Maria and the Bellasis Family 20
It was lovely to have time at Kattie’s house to get to know her better. Consideringshe is expecting her 9th child within the next few months, she has done remarkably well having us all around. Of course she does have a new nanny. I saw the advert for it in the national newspapers not long ago. She has lots of oher help too She says that her daughter Emily is detrmined this baby will be a girl for her to play with, as the only other girl is 15 years older than she is.
Because we had been talking about Mother Francis’s work on behalf of Cornelia Connelly,
I asked Kattie to tell us what her experiences of her were.
“I am writing upmy autobiograhy for the benefit of my children,” she said. “So I
will let you read the bits about my childhood."
“I had first been sent to the Sacred Heart School at Roehampton, but was not happy there and my health suffered. When I was 14 I was taken out of schoolfor a year and then went to St Leonards in April 1855.
“I was a lively, and at times, rather unruly girl! I had been at home about a year
when Mr. Hope Scott suggested it was time I went to school again, and
as Roehampton had not agreed with my health, Father went down to St.
Leonards to inspect the Convent of the Holy Child Jesus –
recommended to him by Mr. Marshall the School Inspector – who spoke
very highly of its educational advantages. The Order had been formed
by a Mrs Connolly an American who had passed her Noviceship at the
Sacred Heart Convent – She was an extremely clever woman, and
having been married in early life, and had three children she knew
something about the care of them.
“Mother Connolly as I knew her was a very beautiful woman – she was Spanish looking
and had splendid eyes and a pretty American brogue, not too
pronounced – a quaint way of turning her phrases. …. I must have
changed very much in the year I had been at home, as I went to St.
Leonards not desirous to win any ribbon of merit. Revd. Mother gave
me a long rein, and when I used to meet her at the cloisters she
would smile and shake her finger at me, and always called me her
“scapegrace”! I was not strong, so I was allowed to learn my
lessons in the garden in fine weather, and I used to sit on the top
of a hay rick and read Walter Scott’s novels – during recreations
I learnt to milk one of the cows in an evening and had a cup of the
“There was a great mixture of Irish and English girls – and there were so many rows on
St. George’s Day and St. Patrick’s that we were forbidden to
sport red ribbons or roses or shamrocks on the feast day. The biggest
scrape I got into was buying red ribbon and distributing it for St.
George’s feast – it was asked in class who had done this mean and
dishonorable thing – and I remember jumping up and saying “I did,
but I never have done anything mean or dishonorable in my life.”
Revd. Mother wisely put an end to the strife by making all the
English girls invite the Irish girls to a feast on St. George’s day
and vise versa.
“I left when I was 17 in 1857.”
“Do you think Mother Connelly was a saint?”
“Mary, (I can never think of her as anything else) knew her the best of anybody and
if she thinks it is so, I will be happy to agree with her.”
Others who I got to know a bit better while I was there included Mary Belasis wife of
Thomas, the girls’ brother. Her maiden name was Walmsley, and she
told me we were second cousins,which I hadn’t realised before.
As they have children the same age, she is quite friendly with Kattie.