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Kidnapped and Returned to the Convent
Uncle John and I had spent a delightful evening with our neighbors, the Hancocks. A couple of days later, Uncle John mentioned that he had left a package at the Hancocks and asked if I would go and pick it up for him. They lived only four blocks over and I was only too happy to go on the errand for him. I fleetingly wondered why my uncle permitted me to go alone. I had tuberculosis of the bone in one of my hips and in both hospitals t had a certain medicine injected into the marrow of the bone to counteract the disease. Without warning, the hip would often give way and I would fall down. But I knew that Uncle John was in constant contact with my doctor, so I felt that the doctor had told him I was much improved and that I could walk that short distance without any serious repercussions.
I walked only a short distance, about two blocks, when I became very uneasy. I heard footsteps which alarmed me. When I walked fast they would walk fast. When I slowed my pace, they did also. The suspense was terrifying. They were gaining ground and coming closer each moment!
I turned around to see who was following me. Four priests, dressed in civilian clothes, called me “Sister Patricia” which was my church name. They ordered me to be quiet, not to make any noise at all and to cross the street and crawl into their parked automobile. I was too frightened to do anything else.
There was no one around to help me, even if I could have found my voice to help me. As a dog reluctantly crawls to its master to be chained, so I crawled into their sleek black car. I wasn’t permitted to sit either in the front or back seat, but was shoved to the floor and made to lie down. They threw a dirty rug over me and ordered me not to let out one sound. Two priests sat in the front seat and the other two sat in the back.
We drove the rest of the afternoon and all night, and finally arrived early the following morning. The car hardly started when I asked where they were taking me and what they were going to do with me, I was told to be quiet and ask no questions.
The rug was filthy. I was stifled and could hardly breathe. I tried to sit up but was shoved to the floor again. This time the two burly men put their feet on me to be sure I didn’t wiggle loose and sit up, because, you know, I might accidentally move and draw the attention of someone from a nearby car!
When they took their feet from off me and let me sit up I saw something that gave me the sincere desire to commit suicide. However, that wasn’t my privilege either. I was facing another convent! I recognized it as a convent immediately. I didn’t have to read “St. Mary’s” or “St. Claire” on the gate. The building, the wall, the high fence and the very atmosphere were convincing evidence of my suspicions.
Two priests walked beside me while the other two followed behind. Rest assured, I was not escorted by four priests through the front door and front gate of the convent. Close beside this convent was a school, church, priest’s manse, etc. They walked me right up the steps into the living room of the priest’s manse and right on through the dining room and kitchen. Then the door leading into the basement was opened. From the basement we moved through a tunnel right into the convent.
I soon found out I was in another Cloistered Convent! And to my surprise, I soon teamed that American Convents can be almost as cruel as foreign convents, but not quite as medieval.
This convent was approximately five hundred miles from my uncle’s home and a thousand miles from my father’s house. Nevertheless, the convent was fully prepared for my arrival. Evidently the clever scheme of kidnapping and illegally carrying me across two States into the third, where the convent was located, had been pre-planned. Therefore, the Convent, the Mother Superior and her collaborators had been informed and were waiting for me!
Mother Superior was the first of the convent crew to greet me. She tapped a bell and two Nuns appeared. They escorted me to the penance chamber and quickly bound my hands and feet, as directed by the Mother Superior.
A plumber’s torch was lighted. Then Sister Antoinette and Sister Fredericka picked me up bodily. One grabbed my bound feet and the other grabbed my shoulders. They hoisted me up in the air and then lowered my body over the torch, holding my back to the flames. Mother Superior walked over to my side as I dangled in the air feeling the heat but not close enough to the torch to burn. She ordered me to recant, but I refused to talk Again she ordered me to recant and confess that I was sorry for having run away from the convent. After she gave the order the third time and I remained smug and silent, (I wasn’t so- and knew I’d run away again, given the opportunity). She lowered her lip and told them to lower me.
The blaze from the torch caught my clothes on fire. I fought with all the strength I had, but I was unable to resist very much They kept dropping me closer to the fire until I gladly screamed, “I recant! I’m sorry I ran away!” With that confession Mother Superior ordered the two Nuns to lay me on the slab of wood (a bed) in the infirmary. My back was quite badly burned and I’m thankful they turned me over and put me on my stomach. The shock was as disastrous as the bum so I didn’t recuperate or walk for many days.
The burning process was but my initiation into this convent. They had many more forms of penance and surprises awaiting me! I was refused a clean habit when I arose from my sick bed. I was allowed only a dirty Nun’s habit which I wore until it rotted on my body. They also took my shoes and forced me to go barefoot.
