Women On Adventure is a blog by K.L. Webber exploring our rich shared history of women's adventure writing. This curated collection of quotations showcases the opinions and experiences of influential female travellers in their own words.

"...slew, wounded, embezzled, and roamed about till the present moment, when I place myself at the feet of your most illustrious Lordship."

His Lordship caught me by the arm, took my weapons from me, and, placing me beside him, led me along into his house. He gave orders that a slight wound which I had received should be dressed, that I should have supper and a bed, and that I should be locked in and the key be taken away. The Corregidor arrived soon afterwards, and had a long talk and argument about the matter with his Lordship, as I gathered later on. 

Next morning, at about ten, his Lordship had me brought into his presence, and asked me who I was, where I came from, who my parents were, and all about my life, how and why I had come there, going into particulars and weaving into his questions good advice, dwelling on the dangers of this life—the fear of death and its consequences—and the dread of the other life for a sinner whose taking off comes without warning; exhorting me to be peaceful, to cultivate a gentle spirit, and to fall down on my knees before God. And this discourse made me feel very small; and, seeing that he was such a saintly man, and feeling as though I were in the presence of God, I revealed myself, and said to him, “My Lord, all that I have told your Lordship is untrue; the truth is this: that I am a woman, that I was born in such-and-such a place, daughter of So-and-So and So-and-So; that I was placed at such-and-such an age in such-and-such a convent with my aunt So-and-So, that I was educated there, took the habit, became a novice, and was about to be professed when, for such-and-such reasons, I ran away; that I went to such-and-such a place, stripped, dressed up, and cut my hair, went hither and thither, embarked, went into port, took to roving, slew, wounded, embezzled, and roamed about till the present moment, when I place myself at the feet of your most illustrious Lordship." 

While my story lasted—that is till one o'clock—the saintly Bishop sat in amazement, listening to me, without saying a word or blinking an eyelid; and, when I had finished, he still sat speechless, shedding scalding tears. 

[…]

Next morning the Lord Bishop said Mass, at which I was present ; he made his thanks- giving, went to breakfast, and took me with him; he renewed his homily and continued it, and at last said that he thought my case the most remarkable one of its kind that he had ever heard of in his life. And he ended by saying, “But is it really a fact?” I replied, “Yes, my Lord!” He answered, “Don't think it odd that so unusual an affair should be a strain on one's credulity.” I said, “My Lord, I have told you the truth, and, if a jury of matrons would set your Lordship's doubts at rest, here I am!” He answered, “Well, I agree to that, and am glad to hear you propose it.” And I withdrew, as it was his reception-time. I dined at noon, and then rested a while. In the afternoon, at about four, two matrons came in, saw me, and were convinced, and after-wards declared on oath before the Bishop that they had visited me, and were duly enabled to certify that they had found me a maid entire, as on the day I was born. His lordship was touched, dismissed the midwives, sent for me, and in the presence of the chaplain who accompanied me, stood up and embraced me tenderly, saying, “My daughter, I believe without a doubt all that you have told me, and I shall believe in future whatever you may say; and I respect you as one of the remarkable people in this world, and I promise to help you so far as I can for your own benefit, and for the service of God.” He ordered a suitable room to be got ready for me, where I stayed comfortably, preparing for my confession, which I made as well as I could; and after this his Lordship gave me Communion. It seems that the truth leaked out, and an immense crowd gathered, it being impossible to exclude important personages — much to my regret and to his Lordship's. 

[…]

On the following day his Lordship told me to look about and choose which convent I should like to live in. I asked leave to see them all, and he gave it, and I visited all, saw them, and stayed four or five days in each. At last I decided on the convent of the Most Holy Trinity belonging to the Commandresses of St. Bernard — a large convent which maintains a hundred nuns with black veils, fifty with white veils, ten novices, ten lay-sisters, and sixteen servants. I remained there exactly two years and five months, till clear proofs were sent from Spain that I was not, and never had been, a professed nun; whereupon, to the universal regret of all the nuns, I was allowed to leave the convent, and I set out on the way to Spain. 

 

Lima, Peru, year unknown

 

Source: Catalina de Erauso, trans., James Fitzmaurice-Kelly, The Nun Ensign, 1626 

Further links:

https://archive.org/details/nunensign00erauiala

http://eada.lib.umd.edu/author-entries/erauso-catalina-de/

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2011-09-16-hernandez-en.html

http://www.headstuff.org/2016/10/catalina-de-erauso-lieutenant-nun/

 

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