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- KurzbeschreibungA Washington Post Notable Book<br>In 1858, a German princess, recently inducted into the convent of Sant'Ambrogio in Rome, wrote a frantic letter to her cousin, a confidant of the Pope, claiming that she feared for her life. A subsequent investigation by the Church's Inquisition uncovered the shocking secrets of a convent ruled by a beautiful young mistress, who coerced her novices into lesbian initiation rites and heresies, and who entered into an illicit relationship with a young theologian. Drawing upon written testimony and original documents discovered in a secret Vatican archive, The Nuns of Sant'Ambrogio is the never-before-told true story of how one woman was able to practice deception, heresy, seduction, and murder in the heart of the Catholic Church.
- AutorHubert Wolf
- VerlagRandom House LCC US
- Seiten496 Seiten
- Gewicht448 g
- LeseprobePrologue<br>"Save, Save Me!"<br>"Shortly after eight o'clock on Monday, July 25, the Archbishop of Edessa-sent by the Lord-finally came to me. There was no time for waiting; this was the one and only time to get saved. To him, I had to reveal everything and had to implore him to help me escape the convent as swiftly as possible. It all went well: my prayers were fulfilled, and I was understood." These dramatic words were set down by Princess Katharina von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen in a com- plaint she submitted to the pope in summer 1859. They were written barely five weeks after her escape from the convent of Sant'Ambrogio in Rome-or rather, after her cousin, Archbishop Gustav Adolf zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, managed to secure her release-and they describe the sensational conclusion to her adventure inside the walls of a Roman Catholic convent. It was an adventure for which she had narrowly avoided paying with her life.<br>She had been humiliated, isolated from her fellow nuns, cut off from the outside world, and-since she was party to the convent secrets and therefore regarded as a danger-somebody had tried to silence her. They had even made several attempts to poison her. At half past three in the afternoon on July 26, 1859, after almost exactly fifteen months, she finally left Sant'Ambrogio della Massima. Her life as Sister Luisa Maria of Saint Joseph, a nun in the Regulated Third Order of Holy Saint Francis in Rome, had begun so promisingly. And now here she was, being saved in the nick of time, rescued from imminent danger of death.<br>In her written complaint, the princess gave her failure as a nun and her thrilling escape from the convent a typically pious interpretation, casting it as salvation by Christ the Lord. This somehow made the experience bearable for her. But the final dramatic episode, and the preceding months she had spent under the constant fear of death, would come to define her whole life. After July 26, 1859, nothing would ever be the same again. Her plight had been genuinely existential: her life really was threatened in Sant'Ambrogio. Even years later, she was still traumatized by the attempts to poison her. This is all brought vividly to life in her Erlebnisse (Experiences), a book written by her close collaborator Christiane Gmeiner in 1870, more than a decade after the terrible events in Rome. According to this auto-biographical source, Katharina had managed to smuggle a letter out of the convent during the night of July 24, 1859. This was handed to Archbishop Hohenlohe in the Vatican.<br>The princess waited in a state of great anxiety until she was called into the parlor at half past seven in the morning. Fearful and almost breathless, the princess hurried downstairs to the archbishop, to whom she called out in great agitation: "save, save me!" At first, he did not understand her, and was almost afraid his cousin had run mad, but by and by she managed to convince him that she was mistress of her senses, and that her fear was not unfounded. Now he understood her pleas to leave the convent, and he promised to do everything in his power to arrange this as soon as possible- though the first appointment he was able to make was not until the following day.<br>The words are Christiane Gmeiner's, recounting in the third person what the princess had told her in her own words.<br>Katharina von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen's account sounds like a story from the depths of the Middle Ages, and confirms many of the common clichés and prejudices about life in Catholic convents and monasteries. But this story takes place in the modern world of the mid-nineteenth century. And the setting isn't a secluded mountain convent at the world's edge, but the center of the capital city of Christianity, little more than half a mile from the Vatican-home to the representative of Jesus Christ on earth.<br>What really happened in Sant'Ambrogio? ...
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