Irish Nuns in Nantes 1650-1659.
Archivium Hibernicum, 58.
References by various authors to a small group of Franciscan Nuns of the Third Order Regular who fled from Ireland to Brittany at the end of 1649 or very early in 1650 have been based on hitherto scant sources, principally Travers' history of Nantes (1841)1. The location of their convent of origin in Ireland remains to be ascertained. The following details are drawn from Travers and have been cited by the authors in question: the date of arrival of the nuns in the Loire estuary is 'some six or seven months' previous to the report drawn up for the municipal authorities in Nantes on 17th July 1650; they were eight in number, and were assisted by an Irish orphan girl, Catherine Roche, who had arrived in Nantes circa 1646 and served as their interpreter2, their confessor, an Irish Franciscan priest whose identity remains to be ascertained, and a maidservant (presumably local). They lived a cloistered life in La BignoliÃ¨re house in Richebourg, a suburb of the city. According to the municipal enquiry, they had requested permission from the bishop of Nantes to have mass said in the house in order to observe their intention to remain enclosed, and this permission would appear to have been granted.
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