in the plans, and the 
usual unlooked-for additional expenses. Archbishop 
Mar^chal laid the first stone, July 26, 1820, on the 
Feast of Saint Ann, mother of the Blessed Virgin. 
But as the community could not pay the carpenters 
and other workmen punctually, they dared not press 
them to hasten the biiilding, and the interior there- 
fore was not finished until October, 1821. On the 
first of November, that year, the chapel was dedi- 
cated. But Mother Catharine was not of the num- 
ber of those who visibly took part in the joy of this 
occasion. For nearly a twelvemonth, then, her body 
had lain entombed in the vault of the new cemetery 
she had helped to plan, in the space formed by a 
natural slope of the ground under the sanctuary. 
After an illness of fourteen months, she had died in 
holiness, December 21, 1820, at the age of thirty- 
five; having dwelt twelve years within the cloister. 
Her two sisters, then recently converted to the faith 
she had so long and bravely held, came to her funeral, 
and — standing in the unfinished chapel — looked 
down through the open beam-work of the fiooring, 
upon the little oemetery-pkyt below, where the nuni 


stood around {he Mother Superior's flower-enoiicled 
coffin and chanted the Miserere. 

The date of dedication was the Feast of All 
Saints ; but the steeple of the little church was not 
completed until some months later. The church in- 
terior was frescoed in simple, unpretentious style. 
The altar, of wood at first, now of marble, stands be- 
tween two Gk)thic windows and two pillars enclosing 
an altar-painting which, as previously stated, repre- 
sents the Scripture scene of Mary and Martha, and 
was given to Father Clorividre by Charles X., who 
had ordered it to be painted for this purpose. High 
above it, in the chancel wall, is set a circular trans- 
parent window containing a picture of the Sacred 
Heart, painted and donated by a lady of Charleston, 
S. C. The nuns' choir is on the gospel side of the 
altar, opening upon the clerestory. Immediately over 
tiie choir-grate is the infirmary gaUery,-for gal- 
leries encircle the whole interior, except at the south 
gable end where the altar stands ; and in the gallery 
to the east is a convenient confessional, used on one 
side by the sisters and on the other by the Academy 
children ; the sacristy, below and opposite, is on the 
epistle side of the altar. 

When at last the steeple reared its apex and gilded 
cross towards the sky, there was a ^^ christening " of 
the bells, three in number. The bells were named 
Ambrose, Joseph, and Agnes, respectively; and on 
this occasion they were carefully dressed in character. 
Ambrose was robed in purple ; Joseph was clothed in 
a black soutane ; and Agnes was draped in veil and 
habit, as a nun. Notwithstanding all his gravity in 


the performanoe of ohnrbh oeremonials, Father Clo- 
rividre oould hardly repress a smile when he saw 
these odd costumes; especially that of Agnes, with 
her black bell-metal face and white barbette. 

On each of the four sides of the steeple tower a 
dock-plate showed the time ; and it became the duty 
of the bell Ambrose to answer with responsive clang 
the hammer-stroke of every hour, as told off by the 
dock within. Ambrose was the largest of the bdls, 
and was therefore called upon for the additional ser- 
vice of ringing for Mass and Benediction. Joseph 
and Agnes rang for the conventual exercises ; and on 
great occasions all three sang tunefully together. The 
first time that they so chimed in company is said to 
have been for the dection of Mother Agnes Brent, 
December, 1821, although they had not then been 

And so at last the convent chapd of the Sacred 
Heart came into being, even when it seemed most 
unlikdy; the result of lofty aspirations but simple 
beginnings ; a monument of Mother Catharine's year 
and a half of duty as Superior. This building was 
no dream-work, but solid, real, and instinct with high 
spirituality, though its actual construction sprang in- 
deed from pious dreams. 


The successor of Mother Catharine in the Superi- 
orship was Mother De Sales Neale; and the next, 
after her. Mother Agnes Brent. 

Mother Catharine's long illness, lasting through 
two thirds of her brief term, had kept the community 


abnort in the state of ^ a body without a heacL** Yet 
when she died, it was not easy to replace her. By 
an episcopal dispensation, however, Mother M. de 
Sales Neale was nnaninumsly elected, Deoanber 28, 
1820 ; eight days after Mother CSatharine's demise. 

Mother Mary de Sales was a widow, whose two 
daughters — Sister M. Frances and Sister Sylvia — 
were professed in the same conmiunity. She is not 
known to have been connected with the &mily of 
Archbishop Neale, although of Maryland stook, bat 
was related to the Fenwicks of that State. 

The pecuniary distresses of the convent at this time 
were, it appears, so great that she could not endure 
the burden of anxious responsibility they broug^ 
upon her. So, when she had been almost a year in 
office, she begged to be discharged; and, another 
dispensation having been obtained for this purpose. 
Mother Agnes Brent was elected in her place, Decemr- 
ber 13, 1821. 

This was only six weeks after the dedication of the 
church. Mother Agnes, the daughter of William C. 
Brent and Prisdlla Neale (a sister of Archbishop 
Neale), was bom at Port Tobacco, Maryland, Octo- 
ber 7, 1796. At baptism she received the name of 
Henrietta ; but, her mother dying when she was only 
eight, the stepmother into whose care she subse- 
quently passed adopted in place of this the name 
of Harriet. At the age of ten she lost her father; 
but, although thus orphaned, she was happy in the 
tenderness which her stepmother lavished upon her, 
and in the almost paternal devotion of her guardian, 
James Neale, her mother's brother. Under their 


protection and training ahe remained at Port Tobaooo 
until the age of thirteen. Then it was time for her 
to prepare for her first oommunion; and her guar- 
dian, observing that the sprightly and beautiful child 
was beginning to be tinged with vanity, against which 
the gay and &shionable circle who frequented her 
home were far from offering any safeguard, deter- 
mined to i>lace her in the convent school at Oeorge- 
town. She left her pleasant home without reluctanoe 
or regret, and, after crossing the cloister threshold, 
showed no desire to return. Her immediate and 
entire contentment there was doubtless due in part 
to the fact that she already had acquaintances and 
relatives in both the school and the community; 
among whom were Sister Magdalen Neale and Sister 
(afterwards Mother) Juliana Matthews. A simple, 
sincere and joyous piety reigned at that time in the 
school; to such degree that, of the fourteen pupils 
then upon its roll, eleven afterwards embraced the 
religious life. Among these were: Mother Juliana 
Matthews, Sister M. Scholastica Neale, Sister G^ 
trude Wight and Sister Margaret Wight, Sistar 
Alphonsa Manning, Sisters Benedicta and Angela 
Boarman; Sister Clare Cummings, Sister Josephine 
Queen, and Sister M. Frances Neale. The three 
McNantz sisters also came to the school soon after- 
ward. The conversation of the elder girls was chiefly 
on subjects of religion ; their mutual confidences re- 
lated to their possible fitness or vocation for admit- 
tance into the sisterhood. The undisguised poverty 
of the school, the Spartan meagreness of fare, the 
early hours of rising and the long walk to and from 


Mmm^ in all wemAen^ all oandaoed to a heMbj^ 
yigofnmMf and quritnaliaed state <rf mind and bo^. 

B ii little to be wondered at iliat Henrietta &ent, 
after tlnee yean in die aeademy, entered die nori- 
tiate. This she did wlien just sixteen yean of age, 
Oetobtf 15, 1812. little mm tiian a year later, she 
beeame afflicted with a severe and persistent badb- 
aehe, tbe effect of wUdi was so serioos Hiat it tineat- 
ened to edipee all the b ri g ht ness of her oonrentoal 
life. UnaUe to sleep at night for the pain, she was 
obl^;ed ocmstantty to rise from bed and sedc relief 
in diange of positiim ; yet, being too weak to sit vp 
loi^, she soon found it neoessaiy to lie down again ; 
and thus her nighte wesre passed in moring from the 
bed to Ihe chair, and from chair to bed. Sie lost her 
appetite entire!^; and, being deprived in Ihis wwj 
both of sufficient nourishment and of sle^ she grew 
eioeedingly emaciated during the fire weaiy, tiying 
yean that the mala^ lasted* In the end a Yerj 
rimple remedy, a strengthening pkster, reoommmded 
by an elderly lady who had become one of her noriees, 
gave her the relief she had long sought in vain ; and, 
in a few weeks she regained her health ccmipletely. 
A singular &ct about this fire yean' baAarihe is, 
tibat it was not accompanied by other discemiUe ill- 
ness, and that it left her constitution unimpaired by 
any trace of infirmity. It resulted, amusingly enough, 
that as she was without experience in other kinds of 
physical suffering, she found it difficult afterwards to 
believe that any pain or sickness could be serious 
unless it was accompanied by a backache. 

At the time of her election she was still veary 


yaoBg, for the oooupant of so important and exacting 
a post, being only twenty-five. Yet, notwithstanding 
her yonthfolness, great expectations were entertained 
as to what the new Superior would achieve; and 
these, as the event proved, were well grounded. In 
later life, also, she accomplished devoted and import 
tant work at the head of the Visitation houses in 
Kaskaskia, St. Louis, and Mobile, established from 
Georgetown. Her career was a long, as well as a 
useful one; for she lived to be nearly eighty-two, 
dying September 16, 1876, on the Octave of the 
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. 

Mother Agnes was remarkably prudent, and had a 
genuine talent for governing. At the very outset of 
her rule, however, she was confronted with perplexi- 
ties that, for a time, seemed likely to end all need of 
any Superior at Greorgetown. Father Clorividre and 
Mother Catharine, as we intimated in the previous 
chapter, had drawn rather heavily against the re- 
sources of the future, in building the chapeL The 
means on which the former had relied were slow in 
coming, for his Brittany estate could not be disposed 
of wil^ut troublesome delays. Meanwhile, several 
sisters who had been recently professed advanced 
funds of their own for the use of the house; but 
these were used up in meeting current expenses, and 
nothing, or next to nothing, remained to defray the 
payments due on the chapel. 

The community was now a large one, numbering 
forty-eight. The sisters again felt the pressure of 
absolute want, in their daily life; and, worse than 
this, the bitterness of poverty was made sharper by 


tiie fact that thejr were powerless to supply llieir siok 
and suffering (of whom there were many) with even 
tiie most ordinary relieb of food or medicine. It ia 
in truth amaring that, with die spectacle of so much 
priyation and of harassing trial in fall view before 
them, so many postolants should steadily have come 
fcxrward, should have moved on through their novi- 
tiate with firm, buoyant step and become professed 
sisters, — willing and even anxious to share in all the 
toil, the hunger, and the bodily distress of that strug- 
gling house, as well as in its holy joys. That is, it 
would be amazing from the mere worldly point of 
view, and to people unfamiliar with the bright serenity 
of mind and soul, the dear, exalted aspiration that 
lifts up and guides women who have a vocation for 
monastic or conventual life. The curiously ignorant 
but common theory of non-Catholics, that no <me can 
possibly enter a religious community who has not 
been disappointed in love, or otherwise frustrated in 
hope, meets with decided check in the contemplation 
of such women as these, gentle and devout of heart, 
who gave themselves — in the flower of their youth, 
or in middle age — to the simple, undivided service 
of (jod, through prayer and praise and perfect disd- 
pline, as well as through impersonal, unselfish dedi- 
cation, to the teaching of the young. When, added 
to the usual expected discipline and self-denial, they 
gladly accepted the further burden of extreme penury 
and bodily distress, who can isul to see that with only 
disappointment or sourness, or even mere resignation 
as their motive, they would have been utterly unable 
to bear what they did for so much as a single year? 


It is easy to read of those days of need and suffer* 
ing, but not so easy to realize the heroism and faith 
which were required in order to live through them ; 
not simply to live through them, either, and to crawl 
along in uncomplaining sUence ; but, on the contrary, 
to move actively and blithely about one's duties, al- 
ways radiant, both at heart and in countenance, — to 
hail suffering with genuine gratitude as a favor from 
Christ, since borne for Him, — and to endure stead- 
&8tly, brightly, through the long, immitigable years. 
Heroism, not of the moment or emergency, was 
needed for this; and faith not of the spasmodic, 
emotional kind, but of the kind that lives in unison 
with the Infinite. 

Upon all this we dwell because, if one is to gather 
and embosom the true lesson and value of this Story 
of Courage, one should not regard the Annals of the 
Greorgetown Visitation simply in the mild and mellow 
light of that success which finally rewarded effort ; but 
must recur to, must emphasize and vividly apprehend, 
the superb endeavor, the imf altering fortitude of the 
sisters during their weary time of trial. The material 
success gained is but the outward manifestation of an 
interior, spiritual victory won by them in the period 
of obscurity, of doubt as to the issue, of patience and 

Six or seven of the community, all young and prom^ 
ising, had died, even since the new cemetery was 
made, and now slept there with hands folded. But, 
for the living, also, — what provision could be offered 
them? Let it not be assumed that either the direc- 
tor of the convent or Mother Catharine had ignored 


die risk and poBsible dilftmina of greater poverty and 
of belated income. They had looked tliis in the &oe, 
and had condnded that it might be better for them 
all than absolute, comfortable secnriiy, which often 
induces relaxation. Still, it is true, they had not 
foreseen that the strain would last so long, or that the 
pinch of want would bring the community to the very 
Terge of disbandment. The hour had now come when 
die forebodings of those who had all along discouraged 
die enterprise, and in especial had criticised die build- 
ing of the chapel, seemed about to receive confixmati<m 
from the result. Father Oorivi^re and die newiy 
installed Mother Agnes consulted with die revered 
Foundress, Mother Teresa Lalor, and with other dster 
counselors, pondering deeply what measures could be 
adopted or means found for continuance. In vain! 
They were forced to the sad conclusion that no course 
remained open to them except to disperse die sister- 
hood, which had been brought together, maintained 
and enlarged by so many years of self-sacrifice, of 
industry, and persistent endeavor. 

It would scarcely be possible for us to express the 
pain and sorrow with which this harsh but seemingly 
inevitable alternative filled theuL To disperse I But 
whither? Were all the training and the matured 
&culties of these happily chosen souls to be scattered 
adrift? — fruitful seeds, no doubt, if sown along the 
highways of the world. Yet, if so scattered, they 
would be torn away from the perfect service of their 
vows, the fixed purpose of their lives. Such a disper- 
sion as that could not be seriously contemplated, for a 
moment. Hence, the only thing to do was to seek 


refuge in some other religious order. And now that 
old idea of merging with the Ursulines, which had been 
advanced by the doubters or opponents, in the very 
inception of this Greorgetown Visitation, was taken 
up again ; and it was decided that it should be acted 
upon. For even the deepest disappointment must be 
borne patiently, cheerfully, wisely ; and we should be 
ready, if Grod so shapes the course of things, to adopt 
the once rejected ideas and plans of our critics. 

The resolution once taken, they wrote letters to the 
Ursulines of Canada and of Louisiana, begging them 
to take five or six of the sisters from Greorgetown into 
each of their houses. Promptly and gladly came the 
welcoming answers. The Ursulines would receive 
with joy the daughters of St. Francis de Sales. In 
fact, the letters had no sooner reached them, than they 
assigned apartments for the Yisitandines ; many of 
the good Ursulines being ready to give up their cells 
to the expected refugees. The names of the latter 
were sent to the several Ursuline houses, and the 
Visitation sisters — with heavy hearts, it must be con- 
fessed — b^an thereupon their preparations to depart 
finally, in separate groups, from the dear home of 
their profession. 

At that juncture an occurrence wholly unexpected, 
which appeared to them providential and must im- 
press all unprejudiced observers, we think, as at least 
curiously opportune — ** put an end to the project of 
dispersion." ^ 

A wealthy merchant of New York, John Baptist 
T^walla, decided to place his two daughters in the 

lO'ShM't HUiory qfiU CaOuiik Chmrth in <iW Uniied HtaUa. 


Academy as boarders (and afterwards sent thither a 
third daughter and his own youngest sister). He 
wished, also, — when he peroeived the needy state of 
the institution, — to pay their board and tuition far 
several years in advanoe. The sum which he put into 
die hands of the community by this act of hearty gen* 
erosity gave them the amount they needed for tiding 
over tiieir present indigence, until the fruit of Father 
Ooriviere's still greater generosity in selling his estate 
should come to them. 

Wben it became known that the YLdtandines were 
not, after all, to be disbanded, the Ursulines of New 
Orleans did not rest content with having expressed 
their cordial willingness to adopt some of the Visita- 
tion members into their own house. To make thdr 
friendly and Christian intentions unmistakable and 
tangible, in another form, they now sent to the Visita- 
tion convent at Georgetown a large stock of provisions ; 
sugar, molasses, ready-made clothing, altar linen, and 
a set of vestments. 

In connection with this good deed of theirs, it is 
interesting to note that there was then among them a 
nun who had formerly — in Archbishop Neale's time 
— belonged to the infant community at Georgetown. 
She was no other than Sister Mary Joseph, whose un- 
successful efforts to accommodate her voice to the 
requirements of the chant, under the teaching of 
Father Bestcher, we have detailed in an earlier chap- 
ter. It appears that Father Bestcher's patience gave 
out, and he decided that Sister Jos^h must leave 
the Visitation, — that she must go forth not as a voice 
crying in the wilderness, but as a voice lacking tune 


and the sapport of an ear for liarmonj. She there- 
fore betook herself to the Ursulines, and was accepted 
by them in New Orleans. Bnt, when this gentle ban- 
ishment occurred (in 1816), she had been with the 
Greorgetown community for eleven years, and was on 
the eve of making profession there. For this reason, 
it was a very grieyous trial to her to be obliged to 
take up her abode elsewhere, and she told the Ursu- 
lines frankly that, although she ¥ras henceforth to live 
with them, ** her heart was with the Visitation, from 
which it never could be weaned." The venerable 
mothers of New Orleans took no umbrage at this, 
and, on her profession, gave her the name she desired, 
— that of Sister JFrances de Sales. It was to her 
that the prompting of this gift of timely supplies of 
clothing and food ¥ras chiefly attributed. And so 
the poor child who had been sent away from Greorge- 
town against her will. Sister Mary Joseph, was the 
person who brought aid in the day of need ; as Joseph 
of old gave aid to his brethren. 

It is quite worth while to pause here for a moment, 
and to reflect that the rescue of the Georgetown Visi- 
tation, at this crisis, was due to a mere layman who 
had hitherto been unheard of, and to a faithful sister 
who had been sent away to another order because of 
technical deficiency in singing. The rejected stone is 
frequently found most useful, and the loyal, devout 
layman — though seldom praised for his unselfish d^ 
votion — furnishes, in time of trial and impending dis- 
aster, the solid material prop which it is necessary to 
put into the service of great spiritual undertakings. 
The sisters themselves, in their manuscript Annals, 


Iiftve been the first to acknowledge these oUigatioiis 
to die fadthful layman, John Baptist Tjasalla, and to 
Sister Mary Joseph (afterward Sister Francis de 

As to the oonTent school or academy at this period, 
it had steadily declined since the death of Sister l^gn*- 
tia Sharpe in 1802, mitil it was well-nigh deserted at 
die time of Father Cloriyi^'s arriTaL He saw die 
necessity of raising the standard of studies, and train- 
ing teachers for the future. Therefore he at once re- 
quested the younger asters, and chiefly the noyioes, 
to study on special lines to qualify themsdyes for 
conducting a more thorough English course. This 
they did, under the direction of a young convert, re- 
cently admitted, who had assisted previousty in the 
teaching of a young ladies' schooL But it took time 
— some years, indeed — to establish fully the rqmte 
of the academy as an institution of the first dass. 

It will be useful and instructive, here, to reproduce 
a prospectus of the academy, containing an outline 
of studies and of terms, on the basis established by 
Father Clorivi^. The prospectus is g^ven in fac- 

Mr. T/asalla, visiting Father Clorividre at his house 
on the grounds, asked him to point out ^^the acad- 
emy " where his daughters were to dwell and study. 
The good Father was sorely mortified at having to 
show him the dreary, dilapidated building dignified by 
that name, and he determined, then and there, to 
erect, so soon as it should be possible, an edifice 
worthy of the title ^^ academy." This determination 
was afterward carried out. 


The school, assisted by Mr. Lasalla's advance pay- 
ment and by the funds which eyentually came to Far 
ther Clorividre from the sale of his French estate, 
prospered rapidly. The debts due on the church 
were paid from these resources. A new academy 
building was also erected and dedicated with meny 
Christmas festivities in 1828. 

Many pupils were attracted by the improved facili- 
ties, the spacious rooms, and the convenient arrange- 
ment of parlors, dormitories, and refectory which Fa- 
ther Clorivi^re designed and completed. In short, 
an era of prosperity, destined to continue unbrokenly 
down to the present time, dawned upon this first 
House of the Visitation in America, immediately after 
its darkest hour of night and anxious dread. 



Now that we have accompanied the sisters, in re- 
trospect, SO far upon the long, laborious way of their 
beginnings ; through the frosty night of that earlier 
time ; through the faint yet eager dawn of their great 
hope ; have seen them in the thicket, one may say, of 
harsh experience, where thorns of trial and flowers 
of happiness interblend; but always, whether under 
clouded skies or sunshine, and even when thwarted or 
delayed by some vexatious turn of the path, pressing 
onward to a fixed goal with purpose unchanged, — we 
may pause a little in our narrative, and dwell for a 
while <m certain interesting characters and certain 
miraculous cures, that became important elements in 
this new era of the history of the convent. 


Hie tbree daog^bten of Mr. T<aiHi]l> who reedvod 
Aeir edncatioii at Greorgetown were Chailotte, Ybs 
ginia, and Ann Lionisa. At die time of tibeir en- 
trance, Charlotte, die eldeflt, was ei^ yean old. She 
showed remarkaUe natural talenta, excelled in her 
daflBCB, especially m muric, and was giadnated, nine 
years later, with the hij^iest honors. A friend of 
hers. Miss Emify Ward of Washington, graduated 
at the same time with equal rank; but tiie tvendof 
Miss Ward's mind was distinctfy in the directian of 
piety of thought and life, while Charlotte, returning 
to her father's home in New York, plunged at onoe 
into the gayest society there. Not from in diffe rence 
or ^Mithy, but from a mistaken impression HxaX^ ha^ 
ing emerged into the world, she was in some wi^ 
bound to change her manner of existence, she ab- 
stained from the sacraments, and for two years per^ 
formed no religious duty beyond going to Mass on 
Sunday. It is a curious &ct that her father, Mr. 
TAwJla, although he would not allow his daughters to 
be educated in any but this Catholic school, and had 
therefore become its bene&ctor by his liberal advance 
payments, had nevertheless completely n^Iected his 
religious duties for a long time, and still continued to 
n^lect them. In such an individuality as his, we 
come at once npon the primal sources and conditions 
of human nature, unspoiled yet unregenerate. He 
was a type of many n^ligent Catholics. The faidi 
was in him, and he was loyal to it. His heart, smit- 
ten long ago in childhood by the High Priest of all 
men, had gushed forth in a fountain-stream, like the 
rock that Moses smote. The living spring was thera^ 


still, but choked with weeds and mud and rubbish 
that his carelessness had allowed to accumulate. 

Charlotte, influenced by his example, — for, since 
he waa a most indulgent parent, lavish towards her in 
all material things, and a friend of the convent, how 
could she criticise him? — fell in with and followed 
his indolent disregard of the sacraments and of con- 
fession. She felt keenly, however, the dangers and 
temptations of this mode of life, and often wished 
that she might again be brought within the shelter of 
the convent walls. Yet this was a passing thought, 
quite easily put aside again. A fit of illness at 
length interrupted her career of amusement and social 
festivity. Just then, a letter came from her friend 
Emily Ward, who had entered the novitiate at 
Georgetown and had immediately written to Charlotte 
in order to tell her of the difficulties, the struggles, 
she had gone through, and the peace and holy happi- 
ness she now enjoyed. This letter made a great im- 
pression upon Charlotte. After thinking it over care- 
foUy, ahe went to her father and aAed his permiisioii 
to go to the convent and enter the novitiate, herself. 

The request was like a deathblow to him. He, 
the indulgent, loving parent who had never been able 
to deny her anything else, could not bring himself to 
consent to this. Seeing his agitation and dismay, 
Charlotte did not press the subject further. But, as 
the idea still dwelt in her mind and she could neither 
say nor do anything toward carrying it out, the re- 
pression she had to suffer broke her health down, 
gradually. At last, after long and obstinate delay, 
Mr. Tiasalla, finding that even his daughter's physi- 


<naa innstod that the only hope of leBtoring her bod- 
ily health lay in aooeding to her wish, to(^ her to the 
conyent. In the novitiate she met her old friend, 
Emily Ward, now Sister Bemardine, and herself re- 
ceived, when she took the veil, her father's name ; be- 
coming Sister Baptista. But her strength was already 
spent, and she lived only one year longer. Daring 
her last days, she drew from her father, idio had 
not approached the sacraments for twenly-two yean, 
a promise that he would receive Holy Communion for 
bar, after her death. Even then, strange as it nu^ 
seem, this man of good intentions, and of generona 
performance in the way of material aid to a good 
cause, hesitated to accede. He gave his promise, 
though ; and, when Sister Baptista died, he made a 
retreat under the guidance of the Jesuit Fathers o£ 
Georgetown Coll^;e, confessed himself, and received 
Communion. Thus, while his &ith had lain doimant 
in him for so many years, his own act of loyalty in 
sending his daughters to this convent school, resulted, 
even against the rebellion of his self-will, in bringing 
him back to that visible and tangible communioatioii 
with Grod which is vital to the souL 

It was on the 9th of April, 1887, that Sister Bap- 
tista liasalla passed away, making her final vows of 
profession <m her deatb-bed. 

We win now return, briefly, to February 10, 1825, 
the date of a miraculous cure wrought upon Sister 
Beatrice Myers, a lay sister, through prayer. 



At the tune of the blessed mirade manifested in 
her, Sister Beatrice, a native of Pennsylvania, was 
twenty-nine years old, and had been for about two 
years a professed nnn of the Visitation. She was 
suddenly oyercome by violent headaches and eonsump- 
tive pains, as well as other symptoms. For the fol- 
lowing two years she was confined to the infirmary, 
her malady during that time assuming such a variety 
of forms that the physician gave up the attempt to 
decide what her disease might be. She had to be 
lifted in her bed like an infant. On September 14, 
1825, Mother Agnes Brent was called out from the 
chapel during Mass, and told that Sister Beatrice was 
dying. She hastened to the infirmary, and found the 
patient barely breathing. As soon as possible. Far 
ther Clorividre was asked to come from the sacristy 
and administer Extreme Unction to the dying nun. 
To this request, the Father replied, calmly, ^* Prince 
Hohenlohe will cure her. She will not die ; she will 

Here is an explanation of Father Clorivi^re's an- 

The princes of Hohenlohe were one of the oldest 
fiunilies in Germany, and were known as counts of 
the empire in the eleventh century. Their name is 
taken from the castle of Hohenlohe in Franconia, be- 
tween the Main and the Tauber rivers. The Hohen- 
lohes were among the first of the prominent noble 
families that embraced the so-called ^^ Beformation " 
of Luther ; but in 1667 they returned to the Catholic 

no A STOtr OF coumaob. 

CbBlM Vn. nind fhfam to As mk cf 
dt tit» Bflmn JSmpae, in 1744. TUr hamm 
U two bmidM ; tluit o£ NueBrtOB, ad Ifaii 
€£ WaUenbug. It k to tlie latter tbit As Ber. 
I^JBoe Alexander ffnlMilnlM» bdonced. W^ waa cna 
€£ die eanooa cl Ae di^iter o£ (MmotBy and a Kaig^ 
cf Maha. 

He was bom Angoet 17, 179S, near WaUodng. 
in Hcdienlolie ; the ei^iteentii and last dnldolGhadea 
Albert, then le^pung prinee o£ Hohmlnlie and ages* 
era! in tbe Anatrian senioe. His mother — Jndilfcy 
Baroneea of Bewiteliy — was a modd of Tirtne. She 
— iiiiKlfd her hooaehold ahraya, momii^ and nmringi 
for jyiayeiB, and was Teiy particofatf in iHUfidiug §at 
Ae rdigioas instmctian of her aona. When Ahnan* 
der was two years cdd, his father died. His cld ei i 
brother. Prince Joseph, fell at Uhn, in 1800; and as 
die other sons were also in the am^ and e n wiaeil to 
Ae haflurds of war, an attempt was made to divert 
Alexander's mind, which was alieacty fixed iqnn Ae 
Church, toward worldfy affairs ; so that, if the raeees 
sion should derolve upon him, he would be able to 
give his whole attention to the princedom. Bat he 
chose to become a servant of Christ, and, having passed 
diroagh an eleven years' coarse of elawrirB, philosopl^, 
and theology, as a preparation for this doty, he was 
ordained a priest, September 16, 1815. 

He was remarkable for evangelical meekness, hn- 
milily, and charity. As a preacher, also, he was 
doqoent and powerfoL 

At Wiirtzbarg he b^;an, after a time, those ex- 
traordinary intercessions of prayer, which astonished 


Europe and were known and shared in throughout the 
oiyilized world. For his companion in this work he 
chose a man of humble condition, one Martin MioheL 
Whenever any one recommended himself to his 
prayers. Rev. Prince Hohenlohe directed such person 
to make sincere ^^ acts of contrition," and to receive 
Holy Communion on the same day on which he, the 
priest, should offer prayers, in the Holy Sacrifice of 
the Mass, for the individual so appealing for help.^ 

Father Qoriviere was awake to the wonderful truth 
of Prince Hohenlohe's power through prayer, and had 
a prophetic conviction that Sister Beatrice was to be 
benefited by it. But Mother Agnes Brent exclaimed 
at his announcement, in greatest distress of mind: 
^^ She is dying not^, — she may not live an hour I " 
She admitted afterwards that she felt impatient, and 
even indignant, at the thought that Father Clorivi^ 
would 80 ran the risk of Sirter Beatrice's dying with- 
out the sacraments. The Father realized what the 
Bev. Mother and the Sisters were suffering in their 
suspense, and acceded at last to their appeals. The 
dying nun ralHed quickly after receiving Extreme 
Unction and the Viaticum. Doctor Bohrer, the con- 
vent physician, coming some hours later, said to Sister 
Teresa Lalor that ^^ an astonishing change had taken 
place, and he marveled over it." But, though a Pro- 
testant, he had much respect for the Holy Eucharist, 
having frequently observed its effect ; and he accepted 
the assurance of the sisters that Sister Beatrice had 
been visited by the heavenly Phjrsician. For some 
months the nun remained much better, and was able 

^ Vid« Work! of Biihop Ei^kiid, toL iSL, p. 470L 


to sit up for half an hour at a time. However, in 
December, most digtressing symptoms retained, and 
in January she again seemed at the point of death. 
Bat Father Clorivi^ continued to have a strong &ith 
that she could be cured by mirade, and he objected as 
before to giving her the last Sacraments. He prom- 
ised to begin a novena for her on the 1st of February. 
Mother Brent and Sister Teresa Lalor protested that 
there was no time for a cure, and Mother Brent cried : 
^ B^in a novena for her, when she has been placed 
in the tomb! It is impossible that she can sor- 
vive long enough for even the commencement of the 
novena I " ^^ She will not die yet," quietly averred 
Father Clorivi^re. ^^ The Prince will cure her I " 

Mother Brent spoke of sending for a priest from 
the neighboring college. The father b^ged her to 
trust wholly in Grod ; and he said that he would take 
the responsibility upon himself of the chance of Sister 
Beatrice's dying without the last rites of the Church* 
Mother Agnes Brent thought him ^^most unchari- 
table " at this solemn moment. She regarded the 
matter, as she subsequently confessed, ^^ only with the 
eyes of flesh and blood, while he showed sublime 
fidth." As the Father predicted, the novena was 
begun on the 1st of February, both for Sister Beatrice 
and three other sick nuns. From its commencement 
she grew daily worse, and she desired to die, that 
she might be with Grod, and see the ^^ Blessed Lady," 
as she said. Dr. Bohrer soon declared that if she 
were cured at all, it would be by mirade, and he 
would then become a Catholic ; — a promise which he 
considered extremely safe. At nearly three o'clock in 


the morning of the last day of the novena, the final 
preparations were made for administering Holy Com- 
munion to the four sisters. Prince Hohenlohe was 
saying Mass in Grermany at a corresponding hour. 
The infirmaiy altar had been elaborately decorated 
with flowers and lights. As the tower clock struck 
three, the tinkling of the little bell was heard by the 
patients which announces the approach of the Blessed 
Sacrament when taken to the sick, and is carried be- 
fore the procession of nuns which comes with the 
priest from the Saorisiy. Sister Beatrice was feeling 
so ill that she did not expect the Father to reach her 
bedside before death overtook her ; but she prayed to 
live to receive the Sacred Host. As soon as it had 
descended to her chest, she was a changed being. 
Perfect health circulated in her blood and appeared 
in her countenance. The holy sister in her himiility 
was silent ; for she was a lay-sister, whereas the other 
three patients were choir sisters ; and so she thought 
that if she was cured, they surely must be, and were 
entitled to speak first. Father Qorivi^re knelt before 
the Blessed Sacrament at the altar, awaiting some 
word as to the cure which he firmly believed was to 
come to Sister Beatrice ; but all was still. At length 
he arose, and departed with the procession to the 
church. The Superioress was the last to turn away 
from the infirmary ; when Sister Beatrice was heard 
to call to her : ^^ Mother I " A thrill passed through 
Mother Agnes Brent at this summons. The mirade, 
as it were, laid its touch upon her also. 

