The Testimony of Charlotte Wells*
*This is a pseudonym. Sister Charlotte never gave her real name in public.
First of all I always like to tell folk I’m not giving this testimony because I have any ill feeling in my heart toward the Roman Catholic people. I couldn’t be a Christian if I still had bitterness in my heart. God delivered me from all bitterness and strife and delivered me out of all of that one day and made himself real to me, and the power of the Holy Spirit. And so, when I give this testimony I’m giving it because after God saved me he delivered me out of the convent and out of bondage and darkness. The Lord laid the burden upon my heart to give this testimony that others might know what cloistered convents are. And so, as you listen carefully this afternoon, I trust I will not say one thing that will leave any feeling in your heart whatsoever that I don’t carry a burden for the Roman Catholic people. I don’t like the things they do, I don’t agree with the things that they teach, but I covet their soul for Jesus. I’m interested in their souls. I believe Jesus went to Calvary. He died that you and I might know Him. And their souls are just as precious as your soul and my soul. So I’m interested.
First of all, as we slip into this testimony, having been born in Roman Catholicism, not knowing anything else, not knowing the word of God because we didn’t have a Bible in our home, we had never heard anything about this wonderful plan of salvation. And so, naturally, I grew up in that Roman Catholic home as a child, knowing only the catechism, knowing only the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. And, because I loved the Lord, and because I wanted to do something for Him, I wanted to give Him my life. I didn’t know of any other way for a Roman Catholic girl to give her life to God other than entering a convent, and to going to the confessional box where, naturally, I’m under the influence of my father-confessor, the Roman Catholic priest, his influence over my life.
One day I made up my mind through his influence and one of my teachers in the parochial school that I wanted to be a little sister. At that time I thought of being a sister of the open order, but as I went on into this, up until the time I took my white veil, sixteen and a half years of age, everything was beautiful. I really didn’t have any fear in my heart whatsoever. Everything that was taught to me was seemingly along the line that I had been taught in the church before I entered the convent. And so one day, after having been, uh, after making up my mind to enter a convent, I remember that particular day, two of the sisters came home with me from school. They were my teachers. And when we arrived at my father’s home that afternoon our Father-confessor was in the home likewise. I often say when I was a little girl children were seen and not heard. You didn’t talk when you was a child, at least in my family, in my home unless you were spoken to. And I remember I listened to them carry on a conversation, and then I moved over close enough to my father and I asked him if I could say something. And that was a bit out of the ordinary. And he permitted me to talk and I said, “Dad, I want to go into a convent.” And I will tell you that priest took it up quickly. He had already been influencing me. My father broke down and began to cry, not because he’s sad, but he’s very happy. My mother came over and took me in her arms and she, too, wept tears. She’s very happy. Those were not tears of sadness because to think her little girl was giving her life to the convent to pray for lost humanity. And naturally my family were very thrilled about it, and I was too. But, anyway I didn’t go for a year after that and then the time come when I got myself ready and my mother prepared things for me. And so I entered the convent.
They took me and we didn’t have a place close enough to my father and mother’s home so I think they took me around a thousand miles away from home where I entered a convent boarding school. I lacked about 3 months being 13 years of age. Just a little girl. I look back on it now and I think, “My!” Homesick? I was so homesick, why my mother and daddy, they stayed three days with me and when they left I became so homesick! Naturally. And why shouldn’t I? Just a baby away from home. When I was a little girl, you know I never spent a night away from my mother, and I surely had never gone any place without my family. And naturally there was a close tie in our family and I was very lonely and very homesick. But I’ll never forget that after Mother told me good-bye and I knew they were travelling a long distance away from me, and I had never realized in my heart, “I’ll never see them again!” Naturally I hadn’t planned it like that because I had planned to be a sister of the open order. But, if you’ll listen carefully to this portion of the testimony, then you’ll understand just why I’m saying some of the things I say. Now oftentimes we say that the priest selects his material through the confessional box, because at seven years of age I went to confessional. Seven years of age I would always, when I came into the church, first I’d slip over to the feet of the crucifix, or rather to the Virgin Mary, and then over at the feet of the crucifix and I’d ask the Virgin Mary to help me make a good confession, because I was a child and my heart was honest. And I knew the priest had taught us to always make a good confession. Keep nothing back. Tell everything if I expected absolution from any sin that I might have committed. And so I would ask the Virgin Mary to help me make a good confession. I would ask then Jesus to help me make a good confession. And you know, I’ll assure you, after I’d lived in the convent for ,,,I had to go on with my schooling. I had just finished the eighth grade and they promised to give me a high school education and some college education. But, I didn’t get much college, I got mostly just high school training. And they gave that to me alright. I took it under some terrible difficulties and strains and all of that. It was terribly difficult. But they gave it to me for which I appreciate very very much. But I’ll assure you that after they put me through the crucial training that we must go through just to become a little initiate entering a convent. The training is really, it’s outstanding as far as a nun is concerned and you know what it’s all about after you’ve been in there a little while.
So now I’ve entered the convent and for just a few minutes I want to tell you just how we lived, what we eat, how we sleep. If I take you into the convent and tell you those things you’ll understand a little bit more about my testimony. At first as I entered the convent as a small child I went on to school, but I was being trained. But the day came when I was fourteen and a half. The mother came to me and she began to tell me about the White Veil. And I didn’t know too much about it, but in taking the white veil they told me that I would be becoming the spouse or bride of Jesus Christ. There would be a ceremony and I would be dressed in a wedding garment. And on this particular morning they told me at nine o’clock they would dress me up in a wedding garment. Now you’re wondering where that come from and how they get the wedding clothes for the little nuns? The mother superior sits down and writes a letter to my father and tells him how much money she wants. And then whatever she asks, my father sends it. The little buying sister goes out and buys the material and the wedding gown is made by the nuns of the cloister. I’m still Open Order now. And of course whatever she asked, now you say, “Did they spend all the money for the wedding gown?” Well, of course we don’t know these things in the very beginning of our testimony, but after we live in a convent for a little while we learned to know they could ask my father for a hundred dollars and he’d send it. They wouldn’t but maybe a third of that for the wedding garment. They would keep the rest of it and my father would never know the difference. Neither did I until I lived in the convent for a period of time and I had to make some of the wedding clothes and then I knew the value of them and what they cost. And I knew the of money that came in because I was one of the older nuns. Well, alright, the time came, of course, when I walked down that aisle and I was dressed in a wedding garment. Now you know in the convent I used to walk the fourteen stations of the cross- the fourteen steps that Jesus carried the cross to Calvary. But after I had made up my mind to take the white veil, never again did I walk. I wanted to be worthy. I wanted to be holy enough to become the spouse or the bride of Jesus Christ. And so I would get down on my knees and crawl the fourteen stations. Quite a distance, but I crawled them every Friday morning. I felt it would make me holy. I felt it would drawl me closer to God. It would make me worthy of the step that I was going to take. And that’s what I wanted more than anything else in the world. I would like to impress upon your heart, every little girl that enters the convent that I know anything about. That child has a desire to live for God. That child has a desire to give her heart, mind, and soul to God. Now many, many people make this remark and we hear it from various types of folk who say only bad women go into convents. That isn’t true. There are movie stars who go into convents. They’ve lived out in the world, and no doubt they are sinners and all of that. But they go in when they are women. They know what they are doing. And they go in only because the Roman Catholic Church is going to receive, not only thousands, but yea it will run up into the millions of dollars. They don’t mind who they take in if they can get a lot of money out of that individual. But the ordinary little girl that goes in as a child, she’s just a child and she goes in there with a heart and mind and soul just as clean as any child could be. I say that because sometimes you hear a lot of things that are really not true. Now after we become the spouse of Jesus Christ, I want you to listen carefully to this and then you can follow me into the rest of the testimony. We are now looked upon as married women. We are looked upon as married women. We are the spouse or the bride of Jesus Christ. Now the priest teaches every little girl that will take the white veil, they’ll become the bride of Christ. He teaches her to believe that her family will be saved. It doesn’t make any difference how many banks they’ve robbed, how many stores they’ve robbed. It doesn’t make any difference how they drink and smoke and carouse and live out in this sinful world and do all the things that sinners do. It doesn’t make a bit of difference. Still our family will be saved if we continue to live in the convent and give our lives to the convent or to the church we can rest assured that every member of our immediate family will be saved. And you know there are many little children that are influenced and enticed to go into convents because we realize it is the salvation for our families. And sometimes, even (in) Roman Catholic families, the children grow up and leave the Roman Catholic Church and go out into the deepest of sin. And so, every little girl that enters the convent is hoping by her sacrificing so much, home and loved ones, mother and daddy, everything that a child loves, her family will be saved regardless of what sins they commit. And of course we are children and our minds are immature and we don’t know any better. And it’s so easy to instill things like this into the hearts and minds of little children and the priest is- he’s really good at it. And, of course, we look upon our priest, our father-confessor, I looked upon him as God. He’s the only God I knew anything about, and to me he was infallible. I didn’t think he could sin. I didn’t think that he would lie. I didn’t think that he ever made a mistake. I looked upon him as the holiest of holy because I didn’t know a God, but I did know the Roman Catholic Priest, and to me, I looked to him for everything that I asked of God, so to speak. I believed the priest could give it to me. And so the day comes when all of us now, as we’re going in (I want you to listen carefully) after taking the white veil things are beautiful. I’m sixteen and a half years of age. Everyone’s good to me and I’m living in the convent and I haven’t seen anything yet because no little girl, we’re not subject to a Roman Catholic Priest until we are 21 years of age, and as we give you this next vow then you’ll understand we don’t know about this. This is kept from the little sisters until we’ve taken our black veils and then it’s too late. I don’t carry the key to those double doors and there’s no way for me to come out. The priest will tell all over the whole United States and other countries that sisters, or nuns rather, can walk out of convents when they want to. I spent 22 years there. I did everything there was to do to get out. I’ve carried tablespoons with me into the dungeons and tried to dig down into that dirt, because there’s no floors in those places, but I’ve never yet found myself digging far enough to get out of a convent with a tablespoon and that’s about the only instrument. Because when we’re using the spade, and we do have to do hard heavy work, when we use a spade we’re being guarded. We’re being watched by two older nuns and they’re going to report on us and I’ll assure your not going to try to dig out with a spade. You wouldn’t get very far anyway because they made or built those convents so little nuns can NOT escape. That was their purpose in building them as they build them. And there’s no way for us to get out unless God makes a way. But I believe God’s making a way for numbers of little girls after they come out of the convent.
