The nuns

Sister Mary Stigmata never taught me.

I was just reading some fiction which featured an archetype that’s been in heavy rotation for at least half a century, and at most, a thousand years: The Evil Nun.

You all know The Evil Nun. She hits poor, defenseless, innocent children with rulers and singles them out for shame and humiliation. Her anger and frustration cause her to brand little girls as tramps and little boys as shifty truants. She’s violent. She’s mean. She’s ruined your formative years, and she’s been in more movies than Kevin Bacon. She’s appeared in The Blues Brothers and, in a slightly more nuanced incarnation, in Doubt. All of you – even if you never went to Catholic school, even if you aren’t Catholics, even if you’re a very peaceful Quaker who has no argument with anybody – you all shudder in her presence.

Except I’ve never met the Evil Nun in person. And I went to Catholic school. While I was there in the ’80s I met strict nuns. I met emotionally distant nuns. But never once did I meet The Evil Nun. Not once. And I feel like I’ve missed out on a great shared experience of 20th century Catholic school students. I really liked the nuns who taught me. What’s exciting about that? Continue reading