Sister Beatrice clasped her hands and cried: ^I 
think I am cured I " And she uttered many religions 


ejaonlationB in thanksgiving. The sisters who had 
f oUowed the Blessed Sacrament soon retained, and 
Sister Beatrice, rising and making herself ready, went 
with them into the gallery for the infirm, overlooking 
the sanctuary, where they aU remained for some time 
prostrate in prayer. Father Qorivi^ enjoined upon 
the nuns ^^ to rejoice in this great favor in silence and 
quiet." When he finally met Sister Beatrice, who fell 
at his feet for his blessing, he felt, he told the Supe- 
rioress, as if he ought rather to kneel at her feet, and 
ask her blessing. The next morning, a Mass of 
thanksgiving was celebrated, during which the sister 
knelt almost all the time, having descended the long 
flight of steps to the choir with ease. That same day 
she did all manner of things to show her strength, and 
was in fine spirits. The third day. Dr. Bohrer came 
to see the miracle, and stood in amazement before her 
at sight of her radiant countenance. He found her 
skin, pulse, eyes, appetite, step, all those of perfect 

" Well, Doctor," said Mother Agnes Brent ; " I 
hope you will keep your promise of becoming a Cath- 

^^That is a serious matter. Mother, and requires 
time and consideration," sagely replied the good man, 
who had been promising and reflecting for so long. 

^^ And have you not given it sufficient time ? De- 
lays are dangerous I " said she. 

(« Mother," the Doctor exclaimed, still wise in his 
worldly regard for his own judgment, with which he 
was testing the value and necessity of the step which 
our Lord has already judged in the affirmative, ^^ do 


you not think precipitation might be more dangerous 
than delay? In so important a oonoem, I do not 
wish to act rashly." 

^^Nor do I advise rashness, Doctor/' answered 
Mother Agnes. ^^ I would myself condemn precipita- 
tion. But you are now familiar with the truth, and 
have already contemplated joining the church for a 
long while, because of the manifestations of God 
which you have seen in the convent." 

*^ The day may come," said he, ^^ when you will see 
me a good Catholic." 

The Mother shook her head. ^^Not if you con- 
tinue this procrastination much further," she told 
him. She was right. His whole family became Cath- 
olics, and one of his daughters was received as a 
Visitandine; but he procrastinated until it was too 

After her cure, Sister Beatrice continued robust 
for nearly ten years. She then sustained a heavy 
&11, while assisting an infirm nun down some stairs* 
She could not rally from the serious effects of this 
accident, xmtil she was a second time cured by mira- 
cle. Sister Juliana Matthews had received from Mr. 
Frenaye, of Philadelphia, a medal of the Immacu- 
late Conception, called ^^ the Miraculous MedaL" It 
was the first of the kind that the sisters had seen, 
and an accoimt of the apparition of which it was the 
reminder, and of the cures connected with it, was 
read to them in the assembly-room. All the sisters 
came, one after another, to kneel and kiss it; but 
Sister Beatrice was ill in bed from her fall, and de- 
prived of this happiness. So the Mother Superior 


dedded to place the medal <m her neek with her own 
hands, and to have a novena made in whieh all 
should join, by saying daily the aspiration printed 
aionnd the figure : ^ Oh Mary, conoeiyed without sin, 
pray for us who have recourse to thee I ** The p»> 
tient grew worse instead of improving; but at tlie 
time of Holy Communion on the last day, she said : 
^I fed better I " She arose, dressed, and for aboafc 
twelve years, until her death, lived an active life. 
She told the Superioress that at the moment of swal* 
lowing the Sacred Host an indescribable sensatioift 
thrilled her whole frame, and she f oimd herself en- 
tirely welL 


Another, and perhaps the most remarkable of die 
miraculous cures which have occurred at the couventi 
was that of Sister Mary ApoUonia Diggs. 

A delicate little girl, in Charles County, Maryland, 
Anna Diggs, who had lost her own mother when very 
young, and afterwards had been subject to an imlrin^ 
stepmother, quietly and bravely began a remarkable 
life. She bore her cross with a child's touching inspi- 
ration, in a kind of novitiate of religious patience, 
long before she knew she was to be a nun. Later, 
moreover, she was to become a sign of Grod's love and 
presence. When only twelve years old, she made the 
choice of generosity in place of self-consideration, 
which in a child often proves so much heroism. In 
the house next to her other's, there was a little friend 
of about her own age, Mary King, who also entered 
the convent to which, in a few jrears more, Anna was 


consigned by her relatives. Mary often heard the 
unkind stepmother scolding Anna, and saw her friend 
put to many unsuitable and difiKoult tasks, which 
her fraQ constitution made really dangerous for hec 
Mary begged the poor girl to tell her father how she 
was maltreated; but Anna always answered that it 
would cause him great unhappiness to know this, and 
she did not wish him to be distressed. Then her 
little champion declared that she would herself com- 
plain to Mr. Diggs ; but Anna persisted in refusing 
to have him disturbed. At last she gave this condu- 
sive argument: ^^Mary, I must suffer something 
for the love of Grod." Young as she was, she accom- 
plished the sacrifice of justice towards herself which 
most of us grow old in the effort to complete. This 
angelic spirit of hers led her to make daily actions of 
self-denial and piety, which purified her into a fitting 
yehide of Grod's power. 

When about sixteen, the two friends entered (a 
few montiis apart) tiieir conventual novitiate. Anna 
had a tendency to consumption. The disease had 
already fatally attacked a number of her family. 
Archbishop Neale therefore forbade her exposing her- 
self to the morning air; or remaining more than a 
quarter of an hour on her knees in devotional exer- 
cises, as this invariably brought on acute pains in the 
chest ; although quarter of an hour on the knees in 
prayer soon becomes but a brief moment to any one 
who attempts it. For eight years consumption slowly 
undermined her system; yet she did not hesitate to 
perform all sorts of such service for the community 
as she thought it needed, regardless of the e£Eeot 


xsfon herself, and employing a saintlj sabtlety in 
iwieining able thus to labor. How the pain and weari- 
ness of this angelic young woman blooms now, in ofor 
desire to be as brave as she could be I 

During 1824, Sister ApoUonia's state required that 
she should be bled twice a week, and use severe absti- 
nence in the choice of food, because of her highly 
excited pulse, and the other dire symptoms common 
to consumption. Father Clorivi^re supposed her to 
be near death, and she performed the devotions usual 
in this extremity. She remained as described for 
several months. Meantime, Sister Beatrice Myers 
had been miraculously cured, as related, by a novena 
made in unison with Prince Hohenlohe, far away in 
Oermany ; and Father Clorivi^re b^an to urge Sis- 
ter ApoUonia to have recourse to a similar novena. 
But she replied that she would rather die; as that 
seemed to be the will of Grod. Still, she lived on, 
though now often at the point of death, always ocm- 
fined to her bed, and suffering from burning cheeks, 
coughs, debility, and all the other excessive condi- 
tions to be found in the disease. The attending phy- 
sidan. Dr. Bohrer (whose Protestantism was a source 
of unfailing concern to the earnest nuns), noticed 
another appearance in Sister ApoUonia, accompanying 
her aspect of consumption. He called it a moral 
symptom^ and said that it was an expression of hope^ 
and great serenity of souL A sister one day solemnly 
exclaimed to the sick girl, that perhaps ^^ her resigna- 
tion as to death was not the service which Grod most 
desired of her : that perhaps He wished to be glori- 
fied by the reestaUishment of her health." It was 


now four years or more since Fatiher CHorivi^ie had 
urged her to make the novena. Her living on, 
though at the point of dying, might be aoooimted 
for by this interpretation. Sister ApoUonia received 
light from the forcible conviction which the sister 
had shown. She consulted the spiritual father (Fa- 
ther Wheeler), and the nims' present confessor. 
Father Dubuisson. A novena was begun in con- 
junction with Prince Hohenlohe, on the 10th of Jan- 
uary, 1831. At once the sufferer grew even worse, 
and the physician told her that her end was at hand* 
He admitted to the sisters, who again began to have 
great hopes of his conversion, that if she was cured 
by the novena, he would enter the Catholic ChurdL 
This time, it seemed as if he would and must carry 
out his intention. On the last night some of the 
sisters remained uninterruptedly before the Blessed 
Sacrament, praying for the cure. But their love of 
heaven made them do so rather to lead good Dr. 
Bohrer into heaven by means of the mirade to be 
wrought, than to keep Sister ApoUonia (much as they 
loved her) away from its bliss a little longer. She, 
too, prayed fervently that the miracle might be 
effected; yet, while so praying, bore herself with 
unalterable calm. At half-past three in the morning, 
every evidence of dissolution was to be seen in her. 
Father Dubuisson was hastily called; and soon the 
little bell was heard to approach, followed by the pro- 
cession of sisters. Among these were : — 

Mrs. Ann Mattingly ; Mother Magdalene Augus- 
tine D'Arregger, Superior; Mother Teresa Lalor 
(Foundress of the House); Mother Margaret Mar- 



ahall (foundress of the house at MoUle); Matter 
Schohstica Neale ; Sister Beatrice Myers ; Sister 
StanisUus Jones ; Sister Veronica ; Sister EUzabeth ; 
Sister A. Agatha Combs ; Sister Charity Waide ; 
Sister Justine Kelly. 

Being surrounded by them, and the ritual having^ 
been said, Sister ApoUonia received Holy Communion* 
All eyes were turned towards her. In a few moments 
she joined her hands and cried, loudly, but tremu- 
lously : ^^ Jesus ! Jesus ! My Grod, thou art all mine, 
and I am aU thine I " Father Dubuisson asked her 
how she felt. ^^ Perfectly weU^ Father," was her an- 
Bwer. Thanksgiving joy aboonded anumg aU ^Ao 
were witnesses of this marvelous physical change. 
One sisfcer has written that, upon seeing the dying 
girl's ghastly countenance suddenly assume the radi- 
ance of health, she herself nearly &inted away. 
Numerous prayers were offered, and the sister, strong 
for the first time in her life, was plied with many 
questions. In the first hour she was allowed to rise 
and dress, doing so without any assistance. She said 
that she felt, at the instant of her cure, ^^ as if I 
were lifted from the bed ; and a sensation of vigor, 
impossible to describe, ran through my whole frame. 
I was deUvered from aU suffering, and became filled 
with new life." Similar expressions are almost al* 
ways used by those who are thus cured. An imme- 
diate vigor and lightness of body comes, such as is 
felt in earliest youth. Before eating breakfast, which 
Sister ApoUonia did very heartily, she exhibited her 
strength by lifting rather heavy weights (twenty-eight 
poimds) without any quickening of the pulse. She 


hastened, with a rapid step, and no difficulty in 
breathing, through the bitter cold January air, to 
visit another sister, who was in a room somewhat 
removed. Her breakfast, at five o'clock, consisted of 
two crackers, a large slice of gingerbread, two apples, 
and a glass of sweetened wine. 

She responded to the beU for Meditation, and 
remained in the choir while Prime was chanted, and 
during Mass, kneeling for an hour. Then she took 
a second breakfast, and visited almost every part of 
the house. At nine o'clock the doctor called. He 
mastered his astonishment at the miracle revealed in 
her, and made a long examination which resulted in 
his pronouncing her to be in faultless health. But 
when he beheld her lift with ease the tweniy-eight 
pound weight with which she had many times that 
morning experimented, he grew pale to the lips, and 
his chin trembled. Nevertheless, much as he was 
awed by the healing of Christ, there was in his good 
heart a greater awe of his own personality, and a 
Protestant he remained. Sister ApoUonia now crossed 
the snow-covered yard, in the bleakest of cold air, to 
the Academy, where eighty children surroimded her 
and asked her questions, and made her lift over and 
over again the above-mentioned weight. She passed 
the entire day in a state of activity, receiving numer- 
ous visits, and attending the religious exercises, dur- 
ing which she knelt. A stalwart person might have 
been more fatigued than she was by such a variety of 
effort. Sister ApoUonia was of frail build, and below 
the middle height. 

The next day her labors were hardly less. She 


lifted aloft a fifty4wo pound weight, which had no 
ring in the top, only a crosspieoe, without much 
effort. Her strength was not the result of nervous 
excitement, for she could show the same amount dup- 
ing ihe following eight days, upon each of which this 
strength was carefully tested with the smaller weight. 
She resumed her relinquished duties at the Academy, 
going across the yard in heavy falls of snow. Her 
pulse was always r^^ular, and she had no pains, cough, 
or headache ; on the contrary, ^^ only the sweet sensa- 
tions of returning vigor." 

Mother Michaela Jenkins, the Superioress, had 
been incredulous when the wonderful news of the 
cure had been brought to her. She wrote of it : ^ I 
leaned my head against the vmll, internally bewail* 
ii« 80 predpitate a cumulation <rf sueh a lepcMrt. I 
thought it would only turn to our confusion, to pub* 
Esh such a thing. For, in my want of fiuth, I felt 
sure the cure would prove fedse, — that she would re- 
lapse into her old state, and die. The weather was 
then so cold that the pupils were not allowed to go 
to Mass on Sunday, that short distance from the 
church (or chapel), as there was then no interior or 
covered way from the Academy. It was during such 
weather that Sister ApoUonia came over to the Acad- 
emy, looking in the bloom of life, without even a 
shawl to protect her. The day previous I had seen 
her the very shadow of death, an emaciated skeleton, 
exhausted and speechless. Her sustenance for two 
weeks had been merely the wetting of her lips with 
teaspoonfuls of wine and water. While standing 
near me as I gazed at her, she perceived that her 


shoe was untied, and suddenly, with a strength and 
quickness of motion that took me by surprise, she 
stooped and tied it herself ; no tottering whatever, as 
would be natural to any one. Shortly afterwards I 
found Sister ApoUonia on the steps of the monas- 
tery, with her sleeves rolled up as high as they could 
go, and calling to another sister to come and help her 
^ scour the church before night.' She finished the 
job without any bad results, although the church was 
not heated, and the atmosphere was damp and frigid. 
I thought it most imprudent to let her do such 
things; that it was enough to throw her back into 
her former condition, and then, what would the world 
say of the miracle f I was but a few years in reli- 
gion at the time, and my faith was weak. It was the 
most perfect miracle I " When sixty-four years old. 
Sister ApoUonia was sent as Superior to Parkersburg, 
Virginia, and twice served there her three years as 
Mother of the community. She was hampered at first 
by all the perplexities of being within the immediate 
limits of the Civil War ; the forts even encroaching 
upon the convent grounds, and aU supplies being 
very difficult to obtain. She was finally recalled to 
Greorgetown, September 2, 1889, to end her long 
life of usefulness — having spent about seventy-two 
years in the monastery — in peace and rest. The 
anniversary of her cure has always been religiously 
observed. Nothing of the peculiarities of old age 
marred the blessed condition which made her life 
miraculous, after the first moment when, as a witness 
said, she had ^^ heard the footsteps of the Almighty." 


Becanae of the beautiful lesson of Sister Maiy 
Grenevieye King^s consecraticm to Teligkxn, wUch 
shows so well the wisdom of salmiitting erne's self to 
the oonyentaal life when <me has a vocation for li^ 
and becanse of her intimate friendship witli Sister 
ApoOonia, the following brief record is introdnoed 
here: — 

Mary King was bom on the Feast of St. Raphael^ 
1800. Her parents were models of Christian piety. 
Colonel Adam King, her &ther, as Sister Grenevieve 
always delighted to repeat, never uttered a word of 
detraction, nor suffered any uncharitable conversa- 
tion in his house. This principle was so weQ-known 
among his friends that his gueste were always on 
tiieir best behavior in his presence. 

Sister Grenevieve inherited the beantiful nature of 
her father. Perhaps there never was a heart more 
gentie and forgiving towards every one : imperfection 
in others did not lead her to any bitterness of thought 
or change of loving manner. The sight of cruelty 
of any kind caused her physical pain. Her kind 
impulses towards tiie poor, while she was stiU a child, 
were encouraged by her &ther, and even seconded by 
the cook of this ideal ^unily, who, a negress of g^uile- 
less soul, was so holy a woman that Father Fenwick, 
afterwards Bishop of Boston, used to say of her: 
^ She is too good for this world I " 

But when Sister Grenevieve entered the convent she 
was to cause her mother suffering that must have 
seemed to some people unnecessary. Ever since her 


birth, and that of a twin sister, her mother had been 
wanting in full intelligence, though always gentle and 
sweet. The poor invalid oould not submit willingly 
to this separation from her lovely child. After the 
young girl had gone, she more than once escaped 
from the house at night, and wandered, weeping and 
wailing, under the windows of the dormitory. Sister 
Genevieve listened to her mother's half-suppressed 
call without outward response, but with what prayers 
may be imagined. To those who have not had ex- 
perience in such cases, the daughter's persistence in 
separation from her suffering parent may appear fa- 
natical; but to those who know the history, great 
and beautiful, of community life, the mother's loving 
revolt would be gauged at its true worth, and that 
glad resignation which is certain to ensue would be 
confidently looked for. There is a splendid and re- 
assuring testimony to the fact that the holiest and 
profoundest happiness of parents and relatives is the 
knowledge that one who is so near to their hearts has 
also become so near to the Heart of Jesus. The re- 
ligious suffers also, if bravely, for the wholly human 
anguish of her family (whom she loves the more 
truly because she loves God more), while they refuse 
to sympathize with the consecration of her life to 
adoration and labor for the glory of Grod. Tender- 
ness so unchangeable as Sister Genevieve's must have 
caused a torture that purified like fire. At leng^ 
Mrs. King became entirely reconciled, and proudly 
happy in the vocation of her child. 

Sister Genevieve herself felt tempted to retreat 
from the convent a few days after she had entered it. 


Her modier^s distress, and the separation £rom lier 
loYing family, seemed more than she coold bear, al- 
though she was among young oompanions, and her 
dearest friend. Sister Apollonia, was of the number. 
She was only sixteen, and a fit of hcmiesickness al- 
most overcame her. She sent a message to Mother 
Teresa Lalor, — the Foundress, — whe was still Supe- 
rior, and experienced in all sacrifice and tender care 
for her spiritual daughters, saying that she wished 
for a private interview. At the appointed hour the 
little novice went to the Mother's room, and knocked 
for admittance. ** Come in, my child," said Mother 
Teresa. It was all she needed to say. At the sound 
of her maternal voice, trouble, agitation, and despond- 
ency left the heart of Sister Grenevieve, and left it 
forever. It is easy to believe that a voice which 
could inspire a despairing soul so richly with courage 
was steeped in prayers, not tears. 

The little novice became a most precious acquim- 
tion, both from a spiritual and a temporal point ci 
view. She sang beautifully, and her fine tones were 
never missing at the office, the litanies, the benedic- 
tion, the latter being in those days always sung by 
the sisters. She was a thorough and efficient teacher 
in the academy, and devoted, besides, much time to 
the ^^ benevolent school," where almost all the poor 
children of Georgetown were to be found. At thirty- 
three years of age she was sent ^' far west," to Kaskas- 
kia. Here she, in sympathy the tenderest, perhaps, 
of all the sisters, was for twenty4wo years Infir- 
marian in the convent, and for thirteen Infirmarian 
in both convent and academy, in a climate which at- 

I • I 








[ i 







taoked persons fiercely in winter and in summer, so 
that frequently two or three patients were at the point 
of death* Very often, both day and night she was 
at the bedside of the sick, and never [so the record 
reads] did any one receive a harsh word, a cold look^ 
or an unkind act from her. An expression of love 
was always on her face. The children had recourse 
to her in every little sorrow ; the novices looked for 
her smile and caresses. She exemplified St. Paul's 
words : ^^ Charity is patient." She had been inspired 
with a loving ability to be a Mother, and of a family 
infinitely larger than that of blood-relationship, though 
it could not be more tender. Sister Grenevieve's 
prayers were constant, and sometimes remarkably 
answered at the dose of remarkable devotions and 
evidences of &ith. In her seventy-first year she was 
elected Superior of the community at Dubuque, and to 
the last day of her life she succeeded in being a joy to 
those about her. 


Five weeks after the first cure of Sister Beatrice, 
the Convent of the Visitation joyfully received into 
its novitiate, March 18, 1825, Miss Wilhelmina 
Jones, a convert, who was then in her twenty-fourth 
year and was destined to become one of the most re- 
markable as well as cherished members of the comr 
munity, under the name of Sister Stanislaus. She 
was the daughter of Conmiodore Jacob Jones, of the 
United States, whose capture of the British war- 
sloop Frolic we referred to at the dose of our third 


As the Commodore was one of our most distm* 
goished American naval heroes, it is advisable here 
to retrace briefly some of the striking events in his 
career. In July, 1803, as a lieutenant, he was or- 
dered to the Mediterranean under Captain Baiii- 
bridge, who commanded the old frigate Philadelphia ; 
the daughter, then just turned of two years, remain* 
ing with her baby brother in their mother's care at 
New York. Lieutenant Jones proceeded with Bain- 
bridge to Tripoli, in the blockade of which port they 
took part with the Philadelphia. While they were 
chasing a Tripolitan vessel, one day, however, €kuAt 
own ship ran aground and was captured, with offioeia 
and crew, — three hundred and fifteen souls, all told, 
— who were at once imprisoned ashore. The Tripoli- 
tans then got the stranded frigate afloat once more 
and moored her in the harbor, with their flag at the 
masthead. The sight of their former consort in the 
control of the enemy exasperated the officers of the 
rest of our fleet, and they resolved to bum the Phila- 
delphia rather than let her serve under the crescent. 
It was young Decatur — Stephen Decatur, the cool, 
the intrepid, though till then unknown — who carried 
out this daring project, thereby winning fame and 
swift promotion to a captaincy. Taking with him 
only twenty-one men in small boats, he made his way 
through the hostile squadron at night, February 15, 
1804, boarded the Philadelphia, set her on fire ; and 
then, in full view, from the glare of the flames, rowed 
back ; safely r^aining his own vessel. 

This achievement, in turn, enraged the Bey of Tri- 
poli, who took his revenge by treating the American 


prisoners in his liands with great seyerity. They had 
at first been allowed to occupy the house of the for- 
mer American consul, where their confinement was 
not rigorous. But Harris, from whose Life of Com^ 
modore Bainbridge these and the details that follow 
are derived, narrates how, two weeks after the burn- 
ing of the frigate, the Bey transferred his captives to 
a cold, damp dungeon in the City Castle, which had 
but one opening for light and air; an iron-grated 
opening in the roof. Here, closely guarded and ** en- 
tombed," they were compelled to stay, throughout the 
sixteen months more of their captivity, albeit they did 
not yield to this rude necessity without making sev- 
eral energetic attempts at escape. 

** lurst," says Harris, ** they imdertook to dig an 
underground passage, but had not advanced far when 
they perceived the utter impracticability of such a 
project, as well from the length of the way to be ex- 
cavated as on account of the presence of guards sta- 
tioned along the shore, at its intended terminus, 
whence they would have to swim to the American 
ships." Again, one night, ^^ Captain Bainbridge and 
Lieutenant Jones determined to explore if possible 
an apartment adjoining their prison. With this view 
they opened a passage through a thick wall, entered 
the room, and discovered that the floor of the upper 
story was broken away, and near the ceiling was a 
window which, from its great height, was supposed to 
be beyond reach. This our prisoners resolved to 
make their passage of escape, climbing thence to the 
rampart fronting the harbor, and, by means of a rope, 
descending seventy feet to the water. Their plan 


^bai was to swim for a small Tossel standing m 
Tiew, take her hj sniprise, and trust to FroTidaioe 
to be caught up by onr own squadron, onnsing m 
the distance. None but good and strong swmunecm 
could engage in this enterprise, and the delay oeo»- 
sioned by their descending the rope in soooessiati 
wonld increase the risk of discoTery. As, ho wev tar, 
this appeared their only chance of escape, it was de- 
dded on. Operations were b^on, and in three or 
f onr days, they had filed throogh the iron bars of tiie 
window, so that they could be, in a few minutes, re- 
moved. Their sheets and blankets were made intD 
ropes ; and at midnight, when all appeared quiet, the 
iron bars were cautiously removed and the prisoners^ 
passing through, crawled in single file along the non- 
part. They had nearly reached the designated gum, 
to which the rope was to be &stened, when the reBeC 
guard was seen approaching. A halt was instantly 
commanded. Our men for a few moments stood 
silent and anxious ; but finally, concluding that they 
had not been observed, retraced their steps, retreat- 
ing hastily through the window ; and, replacing the 
iron bars, returned to their prison." It afterward be- 
came dear to them that, in spite of their disappoint- 
ment at the time, this frustration of their pbn was 
fortunate, as the ship to which they meant to swim 
had weighed anchor that very night, and sailed away. 
Notwithstanding their frightful su£Perings from 
aeir dose hnmZnent witS: limited si^ 
tie air or light, and no means of mRintainiTig dean- 
liness or securing refreshment, amid the heats of the 
African summer, and exposed to the withering influ- 


enoe of the desert-winds, the prisoners yet made no 
other attempt at self-deliverance mitil some months 
later. Then, learning that a British war-vessel was 
expected in port, bringing a new consul, they decided 
to try to reach her by cutting an underground passage 
to the beach, and from there swimming out to the 
frigate. This work was carried forward with great 
spirit, and seemed to give good promise of success ; 
but just as the men were digging their way under 
the rampart, they unfortunately struck into a vault 
beneath; and, the superstructure caving in, further 
^ort in that direction had to be abandoned. Their 
repeated &ilure left them, at last, without hope of 
escape by their own exertions. Finally, in August, 
1804, Commodore Preble's squadron opened a fierce 
bombardment of the city, and in a second attack si- 
lenced the Tripolitan forts and batteries ; at the same 
time exposing the prisoners to new perils, since the 
fire poured into the City Castle was very heavy. One 
shot struck within a foot of Captain Bainbridge's 
head, throwing down a large mass of d^ris and giv- 
ing him a severe ankle wound. Nor was it imtil ten 
months after this, even, that a treaty of peace was 
made between the United States and the Barbary 
powers. Lieutenant Jones and the captain, after the 
release of the captives, came home, landing at Hamp- 
ton ; were received in Richmond, Fredericksburg, and 
Washington by military and civic processions, and 
were treated with all the honors accorded to popular 

Hardly was this triumphal progress ended, than the 
war-worn man was called upon to &oe a trial sharper 


linn any he had yet endnred. What noald hs¥e 
been the chief hiqipineas of his honiMietiini was de- 
nied hnn by the sodden extinction <rf the light of hia 
household. As he was on his way to New Yosk, he 
saw in a daily newspaper the annoaneeraent that hia 
young wife was dead. 

WiThehnina and her little brother wete l eee i t ed 
into the home <rf their aont, Mrs. Swartoot, and wdl 
eared for. Seven years later, Ldentenant Jonesi in 
one <rf the brairest seapfights on record, while in ooea- 
mand of the United States war^loop Waqp, e apiui ed 
the Frolic after a combat of forty-fire minntea. In 
strange repetition of Ms former experienoe, he and Ua 
sloop were taken, the same day, by the powerful %ii- 
ish seventy-siz gun frigate Poictiers; but his oiwa 
performance had secured him national repate. When 
he again returned. Congress voted him a qpeeial re- 
ward of twenty-five thousand dollars, together with 
a gold medal ccnnmemorative <rf \6a viotny. At 
Charleston, S. C, he took prominent part in the pub- 
lic festival offered to him with the other naval wor- 
thies, Bainbridge, Decatur, and HulL His native 
state. New Jersey, presented him a rich piece of plate. 
New York and Philadelphia gave him swords. The 
Massachusetts (jenenJ Assembly, the Council of Sa- 
vannah, the Order of the Cincinnati and other bodies, 
sent testimonials to him and to his fellow-heroes as 
being ^^ each so just, so valiant, and so honorable, that 
each may boast he knows no better man." 

This no doubt threw over the girlhood of Wilhel- 
mina, then but eleven years old, a peculiar radiance, 
though a radiance wholly mimdane. It is evident 


that she possessed a fimmess of character and a con- 
soientiousneBS resembling her father's ; for she was not 
spoiled by this glamour of success and fame. Having 
entered the French boarding-school of a Madame 
Binse, in New Tork, she worked hard and made an 
admirable record in her classes ; emerging at sixteen 
well educated and accomplished. In Madame Binse's 
&mily, also, she had been much impressed with the 
beauty of Catholic faith, well exemplified as it was 
in their conduct She had there met the Rev. B. 
Fenwick, S. J. (afterward Bishop of Boston), and had 
formed a strong desire to be received into the Church. 
Commodore Jones, being still a widower, keeping 
no establishment, and expecting at any time to be or- 
<tered to searduty again, readily assented to a request 
made by Dr. Thomas Ewell and his wife, that Wilhel- 
mina should live with them for a while. Here she 
stayed for eighteen months. Her genial manners, her 
beauty, and, perhaps even more, a noble generosity of 
nature, -Bhown eapedaUy in her systematic charity 
to the poor and suffering, — won her many warm 
friends. Many tempting offers of marriage, also, 
were made to her. Yet even when her own affections 
were aroused and seemingly captivated, an impulse 
unaccountable to her then, but irresistible, led her to 
reject all such offers. She actually became engaged 
to marry; yet the idea of marrying, and even the 
presence of her affianced, proved to be intolerable. 
This repulsion was so strong that it eventually forced 
her away from all her suitors, and she afterward un- 
derstood and accepted it with unbounded gratitude as 
an inspiration of the Divine Spouse that she should 
dedicate herself wholly to Him. 


