17 April 2011

More Mini-Series

This is the ante-penultimate installment in our series about Sister Ann Catherine Rigden.

Ann Catherine Rigden worked as mistress of boarding students, who were drawn to her talents and sweet manners. She taught them many little practices of devotion, as the sister who wrote her life recalled from her own youth. Ann Catherine was especially close to Sister Isidora McNantz, who died at age 15 about three years before Ann Catherine’s death. She performed the last office for Isidora--meaning she placed her in her coffin--and she twice felt pressure on her hand from the hand of the deceased. The first time it alarmed her somewhat, but the second time it seemed fond, “either a remembrance of some compact of prayers, or as a last token of affection.” Some nuns said later that the incident might have been a harbinger of Ann Catherine’s own death not too long after, but this touch did not disturb her peace, for she had no other desire in life than being closely united with God.

She did all the most useful and laborious jobs in the house except the role of Superior, which she did not desire. Since 1800 there had been only one Superior, Teresa Lalor, whom the sisters called “the cornerstone of this house.” But an election was required at the Ascension of 1819, and “Ann Catherine Rigden became our mother, to the great joy of the whole community.” This especially pleased the sisters who had previously been her boarding students. This was a delicate time for the community, as the sisters were just getting acquainted with the rules of the Visitation as Clorivière interpreted them. However, Mother Ann Catherine’s health began to decline noticeably.

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