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Author Topic: Babies in church walls
clarinetqueen
Baby 100 Grand


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Good grief, I didn't mean to cause such a controversy. Those who are so quick to judge my teaching methods, I guarantee you have never spent a day in the classroom.

Since most of my students don't have an inherent interest in Medieval music (it is Gregorian chant after all, and most of them are more interested in listening to Kanye West), I really try to take them back to that time period. I briefly mention this story as something I remember being mentioned in my own music history lectures in college. I present it as just that, a STORY, not a truth. And I think legends are important to our society (and so do all of you, if you're here). If we don't learn about them, how else are we going to tell fact from fiction?
Which is exactly what I am trying to do, learn. Sorry to have bothered you.

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Franny
Jingle Bell Hock


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Clarinetqueen - I give you my props. I only made it one year in the classroom.

I do remember that the only time I felt I had my student's undivided attention was when we talked about SPERM whales or URANUS. These were highschoolers. [Wink]

Anything to grab their attention - Keep up the hard work of educating our children

[Smile] [Smile]

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Biggles
I Saw Three Shipments


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Nobody seems to have pointed out that it wouldn't be entirely surprising to find burial sites around churches and other holy sites such as convents.

In the last couple of weeks, renovations to the Auckland cathedral found the remains of nuns who were buried around the cathedral - while some of the nuns remains were exhumed and removed during earlier changes to the building, other graves were overlooked, thus human remains were found under the floors very recently.

Given that in times of plague or war, many people would have died within the walls of convents and monasteries which were often used as schools, hospitals, orphanages and homes for unwed mothers etc. If you look at the link below, remains, including a "high frequency of both infant and small child burials" were found under a church. It would not surprise me if somebody hearing about children's remains being found in a convent and having an anti-catholic prejudice would spin stories of evil nuns; ignoring that buildings change & are built over earlier (holy) ruins in some cases over many hundreds of years including during the black plague.

http://www.lviv.ua/kamianets/excavat/dm/KPF_excavations_dm.html

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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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That's a good point, Biggles.
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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by clarinetqueen:
Good grief, I didn't mean to cause such a controversy. Those who are so quick to judge my teaching methods, I guarantee you have never spent a day in the classroom.

Not as a teacher, but then, I didn't judge your teaching methods, quickly or otherwise. My apologies if it appeared I was doing so. I couldn't tell, from your original post, how you presented the story. And the fact that the story has its roots in some fairly virulent anti-Catholic propaganda is what really makes me question its appropriateness for a classroom.

I would not tell you how to do your job. Questioning the appropriateness of certain topics for the classroom is quite another thing.

You didn't bother me. I hope I haven't offended you.

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jessboo
The First USA Noel


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apart from not seeing how this is anti-catholic (more like just anti bad-nuns!), i wonder how all these nuns managed to time their births to coincide with the construction of a church?

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by jessboo:
apart from not seeing how this is anti-catholic (more like just anti bad-nuns!), i wonder how all these nuns managed to time their births to coincide with the construction of a church?

It's anti-Catholic because it implies that nuns routinely have sex (possibly with the priests), get pregnant and murder the resulting children. They don't necessarily have to time anything, becuase the births are presumed to be happening all the time. And depending on how the churches are constructed, they might not have to do the walling up during construction.

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shifty rob
Jingle Bell Hock


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Sometimes medieval bones didn't end up where they were originally interred, either:

Sedlec Ossuary

I'm sure you could find some babies bones in this place, but it doesn't mean they were "hidden" there.

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Jonny T
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Lainie:
quote:
Originally posted by jessboo:
apart from not seeing how this is anti-catholic (more like just anti bad-nuns!), i wonder how all these nuns managed to time their births to coincide with the construction of a church?

It's anti-Catholic because it implies that nuns routinely have sex (possibly with the priests), get pregnant and murder the resulting children. They don't necessarily have to time anything, becuase the births are presumed to be happening all the time. And depending on how the churches are constructed, they might not have to do the walling up during construction.
And nun automatically equals Catholic because...?

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moonfall86
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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I don't think most people today who spread things like this are intentionally bad-mouthing nuns or Catholics. Did this really originate in that manner?

