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Do Penance or PerishMagdalen Asylums in Ireland$
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Frances Finnegan

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195174601

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195174601.001.0001

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(p.242) Epilogue
Do Penance or Perish

Frances Finnegan

Oxford University Press

Mother St. Euphrasia Pelletier, the Foundress and first Superior-General of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd of Angers, was beatified in 1933. A total of 9,556 Good Shepherd Sisters were involving themselves in the “spiritual direction” of 2,600 “Sisters Magdalens”, 1,300 “Auxiliaries” and 47,692 “pupils and children”. In Ireland, where they were still referred to by the public as “Magdalens”, penitents continued in confinement until the domestic washing machine made the vast laundries no longer profitable, but it was not until the 1990s that the last of the Convent Magdalen Asylums were eventually closed. Attempts have been made to class the nuns as victims in order to portray them as powerless instruments of a patriarchal rule. For feminists, the knowledge that many penitents were victims, helplessly submitting to their situation, is unappealing. In the eyes of the Church, then, they were no longer ordinary beings, and perhaps this is how such women should be viewed.

Keywords:   Mother St. Euphrasia Pelletier, Convent Magdalen Asylums, penitents, Good Shepherd Sister, Ireland

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