“What’s Meryl Streep Wearing?”

People who didn’t grow up seeing nuns in habits have been asking about Meryl Streep’s garb in the movie “Doubt.” She’s dressed as a Sister of Charity, a religious community founded by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) in 1809. And since today is her feast day, this offers an opportunity to talk about the great work the Sisters have done over the years. Founded in Emmittsburg, theycame to New York in 1817, where they started an orphanage. A few years later, they started some of the first parochial schools in New York City. In 1846 the Sisters of Charity of New York were formally established. Three years later, Sister Angela Hughes (sibling of the fiery archbishop featured yesterday) started St. Vincent’s Hospital. The College of Mount St. Vincent in the Bronx traces its roots back to 1847. The Sisters have been involved in a lot of great ventures over the years, including a mission to the Mayan Indians in Guatemala. In 1975, their foundress became the first native-born American citizen to be canonized. If you want to learn more about the history of different nuns’ habits, take a look at George Stewart’s Marvels of Charity.

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