From Convent to Pentecost

Chapter 27

Earthly Saints — Sisters of Mercy

Thousands of Nuns all over the world minister without pay to the sick, care for invalids, teach in schools, beg for the poor and a thousand other charitable acts in every field of labor from medicine to science.

No wonder this so-called “Church” is the richest in the world. Her thousands of workers, Nuns, labor for nothing. In the Cloister we do a little of everything. We washed, scrubbed, painted walls, dug tunnels, sewed and even made small tombstones for the graves of Mother Superiors. We made Altar Cloths, gowns for the images such as the Twelve Apostles. We also made stoles for the priests and Bishops and do fancy work for outside bazaars.

Remember their “Church” Orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico, and the plea the sisters made for help? It was such a dire need that the people of California sent clothing and miscellaneous articles. The orphanage lacked sufficient wash basins, towels and similar necessities.

Sisters of Open Orders perform many charitable acts. One of their most important jobs is to nurse the sick and to operate Hospitals.

In the convent, we nurses had to care for the sick and performed many operations. It was very rare that the Convent called in an outsider doctor. We had some surgical equipment in our infirmary, but not the most modem, I’ll assure you. Even our surgical knives and scissors were quite dull.

Sister Helen was great with child when the Nuns laid her out on our crude operating table. Although the nine months required to bring forth a normal healthy baby had not elapsed, Sister Paula took the surgical knife and made the incision in Sister Helen’s abdomen without administrating any anesthetic.

Although this was an imitation of Cesarean birth, it was far from a perfect job. The Nuns opened almost the entire abdomen. Then they removed from the womb the fetus, not fully developed, but alive. Quickly, the priest administered the rite of baptism and sprinkled holy water over its little head, then anointed it with oil to reassure its departing soul.

Poor Helen, still conscious as she watched the entire procedure, lay there without a motion. She didn’t scream. She did not even moan. Her eyes questioned as though to ask, “What next?”

The operation was crude all right, but where was the cat-gut and why didn’t the Mother Superior order her abdomen sewed? Why did she lie there like a butchered hog? The nurses hadn’t sterilized the instruments. There was no salve, iodine, mircuralchrome or medication had been used. Then one of the most cruel, demon-inspired acts I have ever seen took place. I do not know what wrong Sister Helen committed. But with an open, bleeding abdomen she was dragged into another room. The boards of the floor were removed and she was thrown into the dark, dirty hole. The boards were put back into place and six Nuns were instructed to continually march around that hole and sprinkle holy water upon the floor.

After approximately four hours, six other Nuns relieved the first group and continued the holy march. One shift was changed to another until the last moan was heard from the hole. When death moved in it took the place of pain. Holy water was exchanged for lime and chemicals. After all, the holy water was used to drive away the evil spirits. However, lime and chemicals do a better job of removing the stench, dissolving the flesh.

Of course not all the operations were performed by surgical knives nor in the infirmary in our convent. I had a felon on the first finger of my right hand. It throbbed with pain. Swollen and vellow it was ready to be opened with a needle. I approached Mother Superior and laid my hand on the kitchen work table. The pain lessened when the blood did not flow so freely to the finger. I wanted her to see my hand so she would understand why I asked to be excused from scrubbing. Without a moment’s hesitation or warning, she reached for the butcher knife and chopped off the side of my finger. One thing was certain: It was lanced! I wouldn’t be bothered with that felon any longer, as it was gone. But so was a part of my finger.

However, I still had to scrub. Perhaps she felt the hot soapy scrub water would act as an antibiotic to the germ infection. A little blood in the water wouldn’t hurt the floor.

Yes, we Nuns, both Open Order and Cloister, performed many charitable acts. We nursed the sick and even performed operations when necessary either with surgical knife or plain butcher knife.

We even signed death certificates when necessary.