A NEW KIND OF VOW
Alright, now when the time comes, I think I was 18 when the mother began talking to me, now I planned to come out, see, after my white veil. I wanted to be a little nursing sister in the Roman church, but the mother superior, I suppose she was watching my life, I supposed she realized I had much endurance. I had a strong body and I believe the woman was watching me because one day she asked me to come into her office and she began to tell me, “Charlotte, you have a strong body.” And she said, “I believe you have the possibilities of making a good nun, a cloistered nun. I believe you’re the type that’d be willing to give up home, give up Mother and Daddy, give up everything you love out in the world, and the world (so to speak) and hide yourself behind convent doors, because I believe you’re the kind that would hide back there and be willing to sacrifice and live in crucial poverty that you might pray for lost humanity.”
She said, “I believe you’re the kind that’d be willing to suffer.”
We are taught to believe as nuns that we suffer our loved ones and your loved ones that are already in a priest’s purgatory will be delivered from purgatory sooner because of our suffering. She knew I was willing to suffer. I didn’t murmur. I didn’t complain. She knew all of that and she’s watching my life and that’s the reason she began to tell me about the black veil. And then of course, you know I didn’t know too much about a cloistered nun. I didn’t know their lives. I didn’t know how they live. I didn’t know what they’ve done. But you know, this woman proceeded to tell me- now you hear a lot of people try to tell me in the various places where we travel and go, I hear a lot of Roman Catholics try to tell me “I’ve been in so many cloisters. I know all about them.” But you know a Roman Catholic can lie to you and they don’t have to go to confession and tell the priest about the lie that they’ve told because they’re lying to protect their faith. They can tell any lie they want to to protect their faith and never go the confessional box and tell the priest about it. They can do more than that. They can steal up to 40 dollars and they don’t have to tell the priest about it. They don’t have to say one word about it in the confessional box. They’re taught that. Every Roman Catholic knows it and every Roman Catholic (you’d be horrified if you know how many of them) steal up to that amount. And many of them lie. We’ve dealt with them. I’ve dealt with hundreds and hundreds of them. I’ve seen good many of them fall in at the altar and cry out to God to save them. And, you know, before they’re saved they look into my face and hold my hand and lie to me. But after God gets a hold of their heart then they want to make right what they’ve told me because they realize that they’ve lied about it. But as long as they’re Roman Catholic they’re permitted to lie. And it’s the saddest thing. You can’t expect them to know God because God does not condone sin. I don’t care who you are. I don’t believe God condones sin and I don’t believe he’s going to condone it in the Roman Catholic people, even though they are being mislead and they’re being blinded and being led in the way that’s going to lead them into a Devil’s hell. I believe that will all of my heart because I’ve lived in a convent. I know something about how those people live and what they do.
Now the day comes. She told me, “Charlotte, you have to be willing to spill your blood as Jesus shed his upon Calvary.” She said, “You’ll have to be willing to do penance, heavy penance.” She said, “You’l have to be willing to live in crucial poverty.”
Now already I’m living in a bit of poverty, but I thought that was going to make me holy and draw me close to God and would make me a better nun. And so I’m willing to live in that poverty. And then, on this particular morning, she told me what I would be wearing. She said, “You’ll spend nine hours in a casket” and she explained a number of things to me. That’s the most I knew about it and I didn’t find that out until I’d taken my white veil. And so, on this particular morning I’m 21 years of age. But 60 days previous to my being 21 years of age, I’m going to sign some papers that they’ve placed in front of me. And those papers are this: I’m going to sign away every bit of inheritance that I might have received from my family after their death. Of course I signed that over to the Roman Catholic Church. And oftentimes I say the Roman Catholic priests are enticing girls, not only their background, not only their strong bodies, their strong minds, and strong wills, but he’s enticing girls where mothers and fathers have much property and they are comfortably fixed with the material things of this life. Why? Because when that child enters the convent, they’re going to get a portion of her money, of her father’s money and I often say that even salvation in the Roman Catholic Church is going to cost you plenty of money. More than you know anything about. And so they don’t mind commercializing off of that child and the inheritance that would have come to her. And so on this particular morning I told the mother superior, “Give me a little while to think it over.” She didn’t make me do it. No one did. But I thought it over for a couple years and then one day I told her, “I think I’m going to hide away behind the convent doors because I believe I could give more time to God. I could pray more.”
NINE HOURS IN A CASKET
I believed I could be in a position where I could inflict more pain upon my body because we are taught to believe that God smiles down out of heaven as we do penance, whatever the suffering might be. And I didn’t know any better because I often say, “If you could only look into the hearts of little nuns, if you are a Christian you would immediately cry out before God in behalf of those little girls,” because to me we are heathens. It doesn’t make any difference, the amount of education we have. We are still heathens. We know nothing about this lovely Christ, nothing about the plan of salvation. And we’re living as hermits in the convent.
And so on this particular morning I come walking down an aisle again….And may I say the morning before, I can’t go into it too deeply because I never would be able to cover enough of it so you could understand it, but this morning I’m walking down that aisle, but I don’t have a wedding garment on. I have a funeral shroud. It’s made of dark red velvet and it’s way down to the floor. And I’m walking down that aisle. I know what I’m going to do. The casket is already made by the nuns of the cloister of very rough boards. It is sitting right out here and I know when I come down there I’ll step in that casket and lay my body down and I’m going to spend nine hours in there. And two little nuns will come and cover me up with a heavy black cloth we called a heavy drape mortel(?) and you know it’s so heavily incensed that I feel like I’ve smothered to death. And I have to stay there. Now I know when I come out of that casket I’ll never leave the convent again. I know I’ll never see my mother and father again. I’ll never go home again. I’ll always live behind convent doors and when I die my body will be buried there. They told me that, so I knew it even before I done it. It’s a great price to pay, then to find out that convents are not religious orders as we were taught and as we were trained. It’s quite a disappointment to a young girl that’s given her life to God, and willing to give up so much and sacrifice so much. I’ll assure you, it was a disappointment. And so after I spent those nine hours- you’ll say, “What’d you do while you lay in that casket?”
What do you think I did? I spilled every tear in my body. I remembered every lovely thing my mother done for me. I remembered her voice. I remembered the gathering around the table. I remembered the times when she would pray with us. I remembered the things that she said to me. I remembered what a marvelous cook she was. Everything as a little girl growing up in that home, I remembered it. Laying in that casket, knowing I’ll never hear her voice again and I’ll never see her face again. I’ll never put my feet under her table again and enjoy her good cooking. I knew all that and so maybe for four hours I spilled all the tears in my body because it was so hard and I knew I’d get homesick. I knew I’d want to see her someday, but I gave it all up. What for? For the love of God, I thought. I didn’t know any better. And I’ll assure you those were nine long hours. And then I seemingly got a hold of myself and I thought this, “Charlotte, now you’re going to make the best Carmelite nun!” Because everything I’ve done, even (now) that I’m out of the convent, I do give my best. I try to give everything that I have regardless what I might do. And so I did in the convent. I gave the best that I had. And I wanted to be the best nun that I could possible be. And the mother superior knew that and, don’t worry, the priest knew all about that too.
SIGNATURE IN BLOOD
Now I realized after I walk out of that casket or come out of it they’re going to take me like this, over here, and right back here there’s a room. We call it the mother superior’s room. Now I’ve never been in that particular room, so I don’t know what she has in there. But, you know, when I walk in there this time the mother superior sits me down in a straight backed, hard-bottomed chair and immediately then I’m going to take three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. And you know, as I take those vows she opens a little place in the lobe of my ear and she takes out a portion of blood because I must sign every vow in my own blood. And after that happened I’m going to take the vow of poverty. Now when I sign that vow I sign it thus and I’m willing to live in crucial poverty the balance of my live, as long as I live. And what that poverty is like, of course we [the nuns undergoing initiation] don’t know. And then my next vow, I’m going to vow of chastity. And you know this vow, of course you know what it means. I’m taught to believe that I’m married to Jesus Christ. I’m his bride. I’ll always remain a virgin. I’ll never legally marry again in this world because I have become the spouse or the bride of Jesus Christ. After the bishop married me to Christ he placed the ring on my finger and that meant I’m sealed to Christ. I’m married to him and I accepted it because I didn’t know any better. And now here I am taking a vow that I would always remain a virgin because I’m the bride of Christ. And I want you to listen carefully. And then, of course my last vow- of obedience. Now when we signed that vow, I’ll assure you already I know what obedience means. I’m living in a convent and there they demand absolute obedience. You don’t get by with anything, not even for two minutes. I mean you don’t get by with it. You have to realize what obedience means and they demand it and you learn to know it and you’re much wiser the more quickly you learn it and you obey it and you give them absolute obedience.
Alright, now what does it mean to assign vows like this? Let me tell you this. It means more than you folk will ever know because most people that I know anything about, they know very little about obedience. Oh in a sense, yes, but you’ll never know what a little nun knows about obedience, I’ll assure you that one thing unless you lived in the convent. Alright, that particular vow, when I signed it in my own blood, it done something to me because after I signed those vows do you realize that I’ve signed away everything that I have? My human rights. I have become a mechanical human being now. I can’t sit down until they tell me to. I don’t dare to get up until they tell me to. I can’t lie down until they tell me to and neither do I dare to get up. I cannot eat until they tell me to. And what I see, I don’t see. What I hear, I don’t hear. What I fell, I don’t feel. I’ve become a mechanical human being, but you’re not aware of that until you have signed all these vows. Then you realize, “Here I am, a mechanical human being.” And of course I belonged to Rome now, I’ll assure you that right now.
Alright, after these particular vows we become forgotten women of the convent. In just a short while you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Now immediately after I’ve taken those vows then the mother superior is going to give me- take away from me, my name and give me the name of a patron saint. And she teaches me to believe that whatever happens to me in the convent I can pray to that patron saint and she will intercede and get my prayers through to God because I’m not holy enough to stand in the presence of God. It is no wonder the dear little nuns can never get close enough to God. We’ve always been taught that we’ll never be holy enough to stand in his presence and we always have to go through somebody else in order to get a prayer through to God. And we believe it because we don’t know any better. And so now, all identification of who Charlotte was is going to be put away. It’ll be taken away from me, and if you would come into the convent and call for my family name, they’d tell you there isn’t such a person there. I don’t exist, even though I’m right there, because I’m writing under another name.
Now the mother superior is going to cut every bit of hair off of my head, and when she cuts it with the scissors she puts the clippers on it. And I mean there’s nothing left. I don’t have one speck of hair left on my head. And of course if you could be a nun then you’d understand the heavy headgear that we have to wear- it’d be so cumbersome to have hair and so cumbersome to take care of it. We don’t have any ways of taking care of it in the convent. There are no combs in the convent. And so you can imagine how hard it would be for us to take care of a head of hair. It’s not necessary that we have a comb after they’ve finished with it. Alright, now this is my black veil, these are my perpetual vows, we’ll call them. I’m there and I’m going to stay there.
