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Blog: From the Archives

Civil War love story uncovered in the Archives

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.”

Pauline Perdrau, RSCJ, (1815-1895), Part three

After St. Madeleine Sophie’s death in May 1865, Pauline’s dear friend Josephine Goetz was elected superior general on September 8. In October, Pauline’s assignment changed to sub-assistant superior at the Rue de Varenne and assistant superior in 1870. The revolt of the Paris Commune against the French government beginning in March of 1871 threatened to engulf the whole city in the fighting when the Versailles government invaded to retake control. Reverend Mother Goetz and most of the community left the city for Conflans.

Treasures from the Archives, part two

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.

The Archives in Rome

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.

Our Lady of Sorrows in the Society

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.

Treasures from the Archives

Monument to RSCJ in Sugar Creek, Kansas

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

Memories of Philippine

In Louise Callan’s excellent biography of St. Philippine (Philippine Duchesne: Frontier Missionary of the Sacred Heart 1769-1852), the author relies heavily on letters to compose the image of Philippine and thus on Philippine’s own perception of herself and of those around her. However, there are other testimonies extant in the form of memories of those who were students of Philippine in the schools where she lived.