After mature reflection and prayer she dedded to 
aeoept the CSaAolic {aiih, and was received into tihe 
Chnich, widi entire opennesB and with great a|qMi«nt 

Bot there now ensned a idngnhur and a aonning 
ihoo^ not an actoal ccmtradictcny eiHSode in her his- 
toiy. OHnmodore Jones no sooner heard of the step 
she had taken than he expressed great anger at what 
he called her folly, and at race withdrew her from all 
Gatholic inflnences ; taking her to the eastern shore of 
Chesapeake Bay, where, among affectionate relativeB^ 
she was plied by than with eveiy imaginable aiga- 
ment or influence that ooold be counted on to win her 
back to the Episcopal ChurdL Young, timid, fearing^ 
diat she might be led into fatal error by opposing die 
wishes iA her family, she at length yielded, acting with 
iq^right heart and earnest mind. To her father'a 
gratificatimi, she once more became an Episcopaliaii. 

The Commodore, meanwhile, had married a Miaa 
Lnsby ; and having been appointed, in 1822, naval 
commissioner, he established his home in Cre or g etown » 
idiere WiThelmina and her brother came to live with 
him. The brother and his cousin, John Swartont, 
both attended Greorgetown, where they soon became 
Catholics and were, straightway after that event, re- 
moved from the coU^e by their parents. Young 
Jones had even expressed a strong wish to stody ix« 
the priesthood ; but was diverted from Uus, and en- 
tered the navy, where he became a lieutenant. 

Wilhelmina, thus restored to Greorgetown, and 
learning that her old friend Father Fenwick was at 
the college, was seized with a strcmg desire to convert 


him from Catiholioity. From their meetings in New 
Tork, she retained an affectionate recollection of him, 
and, feeling now that she had been opportunely saved 
from the dangers of ^* popery," she was anxious to 
rescue him from the same. After some time she mus- 
tered her resolution to enter on this mission. He 
listened kindly, and patiently discussed several points 
of doctrine with her. But he did not yield, as she 
had hopefully expected he would. She repeated her 
visits, always with the same result ; and then suddenly 
began to fear that she herself might be overcome in 
the discussion, and shaken from her present belief. 
Just when she had decided to avoid further peril of 
this kind, by not seeing him again, she chanced to 
meet him one day while calling upon Mother Agnes 
Brent. The subject was resumed. During this con- 
versation, Father Fenwick, deeply grieved at some 
objection Wilhehnina had brought, simply looked at 
her and exclaimed sorrowfully: ** Wilhelmina ! " 
That look, that word, — reminding her, perhaps, of 
the glance of Our Lord on Peter, — smote her heart ; 
and she burst into tears. The scales had fallen from 
her eyes ; and once again, from that hour, she was to 
become a child of the Church, — this time, forever. 

Her &ther seems not to have been notified of this 
reconversion, immediately ; perhaps because of her 
dread that the wrath he had once already displayed 
might be renewed. Mother Agnes thus recalled the 
way in which it was made known to him, as the cir- 
cumstances had been told to her. One morning in 
Lent, 1825, she was missed from the break&st-table. 
As her &ther never enjoyed the meal unless she were 


thoEOy he made 8<mie oomment on her ah wn o e, 
Thereapcm his wi£e — Wflhefanma's rtepmodier — 
remarked : ^ Yoa may be Bore she has gone after tliaft 
Mr. Fenwick at the Catholio church.'' 

It seems to have been, at that tune, a point of 
persistenoe with non-Cathidics to alhide to a 
always as ^ Mr/' instead of as ^ Father." Mrs. Jones 
had barely announced her sormise as to her step- 
daughter's whereabouts, when Wilhehnina herself en- 
tered the room. 

^ Where have you been, my dau^ter ? " the Com- 
modore demanded. 

M To church, papa," was the answer. 

""To the Catholic church?" he asked. 

^And do you not know that you are acting in 
opposition to my injuncticms? I could not allow efen 
a CaAdic servant to remain imder my rooL" Then, 
breaking into unccmtrolled rage, stamping his foot, he 
cried out : ^ If you vsill be a Catholic, quit my hooseu 
Let me not see you again I " 

Wilhehnina had never seen him so infuriated ; had 
never heard him speak in this way. Theold hero had 
rashly allowed himself to invade his own hearth-side 
with the methods of the quarter-deck and seamen's 
discipline. But his daughter quietly gave way to his 
command, having already acquired a higher concep- 
tion than his, of discipline and obedience. Taking up 
the bonnet she had just laid down, she put it on and 
quitted her home, never to return. 

Thus cast out, she went to Father Fenwick, nrfio 
found shelter for her under the roof of Mrs. King, a 


lelative of Sister G^evieve King. But Wilhelmina's 
one wish, now, was to take up her abode and her part 
in the convent. Father Fenwick asked her, laugh- 
ingly, whether she could wash or scrub. ^^Well, 
Father, I can learn," she replied : ^' I can try." He 
then suggested that it would be better for her to teach 
the convent pupils French and music, in both of which 
branches her proficiency was above the average. The 
question of her real vocation for cloister life having 
been well considered, she was at length admitted to 
the novitiate on the eve of the feast of the glorious 
St. Joseph, March 18, 1825. 

And now what more inconsistent, yet more natural 
and to be expected, than that her father, the Commo- 
dore, hearing what she had done, should come hurrying 
to the convent to implore her to return to him? This 
is precisely what he did; assuring her that he had 
never meant to send her away permanently from his 
house ; that he had spoken hastily, not expecting to 
be taken literally, and so on. The poor Commodore, 
in his sorrow, threw himself on his knees before her. 
He begged her not to abandon him, but to come back 
and be the comfort of his old age. (He was then 
fifty-five, and did in fact live to be eighty.) So 
afiBicted was Wilhelmina at this sight, and at his 
piteous words, that she was on the point of acceding 
to his entreaty, at least for a few days or weeks. But 
the matter was too momentous for her to decide, and 
she referred it to Mother Agnes. The Superioress, 
foreseeing that, once at home again for a short time, 
the young novice would be exposed to the same remon- 
strances, influences, and struggles which had formerly 


been bro u g ht to bear againrt her figfli, — to liiepal 
of her vocation, and widi no real happineaa to Imt 
fiiher, from so brief a oonoeBsion, — advised her nol 
to go. Wilhfthnina oomplied wiUi this counsel ; at 
thongfa todo socosther aflhaipstmgg^wiihheraini 

A few ni^its after this, a phenomenon occ u rred and 
a demonstrati<m bq;an, which are most faidicroaB ae 
matters for record in thb history, and would lunre 
been eqoallj lan^iable at the time, had tiiej not tlien 
involved a considerable threat of disorder and dang;er. 
Hie i^pearanoe of a ghost in the neighborhood of tiie 
convent was rumored, and even observed. Weed 
went about that this was the g^iost of Wilhebmna's 
dead mother, and phnsible witnesses deelared tliaft 
she was seen to pass wailing and wandering aioond 
the walls, and was heard beseeching her errant dang^ 
ter to return to her old church and her home. Soon, 
great crowds gathered to behold and listen to tidi 
obliging apparition, which had come forth at just the 
right time to create a ^^ sensational " effect. 

Men stood in the street in a compact mass ; hun- 
dreds of them, as it seemed to the children of the 
Academy, who gazed out of the upper windows 
timorously, wondering at the unwonted crowd and dis- 
turbance. Carriages and buggies came, full of ladies, 
and drew up all around, the whole assembty waiting 
intently for the ghost to promenade, or for anything 
else that might kindly please to happen for their 
entertainment. The ghost, when visible, was duly 
dad in a shroud. But, whether the people always 
saw it or not, they at intervals joined in shouts of 


upbraiding, addressed to Miss Jones within the walls; 
informing her that she was much to blame for having, 
by her misguided course, disturbed her mother's rest 
in the grave. 

Then they would all cry in chorus, under the win- 
dows : ^^ Wilhelmina Jones, come out I Wilhelmina 
Jones, come out I Come • • • our I COME • . • 

This invitation, advice, or command — which, 
whether interpreted as any one or as all three of these 
things, was both impertinent and wholly irresponsible 
— they vociferated over and over, with great empha- 
sis ; afterward dispersing and retiring to their various 
accustomed forms of employment or idleness. It is 
to be hoped that, having finished this singular exer- 
cise, they were able to assure themselves of their own 
sanity and to certify to it, before going to sleep. 

That a large crowd of American citizens, who re- 
garded themselves as free and enlightened, and as 
cherishing a great respect for the civil and religious 
liberty of their fellow men and women, should have 
been capable of gathering in this way — at the beck 
of a supposed ghost — to hoot and howl before the 
walls of a quiet convent dwelling, inhabited by re- 
ligious women, and studious little children and young 
girls, is one of the curiosities of American existence 
in our Bepublic at the dose of the first quarter of 
this nineteenth century. 

And yet, in the closing years of the last quarter of 
this same century, we find many people, who parade 
themselves as far more intelligent than their predeces- 
sors of 1826, publicly hooting and howling against 


ocmTentB, against freedom of religioii, and fraedom of 
ednoatkm, in preciflely the same style; eioept Aat^ 
jngfaitaH of arriving as women in boggieB, or as mm 
standing on the street, they band themaelveB in 
^leagues" of higk-soonding name, with paaswofda, 
secret oaths, often with swords wfaieh they bomhaati- 
cally dechire that ihey are ready to draw against 
Cadiolics, if Catholics continue to take part in popu- 
lar government and in the hig^iest edncation of tlwir 
own children. 

It is rather odd that these anti-CalhdIio folk of 
1826, who stretched their own sense of personal lib- 
erty to the point of license, in such nproar at the 
Georgetown convent's doors, shoold have t h o u|^ 
diemselves entitled to abridge and annul Miss Wil> 
behnina Jones's personal liberty ; and to ooeroe hat 
into leaving the peaceful home and quiet, rdigioai 
life of her choice. It is also curious that, sinoe Aeir 
objection to Catholic faith and convent estaUishmente 
was based on their opposition to ^« mummery'* and 
^ superstition," they should have allowed themsdves to 
be misled by the mummery of a make-believe gboai, 
and by the superstition that their momentary self -wiU 
ought to rule the existence of every one around them. 

Miss Jones heard all the noise, the unseemly tu- 
mult of her rough-and-ready advisers below the win- 
dows; but the only effect it had upon her was to 
cause her to say to the sisters that it would be beet 
to let it pass unnoticed. As for the supposed com- 
plaining ghost of her mother, this was soon punctured 
and exploded. 

After some four or five nights of this kind of dis- 


tarbance, some of the Catholics of Gteorgetown deter- 
mined to test the mature of the apparition. They took 
position on Lafayette Street, just opposite the con- 
vent, at dusk, provided with pistols and hickory dubs. 
When the ghost came into sight, and found itself 
closely pursued by these investigators, it was no longer 
satisfied with ^^ walking," — which is the approved 
pace of ghosts. It rem, / The investigators ran after 
it, and caught it. The ghost turned out to be a man, 
who begged abjectly that his name should never be 
disclosed. He was let off by his captors ; and from 
that moment the spectral manifestations ceased. 

Another stratagem was soon resorted to, with the 
object of inducing Wilhelmina Jones to come out of 
the enclosure. The ghost having proved ineffectual, 
a serving-maid of Commodore Jones's household came 
to the convent grate, very late one night, just after 
Matins, askiag for Miss Jones ; saying that her father 
was very ill, perhaps dying, and wished to see his 
daughter immediately. Wilhelmina came down to the 
grate, saw the messenger, and had no suspicion what- 
ever that the statement as to his illness could be &]se. 
But ^^ I will go upstairs and consult Mother Agnes,'' 
she said. Having done so, she waited in expectation 
of some further word or summons. None came. She 
soon afterward ascertained that her father was in his 
usual health. 

Her brother. Lieutenant Jones, was exasperated 
against her and against the convent, because of her 
remaining there stead&stly, and threatened — as 
others had done before — to bum the convent. But 
his incendiarinn, fortanately, ended in word8,-not 


e?ai in moka This broiher 1 i wilfnanfc» — 
tionedon a pterioiis page, had onoe beeoaie a Cktibofie 
and wiflhed to study iat the fakathnoil 8sb»- 
q[iientfy, his own son took iqp die holy 
wliich his fatVpT had tff"*^ his faai^ The 
Ldeotenant Jones's son Wfi WT W a sseohff 

Thns, while GHnmodore Jones tiied to 
Catholicity in his son and dan^^iter, and so Q e oc d ed for 
awhile in die case of his son, his grandnn 
priest, and his dangliter, TV'ilhehnina, 
nsefol and devoot Tisitandine. 

Wnhdmina's love and soKdtnde for her fsflisr and 
brother always remained deep and tender, notwith- 
standing their hanihniRwi towards her. She pnfed 
constantly for their conversion. In die case d 
fsthpT, her prayers were rewarded only hj^ his 
plete reconciliation to her acceptance of thefaidi and 
her choice of a rdigioas career. In the case of her 
brother it is important to observe that he finally i»» 
tamed to the Cfanrch, and that his son, as we havn 
said, entered the priesthood. 

On the 15th of August, 1825, Wilhefanina Jones 
received the veil and her religioos name of Sister Maij 
Staniftlans. On the same day in 1826, she pronooneed 
her solemn vows. She died in the commnnity, Sep- 
tember 11, 1879, at the age of seventy-seven years 
and nine months ; having been professed fifty4hree 

There is so much to be said of her extraordinary 
character and works, and of a miraculous cure ac- 
corded to her, that we must give a distinct chapter to 
the further description of her life, if only in outline. 



^^ S18TEB Stannt '' was the affectionate nickname 
by which Sister Stanislaus Jones passed always among 
her Yisitandine companions, even in her venerable and 
sweet old age. It seems happily to fit the endearing 
nature and quality of this nun, who, although the 
present writers never had the happiness of seeing her, 
is somehow just as vivid, as real to us and charming 
to contemplate, as to those who dwelt long with her 
and knew her welL 

From the Gteorgetown MSS. may be quoted the 
following brief summary of her character, and tribute 
to it: ^^The novitiate of our dear Sister Stanislaus 
was passed in the faithful practice of every obser- 
vance. With a generosity that knew no boimds she 
surrendered her heart to grace. In the convent, a 
model of exactitude and fervor ; at the academy, de- 
voting her mind, with its rich and varied store of 
treasures, her brilliant talents and accomplishments, to 
the high mission which led her onward and upward* 
While she cultivated the minds and developed the 
talents of her pupils, she attracted their hearts to 
Grod ; and numbers have testified to her holy influence 
both during their school-days and in after life, by 
their virtuous example as well as by the faithful and 
loving correspondence they always entertained with 
their dear teacher." 

She was for several years closely associated in cer- 
tain charges with Sister Michaella Jenkins, afterward 
Superior. While Sister Stanislaus was Directress of 
the Academy, Sister Michaella was her first aid. So» 


too, in the miisie olasB. Hence there sprang up be- 
tween them a strong mutual confidence and friendship. 
Sister Stanny devoted herself chiefly and with great 
ability to conducting classes in French, Italian, 
Spanish, Greiman, Latin, and music Great though 
her intellectual and scholarly attainments were, — acon^ 
stant object of admiration, indeed, from others, — she 
did not pride herself upon them. On the contrary, 
she was so simple and unostentatious in the employ- 
ment of her learning, that none of her pupils, whether 
Protestant or Catholic, could iaSl to be impressed by 
the sanctity and unselfishness of their teacher. She 
scarcely ever lost a moment of time, and kept her 
knitting always on hand to fill up the intervals be- 
tvreen lessons. 

Her obedience was an obedience of faith ; prompt, 
unfaltering and unrestricted. ^^She was apparently 
equal," wrote Mother Michaella Jenkins, ^in love 
and devotion to every Superior, showing or evincing 
no preference." Her tranquillity, mingled with dili- 
gence and zeal in all duties, had been acquired, never- 
theless, in spite of her natural disposition, which was 
high-tempered. But of this natural temper she rarely 
betrayed any sign, except by a flush of the cheek or a 
look or tone more serious than usual ; and even for 
these hardly perceptible, almost imaginary jbulures of 
patience she would fall on her knees and ask pardon, 
— sometimes calling herself, in half playful yet sincere 
remorse, ^^ Holy Father's littie snapping turtie ; " 
and then, in a moment, the episode was over. ^^ How 
beautiful was her religious life I — all bright I " 
Mother Michaella continues, in the letter from which 


we have just made extract. ^^ She never complained of 
what she had to do, and received very little praise or 
sympathy ; but she did n't seek it. Every one believed 
her au jfait in all she taught, and that it cost her no 
fatigue ; yet she was always delicate, and seldom en- 
tirely free from suffering. But she never complained. 
Bright as a bird all the time, she never sought rest ; 
finding joy and happiness in eveiy duty. I now think 
it so wonderful. I never knew her to consult appetite 
in anything, or to think or speak of what she liked. 
Her faith was beautifuL She could so readily believe 
eveiy pious thing in the lives of the saints or other- 

«( For many years Sister Stanislaus had charge of 
the musical department, both vocal and instrumental ; 
guiding also the sacred music of the church choir, and 
joinmg her voice to the sweet strains her hands drew 
forth from the organ in praise of her Maker. 

''In her exterior there was a rare union of seem- 
ingly opposite qualities. With the refinement and 
polish of a lady of the world, there was the genial, 
loving grace of a child. Her conversation, calm and 
gentle, was yet animated with a certain ardor and vi- 
vacity that rendered her words more attractive and 
penetrating. Her heart recollected in Ghxl, or rather 
dwelling ever in the Heart of Jesus, — she seemed 
little to r^ard what passed around her; yet when 
consolation or assistance was needed, [her] charity 
never &iled to dictate the right word and the right 
action." An exquisite instance of this inspired 
faculty was when a postulant, suffering from a violent 
toothache, came in to breakfost in the infirmazy one 


marmngj and showed great oonfasion and anxiety lest 
the sisters sitting at table with her should be disgnsfeed 
by her swollen and discolored &oe. Sister Stanny, on 
rising from table, went to her, caressed her tenderly, 
and said in a gentle tone: ^My dear child, your face 
IS not so braised and swollen as the &ce of oar liord 

The words and the act broaght tears to the eyee of 
the safferer, and left an indelible impression of sweei- 
nees in her heart 

Her Toioe was habitaally soft and soothing; and, 
even when oppressed with pain herself, as she fre- 
qnently was, she thought fint of her ailing risten, 
comforted them, and breathed silent aspirations for 
them, which seemed always to bring them relief. 
This trait of sympathy was probably inherited, at least 
in part, from her father, whose generoas and gentle 
treatment of his woanded enemies in battle has been 
enlogiced by American historians. To him she at- 
tribnted her own actiye interest in the poor and 
ignorant; her love for them. She took delight in 
teaching the children of the poor, and little negroes 
received from her as much attention as though they 
had been the brightest offspring of rich and favored 
educated people. Besides her regular Sunday in- 
struction for them, she kept a night class in which the 
catechism was explained ; and this the aged as well as 
the younger men and women eagerly attended. Deal- 
ing with such folk, so near the level of the animnl^ 
was hard work, often positively repulsive; but the 
seal of Sister Stanny for it never flagged. 

Nor does the list of her tasks and services end heNu 


She was often called upon to give ^^ retreats" to 
secular ladies who wished to spend a few days in the 
retirement of meditation and prayer at the convent ; 
as also to Catholic pupils of the Academy. ^^ Num- 
bers presented themselves at the convent parlor to 
receive the words of life from her Hps ; and only Grod 
can know the marvels she wrought, the many sinners 
she brought back to Grod ; how many she sweetly led 
to the sacraments, after years of absence." On this 
point, one secular lady wrote : ^^ It would seem pre- 
sumptuous to speak of her life as a religious, except 
that its benign, useful and beautiful influence on 
those outside the convent might not be so well known 
except to the witnesses of those effects outside. It is 
scarcely possible to estimate the weight of her ex- 

We shall specify only one instance ; and this one 
because it is external and obvious enough to claim at 
least the curious attention of that interesting person- 
age, ^^ the general reader." A young lady in Greorg^- 
town (whose name is given simply as ^^ Fanny "} had 
a strong wish to become a Catholic ; but her mother 
was averse to this, chiefly for the reason that it might 
hurt her prospects of marrying well ; since, among the 
cultivated and well-to-do, Protestants then formed the 
vast majority, and Fanny's people were of that order. 
Sister Stanny — knowing well that the securing of a 
soul's true happiness in the faith is not a matter of 
violence or over-persuasion, or of exciting dissension 
in families — advised Fanny to redouble her conft- 
dence in Grod and the Mother of our Lord ; and to 
offer up three Ave Marias or Hail Marys to the 


Blessed Virgin, daily, for the means and opportunity 
of aocompliahing her religious aim peacefully. Three 
or four years passed; the young lady continually 
offering her prayers for this intention. At last, that 
very power of social prestige which had been opposed 
to her was brought roimd to her aid. SefEor Calde- 
ron de la Barca, the Spanish minister at Washington, 
fell in love with her and wished to make her his wife. 
She accepted him, and the match was considered by 
her family most desirable. But as SeiSor Calderon 
de la Barca was a man of rank and the representative 
of Spain, he was obliged to ask the consent of hia 
sovereign, who gave it only on condition that the pro- 
posed bride should become a Catholic. Thereupon 
social prestige and worldly prudence in the persons of 
Fanny's family were ardently in favor of her entering 
the faith she had so long wished to profess. 

She, with their full consent, repaired to the con- 
vent, made a ^^ retreat " there under Sister Stanny's 
direction ; was then baptized ; took her First Com^ 
munion; received confirmation; and, by a special 
dispensation from the Archbishop, was married in the 
convent chapel, where she had so long repeated her 
Hail Mary for the very object of becoming a Catholic. 

^ Coincidence," the so^cfdled wise folk of the mate- 
rialistic sort will call it. Well, Flato said, '^Grod 
works by geometry eternally;" and we Christians, 
with a faith quite equal to his but more acutely dis- 
cerning, may truthfully declare: ^^Grod works eter- 
nally by coincidences." 

These are not without a deep and spiritual mean- 
ing, any more than geometiy is. 


Sister Stanny's wide-reaohing sympathy caused her 
to be the leader or prompter of a movement to permit 
the presence and the 'services of Catholic chaplains 
in the Penitentiaries of the several States of the 
Union. She saw, once, a despairing letter from a 
prisoner in the Albany penitentiary to one of his 
friends. She wrote him, therefore, a letter wherein 
she tried to teach him resignation. This letter was 
lent to another prisoner, then to another; and so, 
before long, Sister Stanny found herself in corre- 
spondence with a number of convicts. Thereupon she 
aroused the interest of an influential friend, and 
through this friend suggested to the Bishop of Albany 
that he appoint a chaplain. It was done. The late 
Father Noethen was named to the charge; and a 
vast and beautiful work of charity was thus inaugu- 

It appears to us very well worth while for those who 
have never informed themselves as to convent life, the 
function of monastic orders, the spiritual and the 
practical charitable influences emanating from them, 
to consider these few simple facts which we have just 
set down. To any honest mind it must, we think, be 
patent from these facts that convents and monasteries 
do not wish their inmates to be miserable and forlorn ; 
that sisters who give their lives to Christ do not there- 
by seek to promote discord among families, or to 
oppose marriage and giving in marriage; and that, 
above all, the long years and concentred energy of 
devotion, prayer, and spiritual cultivation in secluded, 
enclosed communities are not wasted to the rest of the 

^ Y^l&g id TUAv Maria: Notre Duaa, Indiana. 


world, bat lesnlt in raying oat endlesB wstbb of 
UfiBsed, helpfol, immediate, and endaring good in- 

Beservoirs of gpiritoal force, stored xxp for all the 
needs of the troubled world, are jost as essential toir 
the daily wel&re of mankind, as those in which a 
sapply of water is kept to cleanse and allay the thirst 
of cities. And the reservoirs of spiritoal force have 
the farther advantage that they provide for the 
eternal as well as the transient welbre of the race. 

When Sister Stanislaus had been twelve yean 
beneficently active in the convent, indications that she 
was soff ering from cancer in the breast aroaaed 
alarm and dread in the commanity. After moeh 
oonsaltation with physicians, her saperiors deoided 
tibat she oaght to go to Baltimore, in order to be 
placed ander the care of Dr. Nathan Smith, then a 
celebrated surgeon there. An out sister accompanied 
her thither. It was, of course, a trying experience 
for her to leave the quietude of the convent, with its 
regular religious duties and accustomed tasks, even 
though she was to be sheltered in the Visitation house 
at Baltimore. That house was then feeble; limited 
in numbers and resources. But Commodore Jones 
was in Baltimore at the time ; he employed a nurse 
to imt upon his daughter, and paid her board and 

It was necessary to undertake an operation, in 
order to remove the cancer ; and there v^as question 
whether she would survive the ordeal. About an 
hour before the operation — so Sister Eleonora, of the 
convent there, wrote afterward — Sister Stanny knelt 


in a corner of the infirmary, making an offering to 
Grod of an that she was about to suffer, and of her life 
also, if it pleased Him to take that. When the 
omcial moment came, the other sisters knelt before 
the Blessed Sacrament, in the next room, which was 
their chapel, and prayed for her ; yet they did not 
hear a moan or so mnch as a sigh from her. During 
the operation, while the surgeon made his deep 
incision, she held in her hand a tiny picture of the 
Sacred Heart, and neither flinched nor betrayed fear. 

The blood spurted forth from the cut ; and two or 
three little specks of it fell upon the picture that she 
held, remaining on it, just below the wound in the 
Sacred Heart, as though they had been designedly 
painted there and were a part of it. Every one was 
struck by this little feet, — another ^^ coincidence," in 
which the blind or the squint-eyed may not discover 
any serious significance, — and by the ciroumstanoe 
that the little painting had not been spoiled, but had 
been perfected, by this accident. Her brother, the 
young Lieutenant Jones, — who, as we have said, had 
been violently opposed to her entering the Visitation 
Order, and had gratuitously offered to bum the 
Greorgetown convent, — so highly appreciated the 
importance of his sister's blood having thus been shed 
upon the picture of the Sacred Heart apd having 
become incorporated with it, that he had the picture 
encased in a gold locket, and thereafter wore it as an 
amulet over his own heart. This same brother, as 
we have also mentioned, returned to the bosom of 
Holy Church, and his son took holy orders as a priest. 

While she was in Baltimore at this time (1837}, 


Gmimodore Jones begged of Aiohbiflliop Wliitfidd 
diat she might be permittod to dine at his lioiiae. 
The Archbishop consented, and himself came as m 
guest. This dinner was the occasion of m oomplata 
reconcilement on the part of the old Commodoire and 
his son with Sister Stanny's monastic retirement. 

Sister Stanny maintained an intense devotion to tlie 
Sacred Heart of Jesus; and during the last thirty 
jrears of her life she received Hofy Communitm eveij 
day ; allowing no illness or suffering to interfere witb 
her fasting preparatory to receiving the sacred bread, 
even though the sisters in her hours of ilhieBa be- 
sought her to take a drop of water after midnighi, 
when the ante-communion fiist begins. 

Faber says : ^ Show me a grateful soul, and I will 
show you one that is holy." Gratitude was a pro- 
nounced trait in Sister Stanny, towards Grod and 
towards eyery one who showed kindness to her in 
health or sickness, or who were spiritual benefaetoira. 
So, gratefully, she lived and died, though enduring 
much distress from a nervous malady, for a number 
of years before she passed away. An impressiye 
point, it seems to us, in this holy conventual existence 
of hers is that, as she reconciled her brave, auto- 
cratic and disciplinarian, yet insubordinate, wanior 
&ther and her stormy brother to her life of religious 
peace, so she also united in herself the gentle traits 
and the impassioned impulses she had inherited, but 
consented that the grace of GaA should transfuse 
them into a nobler existence, radiant with supernatu- 
ral light. 




Before these events, — in 1826, indeed, — a quaint 
little book, now rare, was published at New GUtven, 
which, at the dawn of the national period in our lit- 
erature, gave sundry glimpses of home travel that are 
still of interest^ It was written by a Protestant lady, 
who described a call made by her at the Georgetown 
convent; and her brief account is worth quoting here, 
to show how the institution impressed a wholly unin- 
stmcted outsider, who approached it in a spirit of 
good wilL 

^^From the college I went to the convent," she 
says. "My curiosity was wrought up to the highest 
pitch as I traced the uneven streets leading from the 
ooflege to the convent. I felt what Addison said, 
viz. : * Everything new or uncommon raises pleasure.' 
I had often read of nuns and convents, but now I was 
to be gratified in fulL ... A few minutes brought 
me to the door of the convent, at the west end of the 
town. Here, as directed, I opened the door without 
knocking, and, entering a small passage, pulled a bell, 
which brought a nun to the inside door, when I in- 
formed her of my business. She directed me to step 
into a small room on my left, which she called the 
* speaking-room.' After waiting here a few minutes, 
two other nuns approached, on the opposite side of an 
iron grate, which separated them from the world and 
me ! I had, however, a full view of them. They 

I Sketches o/Hietory, Life and Manners in the Uniied States. By a 
Tnyeller. New HaTen : Pzinted for the Author, 1820. 



drew up close to the ban, saloted, and omvened ii 
teima <^ tiie atmoet sweetnees uid oondeaoennaa 
Amongst other things, I naked them 'if tbey wtn 
happy.' They both replied, 'Yeiy h^tpy; would not 
exchange their present dtaatioii for any earthly treaa- 
nre,' and they looked bo. 

" Having heard that Caibolioa look iqxm all oQmr 
sects as heretics, I asked them if it were true. *No,' 
they answered, ' Grod forbid that we should tlunk ■& 
We believe there are many good people who are not 
of our religion.' * One of them had been in the oom. 
Tent eleven years, the other eight ; and in all that 
time they would not have left if they oonld. They 
have Uie option in two years. Th^ were dressed m 
ooarse, black stuff gowns, with wide sleeves, reaent- 
bling those of a cleigyman's gown. Their heads ware 
first boond with a black doth, which came low down 
on the forehead. Over this a white cloth, and over 
all a hood. This hood is of the same stuff as the 
dress, and like * a alonch bonnet.' Take tJie past^ 
board out of one of those bonnets, fold a few inches 
of the front back, and you will have an idea of these 
hoods. They wear a small, square, white handkrai- 
chief, hardly suffloient to cover the bosonL This is 

1 Tba qmstioii and BiiEwar ■■ ken giren oonrej % iraiBg imp»M 
Am. Ills Chnreh doa pitiDomuie all MOta "lumtiaaL'* Wlut "A 
IVmTeller" mutt Iut* mMnt to nb, mod tli« aon* doubtLsM Dndar- 
■tood her to nuuui, wM vliatliBr tlie ChnMk regaida eeota or heretioa 
■■ alieady lost. In thgir raply they eTidentlf rafeiTod to tlu fast 
that the Chnnsh, while Doadgmning hereay, doea not proooBDoe jadg- 
ment on indiridnal heietioa or othen, bat hetiaTea that maoj oabbda 
of the Tmble fold ais tml; " ioTuiblB memben " if they hold the 
fundamental dootrinea of Chriatiaiuty, and are linag; m good faitb 
aoooiding to th« dietataa of an npright « 


hollowed out under the neck so as to extend up to the 
ears on either side. On their breasts they wear a 
silver cross. This, they informed me, was the uni- 
form dress of the oonyent. I expressed a wish to get 
into the building ; but they said they dare not admit 
me without the consent of the mother superior,^ and 
she could not be seen at that time, not even by the 
nuns themselves. She was gone into retiremeTd [re- 
treat], which means that she secludes herself day and 
night in some part of the convent for several weeks. 
This ceremony she performs once a year, which time 
she spends in fasting and prayer. I would have given 
much to have seen her, as she was the sister of a re- 
spected friend of mine. 

