And so on this particular morning I told the Mother Superior, "Give me a little while to think it over." She didn't make me do it. No one did. But I thought it over for a couple of years, and then one day I told her, "I think I'm going to hide away behind the convent doors," because I believed I could give more time to God. I could pray more. I would be in a position where I could inflict more pain upon my body because we're taught to believe that God smiles down out of heaven as we do penance--whatever the suffering might be. And I didn't know any better, because, I often say, if you could only look into the hearts of little Nuns, if you are a Christian, you would immediately cry out before God in behalf of those little girls, because truly we are heathens. It doesn't make any difference the amount of education we may have. We are still heathens. We know nothing about this lovely Christ -- nothing about the plan of salvation. And we're living as hermits in the convent.
And so on this particular morning I come walking down an aisle again. And, may I say, on the morning before, I can't go into it too deep, because I would never be able to cover enough of it so you could understand it -- but this morning I'm walking down that aisle, but I don't have a wedding garment on. I have a funeral shroud. It's made of dark red velvet. And it's way down to the floor. And I'm walking down that aisle. Now I know what I'm going to do. The casket is already made by the Nuns of the Cloister -- very rough wood, and it's sitting right out here. And I know when I come down there that I'll step into that casket and lay my body down. And I'm going to spend nine hours in there. And two little Nuns will come and cover me up with a heavy black cloth we call a heavy drape material. And, you know, it's so heavily incensed that I feel like I will smother to death. And I have to stay there.
Now, I know when I come out of that casket I'll never leave the Convent again. I know I'll never see my mother and father again. I'll never go home again. I'll always live behind convent doors and when I die my body will be buried there. They told me that. So I knew it even before I done it. It's a great price to pay and then to find out that Convents are not religious orders as we were taught and as we were trained. It's quite a disappointment to a young girl that's given her life to God and willing to give up so much and sacrifice so much. I'll assure you, it was a disappointment.
And so after I spent some time...You say, "What did you do when you lay in that casket?" What do you think I did? I spilled every tear in my body. I remembered every lovely thing my mother done for me. I remembered her voice. I remembered the gathering around the table. I remembered the times when she would play with us. I remembered the things that she said to me. I remembered what a marvelous cook she was. Everything, as a little girl growing up in that home, I remembered it, laying in that casket--knowing I'll never hear her voice again. I'll never see her face again. I'll never put my feet under her table again -- enjoy her good cooking. I knew all that. And so maybe for four hours I spilled all the tears within my body because it was so hard. And I knew I'd get homesick. I knew I'd want to see her someday, but I gave it all up. What for? For the love of God, I thought. I didn't know any better.
And I'll assure you, those were nine long hours. And then I seemingly got
ahold of myself, and I thought this, "Charlotte, now you're going to make the
best Carmelite Nun, because everything I've ever done even now in the convent I
do give my best." I'd try to give everything that I had regardless of what I
might do. And so I did in the Convent. I gave the best that I had. And I
wanted to be the best Nun that I could possibly be. And the Mother Superior
knew that. And, don't worry, the priests knew all about it, too.
VOWS SIGNED IN BLOOD
Now, I realize after I walk out of that casket they're going to take me like this...over here, right back here, is a room. They call it the Mother Superior's Room. Now, I'd never been in that particular room, so I don't know what she has in there. But you know, when I walk in there this time the Mother Superior sits me down in a straight-back, hard-bottom chair. And immediately then I'm going to take three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. And you know, as I take those vows, she opens a little place in the lobe of my ear and takes out a portion of blood, because I must sign every vow in my own blood.
And after that happens, then I'm going to take the vow of poverty. Now when I sign that vow, I sign it thus, that I'm willing to live in crucial poverty the balance of my life as long as I live. And what that poverty's like, of course, we don't know.
And then my next vow, I'm going to do a vow of chastity. And you know this vow, of course you know what it means. I'm taught to believe that I'm married to Jesus Christ. I'm His bride. I'll always remain a virgin. I'll never legally marry a man in this world because I have become the spouse or the bride of Jesus Christ.
After the Bishop married me to Christ, he placed a ring on my finger. And that meant I'm sealed to Christ. I'm married to Him and I accepted it because I didn't know any better.
