In the ‘50s, Philomena Lee became pregnant outside of marriage at the age of 18. She was sent to an Irish convent to have her baby, and after that, worked off her expenses in the laundry, permitted to see her child for an hour each day. Against her will and as part of a large and secretive program of forced adoption, the nuns gave her young son away when he was three years old. Philomena was able to track down her son—a successful lawyer and former chief legal counsel to the RNC—only after his death. Her search is the subject of the movie Philomena, starring Judi [...]
An interesting piece at VICE about the rapid dwindling of the American nun population begins with scenes from the Wartburg, a Westchester nursing home that's become an unofficial magnet for sisters lost in a peculiar diaspora. Unofficially nicknamed the Deathburg, the nursing home is overwhelmed by this new religious population, but "with convents closing in New York, as they are all over the country, and the existing population of nuns aging rapidly without younger women to replace them, where are [the nuns] supposed to go?"
The nuns in this story have sold off the contents of their convents and hope to use the profits to keep [...]
More than two decades ago, a music professor was doing some research on music manuscripts and found a saucy few lines written at an Italian convent in the 16th century:
You who’ve got that little trinket/ So delightful and so pleasing/ Might I take my hand and sink it/ ’Neath petticoat and cassock, squeezing.
Whatever did they mean?
Last week, Ursuline nun Cristina Scuccia bopped across the set of Italy’s The Voice—her black habit flying and her rather large cross looking a bit like bling—and belted out a pretty convincing rendition of Alicia Keys’ “No One.” Her performance garnered a couple million hits on YouTube and has probably been e-mailed to you by your very nice, Hail-Mary-ing, Internet-capable great-aunt by now. But if not, here you go:
Anyone who has ever watched reality singing shows should have recognized the Susan Boylesque aesthetic. First, we had the close up of Scuccia’s sensible black sneakers (how unlike a pop star!); then a shot of three [...]
Sewing patterns for certain traditional nun habits — the ones you think of when you think of nuns in old movies — have been lost. Or have they?
To rediscover the sewing patterns for traditional nuns' habits, artist Julia Sherman went to the last place anyone would expect: the Nun Doll Museum, in Indian River, Michigan. Everyone was stunned. "Why would you go there, Julia?" they asked her, but she didn't give a shit, and went anyway.
Bejeweled Catholic Skeletons: "For a personal touch, some sisters slipped their own rings onto a skeleton’s fingers"
A super-freaky piece over at Smithsonian Magazine details how, in the sixteenth century, churches in Northern Europe started snatching skeletons from the Roman catacombs, decorating them with jewels, and displaying them in order to "restore the morale" of their plundered parishes.
The holy bodies became wildly sought-after treasures. Every Catholic church, no matter how small, wanted to have at least one, if not ten. The skeletons allowed the churches to make a “grandiose statement,” Koudounaris says, and were especially prized in southern Germany, the epicenter of “the battleground against the Protestants.” Wealthy families sought them for their private chapels, and guilds and fraternities would sometimes [...]