Catholic Herald: Anna Arco’s great article on “women who made Vatican history”

Folks… you definitely want to look at the recent offering from the wonderful Anna Arco, persistent columnist for the best English language Catholic weekly across the Pond.

My search for the women who made Vatican history

Anna Arco goes in search of the first four women to work in the Roman Curia

It started with a black-and-white photograph, as it so often does. Three young women are chatting together, laughing over an unheard joke. A fourth woman, who is a little bit older, smiles at them benignly. St Peter’s Square lies behind them, and the future of the Church lies ahead.

There is something intriguing about the photograph. Maybe it is because there is something determined about these womens’ chins or maybe it is that look of optimism which warrants pulling it out of the file stuffed with hundreds of photographs of often nameless, long-dead religious.

The year is 1967. The Second Vatican Council has only been over for two years and the Church is in a visible state of turmoil. In the next decade tens of thousands of religious and priests will leave their orders and forswear their vows. Female religious communities will be especially affected by the dwindling numbers. Religious orders will re-examine their charisms and their constitutions. The laity too will begin its slow contraction. …


I knew and briefly worked with one of these sisters, Sœur Agnes Sauvage, on the right… smiling benignly.  She was an impressive woman, to be sure!

Go and read the rest at the website of The Catholic Herald and consider either an online subscription to the web version or print subscription.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Patricia says:

    I am astonished that Fr Z is promoting the Catholic Herald. Most recently, they published a disgraceful interview with Bishop Kieran Conry, in which he expressed his dislike of frequent confession, described Humanae Vitae as a mistake – not a key teaching and it’s not infallible, according to him, mocked traditional Mass adherents preferring the “loony left” because they are “nice people” (by comparison with the rigid “conservatives”)and contradicted a brother bishop who said the Mass is NOT primarily about community. Of course, this is a bishop in good standing with the Church. He’s not “suspended” or “excommunicated” like Archbishop Lefebvre so I suppose that makes a difference.

    Not to me. And, I would wager a safe bet, not in Heaven.

    The current edition of our newsletter carries a report on page 12 ‘Crisis Crunch’ because that dreadful interview is clear evidence that the crisis is reaching boiling point in the UK – to read our newsletter report visit

    Take out a subscription to the Catholic (in inverted commas) Herald? I’d sooner take out a subscription for the nearest comic strip.

  2. Patricia: What you don’t seem to understand is that by publishing that interview there is now a print article with His Lordship’s views in wide-circulation.

    The interviewer asked the right questions about the right issues.

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because the one being interviewed didn’t agree with what you have already decided, therefore that paper isn’t a good paper.

    However… if there is a better Catholic paper in the UK, I am ready to hear which one it is and why.

    No.. wait… on the other hand, maybe it would be better to discuss the real point of this entry, which is Anna Arco’s interesting article.

  3. Bailey Walker says:

    Want to play “Name That Order?” I’ll start. I think the Sister on the left is a Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary.

  4. PMcGrath says:

    According to Fr Zuhlsdorf, [Sister Sauvage] was a force to be reckoned with, brusque but kind …

    How so, Father Z? Any good stories to tell?

  5. TomW says:

    It is indeed a small world. Interesting story Father.

  6. Love the picture. Nuns in habits are so beautiful.

  7. Franzjosf says:

    I’m guessing the Soeur Sauvage is a Daughter of Charity, with the habit already modified by 1967; although I can’t see the length, I think she is wearing what the Daughters wear to this day. I’m guessing the other sisters are wearing modified habits, since none of them have something around the neck (I forget what it’s called. Wimpel?)

  8. Franzjosef: Yes… Soeur Agnes was a Daughter of Charity. The last time I saw her she was at their generalate in Paris at the Rue du Bac, to which she had returned after he many years in Rome.

  9. Franzjosf says:

    Father, thank you. I’ve always loved the Daughters. Several were stationed at the Cathedral in Mobile, Alabama, when I was living there, and they run Providence Hospital there as well. I think that the Daughters’ health care system is one of the largest in the United States. The sisters that I have known were always loyal to the Church and kind to everyone.

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