A new way of helping prostitutes
33. Santa Marta house for Prostitutes
Although there were establishments that would take in women who wanted to escape prostitution, they tended to be convents who expected former prostitutes to become religious sisters. Ignatius and his companions realised that not all prostitutes had a great desire to be a nun. So in 1544 they set up a hostel in Rome to house and train these women in more respectable trades such as that of seamstress. Many later married and brought up their own families. To try to avoid charges of using these women sexually, Ignatius prudently found women to run this establishment. Of course, it didn’t stop the tongues wagging but did mean the Jesuits could defend themselves successfully from malicious gossip.
A thought to ponder
Ignatius and his companions did not just engage themselves in ‘safe’ work. They risked tongues wagging by working with prostitutes and courtesans.
Has fear of being thought badly of or gossiped about ever stopped you from doing what you feel would have been good?
Are you still too frightened about what people might say to follow your heart?
Scripture for the Day
As a way of praying today’s Scripture we suggest Imaginative Contemplation.
Luke 7:36-50 NRSVACE
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment.
She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.’
Jesus spoke up and said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ ‘Teacher,’ he replied, ‘speak.’
‘A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
When they could not pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them.
Now which of them will love him more?’
Simon answered, ‘I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.’
And Jesus said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’
Then turning towards the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman?
I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.
Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’
Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’
But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves,
‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’
And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’
Music for Today
My Song is Love unknown sung by St Martin’s singers written by Samuel Crossman
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