The Nun Wars

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The Nun Wars took place in 1947 to determine who was the most bad-ass of God's servants. Every five years the melee is re-enacted.

edit Origins

The catalyst for the Nun Wars was in 1945. Relief efforts from around the world came to help victims of WWII and it was debated which order was the best equipped at handling the crisis. One thing lead to another and soon arguments were breaking out. Insults would be slung from one camp to the next, and hard feelings were felt all around. However due to the need of the sick and wounded nothing more was made of it.

In 1947, however, things took a nasty turn. The debate was still raging amongst the nuns, and an emergency council was held. Held in Bern, Switzerland (which was neutral) ten orders converged to put to rest once and for all which order was the best of God's servants. The orders were:


  • The Sisters of Mercy (Catholic) Europe (SM)
  • The Poor Clares (Franciscans) Europe (PC)
  • Sisters of St. Rita (Augustinians) America (SR)
  • Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters (Dominican) America (SD)
  • Loreto Sisters (Catholic) Australia (LS)
  • Salesian Sisters (Salesian) America (SS)
  • Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (Franciscan) Australia (MS)
  • Daughters of St. Paul (Catholic) Europe (DP)
  • Faithful Companions of Jesus (Ignatians) Europe (FC)
  • Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus (Carmelites) America (CS)


The debates began civilly enough. For two days scripture was consulted, orders were objectively scrutinized, and order reigned. On the third day of the council, however, one of the nuns of one of the Australian orders, debate over which is still disputed, said some heated comments to the PC's, and after exchanges became more and more fierce eventually it came down to blows.

edit The Fighting Begins

Each order had sent 50 representatives. That evening the various orders, each housed in separate housing, made their plans on how to win the battle. The layout of the battlefield was a large rectangular green, about 100x300 yards, with the cathedral in the center. In the North Western corner stood the Chapter house, where the meetings had been taking place. The apartments where the orders were staying lined the East and West sides of the green, being the long sides. On the Southern side was a path and a river.

The orders lined up on the battlefield at 5 am. Some were armed, others weren't. One delegate from each order met in the cathedral to discuss rules of conduct. It was decided to postpone the battle for one hour so as to allow proper arming of those orders which hadn't done so, the FC's, SS', DP's, and SR's.

The battle officially began, as documented by the abbots in the cathedral who were recording the goings (and occasionally cheering, booing, and cat-calling) at 6:38 am, Thursday the 8th of April. The orders had scrambled to equip themselves with various items from around the ancient castle and abbey ruins, some also went into the nearby town to equip themselves.

The melee broke out in a wild ruckus. The FC's were least well-defended, brandishing candlesticks and other large objects of a blunt nature. They took out a coupls of CS before the remaining CS and SS ganged up on them, armed with crucifixes sharpened to serve as swords and flaming banners, respectively. The CS were in charge of keeping the FC captive in the Chapter house, which had been designated the holding-house for prisoners.

Meanwhile the SM and PC were waging an epic battle on the South-East corner. Each order had only sent out their top ten fighters to settle the ancient score, and after each side had seriously damaged the other the SM had the three remaining PC surrounded. The SM were equipped with Idols of Mary, chained together to serve as "nun chucks", and the PC had been using incense-burner flails. At this point, however, the artillery came to the PC support, with the ten reserve PC nuns coming from the South, with Bible trebuchets. The Bibles were flung at a safe distance and hailed down on the encirclement. The SM retreated, and the remaining PC joined the artillery. At this point the SM unleashed their artillery forces, consisting of 14th C. cannons that fired hymnals and prayer books.

As such the Southern section of the field was vacant as the literature fired across the green taking out anyone who came in contact with it. Meanwhile on the Western corner the MS and DP were fighting each other and were generally evenly matched. Within an hour the two parties had reduced the other to half. However, the SR, seeing the two parties weakening themselves so severely and feeling confident over a decisive victory over the SD, joined the fray, sending half of their order to fight, and the other half to protect the SD prisoners in the Chapter house. (The SD, it should be noted, had been using exploding vials of holy water, replaced with a painful scarring acid. After they had used their stock, though, the SR with their ability to wield offering plates with deadly accuracy, soon had them at their mercy.) The SR joined against both the MS and DP, who temporary, to the surprise of the SR, united to fight against them. The SR held out for over an hour, but the DP with their rosary whips and the MS with their organ pipe body armor and gauntlets withstood the offering plates and eventually had the SR surrender.