And now here I am taking a vow that I would always remain a virgin because I'm the bride of Christ. And I want you to listen carefully.
And then of course my last vow of obedience. Now, when we sign that vow, I'll assure you, already I know what obedience means. I'm living in a convent. And there they demand absolute obedience. You don't get by with anything. Not even for two minutes. I mean, you don't get by with it. You have to realize what obedience means. And they demand it. And you learn to know it. And you're much wiser the more quickly you learn it and you obey it. And you give them absolute obedience.
Alright, now. What does it mean to sign vows like this? Let me tell you this. It means more than you folks will ever know because most people that I know anything about, they know very little about obedience. Oh, in a sense, yes. But you'll never know what a little Nun knows about obedience, I'll assure that one thing, unless you've lived in the convent.
Alright, that particular vow when I signed it in my own blood, it done something to me, because, after I signed those vows, do you realize that I signed away everything I have -- my human rights? I have become a mechanical human being now. I can't sit down until they tell me to. I don't dare to get up until they tell me to. I can't lie down until they tell me to. And neither do I dare to I get up. I cannot eat until they tell me to. And what I see I don't see. What I hear I don't hear. What I feel I don't feel. I've become a mechanical human being, but you're not aware of that until you have signed all these vows. Then you realize, "Here I am -- a mechanical human being." And, of course, I belong to Rome now, I'll assure you that right now.
Alright, after these particular vows, we become forgotten women in the convent. In just a short while you'll understand what I'm talking about. Now, immediately after I've taken those vows, then the Mother Superior is going to take away my name and give me the name of a patron saint. She teaches me to believe that whatever happens to me in the convent, I can pray to that patron saint and she will intercede for me and get my prayers through to God, because I'm not holy enough to stand in the presence of God.
It isn't a wonder the little Nuns can never get closer to God. We have
always been taught that we'll never be holy enough to stand in His presence. And
we always have to go through somebody else in order to get a prayer through to
God. And we believe it because we don't know any better.
ALL FORMER IDENTIFICATION LOST
And so now all identification of who Charlotte was is going to be put away, it'll be taken away from me. And if you knew me and would come to the convent and call for my family name they'd tell you there isn't such a person as that. I don't exist. Even though I'm right there, because I'm writing under another name.
Now the Mother Superior is going to cut every bit of hair off of my head. And when she cuts it with the scissors she puts the clippers on it. And I mean there's nothing left. I just don't have one speck of hair left on my head. And, of course, if you could be a Nun you would understand the heavy head-gear that we have to wear would be so cumbersome to have hair and so cumbersome to take care of it, we don't have any way of taking care of it in the convent. There are no combs in the convent. And so you can imagine how hard it would be for us to take care of a head of hair. It's not necessary that we have a comb after they finish with us.
Alright now. This is my Black Veil. These are my perpetual vows, we'll call them. I'm there and I'm going to stay there.
Now, you know, up until this time I received a letter once a month from my family. And I wrote a letter out of that convent once a month to my family. Even though when I would write that letter, I had no doubt they marked out a lot of it, because when I would receive a letter from my family there was so much of it blacked out until there was no sense to the letter. And, oh, I'd weep over those black marks. I was wondering what my mother was trying to say to me. And don't worry, you never got to know what she wanted to to say to you, because they blacked it out.
And so they break your heart many many times and you're lonely anyway because I had no friends in the convent. I'll assure you, even though there was a hundred and eighty on my particular wing, not one of those Nuns were my friend and neither was I a friend to them, because we are not allowed to be friends in the Convent. We are all policemen or detectives watching each other that's to find something to tell. And the little Nun who finds something to tell on the other Nuns, she stands in good favour with the Mother Superior. And then the Mother teaches that Nun to believe that when she stands in good favour with the Mother Superior, she's standing in good favour with God. And so that little Nun, of course, will want that, and she'll tell a lot of things, maybe that are not even true, on the other little Nuns.
Alright. Now, after all of this has transpired and after all of this has happened. Everything I have is gone, I've sold my soul for a mess of theological pottage, because, not only are we destroyed in our bodies, many of us in our minds. And many of us, if we die in the Convent, we've lost our souls.