If nuns did get pregnant, I would expect them to stick the kids in an orphanage instead of killing them (or use some primitive form of abortion)

Could this legend have its origins in pre-Christian history? I remember reading that sometimes children would be sealed into the walls of a new house as a sacrifice (I think it was either the Romans or Celts I was reading about)

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SchmooPie
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by moonfall86:

Could this legend have its origins in pre-Christian history? I remember reading that sometimes children would be sealed into the walls of a new house as a sacrifice (I think it was either the Romans or Celts I was reading about)

As in live children sealed in a wall?
I can't wait to see a cite for this.

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Jason Threadslayer
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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The underground tunnels story may go back to ancient times. The Romans built the Cloaca Maxima, the sewer system for the city of Rome, 2500 years ago. Corpses (like that of Emperor Elgabalus) were sometimes tossed into the sewers in ancient times. The Cloaca Maxima was maintained sometime into the Middle Ages and 19th century in some parts.

Many monasteries and convents were originally Roman buildings or built on their ruins. The Roman sewers were used and maintained by monks and nuns.

These sewers were the sources of the tunnels between monasteries and convents stories (some monastery and convent sewers may have connected). But I couldn't image someone climbing into a toilet, down the toilet shaft, and into the sewers for a romantic rendevouz.

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Elkhound
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Jonny T:
And nun automatically equals Catholic because...? [/QB]

There are very few Protestant nuns. (Yes, there are Anglican orders, and I believe a very few Lutheran ones, but numerically they are overshadowed by their RC sisters. Oh yes, Eastern Orthodox, too--but outside of Greece, there aren't many, given that the communists closed the convents in the other Orthodox countries.)

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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And because the middle ages pre-dated the Anglican schism and the Protestant Reformation, so there were no Anglicans or Protestants.

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meanjelly
Happy Holly Days


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Just to add:

During the 1920’s groups like the KKK used stories like this one to bash the Catholics. They were quite successful.

For example, they were able to get all the Catholic schools shut down here in Oregon. At least until the Supreme Court overturned the law.

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Joostik
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by SchmooPie:
quote:
Originally posted by moonfall86:

Could this legend have its origins in pre-Christian history? I remember reading that sometimes children would be sealed into the walls of a new house as a sacrifice (I think it was either the Romans or Celts I was reading about)

As in live children sealed in a wall?
I can't wait to see a cite for this.

Such stories are told about several castles and churches in Latvia.

About the 13th c. church of Araisi the legend goes that when it was being built, "demons" would come each night and tear everything down.

Remember that this was the time of the forced christianization by the Knights Crusaders of the Baltic region, the last bastion of paganism in Europe.

To placate the demons, a young girl was walled in alive.

It is said that during reconstructions in 1791 a skeleton was found...

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Ghost on Toast
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Oh God you lot - I don't think Clarinet meant anything anti-Catholic by it.

Anyhoo... just FYI the UK is full of legends that when Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries and sent his inspectors around, they found a number of pregnant nuns. Near where live they allegedly bricked one up alive in the wall but it's probably a load of rubbish!
I do know that records show the monks at another priory were drunk during Matins though..

From here : http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/reformation.htm

"The allegations against some monks and nuns 'spoke' for themselves. At Bradley monastic house, the prior was accused of fathering six children; at Lampley Convent, Mariana Wryte had given birth to three children and Johanna Standen to six; at Lichfield Convent, two nuns were found to be pregnant and at Pershore Monastic House, monks were found to be drunk at Mass."

As to it's truthfulness though, I couldn't comment.

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Ghost on Toast:
Oh God you lot - I don't think Clarinet meant anything anti-Catholic by it.

Nobody ever said she did.

ETA: To clarify, we were discussing the original source and intent of the stories. IMO, it's something she should know, and address, if she's going to tell the stories in a classroom.

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tlynch
Eagle Opportunity Employer


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quote:
Originally posted by Jonny T:
quote:
Originally posted by Lainie:
quote:
Originally posted by jessboo:
apart from not seeing how this is anti-catholic (more like just anti bad-nuns!), i wonder how all these nuns managed to time their births to coincide with the construction of a church?