** . • . These nuns dare not converse with strangers 
unless there be two present. I never beheld that 
simplicity and innocence, that humble demeanor which 
distinguishes these nuns, in any of the sex. They 
have a most heavenly expression in their looks. They 
are humanity itself, and well they may ; they have no 
earthly care, and spend their time in continual devo- 
tion." a 

Before continuing upon the regular course of the 
annals, a few words may be given to that special 

I Mother JnliaiiA Mattfaews. 

* Tlie anthor oM inadTertenily made two mistakee in her brief ao- 
eoont. She speaki of the sptritual retreat (which she calls '* retire- 
ment ") as lasdnf^ sereral weeks, whereas the term of it is really hnt 
a few days. Farther, it is not correct to say that the nnns *' dare not " 
ooDTcrse with strangpers unless there be two present. It is the custom 
for two to be p r es en t in receiving strangers ; bnt there is nothing to 
prerent one from entering into ooiiTeisation if need be. 


friend of ^* Sister Stanny," Mother Micbaella Jenkms, 
who became Superior not here at Greorgetown but at 
Baltimore, whither she went with the colony led by 
Mother Juliana Matthews to found a new house there 
in 1887. Sister Michaella had been educated at 
Emmitsburg by Mother Seton, of renowned memory 
as a leader in education ; and Baltimore was the place 
of her birth. After presiding over the new commu^ 
nity in that city six years, she was requested to fill an 
unexpired term at Wheeling, and was there four times 
elected Superior. Her life in religion, like that of 
Sister Stanislaus, was a long one : for when she died, 
January 8, 1881, she was seventy-seyen years old, 
and had been a professed nun for fifty-two years. 

The cloistered mode of being, not¥n[thstanding many 
prevalent ideas regarding its desolateness and depriva- 
tions, would seem often to be favorable to longevity. 
For those who imagine that the fretful existence of 
the outer world is the only activity, would it not 
be well to ponder on the fact that, all the while, these 
quiet but long and busy lives are going on within 
sanctified enclosures ; that these lives also are bearing 
rich fruit of industry, of education, of beneficent self- 
denial and spiritual development, — development 
undertaken not for mere selfish peace or personal sal- 
vation, but generously offered in prayer and dedicated 
to the welfare of all human beings ? 

Another most interesting example of a useful and 
extended conventual career is ^that of Mother Juliana 
Matthews ; all the more so in that she, by nature, 
shrank from the difficult and complex duties to which 
finally most of her years were given. 


A glance at her history will bring out its signifi- 
cance. She succeeded Mother Agnes Brent as Supe- 
rior, being elected March 18, 1825. A grand-niece 
of Archbishop Neale, she was placed in the convent 
Academy by her unde, Father Matthews, of Washing- 
ton, at the age of ten. She entered the sisterhood ; 
finally taking solemn vows when she was twenty-two. 
But, finding herself appointed Mistress of Novices 
when she was only twenty, her dread of the responsi- 
bility was so great that she besought the Blessed Vir- 
gin's aid to release her from any further cares of this 
kind ; and for some ten years she enjoyed compara- 
tive immunity. Perhaps this respite was providen- 
tially designed to give her time to mature and gather 
strength for the unusual burdens that she was yet to 
bear. If there was one thing she would have pre- 
ferred to avoid it was apparently the having to endure 
those exacting duties and anxieties inseparable from 
holding important office in a community; and yet 
this was the precise work which the Divine guide of 
life had evidently selected for her to do. 

Chosen as Superior in her thirtieth year (1825), 
as we have noted, she was elected for a second trien- 
nial in 1828. Although during the latter part of 
this term she largely delegated her authority to Sister 
Magdalene Augustine (who had come over from 
France), and even managed to hasten the r^ular 
election by one year, so that Sister Magdalene was 
installed in her place, in 1830 ; yet, as soon as the 
latter went to Mobile, to establish a house there. 
Mother Juliana was at once reelected. Before she 
had rounded out this last term. Archbishop Ecdeston 


appointed her to oonduot the Vintidaoii odooyio BsL 
tiinore and to become Hb head. Later, ahe was alao 
oalled upon to found new couTents of the Order in 
Waahmgton, District of Columbia, in Brooklyn, and 
in Richmond. Foundress of four Yuntation limiiieB, 
she was made Superior ten times during her life; 
once, as it happens, for each of those years doring 
idiioh her prayer for freedom from care had been 

Those who know the difficulties of constmetiTe and 
executive work in the establishing and carrying on of 
associations among human beings, even those organ- 
iaed for high and ideal purposes, can form somenotioa 
of the enormous labor as well as the fine 

tive skill demanded from Mother Juliana by theae 
undertakings. Is it not curious, in looking back, to 
recognize that, however obedient and willing to serve 
in aU other directions, the one particular service vHbieh 
she was called to was that for which she felt a deep 
reluctance ? In the religious life, beside all the usual 
and expected sacrifices which are accepted at the out- 
set, there are evidently other and special abnegations, 
which the disciplined and devout soul must be pre- 
pared to undergo cheerfully as emergencies arise. 
Perhaps the unassuming self-distrust of Mother Juli- 
ana was a means of aid to her in the success of her 
government. A summary of her work and character, 
written by Sister Stanislaus Jones, records that ^^ in 
her dove-like soul there was a wonderful combination 
of simplicity and prudence, gentleness and firmness, 
talent and guilelessness. All who saw her were struck 
with astonishment and admiration, at discovering such 


rare wordi and auperior endowments of mind united 
to such childlike artlessness and simplicity." 

Mother Juliana, too, lived long ; dying in holiness 
at her Bichmond convent, March 18, 1867, a little 
over seventy-two years of age. 

In those days of 1826, there came another change 
upon the interior history of the Greorgetown convent. 
Father Clorivi^re, who had now been confessor and 
director for nearly nine years, was stricken ill in May, 
and died September 29th, carefully tended during his 
long helplessness by priests and physicians. Although 
he suffered a paralysis of speech, his mind remained 
dear, and he made known by signs that he wished 
to be buried under the Chapel of the Sacred Heart. 
While, his life slowly ebbing, he lay patiently in his 
little dwelling (formerly Archbishop Neale's house) 
adjoining the chapel, the saintly Bishop Brutd, his 
bosom friend, visited him constantly. Many a time 
had this good Bishop come to see him, walking the 
whole distance from Emmitsburg, over thirty miles 
distant, with no refection by the way except the apples 
that he picked from roadside orchards ; and many a 
happy hour had they spent together in the modest, 
plainly furnished sitting-room of the director's small 
abode. Now, as death approached. Bishop Brut£ 
remained by his bedside, often repeating, *^ Mon ami^ 
mon ami I De la croix au del / " 

The Bishop, then simple Father Brut^, was revered 
for his sanctity throughout life, and even his canoni- 
zation was spoken of afterward, though never under- 
taken. It must have been a great happiness to Father 


Cloriyi^re to die peaoefally in the presence of so Iiolj 
a nuui, attended by his prayers aad ocmsolatums ; and it 
bas remained a hallowed memory in the convent^ sinoe, 
that he should haye been a yisitor within its walla. 

Father Cloriyi^re had so well carried out, extended, 
and solidified the work b^^ by Archbishop Neak, 
through his untiring ministrations and the aacrifioe of 
his own property, as to merit almost the title of a sec- 
ond Founder. In an obituary notice of him. Bishop 
England, of Charleston, justly pointed out as nxmii- 
ments of his seal, which would cause him to be held 
in remembrance by later generations, the beautiful 
chapel built by him, the Academy greatly enlarged and 
increased in efficiency, a *^ benevolent school " put in 
operation for poor children, and ^a convent almost 
created anew." 


In earlier years the late Father Cloriyiire had 
made his theological studies under the Sulpitians; 
and among those who stood near his bedside in his 
last hours was a Sulpitian priest from Baltimore, the 
Rev. Michael F. Wheeler. 

Although he was a stranger to the conmiunity, the 
sisters were impressed by his piety and his distinctly 
ecdesiastieal bearing ; so much so, in &ct, that they 
greatly desired to see him appointed to the place 
made vacant by the loss of their &ther and friend 
who had just been taken from them. They sent peti* 
tions to the Archbishop at Baltimore, who finally 
granted their wish. But when Father Wheeler had 




been in active servioe as their director some two years, 
his health became so precarious — and, by the way, it 
is astonishing how often these servants of holy aims 
accomplish great tasks with apparently the most inade- 
quate strength — that his physician ordered a change 
of climate for hiuL 

Father Wheeler accordingly decided to go to Rome 
and to France. He had for some tune been troubled 
in mind as to the exact basis of constitution and 
authority on which the commimity stood. Pius VII., 
it is true, had approved it and given to it a formal 
foundation; but his rescript, while granting certain 
privileges as to keeping schools, did so on express 
condition that the Greorgetown nuns should follow the 
ordinary track of Sisters of the Visitation. This, 
however, it had been found impracticable to do. 
Owing to difference of climate, the customs of the peo- 
ple, and to necessities of the Academy and the free 
school for the poor, the minute directions laid down by 
St. Francis de Sales as to hours of meals could not be 
observed. The admission of day pupils also compelled 
some relaxation as to the rigid rules for enclosure. 

As fidth and holiness are the life-blood of a con^ 
vent, so absolute obedience, respect for the rule, and 
dose adherence to authority are the brain and the 
hand by which it works. Therefore, while each of 
the Archbishops of Baltimore succeeding Archbishop 
Neale had regarded the indult of Pius VII. as a suf- 
ficient warrant to the community, even in its slight 
departures from the original rule, Father Wheeler 
still felt it advisable to determine this matter with 
scrupulous deamess. The voyage for health which 


he was now forced to take was to him tihe welooma 
means of visiting the Holy Father and laying the 
whole subject before him. 

He arrived at Rome in May, 1829. Every detail 
of the case was submitted to Pope Pius YUL, who 
issued a rescript dated May 10th, approving all the 
changes made in the Institute of the nuns, and like- 
wise ^ the changes which may perhaps be made in the 
process of time, on account of the drcumstanoes of 
place and government. He declares, moreover, that 
these changes neither do, nor shall, prevent them 
from being considered nuns of the Visitation or from 
enjoying the same privileges and rights bestowed on 
the other nuns of the same Institute, who follow St. 
Francis de Sales as their Founder and Leader.'^ Qn 
the following day, Monday, May 11, 1829, the Pope 
gave Father Wheeler an audience, showed great inter- 
est in the community, asked many questions about it| 
and gave his blessing to all the members, a list of 
their names being given to him and carefully taken 
into his keeping. 

From Rome Father Wheeler went to Annecy, the 
mother house ; and, as the result of a circular from 
Mother Margaret Clanchy, there, to the convents of 
Mans, Valence, and Friburg, each of these contributed 
a valuable member toward a little delegation which it 
was proposed to send to Greorgetown. For the sisters 
here in the United States cherished the longing, still, 
to have some personal contact and communication with 
their spiritual kinsfolk from that distant country 
where the Order had originated ; to learn lessons from 
them in detail, and to be assured from that source, if 


possible, that they were working in the right way. 
The nuns appointed for this mission, from the monas- 
teries just mentioned, were respectively: Sisters 
Agatha Langlois (Mans), Marie R^is Mordant 
(Valence), and Magdalene Augustine d'Arreger 
(Friburg). They assembled at the first Paris monas- 
tery, and embarked with Father Wheeler at Havre, 
July 22, 1829. 

After a stormy passage of twenty-seven days they 
reached New York, and about a week later, traveling 
slowly, came in sight of the tower and steeple of the 
Greorgetown convent; whereupon they saluted their 
goal with the Salve HeginOy the Stib tuum^ and the 
Litany of the Blessed Virgin ; and were soon after 
warmly greeted in their new home. ^^It would be 
impossible," wrote Sister Magdalene Augustine, to the 
European convents, ^^ to convey to you an idea of the 
impression made on us by the first sight of their meek 
and humble Mother.^ She is all humility and sim- 
plicity. • • • We did not expect to find so great a re- 
semblance between our American sisters and our- 
selves. • • • Their docility, their zeal for the exact 
observance makes them willing to do anything in 
order to become true Visitandiaes." 

These new arrivals — the two French sisters and 
the one Swiss, applied themselves first to the study of 
English, which they learned so rapidly that in a 
month's time they were able to understand conversa- 
tion, as well as the religious instruction and spiritual 
readings given in public. The joy of the Greorgetown 
nuns in the pleasant association with these European 

1 Jnluuia Matthewi. 


Yisitandines wUoh ensued, was great. They f oUawed 
iheir steps closely, and hnng upon their words as 
though listening to the yoice of orades. In £aot| 
there can be no doubt that the presence of such re|ire- 
sentatiyes from the older communities beyond sea was 
of great benefit to this younger community in the 
New World, — that benefit which results from direct 
personal contact and mutual exchange of ideas between 
those who, dwelling long apart in the separation of 
geographic limits, have yet worked in common for a 
supreme spiritual aim ; who, when brought together, 
are thrilled and reviyified by a sudden and real per- 
ception of their unity in the freedom of a great, a true 

This meeting and this perception form a type of 
that unity of all earnest, holy souls which, it is to be 
hoped, and is bdieyed, will come to pass, when thoee 
vrbo now bend all their efforts to misunderstanding 
Catholic Christianity shall gently, simply open their 
minds to a dear understanding of it and realize with 
a surprised delight that, after all, this was just what 
they, in their own form of sincerity, had been aiming 
for and working for. That would be a union of M 
good souls. This was the reunion of a few, who had 
lived far asunder yet equally in reverent obedience to 
the Eternal WilL And so they recognized and re- 
joiced in one another ; as the sunrise of each new day 
beholds itself reflected in some cahn surface of the 
ancient sea, — both humbly, yet magnificently, true 
to the unchanging law of God. 

Sister M. Agatha Langlois (of Mans) was ap- 
pointed Mistress of Novices. So great was her pre- 


cision in every iota of duty and obedience, that she 
was called ^ the living Rule." Her zealous and ma- 
temal guidance had the happiest results. Although 
she held office only for about eighteen months, she 
initiated her disciples so thoroughly that several of 
them, in after years, became eminent and admirable 
Superiors, both in Greorgetown and in other houses. 
Illness, however, obliged her to return to her native 
climate, and Sister Marie R^is accompanied her 
thither, much to the regret of the Visitation here. 

Toward the dose of 1882, also. Sister Magda- 
lene Augustine d'Arr^er was summoned away from 
Georgetown. Mother Juliana had, immediately on 
her coming, delegated to her many of her own powers ; 
sharing the administration with her so that the nuns 
might profit directly by her directions, her permis- 
sions or counsels, and in 1880 Sister Magdalene Augus- 
tine had been elected Superior. But now the newly 
consecrated Bishop of Mobile came to Greorgetown, an- 
nouncing that he intended to build a house of the Vis- 
itation in his episcopal city ; a legacy having been left 
to him for the purpose. There was not, at that time, 
a single Catholic chmrch or school in his diocese: 
hence he was very anxious to have the aid of Mother 
Magdalene's experience and thorough training in the 
inception and management of the new enterprise. 
She could not refuse this appeal for help and the op- 
portunity given by it for a new service and religion. 
Calling to her side, therefore, several of the sisters 
(among them Margaret Marshall, who soon afterward 
became Mother Superior at Mobile), she departed for 
the South; and Mother Juliana Matthews was re- 
elected in her place. 


This licrafle at Mobile wbb tlie Snik ^ eHkakm " iram 

The three Enropean aisten, it will tinu be seen, 
did not abide very long within the doistered dfi m oaue 
of Greorgetown. But their presenee there had been of 
good effect. It had established a Tital link between 
this eommunity and its oongeners in the Old World. 
It left wholesome inflnenoes and sweet remembmnoeB 
that haTB oontdnned to the present time. 

At Hie period here referred to — 1829 to 1882 — 
Hbe convent Academy had given to its course of studies 
a range almost as extended as that which it now 
covers, with increased fiunlities, with more teabherSy 
and recent advances of knowledge in certain depart- 
ments. Mathematics, philosophy, chemistry, phymoB^ 
etc, were taught; together wiiJi literature, aU ike 
modem languages, and instrumental music (the piano, 
the harp, the guitar). There were about a hundred 
pupils in the Academy. In the free echocl^ or benev- 
olent school (founded by Father Clorivi^re), — and 
it is worth while, here, when so much is said nowadays 
about ^^ free schools " being the outgrowth of non- 
Catholic movements only, to remark that this free 
school simply followed the example set by the Catholic 
Church for centuries previously, — there were one 
hundred and fifty pupils; fifty more than in the 
Academy where fees were paid. 

The community itself numbered fifty-seven, in- 
dudiug the novices. 

It is a circumstance of some historic interest that, 
before Father Wheeler set out for Europe, the widow 


o£Ytiirbide,iihe self-proclaimed Emperor of Mexico, 
had come to Greorgetown to live, and had placed her 
four daughters in the Academy. 

Agostin de Yturbide, a native of Mexico and an 
officer in the Spanish army there, had taken a very 
important part in the war against the Mexican revo- 
lutionists, from 1810 to 1820. In the latter year, 
prompted by the fact that a constitutional revolution 
had occurred in Spain itself, he made an attempt to 
solve the Mexican problem by proposing to make the 
country an independent monarchy under the rule of a 
prince of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty. This plan, 
now &mous, included this sovereignty as a part of 
^^the three guaranties," — the two others being 
maintenance of the Catholic faith and the union of 
Spaniards and Mexicans. It was received with great 
&vor by the people, but unfortunately was opposed 
by Ferdinand VUl. of Spain, who insisted upon r&- 
gsrding it as another form of rebellion. Thereupon 
Yturbide, with the support of the army, proclaimed 
himself emperor and was recognized by the popular 
assembly, but was finally defeated by a republican up- 
rising under Greneral Santa Anna, his former friend 
and supporter. He resigned the crown, and was 
allowed to depart for Europe as a pensioned exile. 
Eashly returning to Mexico in 1824, on the plea of 
offering his services as a general to the Republic, in 
case of invasion from Spain, he was decreed an outlaw, 
and, on landing, was arrested and shot. 

Madam Yturbide, after settling in Greorgetown, 
spent much of her time at the convent. A little cell 
— and a ^^ cell," be it known to those who have a 


honor for tiie word, is not a phoe of oonfinement, or 
dungeon, but simply a bedroom and living-room fur- 
nished in the phunest manner — was assigned to her. 
Although she did not devote herself to the complete 
religious life with the idea of taking vows, she was 
permitted to wear the Visitation garb while in the 
doister. Her second daughter, Johanna, desired to 
enter the novitiate ; but, dying quite young, before it 
was possible for her to accomplish this, she received 
Obe privil^e of taldng the vows conditionally and was 
buried as a Visitation nun, in October, 1828, while 
Father Wheeler was on his way to Italy. 

Her elder sister, Sabina, some twdve or fourteen 
months afterward, entered the novitiate ; but her stay 
was not long. 

Beligious orders do not care to receive into theor 
membership any one who does not develop a true vo- 
cation for the high purposes of consecrated life, and 
that ^^ staying power " necessary for the fulfillment of 
its regular and self-denying duties, which must be 
persisted in year after year ; a pendstenoe monotonous 
in its way, perhaps, and to some natures unendurable, 
— not easy for any one, yet full of peace and happi- 
ness to those who have the right qualifications and 
the grace to continue in it. 

Instead of reaching out right and left for new 
recruits, at all hazards, — as many non-Catholics 
imagine is the case, — religious communities set up 
the most careful barriers, and provide every safe- 
guard for the selection of those only who are fitted to 
become members in this enduring phalanx of religion. 

We have known young men and women of Catholio 


parentage and ancestry, thoroughly devout, very 
anxious to enter religious communities and give their 
whole lives to these societies ; who yet, after a year 
or two of probation, have been found hulking in the 
steady, persistent qualities essential to such a career, 
and, greatly to their own regret, have been obliged to 
withdraw from a task for which they were not suited. 
In the next chapter we shall record something re- 
markable of such a woman, Mrs. Mattingly, to whom 
extraordinary mercies of another kind were accorded, 
although — notwithstanding her earnest desire — the 
capacity for becoming a nun was not granted to her. 


It was in 1829 that Mrs. Mattingly, of Wash- 
ington, was admitted as a postulant at Greorgetown. 
She was a widow, remarkable for her great piety. 
Her family, the Carberys, were well known in Wash- 
ington, where they held honorable positions in the 
Church, the army, and the magistracy ; and as her 
eldest brother. Captain Thomas Carbery, was Mayor 
of Washington, everything connected with her extra- 
ordinary history became a matter of public notice and 

Notwithstanding her rare spirituality and devoted- 
ness in her faith. Father Matthews, her confessor, 
told her plainly that she had no vocation for life in 
the cloister; but her yearning to attempt it was 
unappeasable ; and, simply with the purpose of con- 
vincing her by a practical test that she was not 
qualified for this kind of spiritual service, he finally 
permitted her to begin the novitiate. 


D(mbtle8i^ one active osoae of tlie hitiwe ^^Mig«"g 
the fdt to give benelf ididDy to reUgkniB 
was tliat, five yean eariier, ilie Iiad herself 
enoed a miraeoloiis leeoveiy from mostal illiieai» 
whidh was one of tlie most amtiing aa well aa 
ihoroaglilj atteated oases of tiie kmd reoocded m 
leoent tunes, with tiie ezeeptioii of some of tke 
mirafiles at Loindes. 

In the smmiier of 1817 Mrs. Matting^ — wbo waa 
then livmg, widowed, in the house of her hio U Mt^ 
Cqstain Thcnnas Caibeiy — began to snfEer from pnaa 
in the left side, which gradually mcreased in Beieiiij 
and became concentrated on the lower and outer put 
of the left breast. In fine, a tumor had formed llieie^ 
which was examined in September by three pkyaiciftna, 
two of whom pronoonced it soirrhns, the tidid alaa 
advising imTnA<iifti» extirpation. His coonsel was not 
followed ; but a treatment with hemlock and 
according to the medical canons of that period, 
entered upon assidnoosbf . It was without effect. 
The malignant growth went on developing as a oaneer 
of the most deadly kind. An account of her Hlrma^^ 
quoted in the annals from a published report of the 
whole matter, drawn up afterward by Bishop fkig- 
land, gives in detail the threatening symptoms and the 
frightful sufferings that marked the progress of the 
disease. These having been duly recorded, and 
authenticated by affidavits of her brother, Maymr 
Carbery, of her two sisters Ruth and Catherine Gar- 
bery, and of Mrs. Sibylla Carbery, the widow of her 
unde. General Henry Carbery, it is not necessary to 
repeat here the long and distressful enumeration of 


pangs enduied by lihe patient. A brief summary will 
be enough to convey vividly an idea of the terrible 
condition to which she was reduced. 

Her illness assumed an intense form in the spring 
of 1818, and continued with increasing virulence for 
six years. Throughout that time her sensations, as 
described by herself, were like those which might be 
caused if her side were bored with an augur or pinched 
with forceps. A seemingly permanent contraction of 
the pectoralia mcyor kept the left arm clinging to her 
side, so that its pressure greatly intensified these 
pains. She had an incessant, racking cough, accom- 
panied with violent spasms; also witii discharges of 
blood and other matter from the mouth. Even in the 
first year she was thought to be at the point of death ; 
and her brother Lewis, living at some distance, was 
abruptly summoned both then and in the following 
years, innumerable times, to receive her last farewell 
She had no appetite ; a great part of the time she 
could take no solid food ; she suffered intense thirst 
and was barely able to articulate audibly. ^^The 
pulse was scarcely perceptible to the nicest touch," 
her brother. Mayor Carbery, testified under oath. 
Frequently her prostration was so great that her 
attendants doubted whether she were still alive, and 
resorted to artificial means in order to ascertain 
whether respiration continued. ^ Her physician de- 
clared that her case was out of the reach of medicine, 
and prescribed her only palliatives." ^ 

Although, in the intervals between her severer 
paroxysms, she was able to occupy herself a little with 

1 Bkhop Bngland's report. 


knittiiig and aewing, she aflBmed Fatlier yi m iUun w rn 
SB he also specified under oaih — that she nevor en- 
joyed a moment's oossstian of pain. Duringr tJi^ 
whole six years she never left her bed for anj- 
siderable time — so her two sisteis testified — 
OQ two occaiaions; onoe when she was moved frans 
brother's hoose in which she had been taken SL, to 
his new residenoe ; and onee when she went out, with 
assistance, to visit an old and favorite servant of tka 
&mily, who v^as believed to be dying. The piano 
where this servant lived was only ten yards from Aa 
door ; yet the effort of going thither hrot^ ht on a 
violent hemorrhage. Even the shg^itest motion re- 
solted in agonies so acute that her sisters, for fear of 
snch resoks, often had to refrain from ■"•^^*«g i^ 
bed for two weeks at a time. 

So protracted was her iDness, and so many 
the witnesses, that it is hardly possible to set iq» a 
theory that she exaggerated her sofferings by imagi* 
nation or hysteria. The visible details of pt^aieal 
disint^;ration could not, of course, be expUined, or 
exaggerated, or diminished, by imagination. That 
she was not nervously inclined to magnify her inter- 
nal, invisible suffering seems to be dear from the 
affidavit of her confessor, Bev. William Matthews, 
who visited her onoe a week during the last year of 
her illness, to hear her confession and give her con^ 
munion. He says : ^ She apparently suffered more 
than I had thought a mortal frame could endure ; and 
this with heroic fortitude and edifying resignation. 
I never heard her utter a complaint. She never 
showed any solicitude to regain her health. Her 


prayer was, as she told me, that the will of Gtod 
might be done in her." 

Clearly, she was a ^^ patient " in the full sense of 
the word; a sofferer, yet resigned. Even indiffei^ 
entists, and those who have no veiy active belief, 
agree that to be ^^ patient " means not merely to soffer, 
bnt to do so without complaint. The faithful hold 
the same view ; but, in addition, they look upon true 
suffering as a duty borne for Grod, a tribute offered to 
Him ; and they ratify the declaration of St. Francis 
de Sales that it is the only absolutely unselfish action 
we can perform. This unselfish offering Mrs. Mat- 
tingly exemplified almost in perfection. 

Her eldest brother made affidavit that ^^he had seen 
her, several times a day, entirely deprived of action 
by the intensity of the pain ; and that she had fre- 
quently lain in such situation for twenty or thirty 
minutes at a time, so as to create doubts whether she 
was alive or dead." Ruth and Catherine Carbery 
affirmed that her general condition, as we have de- 
scribed it, remained about the same until some three 
weeks before her recovery, when it became much 
worse, and all her symptoms seemed to announce the 
swift approach of death. 

finally on the first of March, 1824, she began a 
novena of prayer to the sacred Name of Jesus. 
This was to be performed in conjunction with Prince 
Hohenlohe, whose custom of praying for the recovery 
of the sick, at stated times, in imison with the faith- 
ful in various parts of the world, has already been 
explained in our account of Sister Apollonia's cure. 

Beaders nnfamiliar vdth subjects of this kind may 


natmally, perhaps, wonder wlqr, in such an inatanoe, 
— wliere belief in the efficacy of prayer was oom- 
plete, — it was not sooner resorted to for aid. The 
answer is very simple and intelligible. In the first 
place, Mrs. MattinglyAoMi resorted to prayer, all along, 
and had sought support by receiving the Blessed Sao- 
lament in communion. But her prayer had been 
solely, as we discern from her confessor's report, that 
she might remain in accord with and obedient to 
God's wilL For, strange as it may seem to others, a 
Catholic's first thought is not to escape suffering and 
be relieyed from illnees, but to be truly filial in ac- 
cepting the divine will, and to convert the burden of 
pain into a cheerful offering. Secondly, although 
their view of prayer is very direct and practical, as 
applied to every detail of existence, Catholios do not 
regard lightly the idea of ashing for a great and 
special favor to themselves, in the cure of illness. 
There is a fear of selfishness or undutifulness, in ask- 
ing a favor of this kind; and therefore it is often 
more difficult to put up such a petition on one's own 
behalf, than for the health of others. It is quite pos- 
sible that, feeling herself to be in extremiSj she may 
have thought it her duty to seize the one opportunity 
remaining to her of mitigating the sorrow of her 

Now, as to the nine days' prayer, which was to end 
by her receiving Holy Communion on the morning of 
the tenth day, — it may be well to explain its princi- 
ple briefly ; since we vdsh to enable all who glance at 
these pages to have at least a dear, unbiased percep- 
tion of the elements and conditions in the case, what- 
ever conclusions they may afterwards draw. 


When Prof. Tyndall — as an investigator of nata^ 
ral science, learned and competent; as a person^ 
amiable; as a dabbler in philosophy and theology, 
very incompetent, distinctly materialistic and infidel, 
from the pure Christian point of view — once pro- 
posed a ^^ prayer gauge," by which a large number of 
Christians were to pray simultaueously for the heal- 
ing of the sick in London hospitals, and were then 
to take account and see how many of those sick had 
been cured by a certain date, he shocked a large por^ 
tion of human society. It was inevitable that all 
really thinking and reverent people should be shocked 
by such a plan ; because the suggestion that Tyndall 
put forward was simply on a level with the crude, 
pert inquiry of a restless boy, who for example should 
ask why people should not whistle in church, or con- 
duct chemical laboratory experiments there, with the 
expectation of receiving some immediate reward from 

Prayer is not a challenge to God ; and any attempt 
to treat it as such, or to use it as a defiant — or even 
as a materialistic and doubting — test of Grod's 
power, at once invalidates the experiment. 

Any man of natural science, so intelligent as Tyn- 
dall, would scout the idea of attempting an experi- 
ment in physics or chemistry without having all the 
conditions of the experiment exact and logical, ac- 
cording to the law of the elements or compounds 
involved in it. Hence it was childish on his part to 
plan a test of prayer, from which the essential ele- 
ment of prayer was omitted. That essential element 
consists not in challenge, but in appeal ; not in doubt» 
but in trust 


Like rnanj oilier hasty and materialistic qnestiaiien 
of spiritual Christian verity, Prof. Tyndall seemed to 
think that, in this ^^ prayer gauge," he had sketched 
a method the principle of which was wholly novd. 
Yet — leaving out his entirely unscientific element of 
defiance and doubt — the method of combined prayer 
was as old as Christianity ; and it has been practioed 
from time immemorial down to the present ; with 
constant results of definite answer and achievement, 
often miraculous, in all days and in our own day. 

Prayer is reciprocal action between the natural and 
the supernatural ; the human and the divine. With- 
out faith and submission, it cannot exist at alL 
With those qualities, it may bring about results in 
a certain form desired by the devout human element, 
or it may receive answer in some entirely different 
form. In either case it is God who decides the issue, 
without r^ard to time-limits fixed by an ancgaat 
human being ; but also often with an immediate, 
striking, and compassionate r^ard for time-IimitB, 
not fixed, but ardently hoped for by religions and 
submissive souls. 

