At the beginning of June, Dr Cormac Begadon, of Durham University, gave an update on his research to the Community, via a ‘Zoom’ meeting.
The path his research is following concerns the Community’s role in the Catholic Enlightenment. Dr Begadon will be exploring the suggestion that Christina Dennett inspired the Jesuits (not the other way around). Examining a rare printed prospectus of the Community’s school and documented accounts written by Jesuits closely connected with the Community in Liège, Dr Begadon suggests that reform in education was led by women. Christina Dennett’s vision of the Sacred Heart inspires her to develop the school; this is important in the fulfilment of the Catholic Enlightenment.
His research of the Community’s school Register shows that the pupils come from all over the world; they are coming to the Community’s school in Liège for a reason. The Community’s educational offering for women in Liège is unique, the curriculum is wider than would have been expected for young women at that time.
In the Benefactors book there are gifts of globes, atlases, books of all kinds – they were studying geography, music, languages etc. There are individual parental/guardian’s instructions about what they are to learn; an enlightened education, more than just the usual education for ‘young ladies’.
Cormac highlighted four major milestones in his research. The news will be welcomed by those interested in the Community’s history:
- Publication of the story of the Community’s escape and perilous journey from Liège to England in 1794
- The discovery of a rare example of a printed prospectus for the school at Liège, dating from the early 1770s
- Plans for a research workshop on the history of female religious in the early modern period, showcasing the collections of the Canonesses at Durham University
- An update on the project’s Twitter page @sepscollections, which publishes snippets from the archive collection, which aims to capture the attention of academics and non-academics, alike
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