Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Traditionalist picture of the day: honouring women, Mary Ward

This year the Church celebrates the four hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the Loreto Sisters by Englishwoman Mary Ward (1585-1645).

Her original foundation of an active women's order doing educational and other work, and operating along the lines of the Jesuits, proved highly successful and had important supporters - but it ran counter to the decree enforcing strict papal enclosure for all women's orders after the Council of Trent, and was suppressed in 1630. The idea did not die, however, and its rule was eventually approved in 1703, and recognised as an institute in 1877.

And lest anyone see the difficulties Mary Ward had as symbolic of the suffering of women in the Church, let me point out that historically, male founders of new religious institutes seem just as likely to have difficulties as female ones!

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