When one gets a glimpse into the evils of Romanism perpetuated in the name of Jesus throughout history, words are hard to find to express the tempest of emotions roiling within. Here, the account of Sarah J. Richardson and her years spent in the Grey Nunnery at Montreal are no exception. Incredulity, shock, grief, loathing and more will flood your heart as you read the incredible account of her years spent imprisoned in this whitewashed sepulcher, which indeed appeared outwardly beautiful, but inwardly was full of all manner of dead men’s bones and uncleanness.
The book starts by providing a little background on Sarah’s earliest years and how her partially intoxicated father, in an act he thought for her best interests, gave his daughter away to the nunnery. Sarah recalls this painful time of parting from her father by writing:
I am sure my father did not realize what he was doing. Had he waited for a little reflection, he would never have consented to such an arrangement, and my fate would have been quite different. But as it was, he immediately sent for the priest, and gave me to him, to be provided for, as his own child, until I was of age. I was then to be allowed to go out into the world if I chose. To this, Priest Dow consented. … Though I was at that time but six years old, I remember perfectly, all that passed upon that memorable occasion. I did not then comprehend the full meaning of what was said, but I understood enough to fill my heart with sorrow and apprehension.
But reflect on what he was doing was not to be for Sarah’s father, for his mind was made up and for his rashness he would never again see his daughter. And so Sarah was torn away from her family and the world at large and carried away unto the world of the convent from which the eyes of most are prevented from venturing too deep into its hidden recesses.
From here Sarah begins the recollection of her life and the strict discipline and monastic life she was subjected to. Something for which Roman Catholics are well known for where self-denial and beating of the body are held in high esteem. As far as discipline is concerned, the nunnery was marked by it where the slightest infringement of the law of the land could yield the harshest of penalties. One such law was that the children were not to speak, nay not even to groan or turn on their sides at night lest they cause the least bit of disturbance to the “holy” silence so cherished in convents.
This “holy” silence was to be observed throughout the convent where the nuns had to walk on their tip toes, and upon opening and closing a door had to do so with the utmost of care so as to not disturb the “peace.” A rule which Sarah found herself mistakenly breaking when one morning in haste, she closed the door much to quickly where “it came together with a loud crash.” We pick up her story where she writes about what happened next.
On entering the room, I found the Superior waiting for me; in her hand she held a stick about a foot long, to the end of which was attached nine leather strings, some twelve or fifteen inches long, and about the size of a man’s little finger. She bade me come to her, in a voice so cold and stern it sent a thrill of terror through my frame, and I trembled with the apprehension of some impending evil. I had no idea that she was about to punish me, for I was not aware that I had done anything to deserve it; but her looks frightened me, and I feared,–I know not what. She took hold of my arm, and without saying a word, gave me ten or twelve strokes over the head and shoulders with this miniature cat-o’-nine-tails. … But when I began to cry, and beg to go to my father, she sternly bade me stop crying at once, for I could not go to my father. I must stay there, she said, and learn to remember all her commands and obey then. She then taught me the following verse:
I am a little nun,
The sisters I will mind;
When I am pretty and learn,
Then they will use me kind.
I must not be so noisy
When I go about the house,
I’ll close the doors so softly
They’ll think I am a mouse.
And so began the life of Sarah in the convent. A life which would be filled with torments and griefs that far surpassed her beating for closing the door too loudly. Beatings not for her alone though but for all within its walls who dared to violate the orders of the Superior and priests, not matter how inane or petty they were.
More can be said but the reader of this post is encouraged to take the time and read this book for themselves. In posting this I know many will outright dismiss Sarah’s account as the ravings of a lunatic or the ramblings of yet another anti-Catholic conspirator. To this charge the reader would be well advised to study the history of Rome before making such a hasty verdict. For we only need to look back a few years to recall the horrors and abject wickedness of Romanism brought into the light as the “sex scandal” became headline news. Horrors that if protested against before this story broke, would have met with the same denial, incredulity and ridicule.
Or, one should peer back a little into history at the time of the inquisitions to find that men were of such hardened hearts that they could inflict the most horrible of terrors upon those who would not submit to the Papacy. All of which that Rome would assiduously deny until there was so much proof she could do nothing but slink back into her corner.