Now, you know, up until this time, once a month I received a letter from my family and I wrote a letter out of the convent once a month to my family, even though when I’d write that letter I had no doubt they marked out a lot of it because when I would receive a letter from my family there was so much of it blacked out until there was no sense to the letter and, oh, I’d weep over those black marks. I was wondering what my mother was trying to say to me. Don’t worry. You’ll never get to know what she wanted to say to you because they have blacked it out. And so they break your heart many, many times and you’re lonely anyway because you have no friends in the convent. I’ll assure you, even though there was 180 on my particular wing, not one of those nuns was my friend and neither was I friend to them because we are not allowed to be friends in the convent We are all policemen or detectives watching each other. That’s so we’ll tell. And the little nun that finds something to tell on the other nun, she stands in good favor with the mother superior. And then the mother teaches that nun to believe (that) when she stands in good favor with the mother superior she is standing in good favor with God. And so that little nun, of course, will want that and she’ll tell a lot of things, maybe that are not even true, on the other little nuns.
Alright. Now after all of this has transpired and all of this has happened everything I have is gone. I’ve sold my soul for a mess of theological pottage, because not only are we destroyed in our bodies. Many of us in our minds. And many of us, if we die in the convent, we’ve lost our souls. And so it’s a serious thing and I’ll surely covet your prayers for little cloistered nuns behind convent doors. They’ll never hear this gospel. They’ll never know the Christ that you folk know tonight or today. They’ll never pray to him as you people pray to him. They’ll never feel his blessings as you people feel them. And so put them on your hearts and pray for them. They surely need much prayer.
Alright Now As I walk into this room and all of this is transpiring, now, bless your hearts, I don’t know what’s going to be in the next room after this has transpired and I have taken the vows that I will always remain a virgin, I’ll never legally marry in this world because I’m the spouse of Christ. And then, after this, the mother superior leads me out into another room or, rather, she opens the door and I’m to be sent into that room. And when I walk out in that room I see something I have never seen before. I see a Roman Catholic priest dressed in a holy habit. And he walks over to me and he locks his arm in my arm which he has never done in the first part of my convent life. I never had a priest to insult me in any way. I never had one of them to be even unkind to me in the first part of my convent experience. But here he is now, and of course I didn’t understand what it was all about and I didn’t know what in the world the man really expected of me. And, you know, I pulled from him because I felt highly insulted. And I pulled from him and I said, “Shame on ya!” And I made him very angry for a minute and he said, uh, immediately the mother superior must have heard my voice because she came out immediately and she said, “Oh,” (and they called me by my church name) she said, “After you’ve been in the convent a little while you won’t feel this way. The rest of us felt the same way you do and you know the priest’s body is sanctified, and therefore it is not a sin for us to give the priests our bodies.”
In other words, they teach every little nun this: As the Holy Ghost placed the germ in Mary’s womb and Jesus Christ was born, so the priest is the Holy Ghost and therefore it isn’t a sin for us to bear his children. And let me tell you, that’s what they come to the convent for. For no other purpose in all of this world do priests come into the convent but to rob those precious little girls of their virtue. And I’ll assure you, we’ll be telling you a little later in the testimony what they really do after they come in under those particular deals. But may I say now every bridge has been burned out from under me. There’s no way back. I can’t get out of the convent even though I’ve pled. Oh, how I pled with that priest! “Send for my father, I want to go home! I don’t want to go any farther.” And let me tell you, that’s when you stand alone. You don’t know who to turn to and you’re a victim of circumstances and you’ll live in the convent because there is no other way to get out of the convent. And I’ll assure you, I stayed in the convent until God made a way for me to come out.
And so, after all of this, my mail was stopped. I’ll never receive another bit of mail from my family. Never another letter. I belong to the pope. I belong to Rome. And then, after all of this, the mother superior after taking these particular vows and the priest has invited me to go to the bridal chamber. You say, “Did you go?” No. Definitely not. I didn’t enter the convent to be a bad woman. It would have been much easier to have stayed out of the convent to be a bad woman. You wouldn’t go into the convent and live in the poverty we live in and to suffer as we suffered to be a bad woman. No girl would do that and it would have been much easier to stay out of the convent if I wanted to be a bad woman, but I went there to give my life and heart to God and that was the only purpose I had in going there. And here this priest is, and of course I didn’t go to the bridal chamber with him. I had a strong body then. One of us would have been wounded because I would have fought until the last drop of blood. And you know it made them very, very angry I’ll assure you because I didn’t go to the bridal chamber with him.
FUNERAL DUTY, A BROKEN RULE, PUNISHMENT IN A DUNGEON
Now I’m going to have to go to penance the next morning and of course this will be a heavier penance because of what I done already. And when the mother superior says, “We’re going to do penance” the next morning I’m going to be initiated as a Carmelite nun. And I remember when she walked me down into that particular place it was a dark room. Remember, I lived above, one the first floor until my black veil. After the black veil they take me one story under the ground. And I lived from there on, until God delivered me, under the ground. I didn’t live in the top part of this building at all. You know, as we walked into this room it’s dark and it’s very cold. And when we walked in we came from back there somewhere and we come walking to the front and I walked alongside the mother superior and when we got near the front I saw those little candles burning. Anywhere in the convent you’ll find the seven candles burning. And when I came a little closer I saw the candles but I couldn’t see anything else and I wondered, “What’s she going to do to me?” That’s the thing in our hearts and we can’t get away from it because we have fear.
And when I come a little closer I saw something lying on a board there. And you know when I came real close then I realized, here’s a little nun lying on that board. I’ll call it a cooling board because it was that. And just as long as her body. And there she was and when I could see where the candles flickered down on her face I realized, “That child is dead!” And oh, I wanted so much to say, “How did she die? Why is she here? How long do you keep her here?” But you remember I signed away every human right and so I can’t say one word, but I stood looking. And the mother superior said, “You stand vigil over this dead body for one hour.” And at then end of the hour a little bell is tapped and another nun will come to relieve me. And may I say I was advised every so many minutes I have to walk out in the front of that little body and sprinkle holy water and ashes over the body and say, “Peace be unto you.”
And I did exactly what they told me to do. Oh, it was a terrible feeling. I’m not afraid of the dead. It’s the live people we have to be very cautious about. And I wasn’t afraid of that little dead nun, but oh, my heart ached for her. And you know after the bell tapped and I realized my hour is gone the nun who comes to relieve us comes back here somewhere and of course she walks on her tiptoes. No noise is made in the convent and they don’t speak, they just touch you. And, of course, my being down there with that little dead nun I was full of fear. Well that girl laid a hand on my shoulder, I let out a scream, a horrible scream from fear, just fear. I didn’t mean to do it. I didn’t break that rule on purpose, but I was scared.
And immediately, of course I had to come before the mother superior and that’s when I first learned to know, one of the first times about a dungeon. They didn’t tell me there were dungeons in the convent. And she put me in such a dirty dark place with no floor in it for three days and nights. And I didn’t get any food and any water, and I’ll assure you, I didn’t scream any more. I tried so hard not to break the rules of screaming because there is a dungeon and I know they’ll put you in it. And let me tell you right now, it’s not a nice place to be. After you’ve been in one of those places, you’ll know what it feels like.
Alright, now, I’ll say this now before I go any further, that popery is a masterpiece of Satan. I said it’s a masterpiece of Satan with his lying wonders and his traditions and his deceptions. It’s a terrible thing when you know about it.
And so, as I come down into this room and she took me and let me look at this little girl, and that particular, we call it a penance is over. Now the very next morning she said again to me, “Charlotte, you’re going to do penance.” (Not the next morning, it was three days afterwards because I spent three days and nights in the dungeon). So the fourth, fifth morning, whichever it was she said, “You’re going to do penance.”
She took me down into another room. Not the same room. And when we come walking down this time I could see that big piece of wood but I didn’t know what it was. And when I came a little closer there was a cross. It was made of heavy timber. I might say it was eight or ten feet high. Very heavy. And that cross was sitting on an incline like that. And she had me walk over here at the base of the cross and she said, “Now strip your clothes off.” And I took my clothes off down to my waistline. Then she made me drape my body over the foot of that cross and she pulled my hands underneath and bound them to my feet. That’s where I’m going to spill my blood. She had not told me how, and neither could I ask how I would spill it. She gave two little nuns that came with her, a flagellation whip. I might call it a bamboo pole. It’s about this long, it’s about that big around, and it has six straps on it about this long. On the end of either (each) of those straps there’s a crossed piece of sharp metal. And those little nuns, each was given one of those whips and they stood on either side of the cross. At the same time those girls began whipping my body. And I mean when that metal hit my body it would break the hide of course. It would cut into the flesh and I spilled blood. It was running down to the floor. That’s my flagellation whipping. That is where I spill my blood as Jesus did upon Calvary. And of course I’m human, it wounded, it hurt! It was very painful.
After the whipping is over, they don’t bathe my body. They put my clothing back on my body and I have to go the rest of the day. When the night comes and I stand in front of my cell there, after we have to stand there to undress with our backs to each other, then when I went in, oh, I couldn’t sleep that night. I wasn’t a bit sleepy because I couldn’t take off all my clothes. They had dried in those wounds and it was terrible. I didn’t take them off for several nights. And I’ll assure you that when I came before my food I didn’t want my cup of black coffee.
A NINE-DAY PENANCE
In the morning we get a cup of black coffee they serve in a tin cup and we can have no milk or no sugar of any type and we have one slice of bread. That’s made by the nuns of the cloister. They weigh it. It weighs four ounces [113 g.]. That’s all I get for breakfast. And then, of course, in the evening I get a bowl of soup, and that’s fresh vegetables cooked together (there’s no seasoning in the soup whatsoever) and a half a slice of bread and three times a week they give me a half a glass of skim milk. That consists of my food 365 days in the year. And I began loosing weight very rapidly, I’ll assure you, because I didn’t have enough food to eat. I don’t know the day that I went to bed without a hungry stomach. Sometimes it would be so hungry I couldn’t sleep. The pain was gnawing. You can’t hardly stand it and you know you’re only going to get that one slice of bread the next morning. That doesn’t fill you up.
And of course, we have to work hard all day long. And I’ll assure you, those little nuns, and I covet your prayers for them, they need your prayers in more ways than one because you’ll go to bed with a full stomach tonight and you’re very comfortable right now. But I’ll assure you, there’s not one of them that’s comfortable. They’re hungry, and they’re sick, and they’re wounded, and they’re hurt. They’re heartsick and homesick and discouraged and, worst of all seemingly, they have no hope. No hope. You and I are looking forward to the day when we’re going to see Jesus. They have no hope whatsoever and I surely hope you don’t forget to pray for them. Alright that was terrible. I’ll assure you.
