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Convent AutobiographyEarly Modern English Nuns in Exile$
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Victoria Van Hyning

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266571

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266571.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 04 April 2020

In Pursuit of Liberty of Conscience: A Seventeenth-Century Response to Augustine’s Confessions

In Pursuit of Liberty of Conscience: A Seventeenth-Century Response to Augustine’s Confessions

Chapter:
(p.83) 2 In Pursuit of Liberty of Conscience: A Seventeenth-Century Response to Augustine’s Confessions
Source:
Convent Autobiography
Author(s):

Victoria Van Hyning

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266571.003.0003

This chapter unpacks a highly significant and unusual example of a post-English Civil War era Catholic woman’s conversion narrative. Catherine Holland was the daughter of Sir John Holland, a moderate Protestant parliamentary politician, and Alathea Sandys, a Catholic. During her teens and twenties Holland began to feel drawn to Catholic doctrine and practice, and at the age of twenty-five she ran away from home to join the Nazareth convent where she soon after authored a conversion narrative modelled on Augustine’s Confessions. The unique manuscript of ‘How I Came to Change My Religion’ also contains prayers and lists, all of which have been provided in their entirety as an appendix to this volume. This chapter charts Holland’s literary response to Confessions and developments in her self-fashioning through this literature as well as translations written during more than five decades at the convent. This chapter and edition provide unprecedented access to a significant early modern writer who was willing to defy parents, Protestant bishops, and reluctant Jesuits in order to achieve ‘liberty of conscience’ and ‘escape the slavery of marriage’. The edition may be particularly valuable to teachers and students studying conversion narratives, women’s writing, gender, and Confessions.

Keywords:   conversion, liberty, conscience, marriage, prayers, Augustine, Confessions, gender, escape

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