A biased examination of “convent escape narratives”


Escaped Nuns: True Womanhood and the Campaign Against Convents in Antebellum America
By Cassandra L. Yacovazzi
Oxford University Press, 2018, 202 pages

American Protestants of the 19th-century viewed Roman Catholicism with a good degree of well-earned mistrust and antagonism. Popes had openly condemned democratic forms of government and freedom of religion. In Catholic countries, Protestants were not tolerated (to put it mildly). The determined efforts of the Jesuits to counter and reverse the spread of the Gospel were known to all.

As large numbers of Irish and German Catholics began immigrating to America in the early 19th-century, they were accompanied by priests and nuns. Convents were seen by Protestants as especially vile institutions, where it was suspected some nuns were abused and/or held against their will. It was also feared that Catholic schools would draw an increasing number of Protestant children who would be indoctrinated into the Catholic religion. The…

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