USA Nun Crimes Exposed: Survivor of Catholic 'Magdalene Laundries' in Baltimore, Maryland Speaks Out
666 - USA
Catholic Nuns not only abused, tortured, and exploited thousands of
women in Magdalane Laundries based in Ireland, but it is being
discovered that they did the same in USA...
WASHINGTON, DC — It was
December of 1946 as the harsh winds of a Baltimore winter howled outside
of the ancient dining hall where twelve year-old Patricia Noel sat
struggling to hold back the tears rising up inside her. She felt
abandoned and alone in the world as she tried to hold back the pain that
life had inflicted on the fragile heart of such a young girl.
At eight years old she had lost the only person that had ever mattered
in her life when her mother died. Her father, a heroin addict, had left
long ago, abandoning her mother and two siblings, leaving them destitute
and living on the streets. When her mother died, Patricia and her
brother and sister became orphans and wards of the state. A heartbroken
and innocent young girl, Patricia became swept up in a wave of Social
Service placements that shuffled her through a myriad of institutions
and foster homes.
One of the places Patricia Noel was placed was St. Johns Episcopal
orphanage located in Washington D.C. near the White House, where she
felt loved and cared for. Fears of creating “institutionalized” children
led them to transfer Patricia to a foster home that only returned her
to Social Services. Eventually, at the age of eleven, Patricia was sent
to the Magdalene Laundry in Baltimore, Maryland, run by the Good
Magdalene Covenants were set up by the Catholic Church during the Middle
Ages to provide a place for repentant prostitutes seeking to cleanse
their sins in preparation for marriage. These institutions would take a
darker turn, however, as the industrial revolution dawned and young
girls who violated a strict feminine moral code became slave labor in a
hell they could never have imagined.
They became known as Magdalene Laundries when these institutions began
washing the linens of local hotels and businesses and the uniforms of
the priests and nuns. The young girls sent to Magdalene Laundries were
not paid for their long hours of labor, and the orders that ran these
institutions made a significant profit from the young girls that
suffered. Drawing from an obscure story of Mary Magdalene’s suffering,
the four different orders of Catholic nuns who ran these facilities
adopted a barbaric system of making young women do penance that included
torture and starvation.
As they expanded throughout Europe, Magdalene Laundries also
proliferated into Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Australia and the United
States. The Baltimore Magdalene Laundry in which Patricia Noel was
imprisoned was one of 62 schools Good Shepherd had operated in the
United States since the early 1800s. The last Good Shepherd School in
the United States closed in 2001 in Cleveland, Ohio.
As the car containing the social worker and Patricia approached the
Baltimore Magdalene Laundry, their eyes fell upon enormous stone walls
with jagged glass embedded at the top encircling a large medieval
complex. Large wrought iron gates barred the entrance and as they
opened, Patricia felt as if a cold wind had blown through the depths of
As the car came to a stop Patricia was led by the social worker through
an arched stone entrance into a metal cage with a locked gate. The
social worker pressed a button on a nearby wall. The Mother Superior
rose and approached the locked gate. “What is your name, child?” the
Mother Superior asked unlocking the gate.
Patricia Noel meekly replied, “Patricia,” as her grip tightened on the
social worker’s hand. “As of this moment you may longer use that name. I
will give you a name or you can choose one!” the nun sternly said. “I
choose Teresa.” Patricia Noel replied taking the name of her deceased
mother. There would be many long and lonely nights. When hope was at its
lowest, Patricia would always dream of her mother and the feeling of
her arms encircling her, protecting her from all the evil of the world.
She would smile as the memory of her mother cradled her into dreams of
being together once again and escaping the pain of being an orphan, if
only for a short time.
Patricia was escorted to her new accommodations. As she looked around,
black curtains covered the windows, banishing the sun from the
building’s interior. The girls sent to a Magdalene Laundry were referred
to as “inmates,” and were required to work long hours sewing as their
bruised and bleeding fingers made a profit for the Sisters of the Good
The inmates were allowed to talk for only thirty minutes a day after
dinner. The rest of their waking hours were spent in complete silence.
Survival here could be cutthroat. Many girls became agents of the nuns,
informing on other girls to curry favor and catering to the nuns’ every
whim to escape punishment.
Patricia Noel remembered an eleven-year-old girl named Mary who had lost
control of her bladder as urine spilled across the floor. The Sisters
made her crawl across the floor in her own urine. Patricia remembers the
nuns saying, “You act like an animal so I am going to treat you like an
animal!” The punishments meted out were severe and unrelenting, driving
many of the young girls to the edge of sanity.
