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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Today Sister Saint Aloysius and I were going through the couch cushions and coat pockets and everywhere else we could think of looking for loose change. Money is tight at the convent even though Sister Mary Fiacre doesn't eat much. Truth be told she eats like a horse, we just don't feed her much. Lets' face it, she doesn't need the fuel. She would continue eating as long as there is food in front of her.

Anyhow, this being Sunday, we were looking for a little money with which to tithe, when I ran across a medal in a box on the shelf. I had forgotten that we ever had such a thing, but here it is. The pagan baby medal. You can see the Pope himself blessing two former pagans right on there. Don't they all look happy? And so well groomed. We used to give these to the children whenever they bought a pagan baby.

All the children would put their loose change in a can on Sister's desk. Each pagan baby cost five dollars. When we got five dollars the children would pick a name for the pagan baby, send the five dollars to the priest at the mission who would snatch the baby from an eternity of suffering and baptize it with the name we sent along. Then we got a certificate and the children got a medal. All for $5. Sally Struthers, eat your heart out.

I've lost count of how many pagan babies we have purchased from the jaws of hell over the years. Roughly ten each year in each class room, 3 classrooms to a grade level (during the baby boom), first through eighth grades (the kindegarteners used their nickels for milk, the older kids can get rickets and offer it up). I might need a slide rule here.....if each classroom was saving at least ten pagan babies, then our school alone would have grabbed 240 little souls away from an eternal life with Mr. Satan, (formerly St. Lucifer). Over how many years? I've lost track. And at how many Catholic schools across the country or even the world? Mind boggling.

But that's a boat load of pagan babies. We may have run out of names. We may have had pagan babies named "Chip" and "Jessica" or "Smiley".

I got to thinking about all those former pagan babies when it struck me! We need to have a pagan baby reunion! I did meet an actual former pagan baby once. He had become a priest, so the system really, really worked.

So tell everyone! Log in here at Sister Mary Martha and make yourselves known. We know you're out there! We'll have a party! We'll have cake..........unless Sister Mary Fiacre gets her mitts into it. She'll eat the whole thing.


CMinor said...

Well, you've brought back a memory. Though we always got seals, for some reason. (The sticker-y kind, not the marine mammal.)

Sister Mary Martha said...

Miss Minor, please be so kind as to spread the work about the reunion to any pagan babies you know.

I'm sorry you merely got a sticker. Like St. Bernadetter, your reward will not be in this world. Maybe a loving cup awaits you or a pagan baby statuette.

Jovan-Marya Weismiller, T.O.Carm. said...

I "bought pagan babies" as an adult. I honestly thought it was just a cute fundraising scam by the mission orders, so I chose good solid, medieval Catholic names like Cunegunda and Guthlac! Imagine my surprise years later, on meeting a member of the Order that I had contributed to and being told that they had actually used the names I submitted! I can only hope that the priests were intelligent men and used them as middle names and gave sensible first names!

Anonymous said...

Can you please send me some information regarding the pagan babies? How is it done?

Anonymous said...

In Hebrew School we used to sing the words Pagan Pagan Baby instead of Dradle Dradle Dradle, while we kidnapped Pagan Babies and ransomed them to Catholic School kids. It was so much fun.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you leave the pagans alone and deal with the corruption in your own church.

Ah, I miss the days when Christians were fed to lions. I bet the lions were happy and well groomed. That system REALLY, REALLY worked, too!

Anonymous said...