It's anti-Catholic because it implies that nuns routinely have sex (possibly with the priests), get pregnant and murder the resulting children. They don't necessarily have to time anything, becuase the births are presumed to be happening all the time. And depending on how the churches are constructed, they might not have to do the walling up during construction.
And nun automatically equals Catholic because...?
Because this is supposed to have happened in the Middle Ages, which went up until the Protestant reformation (give or take) so there weren't any other Christians building churches. Well, Greek Orthodox but I don't think they had a 'middle ages' down there.
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KevinM
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I've never heard the baby part. From a few books I've read(a very long time ago admittedly) there was a some what similar legend. Supposedly certain ancient buildings have a human sacrafice(an adult) in them to placate the spirits(fae, demons, pagan gods what ever based on era and area). It fell out of practice in the later middle ages from what I recall so I think it may be a hold over from one of the darker pre christian sects in Europe before they fell out of use due to the inquisition.. The occasions in the middle ages seem to be examples of buildings that kept collapsing(as has been mentioned) and the old ways were revived to fix the solution. I may also be completely wrong.
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ConstableDorfl
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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quote:
Originally posted by SchmooPie:
quote:
Originally posted by moonfall86:

Could this legend have its origins in pre-Christian history? I remember reading that sometimes children would be sealed into the walls of a new house as a sacrifice (I think it was either the Romans or Celts I was reading about)

As in live children sealed in a wall?
I can't wait to see a cite for this.

Not a cite, exactly, but a legend proved to have some truth in it.........

(From Wikipedia about Reculver, Kent, where there are the ruins of a 14th century church and a 1st century Roman fort): A legend persists whereby it is reported there is often heard the sound of a crying baby in the grounds of the fort and Church ruins. The Kent Archaeological Society excavations conducted in the 1960s within the fort revealed several infant skeletons buried under the walls of a Roman barrack block which is estimated to have been built approximately between 200-250 AD.

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Joseph Z
Xboxing Day


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There was a movie flashback on Jumanji,

The new family moves in and they heard a story that when the main actor died, they chopped him up and buried him into the walls of the house.

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Joseph Z

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deflowerkid
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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personally, when i think "catholic" i think of so many different things first, and nuns not so much. no, i am not catholic. yes, i was raised catholic.

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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
About the 13th c. church of Araisi the legend goes that when it was being built, "demons" would come each night and tear everything down.

Remember that this was the time of the forced christianization by the Knights Crusaders of the Baltic region, the last bastion of paganism in Europe.

To placate the demons, a young girl was walled in alive.

It is said that during reconstructions in 1791 a skeleton was found...

My guess:

Impopular crusaders move in to build a castle, most likely with the forced labor of the local villagers. Local villagers get pissed, sneak to the building site at nights and tears down what was built. The crusaders are smart enough to realize this, but can't say it openly because they don't want to kill everybody as they need the workforce. So, they decide to make an example, blame demons and wall up a girl from the local village as an example. The villagers are sufficiently scared. Hardly surprising, the demons don't come back.

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/Troberg

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Michelle
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I live in Spain and am told there is church/monastery, been by there but have not yet been there. A friend was telling me when she was there she was also told during her visitation there, about the babies that were found in the walls of this church. I called her and she is looking into more info on who started this. Saying is that a wall came down and they were restoring this wall and when they started to take the wall down they found the babies in the wall. She was there due to people helping to do restoration work there. I am trying to find out who started this, as she has heard it. This is a very old and run down place that looks very sad, kinda what you would see in a scary movie. Not like all the other beautiful churches here. Spanish people are very quiet about these things. It hasn't been but maybe 60 yrs since they have opened up and allowed other countrys options and knowledge in here. As soon as i get word about this i will reply to what i have found. Michelle
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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
A friend was telling me when she was there she was also told during her visitation there, about the babies that were found in the walls of this church.

Considering the topic, the word "visitation" could be taken with one of several interesting meanings! (Maybe you mean "visit"?)

ETA -- Welcome to the message board, Michelle.

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RubyMoon
Deck the Malls


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Older cemetary's in Louisiana and similar old cities in Amercia had the practice of burying people in the ground or in the crypts only until they needed the space for more recent deaths -- then the bones would be taken from the grave and put in wall niches, or other spaces created for that purpuse -- I know there is a name for the wall spaces for the old bones I can't think of it right now. But I think it is entirely possible that there are lots of churches with bones in the walls, remnants of those bone depositories -- and there was alway a high number of infant deaths that there are lots of babies bones that had to be stored. I think when people started restoring the ancient churches they found these bone depositories, and in an effort to discredit the Catholics made up the stories about them being murdered infants of the nuns.

