Laughs and Other Moments of Happiness Among the Augustinians


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Hospital work is obviously serious in itself, but nothing comes in the way of a few moments favorable to a good mood or even humor. Le Monastère des Augustines’ archives are full of documents that testify that the life of the Augustinian Sisters is one of joy, pleasure and laughter. The pictures of the various monasteries illustrate that these women knew how to have fun with each other, but also with those whom they met, as much at the hospital as outside of the conventual setting. Here are some pictures that will probably make you smile.

Easter Parade

At certain festivals, the Augustinian Sisters took the opportunity to dress up. The photo below was taken in 1959, on the occasion of a special evening to celebrate Easter. We see nuns dressed up as rabbits, pulling another sister sitting in a small bogey. The latter, presumably installed in a giant egg, seems to have a lot of fun. Moreover, it is clear that the nuns in the foreground have a smile, hidden behind their mustaches and their bunny teeth.

Parade soirée de Pâques
Easter Evening in the Remparts Wing’s Community Hall, 1959.
© Archives du Monastère des Augustines, Fonds Monastère de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec.

 

Missionary Happiness

The following snapshot was captured during an Augustine mission to a hospital on the African continent in 1952. Two nuns each have a toddler and two young children are sitting quietly in front of them. The nuns seem very happy, even proud, to take this picture. Despite the children’s lack of a smile, we will notice in the background a seated man who seems to smile discreetly at the sight of this scene.

Religieuses et des enfants en Afrique
Picture of Two Missionary sisters in Front of a Hospital in Estcourt, Natal, Africa, 1952.
© Archives du Monastère des Augustines, Fonds Monastère de l’Hôpital Général de Québec.

 

Fun in a Barrel

The following picture will surely make a lot of people react. We see a novice squatting on a wooden wheelbarrow, as well as a postulant in a barrel. These smiles undoubtedly testify to the good mood that prevailed when taking the pose. This photo was taken before 1948, on the grounds of the Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis. In the background, you can see part of a hospital wall.

A Postulant in a Barrel and a Novice Posing Outside, before 1948.  © Archives du Monastère des Augustines, Fonds Monastère de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis.

 

Birthday Mills 

The Augustinian Sisters have more than one opportunity to dress up. In this case, we see nine nuns from the Hôpital Général de Québec around a miniature mill. They also wear a hat representing the roof and wings of a windmill. The occasion for such a staging? The 25th anniversary celebration of profession of the Mother of the novices. The picture was taken in October 1960. The choice of the mill must be closely linked to the fact that the Hôpital Général de Québec had its own mill. The latter still exists when approaching Langelier Boulevard, in Québec City.

Picture of a Group of Nuns Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Profession (Silver Jubilee) of the Mother Mistress of Novices. October 1960. © Archives du Monastère des Augustines, Fonds Monastère de l’Hôpital Général de Québec.

 

Dying of Laughter? 

This last picture, taken at the Hôtel-Dieu de Montmagny, is very surprising. It shows the nurses’ school’s skeleton, installed behind a mimeograph machine. The staging is an achievement of the company that supplied the machine. The nuns probably found this very funny, considering that the picture was in a souvenir album of the Montmagny community. The use of the machine probably required a lot of patience…

Squelette et machine à polycopier
Skeleton behind a mimeograph machine, around the 1950s. © Archives du Monastère des Augustines, Fonds Monastère de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Montmagny.

 

 

Hugues St-Pierre