Halloween: Time to Celebrate Local Legends and Folklore

In the United States, most of us call the last day of October 'Halloween'. Our modern holiday is a rich mix of ethnic and religious traditions and beliefs, which began with the ancient Celtic festival called Samhain. Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and start of winter, and a good harvest could make the difference between life and death. During the festival, the Celts believed spirits were capable of traversing the barrier between the living and the dead. As a result, the festival became a symbol of life and death, and possessed a mystical element. Over the centuries many cultures have borrowed from this early tradition, and it has become steeped in spooky legend and lore. Romans honored their dead with a day called Feralia, near the end of October. Christians celebrated a pair of holidays called All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day on November First and Second, respectively. These holidays eventually melded together as one and were known as All Hallows' Eve, or Halloween as we know it today. In good Halloween tradition take a look at a newspaper clipping, housed in the ISU Folklore Archives, which tells the tale of a local legend.


The Sisters of Providence and the Civil War: a presentation in Sullivan

Sister Henrietta MacKenzie served as a nurse during the Civil War.
“Cloistered by the majestic forest, the Convent and the Academy at St. Mary-of-the-Woods in 1860 would seem to have been too remote, too securely enclosed, to hear the rumblings of the approaching national disturbance. Echoes of trouble, however, reached even to this secluded spot,” wrote Sister Mary Theodosia Mug in her 1931 monograph of the Civil War, “Lest We Forget: The Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods in Civil War Service.”

And those rumblings would eventually lead the Sisters of Providence to serve the Union as sister-nurses in Indianapolis and Vincennes, Ind.

On Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 105 E. Jackson Street, Sullivan, Ind., Connie McCammon, a communications staff member in the Office of Congregational Advancement of the Sisters of Providence, will present “Lest We Forget: The Civil War Service of the Sisters of Providence.” Connie will share the story of Mother Mary Cecilia Bailly and the courageous sisters who answered a call to service during a turbulent time in the nation’s history.

Connie will also include information about the Wabash Valley Civil War Sesquicentennial Project, a special collection of Wabash Valley Visions & Voices (WV3). Other partners include Indiana State University’s Cunningham Memorial Library, the Vigo County Public Library, the Vigo County Historical Society, the Sullivan County Public Library, the Sullivan County Historical Society and the Sullivan County Clerk’s and Recorder’s Offices.

The public is invited to attend this presentation. For more information about the service of the Sisters of Providence during the Civil War, check out the Congregation’s children’s website, WoodsUp.com.

Learn more about Sister Henrietta MacKenzie, who is pictured above.


Get your daily bread!

What a great old photo from the Knox County Public Library collection! This 1929 photograph shows a G. W. Opell Company bread truck parked on the street in Vincennes, Ind. A group of uniformed employees is standing in front of the truck. The company’s slogan was “Here Comes Your Daily Bread.”

The Knox County Public Library has a great collection of old photographs. The library is located at 502 North Seventh Street in Vincennes.


Celebrating a saint among us

It’s October and for the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., it’s a very, very special month. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin was born Oct. 2, 1798, in Etables-sur-Mer in Brittany, France. As a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, her feast day is celebrated Oct. 3. She was canonized Oct. 15, 2006, by Pope Benedict XVI at a ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in Rome. And lastly, Saint Mother Theodore and her companion-sisters first stepped foot on the sacred ground of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on Oct. 22, 1840.

Indeed, there is much to celebrate this month!

In the Sisters of Providence collection, there is plenty of material that relates to this Indiana saint. In this collection, you can find many artifacts, like the watch above, that belonged to Saint Mother Theodore. Her artifacts include everyday items like sewing kits, sabots (gardening shoes) and wallets to the sacred — her rosary and chaplet.

Learn more about the saint in our midst.