This article analyzes the rhetorical practices at a nineteenth-century Catholic school run by women religious for young women of all faiths. This school, St. Mary-of-the-Woods, embraced its motto “virtue and knowledge combi#x201D; to achieve its goal of establishing the French religious spirit in a country with anti-Catholic biases. Teaching lessons based on their French traditions, the sisters replaced lessons in religion with ones on morality and virtue. Thus the sisters promoted their French religious spirit without appearing to proselytize; even without converting students to Catholicism, the sisters succeeded in helping to establish the “French religious spirit” in Indiana.
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