Sunday, January 16, 2005

Trish Wilson linked to this list of Maryland ghost stories. I was particularly amused by this one:

Ellicott City - St. Mary's College - Hell House - The building was founded in 1866 and it's main building was erected in 1868. It is actually in Ilchester, MD not too far from Ellicott City. It is said that it was a catholic all girls school and the cardinal had impure thoughts which he took out on 5 nuns. A nun came foward and told the archbishop and the cardinal had to leave. The nuns were later killed and place above an inverted pentegram. Later more girls and nuns died and the school was closed down in 1972. Some say that the nuns at the school were practicing satanic rituals and some say that the cardinal came back to get his revenge. Unfortunately, the school burned down Halloween night in 1997 and authorites still do not know the cause of the fire. Some people have heard screams, girls laughing, and have seen a strange shadowy figure on the premises. There are tunnels underneathwith drawings in red of pentegrams and other markings. - A note to all who go, be careful because the building is no longer stable.

That story, minus the ghosts, could be taken straight out of a 19th century anti-Catholic convent novel. (I'm slightly obsessed with these things. They're salacious, sometimes quasi-pornographic novels or "memoirs" that purport to tell about the horrible, horrible things that supposedly befell nuns in convents. It was, of course, deeply painful for the authors to discuss these horrible, horrible crimes, but it was nonetheless necessary to describe them in exquisite detail, so that virtuous Protestants could avoid such a fate.) It has all the right elements: underground tunnels, lecherous priests, murdered nuns, sinister rituals... it's only missing the pure, Protestant maiden who will see the light of Scripture and rescue herself from a life of Catholic sin. I don't think anyone writes or reads convent novels anymore, but it's interesting to see that the basic plot seems to survive in folklore.

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