The Sisters of Ecstasy Pt. 01

Mayıs 1, 2024 Yazar admin 0

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On the Descent of the Catholic Church into Corruption, Degradation, and Sin: A Cautionary Tale

Fraulein Susanne von Rauschenberg was admitted as a novice to the Abbey of Saint Hildegard in the southeast corner of the duchy of Brandenburg in October of 1523. She had told her father that she had been called to the monastic life by God himself. The honorable Herr Christoph von Rauschenberg, a devout Christian who had been burdened with too many daughters, had been only too happy to offer her dowry money to church and be rid of the task of marrying his middle daughter off. On the eve of her 20th birthday, he took Susanne to the convent in a carriage, where he left her in the hands of the formidable Abbess, Mother Maria Anne.

In truth, what had called Susanne to the monastic life was not so ephemeral as the mystical whispering of God in her ear. She had been drawn to this particular abbey by the sensual pleasures of its music and architecture. The sisters of the abbey were famous for their choir, which performed the masterworks of composers the likes of Josquin, Ockegehm, and Palestrina. Susanne had the good fortune of attending services at the abbey on occasion. Sitting in the pews, the sounds of the choir subsuming and consuming her, Susanne had looked up at the vaulted ceilings of the Gothic chapel and resolved to give herself wholeheartedly to the ecstasy of this worship. It was an embodied piety. Susanne felt it course through her veins, tensing her muscles and quickening her breath.

The sisters of Saint Hildegard had long been criticized for their weakness for the beauty of material things. It was a comparatively wealthy abbey, and its members occupied themselves primarily with aesthetic tasks: singing, embroidering, and illustrating manuscripts. Martin Luther himself, the protestant fugitive with a growing army of discontents, had condemned the abbey. What blatant evidence of the decadence of the Catholic church, he had proclaimed, that its female devotees lust so after beauty, worshipping their embroidery as if it were God himself!

Susanne, however, had never read Luther’s pamphlets, which these days circulated through the province of Brandenburg like wildfire. She had never been taught to read. In her world, God was the painted walls of the abbey chapel, the nuns with their fresh faces and graceful wimpled bodies, and the heavenly sounds of their worship. God was the paintings of fantastical scenes that adorned the chapel walls and the delightfully wretched plight of martyrs they depicted. It was to these things that Susanne resolved to dedicate herself. She was to be wedded to God, to submit herself to the ecstatic and excruciating pleasures of His embrace.

And so she now found herself in the entrance hall of the Saint Hildegard monastery, face to face with Abbess Maria Anne, her head bowed, awaiting instructions on how to begin to integrate herself into her new vocation as a sister of the monastery. The abbess was a tall woman of around forty with a pale, aristocratic face. Susanne thought she looked like she should be in a painting; every inch of her seemed positioned exactly where it should be. She smiled at Susanne, surveying her body with the possessiveness of a woman used to being in charge of her own world. And indeed, Susanne was to learn, Maria Anne was the undisputed ruler of the small world that flourished within the convent’s grounds.

“Your father has written to me that you received a call to commit yourself to the life of the monastery,” she said. “Did the Lord come to you in your bed at night and whisper sweet things in your ear?”

Susanne detected the unmistakable edge of sarcasm in the abbess’s voice and was unsure how to respond. “I…I don’t think so,” she said.

“Tell me, why are you really here?” The Abbess directed a penetrating stare in Susanne’s direction.

Susanne resolved to tell the truth. “Well, I’ve heard your singing, and I thought it was so beautiful, and the abbey was so beautiful…”

Maria Anne smiled. “Our life seems a pleasurable one to you, doesn’t it?”


“For some, it certainly is. You will stay here for one month and accustom yourself to the life of the monastery, after which you will decide whether you really want to stay with us. Do you understand?”


“You will address me with ‘yes, ma’am.’ We live a disciplined life here, Susanne. It is not all singing and embroidery, as our critics might suggest.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“You may follow me to the chapel. Evensong is about to begin.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Susanne repeated. Maria Anne walked from the entrance hall of the abbey through the cloisters and into the chapel. Susanne followed a few steps behind her, intimidated by the abbess’s imposing command over her surroundings. She entered the chapel with the abbess through a side door at the front and walked silently toward the back pew. Her attempt to make herself go unnoticed failed spectacularly. The twelve nuns of the chapel sat in Maltepe Sınırsız Escort the front rows in identical black and white wimples. Susanne still wore the green brocade gown she had worn on the way to the abbey, her long hair tied in a bun, her jewelry glimmering ridiculously on her bosom. She took her seat behind the nuns and bowed her head in prayer, attempting to ignore the stares that were directed at her.