This, then, was the basis of the novena undertaken 
by Mrs. Mattingly ; and no one could foretell what 
would be its earthly outcome. 

On the night of March 9, 1824, the Bev. Wil- 
liam Matthews, her pastor, visited Mrs. Mattingly, in 
order to hear her confession, preparatory to her re- 
ceiving Holy Communion the next morning, in oonft- 
pletion of the novena. In his affidavit concerning 
this matter he said : *^ Whilst I remained at her bed- 


side, she appeared to suffer most excmoiating pains. 
Twice she had cramps in her breast. • . . Her voice 
was very low, — scarcely audible. They moistened 
her lips and tongue four or five times while I remained, 
with cold water in a teaspoon. I proposed to give 
her laudanum ; but her sister observed she had already 
taken two hundred and fifty drops that evening. I 
left her, about half after ten, apparently in the jaws 
of death." The Bev. Anthony Kohbnan, superior of 
the Jesuits, also paid her a visit, the same evening, 
and stated afterward that she had all the appearance 
of a dying person ; in order to make out her whispered 
words, he had to put his ear dose to her lips. 

It was the Bev. Stephen L. Dubuisson, S. J., who 
had originally proposed the novena, in which Arch- 
bishop Mar^chal and some two hundred persons, in 
all, took part. The prayers were said every morning 
precisely at sunrise, in order that all the individuals 
might make their offering at one and the same time. 
Mrs. Mattingly had felt much confidence in the un- 
dertaking, as a possible means of recovery; yet all 
through the nine days she was ^^desperately iU," 
Father Dubuisson assures us ; and when, having seen 
her twice before (once on February 20 and again on 
March 7), he came to call on the night of the ninth, 
he found her worse than ever. 

At half past two the next morning he celebrated 
Mass in the parish church, ^^ after which " — to quote 
from his sworn account — ^^ I carried the Blessed 
Sacrament to Mrs. Mattingly at her brother. Captain 
Carbery's, house. She was in the same state of ex- 
treme debility and suffering. I addressed to her a 


few words and read the letter of Prince Hcdienlohe's 
direotione." The letter had been reoeiyed at Balti- 
more a number of days before the novena began ; and 
this tenth of March was the day on which he was to 
make his special petition for the sick. ^ Then I ad- 
ministered to her the Holy Commnnion, withdrew froni 
the bed, and knelt down before the Blessed Sacrament, 
— there bemg seyeral consecrated Hosts in my pyx« 
Her relations and friends present knelt likewise. The 
tongue of the patient being exceedingly dry and haid^ 
8ome minutes elapsed ere she could swallow the sacred 
species ; but having done so — in the twinkling of an 
eye, she was perfectly cured. 

^ All pain left her. Bising in bed and joining her 
hands, she exclaimed: *Lord Jesus I What have I 
ever done to deserve such a &vor I ' Sobs, tears, and 
sujypressed shrieks burst from the attendants kneeling 
around. I arose and approached the bed, my whole 
frame thrilling with emotion. The patient grasped 
my hand. ' Father,' said she, ' what can I do to ac- 
knowledge such a mercy ? ' 

'^ ^ Glory be to God ! ' I replied. I then asked her 
how she felt. She answered, ' Perfectly welL' 

'^ ' Entirely free from pain ? ' 

*' ' I am. Entirely free from pain ; no pain at alL* 

'^^None there?' — pointing to her side. 

'^ ^Not the least, — only some weakness. Let me 
get up and kneel to return thanks to God.' 

^ 'But can you?' 

t« « I can if you will give me leave.' 

'^ Her stockings and slippers were brought, and she 
put them on with perfect ease and without assistance. 


She then knelt before the little altar whereon the 
Blessed Sacrament had been deposited, and had re- 
mained there about a quarter of an hour when her 
brother Thomas entered. She then arose and, ad- 
vancing towards him, threw up her arms in a trans- 
port, exclaiming: ^See what God has done for me I 
For years I haye not been able to do this.' 

^Then, again kneeling before the Blessed Sacra- 
ment, she remained in prayer a considerable time, 
evincing not the slightest fatigue, but on the contrary 
appearing lost in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. 

«( I confess that the impression on my soul on wit- 
nessing the entire scene, but particularly this last cir- 
cumstance, was so profound, that I do not believe it 
could have been more so had I seen Mrs. M. raised 
from the dead. I underwent, I believe, the same sen- 
sation as if I had seen her rise out of her coffin. 
There was especially in her look and featvres som^ 
thing which I shall not attempt to depict^ — an ex- 
pression of firmness and of earnest, awful feelings, the 
recollection of which it will be my consolation to pre- 
seroe through lijfe.^* 

These particulars, and whatever else is cited 
here from Father Dubuisson, are found in his affidavit, 
signed Stephen Laurigaudelle Dubuisson, and sworn 
to before John N. Moulder, justice of the peace, in 
Washington, March 17, 1824. 

That he was in no visionary or ecstatic state of 
mind would seem to be shown by the &ct that, al- 
though deeply and devoutly impressed by the miracle 
which he had just witnessed, he remained quite prao- 
— as a Catholio ought to, even in the presence of 


waA a nwrnffritation — md did not fotgefc ham ( 
towsidB another sick peraon, to wliooe house lie 
oUiged to hmry away ; and that he nent on 
ing to his nnmeroos engagements as assiiitamt pastor, 
imtQ eleven of the forenoon. Then he retomed, witii 
Father Matthews, to Mayor Gsrbeiy's dwdling. lbs. 
Mattingly , who had been miaUe to walk more tlian a 
iew steps at a time, for six jrears, and, as we have 
seen, had been a helpless, agonised invalid confined to 
her bed the greater part of that period, came to meet 
them at the door and knelt to receive her pnstor*s 
blessing. ^^ Sotmd in mind and bocty, she kK^Dod and 
acted as one perfectly restored to health, who has ookj 
more flesh and strength to recovi^." 

*^We are now," adds Father Duboisson, «*od the 
17th of March. Seven days, therefore, have rfapood 
since her care. She is daily acquiring strength, aa is 
witnessed I may say by the whole city, which flocks to 
Gapt. Carbeiy's house to see her. Dr. Jones, her 
physician, has examined her and found no vestige <»f 
the red tumor which she had on her side, nor any sign 
whatever of ill health. Her breath, her^^fore ex- 
tremely offensive, has become sweet ; and she dedaies 
that she has constantly a taste like that of loaf sugar 
in her mouth." He concludes his formal declaration 
with the words : ^^ I now feel it a sacred part incum- 
bent on me, to procure authenticity and notoriety to 
this deposition, to which I swear on the Holy Gospel 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, with full certitude of acco- 
racy, and which, I trust, I would subscribe with my 
own blood." 

The two sisters and three brothers of Mrs. Mat- 


tingly, with her aunt Mrs. Gren. Carbery, were like- 
wifle all witnesses of her instantaneous return to health, 
and made afiGidayit as to the facts. On the very day 
of the cure, the house was thronged with visitors, — 
some five hundred in number. Mrs. Mattingly re» 
oeived them all, and shook hands with them. 

More than two months later (May 18, 1824), Fa- 
ther Matthews wrote, concerning his visit there at 
eleven o'clock that day : '^ Mrs. Mattingly opened to 
me the door, and, with a smiling countenance, shook 
my hand. Although prepared for this meeting, I 
could not repress my astonishment at the striking con- 
trast produced in her person, in a few hours. My 
mind had for years associated death and her pale, 
emaciated face. From that day to the present. May 
18, 1824, Mrs. Mattingly assures me she has enjoyed 
perfect health." 

Every trace of bodily ailment seems to have disap- 
peared almost immediately, including even those pain- 
ful abrasions of the skin, caused by months upon 
months of enforced reclining in bed, which, up to that 
time, it had been necessary to dress with lenitive 
preparations, plasters, and bandages, since they had 
been like open wounds. 

After this marvelous event, she continued in physi- 
cal well-being and normal activity for almost half the 
length of that term assigned as the life of a genera- 
tion, and, dying in 1857, was buried on March 10, 
exactly thirty-three years from the day of her miracu- 
lous restoration. 

So far as we are aware, no attempt has ever been 
made seriously to question the facts narrated here } 


and surely any snoh attempt, at the time, must haye 
seemed rather futile, oonsidering the known condition 
of the patient, the publicity of the whole matter, the 
number and repute of the witnesses, the crowds of 
Washington people who saw her immediately after 
the transformation from mortal illness to serenity of 

Still, there are doubtless minds which, with the 
story now laid simply before them, may obstinately 
impugn or refuse to accept it. Some persons who 
profess to believe thoroughly in Qod*B power to work 
miracles in the time of Christ and the Aposties im- 
periously undertake to limit God's power in later times, 
and to deny that He has continued to exercise it. 
Others, who still doubt the Scripture mirades, hint 
that they would be satislBed if they could only obtain 
full documentary proof and the testimony of eyewit- 
nesses concerning those. Yet, when precisely the 
kind of testimony and proof they demand is offered 
in the case of modem or contemporaneous miTa/*!^ 
they brush it all aside, on the theory that no miracle 
can be wrought in this age of the world, anyway, 
and that people who assert from their own ezperienoe 
the contrary must be mistaken or mendacious. 

Mrs. Mattingly, as we have said, became a postu- 
lant at the Georgetown Visitation five years after her 
cure ; yet it turned out, as her &ther confessor had 
already informed her, that the pious and eager desire 
which animated her did not really constitute a yoca- 
tion for the career of a nun. She had to give up her 
attempt in this direction, but was always thereafter 
receiyed as a welcome guest by the Visitation com^ 


munity. For, beddes the congeniality of mind and 
soul which they found in her, the extraordinary favor 
she had received from heaven surrounded her with 
a peculiar holiness, and they felt that her presence 
brought a blessing to their convent home. 

Such was Mrs. Mattingly's own reverence for the 
couch of suffering from which she had been raised by 
supernatural means that she never again lay upon it 
during the many years still allotted to her, but kept 
it for the use of priests or other holy persons who oc- 
casionally lodged at her brother's house. 

And now we come to a point which is by no means 
fully authenticated, as the circumstances were which 
we have just reviewed ; but it is too interesting to be 
ignored. Sister Josephine Barber's manuscript chron- 
icle shows that a tradition was kept alive among the 
Visitation sisters that, at the moment of her recovery, 
this bed, where a six years' martyrdom had been en- 
dured, was miraculously cleansed and sweetened. 
Some of them had often heard Mother Agnes Brent 
say that the sick-room was thereupon filled with a 
ddidous fragrance, which she thought continued for a 
long period afterwards. Bishop England, however, 
in his pamphlet on the subject, makes no mention of 
these matters ; though it appears likdy enough that 
he would have done so had they, at the time of his 
investigation, been of common report and thoroughly 
verified. It is r^rettable that no one made researdi 
or gathered testimony regarding such a rumor, imme- 
diatdy after the cure. The only attempt that we are 
aware of, to ascertain its basis, was deferred until 
1877, — fifty-three years later. The St. Louis Sisters 


of the Visitation than wrote to Miss Catherine CSaxu 
beiy, who had snrviyed Mrs. Mattingly. Miss CSar- 
beiy replied from Washington (Maroh 22, 1877) 
that, for along time previons to the miraoolons restora- 
tion, the air of the invalid's room had been very op* 
pressive, and especially so on the night before that 

^My sister Bnth and myself," she wrote, **were 
sitting up with Mrs. Mattingly, and, notwithstanding 
the presence of camphor on my handkerchief and the 
nse of disinfectants in the room, I became nauseated 
when attending at the sick-bed, and had to be relieved 
in my personal ministrations bymy sister Buth. This 
continued all night. After Mrs. Mattingly^s cure in 
the early hours of the morning, we all noticed and 
remarked how puro and sweet the odor of the person 
and the surroundings in the bed, and in the air of the 
room, had become." Referring to a second question, 
as to a recurrence of the same phenomenon when Mrs. 
Mattingly died. Miss Carbery continued in her let- 
ter : ^^ As to the second inquiry relative to the day 
after the funeral, 1857, — I remember most distinctly 
that a sister, then a Protestant, and Carbery, eldest 
son of Mr. Richard Lay, upon going to the room 
whero Mrs. Mattingly died, and which had been 
locked, with all the fetid air from confinement, the 
windows being closed during the entire sickness, as 
also from bedclothes soiled to an extreme, were 
amazed at the sweet odor of the room, and called my- 
self and other members of the family to come ; and 
we all wondered at such sweetness from such a mass 
of impurity." 


This 18 a dear, decided asseveratioii, which no 
rational critic can yeiy well throw out entirely, unless 
he be disposed to suggest &lsehood or delusion. The 
only known realities which could in any way weaken 
its force are, that the letter was not written until 
fifty-three years after the mirade, and twenty years 
after the recipient of the mirade had died ; and that 
there is no concurrence of testimonies, as in the case 
of the healing itself. What remains incontestable is, 
that ammorof this mysterious perfume had long been 
current, and was at last positively confirmed, so far as 
the word of one surviving person who had experienced 
the phenomenon could give a confirmation. 

It is also quite conceivable that Bishop England 
(not a witness), and those members of the family and 
tiie reverend Fathers who were witnesses, may have 
thought the presence of a sudden sweet odor in the 
room a detail hardly worth dwelling upon, in compari- 
son with the much greater and more astounding fact 
of an instantaneous transformation from disease to 
health. Besides, it would be a detail incapable of the 
same ocular and tangible proof which was at hand, 
as to the main fact, in the person of the restored in- 
valid. Hence, knowing how much of skepticism and 
even prejudice there was in the population surround- 
ing them, they might have preferred to pass over in 
silence this one particular, which perhaps would arouse 
dispute, seeing that as to the chief point, the actual 
cure, there could be no dispute whatever. 

In records concerning holy persons, we often meet 
with the idea and the legend that a sweet, flower-like 
aroma was exhaled from their resting-places, whether 


in life or in deadu There i% nothing incredible or 
against nature in snoh a conception ; for, since it ia 
well known that not only physical bat also mental 
conditions in the human body manifest themselves 
through Taiiations of odor, why should not spiritaal 
conditions do the same? It seems probaUe that the 
phrase ^ odor of sanctity " — which most people take 
to be merely flgurative — refers literally to a sensible 
basis of fact and experience ; of that kind which tra- 
dition constantly brings to our notice. Therefore it ia 
pleasant to find that certain persons at least belieyed 
they had discerned the same thing in the case of Mrs. 

It probably has not often happened, in recent ex- 
perience, that the same person has twice within a short 
period benefited by a signal intervention of siqpemata- 
ral power to ward off disease which threatened a fiital 
ending. But it happened to Mrs. Mattingly, in the 
eighth year f oUowing her first and most notable rescue 
from death, that she again met with healing from a 
source higher than human skilL 

Although convinced that it was wiser for her to 
withdraw from the novitiate, she remained in dose 
communication with religious sisterhoods. Having 
spent the night of November 29th (1831) with the 
Sisters of Charity, she rose early the next morning — 
the feast of St. Andrew the Apostie — to hear Mass 
at St. Patrick's Church. It was still dark; and as 
she was feeling her way down the steps of the portico, 
her foot turned, causing a serious injury to the ankle. 
She nevertheless attempted to walk home to her 
brother^s house on Ci^itol Hill, a half mile away. It 


took her two hours to acoomplish even this short dis- 
tanoe, as she had to stop frequently on account of ex- 
oruoiating pain from the hurt. Such an exertion at 
such a moment of course greatly aggravated her in- 
jury. Both foot and ankle swelled ; dark spots ap- 
peared on the skin ; and the whole member finally 
assumed a deep purple hue. Christmas drew near ; 
and, being unable to walk or even stand, she saw that 
it would be impossible to attend church on that great 
festivaL She therefore, on the advice of Father Mat- 
thews, decided to accept an invitation from the 
G(eorgetown Sisters to spend some days in the con- 
vent, whither she might be removed carefully, and 
there enjoy the holy season in the atmosphere of devo- 
tion she loved so welL She was lifted into a carriage, 
and was again assisted by many hands at the convent 
and carried to the room assigned for her, — a cell 
near the novitiate. 

In spite of constant care lavished upon her by the 
sisters, however, she grew worse day by day. The 
convent physician. Dr. Bohrer, examining her foot, 
pronounced the case very serious. On the first day of 
the New Year (1832), her suffering was intense, the 
pain and swelling having then extended up to the hip. 
Mortification seemed likely to set in at any moment ; 
and, seeing this, the doctor declared that amputation 
was necessary. He was unwilling, nevertheless, to un- 
dertake the operation until he could notify and con- 
sult with Capt Carbery. For this reason it had to be 
deferred until the next day, although Dr. Bohrer 
agreed with the infirmarians that there was imminent 
risk of her not being able to survive that long. 


Answering the expreBsions of sympaihy offered hj 
the sisters in this emergency, the patient said: **I 
will place all my confidence in God. I will exert all 
the &dth I have." When every one had retired for 
the night, Mrs. Mattingly placed a medal of ike 
Blessed Virgin under her bandages, and entreated 
Our Lady to come to her aid ; so that by her interoeo- 
sion, she might obtain from God either relief — should 
it contribute to his glory — or the grace to die a happy 
death* Always the Catholic thought: not seeking 
primarily surcease from pain, or reprieve from death, 
but the will of God and the ability to die firmly and 
well in the faith. 

Hardly had thirty minutes passed, when the panga 
which had afflicted her passed away. ^ A sensation 
of softness," the annak relate, ^^ succeeded to die for- 
mer rigidity. She drew up her foot ; pressed it with 
her hand, — it was perfectly welL" 

^^Next morning, long before daylight, Mrs. Mat- 
tingly rose, and, hastening to the choir, returned 
thanks to God and to Mary for this new &vor. She 
was still kneeling in her accustomed place [probably 
that occupied by her while she had been a postulant J 
when the bell rang for the morning meditation, and 
the sisters entered the choir. Great was their surprise 
at seeing the invalid there before them. After the 
hour's meditation. Prime, Mass, and thanksgiving fol- 
lowed ; during all which she knelt or stood, betraying 
not a vestige of her recent illness. Lnmediately after 
Mass, the community formed in procession, and, chant- 
ing the hymn Ave Maris Stella^ went to the novitiate 
and to the cell where the miracle had taken place; 


Mrs. Mattingly aooompanying them with a heart over- 
flowing with gratitude." ^ 

Thus quickly do miracles sometimes come to pass; 
The moment they have occurred, they at once take 
their place, with all their supernatural quality, in the 
natural course of things. And the stream which we 
choose to call Time — we, who so easily obscure the 
&ct that it belongs to the current of Eternity — goes 
flowing on, with or past the miracles. And sometimes 
they are remembered, and sometimes forgotten. 

They are remembered, only to be scoffed at, by 
those numerous individuals who delight in puzzling 
themselves with every occult thing of ^^ spiritism " or 
theosophy, or mind-reading, and the like, — as chil- 
dren are lost in pleasurable wonder at the mere me- 
chanical toy which they cannot understand or explain. 
Yet those same individuals bluntly and blindly reject 
the marvek accomplished by pure Catholic Christian 
faith, which are as lucid as a dear sunrise ; as natural 
as eyesight; as reasonable as the easiest problem of 
moral cause and effect of one mind upon another; 
as simple as the smiling of a healthy, happy, obedient 
child ; and just as mysterious in its blessing as that 



Mrs. Afattingly — living and dying outside the 
bounds of the Visitation Order, for which she had so 
strong an affection ; and receiving, by divine interpo- 
sition, two such remarkable mercies as were accorded 

1 MS. Annab by Sirter M. JoMphiM Bitfber. VoLiL,pb213. 


to her in times of mortal illnefls — ib a Imninoiis 
example of that li£e, mstiiiot willi genuine and dhild^ 
like religious aspiration, ^vhioh may be led by one 
whose lot is oast in what we fancifully and limitedly 
call '' the workL" 

To dignify with the title of '^ the world '' that maas 
of beings who attempt to goi^em themaelyes solely or 
chiefly by some imagined law of their own minds, and 
to separate themselves in a rather select and fastidi- 
ous way from the law of Ch)d, is some^idiat ti&e same 
as though we were to call the refuse slag of iron, pure 
iron, or the ^' tailings " of a quartfrmill, pure gold. 

This ^ world," so-called, is loud ; and yet it is singo- 
larly dumb when recognition of eternal truth is the 
issue. It also calls itself, to some eiEtent, ^gay;** 
and yet it is exceedingly dull when tested by ita 
capacity to perceive The Light of the WorkL 

To the gay, loud world which is at the same time 
dull and dumb, — and continually complains of its 
own self-imposed &tigue and misery, — the benignity 
of heaven, as granted to a simple and devoted woman 
like Mrs. Mattingly, is all but inaudible and invisible ; 
or, if perceived in any degree, it appears deserving 
only of doubt. Yet there is a considerable world of 
men and women, conjoined with these usurpers of the 
title, but representing the sincerer elements of man- 
kind, that seeks union with God on the only terms 
possible, — submission. It seems to us that Mrs. 
Mattingly — who lived among, or in the presence of, 
both these kinds of people; who could not seclude 
herself in the cloistered life, though she desired to — 
was destined to become and to remain an example and 


a living instance, to every one, of the doctrine and 
mystery of the Holy Eucharist, at the moment when 
she was restored to health after receiving the real yet 
glorified bo^ of our Lord, in the consecrated wafer. 

We have now to speak of another woman who, 
with an apparent vocation for the monastic religious 
life, and with every opportunity to consecrate herself 
in it wholly to Gh)d, failed wretchedly, and abandoned 
her post. 

The contrast between the service and duty which 
Mrs. Mattingly was permitted to fulfill while remain- 
ing in secular life, and the dreary end of the recreant 
sister we are to refer to here, should be suggestive, 
and is worth considering. 

The defection of this nun — Sister Anna Gertrude 
Whyte — was peculiarly painful to the community, 
because she was one of its most prominent and, in 
certain respects, most able members, and had been a 
child of the house, as one may say, brought up under 
the immediate care and supervision of Archbishop 
Neale and Mother Teresa. Her &ther having died 
when she was eleven years old, she was placed by her 
mother — with another daughter a year younger — in 
the care of the Archbishop, and became a pupil of 
^^ the Pious Ladies." Both the children were remark- 
ably precocious and talented. Such piety then reigned 
in the school itself, that it resembled a novitiate ; and 
more than a majority of the girls aspired to the 
reli^ous state; cherishing hopes in that direction, 
which they realized before long. Thus, among others, 
these two half-orphans entered their postulantship 
when seventeen and sixteen years old, and were ad- 


mitted to solemn tows in 1817. The fervor of tlie 
younger, Mary, was yery great. It led to her being 
appointed Mistress of Novices at the age of nineteen ; 
but she died a year later (1820). 

Anna Gertrude, the elder one, seems to have devel- 
oped her innate force anddevemess more especially on 
the intellectual side, and unfortunately — as also quite 
unnecessarily — at the expense of the spirituaL Hie 
highest reaches of intellectual splendor may be per- 
fectly accordant with spiritual faithfulness or hnmility : 
as innumerable examples in the history of the human 
mind attest, from Dante in the secular life to Pope 
Lfco XTTT. in the saoerdotaL At the same time, even 
a little laere pride of learning may be destructive of true 
spiritual equilibrimn ; just as a great and overgrovni 
pride of learning wrecked that once eminent and 
erudite ecclesiastic. Dr. DoUinger. It is to a Catho- 
lic English poet, Alexander Pope, that we owe the 
maxim now — by constant use — worn hmnUy and 
appropriately threadbare, that ^^ A little learning is a 
dangerous thing." A little pride is equally perilous ; 
though the remedy is not to drink deeper of pride, 
but to quaff from the spring of pure Christian sim- 
plicity and of wholesome, hmnble faithfulness. 

Sister Anna Gertrude Whyte evidently suffered 
from, and was at last undone by, a few grains of 
poisoning pride that she had carelessly let fall into 
the well of knowledge from which she was at liberty 
to draw freely. During her novitiate and for some 
time afterwards, nothing absolutely objectionable ap- 
peared in her conduct; although it is hinted that 
there were traits or actions on her part which created 


misgivings as to her fatore, among those who observed 
her closely. In that obscure and quiet-loving convent 
she found at first no field for the exercise of the 
&oulty she possessed — or, rather, which possessed her 
— for shining as a mistress and exponent of various 
learning. But when in the course of time a more 
extensive plan, a higher range of studies, was under- 
taken in the Academy, Sister W. was chosen to carry 
it out, by reason of her natural and cultivated qualifi* 
cation for this especial work. ^^ She devoted her 
whole soul to literature," it is said ; and all the ener- 
gies of her powerful mind were bent to the task of 
raising the Academy to the highest standard of the 

Having first been appointed Directress of the school, 
and having served some time in that capacity, she was 
likewise made assistant or sub-prioress of the convent, 
in 1828. Father Wheeler seemed to entertain the 
most exalted opinion of her ; and Mother Juliana — 
saintly, imassuming, always difiSident as to her own 
abilities — gladly entrusted to her all the, exterior 
business of the sisterhood. That Sister Crertrude was 
inwardly unworthy of the confidence reposed in her 
did not come to light until some time afterwards ; and 
it is hardly to be wondered at that those who were 
themselves honest and unsuspicious relied upon her 
without question, when they knew she had passed 
most of her life within the convent walls, and saw her 
using all her brilliant gifts with seeming earnestness 
for the common cause. But when Father Wheeler 
sailed for Europe in the autumn of 1828, the actual 
aim she had at heart was soon made known. It 


tamed out to be nothing leas than the entire snbveiv 
flion of the Georgetown house of the Visitation I 

The ez-Empie88 Tturbide of Mezioo, whose advent 
in Greorgetown has been toaohed npon, was allowed 
to take apartments with her four daughters in the 
Academy and even to have a cell in the doister and 
to wear the oonventaal garb while in the oonvent 
proper. These privileges were granted to her in con- 
sideration of her great piety and the overwhelming 
misfortunes she had lately undergone. By the inti- 
macy of the Academy and the doister thus established. 
Madam Tturbide (as she was now called) and her 
children were brought into dose relations with Sister 
Ghertrude Whyte and became strongly attached to 
her. The Directress and sub-prioress, on her part, 
showed them every kindness and attention, and gave 
much of her time to their sodety. Madam Ytnrbide's 
chaplain, Father Lopez, an estimable priest, had ac- 
companied her to Greorgetown, and Father Wheder, cm 
his departure for Europe, asked this chaplain to act aa 
spiritual director of the community during his absence. 

So it came about that Sister Grertrude, admired by 
all. Madam Yturbide the friend and guest of the com- 
munity, and the temporary director, Father Lopez, 
were brought into close association and a consensus 
of views. In the early days of struggle, it will be 
remembered, there had been a serious proposal to 
change the aim of this religious house and attach it to 
the Ursuline Order ; a proposal backed, at that time, 
by a well-meant and very tempting offer of pecuniary 
aid. But it had been rejected, because of Archbishop 
Neale's firm determination to follow out the Yisita- 


tion plan, seconded by the strong desire of most of 
the sisters. This idea of adopting the Ursuline role 
seems to have taken deep root in Sister Crertrude's 
mind ; and now, after so long an interval, she tried 
to bring it to fruition. Within a month from the 
time when Father Wheeler left Greorgetown, she 
brought up in the councils of the community the old 
project of abandoning the institute of St. Francis de 
Sales. Her argument was, that the rule of the Ur^ 
sulines was much better adapted to the immediate 
needs of this country, and that the necessity of main- 
taining a school conflicted with the original plan of 
St. Francis, which aimed to establish a contemplative 
order only. If an Academy on a large scale and with 
a high standard of studies, such as had now been 
started, was to be carried on to the best advantage, 
she thought it should be put under Ursuline guidance. 
It is not hard to detect, in this argument and its aim, 
an ambition to make intellectual and educational 
eminence the primary object ; which object, if at- 
tained, would have given to Sister Gfertmde great 
personal distinction and gratification. 

Father Lopez and Madam Tturbide both strongly 
favored the change proposed; believing, no doubt, 
that it would really advance the cause of religion. All 
three were anxious that it should be carried through 
promptly, before Father Wheeler could return from 
Europe ; the sub-prioress being particularly averse to 
his intention of bringing home with him the French 
sisters who, with the consent of the chapter, were ex- 
pected to guide the spiritual conduct of the commu- 
nity. Possibly the sub-prioress foresaw that, if once 


the IVench sisters should arrive and be installed in 
such a capacity, tiiere would never again be any 
chance of discarding the Visitation role; and that 
oonseqnently her special gifts as a teacher, instead of 
bringing her individual renown, would continue to be 
merged in the general life of the Greorgetown house. 

TiuB project must have impressed the sisterhood as 
disloyal to their whole history, their promises, and 
aims. The thought of abandoning their Order after 
so many years of gaUant struggle, when their estab- 
lishment had been approved by the Sovereign Pontiff 
and had entered upon an era of success, was most 
unwelcome to them; and they rejected it so deci- 
sively, that the discussion was dropped. 

But Sister Qertrude remained irreconcilable, dia- 
oontented. When Father Wheeler and the French 
risters were so joyously welcomed home, she alone 
took no share in the happiness of that event. It 
would seem that the wounded vanity of seeing her 
own desires and ambitions thwarted overcame the dis- 
cipline of a lifetime and its constant lessons of obedi- 
ence. A year and a half later, she abruptly and 
secretly deserted the convent. In the afternoon of 
March 22, 1831, between two and three o'clock, she 
went to the Academy parlor, and, taking the key from 
one of the girls, in whose charge the portress had left 
it, sent her elsewhere. Being now alone — for there 
was not another individual in all that part of the 
house — she unlocked the door. Then, having thrown 
one of the children's cloaks over her head, as a pa^rtial 
means of disguise, she passed out into the street. 

What a strange moment must that have been, — 


the moment in which, after being sixteen years a pro- 
fessed nun and dwelling in the busy quietude, the regu- 
larity and pious devotion of the cloister, she turned 
her back upon it, broke her solemn vow, cast off her 
name in religion; and, forsaking her chosen duties, 
faced the outer world alone without chart or g^de or 
any certainty as to her career I 

She had walked only the distance of a square or two 
when Father Lucas, one of the Jesuit Fathers at the 
college, met her ; and — notwithstanding the cloak that 
hid Ae upper part of her figure and the distinctively 
religious costume — he recognized her at once. She 
passed on silently; and he, greatly astonished and 
puzzled by her presence on the street, wishing also to 
be perfectly sure that he had made no mistake as to 
her identity, went around and met her again on an- 
other street. This time, apparently willing to end all 
doubt, she threw her cloak open, showing him plainly 
her face, her barbette, and silver cross. Horrified, 
on fully realizing the situation, he raised his hands and 
exclaimed : ^^ Sister Grertrude I is it you ? " As it 
appears from the account in the annals, she made no 
reply, but closed her cloak again and walked on, until, 
meeting a hack, she hailed the driver and told him to 
take her to the residence of her cousin. General Van 

, on Capitol Hill, Washington. Startled though 

Father Lucas was, the driver was apparently still 
more so on seeing her distinctive religious costume, as 
he let down the steps ; for he stood back and made no 
attempt to help her into the carriage. 