Then in a few mornings after this, the mother superior is taking me back for another initiation. And when I go into the penance chamber this morning we come from a place up here and we’re going to walk along like that clear to the back. And you know, it was quite a ways back there and I went through- part of it’s a tunnel. And then I come out into a room and I’ll walk through that railing. When I get way back there I see those candles burning and I see something else. There’s ropes hanging down from the ceiling and, oh, I’m so scared! I wonder what the ropes are for and what she’s going to do. After these two penances, you began to have a lot of fear in your heart. And so I can’t say anything and I walk back there and, you know, I saw the ropes then real plain. What they’re doing hanging down from that ceiling?
Then she tells me, “You go over there against the wall.” About that close from the wall and I have to stand sideways like this. Then she asks me to put up both of my thumbs and I did. And then she pulled one rope down and there’s a metal band fastened securely and she fastens that around the joint of my thumb. Then the other one comes down and fastens around this thumb. And there I’m standing like this, facing the wall and then, you know, she comes over here to the end and there’s a, uh, whatever you want to call it. She starts winding, and I start moving! And she’s taking me right up in the air. And, you know, when she gets me so just my toes are on the floor, just on my tiptoes, she fastens it. And there I hang. And all the weight of my body is on my thumbs and on my toes. Not a word is said. No one speaks a word. And she walks out of that room and locks the door. If you know what it means to hear a key lock in a door and know that I’m strung up there like that! You’ll never know unless you’re a nun. And when that woman walked out I didn’t know how long I’ll stay there, how long that woman would leave me there. And, you know, they didn’t come to give me food. They brought me no water. And I thought, “Is this it? Am I going to die back here just like this?”
And within a few hours, you can imagine, I’m still a human being, my muscles began to scream out with the pain. I was suffering. And woman let me hang. Nobody came near. And what good would it do for me to cry? You can spill every tear in your body. Nobody will hear you. There’s nobody there to care how many tears you spill. And so I just hung there. And finally I began to, seemingly, I felt like I couldn’t stand it. I’ll surely die if they don’t come and get me quickly! And I felt as if I was beginning to swell.
I don’t know how long went by and she opened the door one morning and she had something for me to eat and the water was in a pan. And it was potatoes, and those potatoes were not good to eat. They were in a pan. And there’s a shelf over there on the wall that she can adjust to the height of the nun. And you know, she pulled it up. Now (recall) I’m not against the wall. I’m about this far from it. But you get that food. She puts it there and says, “This is your food.” And she walks out.
Now, how am I going to get it? She didn’t let my hands down. But this is what you’ll learn and you’ll struggle to get it. I’m hungry. I’m so thirsty I feel like I’m going mad. And to get it, I discovered that this hand goes high and this one will come down a little bit. And that’ll keep on going higher as I lean I have to reach higher with this one. This one (the other) will automatically let down. And to get that water and that food I mean I had to get it like the dogs and cats. And I lapped as much of it as I could because I am so thirsty. And get those potatoes? I tried as hard as I could because I’m hungry! I mean I’m hungry! And I got as much of it as I could, naturally. But I was hungry! That’s the way she fed me for a while, and then she released the bonds on my hands and on my feet- (I shouldn’t have said on my feet). She didn’t release the bonds. She let me hang there for nine days and nine nights. (I almost got it mixed up with one of the other penances I want to give to you). I hung nine days and nine nights in this position and, may I say, the time come when I was so swollen here (and naturally I could see myself puffing out here) I felt like my eyes were coming out of my head. I felt like my arms were apart. I could see on them right there they were two or three size their normal size. I felt like I was that way all over my body and I was like a boil. I was in real suffering.
And then on the ninth day she comes in and she releases the bonds from my hands and my body and lets me down on the floor. Now I go down, I can’t walk. I’ll assure you I didn’t walk. I didn’t walk for a long time. But you know what? There’s two little nuns, they carry me out. One gets under my feet, one gets under my shoulders and they carry me in to the infirmary and they lay me on a slab of wood, and there they cut the clothing from my body. And let me tell you right now, nobody but God will ever know! I’m covered with vermin and filth. Why? I’m hanging there in my own human filth. There are no toilet facilities [in the penance chamber]. Right behind me is a stool and they had running water in it and the lid is down and they have sharp nails driven through that lid. If I break my ropes and fall on that, I would suffer terribly! And this is the life of a little nun behind cloister doors after they’ve already deceived us, disillusioned us, and got us back there, then this is the life that we’re living and these are the things that we’re going to have to do. And I’ll assure you, it isn’t anything funny.
And then I remember as I lived on in that place, oh let me tell you! In the morning we have to get up out of our beds at 4:30 in the morning. The mother superior taps a bell and that means five minutes to dress and may I say to you folk, it’s not five a half minutes. You better get that clothing on in five minutes. I failed one time and I had to be punished severely, but I never failed again in all the years in the convent. And you know, when we are finished dressing, then we’re going to start marching. And we march by the mother superior and that mother superior’s going to appoint us to an office duty every morning. It might be scrubbing. It might be ironing. It might washing. It might be doing some hard work. But I have to work one hour, then we’ll go in and gather around the table and we’ll find, sitting in front of us, our tin cup full of coffee and our slice of bread.
And then, of course, we have hard work to do. We have, I think there was 12 tubs in the convent that I lived in, and we washed on the old-fashioned washboard. We have the old flat iron that you heat on the stove. And you know, it wouldn’t be so bad if we just had our own clothing in the convent, but the priests bring great bundles of clothing and put them in there because they can get them done for nothing. And we have to do that clothing on top of it. We work very, very hard, and they [the nuns] are not able to work because they don’t have enough food to eat, food to keep body, mind, and soul together. And these little girls are living under those particular circumstances. Well, I say we’re women without a country, and I mean just exactly what I say, women without a country. Now we belong to the pope. Anything they want to inflict upon my body they can do it. And all the howling I do, if I should howl, it wouldn’t make any difference because nobody’s going to hear me, and they have no idea that I’ll ever leave the convent. The plan is I’ll die there and be buried there.
Now you say, “Charlotte, can you go into the convent?” Any one of you folk can go into an open order convent or a closed convent into the speak room, and there is an outside chapel that you can walk into, of any that I know anything about. But don’t you just go in there and wander around to have some place to go, because you might meet something you’re not expecting. If you go in there, you go prepared to take food to some little girl that’s in there, and be sure that you know who you’re taking it to. And when you go, as you walk up toward the front of the building like this, you’ll see a bell, and you’ll know what to do because it’ll tell you. And you press a button there and there’ll be a gate swing out. It has about three shelves on it. And, of course you’ve brought something for someone that you know in the convent. It might be the mother coming to visit her daughter. And you know, when that bell is tapped the mother superior is back here behind a big black rail. Now that’s a big iron gate there’s heavy folds of black material clear across there and you can’t go back there. You’ll never see the mother superior, but she’ll answer you behind the black veil. And you might say, “I’ve brought some homemade candy for my daughter” and you might ask the mother superior to let you speak to her. You can’t see here, but you can speak to her.
You know, the mother will call that lovely little girl and call her out on the other side of the rail. You can’t see her. And you know what? The mother will speak to her and say, “Honey, are you happy here?”
And that little nun will say, “Mother, I am very happy.”
You say, “Why did she say that?” Well, bless your heart! Don’t you know that the mother superior is standing there and if we didn’t say that, after our mother is gone, then only God knows what the mother superior will do to the little nun, and so we must lie to our mother. Then the mother will say, “Do you have plenty to eat?” And that little nun will answer and say, “We have plenty to eat.” But, I’ll tell you, that mother will go home. She’ll prepare a lovely meal for the rest of the family, but if she could look in and see our table and see what her little girl is eating, if she could look into her little girl’s eyes after she’s been there for four years, she’d see those eyes are back in her head. She’d see that her little body’s begun to waste away. I’ll assure that mother, she’ll never eat another meal at home. No never. You’d never enjoy another meal if you could see your child after she’s in a convent for a period of time. But these things, of course, are under cover and we have to take what they give us.
Alright, now they can make us do anything. Here we are, the mother superior and I might be down in the laundry room, washing. (And I told you how we washed). And it’s a cement floor. Doing the type of laundry we do, some of it’s very heavy. The water slops out on the floor and, oh it’s such a mess! We’d walk in it and you know, then here comes the mother superior and to me, a mother superior, I’d just as soon you’d turn loose a lion that’s very hungry and let it come walking down that aisle as to see a mother superior in a convent. I was scared to death of her. Every time I saw that woman somebody had to suffer and we’re afraid of her and she knows that we’re afraid of her because she’s cruel, I’ll say her heart is callused. And here she comes. And there we are washing. And I tell you when she comes (and we know her, we feel her presence. Before you ever see her you know her footstep), and you know, we’ll wash a little harder. But when she gets down to you, wherever you are, she might address me, and she’ll say, “You come out here.” And I’m out there like a flash because I’m scared. And then she’ll say, “Prostrate yourself down and lick so many crosses on that floor.” That’s a cement floor! And of course I have to prostrate my body and lick those crosses, and those are not little tiny crosses. As far as I reach I have to lick those crosses. And she watches my countenance. If I don’t like it and she knows I that I don’t like it then she might say, “Ten.” She might say, “Twenty-five.” And then, you know, the next morning she might walk back there again, and because she saw something in my face that made her to know I didn’t like what she wanted me to do she may call me again. My tongue by this time may be sore. It’s bleeding, but I have to lick those crosses on the floor again. And then they do the same way about compelling us to crawl. They’ll compel you to crawl, and I, may I say, it could be up and down an aisle like this ten times.
We know nothing about this lovely gospel of Jesus Christ. And so we have to do these things. Then the mother superior might walk through the cell door. By the way, in our cell, there’s nothing in there but the Virgin Mary, that is, she’s holding the baby Jesus, and there’s a crucifix, and then we have a prayer board. And by the way, I’ll assure you folk, you’ll never want to lean on our prayer board. We lean on it every day if we are able to walk under our own power. It is a board about this high from the ground and there are two leaning up like this one. And this one is about this wide and I’m going to drop my knees down on it and there are sharp wires coming up through that board. And then, this one up here, I’ll prostrate my arms on. There’s going to be sharp wires. After all, I told you we were going to suffer. We were going to do penance, and this is a part of my suffering. As I kneel on that prayer board I’m praying for lost humanity and I’m believing, as I suffer, that my grandmother will be released from a priest’s purgatory sooner because of my suffering. And I’ll kneel there longer sometimes. It’s terrible. We don’t know any better, so we’ll do that because that’s all that little nun does know, and we believe it.