The refectory was almost identical to the one in the foreign country. I viewed the crude table on saw horses. on which sat the familiar tin cup for drinking and the tin pan (our china plate). However, the slice of bread, coffee, and soup was lacking from my place. The mystery was soon solved. I was made to stand with my nose in the comer to eat alone. For further punishment and humiliation, the next day I had to eat dry potatoes off the floor like a dog! Even an obedient Nun might have to beg two spoonfuls of soup from each Nun until her pan was filled, if she was late for a meal.
Once I was caught whispering, so my mouth was stuffed with dirty rags. Should l, or any Nun, have fallen to the floor from exhaustion, our mouths were not emptied, nor would anyone stop and check our pulses or expressions. We were deserted and left to roll and squirm in agony for two or three days.
Each day I had to bow down before each Nun and ask forgiveness for having run away from the convent. This went on for weeks.
There was the same standard of immorality here as in the other convents. The priests came in as our Father Confessors, invaded our cells (with Mother Superior’s permission), and robbed the Nuns of their virtue. If they were repulsed or refused by us, we were kicked in the stomach, or struck in the mouth with doubled fists, cutting our lips and making our blood flow! They connived with Mother Superior to place extra forms of penance upon us, more severe than those previous, because we refused them.
Since the writing of this chapter, Easter Week has arrived. Lenten season was always dreaded in the convent. Those were dark days. We dragged heavy log chains about our waist and sat on the floor and ate our soup with ropes hanging about our necks. Often at night we slept under the bed instead of on top. We fasted ten of forty days. We had to imitate Christ by wearing a crown of thorns. It was our duty to enter the Meditation room and stand vigil before a skull (if there was no dead Nun available), and there we had to meditate upon death for an hour.
We spilled our blood as Christ did by the flagellation whip. After a heavy penance we fell down before the Virgin Mary and asked her to hold back the avenging wrath of her Son, Jesus. We then fell at the feet of the Crucifix and cried, “Sweetheart, Jesus, all of this suffering for you.”
It would be mere repetition to tell you of the sufferings and forms of penance inflicted on us in that convent as they were practically identical to those in the last convent. However, I will try to explain why all Mother Superiors are so hard-hearted and cruel, and also, how they obtain their position as Reverend Mother!
Just as Judas Iscariot was chosen by our Lord to betray Christ, so it was with Reverend Mother! Judas was not predestined to carry out his wicked scheme for thirty pieces of silver, however the plan was foreordained. Judas, succumbing to deceit, treachery and greed, chose himself to fulfill the plot.
Likewise, the Mother Superior is not cruel and hard because of her position. It is just the opposite. She is chosen because she is cruel and can wield a whip without flinching. She is trained and educated for the job. All Mother Superiors are past middle-age and some are quite old. This means she, at one time, was a novice and a postulant, having taken her vows thus becoming a full fledged Nun like the rest. She, too, has undergone severe forms of penance and has suffered much. Perhaps she has home many children. As the same heat that will melt wax and harden steel, so we find human beings are made of different mettle. Suffering will mellow and make some hearts tender, while other hearts become hardened and learn to seek vengeance.
The Mother Superior must be in good standing with the priests, superiors, and the hierarchy in general. This means she has submitted her body and will to the priests without murmuring or complaining.
Almost all human beings have loved somebody or something during their span of life. Perhaps this Mother Superior had been courted and fondled by one certain priest for several years. All of a sudden, in such a situation, a priest might turn his attentions on another, perhaps younger, Nun who has just taken her perpetual vows. If ever any Nun could look forward to severe punishments and untold agony it would be that inexperienced one who stole the affections of “Father Doyle” from “Mother Cabrini.” The Mother Superior’s jealous heart will seek revenge on the innocent because she has been set aside like an old shoe.
We were taught that the Mother Superior is neither a man nor a woman, but Christ among us. However, we soon learn that they are the “Cat’s Paw,” dealing treachery and punishment when young, as commanded. Therefore, they achieved position or succeeded their superior as Stalin did Lenin, and as Kruschev did Molotov!
Popery locks up noble young women for papal convenience. It has been said, “A doctor hides his mistakes by a spade.” A priest hides his with a white veil!
We are called impostors, frauds, devils, yellow renegades and communists because we leave the convent. But who, rich or poor, bond or free, intellectual or illiterate, can escape the deluge of bad names with communist heading the list, if he should speak openly against the Church?