All Kinds of Nuns Found to Be Not Too Saintly

by Liz Colville

More than two decades ago, a music professor was doing some research on music manuscripts and found a saucy few lines written at an Italian convent in the 16th century:

You who’ve got that little trinket/ So delightful and so pleasing/ Might I take my hand and sink it/ ’Neath petticoat and cassock, squeezing.

Whatever did they mean? The professor, Craig A. Monson, decided to delve deeper into the secret lives of nuns, and now he’s written a whole book about it: Nuns Behaving Badly: Tales of Music, Magic, Art & Arson in the Convents of Italy. Monson sheds light on what we already know from random books and films: that people would sometimes just send their daughters off to convents, not only if they’d done something bad, but because it was cheaper than finding them a husband. And it wasn’t so bad there! “Nuns also elected their own superiors, which gave them a certain degree of independence.”

But “that’s where the trouble began,” Monson says. He uncovered stories of:

…nuns who plotted escapes, who burned down their own convent, and one who got caught sneaking out to the opera, disguised as an abbot.

Amazing! For more, check out the Boston Globe’s interview with Monson.

Photo via the Ultramontanist