Sisters Are So Fragile

August 29th, 2011

A classic Catholic Digest article from 1950

Photo from


In 1955 an article in Catholic Digest told the story of a little Kindergarten boy who reached up to give his teacher, a Catholic nun, a hug. As he started to put his arms around her he slipped his right hand under her veil and grabbed her ear. Then he turned to his classmates and shouted, “Hey, she does have ’em!”


Traditionally garbed religious Sisters have long elicited fascination from our culture, and the stereotype still carries on in occasional Hollywood films and TV shows. In the 1940s and ’50s Catholic Digest readers shared the fascination, and the editors gave them lots of opportunities to learn about these women — their courage under the most dangerous conditions, their incredible work ethic, their faith, their compassion, their humor, their sacrifice, and, according to at least one article about “Sister Fendabenda,” their lack of driving skills.


And in case anyone might think these Sisters were timid, delicate flowers, Sister Maryanna, OP, was there to set them straight in the classic article we offer here: “Sisters Are So Fragile.” Starting with the tagline “A nun doesn’t need a man around to open pickle jars,” Sister Maryanna introduces us to a number of Sisters who are quite capable of taking care of themselves.


Sister Maryanna Childs, OP, was something of a force of nature herself. Born in 1910, she lived 73 years as a professed Dominican Sister of St. Mary of the Springs (Columbus, Ohio), and taught for 58 years —ten years in Catholic elementary schools, eight years in Catholic high schools, and 40 years at the college level. She also published hundreds of articles and poems, and several books.  She died in 2003.


Sister Maryanna had been a nun for only twenty years when she wrote “Sisters Are So Fragile.” Today, on the whole, Sisters are fewer and older, but they are still wonderful examples of courage, hard work, faith, compassion, humor, and sacrifice, like the generations before them.


So here, from October 1950: “Sisters Are So Fragile.”


Click here to read this classic article