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Berlis, Angela

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“In My Modest Cell I am Not a Rebel”

Lady Charlotte Blennerhassett (1843–1917) and Her Desire for Spiritual Renewal Following the First Vatican Council

Angela Berlis

The contribution explores the question of how people react to situations and experiences of transition and radical change which have a major impact on their own lives. What kind of mindset do they develop in the process, who are their role models and how do they overcome spiritual hardship and marginalisation? The life and work of Charlotte Lady Blennerhassett, née Countess Leyden (1843–1917), serves as a case-study showing how learned liberal Catholics – in this case a lay noblewoman – dealt with their spiritual homelessness in the post-1870 ultramontanised Roman Catholic Church. Blennerhassett’s historical biographies reveal an interest in people in situations of threshold and transition. Through her writings on historical and cultural issues, Blennerhassett addressed topics as freedom, reconciliation of peoples and nations and ethical action. For her, the role of religion in this context was evident. The writings of Charlotte Blennerhassett, “the last European” (as she was described in obituaries), contributed to saving the non-ultramontane heritage from oblivion.