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INSPECTION OF MONASTERIES AND
How constantly are cases coming to light which show the importance of the eye of the government looking everywhere, especially into those sad abodes of darkness and superstition, nunneries and monasteries. How many within those dark walls may be sighing for liberty, and suffering inexpressible tortures, who ought to have an opportunity of making their wishes known, and carrying them out. We long to see the day when the government shall pass a law ordering the inspection of religious houses. We think the following painful case well calculated to impress our readers with a salutary horror of convent life, and give it for that end, with a portrait of another victim of conventual cruelty, Barbara Ubryk.
The following is the substance of the information made public soon after the discovery of Barbara Ubryk's incarceration :
About the 20th of July, an anonymous notice reached the Criminal Court at Cracow to the effect that in the convent of the Carmelite Barefooted Nuns, one of the order, named Barbara Ubryk, had been forcibly kept in close confinement in a dark cell for twenty-one years. The Vice-President of the Criminal Court, Ritter von Antohiewicz, immediately laid this information before a judge of inquiry, who, in company with the public prosecutor, repaired to the bishop, Von Galecki, with the request to permit them to enter the convent. Herr Von Galecki suggested to the judge that the notice might have arisen out of a false report; but when the officer of justice urged him to give him an ecclesiastical assistant, he declared that he
would grant the request in his capacity as Papal delegate, and sub-delegated the Papal prelate Spital, a very intelligent and worthy man. his company and that of his actuary, Kwialkowski, the judicial witnesses, Stanislaus Gralewski and Theophil Parvi, the judge drove to the convent. The latter, which is one of the strictest female orders, is situated in one of the most beautiful suburbs of Cracow.
The convent was first entered by Father Spital, and the commission went to the upper corridor, followed by the nuns, one of whom showed the judge the cell of Sister Barbara. This cell, between the pantries, close to the dung-hole, had a walledup window and a double wooden door, in which there was a movable grating, through which, very probably, food was handed in. The cell, seven paces long by six paces wide, was opened; but it is almost impossible to describe the view this piece of inquisition of the nineteenth century presented. In a dark, infected hole, adjoining the sewer, sat, or rather cowered, on a heap of straw, an entirely naked, totally neglected, half insane woman, who, at the unaccustomed view of light, the outer world, and human beings, folded her hands, and pitifully implored: "I am hungry; have pity on me; give me meat, and I shall be obedient." This hole, for it could hardly be called a chamber, besides containing all kinds of dirt and filth, and a dish with rotten potatoes, was deficient of the slightest decent accommodation. There was nothing-no stove, no bed, no table, no chair-it was neither warmed by a fire nor by the rays of This den the inhuman sisters, who call themselves women, spiritual wives, the brides of heaven, had selected as a habitation for one of their own sex, and kept her therein in
close confinement for twenty-one years-since 1848. For twenty-one years the Gray sisters daily passed this cell, and not one of them ever thought of taking compassion on this poor outcast prisoner. Half human being, half animal, with a filthy body, with thin knockkneed legs, hollow cheeks, closely shorn dirty head, unwashed for years, came a horrible-looking being forward, such as Dante in his wildest imagination was unable to picture. With her deeply-sunk eyes staring on one spot knelt this wretched victim in her cell in the Convent of the Carmelites. The judge instantly ordered the nun to be clothed, and went himself for Bishop Galecki. The bishop was deeply moved, and, turning to the assembled nuns, he vehemently reproached them for their inhumanity. "Is this," he said, "what you call love of your neighbour? Furies, not women, that you are, is it thus that you purpose to enter the kingdom of heaven?" The nuns ventured to excuse their conduct, but the bishop would not hear them. "Silence, you wretches!" he exclaimed; "away, out of my sight, you who disgrace religion!" The bishop and prelate at once suspended the Father Confessor, and also the Superioress, who is descended from an old honourable Polish noble family. The bishop ordered nun Barbara Ubryk to be brought into a clean cell, and there to be dressed and nursed. When the unhappy nun was led away, she asked anxiously whether she would be brought back to her grave; and when asked why she had been imprisoned, she answered: "I have broken the vow, but," pointing with a fearfully wild gesture and in great excitement to the sisters, "they are not angels!
This fearful personal history, just brought to the light of day, shows what iniquity may be covered