As we continue to mark our 140th year in the greater Youngstown area, we thought it would be interesting to include some historical information, not only of our Ursuline community but other Ursulines as well. This selection is taken from a volume edited by Rosemary Radford Ruether and Rosemary Keller titled Four Centuries of American Women’s Religious Writing.
The Ursuline Sisters from Rouen France were the first order of religious women to arrive in territory that would become the United States. Twelve nuns left France on February 22, 1727. After a harrowing voyage of five and a half months, in which they encountered several pirate ships and ran aground off the American coast and had to dump much of the cargo, they finally arrived in New Orleans on August 6, 1727. Marie Madeleine Hachard wrote five letters to her father in Rouen describing their voyage. The following excerpt recounts the last stage of the journey:
We had left Balize on the feast day of St. Ignatius and the launch did not arrive here in New Orleans until the day of the Octave. . . . There are no lands cultivated the whole length of the river, only great wild forests inhabited solely by beasts of all colors. . . . We slept twice in the midst of mud and water which fell from the sky in great abundance and penetrated both us and our mattresses which almost swam in the water when a rainstorm with thunder and lightning broke in the middle of the night. . . .
On this occasion several of our Mothers were greatly inconvenienced, getting colds and inflammations, some with faces and legs swelling and one of them even contracted a more severe malady. All these little annoyances began to bother us with time, but we were well rewarded afterwards with the pleasure that one gets from telling of life’s little adventures. It is true that the ardent desire we had to see this promised land made us endure everything with joy.
The telling of “life’s little adventures” certainly seems to be part of human nature!