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    Syon Abbey’s ‘Second Summer', 1900-1950

    Mangion, Carmen M. (2017) Syon Abbey’s ‘Second Summer', 1900-1950. In: Gejrot, C. and Andersson, E. and Jones, E. and Åkestam, M. (eds.) Continuity and Change. Papers from the Birgitta Conference at Dartington 2015. KVHAA Konferenser 93. Stockholm, Sweden: Kungl. Vitterhetsakademien, pp. 367-388. ISBN 9789174024494.

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    In considering Syon’s brief ‘second spring’ we move far too quickly from the triumph coming from the bustle of the many aspirants knocking on Syon’s door and the resulting flourishing novitiate to the uncertainties of the ‘second summer' with its aging population of sisters. Yet, the 1920s were sufficiently fruitful of vocations to sustain the abbey for many decades. Postulants’ letters give us a sense of these women’s lives and their belief in their vocation before entering religious life. Syon was open to the richness of older vocations. Many applicants had the experience of paid employment before entering; they made a conscious and oftentimes difficult decision to leave one way of life for another. Through their postulancy and novitiate they experienced religious life before they took the final step and took solemn vows. Some were supported by family and friends, while others were not. The Catholic and non-Catholic world voiced deep concerns about the utility of religious life. This way of life behind the grille was often misunderstood and oversimplified. The life was physically rigorous and good health was important to the rhythm of ora and labora. The voices heard in these letters are those of capable, mature women with experience of the world who believed it was their duty to devote their lives to singing God’s praises. Those who remained were aware community life was not always easy. Though the physical and emotional strains were rarely acknowledged, these women remained committed to their vocation. As the celebrations of Syon’s 600 anniversary of its foundation in 2015 made clear, Syon Abbey does indeed have a special place in the firmament of England’s religious orders.


    Item Type: Book Section
    Additional Information: ISSN: 0348-1433
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Carmen Mangion
    Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2017 07:54
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:21


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