Come On! I kept half of all the money to buy junk at "Little Store" right up the street from the convent where I went to school. Maybe that's why I never received a medal!!!
I didn't have many pagan babies. It was fun and all that but I always thought it was a scam!
But those French Nuns would really push the babies. Not to metion Preium-I only received one medal in 8 years time. That was soooo encouraging. I didn't like giving flowers to statues either! May Day consisted of walking the grounds and giving all the statues lilies. We had to pray and talk to them outloud. Hummm what else really screwed all the kids up? Oh yeah, The Golden Practice. Yes, I scored high on that too. My little lamb hardly ever got to go up each step. And the Potatoe Procession....every day in December. Now what school would take the time to have each child line up and take a potatoe out of one basket and put it into another basket....if you were good - didn't talk outloud the day before. So if you didn't get a potatoe, you din't get to move your lamb up a stair! No wonder I still scream in my head silently! I wanted my damn lamb to move up the stairs. Oh the stories I could tell. What a way to be educated. Hi to all my old friends at the convent. Let's have a Conge- I loved the ants on those days. We can have a conge any day....it would be fun. Hope all of you are not messed up in the head after all these years!!! God Speed to you all. Vicki

Smiley said...

But that's one heck of a lot of pagan babies. We may have run out of names. We may have had pagan babies named "Chip" and "Jessica" or "Smiley".

I object!! just cause i'm not a westerner that does not make me a pagan baby.

Anonymous said...

"you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ"
(1 Peter 1:18, 19)

Anonymous said...

As fun as it is to tease about the whole "pagan" baby stuff as a part of childhood, the program is continuing. See the Holy Children Association new website (for kids) at http://www.hcakids.org/ .

For the reason we did (and do) it, see Pope Pius X1 's encyclical (specifically mentioning sharing our allowances) at http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius11/P11REREC.HTM .

And during my less politically correct childhood (50's and 60's), the certificates we received for our contributions (attached) actually called them "pagan baby".

I recently saw the coolest satire on the whole thing - some guy claiming he'd been a purchased baby from Nigeria, then launched into the classic Nigerian Internet scam about a lottery deal he'd let his former contributors in on, now ... LOL

Yvonne said...

If pagan babies are going to hell then does that mean all the people before Christianity went to hell?
Paganisn is one of the first documented religions on earth!!! It is amazing how "gullible" people can be thinking paganism is bad. Did you know some of those " pagan witches" were called upon to exorcise the devil out of people? You "gullible" ones better study up more on the paganism before you pass judgment. Or don't---so people like me can laugh at your ignorance!!

Dr. Weighty said...

“Buying Pagan Babies”
— An email collaboration by Clare Condon, John W. Condon, and Isabelle Smith

On Wednesdays, when we'd buy pagan babies ...

Sister Charitina would make sure all the money was anonymously pooled so that everyone would have equal ownership of the five-dollar infant.
She filtered out the Lincoln pennies and stashed them in her old coffee can, for "the convent fund," she'd say, "so we can buy candy for Halloween." We believed her. She had an aluminum trash can in the rear closet of our classroom, filled with old candy. Some of it so old that the once-brown chocolates had crystallized and started to turn Ash Wednesday gray.

We weren't really sure that all our pagan baby money didn't go to the convent fund for Halloween candy. Mary Catherine McCarthy threw out the idea that the stale chocolate candies in the trash can in the rear closet were actually shriveled up pagan baby souls that hadn't made it to Baptism. She opined that Purgatory was just a dump anyway and the trash can was a transfer station.
In the end, we silently, collectively decided to ignore the possibilities of lost souls, and each Thursday at 12:30, when Sister Charitina offered to sell us the mystery candy for a penny a pop, we jumped at the chance. We needed cane sugar more than Cain and Abel.
Mary Catherine McCarthy said that Sister Charitina wanted to be a priest but she couldn't. So, selling us candy pagan baby souls was her way of offering Communion.