Also I have to comment that since Henry IV had his own reasons to leave the catholic church, and discredit catholics (and take their land for his own profit) I am very very careful in how much I beleive the reports by his people concerning the disolution of the monistaries.

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csel's in 2nd Grade
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Totally floating a theory here, no cites or nothin', flame away....

Reading this thread, I was wondering about consecrated ground. My understanding is (and PLEASE correct me if I am wrong!) that someone who is not baptised before death cannot be buried in consecrated ground. Lots of babies, especially "back in the day", died stillborn or before they could be properly baptised. Could the babies in the walls be a way of helping distraught families? The nuns put the babies in the walls so they would be buried in consecrated ground, even though unofficially? OK, totally conjecture on my part....

RubyMoon, I like your theory, and Louisiana is not the only place things like that happen, so I think it has merit.

edited to fix spelling and clarify....

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Now THAT is a theory that has some bite!

Considering when these incidents are supposed to have taken place, it makes TOTAL sense!

Where do unwed mothers and the mothers of stillborns go? The Church! What does the church do? Dispense comfort (and collect tithes, but I won't go there!)!! "Here, deary, let me take care of this little package for you. We'll see that it receives proper care."

Oh, and by the way, since I haven't run into you before, Welcome to the Boards!!

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musicgeek
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quote:
Originally posted by RubyMoon:
I know there is a name for the wall spaces for the old bones I can't think of it right now.

The word you're looking for is ossuary.

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csel's in 2nd Grade
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Thanks for the ossuary link, musicgeek - I didn't know the term had such a broad definition, very interesting...

TY Malruhn - haven't been posting long, but am familiar with your postings, I take that as a high compliment! I really need to complete my initiation, now that school's out....

Besides the helping distressed parents part, I actually think IF (not saying there was or wasn't) there was a lot of fooling around by the nuns, they tended to have more herbal and medical knowledge than the general population and would have had some idea of how to prevent/end a pregnancy. And if you are a nun who is breaking celibacy rules, the pregnancy rules wouldn't matter much (if they were in existance at that time). So there wouldn't have been a lot of nun's babies to be buried in the walls, anyway.

But that is also pure theory generated from a combination of some reading and my active imagination. [Roll Eyes]

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shifty rob
Jingle Bell Hock


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It may have been missed in the shuffle, but i linked to a site with some really cool photos of the Sedlec Ossuary on the first page of this thread. It's well worth checking out, if I do say so myself.

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RubyMoon
Deck the Malls


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I'm Sorry shiftyrob, I missed your link entirely -- I guess I was in to much of a hurry to put in my two cents worth, which was rude of me. I am on my way now to check out your link.

Edited to add.
Wow that is some ossuary -- I knew such things excisted, but I never imagined them using the bones for the mostrance and chandalleer. I always picture them as dark little literal holes in the walls. Thanks for the link.

Posts: 280 | From: Maryland | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
csel's in 2nd Grade
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Sorry, shifty rob, that I missed the link the first time around, as well - that's truely amazing! It also creeps me out a bit, but all in all fascinating - going to pass it on to a few friends who will find it interesting, as well, maybe use it as inspiration for a larp game site sometime .....

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"What is sin? I think sin is failure to grow."
-Lauren Slater, "Prozac Diary"

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Michelle
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Clarinetqueen, i am talking to you. So far i havn't gotten word but i am working on it. As for visitation on the monastery it is because the spanish dont ask for any help. To most of you, don't use your option because, like i said the spanish are way different because they are very quiet and didn't even allow any other out influance from the outside until around the 40's. As for monastery's they are where priest and nuns live their every day life. This is a place that people don't visit. As for Crypts, they are places that are usually underground right under the church. So that blows alot out your answers likes cls. Babies in the walls of the monastery are something that people would would want to hide, like the nuns. Remember this was the living space and the praying space of the priest and nuns, no one visited there. So do tell how many places have you all heard of in the states that have done this??? And no Ganzfeld i would never do false information that is why i said (when) i fine out,, DAAAAAAAAAA..... And yes Ruby there are alot of bones in walls, they do that because there is a lack of space for the Desist, or as of like out here if they dont pay the price every month they remove the bones. It's that kind of thing when in that kind of situation. Europe especially, is soooo different from the other countries that it would blow peops mind. All i need to say is read you books on Spain's history and then you will learn why they are like they are. I took a college course of spain and it was very amazing and very informative.
Posts: 2 | From: Rota, Spain | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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