From Convent to Pentecost

Chapter 4

My Funeral

After finishing my nurse’s training and my schooling, I decided to take my Black Veil and become a Cloistered Nun. I was of age and could make my own choice.

Indeed, I attended my own funeral. A crude casket made of rough boards, by the hands of the little Nuns, was placed at the altar in the chapel. During the ceremony, I stepped into the open faced casket and was covered with a heavy drape mortel. For nine hours I lay in that casket for the purpose of dying out to the world, affections and lusts — trying to forget mother, father, brothers, sisters, home and its memories.

The heavy drape mortel, or black pall commonly used to drape caskets, was heavily incensed, making it difficult to breathe while the priest chanted and said prayers and completed the ceremony.

At the end of the ceremony, I stepped out of the casket, walked to the rear of the altar into a small room. There before the priests — the Bishop and the Mother Superior of the Convent — I took my final vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. I signed them in blood taken from the lobe of my ear.

The first vow was that of Poverty. Its significance was that I would never legally own anything in this world. Any property to which I might be entitled by virtue of a testamentary gift would go to the Church. I could not claim it — even the habit and shoes I wore would not be mine. I vowed to be a pauper.

The next vow of Chastity signified that I would never marry. I would always remain a virgin. My only Bridegroom would be Jesus Christ.

To take the third vow of Obedience meant subjection to my superiors. the Rev. Mother, the Bishop, and the hierarchy of the Church. I would not act upon my own conscience. From that point on, I would not think, complain, see nor hear. Independent thinking was no longer a part of my life. Complete acceptance in even respect of all that was said by the superiors in position became my life. I became a mechanical human being. We were taught that whatever we did through obedience to the Mother Superior or the priests would not be held against us by God no matter how wrong.

Perfect obedience required a soul without will or intellect. In other words, a Nun becomes a mere robot who is owned by the Priest. the Bishop and the Mother Superior.

The Mother Superior then informed me I had to suffer as Jesus suffered on the cross at Calvary, and read the following to me

1 In the Garden of Olives I shed…. 62,200 tears

In the Garden of Olives I shed…. 97, 300 drops of blood

2 On my body I received… 667 strokes

3 On my cheeks…. 110 strokes

4 On my neck…. 107 strokes

5 On my back…. 380 strokes

6 On my breast…. 77 strokes

7 On my head…. 108 strokes

8 On my side…. 38 strokes

9 On my shoulders…. 62 strokes

10 On my arms…. 44 strokes

11 On my feet…. 32 strokes

12 On my mouth…. 30 strokes

13 They spat in my face…. 32 times

14 They pushed at my feet…. 370 times

15 They have thrown me down to the 38 times ground….

16 They pulled me by the beard…. many times

17 By the crown of thorns I received…. 100 wounds

18 I have pleaded for your salvation… 900 times

19 For your conversion…. 162 times

20 I was in agony…. 19 times

21 I carried the cross to Calvary…. 320 steps

A plenary indulgence and sorrow for your sins. Escape entirely the pains of Purgatory. Reward them as martyrs who shed their blood for the faith.

The next morning I received my first penance. Mother Superior took me to the penance chamber. It was rather barren, with the exception of some devices of torture. Then Mother Superior, with the aid of two Nuns, stripped me to the waist and draped me over a huge wooden cross. Then as Mother Superior watched, the two Nuns whipped me with the flagellation whip, which consisted of six large leather straps with a sharp piece of metal attached to each end, protruding from the base of a round stick approximately eighteen inches long.

I was not washed or medically treated after this penance. The blood soaked into my clothes and dried in the wounds, making the wounds all the more painful as I continued work until evening. I was in such a bloody mess when I entered my cell to sleep that I could not remove the inner garments.

When the bell rang at midnight for all the Nuns to go to the chapel to recite the breviary for one hour, I arose and took my place at the altar with bleeding back, broken heart and exhausted body. There were no kind words or mercy offered. After all, had I not taken a vow that I would suffer as Jesus did in Gethsemane?