That same afternoon the Father Sector of the 
Jesuits, with another of the Fathers, called at Greneral 


Van % hoping perhaps to faring the errant nim 

home ; faat she declared that she had left the conTent 
forever. She knelt to ask their blessing; but they 
did not raise their hands to make the sign of the cross 
over her. 

Although Father Laoas, after meeting Sister G(er- 
trude on the street, went to the convent and called for 
the Superior at the grate, — where, after a little, in 
order to relieye the suspense she would feel if she should 
find her assistant missing, he told her of his discovery, 
— it was still difficult for the Superior, Mother Mag- 
dalene Augustine, to fully comprehend thefact of Sister 
Gertrude's departure. Every room and comer of the 
convent was searched, in the hope of finding the lost 
sister somewhere. It was not until the evening, after 
supper, when the community were assembled in the 
recreation room^ that Sister Agatha Langlois, coming 
in with a pallid &ce, exclaimed to them all : ^ Sister 
Gertrude Whyte is out. She is gone ! " 

The news was received with sobs and tears. To 
people who attach little importance to the most solemn 
obligations between the human and the divine, and re- 
gard all matters of religious faith and duty as being 
simply optional with each human creature, it may seem 
strange that the sisters should so deeply take to heart 
this willful secession of one of their number. But it 
meant, to them^ the peril of her soul ; because of her 
violating promises to Gh)d, the most sacred and pro- 
found, which involved her whole existence here and 
still more hereafter. All wept and prayed for her 
whom they had so loved and now had lost I — who 
perhaps had lost herself; and some went to the choir. 


where they prostrated themselYes before the Blessed 
Sacrament, petitioning for pity and mercy towards her. 

M iy^M^ Ttnrbide soon invited the fugitive to leave 

Gea, Van 's, and come to her house in Greorge- 

town, where she was treated as one of the &mily. 

Sister Josephine Barber — at that time simply a 
pupil in the Academy, a girl of fifteen — called 
upon her there, with another of the Academy girls, 
some ten weeks after her sudden exit from the convent. 
With touching simplicity and reserve, covering a 
depth of grief. Sister Josephine wrote as follows con- 
cerning the sad episode : ** She had known me from 
the time I was a baby, as also my sisters, and my 
mother [Sister Mary Austin Barber]. I was young 
enough to sit upon her knee, when I discovered that 
she had lost her vocation; but the impression was 
never obliterated. I mention this to show how sharp 
children are, and how careful one should be in their 
presence. • . • On seeing Sister Crertrude Whyte 
in her worldly attire, smooth, glossy hair and combs, 
black silk dress, watch and chain, etc, I burst into 
tears, and could not speak for sobbing. She and 
Madam Yturbide asked me repeatedly what made me 
cry. At last I said : * Sister, won't you go back to 
the convent ? * 

** ^ No, indeed,' she replied, with a peculiar shake 
of the head which all who knew her remember. 

*^ She asked me many questions about the Ursuline 
convent in Boston, where my eldest sister was ; also 
about Mother St. George. After staying about twenty 
minutes, we bade her good-by, and returned to the 


Ldttile 18 reoorded of her sabflequent aotions or ena- 
pIoymentB, althougli she lived for thirly-cdz years 
longer. The Visitation Sisters of Baltimore wrote in 
December, 1867, this letter concerning her latter days 
and her death : — 

** Aboot the last of September she came on a visit to Mrs. N., 

stayed two weeks, then a few days with Mrs. L. (Gen. Van *b 

danghter). Before leaving Baltimore she came with Mrs. N. to 
the convent. Mother Flanlina Millard said to her : * Sister, yoa 
most come to us. I have a place for yon here.' She replied : 
* Oh, no f ' Mother insisted : ' Oh, yes I Yon mnst come ; yoa 
mnst die with ns. Yon mnst either come here, or go to old 
Georgetown, to die.' 

''She was very mnoh agitated, and still said No^ bat not 
proudly. I told her I would be so happy to have her come and 
die with ns. She then said I mnst come and die with her. She 
inquired about several of the old sisters, took the liveliest interest 
in dear Mother Juliana's death, and told ns how devoted she was 
to her. Mother Paulina asked her whether she would like to 
have something of Mother Juliana's. She answered very eagerly^ 
< Yes, indeed f ' Then Mother Ftolina detached from her beads 
a medal of the Holy Family, which Mother Juliana had had 
about her when dying, and gave it to poor Sister [Grertrnde]. 
Mother asked her whether she was not afraid to go to Rich- 
mond ; travelling wza so dangerous. She said : No, indeed f — 
she was not afraid of anything ; she loved to traveL Mother 
told her she put her daily ' in the wounds of Jesus.' She an- 
swered : ' I hope I am in the wounds of Jesus.' We saw she 
was very much agitated, struggling against something; and 
others who saw her said the same. 

" She went to church with N. twice ; made no genuflection, 
but knelt most reverently, and knelt at the elevation as if in 
deep prayer. . . . She never spoke of any religious topic what- 
ever ; from morning to night was fixing her little articles of 
dress, though in deep mourning. . . . While at Mrs. M's, in Rich- 
mond, she had an attack of pneumonia ; but was convalescent, 
and able to walk across the room, when the family one day 
heard a heavy fall in the bedroom overhead, and going np^ foand 


poor Sister [Grertnide] lying on the floor, with her hand raised to 
her head. On seeing them, she exchiimed : ' Oh ! Am I 
orazj ? ' — and in fifteen minutes [she] was no more. • . . She 
was aged sixty-eight or nine years." 

From this brief account of Sister Gertrade's defeo- 
tion it will be seen bow easy it is for the weak, the 
vain, or the intellectually proud to ^^ escape " from a 
convent. The difficulty is not in escaping, but in get- 
ting back. For, vows once being broken and all 
higher purposes of self-sacrifice and duty being set at 
naught, the soul that imagines itself emancipated to 
wander freely in the common ways and market-places 
of earth discovers that it is really imprisoned there 
and can hardly return to the true liberty of pure re- 
ligious devotion. 

There is nothing ^' sensational," in the common 
meaning, about this story of the flight of a nun. But 
there is much that is deeply pathetic. Sister Grertrude 
Whyte, in the disruption of her conventual ties, failed 
to win that personal distinction for which she seems to 
have longed ; and she came to a piteous end at last. 
Her old friends and companions were gentle, kind, and 
charitable toward her ; giving their good-will and their 
prayers to her as to an errant soul ia deadly danger ; 
and it seems that she came back to see and talk with 
them affectionately. But she had willfully thrown 
away her opportunity, and it did not come again. 

Nothing could better emphasize the truth that, even 
with all the safeguards of faith, the protection of reli- 
gious orders and long training in submission and obe- 
dience, the iudividual soul must never for a moment 
rely wholly upon itself ; for in one such moment — 


like that when Sister G^ertrude Whyte rnilpcked 
the oonyent door and stepped out into the seeming 
freedom of the street — it may lose foreyer that 
highest joy of the free will which uiites itself, hum- 
bly and through grace, with God. 


As we approach the end of that period covered by 
the manuscript records at our disposal, it is fitting 
and will be instructiye to gather together here a few 
biographical sketches of sisters whom we have not 
spoken of at length in previous chapters ; members of 
the community who, in their several ways, left a 
strong and abiding impress upon it and sometimes 
upon the whole Order in the United States. 

Their firm yet gentle personalities are enshrined in 
the memory of the older sisters now living and in the 
hearts of many American women, non-Catholic, as well 
as Catholic, who in girlhood came under their benefi- 
cent care, counsel, or teaching. For this reason espe- 
cially it is proper that we should offer some kind of 
portrait of them, at least in outline ; little though they, 
in their modest self-abnegation, dreamed that their pure 
and humble activity — hidden away from the world 
— would ever be mentioned publicly. Such records, 
however brief, may also help to make dear to those 
who do not yet understand it, the vigor, the force of 
character, the high quality of heart and soul constantly 
wrought into the substance of a community of nuns. 

From the nature of the material, an exact chrono- 
logical arrangement can hardly be made. We shall 
therefore present these sketches without any special 



system, singly or in groups, as they happen to be 
drawn from our portfolio. 

Sister Angela became a member of the 
yUm oommunity about the year 1819. She was 
j^[2SoK ^^® ^^ those characters who convey to the 
^^^ mind the image of a soul of spotless in- 

OTHXB8. ® * 

nocence. She celebrated her Golden Jubi- 
lee, and lived for several years afterwards, retaining 
to the last her full mental faculties, and her child* 
like simplicity. She was made Superioress of the 
foundation in Philadelphia. On the breaking up of 
the house there, she was recalled to Georgetown. 
Then for twelve years, at different times, she served 
as Superioress of Georgetown Convent, and governed 
with a gentle firmness and a lovely spirit of forbear- 
ance ; enduring the many trials incidental to authority 
with the utmost patience. 

During the Civil War her energy and wisdom 
shone forth especially. She was at that time most 
generous in trying to aid poor chaplains; and she 
showed a true zeal for souls in the advice she gave to 
soldiers who applied to her for help. Her charity 
was remembered, as the nuns of Greorgetown had 
reason to realize not long ago, during a recent en* 
campment of the Grand Army of the Republic, when 
one of the veterans called to see ** Mother Angela," 
not knowing she had been dead many years. The 
veteran gave as the cause of his desire to see her, 
that the angelic Superioress *^had converted him." 
Whenever, worn out with marching and laden with 
dust, raiments halted in front of the convent during 
the war, a liberal lunch was served to the weaiy sol- 


diers ; and, to those who irished for than, many ob- 
jects of piety were sent out on the spot from Mother 
AngftltL. She, in company with Sister Cecilia Brooks, 
Sister Begina Neale, Sister Michaela of Wheeling 
CSonvent, and Sister Loretto Hnnter, all sisters of 
Georgetown, was associated with everything good and 
holy in the community. 

Sister Begina Neale went to the Mount de Sales 
foundation, and was for many years its Superioress, 
and deeply beloved. She died just after celebrating 
her Golden Jubilee, in 1891. Mother Loretto Hunter 
is the only one of the above named sisters who is still 
living, as Superioress of Frederick Convent. Her 
memory is still gratefully cherished at (Georgetown. 

Another long venerated inmate of this house, under 
the name of Sister Mary Olympia, was Mrs. Fulton, 
mother of the Bev. Bobert Fulton, a well-known and 
distinguished member of the Society of Jesus. When 
her son, to whom she had devoted the early years of 
her widowhood, obeyed his vocation to enter the 
Jesuit Order, Mrs. Fulton herself retired to the soli- 
tude of Georgetown Convent, where she spent many 
years in useful service to the neighboring poor, and 
also as Directress of St. Joseph's Free School con- 
nected with the convent. She died at the age of 
eighty-five. Her name is held in benediction by her 
scholars and friends. 

Sister Genevieve White, who was a sister 

Mart of the late Judge White, of New York, as 

YiBYB well as a niece of Grerald Ghriffin, the famous 

™"* Irish poet and novelist, entered the convent 

at a time when her talents were very much needed. 


For the greater part of her reUgious life she taught 
the graduating class or the first dass. Her pupils 
will always remember her faithful care, and the great 
pains she bestowed on them and on many of the dis- 
tinguished women of the country, who graduated 
under her instruction. Among these were Mrs. Gen- 
eral Sherman, and afterwards her daughter, Mrs. 
Thackara; Mother Angela Gillespie, the late Supe- 
rioress of the Holy Cross Sisters at Notre Dame; 
Mrs. Harriet Lane Johnson, and others. It was 
TOally wonderful to see her, at an advanced age, as 
faithful to class duties as when young, although a 
constant sufferer from ill health ; and it is difficult to 
understand how she could possibly keep up and never 
fail to be at her post, under the stress of such bodily 
pain as she endured. Until she was stricken down 
with her death illness, she persisted regularly, to the 
astonishment of those who knew how delicate she was, 
in mounting up, lantern in hand, many flights of 
stairs to the Belvidere, canying also plenty of maps, 
and prepared to teach her astronomy dass about the 
oonstellations, as eager as if she were only twenty 
years of age. It was one of the secrets of Divine 
Providence, why Sister Grenevieve, whose life had been 
a model of exact observance of the holy Rule of the 
convent, should have been burdened, as was the case, 
with a long martyrdom of two years of pain, before 
her death. Her physician, who was one of the best 
in Washington, and fully understood her suffering, 
was astonished that she could survive its ravages for 
80 long, saying, *^ It is marvelous, marvelous I " At 
last she died, in May, 1886, at the age of seventy- 


diree, after haying been forty-£(rar yean profe^ 

those who loved her best thanked God for her releaae. 

Bnt we should be omitting a still more important 
element in her character if we paused with speaking 
only of her academic service and her industry and per- 
severance in it. The hidden life of God's servants is 
known only to Himself, save for the few glimpses now 
and then vouchsafed to thdr fellow servants as an in- 
centive to imitation. In Sister G^evieve these 
glimpses allowed her companions to discern an extreme 
delicacy of conscience, with indefetigaUe ardor in 
every duty, spiritual or temporal ; an exactitude be- 
yond comparison, involving necessarily the most heroic 
sacrifices, — in a word, an unceasing warfare on self. 
On the other hand, it was not difficult to see that her 
greatest feult lay in refusing offered relief when it 
was most craved by nature, lest some feilure in stem 
duty might creep in. 

The respect of Superiors for her excessively tender 
conscience prevented them from requiring her to give 
herself the care and rest that her health often called 
for. A development of character so sensitive yet so 
strong in this direction, not less than her devoted 
efficiency as a teacher, has caused the name of Sister 
Grenevieve to be held sacred ever since in the commu- 
nity, with esteem, affection, and reverence. For a 
model in every Christian and religious virtue, in 
truth, we need scarcely look further. 
S18TKB Sister Mary Augustine Cleary was a Vir- 

Mabt ginian of good birth, and possessed in a 
TQOB remarkable degree the well-known charac- 

^^'^^^^' teristics of natives of that noble State, so 


richly endowed with men and women of brains, of 
generous instancts, and inbred courtesy. First a stu- 
dent, then a novice in the convent, she was professed 
in 1843. 

Immediately thereafter a position in the Academy 
was assigned to her, which accorded with her excel- 
lent equipment of knowledge. Devoted to study and 
reading. Sister Augustine was veritably what might be 
termed a learned woman ; and the other sisters often 
joked about the accumulation of books to be found 
wherever her room might be. Like many persons 
given to deep thought and to reflection upon the 
stores of fact and information with which her mem- 
ory busied itself, the good sister was often absent- 
minded. This trait being well known to her pupils, 
the mischievous among them frequently took advan- 
tage of it, greatly to their own satisfaction, if not to 

Scrupulously exact in following the Rule, she was 
a model to all religious ; and her always straightfor- 
ward expression in favor of what was right won for her 
a general and pronounced respect She was twice 
elected Superioress in G^rgetown, once in 1852 and 
again in 1867 ; once in Frederick, Md., and twice in 
Abingdon, Ya., — making four terms of three years 
each, in all a dozen years of arduous and responsible 
administration. From Abingdon she came back to her 
old home in Georgetown, very feeble and totally broken 
in health, and died here August 9, 1882, aged seventy- 
seven years. Her last illness was short and violent ; 
but she had long been well prepared for this destined 
emergency, and so passed onward peacefully to her 
eternal rest. 


The parents of this remarkable aster 
Mart were Mr. Joflhua Millard and Nanoy Man- 
StSi^ti '^^ Millard, who both belonged to dia- 
tinguished faunilies among the old Colonial 
settlers of lower Maryland. They lived in Leonard- 
town, but finally removed with their numerous fsaoSlj 
to Washington. Sister Paulina, whose name before 
entering religion was Clotilda, was bom on the Feast 
of the Epiphany, in 1812. 

At that time, when Catholics were considered un- 
worthy of position either social or political, the piety 
of the Millards shone forth fearlessly and beneficently. 
Mr. Millard was obliged to send his children to a sec- 
ular school; but he gave them their religious in- 
struction himself, until they were old enough to leave 
home for religious institutions. He was very particn« 
lar about collecting the entire household for night 
prayers, catechism, and instruction, after which he 
would dismiss his children with his blessing and pater- 
nal caresses, as Sister Paulina delighted to relate. 
She also enjoyed giving accounts of her mother's firm- 
ness and bright example, and many other traits which 
rendered her saintly in character. Her mother never 
failed to assist at daily Mass, unless prevented by 
something very urgent. She would then return home 
and awaken her children, seeing personally to their 
prayers and breakfast ; and prepare them for school, 
often sending off eight or nine at once of the whole 
charming group of fourteen. It is not surprising that 
three of these children devoted themselves to Grod's 
service in the Order of the Visitation, and that all 
were a credit to their home training. 


Georgetown C!oll^e and the Clonvent of the Yisita- 
tion were then making their beginning ; and the older 
boys and girls were, as soon as possible, sent to these 
institutions. Clotilda was fourteen years old when she 
was consigned to the blessed abode of the convent. She 
soon desired to become a religious of this Order. In 
1829, at the age of seventeen, she graduated with 
much distinction, receiving the «' highest honors of the 
Academy " from the hands of John Quincy Adams, 
the President of the United States. 

She returned to her family, and spent a short vaca- 
tion with them; after which she continued her studies 
for some months longer. The young girl then made a 
final visit of one day to her home, bidding fiurewell to 
those whom she loved best on earth, and entered the 
convent as a novice on the Feast of St. Catherine, 
November 25, 1829. 

The sisters aver that Sister Paulina never once 
^ looked back after putting her hand to the plow ; " 
though, when so young, she had entered Grod's service 
with such ardor that it might have been possible for 
her to tire, to remember with regret her easy home in the 
world, to feel that she had not fully understood the re- 
quirements of the convent. But no ; she had returned to 
her home for a single day to say good-by ; and yet had 
meant all that she said and did. What makes her un- 1 

blemished adherence to principle and duty the more 
remarkable is that (as was learned from her pleasant 
way of telling anecdotes, although she was usually 
very reticent about herself) her novitiate was a particu- 
larly rigorous one ; for the G^rgetown Convent was 
at that time governed by the French Sisters, elsewhere 


described, who had been invitod to assist the Viaitan- 
dines of America in establishing the rule of Si. 
SVancis de Sales in eveiy iota of its demandii. Some 
pointsof this rale were misoited to American needs and 
climate ; but the object was to keep as closely to the 
original decrees as possible ; and it is to be supposed that 
Sister Paulina was, as chance would have it, the test 
of how iar an American nun might be capable of fat 
filling them. But she was unspoiled, unselfish, and was 
upheld by a noble willingness ; so that, fortunately for 
the Order here, no unnecessary modifications were made 
through any failure on her part to subscribe in all 
things practicable. Her high degree of religious per- 
fection, obtained through the training of these three 
beloved and thoroughly equipped French wmnen, was 
of incalculable benefit to many souls whom she was des- 
tined to lead and teach. 

At about twenty years of age, in Mobile, whither 
she had been transferred, she was proposed as Supe- 
rioress. But she shrank from attempting it, as she 
was too young, and lacked the required years of pro- 
fession for this post ; besides, her health was foiling, 
under the pressure of care which had already fallen 
upon her. She acquainted her superiors at Greorge- 
town with all the above facts of her position, and was 
immediately recalled to her first religious home. She 
was appointed Accountant and Aid to the venerable 
Sister Teresa Lalor, who was at the time Procuratriz 
in G^rgetown. 

After some six years she was appomted Directress 
of the academy at a new foundation in Baltimore ; 
and she entered upon her fresh duties with ardor* 


The guooesB of this academy, and the rapid increase 
of its pupils, saffidently testdfied to her ability. For 
twenty years she earnestly carried on this labor, being 
also for a period simultaneously called to the office of 
Superioress, in which her real worth was most power- 
fully felt, however noteworthy her success as Directress 
had proved. She brought into practice many little 
points of observance, as soon as circumstances would 
permit, that were zealously cherished by her spiritual 
children. In 1857 she was called to the important 
charge of Superioress in the Washington Clonvent. 
The poignant regret of the Baltimore sisters, when 
she left them, was at last consoled in 1863, as they 
were then able once more to reelect her to their house 
as Superioress. 

Such a record gives amplest evidence of Sister 
Paulina Millard's administrative talents. These were 
surpassed only by her spirit of prayer and strict idea 
of religious observance. Her charity was boundless, 
and her sympathy extended to every one ; but it was 
to the shamefaced poor that she showed what the 
sisters describe as more than maternal affection. Her 
disposition was genial, bright, and cheerful ; and to 
her superiors she always showed a childlike deference 
and obedience. To her Sisters she was always kind, 
obliging, comforting in their sorrows, and sympathetic 
in their joys, as well as interested in the joys and sor- 
rows of their dear relations in the world. She was 
beloved in and outside of the convent. 

In 1890, after sixty years of service to the 
greatest number of her fellow beings possible, Sister 
Paulina began visibly to decline ; and finally she left 


the oommiinity room for the last time ; saying that 
she had preferred to endure the exoessive pain of her 
severe iUness among the sisters, and she knew that 
when she should onoe enter the infirmary she would 
never leave it for the conmmnify room again. She 
died in 1891. Although seventy-nine years of age, in 
death she had the appearance of one in the early 
hloom of youth, and her features ecqnessed beatifio 

Sister Loretto, the late Directress of the 
H^^Y Academy, who died on October 2, 1898^ 
^^^n^ entered the convent in 1862, very soon after 
having graduated there as a pupiL In be- 
coming a nun she gave up a h^ypy home, in which she 
was almost idolized. A brother, Joseph King, also 
devoted himself to religion ; becoming a Jesuit, and 
connecting himself with (Georgetown College, where he 
died when still young. She had been reared in the 
most loving and delicate manner ; but she bore the 
privations of the religious life heroically. As for 
labor, those who watched her declining years can best 
appreciate her sufferings and merits. She was in vain 
urged to take necessary rest ; but she said she wished 
to die '^ in harness." Her appearance was commanding 
in manner, expressive both of firmness and gentleness ; 
and respect and affection were the natural results of 
knowing her, however briefly. Many mothers who were 
educated at G^rgetown C!onvent have placed their 
children under her care with the same enthusiastic 
esteem as if they were still schoolgirls themselves. 

Twice she was elected Mother Superior ; but con- 
tinued to fill the office of Directress at the same time. 


Her life was worn out in labors for the Academy ; she 
was indefatigable in attention to what she deemed 
necessary and best for the house. How wasted and 
spent she was, those can deeply appreciate who knew 
her joyous nature of forty years ago. Many weary 
days of toil, which she could have shifted upon other 
shoulders, ennobled Sister Loretto, so that any one 
might see that her rare soul had been kept not only 
pure, but vigorous, in a constant effort for the good of 
others. All her natural vivacity had been so mingled 
with labor, that the labor had been transfigured ; and 
the happy disposition, always lofty, had merged itself 
in healthy bnunpo^. The former pupik who knew 
her best found her a true and loving friend and a life- 
long guide, oounseling them safely in afl perplexities, 
and seeking to instill into them an absolute confidence 
in God, — the strongest characteristic of her own 
strong heart. 

SvrxB I^ would be impossible to name all the 

Cbciua aigters who have been professed in George- 
AVD town Convent, some of whom were subse- 

Bk^bd quently sent on different foundations, with 
G ba h a m . iJie details that would be gladly given if 
space permitted. Indeed, only a few of these sisters 
can be even mentioned. Some of them, however, were 
so long a part of the convent that it would be strange 
if their personalities did not find record in this account 
and chronicle of their home in religion. 

Sister M. Cecilia Brooks was one of the much loved 
and much loving sisters whose lives were measured by 
many years of religious labor. She entered in 1819 ; 
and for the greater part of her life in the sisterhood 


was eitber the SuperioraM of the oonyeni, or Direo* 
reBB of the aohooL She had great fimmefls of oliarao- 
ter, and great dignity; bat she ocmunanded not 
merely the respect of the scholars; they loved her, in 
return for her love. As Superioress she won the 
enthusiasm of the community by her genial charao- 
ter, her maternal thoughtfulness, and great generosity 
of soul ; and she was highly respected by Arohbiahop 
Ecdeston. Her happy government has never been 
forgotten. Sister Cecilia was sent as Superioress to 
Mount de Sales CCatonsville, Maryland), when that 
convent was founded. There she remained till her 
holy death, in I860. She was called always by the 
endearing name of ^Mother Cely." The beloved 
words ** Mother Cely" have often been uttered by 
the older asters in Georgetown, who have constantlj 
quoted her as an oracle of good judgment. 

Sister M. Bernard Graham was for many years Di> 
rectress of the Academy. She was the daughter of 
the Hon. G^rgeGrraham; and her mother was, by her 
first marriage, the wife of (George Mason, of Gtmston 
Hall, Ya., by whom she was left a widow. Sister 
Bernard was bom at Gtmston HalL She was the 
true type of a warm-hearted Virginian of the old 
schooL Early in life she became a convert to Ca- 
tholicity; and at the age of twenty-eight, in 1839, 
left friends and fortune, and the many pleasures at 
her command, to adopt a life of obedience and poverty 
at G^rgetown. Far and wide, Sister Bernard's 
name will recall many happy memories. She pos- 
sessed a sympathizing heart, and she had the ability 
to manifest her genial interest and tenderness in the 


most winning way. Her kindness to the sick was 
remarkable. The moment any illness among the pu- 
pils assumed a serious character, she gave up all other 
duly to her assistant, and watched beside the patient 
like a tender mother. She showed the deepest solici- 
tude concerning everything relating to the comfort of 
the children. 

It was most edifying to see how completely she ig- 
nored her early life of ease. Though she had learned 
to be accustomed to the ministration of servants, she 
never hesitated, when a nun, to perform any duty, 
however menial, if there were the slightest need of it. 
The older scholars, or graduates, can well remember 
how, on cold winter nights. Sister Bernard would go 
around, herself , with the coal-scuttle, and fill the 
stoves, to keep the dormitories and the ** play-room '' 
warm. Other loving attentions and humble kind- 
nesses won the hearts of the children. In her last' 
days she suffered from various infirmities ; but to the 
very end she insisted upon doing different services for 
herself which others would gladly have undertaken. 
She betrayed, one day, to a friend, that she was re- 
solved thus to depend only on herself, out of a spirit 
of self-mortification ; for the words escaped her : ^' I 
love dearly to be waited upon." To any one who 
also loves dearly to be waited upon, and has been ac- 
customed to that state of life. Sister Bernard's many 
years of unusually energetic labor and self-help will 
disclose great heroism. At her death, in 1888, on 
May 8, she received the last Sacraments in the ut- 
most peace, after forty-eight years of religious life. 
This notice of a rarely noble soul will seem to nume- 


lous friends and old pupils too brief to satisfy their 
many loving memories. Sister Bernard's brotber was 
the late General Mason Ghraham of Lonisiana, well 
known as a soldier, and a thorough gentleman of the 
most refined culture. 
„ Sister Felix entered the convent on June 

DI8TBB _^ 

Fblxx 8, 1839. She was a widow, who had oonse- 

"" crated herself to good works in the parish 

of Father Yarella, a saintly priest of New York. 

She chose, in the convent, the rank of out-sister, as 

more suited to her disposition and habits of life. 

The period of her religious life was long, but 
through it all she never relaxed her zeal for Church 
work ; laboring for poor churches and for fairs, con- 
stantly. She was never idle. Old vestments, now 
darkly colored by time, attest the skill of her fingers, 
and prove that her eyesight well seconded her taste 
for fine embroidering. Her even disposition and 
placid temper added to her great usefulness. It 
would be hard to recall a single unkind word or un- 
charitable remark ever spoken by her. The closing 
years of her life were years of what the world would 
call terrible suffering ; but the true religious is angel- 
ically spared all terror. An affection of the eye slowly 
disfigured her face. She who had, formerly, been the 
Sacristan, on whom it devolved to go forward and 
welcome or wait on the Bishops and priests who came 
to celebrate Mass, was now no longer the bright hostess 
and attendant, but was forced to retire into the shad- 
ows, because of a repulsive disease. Truly, this was 
the most beautiful, the most heroic part of her life, as 
her sister religious telL 


She could no longer sew for the poor, or work for the 
Church, — her dearest occupations : she could not even 
read her prayer-book, the reward of hours of fatiguing 
toiL But no impatient word ever escaped her ; and 
she was very grateful for every little attention which 
she received. When death came, at the end of fifty 
years of hard work, her sisters trust that she was 
blessed with full consolation. Her *^ day," of half a 
century, included the time of many distinguished 
pupils. She taught them embroidery, accompanied 
them on their shopping and pleasure expeditions, and 
in many ways contributed to their enjoyment, before 
her illness drew a sharp barrier between such pleasant 
service and her then more sombre life, — and more 
profound self-abn^ation. 

Sienm One of the most remarkable sisters who 

gj^j^^ have entered Georgetown Clonvent, was 
PxABOB. Miss Julia Pearce, a Bostonian, a scion of 
old Puritan stock. She became a member of the 
community in 1844. 

She was most charming in manner, and had great 
musical ability, and was extraordinarily beloved and 
popular (if one should apply the latter term to a reli- 
gious) among the pupils. More than one reader of 
these Annals will remember with gratitude that Sister 
Eulalia led her to the true faith. At a time when 
she herself had scarcely a single Catholic acquaintance, 
and the one or two whom she did know were converts, 
it seemed as if the Holy Spirit fired her soul with the 
gift of the true faith. This devotion to the faith 
never fiickered for a moment in its bright flame. In 
the midst of ill health, keen sorrows^ and the painful 


dhanges from dear association, whioh the religuma 
who is transferred from the first oanvent home to a 
new foundation must experienoe, she, as it were, lield 
the lamp of her belief aloft, and said in the words of 
the apostle : ^ Be joioe in the Lord ; serve Him with 
gladness I " She used to tell an anecdote of herself, 
which illustrates her spirit. When she was received 
into the Church her joy was so exuberant that she 
felt she must communicate her happiness to some 
sympathizing person. But haw was she to find one 
in Boston, and fifty years ago, too, who would or 
could sympathise with a Catholic convert? She 
knew of no one who would rejoice with her exoept a 
good old Irish washerwoman, and so she hurried off 
to her, and threw her arms around her neck, and then 
danced up and down, exclaiming, **We are CathO' 

Sister Eulalia brought to the Church all the entihn- 
siasm of her New England descent, added to which 
was the holy fervor which the Faith had inspired in 
her. She gave herself heart and soul to God, and 
^ He never failed her ; " by which phrase the religions 
means that despair is utterly powerless to assail the 
buoyancy of ecstatic trust which blesses her whole 
existence. After much suffering from a wartJBg dia- 
ease, which the good Grod permitted Sister Eulalia to 
endure for her greater purification, she ended her 
charming and inspiring life at Wheeling Convent, 
whither she had been transferred from Greorgetown 
many years before her death. For a long time, while 
at her home in the world, she had been obliged to en- 
dure the painful opposition of prejudiced minds in the 


family circle, bat she finally won the happiness of be- 
ing joined in the Church by her sister, who entered 
the Visitation Order in Frederick, Maryland. 


