Cornelia’s Notebook and Writing Table

12 June, 2019

From the European Province Archives

This notebook of ‘Dates and Events from 1846’ lists key moments in the SHCJ’s early history such as the arrival of five sisters at St Ignatius Convent, Preston in 1853, the landing of six members of the society in New York on 12th August 1862 followed by the opening of the School in Towanda on 12th October and the foundation at Toul in June 1870. The item was recently viewed by a researcher looking into the biographical details of a woman connected to both Pierce Connelly and Cornelia, who briefly lived at Derby before becoming a religious in another order.

As noted on the cover, entries are written both by Cornelia and by MM Theophila Laprimaudaye. Their handwriting is similar. In places it is difficult to be certain of the author of a section of the writing as there are large gaps between the entries which do not necessarily follow each other chronologically. After the lists and descriptions of key events, a later section of the notebook has long entries in what appears to be Cornelia’s hand which include extracts from texts describing the role of a Mother Superior and selecting properties for convents. One entry relating to the instruction of the sisters is titled ‘List of Faults to correct in an Educational Order […]’. This prohibits dragging chairs, elbows on tables at meals and ‘rais[ing] the voice above others’ advising patience until ‘they have finished and then say what is to be said’.

Within the first few pages, Cornelia has jotted down a passage describing how societies and orders need a foundation of ‘Faith & Religious Reverence and the principles of Loyalty’ to ‘last’. A very fitting sentiment to begin this book of the early days of the SHCJ.

The Cherwell Centre also holds a large collection of SHCJ historic objects, including a writing table which belonged to Cornelia. It may possibly be the very desk where – as the cover describes – this notebook was habitually kept. This image shows these two artefacts reunited in what is to become the SHCJ European Province Heritage Room.