And there we are, and we are locked in our cells. Every night the key is turned in those doors. We can’t get up and come out of there. Then, more than that, seven minutes of twelve (We go to bed at 9:30. The lights are out), seven minutes of twelve there’s two little nuns appointed to unlock every door. Every little nun again gets on her feet, dresses in full dress, goes into the inner chapel and there we again pray one hour for lost humanity. We don’t get very much sleep. That’s why. And we don’t get enough food and we work hard and we suffer much. That’s why our bodies are so broken. That’s why we seemingly don’t have enough strength to carry on after we’ve lived there.
LOSING HER RELIGION
But, I’d like to say this before I go on any farther. Now I did those very things. We are taught to believe that as we spill our own blood (now we must do this), as I whip my body, if I torment it or torture it in any way that I spill blood, I’m taught to believe that I’ll have 100 less days to spend in purgatory. Now you know we have no hope. Those little nuns don’t look forward to anything. You may think they do, but we don’t. Why? After you live in a convent 10 years, I began to realize the Virgin Mary is just a piece of metal. She’s a statue. I began to realize St. Peter’s just a statue. I began to realize that the statue of Jesus is just a piece of metal. In other words we come to the place to believe that our God is a dead god. And I’ll assure you, after you live in a convent long enough, not at first, oh no, but after we’ve suffered enough, after we’ve fallen down at the feet of those statues and spilled our tears on them and have begged them to intercede and get a prayer through to God and years go by with no answer from them whatsoever. A parent won’t even know when they’re dead. So who’s going to pray us out of purgatory? Or, rather, buy us out of purgatory?
No, we realize after we’re in there for a period of time that there is no purgatory. Of course, you know there isn’t and I know there isn’t, and there is no purgatory. The only purgatory the Roman Catholic people have is the priest’s pocket, and they’re filling his pockets with coins in order to pray for the dead. And may I say there are thousands and thousands of Roman Catholics in the month of November, may I say to you, in the United States two years ago in the month of November the Roman Catholic priests prayed masses for the dead of the Roman Catholic people of this country in one month collected 22 million dollars for masses said for dead Roman Catholics. That’s just a little idea or sample of what’s going on in this country, and still there are thousands of mothers that will work their fingers to the bone to go over there and give the priest another five dollars to say a mass for loved one that is in purgatory, because that mother believes there is a purgatory.
In the convent they have a painting of purgatory, and there’s nothing in the room but just that painting. And you know, every Friday we have to walk around that painting. And when we walk around it, I would you could look at the little nuns faces. What do I see? The painting, as you would walk around it, looks like its a big deep hole out there and there are people down in there, and the flames of fire are lapping around the bodies of those people, and their hands are outstretched like this, and the mother will say to the little nuns, “You better go and put another penance on your body. Those people are begging to get out of that fire.”
And because we’re heathens, we don’t know any better. I might go someplace in the convent and maybe I’ll burn my body real bad. Maybe I’ll torture some way and spill some more blood, because as I suffer I believe that they’re going to get out of that place where a priest puts them. And there are millions of people so to speak, in purgatory that your priests have put there and when he know that it is the biggest fraud in the world. He knows there’s not a bit of truth to it. And, bless your heart, I often say if you take purgatory and mass away from the Roman Catholic Church and you’ll rob her of nine-tenths of her living. She’ll starve to death if you would take it away from her. She commercializes, not only off of the living, but off of the dead. And on and on it goes.
Alright. It doesn’t bother a mother superior to take one of those dear little girls, and may I say, you know, when the priests come into the convent they come as our father-confessors. Once a month we go to confession, and (we don’t want to go, don’t you worry!) I’ve many a time got in the back row. I didn’t want to go in there. I know who’s out there. One of them, (I may not know the particular man, but I know he’s a priest), and I know those priests. I certainly have seen them enough. I’ve lived there long enough. I certainly have had contact with every one of them. And I’ll assure you this one thing, I don’t trust one single one of those in the convent. Now, we’re not telling you about all the priests. I don’t know all the priests. I’m just talking about the convent in my personal testimony about convent life, and you know we know something about what’s out in that room. Here we are. We know we’re going to confession today. It may take all day long. And here he comes, and I have never seen a Roman Catholic priest come into the convent that I was in without intoxicating liquor under his belt. And I say a man or a woman, regardless of who you may be, when you get liquor under your belt, you are not a man, neither are you a woman. You become an animal and a beast. And so we have a beast sitting out there. There’s a straight-backed, hard-bottomed chair. No other furniture but the crucifix and the Virgin Mary, but here he is sitting on that chair right out there in the middle of that room. Now here a little girl has to walk out there alone, and she has to kneel down. Think of it! Why bless your heart, I really sometimes, I’m saved now, I’m out of the convent and I now look back at that Roman Catholic priest and I often say, “I’m sure he was a twin brother to the devil because he’s full of sin. He’s full of vice. He’s full of corruption.”
And we go out there and we kneel down at his knees. Now you are a lucky girl if you get away from that man without being destroyed. Why, he’s drunk. He’s just a beast. He’s not a man. Oh, he has a holy habit on. He’s an ordained Roman Catholic priest, and so I’ll assure you, we don’t like to go to confession, but we must go once a month. And those little girls can’t help themselves, and nobody comes out into that room but the priest and I until it’s all over, and then we can come back and the next one will have to come. And I’ll assure you, we don’t appreciate that day. And those little girls don’t know any better. They don’t know anything about the plan of salvation. They don’t know that Jesus went to Calvary and died for them. They don’t know that he shed his blood for them. Those little girls know nothing about it, because to me, I’ll repeat again, the Bible was a hidden book to every one of those little girls.
And so now they can do things like this. Now if a Roman Catholic priest comes into the convent, he may go to the mother superior and ask her to permit him to go into the cell where one of the nuns are. And you know, that mother with her carnal mind and her carnal heart, and she’s very hard and very carnal, and she is the mother many times of many illegitimate children, they belong to the priest. And you know, she’ll take that priest, and he drinking, she knows it. They bring liquor in with them. Sometimes some of the nuns will drink with them, and the mother usually drinks with them. (And it’s really a terrible place, it is, not a religious order. It does not live up to that name whatsoever). But here she brings that priest into one of our cells. Now, I wonder if you realize how serious it is. That Roman Catholic priest, he has liquor under his belt. We know that. But he has a big strong body. He’s had three square meals of food every day of his life. He can eat all the food that he wants. But you know, there’s a little nun that may have a broken body, and she may not have very much strength. And what did he come into that cell for? For nothing other than to destroy that little nun.
I often say I wish the government could walk into a convent just about the time one of those priests are let into a cell. The mother will turn a key in the lock and you’re locked in there with that priest. Now we have no way to defend ourselves, and I often say (I had to nurse those little girls. I’m an R.N. I got my nurse’s training by going through the tunnel over to the hospital as I lived in an open order convent). But may I say that after that priest is taken out of there, if you could look upon the body of that little nun, she looks like something you’d throw out in a hog pen and a half dozen old sows had just mauled that child’s body. And this is convent life! I can understand why your priests are calling over the phone every day or two and screaming their heads off because I’m in this city giving this testimony. But may I say to you, I don’t mind if they continue to scream. I don’t mind what they do. I’m not one bit afraid of them. I’ll continue to give this testimony. As long as God gives me strength, I’ll be giving this testimony regardless of your priests or your bishops in this country. I know what I’m doing. I know what I’m saying, and I’m not afraid of anybody in all of this world. I’m a child of God, and I believe God won’t let anybody put a hand on me until my work is finished, and then I often say, I don’t care what you do to my body after I leave this body. I’m sure I don’t mind. So I will continue to give this testimony, regardless of what your priests think about it, because I think God saved me to pull the cover off of convents. I believe He saved me to uncloak those places that are riding under the cloak of religion. I believe that with all of my heart. I’ll assure you I do.
Now, if I refuse to give my body (you know we are supposed to give our body voluntarily to those priests. Many times the nuns are overpowered), but if I refuse to give my body voluntarily to them, then you know he becomes very angry and he goes immediately to the mother superior. Then when two carnal minds come together, they can invent things that you and I- we don’t have enough evil in our heart to invent things like that. We don’t have enough sin in our lives to even think of such terrible things. And when those two carnal minds come together, the next time, I want you to know, they’re all ready. Now the mother superior might say to me in a day or two, “Now, we’re going to do penance.” Now the penance that they’ll inflict on me is something that the mother superior and the priest has invented and it might be very, very cruel. They might take me down into one of the dirty dungeons (and there’s no floors in those places), and you know they have a place down there, there are rods about three feet long. They have them burrowed down into cement and at the top of it there’s a ring about this big sticking out of the ground. They have some leather straps fastened there. And when they take me down there, they put either foot through those rings and then they strap my ankles securely. Now I’m standing [balanced above the floor?] with my feet in those rings.
Alright. They’re going out of there, and they’re going to leave me locked up in that place by myself. And it’s a dirty place. Why I might stand there for two or three hours, if I have strength enough in my body. But what do you think’s going to happen to me then? I can’t stand any longer. Sometimes we faint. Sometimes we just become exhausted and we go down. But when I go down, it flips my ankles over like that and I can’t do anything about it. I don’t have what it takes for me to get up. I may have to lie in that position for two or three days and no one will come near. They won’t give me a bite of food. They won’t bring me one drop of water, but I must stay there. And the next thing you feel is the bugs crawling over my body and the mice running over me, and I still have to stay there. I can understand why they don’t want me to uncover. They don’t want the world to know these things are going on. No priest in this country wants it. And if he doesn’t want the world to know it, he better be pretty careful that nobody ever gets out of a convent after they’ve spent a few years back there.
But may I say again to you that my God is greater than all the outside forces. My God can reach his hand over there into those convents in this country or any other country and make a way for a girl to come out and he won’t have to ask the bishops to help Him. He won’t have to ask the priests to help Him, but God can make a way for us to come out. I’ll assure you that.
Well on it goes. Then sometimes the priest come and they get angry at us because we refuse to sin with them voluntarily. And you know, after all, the nuns bodies are broken after we’re there awhile. And many, many the time, to have him strike you in the mouth is a terrible thing. I’ve had my front teeth knocked out. I know what it’s all about. And then they get you down on the floor and then kick you in the stomach. Many of those precious little girls have babies under their heart, and it doesn’t bother a priest to kick you in the stomach with a baby under your heart. He doesn’t mind. The baby is going to be killed anyway because those babies are going to be born in the convent. Why wouldn’t babies be born when you run places like this under the cloak of religion? The world thinks it’s a religious orders, and there are babies born in there. And most of the babies are premature. Many of them are abnormal. Very, very seldom do we ever see a normal baby.
