Nuns and Sisters in the Nordic Countries after the Reformation. A Female Counter-Culture in Modern Society

Research output: Book/ReportAnthology (editor)

Abstract

Female religious communities, and later also convents, accompanied the return of the Catholic Church to the Nordic countries in the middle of the nineteenth century. These religious communities were mostly so-called active orders or congregations, who helped in parishes or ran private schools, orphanages or nursing homes. In the 1930s there were nearly 1,400 Catholic sisters working in Scandinavia. At the same time, there was a growing interest for regulated religious life within the established Lutheran Churches, and small communities – mostly female – were founded. In Finland, there was an unbroken tradition of orthodox monasticism. Until recently, however, monasticism was rejected as 'Catholic' and thereby foreign to Nordic national identity. Religious communities were regarded as a tool of Roman Catholic propaganda, especially insidious to Nordic women. According to the mainstream Nordic tradition at the time, women’s calling was to marry and bear children. The female religious communities thus represented not only an alternative form of life but also a counter-culture in the Lutheran Nordic society.

In the present book, we meet this female counter-culture in its various forms and expressions. The articles focus partly on Nordic Christian women, Catholic converts as well as members of the established Lutheran churches who were attracted to regulated religious life, and partly on sisters in Catholic religious congregations working in the Nordic countries. A common trait is that these women, although in various ways, traversed contemporary social and religious boundaries. By studying a variety of female religious orders and congregations, the authors have highlighted the frequently tense relation between “Catholic” and “Nordic” values, between tradition and modernity, and between Nordic and foreign. The long time period studied allows for the making of diachronic comparisons and to record transitions and changes in attitude and behaviour.

Details

Authors
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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History

Keywords

  • Protestant monasticism, Catholic mission, Female religious communities, Scandinavia, counter-culture, Lutheran and Catolic doctrine of vocation
Original languageEnglish
PublisherSwedish Institute of Mission Research
Number of pages436
VolumeLXXXIX
ISBN (Print)1404-9503
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedNo

Publication series

NameStudia Missionalia Svecana
VolumeLXXXIX