Academic journal article Magistra

Nuns without Cloister: Sisters of St. Joseph in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Academic journal article Magistra

Nuns without Cloister: Sisters of St. Joseph in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Article excerpt

Nuns Without Cloister: Sisters of St. Joseph in the Seventeenth And Eighteenth Centuries, Marguerite Vacher, trans. Patricia Byrne & U. S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph (University Press of America, 2010) 460 pp, $50.00, 978-7618-4342-9.

Patricia Byrne CSJ is eminently qualified to translate Nuns Without Cloister; her dissertation was on the same subject: "French Roots of a Women's Movement." The impressive research [25 years worth] of Marguerite Vacher CSJ into the French origins of the Sisters of St. Joseph, those communities who trace their origins back to Jean-Pierre Medaille and the region of Le-Puy-en-Velay, is invaluable. Vacher made extensive use of archives and original manuscripts; in her appendices Vacher provides comparisons and analyses of these manuscripts.

The Catholic Reformation was too frequently oppressive of women's aspirations toward ministry. Some elements of the Church had attempted to suppress the béguines for nearly 500 years and failed. These apostolic aspirations found expression among French women who eventually morphed into the Sisters of St. Joseph, one of the first and most innovative among non-cloistered women's congregations established after the Council of Trent.

These early "Soeurs" directly addressed the poverty around them. They began small ministries, such as recycling clothing and blankets, feeding and sheltering orphans or children whose parents were disabled and teaching basic survival skills such as lacemaking. …

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