The sisters in the front row opened their books of sheet music and began to sing the evening prayers. The sound reverberated throughout the chapel, bouncing off of its stone walls and soothing Susanne’s worries. Susanne looked up at the the curve of the chapel’s gothic ceiling beams, guiding her eyes upward toward the infinite expanse of the heavens. Yes, she thought, this would be a good life. She would gladly live with the discipline the abbess required of her for the privilege of this view.


Maria Anne observed the convent’s new recruit with interest. She seemed on all counts to be an excellent fit for the abbey-eager, obedient, hungry to learn. The obvious joys she took in the pleasures of the abbey’s aesthetics were promising. She would be taught to read and sing like the sisters of the abbey, and her talents would surely blossom under their tutelage.

Susanne was young. Not as young as many girls were when they first entered convents as novices, certainly, but there was a freshness about her that made her seem younger than her years. Her wide eyes and doll’s face were appealing in their innocence. The abbess enjoyed young ladies. She enjoyed the smoothness of their skin, their openness to new experiences, the malleability of their character. Yes, Susanne could be molded into a very pleasing devotee to the ways of the convent.

Had Susanne guessed, the abbess wondered, the convent’s secret? Maria Anne knew that scandal travelled faster than lighting these days with the printing presses. Did this eager young recruit know what this particular abbey was infamous for? She decided to let Susanne discover for herself, if she had not already guessed, the unusual character of the nuns’ worship.


Susanne spent much of her first few weeks at the abbey being taught to read and speak Latin by a willowy nun named Mathilde. She found the studies exhilarating. To have seen the mystical lines scribbled on pages all her life and to suddenly be told what they meant seemed a fantastic gift. She felt as if she were being offered admittance to a secret society of those who could understand what was written in books. Mathilde was kind to Susanne and sympathetic of her many errors, and she offered some insight into the workings of the monastery.

“You’ll see lots of women around,” she told Susanne on the first day, “who aren’t sisters themselves. Doing the cooking and cleaning and such.”

“Why don’t the nuns do that work?” Susanne inquired. In most convents, the sisters themselves performed all the necessary labor of keeping the convent running and its members fed.

“We have had some very kind donations from some very wealthy families,” explained Mathilde. “We are all ourselves ladies of decent backgrounds. It suits us to devote ourselves to higher pursuits.” And indeed, the nuns of Saint Hildegard spent their days in between prayers embroidering fine linens, reading and writing music, and illustrating manuscripts. Having always grown up with the comfortable sense of entitlement that came with being a member of a noble family, Susanne felt at home in this environment. She began her own stretch of embroidery on her second evening at the convent, embroidering gold borders around a piece of white cloth.

And yet there seemed to be something about the sisters’ lives at the convent that was just slightly off rhythm-something Mathilde had neglected to tell her. Susanne could not pinpoint it at first. On the surface, the nuns’ lives were strictly regimented. Seven times a day, the chapel bells would ring, and all the sisters would gather in the chapel for prayers. It dawned on Susanne one day during Matins prayers that the irregularity in the rhythm of the nun’s days lay in the almost inconspicuous absences of several nuns at a time from group activities. There were ten nuns present at today’s Matins prayer-where were the other two? And yesterday at dinner, there had been three nuns missing. Once Susanne noticed the first absences, they became impossible to ignore. She also noticed patterns: Sigrid and Marta were often absent at the same time, for instance, as were Iris and Birgit.

On Susanne’s third Saturday evening at the convent, Maria Anne asked Susanne to fetch her prayer book from the chapel. Susanne was happy to be receiving the abbess’s attention and eager to prove her obedience, and she made haste to the chapel to collect the abbess’s book.

In the dark chapel, Susanne heard an unfamiliar sound. At first, she thought it might have been the mewing of a cat or the crying of a Maltepe Suriyeli Escort baby. But no, the sounds were made by a woman. Someone was moaning, alternating pitch from a high whine to a low growl, and breathing heavily. In the acoustics of the chapel, it was difficult to determine where the sound was coming from; it seemed to emanate from the walls and ceilings themselves. Susanne detected the flickering light of a candle from inside the confessional booth and approached it with caution. Peering into the booth, she had to clap her hand over her mouth to keep herself from gasping.