There remain in our series of little portraits those 
of three sisters who represented distinctive types; 
while the personal or family associations connected 
with each of them, before they took up the gentle 
cross of monastic life, were of uncommon and striking 

In addition to the touch of picturesqueness and ro- 
mance in the ancestry of Sister Joseph Keating and 
the dignified personality of her father. Baron Keat- 
ing, it is to be noted that she — like Sister Felix Coxe 
— was a widow when she came to the convent, but 
did not limit herself to the labors of an out-sister. 
Having well fulfilled all her duties to her husband 
and son, and having faithfully, tenderly cared for her 
father all through his old age, she consecrated the last 
thirty-one years of her existence to a thorough partici- 
pation in all the cloistral work and worship of the 
Visitation, and became for a time Mother Superior. 
A noteworthy example, this, of energy and persistence 
in good, both at home and within the cloister ! 

Sister Mary Austin Barber, who was also married 
long before her vocation became dear to her, affords 
another and singular instance of strength and deter- 
mination; giving up as she did a dose and happy 
union with her husband, and surrendering home life 
with her children at the same time that their father 
entered the priesthood. Her case was so altogether 


ezoeptional, that we must beg our readers to bear in 
mind the fact of its being quite out of the oommon, 
and to make no generalizations from it. 

Virginia Soott, or Sister Mary Emmanuel, — the 
daughter of General Winfield Scott, — on the other 
hand, illustrates that class of vocations which are in- 
spired in people who have been surrounded by an at- 
mosphere apparently unfavorable to such inspiration, 
and perhaps even charged with elements repellent or 
hostile to it. Yet such a vocation may be just as 
commanding, just as invincible, as though it had arisen 
from long training or from a groundwork of every 
imaginable fostering condition. It may be said c^ 
Sister Mary Emmanuel Scott, as of the other two here 
to be spoken of, that a gift of prophecy would have 
been needed to foretell, from their b^^innings, that 
any one of these would ever be affiliated with a con- 
ventual sisterhood. This is true even of Sister Mary 
Joseph Keating ; for although she came of heroically 
Catholic stock and was devoted to the faith, who 
could have supposed that marriage and motherhood, 
with their happiness or their cares, and the long re- 
sponsibilities of nursing an aged father, would still 
leave her nearly a third of a century of beneficent life 
to dedicate to religion ? 

Sister Mary Joseph Keating's family was 

Mabt a noble one, of Irish descent, whose titles 

^^^ and estates were confiscated to a Protestant 

relative, under the penal laws of England, 

imposed upon Catholics in Ireland. 

The descendants of that Protestant relative — 
Earl Dunraven and Lord Adare — have returned to 


the true faith* Sister Joseph's great-grandfather, 
Sir Geoffrey Keating, who distinguished himself at 
the siege of Limerick, afterwards withdrew with the 
army of James 11. to France. The Keatings were 
cordially received by the French monarch, and 
thenceforward made that country their home ; though 
they frequently returned to visit Adare. 

Sister Joseph's father, called plain Mr. Keating, or 
Chevalier Keating, after his settling in America, had 
inherited a title from his famUy, and was also made a 
Knight of St. Louis for important services in France. 
After the French Sevolution he received a tempting 
offer from the Directory; but he was stanch in his 
devotion to the house of Bourbon, and declined all 
overtures. He emigrated to America, bringing letters 
to General Washington and others, which at once ad- 
mitted him to the highest social circles. He married 
Miss Des ChappeUes, of San Domingo, and resided 
chiefly in Philadelphia. He had lived ^^ while Frede- 
rick the Great was fighting, Chatham was speaking, 
and Voltaire was writing; he was bom forty years 
before Walpole died, and was sixty years of age when 
George IV. was crowned. He knew Washington and 
Franklin, and was nine years older than Napoleon." 
One of his sons married the beautiful Miss Hopkin- 
son, granddaughter of Francis Hopkinson, a signer 
of the Declaration of Lidependence ; and she was a 
daughter of the author of ^^ Hail Columbia." For 
sixty years Baron Keating was an American citizen in 
name, habit, and feeling. Both as a Christian and a 
gentleman, he was respected to an extraordinary de- 
gree. Principle was so strong in him that he refused 


whfin in Franoe to be presented at the ooort of Ticma 
Philippe, whom he did not consider to be the lawful 
sovereign. The King had received hospitality from 
Baron Keating while in this oomitiy as an ezfle, and 
he wished to make retnm ; so he sent word to the 
Baron to come and visit him as a private citizen, — 
which was done, in due bat simple form. 

Among Sister Mary Joseph's many virtoes was her 
indifference, with entire reticence, as to those honors of 
the world which had distinguished her family. One 
could live long in her society, and never suspect that 
she had sacrificed so many worldly advantagee. Very 
rarely, in moments of intimate friendship, she would 
tell some pleasant items ; such as how she horrified 
her father, the first time he took her to France, by 
rising to receive the gorgeously dressed usher or foot- 
man, supposing him to be a noUe guest! A sister 
has particularly noticed an incident which illustrated 
Sister Joseph's entire absence of ostentatious pride, 
and her reticence about the distinctions of the family. 
Sister Joseph, before leaving the world, had been a 
wife, a mother, and a widow ; and her granddaughter 
was now at the convent as a pupiL One morning, 
the sister found that the young girl had taken a good 
morning's nap, instead of going to Mass ; upon which 
she cried : ^^ Oh, how can you^ whose ancestors gave 
up tities and estates for the Faith, be so lazy about 
going to Mass? " The child was utterly astonished to 
hear of her family's former tities and estates, for they 
had never been alluded to before in her presence. 

We have said that Sister Mary Joseph was a 
widow. She came to the convent in 1848. All 


the time which she had spent in the world sub- 
sequently to her husband's death had been given 
to works of charity and the care of her aged fa- 
ther, whom she loved and honored as he deserved. 
After a time she was transferred to Frederick Con- 
vent; but was ultimately recalled to Georgetown, 
having been elected its Superioress in 1858. She 
died in 1874. The care of the sick was one great 
^^ attraction " for Sister Joseph. Long experience had 
rendered her a most reliable judge of the best reme- 
dies and treatments. The poor, suffering, and lowly 
found a sure friend in her. She was ready for any 
duty, — and how much inconvenient effort that in- 
volves I The sisters can i^member that her skillful 
hand seasoned what were really poor dishes so de- 
liciously, during the first year or two of the Civil War, 
when the school was nearly broken up and the great- 
est economy had to be practiced, that the retrench- 
ments were hardly felt: her excellent knowledge of 
housekeeping concealed the scarcity. 

She was the mother of Dr. William Keating, a 
well-known physician of Philadelphia ; and she was a 
near relative of the saintly Colonel Graresch^. 

A word of preface seems to be necessary 

jij^xt ^ gi^^g he^ our brief account of Sister 
AusTiK Mary Austin Barber ; because the circum- 
stances under which her entrance to the 
monastic life was made were so extraordinary. It is a 
thing almost unheard of that a husband and a wife, 
especially when they have children, should simultane- 
ously feel called upon to give up their life together, 
and separately devote themselves to the absolute sex^ 


Tioe of religion. Nor would the Churoh permit siicli 
a saorifioe, unlees there were a mutual conflent between 
the two, and a distinct, unquestionable Tooation on the 
part of each ; for otherwise an indignity might seem 
to be offered to the sacrament of marriage. 

One of the Church's greatest functions in this world 
is to build up, to conserve, and hold together the 
&mily, and sanctify it. Therefore it does eTexything 
in its power to prevent division in families and to 
maintain peace, concord, and good-will in them. Hence 
it would have been impossible to let Mr. and Mrs. 
Barber follow their vocations, if their agreement had 
not been complete and the circumstances ezoeptionaL 
As it was, their choice seemed to be justified; and 
their 3^ung children also were happily provided for. 

Mrs. Barber (3ister Mazy Austin) was a young 
woman of twenty-eight, a wife and the mother of five 
children, when she entered the convent. Her husband 
was an Episcopalian minister, Sev. Virgil Barber, who 
at the time of his conversion to Catholicity was presi- 
dent of an Episcopalian seminary and received a veiy 
comfortable salary for his services in that position. 
The first thing which drew his attention strongly to 
Catholic faith was a biography of St. Francis Xavier, 
*^ whose parallel " — as he told his wife, not a little to 
her distaste at that time — ^^ could not be found in 
the whole Protestant Church." When his only son 
was bom, Mr. Barber refused to name him, because 
his wife would not accept for the child what she firmly 
declared to be ^^ the popish name of Francis Xavier." 
Mrs. Barber therefore was obliged to depend on her 
own choice, and called the boy Samuel, after the 
prophet of the old law. 


Mr. Barber, however, had been so much attracted 
and awed by the holiness of St. Francis Xavier that 
he justly concluded it would be wise to go still deeper 
into the perusal of Catholic sanctity in the records 
of other saints ; and also to investigate the doctrine 
which had produced such matchless nobility. He 
drew his wife eagerly into these avenues of study. 
She was very much opposed to Catholicity, and held 
back deliberately until every point was rendered clear, 
through careful translations made by her husband 
from the most important passages in the works of the 
early Fathers. These he had diligently read during 
a visit to New York and its libraries. 

The day inevitably came when Mr. and Mrs. Barber 
found that they must either become Catholics or 
abjectly turn away from their conviction as to the 
truth. At once the Episcopal Bishop and ministers 
who were interested in the seminary over which Mr. 
Barber presided and in which he was professor, were 
obliged to request him to resign. He had foreseen 
this ; but it was with his generous wife's entire acqui- 
escence that he relinquished the tempting competency, 
which thus far had made their lives comfortable. It 
was now necessary for them to set to work and earn a 
bare subsistence ; and they opened a small school in 
New York. Some of the Catholic clergy seemed to 
regard the new converts with distrust, and so allowed 
them to struggle on without definite encouragement ; 
but Father Fenwick, afterwards Bishop of Boston, 
was an exception. He penetrated the uprightness of 
Mr. and Mrs. Barber, and took a friendly interest in 
them, — in short he obeyed the teachings of brotherly 


love, by lookmg for and ezpeotiiig yirtoe iimtead of 

Nevertihelefls, the husband and wife must have made 
a peculiarly puzzling enigma to eveiy one not blessed 
with far more than the ordinary gentkness and 
oharily ; since their disregard of the laws of pmdenoe 
was most daring, and involved five little childrea. 
That their course with regard to these children was 
not really either &natical or cruel is, we think, 
proved by their trust in God's care, as well as by 
the necessity they felt of giving Him worship in pre- 
cisely the way He had commanded; which was the 
cause of their impoverishment. Mrs. Barber says 
that she considered the children as God's, rather than 
hers, she being but the temporary agent, as it were, of 
their heavenly Father ; so that she would not have 
refused to obey his command to follow Him in the 
religious steps He had pointed out to us all, because 
her little family might thereby lose more than they 
would gain. She knew that this never could be the 
case where God was obeyed. Those two converts 
acted with that lack of the usual forms of wisdom 
with which St. Peter acted, when he trusted his foot- 
steps on the water, having received an encourage- 
ment greater than any worldly prudence can give. It 
will be seen that each member of this family suffered 
much. What they gained will also be seen. 

Father Fenwick was, in the course of the following 
year, called to Georgetown to assiune the rectorship 
of the college ; and he wrote to Mr, Barber to ask 
him what plans he had for the future. In the letter 
which he sent in reply, Mr. Barber happened to say 


that if it were not for his wife and children he should 
enter the priesthood, as he felt a decided call towards 
it. He had always been in the habit of reading to 
his wife every letter that he received or wrote, and 
did so in this instance. The sentence which spoke of 
Us leaning towards the priesthood, she afterwards 
said, was a deathblow to her happiness. She tried to 
forget it ; but everything reminded her of it. After 
much delay she told her husband of the impression 
upon her which his words to Father Fenwick had 
made, and how she feared that if she did not act ac- 
cording to her belief, which was that he had been 
called by God to enter the priesthood, she would be 
the cause of their all losing their greatest sanctifica- 
tion. Mr. Barber soothed her agony of mind, and 
assured her that his letter to Father Fenwick had 
only expressed his lifelong predilection for the minis- 
try ; but that he felt himself bound to his family by 
all the laws of Grod and man. She endeavored to ac- 
cept this explanation, yet found she did not believe it 
was in accordance with God's will. Mr. Barber was 
secretly of the same opinion, although he remained 
silent while he had any doubt as to the right course 
for him in the matter. But when this right course 
became manifest to them both, he strengthened his 
wife's courage by hopeful exhortations that she should 
look forward to their reunion in heaven, after gene- 
rous labor for others in this suffering world. 

She, for her part, decided that her true course 
pointed towards the Visitation Order, and that she 
ought to become a member of it. Archbishop Neale 
himself, the American founder, introduced her to the 


sisters in the assembly-room, one day ; and liis 
regard for her character was indicated by his remark 
to them : ^^ Not one of you must give Mrs. Barber 
the black bean ! " 

On the day following Archbishop Neale's burial, it 
being the festival of St. Aloysius, the Jesuit Fathers 
of the college of Greorgetown (where, as we have 
said, the kind Father Fenwick was Bector) invited 
Mrs. Barber to dine with them in their refectory ; a 
privilege which, they told her, had never before been 
granted to any woman. After dinner three of the 
fathers accompanied her to the convent, and left her 
in the hands of Mother Lalor and Sister Agnes 
Brent, who was then Mistress of novices. Mrs. Bar- 
ber's little son and baby daughter were in the care of 
Father Fenwicks mother, who rejoiced in adopting 
them. Mrs. Fenwick lived in a large mansion not 
far from the college groimds. The three other chil- 
dren, daughters, were received as pensioners into the 
convent, where Mrs. Barber, afterwards Sister Mary 
Austin, was able to maintain a constant care of them. 
Her husband had started on a journey to Rome, to 
begin his novitiate for the priesthood. The decision 
had been made ; the family, loving and faithful to 
each other, had chosen diverse paths, which, after all* 
led to one goal. 

Mrs. Barber undertook her novitiate with much fer- 
vor. She was so anxious to cast off her worldly attire 
that she succeeded in making herself a complete novice 
costume, without waiting for the ceremony of a formal 
investment. This she put on ; and the community 
was decidedly surprised, on next meeting the postu- 




Kak ' l^'^^^H 




lant, to find that she had literally taken the veil, with 
her own hands. Mother Lalor and Sister Agnes 
Brent were heartily amused at her simplicity and 
earnestness, and would not mar her new-found happi- 
ness by depriving her of its livery for a moment. 

As she oould not oome across a mirror anywhere in 
the convent, and had some concern lest her habit was 
not always properly adjusted, she used to arrange it 
by stan^ng before a small f our-paned glass window, 
that overlooked the garden and could be opened in 
lattice-fashion, thus serving very well for a mirror. 
The sisters who passed her while she put herself in 
dainty order were never permitted by their conven- 
tual Rule to look at themselves in a glass ; but the new 
sister was innocent of any knowledge to this effect. 
In a few days she was admitted to the religious habit 
and to aU instructions. She became a shining light 
as a teacher in the Academy ; then as its Directress, 
and as a trainer of novices for teaching ; and was in- 
deed of the most invaluable aid, because of her high 
order of culture, and her rare capacity for imparting 
it to others. 

But her trials by repeated sorrow were very great. 
In the first place, she had not been in the novitiate for 
more than three months, when it was deemed advisa- 
ble that she should withdraw to the world for a time, 
though much against her desire. She went to Phila- 
delphia, where she established herself in a boarding- 
house. Strange to say, to this boarding-house came 
two gentlemen, one a Captain Baker, who rehearsed at 
the dinner-table the events of a voyage which they had 
recently made to Europe. Wholly unconscious of who 


Sister Mary Austin really was, Captain Baker told 
liow much sympaihy he had felt for an Episcopal min- 
ister on board, who, having left home, wife, and 
children, to enter the Jesuit Order, was so oyerwhelmed 
with grief that they feared he would die. <^ I never 
pitied a man so much in my life," concluded the cap- 
tain. Sister Mary Austin bore this shock with rdi- 
gious submission, but with intense anguish, only re- 
lieved by the good counsel of her spiritual adviser. 
She was now by no means sure that she might not 
have been mistaken in thinking that her husband had 
at heart approved of their eztraordinaiy step in sepa- 
rating to enter the monastic Uf e. To feel that we may 
be wrong in making a sacrifice which omcifies our per- 
sonal happiness is certainly a most forlorn misery. It 
turned out, however, that Mr. Barber was folly as 
much in earnest as herself in offering the remainder 
of his life for the uses of pure generosity ; althongh 
the actual carrying out of that offering cost him great 
agony. When Mrs. Barber finally took her solemn vows 
in the convent Chapel, Mr. Barber, who had then 
returned from Europe, made in the same place and at 
the same time his own profession; their five young 
children being present. Of these children the four 
daughters all became devoted nuns, and the son a 
saintly Jesuit, - a sufficient answer to any question as 
to the wisdom of their parents in abandoning the ordi- 
nary methods of looking after their development. 

The poverty of the convent, and her own poverty 
upon entering it, proved to be another source of pro- 
found triaL She supposed that her husband had been 
able to make provision to a moderate extent for her 


own and the children's bare support in the convent ; 
but this she found was not so. The community itself 
was enduring extreme want ; so that, although her 
services were invaluable, there was a practical Hilftmnfu^ 
of ways and means to consider, entirely apart from 
hospitality and willingness. Yet Sister Mary Austin and 
her little daughters were dependents and must remain 
such. She was bitterly humbled by this thought ; and, 
besides, grieved at the privations in regard to warmth 
and food which, even in sickness, her children were of 
course compelled to experience. Then, her naturally 
tender, impulsive heart was crushed at discovering, a 
year after she came to the Visitation, that her infant 
daughter Josephine, two years old, who eventually 
lived much with her, and wrote her life for the con- 
vent records, would not run to her arms upon being 
brought to see her. This was just before she took her 
solemn vows. She retired to her cell to give vent to 
her anguish ; but Sister Agnes Brent followed her. 

^^ What makes you cry ? " asked Sister Agnes. 

*^ My Grod I " exclaimed the mother ; ^^ to think my 
own child does not know me I " 

" Well, why did you give her up ? " was the an- 
swering query, made in kindness, to remind the pos- 
tulant of the heavenly motive of her sacrifice, yet 
innocently bare of pathos or flattery. 

There is a dearth of these quasi-consolations, in the 
monastic study of holiness. What is said and done 
for Grod must be absolutely meant and completely car- 
ried out, or we at once suffer for our self-deception, 
through the intrepid frankness of our superiors, who 
quietly point out our shortcoming in this respect 


But perhaps the most hevoio momeiitB of scnne brave 
people are tibose in vliioh they bear the defeat of their 
oonrage without many words of regret, or many paa- 
rionate tears. Sister Mary Austin has said: *^ I 
oould have put myself under the feet of any one who 
was kind to my children I " Yet this fervent nature 
kept steadily to its resolve to think first of the needa 
of Christ, then of her children, and of herself only as 
a friend towards others. 

At sixteen years of age (the youngest of four daugli- 
ters) Mrs. Barber had lost her father, and from this 
time she applied herself to oomf ort and please her 
mother, and to be religtousj though she had already 
shown devotion in prayer, and was in the habit of 
kneeling and offering to God every new article of 
dress, particularly if it were likely to excite her vanity. 
She did not think her actions worthy of being offered 
toGk)d. She told her children, late in life, that she be- 
lie ved the devil had always pursued herself and them 
with peculiar ferocity, causing disasters and other re- 
buffs to assail them all, with the hope of destroying 
their perseverance in faith. She had remarkable 
courage in enduring physical pain ; showing that her 
extreme ardor and sensitiveness were mastered by a 
calm and noble wilL 

Her brilliant intelligence and erudition were, after 
nineteen years of immense usefulness at Georgetown, 
eagerly sought for, in 1836, in assisting to found the 
house at Kaskaslria. She was there for about eight 
years, and then went to St. Louis, with Mother Agnes 
Brent, to establish still another house. When sixty 
years old, in 1848, she was sent to the Visitation con- 


yent at Mobile, which was then in great need of mem- 
bers. Wherever she was placed she showed her 
greatest usefulness by forming classes of sisters, who 
soon became, under her skill for training them, accom- 
plished teachers, thus augmenting the strength and 
influence of the schools connected with the conyents, 
and obviating the expense and inconvenience of em- 
ploying secular instructors. 

It will be remembered that her husband had first 
been led to the study of Catholicity through his know- 
ledge of the wonderful life of St. Francis Xavier, and 
it was on the Feast of St. Francis Xavier that Sister 
Mary Austin was attacked by her last illness, through 
which her soul was to reach, away from the unflagging 
labors of this life, its reward of peace. Her patience 
in illness surpassed that of all others ; her patience, — 
she who had been bom with the fire of strong pas- 
sions within her breast I A touching episode closes 
her record of renunciations. While dying, she could 
only say repeatedly, ^^ I want — " At last the sister 
who sat by her side, and had suggested to her many 
names and things, without hitting upon the right 
one, said gently : — 

*^ Sister Mary Austin, you have made many sacri- 
fices to (rod, — make this one sacrifice of not trying 
to express your wish, now. I cannot understand you I " 

The dying nun acquiesced. 

When we are thwarted most, we may win love most. 

The story of Sister Mary Emmanuel is a brief and 
simple one, yet in its brevity touching, and beautiful 
in its simplicity. She was the second daughter of 

864 A 8T0R7 OF COURAGE. 

Major G^eneral Winfleld Soott, commanding the United 
SnrxB States Aimj, the hero of Chapoltepec and 
^^y_ Mexico, who until tho outbreak of the Crvil 
uxi. War, with its new opportunities and new 
^^) leaders, was the most renowned figure in the 
SooTT. military chronide of the nation since Bero- 
lutionaiy days. 

This circumstance, no doubt, caused the social 
world to take a special interest, at the time, in her 
conTersion and her entrance upon the religiooa life. 
But there is a deeper reason for including in the pnb- 
Kcation of these annals some account of her oareer, 
short and in one sense uneventful though it was. 
That reason is found in the perfect example it gives 
of renunciation of the world, where the world pre- 
sented itself under the most smiling aspect and seemed 
to offer everything that ambition could wish for. 

Ambition, indeed, was at first the ruling motive 
with Virginia Scott In her girlhood she was very 
beautiful, and, moreover, so gifted by nature intelleo- 
tually that her companions at school could not com- 
pete with her in her studies and accomplishments. 
Having finished her education, she went to Paris with 
her mother and three younger sisters, two of whom 
were placed as pensiofmairea or boarders in the Con- 
vent of the Sacred Heart. Through them, Yirg^ia 
became acquainted with the nuns of that institution 
and was most favorably impressed with Catholicity. 
Her conversion was the result, for soon afterwards at 
Rome, in February, 1843, she made her abjuration 
of error and profession of faith, in the chapel of St. 
Ignatius, the ceremony taking place there by special 


permiBsion of Most Bev. John Boothan, Greneral of 
the Sooietjr of Jesus. 

Still, apparently, there was nothing to preyent her 
realizing all the ambitions that her &ther's &me and 
position and her own beauty and thoroughly cultivated 
talents would naturally open to her. In Paris, she 
had made a matrimonial engagement with a young 
man of high standing. The vista of her earthly fu- 
ture, therefore, seemed clearly outlined before her and 
glowing with rosy promise. With mind and aoul at 
peace in the &ith, with an affectionate heart ready to 
join itself to hers for life, with distinction, the power 
to charm and to command social success, why, many 
will ask, should she not have accepted these condi- 
tions contentedly, and indeed with elation ? But there 
is an inspiration, a foresight of the soul, that, in a be- 
ing even so happily situated as she was, may cause it 
to measure at a glance all the joys, the vicissitudes, 
the sacrifices and gains of a prosperous career in soci- 
ety or the world, and, having so measured^ to count 
them as nothing compared with the service that may 
be rendered to Grod in another mode of life. From 
the time of her reception into the Church, Virginia 
Scott longed for complete spiritual devotion, with a 
hunger that could be satisfied only by an act of entire 

As a first step towards this, she obtained from her 
betrothed a release from her promise of marriage. 
Her inclination at this time was to join the Sisters of 
Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. But on her return 
to America and to Washington, she learned to know 
the Visitandines of Georgetown, whom she frequentiy 


oame to see at iheb oonvent. Theb Order proved to 
have a strong attraction for lier, which in the begin- 
ning she resisted, because she believed both vooatioii 
and duty had pointed oat the work of a Sister of 
Charity as that to which her efforts must be given. 
At length, however, daring fervent prayer in the 
chapel of the Saered Heart, it seemed to her that 
the Divine Will directed her to become a member of 
the Visitation; and before she arose from her knees she 
had vowed never to leave this convent. She told the 
saperiors of her vow, at once; and when iSbaj had 
satisfied themselves that her vocation was a trae one, 
they admitted her to her first probation. 

This decision of hers, and its resalt, greatty agitated 
her family, who opposed it with tears, entreatieB, even 
threats. Nothing that might divert her from her par- 
pose was left nndone ; but all their efforts were on- 
Deeply sensible thoagh she was of the 
that had been showered upon her by her 
parents, and anxious not to wound any one, still she 
could not and would not yield ; becanse to her vision 
it was dear that a greater good was to be gained for 
them and for all by her sanctification. She entered 
the convent ; yet, owing to the delicacy of her health 
at this time, she was not allowed to wear the habit for 
the first siK months. Every day that she thus re- 
mained in secular garb must, she knew, defer the 
period of her holy profession, for which she longed in- 
tensely; and it was therefore a heavy trial to her. 
Her humility and obedience under these circumstances, 
with her exact fideliiy to every least observance, en- 
deared her to all the sisters ; and they determined to 


admit her to her reception. During her retreat, 
preparatory to this, it was most edifying to those who 
had the happiness of being near her to see her delicate 
frame bent in prayer, or her hands and eyes raised to 
heaven, her angelic countenance beaming with piety 
while she poured forth her glowing aspirations. 

At last the happy morning came when she was 
robed in the humble yet, to her, glorious attire of a 
Visitation novice. But it was not at any time her 
fortune to share in all the exercises of the community. 
If the young heroine had looked forward to severe 
participation in these as to a state of exquisite joy, 
she was obliged to give up this earthly hope, also ; for 
her increasing ill health confined her to the infirmary. 
Here, nevertheless, her resignation was without flaw ; 
she remained cheerful, obedient, grateful, although 
the Divine Will imposed upon her the mortiGication of 
being disabled, by physical weakness, from using even 
a single one of her splendid talents or aooompliah- 
ments for the good of others or in aid of the commu- 

But that ambition which had prompted her to make 
progress in learning, to take the lead among her 
friends, — if it had disappeared, was it lost? and 
must this be taken as a sign of weakness ? No ; we 
should say, rather, that the early ambition had been 
transmuted into something finer, — it was now directed 
wholly towards thankful resignation, and towards im- 
plicit union with Grod in whatever manner He might 
appoint. A careless thinker, judging by common 
averages, might have supposed that her beauty and 
her former worldly station would have weakened her 


capacity for humility; bat, on the omtraiy, that 
yirtne now ahone out fari^tly as a strong point in her 
noble oharaoter. So true it is that a dominant tnut 
of mere human nature in a perscm thoroughly dedi- 
oated to religions aspiration may beoome IDbd a well- 
tilled garden-bed from which the ^diitest and sweetest 
flowers of spiritual being spring. 

Sister Maiy Emmanuel (the name which Virginia 
Soott received in religion) never spoke of herself. 
Her exceptional gifts, the high social place she had 
quitted, the opportunities she had saorifioed, were 
never alluded to by her. This self-restraint did not 
come from inertia, as might be seen from her eager- 
ness for the things that are ioamiortaL She prayed 
constantly for the salvation of souls ; and so ardent 
was her longing in this respect that the news of a 
conversion always made her &ce radiant. 

Her father, G^eral Scott, was admitted at times 
to see her, according to the custom, which, in cases of 
extreme illness, allows parents or near relatives to en- 
ter some part of the monastic precinct. Indeed, Sis- 
ter Mary Emmanuel was growing so frail, her health 
was so precarious, that her loving companions in the 
community feared her life would fade away before the 
date appointed for her solemn vows. Ten months of 
her novitiate had gone by, when the tokens of her ap- 
proaching end became so clear that it was decided not 
to wait for the expiration of the year. Her happiness 
and fervor as the time approached were matters of 
rejoicing among the nuns, who watched with thanks- 
giving her great merits and Grod's mercy towards her. 
The Heavenly Father never permits himself to be oat- 


done in generosity. He gave Sister Emmanuel, in 
the holy ezperienoes and perceptions of these months, 
a heavenly measure of bliss* 

Sister Emmanuel Scott died on the yery day of her 
profession, bearing herself, to the end, with a compo- 
sure and gentleness such as are peculiar to a piety 
like hers. She clasped the crucifix, and pressed it to 
her lips i^ith a firmness that typified her strong reli- 
ance upon Christ, enduring even while her own vital 
forces failed. All the aspirations she uttered were 
spoken in the sweetest tones. After sinking into un- 
consciousness, she would awaken only when the cruci- 
fix was held to her lips, and then she would kiss it 
fervently. Her last words, spoken gently, were, ** Je- 
sus, the Grod of my heart I " 

General Scott was absent from Washington at the 
time of her death, but returned before her buriaL 
So remarkable a beauty had been restored to her after 
her decease, that the nuns delighted to gaze upon her 
mortal frame ; but when the general arrived to take 
his last look at her, where she lay silent on the mar- 
ble slab of Father Clorivi^re's tomb in the open vault 
below the chapel, this external beauty had vanished, 
being an earthly illusion. The general stood long 
beside her, meditating, with profound, suppressed emo- 
tion, then bade farewell to all that remained of her 
mortal loveliness. The immortal, the imperishable 
part, we trust, had ascended on high. Who would 
dare to say that with its purity, its prayers, and as- 
pirations, the soul of the child may not have aided 
to draw the soul of the &ther into happy reunion 
with it in the light of a life beyond this ? 


The history of Sister Mary Emmanuel Soott sug- 
gests the growth, the budding, the anfolding, and 
swift passing away of a flower. Could it have been 
developed equally well in the outer world? Ebrdly ; 
because experience teaches us that, in all fields or de- 
partments, to obtain certain results we must have cer- 
tain conditions. People spend large sums of money 
in order to grow rare plants and raise exquisite blos- 
soms, in gardens of mere earth and nature, and for 
this purpose form rigorous enclosures which they 
guard jealously. The plants they oultivato there are 
material things that must inevitably perish forever. 

In the peaceful enclosure of the G^igetown con- 
vent the soul of Sister Emmanuel bloomed, as otiiers 
have done, like a lily ; not to die, but to be tnuuK 
planted into celestial gardens. 


The lif e-sketohes of sisters given in the preceding 
chapters throw illuminating rays over the years fol- 
lowing that date, 1831, to which the formal chronicle 
had brought us. Many of these consecrated women 
lived in the diligent practice of their vocation until a 
time so recent, that their individual stories — carry- 
ing on the story of the convent — blend into the 
sunshine of the present, as the stars of morning min- 
gle with the light of broadening day. 

Little now remains to be added to the Annals ; for 
the current of life within the enclosure flows on 
evenly, quietly, with so few episodes cognizable by 
the world, that the record of one year would read 
very much like that of another — until we come to 


the period of the Civil War. This indeed was a new 
time of trial to the community, which had become so 
well estabUshed, and to the Academy, on which its 
material support so largely depended. 

