Nuns Sold Slaves to Finance to Pay Off Debts and Build a Chapel

Catholic girls’ school was built on profits earned from slavery

There have been many stories of nuns being the victims of abuse while stories of priests being abusers have circulated the internet. However, a new report has found that catholic nuns aren’t always the victims of abuse. The report has scandalized many by revealing that a prestigious Catholic girls’ school was built on profits earned from slavery .

Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School has enjoyed a reputation for being one of the first champions of free education for the poor and impoverished in the early 1800s. The school proudly proclaimed that it was a Saturday school which was free of charge for any young girl or slave who wanted to learn. This was at a time when public schools weren’t as commonplace as they are today, and slaves being taught to read was illegal.

The history that was forgotten was brought to light when a newly hired school historian and archivist investigated the records the convent maintained. The records showed no evidence of the nuns teaching enslaved children to write or read. In fact, she found out the Georgetown Visitation sisters were the masters of at least 107 men, women, and children. To pay off debts and finance the construction of a new chapel and a school, dozens of these slaves were sold.

One of the records, written in 1821 by Mother Agnes Brent, the convent’s superior, shows that she said, “Nothing else to do than to dispose of the family of Negroes.” Mother Agnes Brent said this as she sold a couple and their two children. The enslaved woman was a couple of days away from her third child being born.

The school has acknowledged its dark past and is trying to make amends. They are educating their students about it. Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School isn’t the first school to deal in the buying and selling of slaves. Many other schools engaged in the practice. Many of these schools have reached out to the descendants of these slaves and apologized to them. While they will never be able to right the wrong from 200 years ago, they can make sure that history isn’t repeated.

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