And so it's a serious thing. And I surely covet your prayers for little Nuns behind cloistered convent doors. They'll never hear this Gospel. They'll never know the Christ that you folk know tonight. They'll never pray to Him as you people pray to Him. They'll never feel His blessings as you people feel them. So put them on your hearts and pray for them. They surely need much prayer.
Alright, now As I walk into that room and all of this is transpiring, now,
bless you heart, I don't know what's going to be in the next room. After this
has transpired, and I've taken the vows that I will always remain a virgin, I
will never legally marry in this world because I'm the spouse of Christ. And
then after this, and the Mother Superior leads me out into another room, or
rather she opens the doors, and I'm to be sent into that room.
"THE PRIEST IS THE HOLY GHOST"
And when I walk out in that room I see something that I have never seen before. I see a Roman Catholic Priest dressed in a holy habit. He walks over to me and locks his arm in my arm which he had never done in the first part of my convent life. I never had a priest to insult me in any way. I never had one of them to even be unkind to me in the first part of my convent experience. But here he is now. And of course I didn't understand what it was all about. And I didn't know what in the world the man expected of me. But you know, I pulled from him because I felt highly insulted. And I pulled from him and I said, "Shame on you." And it made him very angry for a minute. And the Mother Superior must have heard my voice, because she came out immediately, and she said, "Oh," and they called me by my Church name. She said, "After you've been in the convent a little while you won't feel this way. The rest of us felt the same way you do."
And you know the priest's body is sanctified. And therefore it is not a sin for us to give the priests our bodies. In other words, they teach every little Nun this: As the Holy Ghost placed a germ in Mary's womb, and Jesus Christ was born, so the Priest is the Holy Ghost, and therefore it isn't a sin for us to bare his children. And let me tell you, that's what they come into the convent for. No other purpose in all of this world do priests come into the convent but to rob those precious little girls of their virtue. And I'll assure you, we'll be telling you a little later in the testimony just what they really do after they come in under those particular deals.
But may I say, now every bridge has been burned out from under me. There's no way back. I can't get out of the convent, even though I pled. Oh, how I pled with that priest, "Send for my father. I want to go home. I don't want to go any farther." Only to laugh in my face. And, let me tell you, that's when you stand alone. And you don't know who to turn to. And you're a victim of circumstances. And you live in the convent because there is no other way to get out of the convent. And, I'll assure you, I stayed in the convent until God made a way for me to come out. And so after all of this, my mail was stopped. I'll never receive another bit of mail from my family. Never another letter. I belong to the Pope. I belong to Rome.
And then after all of this--the Mother Superior, after taking me through these particular vows--the priest has invited me to go to the Bridal Chamber. You say, "Did you go?" No. Definitely not. I didn't enter the convent to be a bad woman. It would have been much easier to stay out of the convent to be a bad woman. You wouldn't go into the convent and live in the poverty we lived in and to suffer as we suffered to be a bad woman. No girl would do that. It would have been much easier to stay out of the convent if I wanted to be a bad woman. But I went there to give my heart and life to God. And that was the only purpose I had in going there.
And here this priest is--and of course I didn't go into the Bridal Chamber
with him. I had a strong body then. One of us would have been wounded because I
would have fought until the last drop of blood. And you know it made them very
very angry, I'll assure you. But I didn't go to the Bridal Chamber with him.
BEFORE A DEAD NUN FOR ONE HOUR
But now I'm going to have to go to penance the next morning, and of course this'll be a heavier penance because of what I'd done already. And when the Mother Superior says, "We're going to do penance the next morning," I'm going to be initiated as a Carmelite Nun. And I remember when she walked with me down into that particular place. It was a dark room. Now remember, I lived above on the first floor until my Black Veil. After the Black Veil, they take me one story under the ground. And I live there from then on until God delivered me. I didn't live in the top part of the buildings at all.
But you know, as we walked into this room it's dark and it's very cold. And when we walked in, we came from back there somewhere. We come walking towards the front. And I walked along beside the Mother Superior. And when I got near the front I saw those little candles burning. Anywhere in the convent you'll find the seven candles burning. And when I came a little closer I saw the candles, but I couldn't see anything else. And I wondered, "What is she going to do to me?" That's the thing in our hearts and we can't get away from it, because we had fear.
