A nun has admitted children may have been made to kiss the bodies of dead nuns at an Aberdeen orphanage.
The woman, now in her mid-70s, told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI), sitting in Edinburgh, it was possible that children could have been expected to kiss the bodies of dead nuns when they went to church.
She said she could not remember such a thing happening but told SCAI chairwoman Lady Smith it “could be possible”. However, she added that no nuns had died during her time in Aberdeen.
The nun also told the inquiry she may have lost her temper with children in her care in Aberdeen but rejected suggestions she was “hard as nails” and denied being someone youngsters would have been scared of.
She agreed there was “probably” a strict regime at Nazareth House in Aberdeen but said she had not witnessed any abusive practices at the orphanage.
The inquiry is continuing its examination of four former children’s homes operated by the Catholic congregation the Sisters of Nazareth in Scotland and has previously been told of various alleged abuses at the institutions.
The witness, who cannot be identified, said she worked at its homes in Aberdeen and Lasswade, Midlothian, from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s.
Senior counsel to the inquiry Colin MacAulay QC told the nun about evidence from another witness who described her as the children’s “mother” at the Aberdeen home, tasked with looking after them and controlling them.
“She was hard as nails and we were scared of her but at times she was all right,” the man said in a statement read by the QC.
Asked if she agreed with that assessment, the sister replied: “Not really.”
“Did you get an impression that children might have been scared of you?” Mr MacAulay continued.
“No,” the nun answered.
“Do you think you had a temper?” the lawyer asked the sister. She replied: “Not really.” Lady Smith later asked: “Is it possible there were occasions on which you lost your temper?”
“Maybe,” the nun said.
She told the inquiry that she had not seen children punished or humiliated for wetting the bed, that she had not seen them forced to eat food and insisted that youngsters “weren’t abused” for misbehaving.
She agreed with Mr MacAulay’s summation that she had not witnessed abusive practices “in any shape or form” in Aberdeen.
The inquiry continues today.