You say, “Sister Charlotte, do you dare to say that?” I most definitely do dare to say it, and I intend to keep on saying it. Why? I’ve delivered those babies with these hands, and what I’ve seen with my eyes and I’ve done with my hands, I just challenge the whole world to say it isn’t true. And the only way they can ever prove it isn’t true, they’ll have to open every convent door. If they ever serve a summons on me and call me into court, I’ll assure you this one thing: convents are coming open and then the world will know what convents really are. And they’ll have to open them to vindicate my testimony, because I know what I’ll do if they ever serve a summons on me. I’ve been before the highest laws we have in the United States. I know what I’m doing. I know what I can say, and I’m not one bit afraid to say it because I’ve been a part of this. I’ve been connected with this system 22 years behind convent doors, and it is a terrible thing.
When that dear little nun is looking forward to that day when her precious baby will be born, most of you dear mothers, oh, you have everything ready. The beautiful nursery! All the baby’s beautiful clothes are made. Everything is lovely! You’re looking forward to that precious little immortal soul that’s going to be born into your home, and everything is ready. Oh I wish you could see that little nun. She’s not looking forward to that. There won’t ever be a blanket around his body. They’ll never bathe that baby’s body, but he can only live four or five hours. And then the mother superior will take that baby and put her fingers in its nostrils, cover its mouth and snuff its little life out.
And why do they build these lime pits in the convent? What is the reason for building them if it isn’t to kill the babies? And that baby will be taken into the lime pit and chemical lime will be put over its body. And that’s the end of babies. Oh, when I think about it! That’s why I try to challenge people. Pray! If you know how to pray, if you know how to contact God, pray and ask God to deliver the girls behind convent doors. In other words, pray that God will make a way for every convent in the United States to be opened, and let the government go in. And when the government goes in, you won’t have to worry. The convents will be opened. The nuns will be taken out, and [the convents] will be closed up just as they opened the convents in old Mexico in 1934. There are no convents in old Mexico. Every posturate(?) is open and they found all of the corruption back there. The lime pit. If any of you are taking a vacation, go over into old Mexico. The government owns them. They’re public museums. Go through the convents. Look with your own eyes. Touch with your own hands, and then come home and see if you believe my testimony. It’ll still every bit of red blood in you veins. I mean it’ll do something to you that nothing else has ever been able to do. Go through them and look at them. Go into the dungeons. Go into the tunnels. Go through the lime pit and look at the skulls, rooms of skulls over there, and then ask the guide where they come from. And go and see all the devices of torture they placed upon the bodies of the little nuns. Go into their cells and look at their beds and see for yourself. Oh yes, you can go. It’ll cost you twenty-five cents to go through each one of them. You look at those things and see them for yourself, and then come home and maybe it will give you a greater burden to pray for little girls that have been enticed behind convent doors by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.
I wonder how you would feel if this was your child. And remember, I have a mother and daddy, or had one, and they loved me just as much as you love your children. And when they let me go into the convent I’m sure my mother and daddy didn’t expect these things to happen because they didn’t know. They never dreamed a convent was like this. But, you know, I wonder how you’d feel if you could walk in someday and out there in this particular room, that floor is built for this purpose. There’s a partition right out there, and there’s just a little thing they can touch. It automatically opens, and, you know, there’s a deep hole underneath that floor and this little nun has done something. I can’t tell you what she’s done because I wasn’t there when she done it, but she’s done something, and to them it’s very serious. And when they bring her, they bring here to this particular place. Her little hands and feet are going to be bound securely. They’re going to drop her in that horrible, horrible pit, and then they’re going to put the boards back down. Oh, there’s plenty of chemical and lime down there. But you know, they don’t do that. Six little nuns have to walk around that [open] hole. We’ll chant as we walk around that hole. We don’t want any evil spirits to come out into the convent, so we sprinkle holy water over that hole. We may walk for six hours and then they’ll appoint six more nuns, and on and on it goes until we hear the last moan.
And that’s the end of the little nun they placed down there. No, she’ll never be delivered from the convent, but does it bother you to know that that little nun will die and be lost? Does that bother you? It bothers me because I didn’t know Jesus I couldn’t tell her about God. I didn’t know him myself. But it bothers me very, very much, but God will not hold me accountable. Her blood will not be on my hands because I didn’t know the Lord and I couldn’t tell her about him. And so, on it goes, and I wonder how you see it.
Here we are, a body of those little nuns. On this particular morning, the mother superior might say this, “We’re all going to be lined up here.” And I don’t know what she’s lining me up for. And then, you know, there might be ten others, there might be 15 others, and then she’ll tell us all to strip and we have to take every stitch of our clothing off. We’re certainly not anything beautiful to look at. Ours eyes are back in our head. Our cheeks are fallen in. Our bodies are wasted. God only knows what we look like, because I never saw myself in 22 years. I didn’t know I had gray hair. I didn’t know I had lines in my face. I didn’t know how old I was- I only found that out about six years ago. You know nothing about what you look like.
And here we are, lined up, and here comes two or three Roman Catholic priests with liquor under their belts, and there they’re going to march in front of those nude girls and choose the girl they want to take to the cell with them. These are convents, cloistered convents, not open orders. The priest can do anything he wants to and hide behind the cloak of religion. Then that same Roman Catholic priest will go back into the Roman Catholic churches and there he’ll say mass, and there he’ll go into the confessional box and make those poor people believe he can give them absolution from their sins when he’s full of sin. When he’s full of corruption and vice, still he acts as their God. What a terrible thing it is. And on it goes.
A PLOT TO KILL
Well, I lived there. Now all the time these things are going on, what do you think is happening inside of Charlotte? God love your hearts! I didn’t know people could hold so much hatred and bitterness. And it went on and on. I was filled with bitterness and hatred, and I mean it continued to build. I began in my heart to think, “When I can get the mother superior in a certain place, I’ll kill her.” Isn’t it awful to get murder in our hearts? I didn’t go into the convent with a heart like that nor a mind like that, but I began to plan murder in the convent, how I could kill her, and how I could kill a Roman Catholic priest. And on and on it goes. And oh, I’ll tell you, every time she’d inflict something awful on my body, that I’d have to suffer so terribly, when I could think sensibly again, then I would begin to plan. how I could kill that woman. And on it goes. Well, after all you can’t help it. For instance, I wonder how you would feel.
The mother superior, here she is, and she’s going to sit me down in a chair. And you know, that chair is straight-backed, hard-bottomed and I don’t have any hair. She’s going to take everything off my head. And you know she’s going to put my hands like this. They’d be out here in stocks, and I going to have to bend my head over like that in order to put the stocks across my neck, and I’m fastened securely, and over my head there is a faucet of water, and you know, there is a faucet of water just above my head and my head’s over. Now that mother’s going to turn that water on. Just a drop, and the drop will come about this fast. It’ll hit me right there on the back of my head, and you know, I can’t move either way. I sat there. One hour, two hours, three hours, four hours. What do you think’s going on? I’m sitting there. I can’t move. I do everything to get away from that drop of water in the same spot on my head. Why, God love your heart, if you could look in you’d see us frothing at the mouth. You’d see those little girls. They’re trying so hard to move to get away from that water, and they let us stay there sometimes ten hours. All day long. Many, many times a little nun cracks up completely. She goes stark raving mad under this particular penance.
What in the world do they do with her? I’ll tell you in a few minutes. Don’t you worry. They have a place for us after we go mad in the convent. They take care of us. They have places for the little nuns. There’s places built down there for us.
Well, on it goes. Well, you know, these things went on and went on and went on. And it was terrible. But, you know, I began to plan and plan and plan. After she has done something like that to me it’s terrible.
One day the mother superior took violently ill. You say, “Who would take her place?” There are about three, sometimes they have four older nuns, and they always pick the one that’s hard. The one that seemingly is carnal. That one that has no conscience to be a mother superior, and she works under this one. One day if something happens to the main mother superior, another one will take her place. And on it goes. But, you know, this particular day they sent word to me. “The mother superior,” I was to come into her room, “she’s very sick.” And quicker than lightening I began to think, “If I got in that mother superior’s room! I know what I’ll do.” You know, after all, I’m a sinner. I’m a nun, but I’m a sinner, and I don’t know God, and I have a lot of hatred in my heart, and I walk in that room. They have called in an outside Roman Catholic doctor. She’s a very sick woman, and he has left all orders, and they have left the medicine and everything. Now I’m supposed to take care of her, and that was wonderful. I do take care of her. All day long I did what they told me to do, what I’m supposed to do. And those particular tablets. I knew what they were and what they would do, and I knew what she was taking them for.
But anyway, all day long I gave her her medicine. I done everything I’m supposed to. All evening long. Why? I want to be sure what I’m doing. When I do it, I have to be careful. And you know I waited until one o’clock in the morning. Why? Because every night those little nuns have to be gotten out of bed and chant from twelve to one. Seven minutes of twelve, until one. I thought I’ll wait until all the nuns go back to bed then I’m going to do something. And, bless your hearts, after they were all back in their beds, I’ll tell you what I did. I took five or six of those tables. I was only supposed to take one in a half a glass of water every so often and give it to her. But, because of the type they were and what type of tablet it was, I knew what it would do. I put six of them in a glass of water and stirred them up, and I gave them to her. I knew she would go into convulsions. It would twist her completely out of shape. I knew that woman would suffer a million deaths in 25 minutes. I knew that, and I thought, “I’m going to watch her suffer because she has punished us. She has hurt us so many thousands of times. I’ll watch her suffer.”
Isn’t it terrible to think a child can live in a place like that long enough until she has the same kind of a heart almost the mother superior has. But that’s what comes when sin gets into you life. And so I waited. You know, I gave them to her, and something happened to me. I got scared, and I began to look at that woman as she began to change color, and I couldn’t find her pulse. I couldn’t find her respiration. I was frightened, and I thought, “Oh! What shall I do? If they find her dead, only God knows what they’ll do to me.”
I’ll tell you what I did. I got that stomach pump and pumped as quick as I could. I pumped that woman’s stomach. I massaged that woman. I done everything there was to do, and oh, thank God, she didn’t die. I said I thank God. But, you know, I sat down by the bed and held her hand and watched her carefully until the respiration came back normal, until her pulse was normal and I felt she would live.
And I thought of another thing. I’ll do this then! I saw where her keys were hid right there in her shelf in her own room. So they’re on a big chain, or a big ring, and I thought, “I’m going to take those keys. I’m going down into that dungeon. When I say down this is two stories under the ground. I’m going someplace where she’s always warned us. It’s a solid wall like that, and clear to the back end of that wall there’s one door, and it’s heavy, and it’s always locked, and I’ve heard her tell me scores of times (and I’m sure she has [told] the others), “Don’t ever try to go through that door.”