The LS, during all of this, had been biding their time, occasionally picking off an exposed nun or two with their chalice crossbows, able to shoot a chalice, bottom-first, at a nun forty feet away. When the CS noticed their sniping activities they snuck behind them, around the cathedral, and took them by surprise. It would have succeeded, but at that moment from within the Chapter house out came the FC, who had freed themselves from their captors and were back in the fray, joining sides with the LS against the CS.

edit Lunch Break

At noon a break for lunch was had. Watercress sandwiches and fruit punch was served. The abbots tallied the score, and took bets on the second half. At 1:30, after rest and refreshment, the battle began again.

edit The Fighting Continues

When the fighting started back up again the CS were still beleaguered by the LS and FC. The SD and SR were both still captive, and the MS and DP had formed a brief alliance over lunch. The two parties decided to take the artillerey of the PC, who was the weaker of the two artillery parties, and force a surrender of the SM. The MS were in charge of forcing the PC to hand over the trebuchets, and the DP snuck around the outside of the green to the back of where the SM were firing their cannons. Both sides were running out of ammo at this point and would within the hour have to resort back to hand combat. The SM saw that the MS were appraoching the PC secretly, and, pleased by this, failed to notice the approaching DP. The DP held them to threat, but on both sides hand combat broke out.

At this time the CS had finally surrendered and joined the rest of their order under the supervision of the FC. The FC still on the field and the LS joined forces against the PC and MS battle. The PC fought anyone, as did the MS, so the two only lasted for about half an hour before the LS and FC had defeated them both, and sent them, under the damaged FC, to the prison. At this point, it would later be recorded, the FC were the acting wardens in the Chapter house of all parties, the PC, MS, SD, SR and CS. The situation was a rowdy one, and soon the various orders realized if they banned together they could throw off their captors and join the battle.

The LS again took up their sniping of the DP and SS. When the jail break occurred the LS turned about face and picked off the nuns as they tried to escape the Chapter house. The break was postponed in this way for three-quarters of an hour. Eventually the FC recovered the situation and put the prison on lock-down, with as many nuns in individual confinement as possible. The SS had, however, finally won over the DP. But, having no place to send the DP as the jail break was taking place, the SS brutally took out the DP who had surrendered, and sent them in to the cathedral where the abbots were tending to those hurt during the battle. With no one else on the feild the SS then charged the LS.

The LS held out for a long time. They were better refreshed, had more energy, and superior numbers. But the SS had said that they'd rather renounce the order than surrender, and so kept fighting. Eventually there were only three left, and the LS, with eight, negotiated a treaty.

edit The Fighting Ends

When the treaty was agreed upon the prisoners were released, conditional upon them granting that the SS and LS were jointly both to be recognized as the most bad-ass and devoted of God's servants. All did this with the exceptions of the PC who refused to acknowledge the SS and the FC, who refused to acknowledge either as neither had defeated them at the time when the treaty was called.

So the PC, FC, SS and LS decided to continue the battle the next day. The other orders looked after their wounded and made bets against the abbots.

The next morning the fighting broke out anew, but was short lived. The PC had during the night captured a machine gun from in town and brining it on to the field dared anyone to attack them. The others declined the offer, and fought each other for a couple of hours, the fighting having begun at 6 am sharp. The FC clearly had the advantage, and took out first the LS, and finally the SS, who had equipped themselves as before.

The FC tried to reason with the PC, but they'd have none of it. Eventually the PC fired into the air to prove they were serious. The FC surrendered to the PC, and all orders had to acknowledge them as the best order, on threat of being shot. All orders did so.

edit The Aftermath

After the fighting ended the ten orders went back to aiding the sick and wounded of WWII. It wouldn't be until 1956 that the stories of the Nun Wars would be published and exposed to the public. Two eye-witness accounts were published, one by an abbot, Martin Tillich, who had seen it, and one by a Lorento Sister who had taken part. Both accounts came out in 1956, and were generally in agreement with each other on the facts presented. Chicken was a major factor for the nuns.

Starting in 1960 the re-enactments began. The first was held with many of the original sisters who'd first seen combat. The site has always been in Bern, although local chapters re-enact the battles as well. Many of the original nuns who took part in the battles of the Nun Wars are still alive today. In 1998 an official decleration amongst the original ten orders was ratified that no one order was more bad-ass than the others, but that each just displayed their devotion and bad-assness in different ways, healing long wounds and damages to the pride of the other orders.

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