Mount St. Scholastica's French Refugees:
In Search Of Liberty

Junior Essay Winner

The Expulsion Day

At around eight in the morning, on November 11, 1904, soldiers entered the town of Flavigny. Sister Julia recalled:

Every day we expected them to come, but we had no idea when they were coming. We had all our exercises as usual, and each day after Mass we stripped the altar and put everything away in a neighbor's house. . . . [When the soldiers were sighted], I secured the gate and the house door and then I hurried and told Reverend Mother. Reverend Mother had me ring the bell for all the sisters to assemble in the Chapel. [Two sisters] were told to go up into the bell tower and ring the bell so that the townspeople would know what was happening.13

The soldiers gave a summons. When the nuns did not emerge, the soldiers broke through the locked doors, invaded the cloister, and found the thirty remaining nuns in the chapel, grouped around their abbess, chanting the Parce Domine. The head soldier stepped forward. "I can see him yet, as he stood there wearing his official cape," Julia remembered. "He read us a long formal accusation, as if we were criminals."14

Only when the chant was finished did the abbess speak. "We cannot willingly accept a judgment which strikes a blow at our property rights and our liberty," she reportedly told the soldiers. "But we declare that we, through and above all, will remain faithfully attached to our God and our promises, at the end to merit a favorable sentence from the Sovereign and Just Judge."15

As the nuns were escorted out of the abbey, the assembled townspeople gave cries of "Long Live the Sisters! Long Live Liberty!" (though one fellow in a nearby café shouted "down with the priesthood!" instead).16

That very day, November 11, 1904, was the 41st anniversary of the founding of Mount St. Scholastica.

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13MSSA. Reminiscence of Sister Julia Miller, in McAtee 10. return

14McAtee 10. return

15From the translation of an article published in Le Liberal, November 13, 1904, at Nancy, France. In McAtee 5b. return

16Le Liberal, McAtee 9. return

© 2003 by The American Benedictine Academy /