In the dining hall, 100 girls ate their dinner seated silently in rigid
positions in groups of four per table. On a platform raised high above
the dining area, a group of nuns sat in high wooden chairs resembling
thrones. Clothed in the habit of the Good Shepherd order, the nuns kept a
vigilant watch as the girls sat eating their final meal of the day. As
Patricia Noel sat cloaked in sadness close to the raised platform, two
of the girls at the table began holding their nose and pointing at a new
arrival that sat among them named Estelle.
As one of the nuns shifted her attention to the disruption in the
strictly enforced protocol, she began to bark orders. “Estelle, take
your chair and sit over by the window!” A timid girl, Estelle slowly got
up and moved her chair close to the towering arched windows. “Estelle,
take your sweater off!” the nun yelled across the room, but the young
girl did not move. “Estelle, I said take your sweater off or else!” the
nun screamed again. The nun looked over at a group of ten girls known as
the Sodality Sisters, whose role as enforcers was well known.
They had “given” themselves over to the nuns and begged to become
Sodality Sisters for the rest of their lives as they were unable to
become nuns due to their sins. They moved toward Estelle and suddenly
she was grabbed and thrown to the ground as they tried to remove her
sweater. Estelle did not budge as the girls began to violently kick and
Patricia Noel watched in horror as the scene unfolded. She began to cry
and tried to leave her seat to help Estelle, but the girls at her table
would not let her move. One of the girls at the table whispered to her,
“Sit down or she will have them beat you too!” Patricia could not allow
the abuse of the young girl to continue.
As Patricia began to rise, the three girls seated at the table got up
and held her down. The white tile floor had now become coated with
crimson, as the blood from the open wounds on Estelle’s face gushed
forth. Her soul teetered on its breaking point. The sound of Estelle’s
relentless beating and her screams of agony reverberated throughout the
“Shut her up before someone hears!” the nun shouted, pointing at
Estelle. “Stuff a towel in her mouth,” the nun ordered as she threw one
of the cloths from a nearby table towards the group of girls. Estelle’s
screams became a muffled cry as one of the girls shoved the towel deep
into her mouth. Patricia tried to close her eyes, but could not ignore
her duty as a witness for these young women who had fallen victim to the
darkness of a Magdalene Laundry.
The next morning, Patricia Noel sat next to Estelle during morning
chapel as she surveyed her bruised and battered form. She became
horrified as she noticed Estelle had bitten off not only her fingernails
but also the skin all the way down to her knuckles. Patricia remembered
the timid young girl she had come to know and her mind struggled with
the cruelty of the scene from last night’s dinner.
In the end, the story of Estelle became one of a young girl consumed by
the darkness of the prison that came to own her as her life dwindled
away after being sent to a mental institution by the Sisters of the Good
Patricia Noel remembers a group of developmentally disabled women, older
than the others, who were kept hidden and herded into an attic when
visitors arrived. These women had spent their entire lives inside the
walls of that institution and it would be their final resting place.
Escape was seldom, if ever, successful. Patricia tells a story of three
Sodality Sisters whose thirst for freedom overcame their fear of
punishment. The young girls used the cover of night to gain access to an
outer door leading into the street. They were apprehended by the police
after only a few days and escorted back to be placed at the mercy of
They had their heads shaved, were beaten and made to kneel on concrete
steps for days. As they made their way back into the general population
of inmates the girls became targets as retribution for the punishment
that they had doled out. Patricia Noel worked with one of the girls and
remembers her name being Joan.
The two eventually became friends and sat together in the dining hall.
After a time the nuns’ punishment of Joan became sufficient enough for
them to reinstate her as a Sodality Sister. At dinner one evening, one
of the girls disobeyed a nun and Joan leapt into action to discipline
her. As she returned to her seat Patricia turned to ask her why she had
hurt the young girl. An argument erupted between the two that quickly
turned physical and after the dust had settled their friendship was
Patricia Noel’s time there was made difficult by two factors. One was
that Patricia was not a Catholic and the second was that she refused to
become one. In an encounter with a nun, Patricia was forced to learn
Catholic doctrine called Catechism, and as she refused to do so, her
anger boiled over and she threw a pencil at the nun. In response to her
actions, her head was shaved and she was made to wear a uniform as she
stood in the dining hall night after night in front of the nuns’ raised
Patricia would survive on the strength of a spirit that would define the
word unbreakable. On birthdays and special occasions, the nuns would
place small amounts of money into envelopes and give them to the
inmates. Patricia Noel refused to take any of the money. She also earned
respect among the other girls who were inmates because she never
reported a single girl.
For Pat Noel, the love of a mother who cared more for her children than
for her own life still burns inside her. She has passed that flame on to
two more generations as her great grandchildren create a happiness for
her only a few can know.
Thanks to: http://www.vaticancrimes.us