Lena, the choir mistress, was seated on the priest’s bench, the skirt of her habit hiked up so that the voluptuous expanse of her thighs was visible. Kneeling before her, her face buried in Lena’s most intimate parts, was Mathilde, Susanne’s Latin teacher. Whatever Mathilde was doing, it was eliciting a succession of intense sighs, gasps and moans from Lena. Lena rocked back and forth, her eyes wide, her hand grasping Mathilde’s hair. “Keep going, I’m almost there!” she exclaimed, breathing heavily. Lena was a well-respected member of the convent, who commanded the choir with the discipline of a military sergeant. Susanne had never once seen her lose control like this.

Susanne tried to take in what she was seeing. She had learned years ago that she could bring herself pleasure by rubbing those intimate parts of herself with her hand, alone at night. She had never explicitly been told that it was sinful, and she had declined to ask out of fear that the answer would be yes. She had never thought to imagine, though, that these same parts might be stimulated with the tongue, with what seemed to be thoroughly pleasurable results. It was an enticing scene to watch. The beauty of Lena’s fat legs, the dutiful submissiveness with which Mathilde worked sighs and moans out of her, the ecstasy on Lena’s face. Susanne felt her insides swell with moisture. Was this a godly pleasure or a satanic one? She was not sure.

Lena climaxed with a spectacular succession of cries and moans. Suddenly, she looked up from where she was sitting, straight into Susanne’s eyes.

Susanne took a frightened step back. Lena’s eyes bored into her, not with accusation but with levelled curiosity. She beckoned Susanne to come forward-to participate herself, perhaps, in the revelry-but this Susanne would not let herself do. She turned away, hastened to the front pew to collect the abbess’s prayer book, and ran out of the room.

She ran toward Maria Anne’s chambers, knocked, and was allowed to enter. She could see that the abbess observed the alarm written on Susanne’s face, but Maria Anne said nothing. She simply thanked her for the book and dismissed her. Susanne did not tell the abbess what she had seen. She had a suspicion that the abbess already knew.

All that night, Susanne dreamed about the scene she had witnessed. The next day, it invaded her consciousness. The thought of Lena’s ecstasy and Mathilde’s services to her seeped into her thoughts while she prayed in the chapel the next day. It pestered her while she practiced her latin reading with Mathilde, who said nothing to Susanne about the whole encounter. Susanne resolved that she would return to the chapel that night and see if she could observe the scene again.

That night, she left the dormitory in haste and walked alone to the chapel. Upon entering, she immediately heard a familiar moaning and sighing coming this time not from the confessional but from behind the altar. She approached the altar, listening to the sounds of the woman’s orgasm. This orgasm, however, was lower pitched than Lena’s had been last night. The woman enjoying it seemed to be an alto, emanating deep, guttural ascensions. Susanne peeked her head around the altar and saw two nuns on floor, one kneeling and straddling the face of the other. She recognized the woman on top to be Gretel, the convent’s resident theologian. Gretel was a small woman with a fiery disposition and an encyclopedic memory of theological history. She sat on the other nun’s face and pulled at her hair with an expression of calm mastery, mercilessly extracting pleasure from the other woman’s labor.

Gretel looked up at Susanne and, staring into Susanne’s eyes, she climaxed. Her whole body contorted, tensing and releasing its pent up energy. Susanne felt her face flush and her breath quicken.

“You like what you see?” Gretel asked.

“I…yes.” Susanne lowered her head.

“Good. Very good.” Gretel surveyed Susanne, trying to read her reaction to the spectacle she had seen. At last, she grunted in satisfaction. “Run off to bed now. You’ll get your chance to be where Sarah is soon enough.”

“Yes ma’am,” said Susanne, bewildered. She turned and left the chapel, her mind buzzing with possibility. She no longer had any doubt: this was the sisters of Saint Hildegard’s secret pastime. This was what the nuns were doing during their conspicuous absences Maltepe İranlı Escort from prayers and meals. It seemed to be a common and commonly accepted practice. And it seemed to be a practice in which Susanne was expected to engage if she was to become a nun of the monastery. Susanne was intrigued by this possibility-to touch and be touched so intimately by another woman, to be used by her as Gretel had used her partner.

