Posted: Wednesday Sep 19, 2012
September 19, 2012
An article by Fr. Rene Kollar, O.S.B., dean of the Saint Vincent College School of Humanities and Fine Arts and professor of history, “Fr. Sydney Fenn Smith, S.J., and His Response to a ‘Rescued Nun’ Story. An Episode in Nineteenth Century English Roman Catholicism,” appears in the current issue of Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu, the publication of the Jesuit Historical Institute based in Rome.
“Anti-Catholicism was prevalent in 19th century England especially as the numbers of Catholics increased and in the minds of some threatened the Protestant character of the nation,” Fr. Rene commented. “Sisterhoods, which had been the object of scorn and suspicion since the 18th century, were characterized as inhuman institutions where the nuns suffered physical punishments and loss of liberty. A convert to Roman Catholicism, Fr. Sydney Fenn Smith, S.J., defended sisterhoods against this prejudice in his writings. The allegations of a so-called ‘rescued’ nun immediately caught his attention. Edith Gorman claimed that she had been ‘rescued’ from the horrors of a French convent, and soon began to travel throughout England denouncing sisterhoods. Fr. Smith responded and discredited her accusations. He demanded proof to substantiate Ms. Gorman’s claims, and through his efforts the stories of Ms. Gorman were exposed as exaggerated falsehoods which eventually undermined her influence on English public opinion.”
In addition, Fr. Rene’s book review of Octavia, Daughter of God: The Story of a Female Messiah and Her Followers by Jane Shaw was published in the fall 2012 issue of The Historian.
Follow us on Twitter: @SVCPublicity
Like us on Facebook: Saint Vincent College Public Relations