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Before entering San Gregorio Armeno as a
novice, Enrichetta bad seen the confessionals
there. They were little cabinets carefully
latticed and grated on all sides, with a camp-
stool in the middle. She inquired why the nuns
made their confession seated, contrary to the
universal custom. The reply was, that it was
impossible to remain kneeling for three or four
hours, and that the penitents only knelt at the
moment when absolution was given.

"What!" she exclaimed, in astonishment.
"Does it take two or three hours to tell your
confessor that you have neither been willing nor
able to sin during a few days of cloistered life!
What, then, are poor worldlings to do, who are
much more exposed to temptation than you
are? Are labourers to desert the fields, and
shopkeepers to close their shops, in order to
spend half a day on their knees in a
confessional?"

"We are well aware," they answered, " that
it is usual in the world to make a confession of
a few minutes only. As to us, we confess not
only our venial sinsfor no mortal sins are
committed in a conventbut we also desire
that our confessor (a worthy confidential man
expressly selected for the purpose) should
direct every act of our lives. We tell him our
thoughts, our affairs, our projects; for he is
the only friend, the only support we have. He
is the only mediator between Heaven, the
world, and the cloister, allowed to a nun.
Separated from our families, we find in him a father's
love, a mother's tenderness, a brother's and a
sister's friendship and affection. In our
solitude, his intimacy personifies the universe.
After the Deity, the confessor is everything to
us. You yourself, very soonand especially if
you would dismiss your ridiculous old confessor,
and take a younger one more suited to direct
your mindwould learn to pass a couple of
hours deliciously in the confessional."

"A sad satisfaction!" she replied. "I had
rather play Rossini's music for a couple of
hours on my piano."

In short, the infatuation of the nuns for
priests and monks is, according to this lady,
incredible. With nuns, an affair touching their
confessor is a matter of state, a casus belli.
What reconciles them to their prison is the
liberty they enjoy of seeing and writing to the
priest for whom they have formed an attachment.
This liberty binds them so strongly to the
convent, that they are wretched if, through
serious illness, or before finally taking the veil, they
have to spend any length of time in the midst
of their families, with their father, their mother,
and their brothers. For it is scarcely probable
that parents would permit a young person to
spend hours together in mysterious colloquy
with a priest or a monk, or to keep up a
continual correspondence with him.

There are even nuns who will not incur the
responsibility of making out their own washing-
bill without the intervention of their confessor.
One of them saw hers three times a day. In
the morning she carried him provisions for his
dinner; later, when he came to say mass, she
served him with coffee and biscuits ; and after
dinner, she remained a long while with him, in
order, she said, to reckon the expenses she had
incurred in the morning. And not satisfied
with such frequent visits, they wrote to each
other in the intervals.

A nun had been in love with a priest ever
since he had served in the church as clerk.
Being received into holy orders, he was
appointed sacristan. But their liaison having
been denounced by his colleagues, he was
forbidden by his superiors even to pass through
the street where the convent was situated. The
poor woman had the romantic courage to
remain faithful to her attachment for sixteen long
years, during which they wrote to each other
daily, interchanged presents, and had occasional
secret interviews in the parlour. At last the
superiors were changed; and the nun succeeded,
in her maturer years, in obtaining him for her
confessor. Grateful to the saint whom she
regarded as her patroness for the favour thus
accorded to her, the nun presented her (the saint)
with a liberal quantity of flowers and wax-tapers.
She distributed bonbons amongst the whole
community, as is the custom when a marriage takes
place, received the congratulations of her
companions, and even copies of verses composed for
the occasion. Finally, she built at her own
expense a separate confessional, to be at liberty
to receive him at any hour of the day.

A great personage one morning sent for the
abbess of San Gregorio, to show her a letter
which he himself had found in the street. It
was a letter to a confessor from a nun, lost by
her servant, which grossly, violated common
decorum.

The friars and nuns of Southern Italy are far
removed from the Christian charity preached by
St. Bennet and practised by the clergy of the
primitive church. A proverb says of the Italian
monks, "They meet without becoming
acquainted; they live together without loving ;
they die without lamenting each other." The
people are also fond of quoting: " Their
religion is like linen clothes; they put it on and
take it off at will. When it is dirty, they send
it to the wash."

Enrichetta easily obtained the charge of
tending the sick, for the major part of the nuns
refused to undertake it. Some had never once
condescended to perform that duty; whilst
those who suffered from chronic complaints
remained for years without even catching sight
of their fellow-nuns. During a "sister's"
illness, and after her death, she is put upon her
trial by those about her. A great part of the
day is spent in commentaries on her case.
Discussions are held to ascertain why Heaven has
sent her such or such an affliction; and then
she is despatched to purgatory, or to worse,
according to the temper of the respective
speakers.

It is customary in convents to dress the dead
before interring them. This duty (an old
Basilian tradition) falls to the lot of four lay

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