Blog: From the Archives
In seeking to understand and grapple with the current outbreak of COVID-19, many have understandably reached for the worst pandemic of the 20th century, the 1918 Spanish Influenza. Given that interest, the Province Archives of the Society of the Sacred Heart decided to see how the Society in the United States was affected by that pandemic
Recently I received a request from a gentleman in Dublin, Ireland, for information about two young women who had attended Eden Hall for one year, 1860-1861. Their names were Katherine (Kate) Hewitt and her adopted sister, Catherine Dunn. His interest was primarily in Kate, who he informed me “had a tragic love affair with Major General John F. Reynolds, who was killed at Gettysburg.”
In my last post, I described the actual work of digitizing Sophie’s letters that I did while I was in Rome last summer. It was a great experience and, for me, there was a very rewarding by-product of that work. When I wrote of Sophie’s maddening habit of writing in the margins of her letters, I mentioned last month that I often had to refer to the volumes of transcriptions that exist because it was difficult to determine the sequence of her “postscripts.” She wrote wherever there was space on the paper.
Ten weeks at the motherhouse in Rome – a grace. Ten weeks at the motherhouse in Rome working in the general archives – a gift. Ten weeks in Rome digitizing the letters of Saint Madeleine Sophie – priceless!
I was asked by the General Council to go to Rome this summer for two reasons: to be a companion to Margaret Phelan, RSCJ, when the rest of the community left for retreat, language school, vacation, the Canadian Assembly, the meeting of the Latin American provincials, etc. and, at the same time, to work in the general archives.
On June 4, 1836, St. Madeleine Sophie moved into a new motherhouse in Paris and consecrated it to Our Lady of Sorrows. This is perhaps the first public indication of her deep devotion to Mary under this title. The devotion arose in the 17th century with the Servite Order, and commemorated the “seven sorrows” of Mary: the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the loss of Jesus in the Temple, her encounter with Jesus on the way to Calvary, the death of Jesus, Mary receiving his body from the cross, and the burial of Jesus.
In February I had the opportunity to do some research in the province archives. My inspiration was the desire to know more about the seven RSCJ whose grave in Kansas I visited with my golden jubilee group in June of last year. Although our intrepid guide, Margaret Munch, could tell us something about a few of the group, there were some who were a mystery even to her. The simple tombstone on the common grave has only their names and dates of death, which in two instances are not correct. Little did I realize the prodigious amount of material I would