“the female portion of the candidates”

Two selections from an article entitled “Diocese of Hartford,” from The Catholic Telegraph, October 23, 1845. The article discusses the recent “ceremony of confirmation.”

Rev. Mr. Smyth officiated at divine service in the forenoon, (previous to confirmation.) After the reading of the gospel, by the officiating priest, the Right Rev. Bishop ascended the pulpit and read the same aloud, in English; then having had a portion of Scripture selected as a subject for his sermon, suited to the occasion, he delivered an eloquent, though brief discourse, on the stability and infallibility of the Church of Christ, which we believe, gave general satisfaction, — all seemed to like it so well that every one we heard speak of it, regretted its brevity.

Emphasis mine. Skepticism also mine.

What pleased the curious and admiring eye most, and which we much admired, was the neatness, decorum, and order with which the female portion of the candidates for confirmation conducted themselves. They were dressed in white — white being an emblem of innocence and simplicity. The idea, we presume, of being dressed entirely in white, on such occasions, is to show that the interior should be as free from the stains of sin, as the exterior is from a mixture of colors. On the whole, we would just say that their conduct was highly creditable to themselves and their decorous and orderly appearance confers great credit on the ladies who undertook the supervision of them.

This passage is about one-third of the entire article, and really makes me wonder about the young women of Hartford of the 1840s. What on Earth had they been getting up to that their good behavior was so striking?  Or is this report shaming the young men by omission because they got up to trouble during the ceremony?  We may never know.



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