Mrs. Jameson says: “But for the monks, the light of liberty, and literature, and science, had been forever extinguished. For six centuries, there existed for the thoughtful, the gently, the inquiring, the devout of spirit, no peace, no security, no home but the cloister. There Learning trimmed her lamp; there, Contemplation ‘preened her wings’; there, the traditions of art preserved from age to age by lonely studious men, kept alive in form and color, the idea of a beauty beyond that of earth – of a might beyond that of the spear and shield – of a Divine sympathy with suffering humanity.
“To this we may add another and stronger claim to our respect and moral sympathies. The protection and the better education given to women in these early communities; the venerable and distinguished rank assigned to them when, as governesses of their order, they became in a manner dignitaries of the Church. The introduction of their beautiful and saintly effigies, clothed with all the insignia of sanctity and authority, into the decoration of places of worship and books of devotion, did more, perhaps, for the general cause of womanhood that all the boasted institutions of Chivalry.”
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.