Was it strictly in keeping with the nuns’ vows of chastity, Susanne couldn’t help but wonder, to exploit such obvious lust for each other’s bodies? But she thought that if Gretel, with her vast knowledge if theological history, had given it her moral seal of approval, surely it must be alright.

The next Saturday, Susanne announced to the abbess that she wished to commit herself to the life of the monastery.


“She told you she liked it?” Maria Anne was interrogating Gretel.

“Yes, I asked her ‘do you like what you see?’ And she said yes.”

“And she seemed sincere?”

“She seemed aroused.”

Maria Anne clucked in satisfaction. She had taken note of Susanne’s confusion on the day that the abbess had asked her to fetch her prayer book from the chapel where Lena and Mathilde had been. Maria Anne had struggled to interpret the expression-was it shock, horror, or excitement? With Gretel’s revelation, she now had no doubt that the girl was committing herself to the abbey in full knowledge and approval of the nuns’ discreet pastime. The abbess had guessed correctly on Susanne’s first day: the girl was eager for new experiences.

“She has no idea what she’s in for,” chuckled Gretel. “I’ll have everything prepared for the ceremony tonight.”

“Please do,” said Maria Anne.


All twelve nuns were present for prayers in the chapel on Saturday evening. Susanne sat behind the nuns as she always did and listened to their singing, eager for the day when she could read well enough to join them. The prayers ended, but the sisters stayed where they were. Maria Anne addressed them. “Today,” she began, “we initiate Susanne to become a novice of the Sisters of Ecstasy.”

The Sisters of Ecstasy? Susanne had never heard the nuns referred to by that name before. “You may come forward and kneel in front of us,” said Maria Anne. Susanne obeyed. Maria Anne called forward Mathilde, who produced a long grey dress and head covering, the outfit of a novice of the monastery, for Susanne to wear. “Take off your clothes, Susanne,” ordered the abbess.

“Right here in front of everyone?”


Frightened but exhilarated, Susanne fumbled to remove her dress and her underthings. She set them aside quickly, aware that every eye was now on her exposed body, and reached for the new clothing.

“Not just yet,” said the abbess. “Kneel in front of us like you are.”

Susanne breathed in sharply but did not protest. She folded her arms behind her and bowed her head in submission. “Yes, ma’am.” She was suddenly aware of the contours of her body, the thin curve of her waist, the roundness of her breasts, the matte of hair covering her pubic area. She blushed as she took in the nuns’ stares, noticing the obvious arousal on many of their faces. Her body felt larger than life, emanating outward from itself toward the sisters, consumed by their glances.

Gretel and Lena stepped forward and took over the ceremony from Maria Anne. Gretel stepped up to the lectern, and Lena took up position behind Susanne. This ceremony had been rehearsed, Susanne realized-practiced before, perhaps, when the other nuns had entered the convent as novices. From the folds of her habit, Lena produced a pair of scissors and took a firm grasp of Susanne’s hair. As the first lock of hair fell to the ground, Susanne felt as if her secular self were being cast to the wayside, obsolescent and out of use. Her body was being undone and refashioned for her new vocation.

“The Sisters of Ecstasy originated in the traditions of medieval mysticism,” began Gretel with characteristic intellectual flair. “The great mystic, Hildegard von Bingen, is our patron saint. We follow in her conviction that intimacy with our Lord can be achieved through the ecstatic stimulation of the senses.”

Lena continued snipping, and another large chunk of Susanne’s hair fell to the ground. Her head felt lighter than it had ever felt before.

“Are you prepared, Susanne,” continued Gretel, “to give yourself to the sisterhood?”

“I am,” Susanne replied.

“Are you prepared to learn the ways of our ecstatic worship?”

“I am.”

“And are you prepared to accept the pains, pleasures, and ecstasies of your most holy marriage to the King of Kings?”

“I am.”

Kneeling in submission, her body exposed, her hair roughly shorn, Susanne felt as she felt when she listened to the unearthly music of the choir-outside herself, undone, dissolved into the crowd before her. It was, indeed, ecstasy.

“To prove your devotion, you will endure pain for us,” continued Lena from behind Susanne.

Pain? Of what kind? A shiver of fear ran through Susanne’s body, accompanied immediately by a flush of anticipation. She turned around to see that Lena had produced from her habit a long, thin leather riding crop.

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