And when I come a little closer I saw something lying on a board there. And, you know, when I came real close then I realized here's a little Nun lying on that board. I called it a cooling board because it was that. And just as long as her body. And there she was. And when I could see where the candles flickered down on her face I realized that child is dead. And, oh, I wanted so much to say, "How did she die? Why is she here? How long do you keep her here?" But, you remember, I signed away every human right. And so I can't say one word, but I stood looking.
And then the Mother Superior said, "You stand vigil over this dead body for one hour." And at the end of the hour a little bell is tapped and another Nun will come to relieve me. And may I say, I was advised every so many minutes I would have to walk out...to...that little body and sprinkle holy water and ashes over the body and say, "Peace be unto you." And I did exactly what they told me to do. Oh, it was a terrible feeling. I'm not afraid of the dead. It's the live people we have to be very cautious about. And I wasn't afraid of that little dead Nun, but, oh, my heart ached for her.
And you know after the bell tapped and I realized my hour had gone, the Nun
who come to relieve us comes back here somewhere. And of course we walked on
our tip-toes. No noise was made in the convent. And they don't speak, they
just touch you. And of course, my being down there with that little dead Nun,
and I was full of fear, when that girl laid her hand on my shoulder I let out a
scream -- a horrible scream - from fear - just fear.
THE FLAGELLATION WHIP
And, you know, I didn't mean to do it. I didn't break that rule on purpose, but I was scared. And immediately, of course, I had to come before the Mother Superior and that's when I first learned to know, one of the first times, about a dungeon. They didn't tell me there were dungeons in the convents. And she put me in such a dirty, dark place, with no floor in it for three days and nights. And I didn't get any food and any water. And I'll assure you I didn't scream any more. I tried so hard not to break the rules of screaming, because there is a dungeon and I know they'll put you in it. And, let me tell you right now, it's not a nice place to be. After you've been in one of those places you'll know what it feels like.
Alright now. I'll say this before I go any farther that Popery is a masterpiece of Satan. I said it's a masterpiece of Satan with his lying wonders and its traditions and its deception. It's a terrible thing when you know about it.
And so as I come down into this room, she took me, and let me look at this little girl, the penance is over. The very next morning she said again to me, "Charlotte, you're going to do penance." Not the next morning -- it was three days after because I spent three days and nights in the dungeon, the fourth, fifth morning, whichever it was, she said, "You're going to do penance." She took me down into another room - not the same room. And when we come walking down this time I could see that big piece of wood, but I didn't know what it was. And when I came a little closer there was a cross. It was made of heavy timber. I might say it was maybe eight or ten feet high. Very heavy. And that cross was sitting on an incline like that. And she had me walk over here at the base of the cross, and she said, "Now strip your clothes off." And I took my clothes off. And then she made me -- down to my waistline -- then she made me drape my body over the foot of that cross, and she pulled my hands underneath and bound them to my feet. And then, you know, that's where I learned to spill my blood. And she had not told me how, and neither could I ask how I would spill it.
And she gave two little Nuns that came with her a flagellation whip. I might call it a bamboo pole. It's about this long -- it's about that big around. And it has six straps on it about this long. And on the end of either of those straps is a sharp piece of metal. And those little Nuns, either was given one of these whips, and they stood on either side of the cross. Now, at the same time those girls began whipping my body. And I mean when that metal hit my body it would break the hide, of course. It would cut into the flesh and I spilled blood. And it was running down to the floor. That's my flagellation whipping. That is where I spill my blood as Jesus shed His upon Calvary.
And of course I'm human. It wounded. It hurt. It was very painful. After the whipping is over they don't bathe my body. They put my clothing back on my body and I have to go the rest of the day.
When the night comes and I stand in front of my cell, there -- I have to
stand there to undress with our backs to each other. And then when I went in,
oh... I couldn't sleep that night. I just wasn't a bit sleepy because I
couldn't take off all my clothes. They had dried in those wounds. And it was
terrible. I didn't take them off for several nights.
THE NUNS' DIET
And, I'll assure you, when I came before my food, I didn't want my cup of black coffee.
