Karen Hanrahan, University of Brighton
Any thoughts of escaping to a more natural life was regarded as being sinful. The idea of being unfaithful to your vocation was a step on the way to hell. It would be a mortal sin.
These are the words of Mary, my mother. She was just 15 when she entered a convent in Ireland in 1950 and 34 by the time she finally managed to leave. She had been expressing doubts to her superiors since her early twenties but years of “brainwashing” and the very real fear of her and her family facing eternal damnation made breaking her vows seem impossible.