A GRUESOME DISCOVERY
What in the world is over there, and why did she tell us that? We can’t get through it. It’s locked! But, you know, I wondered what was back there because when they had me in the dungeon a long time once, I heard screams under the ground. I heard such blood-curdling screams, and I knew there was some girls locked up somewhere, and so I’m going through there if I find the key. And so I got her keys and I went into that particular place. And when I got back there, it took a while to do it, I want you to know, to find the key, but oh, it unlocked that door! I walked through that door, and I walked into a hall. The hall, I would say, is maybe five feet wide, maybe wider than that. That’s just a guess. Anyway, on the other side of the hall there were a number of cells over there. Small rooms, and they had real heavy doors, and in those cells were little nuns. And when I went up to the first one, near the top of the door there’s a little place about this long, about that wide, and it has iron bars going across there. And I looked right into the face of a little nun that I knew, one that I had sat across the table from, one that I had prayed with in the chapel. I knew that girl, and here she is. They had chains and a lock chained around either of her wrists and around her waistline! I said, “When did you have something to eat last?”
And no answer.
“How long have you been here?”
I went down to the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth, and the stench was getting so bad I couldn’t stand it. And you know, those little girls would not talk. Why? I lived in the convent, you know, a long time. I don’t care if I was two miles under the convent, way back there we were working back there and we’d whisper. The next day I’d have to suffer because the convents are wired and the mother superior can hear every voice, every whisper, and then somebody tells, and you’re in some serious trouble. And those nuns have been there long enough. What have they done? I don’t know, but those nuns are supposed to have cracked up mentally and so they have to put them in those chains. And when they die, they can’t fall down to the floor. They just drop in those chains and slump. When they go in there, they don’t give them any more food, no more water. That’s a slow death. And so, as I saw all of that I became so sick from the terrible stench, because many of them are already dead. I don’t know how long they’ve been dead.
I came out of there and walked back up to this room where the mother superior was, and she was lying there sleeping. And I watched her there carefully, and she slept until the next day, long, long hours and didn’t waken. And when she did, she said, “I’ve had a long sleep.” And I said, “Yes.” They let me take care of her for three days, and you know, the third day- I don’t know. You say, “Did she ever find out you was down there?” Well not yet. I hope she didn’t while I was there.
A DESPARATE PLAN
But anyway, after three days they put me out in the kitchen. In other words, when we go to the kitchen, six of us go for a six weeks period. And this particular time they put me out in the kitchen with five other little nuns. What am I there for? I’m doing the kitchen work. I’m going to do all of the cooking that’s done out there and take care of the work in the kitchen. And so, when I when out in the kitchen, we have a long table back here, and it’s a work table, and our vegetables will be prepared for the soup, and that’s what we were doing, all six of us. And something happened. Our kitchen is a very large room, and a very long room, not as wide as it is long, and over at one end of it you will find over here there’s stair steps leading, about four of them leading down. Then there’s a landing right there. Over there is a big heavy outside door, but here there is a landing. Our garbage cans sit there, and right here is a stairway, a cement one, leading down one story under the ground. Now, I’m up on the first floor in this kitchen.
Alright, now as I’m in there and we’re in there working something happened. Somebody touched the garbage can. You know, all my convent life we are taught never to break silence. We don’t dare to make noises in the convent. We are punished for them. And when something touched the garbage can that’s a noise. Who in the world-? There’s six of us and we’re all together. Who is touching the garbage can? I wheeled around. They wheeled around, and we saw a man, and you know, that man was picking up the full can and leaving an empty one. I’ve never seen that before. I’ve been in that convent for years, and in the kitchen, but I never saw anything like that happen. I believe God had his hand on me. With all my heart I believe it. And you say, “What happened?” Well, we turned around quickly because to us it’s a mortal sin to look upon a man other than a Roman Catholic priest. And I mean we turned around quickly and went to our work. But, you know, I thought, “If that man comes back again to get another full can, I’m going to give him a note and I’m going to ask him if I can run out with him.”
But, I didn’t do that, but do you know what I did? When we run out of something in the kitchen there’s a pencil hanging up there on a chain, and bless your heart, I have to (or whoever it is that runs out), you have to write it on a tab, and of course I stole a piece of paper off of a sack, and I thought, “I’ll carry that little piece of paper in my skirt pocket, and every time I can get a hold of that pencil I’m going to write a word or two on that note.” And that’s what I did. It took quite a while to do it, but oh, I watched that garbage can! Every time I could take the garbage down there I did it. And you know, when it was just about full, and I thought, “The next evening, it’ll be full when we put all the garbage in it.”
And so, that afternoon I broke my crucifix, and I laid it up on a shelf, and I had a hard time doing it because they’re watching me. But I did it, and I laid it up on a shelf, and I did that to have a way to get back to have a way to get back to that room, of course. And when our dinner work is over, our supper dishes, everybody has to go out at the same time and we march by the mother superior. And, you know, when I marched by, I stopped and said, “May I speak to you?” And I did, and I said, “Mother Superior I broke my crucifix and I left it in the kitchen. May I go for it?” (And of course no nun goes without her crucifix).
And she said, “How did you break it?” I lied to her. Everything she asked me, I lied to her. You say, “Why did you lie?” She lies to us, and we’re all sinners, so we all lie, and it doesn’t make any difference in there. And so we lied, and I lied to her, and then finally she said, “You go get the crucifix and come right back.” And that’s all I wanted anyway. I have to have a reason. You can’t go back to the kitchen after you’ve left it. So I didn’t go for the crucifix, but she thought I did, and I run for this tin can. Why? That night when I put my garbage in there I put a note right on top of that garbage and left the lid off, which I was not supposed to do. And, you know, I said on the note to the garbage man, “If you get this, won’t you please help me out? Won’t you do something to help the little nuns out?” I told him about those 19 cells down there and those 19 nuns in them. I told him about some of the babies that had been killed. I told him some other little nuns that are locked up in the dungeon and they’re bound with chains. I told him a-plenty, and I said, “Won’t you help us? If you will, please leave a note under the empty can.” That’s what I went back for.
And when I lifted up the can and found a note, you don’t know how I felt. I froze to the floor. I was so scared I didn’t know what to do. I picked that piece of paper up and I read, and this is what that man said, “I’m leaving that door unlocked and I’ll leave the big iron gate unlocked. You come out.” Oh, let me tell you. That’s almost more than you’d ever- I never dreamed I’d get out of a convent. I never thought of ever getting out. I wanted out, but you say oh yes, when I could collect myself I reached over and turned the knob, and do you know, it opened! I walked out of that convent and I slammed it through. I was sure the lock was on it, and I got out to the big iron gate but, oh, he had me trapped. That iron gate was just as locked as it was ever locked! You don’t know what it done to me to stand looking at the iron gate. I’m locked out of the convent. I have no right out there. You can’t imagine. I don’t know if I groaned (?) right there. I don’t know. I know I’ve suffered enough because I’m scared half to death. And what will I do if I go back there and pound on that door? What will they do with me? And, oh, the fear that grips your heart. And you say, “What did you do?”
I didn’t have any shoes and stockings on. I had worn those out years ago. When I think of the Roman Catholic Church being the richest church in the world and they let those little nuns go winter and summer without any shoes and without any hose, living in crucial poverty, I wonder how they can do it! Hungry as we are, their priests are all nice and fat. The little nuns are so hungry, I wonder how they do it sometimes. You say, “What did you do, Charlotte?” Well, I’ll tell you, I just took a hold of that big iron gate, and I tried to climb it. That’s all there was for me to do. And up about a foot and a half from the top there’s a ledge about six inches wide. I thought if I could get high enough to get my knee on the ledge I’m safe. And I did. I got one knee on the ledge, but by this time I don’t have any strength left either. And you know, I thought, “What’ll I do? I’ll put one foot over, then I’ll get the other over.” Then I realized I have three skirts on. My skirts are gathered on a belt and they’re clear down to my ankles. My veil, of course is down to my knees in front and that long in the back. How will I ever get over those sharp points? And I thought, “I can’t go down, I don’t have strength enough, so I’ll have to jump.” And if I jump I’ll break every bone because I was a broken body, of course. And so I thought, “What’ll I do?” Well I pulled all of my clothing up around my body and held them with one hand, and then I thought, “I’ll have to jump.”
And you know, they have a buzzer in the convent, and when a little nun tries to escape and they [go to] catch her they put a buzzer on. And, oh, the priests tell you they don’t come to the convent, I wish you could see the priests then. You’ll find a good many of them there, and they immediately are after that nun. They don’t want her out. If she comes out of that convent, she’s going to give a testimony some day, and it’ll pull the cloak off of convents. And I’ll assure you they don’t intend for us to get out.
And so, as I let loose of that top of that gate and I made that jump, I just didn’t make it. My clothing caught on top of those points and I hung there, but I let loose. And I often say I don’t know what I looked like. I didn’t know I had gray hair, but I’ve often said, “Maybe my hair turned gray there.” Maybe you’ll never know what I suffered hanging there on top of that gate, knowing that buzzer could go on any minute and then what would they do to me? I was scared. So I thought I’d try to wiggle my body and to force swing it if I can get back far enough to grab the gate with one hand maybe I can help myself. And I did. And then with the other hand I tried to pry the snappers loose on my skirt, and that let me fall between them. Do you know what happened to me? I hit the ground. I was out. I was unconscious for a while. I don’t know how long though, we have no way to tell. But when I came to, I had a shoulder broken and my arm was broken right in here. The bone had snapped right through my flesh because I didn’t have any meat on me.
And I thought, “What’ll I do?” And I realized I’m on the outside. “Where am I going?” Where do you think you’d go? I’m not in the United States. I’m in another country and I don’t know a thing about that country. When they took me over there I was so heavily veiled and they took me from that particular train to the convent, I was so heavily veiled I couldn’t see anything. And I don’t know where I am. I don’t know where to go. I don’t know if I have any people. I don’t know if I know anybody in the world. And I’m a pauper. I don’t have any money, and I’m hungry, and my body’s broken, and I’m hurt now. Where do you think you’d go? I tell you. It’s something to think about. I just started away. But get away from the convent! And I did. I started moving away.
All the leaves were falling and they made so much noise! And I was scared, and I kept on moving, and finally dark overtook me, or rather, there’s no twilight in that part of the country- it just drops off into darkness. And, you know, I saw this little building beside the road. I thought, “I’ll crawl in it.” It was a doghouse or maybe a chicken coop or something. But it’s dirty and I crawled in there because I was shaking and scared. And I lay in there a little while to get a hold of myself, and I thought, “I’ll have to travel, it’s dark. It’s safer for me.” So I got out and I traveled that night and the next day. I hid behind pieces of board and tin that was piled up against an old building. And all day long, imagine, hiding in that hot place! And hungry as I was, with broken bones, do you realize what it was all about? No. You will never know. But I do.