In the morning we get a cup of black coffee they serve in a tin cup. We can have no milk and no sugar of any type. And we have one slice of bread that's made by the Nuns of the Cloister. They weighed it. It weighs four ounces. That's all I get for breakfast.
And then of course in the evening I get a bowl of soup. And that's fresh vegetables cooked together. There's no seasoning in the soup whatsoever, and a half a slice of bread. And three times a week they give me a half a glass of skim milk.
That consists of my food three hundred and sixty five days in the year.
And I began losing weight very rapidly, I'll assure you, because I didn't have enough food to eat. I don't know the day I went to bed without a hungry stomach. Sometimes it would be so hungry I couldn't sleep. The pain was gnawing. You can't hardly stand it. And you know you're only going to get that one slice of bread the next morning. That doesn't fill you up. And of course we have to work hard all day long.
And I'll assure you... those little Nuns, and I covet your prayers for them. They need your prayers in more ways than one because you'll go to bed with a full stomach tonight. And you're very comfortable right now. But I'll assure you there's not one of them that's comfortable. They're hungry and they're sick and they're wounded and they're hurt and they're heartsick and homesick -- and discouraged. And worst of all, seemingly, they have no hope. No hope.
You and I are looking forward to the day when we're going to see Jesus. They have no hope whatsoever. And I surely hope you don't forget to pray for them.
Alright. That was terrible, I'll assure you.
SUSPENDED BY THE THUMBS
And then in a few mornings after this, the Mother Superior is taking me back for another initiation. And when I go into the penance chamber this morning -- we come from a place up here -- and we're going to walk back along like that clear to the back. And you know it's quite a ways back here, and I went - part of it's a tunnel. And then I come out into a room. And I walk through into that room. And when I get way back there I see those candles burning. And I see something else. There's ropes hanging down from the ceiling. And, oh, I'm so scared. I wonder what the ropes are for, and what's she going to do? After these two penances you begin to have a lot of fear in your heart.
And so I can't say anything and I walk back there. And you know I saw the ropes real plain. What are they doing hanging down from that ceiling? Then she tells me, "You go over there against the wall." About that close to the wall. And I have to stand sideways like this. And she asks me to put up both of my thumbs. And I did. And then she pulled one rope down. And there's a metal band fastened securely. And she fastens that around the joint of my thumb. Then the other one comes down and it fastens around this thumb. And there I am standing there like this facing the wall. And then, you know, she comes over here to the end where there's a...whatever you want to call it, [and] she starts winding. And I start moving. And she's taking me right up in the air. And, you know, when she gets me so just my toes are on the floor - just on my tip-toes - she fastens it. And there I hang. And all the weight of my body is on my thumbs and on my toes. Not a word is said. No one speaks a word. And she walks out of that room and locks the door.
If you know what it means to hear a key locking a door, and know that I'm strung up there like that... you'll never know unless you're a Nun. And when that woman walked out I didn't know how long I'll stay there -- how long that woman will leave me there.
And you know, they didn't come to give me food. They brought me no water. And I thought, "Is this it? Am I going to die back here just like this?" And within a few hours... you can imagine. I'm still a human being. My muscles began to scream out with the pain. I was suffering. And that woman let me hang. And no one come near. And what good would it do for me to cry? You can spill every tear in your body. Nobody will hear you. There's no one there to care how many tears you spill.
And so I just hung there. And finally I began, seemingly I felt like I couldn't stand it - I'll surely die if they don't come and get me quickly. And I felt as if I was beginning to swell. I don't know how long went by, and she opened the door one morning and she had something for me to eat. And the water was in a pan. And it was potatoes. And those potatoes were not good to eat. They were in a pan. And there's a shelf over there on the wall that she can adjust to the height of the Nun. And, you know, she pulled it out.
Now, I'm not against the wall. I'm about this far from it. But to get that food... she puts it there, and she said, "This is your food." And she walks out.
Now, how am I going to get it?
She didn't let my hands down. But this is what you learn. And you struggle to get it. I'm hungry. I mean I'm so thirsty I feel like I'm going mad. And to get it I discovered that this hand goes high and this one will come down a little bit. And I'll keep right on going higher if I lean. I have to reach higher with this one, this one will automatically let down. And to get that water and that food, I mean, I had to get it like the dogs and cats. And I lapped as much of it as I could because I'm so thirsty. And get those potatoes I tried as hard as I could because I'm hungry. I mean I'm hungry. And I got as much of it as I could, naturally. But I was hungry.