One Wednesday after we had bought a pagan baby that we named Eugene, Tony Tomassino's wandering left eye got to wondering. He raised his hand.
"Stand up, Anthony," said Sister Charitina. "What is it?"
"What happens to souls of the pagan babies that we don't buy?" asked Tony Tomassino. "Mary Catherine said they turn into little chocolate candies."
The silence was thundering. Angel wings stopped fluttering. Norman Kalinsky stopped eating the pages from his catechism. Patty Accolytis sat up straight.
"Mary Catherine, did you say that?" asked Sister Charitina. Mary Catherine McCarthy stood up straight and calm. "No, Sister, I did not," she answered.
"Anthony, come here!" commanded Sister Charitina. Tony Tomassino slowly made his way to the front of the room with his hands outstretched. Whack! Whack! The ruler came down— straight-edged metal side—squarely on his knuckles. "Now go back to your seat, Anthony, put your head on your desk, and pray to the Blessed Virgin to implore her Precious Son to have mercy on your soul."

I kept my eyes open for pagan babies years later in Vietnam. I was pretty sure that the ones I saw were all heathens, but there was not a decent pagan among them. Later, traveling in Texas, I met some bikers who claimed to be pagans, but none of them had any babies, though if they had I think that they might have sold them. I never got to the bottom of this nor any of the other mysteries recounted to me by Sisters Agatha, Consolata, Genevieve, Theodora, & Laboré. Along the way I've met a few more pagans and not just a few heathens. Most of them lived in a world much more similar to the one I encounter than like anything described by the Dear Sisters. Still, I have those women, and my old Mom, if she has anything to say about it, to thank for my near-perfect grammar. The punctuation, on the other hand, is all mine.

Sandra Lee Koenig said...

Who was in charge of rounding up those Pagan babies to be bought? Did the nuns just infiltrate a third world country somewhere or keep tabs on homes for unwed mothers back in the day? These are questions our little minds back then never thought of. Had we been more mature, I don't think those "sisters" would have gotten away with it. They probably collected all our pennies and spent them at Bingo!

keena said...

well, at saints peter and paul school, we did not have communal pagan babies. we had to cough up the 5 dollars for our very own pagan baby. I always looked enviously at the bulletin board at the flowers showing those lucky catholics who could afford five dollars. I never got a whole pagan baby.

Patty Macias said...

Hello Sister! While written some time ago, thanks so very much for this post! While we don't "ransom pagan babies" anymore, the Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood continues to provide care for children in some 1,100 Mission dioceses throughout the world! In fact,just recently in the Diocese of Lodwar, Kenya, one of the areas most affected by the current drought and famine, a contribution of $6,000 from HCA helped a Church-run nutrition program for 1,200 infants and toddlers. Just $5 provides the food that is lovingly offered by priests and Sisters (many of whom are the pagan babies you remember), to a hungry child!

Anonymous said...

Yes our school too had the pagan baby ever going campaign. We never received any medals, most of the time sister named the baby and while it was a good idea to encourage young people to contribute to the missions, too frequently we were coerced to give. For those of us who just about had something to eat ourselves, it was sometimes embarassing to be asked to give something, when we didn't have it ourselves. Good program, bad way to obtani the funding for it.

Anonymous said...

Using an inflation calculator, 5 bucks in 1967 was about 35 bucks today(2013). I think it helped children think beyond themselves - one of Christ's messages then as now. Hopefully we are instilling this message yet today.

Mary Michaelle said...

did anyone mention the big chart on the wall that got the stickers. The babies were in different colors - yellow, brown, and black. They would then be put on the Pagan Baby Tree. We did this for 1-6 grades. I thnk 7th and 8th graders were much to cynical. We didn't all contribute - we were on our own to get the $5.00 and there was a contest for the most sold by someone. Holy Card for each one and the winner - most sold -got a medal but not that cute pagan baby one, just one that sister had around.

Unknown said...

A friend of mine named his sailboat "Pagan Baby".

Anonymous said...

In eight grade, we were each given a sheet of drawing paper. We had to divide the paper into 20 rectangles. Everytime we brought in a nickel to school for the pagan baby, we got to color one of our rectangles. When you had colored in all 20 squares, you were done with your $1 donation for the babies. It was really embarrassing for kids who did not bring their money and as a result had none or few colored rectangles.

Anonymous said...

I saved a lot of those little buggers. I named one Richard John Joseph.