The Woman Priest

“My God! Pardon me if I have dared to make sacred things serve a profane love; but it is you who have put passion into our hearts; they are not crimes—I feel this in the purity of my intentions.” —Agatha, writing to Zoé

In pre-revolutionary Paris, a young woman falls for a handsome young priest. To be near him, she dresses as a man, enters his seminary, and is invited to become a fully ordained Catholic priest—a career forbidden to women then as now. Sylvain Maréchal’s epistolary novella offers a biting rebuke to religious institutions and a hypocritical society; its views on love, marriage, class, and virtue remain relevant today. The book ends in La Nouvelle France, which became part of British-run Canada during Maréchal’s lifetime. With thorough notes and introduction by Sheila Delany, this first translation of Maréchal’s novella, La femme abbé, brings a little-known but revelatory text to the attention of readers interested in French history and literature, history of the novel, women’s studies, and religious studies.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Front cover 1
Title page 4
Copyright page 5
Contents 6
Acknowledgements 8
Introduction 10
Translator’s Note 34
The Woman Priest 36
Notes 96
Bibliography 100
About the Author and Translator 104
Other Titles from The University of Alberta Press 105