And then, you know, when night came again I have to go because I’m going to get away from the convent. I’m afraid to rap on somebody’s door. Remember, I’m scared. I don’t know, I might rap on a Roman Catholic’s door. They’ll immediately notify the priests and I’ll be taken back to the convent. And I’d rather they kill me than take me back. And so I didn’t [knock], but I went on and on and on. And then the next night I hid out in an old stroft (?) bag. And then, that afternoon on the third day, I was scared then because this arm was swollen as tight as it could swell and I was having to carry it in the other hand. And all my fingers began to turn blue, and I realized gangrene poisoning was setting in. And, you know, there’s nobody to do anything for you. And I realized I’m going to die just like a rat beside the road. That’s a terrible feeling, and I thought, “What’ll I do? I’ll just get out and go [die] a little sooner. I’ll just have to rap on somebody’s door.” And that’s what I did.
I remember as I walked (I don’t know how far) I saw this lamp. It was an old fashioned lamp, burning. Very poor house, no paint on it, and I knew those were poor people. So I walked up to the screen door and I rapped on it, and a tall man came to the door. He was rather old. And I said, “Please, may I have a drink of water.” And you know, that old man didn’t answer me, but he walked back in the house, and he called his wife. And, God bless her heart, she’s like most old-fashioned mothers. She came to the door, and she didn’t say, “Who are you and what do you want?” Thank God there are a lot of good people in this world. That dear little woman just pushed that door open and said, “Won’t you come in and sit down?” Do you know that’s the most beautiful music I ever heard in my life? I should say I’ll come in and sit down! And she pulled out a chair, and I sat down on it. I’m glad to sit down.
And you know, she’s poor. There’re no rugs on the floor of any type, red-checkered tablecloth on the table, a little old stove over there in the corner, and there was a fire in it. And that woman put some milk in a pan and heated it and brought it over to me. And, you know, I’m hungry. I don’t have any manners. I forgot how to act. I forgot a lot of things in 22 years. And I grabbed that glass of milk before she ever sat it down, and I gobbled it down. I’m so hungry, I felt like I’m, going stark mad. And I took it instantly, and the moment it touched my stomach, of course I couldn’t retain it. I lost it. I haven’t had any whole milk in 22 years. You could understand why I couldn’t take it. And she knew what to do. She went out into the kitchen and she heated some water, or rather over to the stove and heated some water. And bless her heart, she put some sugar in that water, and she brought it over to me, and she sat down and gave it to me from a spoon. I took every bit of it. Oh, it was good! It was nourishing.
And then the daddy walked over by me and he said, “Now tell us who you are and where you come from” I began to cry. I was scared then. I said, “I’ve run away from the convent and I’m not going back.” And he said, “What happened to you?” And my hand was laying upon the table. And I said, “Well, I tried to get over the gate and I fell, and I’m hurt.”
And, you know, he said, “We’ll have to call a doctor.” And bless your sweet life, then I really became hysterical. I got up from the table, I was going to run back outside, and they wouldn’t let me. He said, “Wait a minute. We’re not going to hurt you. You’re hurt. You have to have help.”
I said, “I don’t have any money, and I don’t have any people, and I can’t pay a doctor bill.” I was just in a terrible mess if you want to know it. And that man said to me, “I’m going after a doctor.” He said, “And he’s not a Roman Catholic, and neither am I.” And that dear man didn’t have a car, but he hitched up a horse and buggy and he drove nine miles to get a doctor. The doctor came out in his car, and when he got to the place, he got there ahead of the man. And when the doctor walked in and walked around me, he just kept walking around me and he was swearing. (Maybe he didn’t realize it was a terrible effect upon me). When he stopped and looked at me, of course he was mad. He was mad. Why was he mad? He was mad because he was looking at something that was supposed to be a human being, and I didn’t even look like a human being I was in such a horrible condition.
But finally he calmed down and he came over to me and he said, “I’ll have to take you to the hospital tonight.” Oh, I became hysterical. I said, “I don’t want to go. Please don’t make me go!” Then he sat down carefully and took my hand and he began to say, “I’m not going to hurt you. You have to have help, and I want to help you.”
That doctor took me into the hospital that night and that’s where I learned how much I weighed. He weighed me and I weighed exactly 89 pounds [40.5 kg]. I weigh 178 [81 kg] right now. And they, you know, they took me into surgery, and of course they tried to get the swelling and the inflammation out of my hand and arm [so] that they might do something for me. It took about 12 or 13 days. By this time it started to knit and they had to break it all over again and put it in a cast. I did a lot of suffering.
Well, you know, one day a way was made for me to be released from the hospital. Who did they release me to? I begged to go out to those old people to stay with them, and they let me go, because they had been good to me and I trusted them. And the doctor wanted to take me out to his home. I was in that hospital three and a half months. And they took me out there [to the old folks] and I stayed for a period of time. And then one day this same doctor, he wrote a letter and, do you know what he sent in that letter? He sent a check. He told the people to go and buy me a suitcase and get me some clothing. He was coming for me on a certain day. He told me, “I’m going to find your people for you.” You know that doctor is a stranger to me, but oh, how I thank God that he has men an women across this world and those men and women are not so selfish that they won’t use some of the money that God has allowed them to have to help that one that’s less fortunate than they. Here, he spent a lot of money on me. I was in that hospital three and a half months, and I mean there was a lot of money spent on me, but he paid the bills. How I appreciate it! And you know, that dear doctor, oh they took me, bought my clothing for me, bought my suitcase and everything was ready and the day came when he come, and you know, that doctor took me to the train. And he put me on a train in care of somebody, of course. He had found my people for me. I was on busses and trains and boats for a long time, and one day, after he had gotten my visa for me to get back into the United States, and I was always in the charge of somebody because they didn’t trust me to travel alone because of having to live under the ground so long.
HOME AT LAST
And one day they called the name of a town where I was, or where my mother and daddy lived. And you know I knew where mother and daddy lived and I got off of that train and I run down to their home, five blocks from that depot, just a very small town. And when I rang the bell, my daddy come to the door, and you know, I looked at his face, I didn’t know him. And because I didn’t know him I said, “Do you know where my father lives?”
And he said, “Who are you, and what’s your name?”
And I said my name, and I didn’t give him my church name, I gave him my family name. And that man looked at me, and of course it was his name, and he said, “Hooky, is this you?” My father didn’t know me, of course it was my dad, and that dear old man opened the door then and invited me in, and I said, “Dad, is Mother alive?” because I didn’t know about her. And he took me back in to see her and there she was. Seven and a half years she’s laid there, an invalid. A horrible, horrible invalid. And of course she didn’t know me and I didn’t know her.
Well, you know, that very night I took violently sick and they put me back in another hospital for another three months, but my father paid all of those bills. He reimbursed the doctor and paid the doctor in another country and paid the old people. He reimbursed them all. All of that was wonderful, and then, you know, one day after my body was strong enough since I’m here in the United States (oh, it took a long time, several years), I’m a nurse, and I took the examination to nurse. And do you know what God did? He let a woman come into that particular hospital. It was a Roman Catholic hospital.
This woman was a Church of God minister. She came in, and I thought, “How strange!” Just across the Mississippi River is two magnificent Protestant hospitals, and she lives in one of those cities. Right there, three cities joined together. And why in the world did she come over here to this Roman Catholic hospital? Why? I believe God had his hand on it all the time.You know that woman came in and the doctor said, “I want you to [indistinguishable] her case,” and I went in to prepare that woman for the operating table, and I heard her pray, and I want you to know, I became that woman’s private nurse. Her special nurse.
After she left the hospital she went home, and I became her special nurse in the home, and that woman asked if I wouldn’t go to church with her. And you know I lived in her home long enough to hear her pray. I lived in that home long enough to read the Bible to her because I’m her nurse and I did what she told me to. I had never read a Bible before in all of my life and she’d have to find the scriptures, and then I’d read them to her. And, you know, as I read the word of God, then God began to get a hold of me. And finally she said, “Won’t you go to church with me,” and I went to church with that woman, and I sat back there and I heard the gospel for the first time in my life. And you know, I’ll tell you, I went through four nights, and it was really beautiful. I’ve never heard anything like this. And all the time she was telling me about the plan of salvation, telling me about God, and that I needed God, and I needed to be saved. And, of course, I was believing her.
Do you know what I’d do every night? I go from church with that woman, and I’d say, “You go to bed, but let me go to the basement.” I’d lay my Bible down on the chair, and there I’d challenge God, and I’d say, “God, did you hear what the preacher said? Did you hear it, God?” And then I would tell God everything I could remember that the preacher said. I said, “God, you heard every word, didn’t you? Now, if you are God and the Bible is the word of God, God you’re real! I want what those people have. But, if you’re not God, and the word of God is not your word, then God, please don’t give to me what those people have.” Let me tell you, I challenged God. I put him to a test. God’s not going to give you anything that’s not of God. Don’t you worry.
And every night I continued to do that, four or five nights. And I didn’t eat either. I couldn’t sleep and I had lost my appetite and I was loosing a lot of weight. It was terrific! But you know, one night I come back to church and out of a clear blue sky, right in the middle of that man’s service I just got out of my seat, and with both hands straight up in the air I come running right straight down an aisle like this. And I fell in at that altar and I cried out, “My God, forgive me for all my sins!” I was a sinner. I mean God met me there. Praise his wonderful name. There was a pool of water on that floor. I was sorry for every thing that I had did in that convent. I stole potato peelings. I stole bread. I told lies. I called the mother superior names under my breath. And I want you to know, God met me down there and he forgave me of every sin that there was in my life. And how I thank and praise him for it! Praise his wonderful name. God has been very good to me. Very good to me.
A few nights previous [subsequent (?)] to that, I went back to church. God healed me with the baptism of the Holy Ghost. May I say to you, God means more to me than all the material wealth you have in this city. I’d rather have Jesus than anything you might have, because I’ve found him to be the best friend I’ve ever known. I can tell him anything I want to tell him, and he won’t call you up and tell you what I’ve told him. I can sit at his feet and tell him every day of my life, “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you.” And every secret of my heart, I can pour out to him. And I don’t worry about him calling you up and telling you what I told him. He’s the best friend you ever had. He’s able to save you. He’s able to deliver you. He’s able to loose you from the things of this world and set you free to know him. Praise his name. I have a wonderful God. I love him supremely. I’d rather have Jesus than anything that you might have. God is real in my life. Really wonderful, how God delivered me out of the convent. Pray for me. I need much prayer. I’ll be going places where it’s predominantly Roman Catholic. I’ll have to suffer much, but I’m willing to suffer for Jesus that I might tell someone about him and give my testimonies that other little girls might be spared from convents. So pray for me, won’t you?