When the war-storm burst abruptly oyer the land, 
Southern parents (who were then the chief patrons of 
the school) hurried to Greorgetown while there was 
still opportunity to pass through the military lines ; 
and in a few days all their children were withdrawn. 
The number of boarding pupils fell to about twenty 
four, while the oonmiuniiy to be supported consisted 
of eighty persons. The income from tuition fees was 
therefore quite inadequate to the maintenance of the 
house. There was no money in bank and very little 
coming in ; so that the situation was most perilous 
and aroused graye apprehenBions. To the open vie 
lence of war the convent was not exposed at any 
time ; although in the early days of the conflict, and 
again in 1862, Washington and Greorgetown were 
dangerously near to becoming the actual scene of 
battle. Yet it should be said, to the credit of the 
American people, that amid all the excitement and 
confusion of those times, and with large bodies of 
troops continually in the neighborhood, the sisters 
met with nothing but courtesy at the hands of every 
one connected with the military operations there. A 
special guard, even, was stationed to protect the con- 

It is true that at first the Grovemment thought of 
taking possession of the convent and grounds for 
army purposes, as it also temporarily occupied Greorge- 
town CoU^e; but Greneral Scott asked Secretary 


Stanton to spare the place made saored to him by the 
grave of his child ; and the convent aocordinj^ es- 
caped desecration. 

The peconiary problem, — the question of sabeiat- 
ence, and of saving the institation from wreck tiuongh 
want of means, — was what cansedthe chief anxiety of 
the sisters. And now, like their predecessors in the 
time of hnmble yet noUe beginnings, they were true 
to the traditions of highest conrage; trusting im- 
plicitly in Grod, although the way of his providing for 
their temporal needs could not be foreseen. Every 
possible economy was praotieed ; all rooms that were 
not absolutely needed were dosed, — the cost of heat- 
ing them being thereby saved. The commnnity 
went on bravely, patiently, with its imceawng devo- 
tions, its daily labor ; and the guardianship of Fkovi* 
dence was soon made dear. Gifts of provisions were 
sent in by friends; a kind merchant, Mr. Jacob 
Kengla, consented to wait for payment for supplies ; 
many things were done for them by others who were 
moved to good wilL Once or twice, friends proposed 
that they should lease the Academy to the Grovein- 
ment; by which they could have realized a large 
sum ; but the sisters resolutely chose not to do any- 
thing so discordant with the original aim of their 
foundation ; and their fidelity and courage were justi- 
fied in the end. Rumors of possible fighting at 
Washington, when the war broke out, led to a gen- 
eral belief in some quarters that the communiiy 
would have to disperse and look for shelter elsewhere. 
Thereupon Madam Hardy, Superioress of the Ladies 
of the Sacred Heart, immediately planned that they 


should oome to her at Manhattan, and prepared for 
them all the rooms she had at her disposaL That 
these reports of dispersion were unfounded does not 
detract from the ready and admirable assistance of- 
fered by Madam Hardy, whose noble character made 
her beloved far and wide. The Visitation sisters of 
Georgetown wish her generosity and their keen ap- 
preciation of it to be recorded here in their Annals. 

Grradually the Academy began to recover prosper- 
ity, when the war came to an end. Pupils again 
flocked thither as of old ; a large proportion, perhaps 
even a majority of them, being Protestants. But the 
main patronage was now no longer derived from the 
South, where so many of the sisters' beloved friends 
and former pupils had suffered complete financial 
ruin. The West especially, which had manifested its 
giant strength in the national trouble and had now 
entered upon a career of vast development in peace, 
sent many children to the Academy. Before long, 
everything resumed its usual channeL 

In 1872-78 the demands of the growing school 
made it necessary to replace the old Academy build- 
ing with a new one, which was accordingly put up on 
a large scale. This edifice (described in our opening 
pages) not only has added greatly to the facilities of 
the institution, but remains a tangible proof of its 
prosperity. Yet a severe business panic, coming 
on at about the time of its erection, made the year a 
bad one for borrowing money; and the community 
was obliged to pay a high rate of interest on the funds 
required for the new structure. The heavy amount 
of annual interest came to be a very severe burden to 


the nstera; and tibej were finally oompeDed to at- 
tempt the negotiating of a new loan on easier teima. 

It is a fact moat gratifying, and worthy to be 
ohronioled in terms of cordial praise, that the gomtle- 
man who made them this mort^^age loan, on conditions 
yery much more &vorable than those under which 
they had been laboring, was a Protestant, Mr. John 
Cassels, of Washington. To his kindness and acccnn- 
modation in this matter the sisters acknowledge a 
deep and grateful obligation. We may add, here, 
that such an instance of friendliness and good will 
from an individual Protestant towards a Catholic 
community, and the charming, intimate, profoundly 
trustful relations between the sisters and their Pkotes- 
tant pupils confided to them by Pkotestant parents, 
denote that true Christian charity which is not of 
money, which is not bound up in mere almsgiving or 
generosity in financial transactions, but is diarity of 
the souL 

The Georgetown sisters of the Visitation earnestly 
desire to express in this place their appreciation of 
Mr. Cassels' great courtesy and confidence. No 
more thoroughly agreeable relations between debtor 
and creditors could have existed than those which re- 
sulted from his kindly and opportune assistance ; nor 
could so large a debt have been more pleasantly liqui- 

If the Georgetown Convent of the Visitation had 
accomplished nothing else, we might almost say that 
its hundred years of faithful toil have borne sufficient 
fruit in the establishing, maintaining, and illustrating 
of such wholesome intercourse between Catholics and 


Another bene&ctor was Miss Mary Abell of Balti- 
more, who lived in the Georgetown convent while 
waiting to realize a plan cherished by her of establish- 
ing a Visitation convent without a schooL Her liberal 
donations gready assisted in carrying the community 
and Academy through a period of considerable dis* 
tress. The late Dr. P. J. Murphy also left them a gen- 
erous l^acy; and one of the older sisters gave them 
the income which she had inherited. Thus at length 
the indebtedness was lowered to so small an amount 
as no longer to cause anxiety ; and in later years the 
sisters have constantly gone on maldng improvements, 
for the comfort and health of pupils, as well as in 
beautifying the spacious grounds. 

Here, practically, ends the Story of Courage, in a rich 
and fine fulfillment of the spiritual aims of the found- 
ers, with that accompaniment of a simple yet solid 
material basis, which is the natural result of unselfish 
industry. But we should miss an essential point in 
the many lessons this stoiy teaches, if we failed to 
glance at the brilliant array of accomplished, distin- 
guished, and eminently useful women whom this con- 
vent school received as girl students and sent forth 
again, equipped to take a vital and beneficent part in 
American life. 

Mother Teresa Lalor, the venerable foundress, 
passed away September 10, 1846 ; not fifty years ago, 
at this writing. Even then she had long retired from 
supervision of the community or active sharing in its 
daily toiL Yet she had witnessed a remarkable 
growth in it, and had seen one competent Superioress 
after another carrying on the task that age and long 


aervioe had oUiged her to lay down. Before she died, 
or in the period from then on until the waivdays, there 
eame to the Academy the two daughters of Senator 
Ewing of Ohio (the first Secretary of the Depart- 
ment of the Interior). One of them, Ellen Ewing, 
afterwards married Gen. William Teoomseh Sherman. 
Here also was ednoated Harriet Lane Johnson, nieoe 
of President Bnohanan, who gained social distinction 
at the Court of St. James whfle her unde was United 
States Minister there, and afterwards graoefolly oon- 
ducted for him the social functions of the EzecativB 
Mansion, as one of the most charming in all tiie line 
of ^^ ladies of the White House.'' Another graduate, 
famous for her exceptional beauty as well as for her 
social leadership in Washington, was Adelaide Gutts, 
who married Stephen A. Douglas, the brilliant rival 
of Abraham Ldnooln for presidential honors. Mrs. 
Douglas, long after her first husband's death, became 
the wife of General Bobert Williams, U. S. A. 

General Joseph E. Johnston, eminent afterwards 
among Confederate military chieftains, found his wife 
in a Visitation graduate. Miss McLain, a daughter 
of Secretary McLain. Another pupil, Teresa Doyle, 
married Senator Casserly ; and Miss Deslonde of 
Louisiana, who studied here, became Mrs. General 

^^ Among others who graduated before the war were 
Marion Bamsay, who became Mrs. Cutting of New 
York ; the daughters of Judge Ghkston of North Caro- 
lina ; the daughters of Commodore Bogers ; Eliza and 
Isabella Walsh, the daughters of the United States 
Minister to Spain ; Minnie Meade, a sister of Greneral 


Meade, who became the wife of G^eral Hartman 
Bache, U. S. A. ; Albina Montholon, daughter of the 
French Minister and granddaughter of General Grratiot, 
U. S. A.; Kate Duncan of Alabama, who married 
Dr. Emmet of New York; the daughters of Commo- 
dore Cassin ; the Bronaugh sisters, one of whom mar- 
ried Admiral Taylor ; the Carroll sisters, one of whom 
became the Baroness Esterhazy of Austria; the 
daughters of Senator Stephen Mallory of Florida ; the 
daughter of Senator Nicholson of Tennessee, after- 
wards Mrs. Martin, who became principal of a leading 
seminary in the South ; Katie Irving, a grandniece of 
Washii^^n Irving; the daughters of Major Turn- 
bull ; Mary Maguire, who became the wife of General 
Eugene Carr. Of the daughters of Mrs. Bass of 
Mississippi, afterwards wife of the Italian Minister, 
Bertinatti, one married a foreign nobleman. Made- 
leine Vinton became the wife of Admiral Dahlgren ; 
Emily Warren became Mrs. Boebling, the wife of the 
builder of the Brooklyn bridge, who herself completed 
the great work when her husband had been stricken 
with illness. Nancy Lucas, who married Doctor John- 
son of St. Louis, sent five daughters to the convent, as 
did also Major Turner. G^eral Frost sent five repre- 
sentatives, one of whom married Philip Beresford 
Hope, son of the distinguished member of Parliament. 
Adele Sarpy, who became Mrs. Don Morrison, a pupil 
herseU, later on sent her three daughters. Ellen 
Sherman Thackara and Eachel Sherman Thomdyke, 
daughters of General Sherman, followed in their 
mother's footsteps at Georgetown. Myra Knox be- 
came Mrs. Thomas J. Semmes of New Orleans. Ada 


Semmes, who married Biohard Clarke, the 
with her sisters, one of whom was Mrs. Ives, were 
also pupils here. Among other leading Southern 
&milies represented at the school at this time were 
the Floyds of Virginia and the Stephenses of Greorgia. 

^^ Of those who have graduated since the war are 
Bertha and Ida Honor^ ; the former, Mrs. Potter 
Palmer, is now prominently before the country as the 
president of the Board of Lady Managers of the 
World's Columbian Exposition. Her sister is the 
wife of Colonel Fred. D. Grant, United States Minis- 
ter to Austria. Blanche Butler, the daughter of Gen. 
Benjamin F. Butler, became the wife of Governor 
Ames of Mississippi, and Mary Gt)odell married Grov- 
emor Gh'ant of Colorado. Harriet Munroe of Chicago, 
who wrote the ode for the Columbian World's Fair, 
graduated in '79, having for her classmates Adele Mor- 
rison of St. Louis, now Mrs. Albert T. Kelley of New 
York ; Ella Whitihome of Tennessee, now Mrs. Alex. 
Harney of Baltimore ; and Miss Newcomer of Balti- 
more, who, as Mrs. H. B. Gilpin, annually presents a 
medal for music to the school. Mary Saunders, the 
daughter of ex-Senator Saunders of Nebraska, as the 
wife of Russell Harrison, the ex-President's son, graced 
the White House by her presence during Benjamin 
Harrison's administeation. Mary Logan Tucker, tiie 
daughter of the soldier and statesman General John 
A. Logan, is wielding as a journalist a pen as tren- 
chant as was her father's sword. 

^^ The portraits of Emma Etheridge of Tennessee, 
the daughter of Honorable Emerson Etheridge, and 
Josephine Dickson of Missouri, which adorn the walls 


of the oonvent parlor, were those of two young ladies 
noted for their beauty. The former is now Mrs. John 
y. Moran of Detroit, and the latter Mrs. Julius 
Walsh of St. Louis ; Estelle Dickson is now in Paris 
studying art. 

^^ Among other pupils were Pearl lyier, daughter 
of President l^ler ; Gertrude and Jessie Aloom, the 
daughters of Senator Alcorn of Mississippi ; Bomaine 
Groddard, daughter of Mrs. Dahlgren, who became 
the Countess von Overbeck ; Irene Rucker, who be- 
came the wife of Greneral Philip H. Sheridan ; Con- 
stance Edgar, daughter of Madame Bonaparte and 
granddaughter of Daniel Webster; Mary Wilcox, 
granddaughter by adoption of Greneral Andrew Jack- 
son. Ethel Ingalls, daughter of ex-Senator Ingalls, has 
reflected credit on the Academy by her literary work ; 
her younger sister, Constance, followed her at the 
school, together with Anna Bandall Lancaster, and 
her sister Susie, daughters of the late Samuel J. Ban- 
dall ; the five daughters of the late A. S. Abell of 
Baltimore, and Jennie Walters, daughter of W. T. 
Walters of the same city. 

^^ Miss Early and Miss Child were two gifted South- 
em ladies who are remembered at the schooL" ^ Miss 
£• M. Dorsey, also, a bright and winning story-writer, 
whose ^^ Midshipman Bob " is well and favorably 
known to young readers, is one of the later graduates. 

Even this partial list of some among those who have 
received their training at Greorgetown Convent in 

I'^An Old Sonthem School:" The Coitncpolitan, October, 1882, 
TcL ziii, No. 6, p. 664 ; an aitiole by Nathanial T. Taylor. A few 
wcnde hare been changed in thk extract, merely to adapt it to the 
pMsent date* 


knowledge, morals, manners, and the oondact of life, is 
at first sight rather surprising by reason of the high 
rank and average of the women educated here. Yet 
on second and deeper thought it will appear to be only 
a reasonable result of so much patient l&bor, lofty 
endeavor, unselfish effort, and devout studiousness, of- 
fered day by day for a century, with no other thought 
than that of contributing to the glory of God and 
the blessing of the human race, in whole and in paz^ 


The Annals which we have now brought to a dose 
must, we think, place one fact very clearly before the 
minds of all thoughtful and observant readers ; and 
that is, the marked degree of individuality character- 
izing the members of such a body as the George- 
town Convent of the Visitation, — which, in some 
sense, may be taken as typical of all religious orders 
living in community. 

We lay stress upon this because there is so general 
a notion (sometimes even among the faithful) that, in 
entering a sisterhood, a woman loses all individuality, 
and, missing those occasions for the development of 
varied and interesting character which the secular life 
affords, becomes a colorless being, a kind of cipher. 
But she is a cipher only to the extent and in the man- 
ner that ciphers are the token of an immense multipli- 
cation of forces and of power. She increases her 
natural abiHties by doing away with the selfish unit, 
or, rather, raising it in a geometrical ratio to 
something approaching the infinite. And this she ao- 


oomplishes by applying to the qualities that Grod has 
given her a spiritual motive and the effect of super- 
natural grace. It is not a surrender of individuality, 
but a dedication and development of it. 

This we trust has been demonstrated by such defi- 
nite examples as the steadfast endurance and guiding 
hope of Mother Teresa Lalor; the virgin self-reliance 
and bravery of Sister Margaret Marshall; the firm 
executive qualiiy of Mother Agnes Brent and other 
Superiors ; the gentle, tactful rule of Mother Juliana 
Matthews ; the vivacious and exquisitely trustful, 
spiritualized personality of ^^ Sister Stanny ; " the en- 
thusiasm for astronomical study of Sister Grenevieve 
White, in the midst of bodily suffering ; the grand, 
sturdy serviceableness of Sister Joseph Keating; 
the delicate, skillful housekeeping and responsive 
ohariiy of Mother Angela Harrison ; or the perfect 
meekness of Sister Mary Emmanuel Scott These 
are but a few, among the larger few whom we have 
sketched in this book; and all, taken together, are 
only instances of the traits and capacities of number- 
less other sisters. They show that not only may there 
be pronounced mdividuality among the members of a 
religious order, but also a wide variety of develop- 
ment, under the uniform garb and the equal submis- 
sion to a common rule and discipline. 

This point it is absolutely needful to perceive and 
comprehend clearly, in order to understand what con- 
vent life is, — how real, how vital, how efficient. 
Some persons no doubt may inquire : ^^ If these char- 
acters were so strong, so full of purpose, so capable of 
fine development in various directions, why could they 


not have been utilized in the outside world, in the 
oonunon channels of secular actiyity ? " 

We will endeavor to answer the inquiry. 

As has been said on another page, it is a scientifio 
principle that to obtain certain results we must have 
certain conditions. Therefore we do not believe that 
these personalities and lives could have been brought 
to the same fullness or height of spiritual growth, out- 
side the cloister. 

A closer and perhaps more tangible reason for this 
belief will appear, if we state to ourselves franhly and 
in a few words the real relation of convent or religious 
oommuniiy life to that of the rest of the world. 

We who are ^' in the world " do not hesitate to re- 
sign our sons and daughters, our sisters or brothers, 
to marriage, which in a manner cuts them off from us, 
and may sometimes separate them from us entirely. 
Marria^, or business and intellectoal pursuite,- 
which we applaud them for adopting, — often carry 
them away to distant parts of the country or of the 
earth, so that perhaps we rarely or never see them 
again. Yet all this we concede to be not only in the 
nature of things inevitable, but we also conmiend it. 
We never for a moment assume to set up any objec- 
tion to it on principle ; though we sometimes vaguely 
assert an imaginary principle, which would justify us 
in opposing our kindred who wish to seclude them- 
selves in religious brotherhoods and sisterhoods. Now, 
why is this ? Why are we so inconsistent? Simply 
because we are willing to sacrifice our children to the 
world, with all its pains and disappointments, but fre- 
quently have an innate dislike to letting them saoxi- 


fioe themselves, or any part of our selfish comfort, to 
God and religion. 

When we are pushed to a defense of this rather 
niggardly attitude towards Grod, we are apt to fall back 
upon, and hastily intrench ourselves behind, the idea 
of the family. " Of course," we say, " we are per- 
fectly willing to sacrifice our children — as we have 
saorifioed ourselves — to business or adventure, to 
social turmoil and weariness,becausethatis the waythe 
main part of the world's work is carried on. Besides, 
even if they are swallowed up in it and we never see 
them again, they proceed to form their own household 
and raise their own family. And everything depends 
on the family ! " The conclusion we then leap to is, 
that lives given to the service of religion in convents 
might be spent much better in the routine of the pri- 
vate fiimily. 

But observe the fallacy here. The private family, 
essential though it is, and beautiful as it is when im- 
bued with holiness and sacramentally blessed, is only 
a type of the whole human family, and hence is less 
important than that. We ought really, aQ of us, to 
regard the great human family with the same ten- 
derness we have been in the habit of bestowing upon 
the single private family. Christ taught us that we 
should not restrict our love and interest to the narrow 
limits of the threshold of the home. But we disre- 
gard this teaching. 

The commercial spirit of our personal affections is 
almost as strongly mercenary as the spirit of trade. 
We expend our affections freely, but only in that 
narrow circle over which we have some control; 


wbere we may claim, as of right, a solid zetom in 

In the pnrely religious life alone, any one sool is as 
preoions to each odier sool, as mother or fatlier or child. 
Action, here, is jnst as loving as in the private family ; 
often very mach more loving ; and it does not offer 
itself in the form of what we may call specie or cur- 
rency based on the obligations of blood relationahip. 
For men and women vowed to religion, it is as though 
the stranger at the gate bore the same name and line- 
age as their own. 

Just nowwe spoke of a certain commercial element 
in our personal affections, almost as strong as that of 
trade. Let us, however, take account of that word 
^^ almost," and be exact. We expect a positive and 
direct return, it is true. But why, after all, do we 
love the members of our own particular family with a 
sentiment so much more generous than we are ready 
to accord to others? Is it not because we know that, 
for us, their hearts reserve a trust and tenderness 
which remiun, at any rate, more unselfish and more 
earnest than their love towards those not so nearly 
related to them as we are ? 

But the consecrated followers of Jesus Christ rec- 
ognize no such line of demarcation. They love aU 
souls, even though knowing that frequently they may 
not receive love and trust from them ui return. Their 
reward of love is from Christ and the Holy Trinity 
alone. Their family circle is the beloved world which 
Christ blessed and beckoned upward. 

Finitlibri: inkium operis. 





179&-Jan. 5. Arriyal of Miss Alice Lalor, afterwards Mother 

Teresa Lalor, with Mrs. McDermot and Mrs. 
Sharpe, in Philadelphia. 

1796-99. They go to Greorgetown, where Father Neale 

had been appointed President of Greorgetown 
College, to form under his guidance a Com- 
munity, known at first as '' The Pious La- 

1800. Father Neale consecrated Bishop, as Archbishop 

Carroll's coadjutor. 

1801. Sister Aloysia Neale joins the Community of the 

three '' Pious Ladies." 
1802-Jul7 3L Death of Sister Ignatia Sharpe. 

1804. Sbter Stanislaus Fenwick enters. 

1805. Sister Magdalene Neale enters. 

1806. ^ Sister Mary *' enters. 

1808. Mother Catharine Rigden enters. 

1810. Mother Margaret Marshall arrives from Cone- 


1811. Mother Juliana Matthews enters the novitiate. 
1812-Oct. 15. Mother Agnes Brent enters the novitiate. 
1814r-Jan. 29. The Community takes simple vows. 
1816-July 14. Pius VII. issues his Indult for the Georgetown 

1816-Nov. 10. Archbishop Neale receives it, and informs the 

1816-Deo. -. Mother Apollonia Diggs enters. 
1816-Deo. 8. Solemn vows taken by the first three members. 


1817-nJan. 0. Nineteen nsten xeoeiTe the white yeiL 
1817-nJan. 23. Of these, aeren are admitted to solemn yowb. 
1817-Jan. 29. The rest are admitted, ezeepting those whoaa 

noritiate had not ezpized. 
1817-April 6. 

^^^*|||^ ®'*°"l ^^ of Sister Isidoia McNanti. 

1817-Jane 18. Death of ArohUshop Neale. 
18t7-nJane 21. lira. Barber enters. 
1818-Jan. 8. Sister GenoTieTe King enters. 
1818-Jan. 13. Profession of Sister M. Apollonia Digga. 
1818-Jan. la Arriyal of Father Cloriri^re. 

sion Day. Election of Mother Catharine Bigden. 
1820-Feb. 2. Mr. and Mrs. Barber make their vows. 
I82O-7J11IJ 11. Mother Catharine and the Sisters, going in pro- 

oession, begin digging for the foondatioos of 

the ohnroh. 

St Anne. First stone laid hj Arohbishop MarMiaL 
1820-Deo. 21. Death of Mother Catharine. 
1820-Dee. 28. Mother M. de Sales elected. 
1822 (proba- 
bly). The lAsallas placed as pupils in the Academj. 
1824-Mar. 10. Miracaloas core of Mrs. Mattinglj. 
1825-Feb. 10. Miraoolous core of Sister Beatrice Myers. 
1825-Mar. 18. Sister Stanislaus Jones enters. 

Mother Juliana Matthews elected Superior. 
1826-Sep. 29. Death of Father Clorivi^re, aged 68. 

Madam Tturbide in (jeorgetown. 
1828. Father Wheeler, the successor of Father Clori- 

yi^re as Spiritual Director, goes to Europe. 
1829-Aug. 2. Arriyal of the three French Sisters. 

sion Day. Mother Magdalene Augustine elected Superior 
1831-Jan. 1. Miraculous cure of Mrs. Mattingly's foot. 
1831-Jan. 20. Miraculous cure of Sister Apollonia Diggs. 
1831-Mar. 22. Departure of Sister Gertrude Whyte. 
1831-Sept. -. Sisters M. Regis and Agatha return to France. 




1832-Ma7 11. 
183a-Jan. 23. 

1838-Feb. 10. 
1846-S6pt 10. 

BeT. William Matthews appointed Spiritual 

Death of Rot. M. F. Wheeler. 
Charlotte T<a8iilla retuma to Greorgetown. 
Charlotte T<a8iilla dies, aged 23 years. 
Sister Stanislaus Jones miraculously cured of 

Sister Eugenia Millard miraculously cured. 
Death of the venerable Foundress, Mother 

Teresa Lalor, aged about 80 years. 




2. Mother Catharine Rigden 

3. Mother De Sales Neale 

4. Mother Agnes Brent 

5. Mother Agnes Brent 

6. Mother Juliana Matthews 

7. Mother Juliana Matthews 

8. Mother Magdalene Augustine 


9. Mother Juliana Matthews 

10. Mother Juliana Matthews 

11. Mother Agatha Combs 

12. Mother Agatha Combs 

13. Mother Anastasia Combs 

14. Mother Agatha Combs 

15. Mother Cecilia Brooks 

16. Mother Cecilia Brooks 

17. Mother Augustine Clearj 

18. Mother Perpetua Mitchell 

19. Mother Joseph Keating 

20. Mother Angela Harrison 

21. Mother Angela Harrison 

22. Mother Aug^tine Cleary 
28. Mother Angela Harrison 
24. Mother Angela Harrison 

28th December 


27th May 


28th December 


13th December 


19th May 


7th October 


2l8t November 


11th September 


20th May 


19th May 


15th February 


27th May 


30th May 


24th September 


29th July 


8th July 


27th July 


24th May 


20th May 


16th May 


12th May 


6th June 


2d June 


2d June 



26. Moihor Agnes Neewm Irt Jane 1876. 

26. Mother Ligaori D'ATraireTiUe 29th May 1879. 

27. Mother Ligaori IVATnureTiUe 26th M»j 1882. 

28. Mother Loretto King 2l8t M»j 188& 

29. Mother Loretto King 17th May 188& 
SO. Mother Leooadia Beokham 14th May 1891. 
81. Mother Fidelia McMenamin 10th May 1891. 



The father of Ceoilias Calvert had obtained a patent from 
James L for the oolonization of Maryland, and his son and sao- 
oessor afterward petitioned for a transfer of the charter to him- 
self. King Charles I. wished to act gratefully and graoefolly 
towards his father's old and trusted friend ; and, notwithstand- 
ing the yiolent opposition of the '< Virginia Company," issued 
his grant on July 2 (the Feast of the Visitation), 1683. 

It was on the morrow of the Presentation that the Maryland 
Emigrants set sail, and on the Annunciation that they landed 
and celebrated Mass in this new region of the New World, 
naming the town here built, St. Mary*s. The province they 
called Maryland, Terra Maria ; and the bay whose shores, 
nearly a century previous, had been sanctified by the blood of 
eight Jesuit martyrs, had from them received the name of " St. 
Mary's Bay." It was afterwards changed to << Chesapeake," 
but, by a singular coincidence, the names of Virgin and Mary^ 
belonging to the States of its eastern and western bank, and 
given in honor of two queens, will ever remain memorials of its 
consecration to Mary, the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven. 

On July 2, 1584, Queen Elizabeth's ships descried the coast 
of Virginia. On July 2, 1767, the duty on tea was fixed by 
Parliament, — which act brought on the American Revolution, 
and the independence of our country. On July 2,. 1775, George 
Washington reached headquarters at Cambridge, and assumed 
command of the army. 

On July 2, 1776, American Independence was w^ed in C<m» 
gress; on the following day the '' Declaration " was drawn up ; 
and on the 4th, publicly read and proclaimed. 


On Jnlj 2, 1778, the French fleet, under Count D'Estaing, 
appeared off the coast of Rhode IsUnd ; whereupon the penal 
laws against Catholics were repealed by the legislature. On 
the eye of the Feast of the Visitation, 1784, our American Min- 
ister, Benjamin Franklin, received a visit in Paris from the 
Pope's Nuncio, on the business of appointing a Bishop for the 
United States. Franklin writes that, on his own recommenda- 
tion. Rev. J. Carroll was appointed. 

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) has also 
been a day of special blessing. 

On Dec. 8, 1774, by an act of the Maryland Convention, 
toleration was granted to Catholics. On Dec. 8, 1776, Wash- 
ington, pursued by the British (after his disasters on Long 
Island and in New York), crossed the Delaware in the night ; 
thus saving his army, and the cause of American liberty, from 
total disaster. On Dec. 8, 1791, the first Catholic American 
Bishop was hailed in his episcopal city, having been consecrated 
in England, on the Feast of the Assumption, 1790. 

Our United States are dedicated to Mary Immaculate ; and 
Columbus himself dedicated the New World to the Queen of 
Heaven, — the flagship of his expedition being named '' Santa 
Maria de la Concezione." 

The Feast of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque is, likewise, a 
day of note in our American history. The two decisive battles 
of Saratoga and Torktown, on which the destinies of our Union 
depended, were accomplbhed on Oct. 17 (the day of the year 
of her death), 1777 and 1781. On October 17, 1777, the 
British army, under Burg^yne, surrendered to the Americans at 
Saratoga ; and in Irving's " Life of Wasnington " appears the 
following account of the surrender of Yorktown : '' The hopes of 
Lord Comwallis were now at an end. His works were tumbling 
in ruins about him under an incessant cannonade. He ordered 
a parley to be beaten on the morning of the 17th (October) 
and despatched a flag with a letter to Washingrton, proposing 
a cessation of hostilities for twenty-four hours ; and that two 
officers might be appointed by each side to meet and settle terms 
for the surrender." 

The discussion of the terms occupied that and the following 
day ; and the ceremony of the surrender took place on the 19th, 
thus ending the Revolutionary War. ComifnJlis's decision to 


snmndCT iMid been made, hofwerer, on Oetober ITtli, tlie Fetil 
of Bleiiad liazgiMt Mazy of the Visitation Older, with whom 
the doTotion to the Sacred Heart of Jeaoa began. 

These ooinoidenoee prooe abeolutely nothing, in the mere hu- 
man seme ; yet, even to the ordinazj human mind, they are of 
interest as showing aeorioos series of faots and oorzespondenoes 
in dates ; namely, that some of the momentoos and deoiaiTe 
events in the history of the forming of the American iiation took 
pkoe on days espedally deyoted to the Blessed Tiigin Mazy, in 
the feasts of the Visitation and the Tmmamilate Conception. 



This learned yet hnmble Jesnit was for many years Professor 
of Mathematins and Astronomy at Georgetown College, and 
founded the f amoos observatory of that nniyersity. A scholar 
of rare attainments in science, he also served the Convent of 
the Visitation as chaplain. 

Throaghoat a long life he was untiring in his aid to the sister- 
hood, freely contributing his invaluable seientiflc knowledge to 
the Academy, the philosophical apparatus and chemical labora- 
tory of which attest the care given by it to this branch of study. 
The community was greatly indebted to him on that side, as 
well as for his spiritual ministrations ; and his unpretentious 
kindness was extended to the Academy pupils. It was a charm- 
ing thing to watch his venerable and benign figure as he con- 
versed with some old-time graduate about her early days ; and 
so far back did his own experience and memory reach, that one 
of the sisters recalls how, in chatting with a young girl student, 
he even told her about her own grandmother's time, and related 
amusing anecdotes of President Andrew Jackson connected 
with that period. 

He lived to the age of ninety-two, in the full enjoyment of 
his faculties to the last, always dispensing an abundance of in- 
struction and good-will to both sisters and pupils ; beloved and 
reverenced by all who knew him, — so much so that the present 
brief memorial and the portrait of him in this volume form but 
a slight token of the aifecti<m with which he is remembered. 

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