|Author||Regina Renz (Kielce)|
|Title||A woman in the interwar rural community in the light of church documents (by the example of the Kielce Diocese)
|Keywords||woman, rural community, Catholic Church, religious life, shack-up life, abortion, pilgrimages, indulgences|
Church institutions and the related Catholic press propagated the models of a married, hard-working woman who raised children and an obedient husband. It was emphasized that the most important life task of a woman is marriage and motherhood. The norm forbidding sexual intercourse prior to marriage, based on the Catholic tradition, was one of the more stringently enforced requirements. Church and ethical principles proclaiming the indissolubility of marriage and the prohibition of “shack up life” were not fully respect-ed. Among those who lived like a married couple without being married, the most com-mon were women abandoned, or those who lost their husbands in the war, and the bish-op’s curia found insufficient evidence of disappearance. Information from the clergy of the Kielce Diocese shows that also Church prohibitions of birth control and planning were not universally accepted. From studies on the religious life of individual parishes, it appears that women were more involved in religious life than men. In the interwar period, a fairly large religious organization among women was the so-called tertiary, or the Third Order. Animated educational, cultural, social and religious activities were run by the Catholic Women’s Youth Association. A widely recognized manifestation of religiosity among women was participation in various indulgences and pilgrimages. Women who made several pilgrimages gained adequate respect in the eyes of their neighbors. Religion played a very important role in the everyday life of a rural woman. It satisfied her individ-ual spiritual needs to a great extent and gave her a chance to break away from the difficult matters of everyday life.