Masters Thesis

"still More Glorifyed in His Saints and Spouses": The English Convents in Exile and the Formation of an English Catholic Identity, 1600-1800.

The English convents in exile preserved, constructed, and maintained a solid English Catholic identity in three ways: first, they preserved the past through writing the history of their convents and remembering the hardships of the English martyrs; that maintained the nuns’ continuity with their English past. Furthermore, producing obituaries of deceased nuns eulogized God’s faithful friends and provided an example to their predecessors. Second, the English nuns cultivated the present through the translation of key texts of English Catholic spirituality for use within their cloisters as well as for circulation among the wider recusant community to promote Franciscan and Ignatian spirituality. English versions of the Rule aided beginners in the convents to faithfully adhere to monastic discipline and continue on with their mission to bring English Catholicism back to England. Finally, as the English nuns looked toward the future and anticipated future needs, they used letter-writing to establish and maintain patronage networks to attract novices to their convents, obtain monetary aid in times of disaster, to secure patronage for the community and family members, and finally to establish themselves back in England in the aftermath of the French Revolution and Reign of Terror. By the mid-nineteenth century, not only did seventeen out of twenty-one convents reestablish themselves in England, but English Catholicism and female monasticism experienced a rebirth in their native land.


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