That's the way she fed me for a while and then she released the bonds on my hands and on my feet. I shouldn't have said on my feet. She didn't release the bonds. She let me hang there for nine days and nine nights. I almost got it mixed up with one of the other penances that I wanna get to you. I hung nine days and nine nights in this position.
And let me say, the time came when I was so swollen here, and naturally I could see myself puffing out here. I felt like the eyes were coming out of my head. I felt like my arms were apart. They were two or three times their normal size. I felt like I was that way all over my body. And I was like a boil. I was in real suffering.
And then on the ninth day she comes in. And she releases the bonds from my hands and my body. She lets me down on the floor. Now I go down and I can't walk. I'll assure you I didn't walk. I didn't walk for a long time. But you know what, there's two little Nuns that carry me out. One gets under my feet and the other under my shoulders. And they carry me in the infirmary, and lay me on a slab of wood. And there they cut the clothing from my body. And let me tell you right now, nobody but God will ever know -- I'm covered with vermin and filth. Why? I'm hanging there in my own human filth. There are no toilet facilities. Right behind me is a stool. And they have running water in it, and the lid is down and they have sharp nails driven through that lid. If I break my ropes and fall on that, I would suffer terribly.
And this is the life of a Carmelite -- a little Nun behind cloistered doors -
after they've already deceived us -- disillusioned us and got us back there.
Then this is the life that we're living. And these are the things that we're
going to have to do. I'll assure you, it isn't anything funny.
And then I remember, as I lived on in that place, oh, let me tell you, we have to get up out of our bed [at] 4:30 in the morning. The Mother Superior taps the bell, and that means five minutes to dress. And may I say to you folk, it's not five and a half minutes. You better get that clothing on in five minutes.
I failed one time, and I had to be punished for doing it, but I never failed again in all the years in the convent.
And you know when we're finished dressing then we're going to start marching. And we march by the Mother Superior. And that Mother Superior is going to appoint us to an office duty every morning. It might be scrubbing. It might be ironing. It might be washing. It might be doing some hard work. But I have to work one hour. Then we'll go in and gather around the table, and we'll find sitting in front of us our tin cupful of coffee and our slice of bread.
And then, of course, we have hard work to do. I think there were twelve tubs in the convent that I lived in. And we washed on the old-fashioned washboard. We have the old fat iron that you heat on the stove.
And, you know, it wouldn't be so bad if we just had our own clothing in the convent. But the priests bring great bundles of clothing and put them in there because he can get them done for nothing. And we have to do that clothing on top of it. We work very very hard. And they're not able to work because they don't have enough food to keep body, mind and soul together. And those little girls are living under these particular circumstances.
And, I say, we're women without a country. And I mean just exactly what I
say. Women without a country. Now we belong to the Pope. Anything they want to
inflict upon my body they can do it. And all the howling I do, if I should
howl, it wouldn't make any difference because nobody is going to hear me. And
they have no idea that I'll ever leave the convent. The plan is that I'll die
there and be buried there.
VISITING THE CONVENT
Now you say, "Charlotte, can you go into the convent?" Any one of you folks can go into a closed convent -- into the speak room. And there is an outside chapel that you can walk into of any that I know anything about. But you know, don't you just go in there to wander around not to have some place to go, because you might meet something that you're not expecting. If you go there you go prepared to take food to some little girl that's in there. And be sure that you know who you're taking it to. And when you go, as you walk up toward the front of the building, like this, you'll see a bell. And you know what to do because it will tell you. You press a button there and there'll be a gate swing out. It has about three shelves on it. And, of course, you've brought something for someone that you know in the convent. It might be the mother coming to visit her daughter.
And, you know, when that bell is tapped, the Mother Superior is back here behind the big black veil. Now that's a big black gate there. And there's heavy folds of black material clear across there. And you can't go back there. You'll never see the Mother Superior, but she'll answer you through the black veil.
And you might say, "I've brought some homemade candy for my daughter." And
you might ask the Mother Superior to let you speak to her. You can't see her,
but you can speak to her.