However, the Baker influence was strong. The Abbess, Dame Catherine Gascoigne, was her aunt, and Baker’s first and most loyal follower. Justina was trained by her, and found it hard to leave her:
Fourteen years after her arrival at Cambrai, Dame Justina was selected to join the foundation in Paris. The first Prioress there was Dame Bridget More, sister to Baker’s most famous disciple, Dame Gertrude More. In 1653 and 1654 the Cambrai nuns were making copies of Baker’s manuscripts especially for the Paris foundation. Some are still in the community’s possession at St. Mary’s Abbey, Colwich, for instance, ‘Collections out of divers Authors, the first parte wholie out of Harphius’, specifically inscribed: ‘For Parise’. Later the characteristic flyleaf inscription was added: ‘This Booke belongs to the English Benedictin Nunnes of our Bl: Lady of good Hope in Paris’. 
In Paris in 1660 the first Novice Mistress died. She was a nun of Cambrai’s first generation who had been instructed by Baker. The Prioress appointed Dame Justina to succeed her as Novice Mistress.
When the Prioress retired in 1665, the nuns elected Mother Justina to succeed her. She was re-elected at four-yearly intervals, and died in office in 1690, at the age of 67.
Mother Justina gave talks to her community, called Chapter Instructions, or Conferences, as required by the Rule of St. Benedict and the Constitutions of the Paris community. Twenty years after her death, these were copied into two manuscript volumes. Many of the conferences comment on a chapter of the Rule, and some are for particular liturgical seasons. Beside quotations from St. Benedict’s Rule, there are many from Scripture. Other quotations are frequently used, some authors she quotes by name, such as, St. Augustine, St. Bernard, and The Imitation of Christ, others without giving names.Father Baker’s name as such does not appear, but his teaching underlies all, and he is probably the un-named “ holy servant of God” to whom she sometimes alludes. Her teaching can be reduced to one topic: Humility and Abnegation of Proper Will, that is, self-denial and the following of Christ. This topic recurs under different titles: obedience, patience, mortification, silence, suffering, and peace. She is practical and sometimes blunt. She sets a very high ideal and is especially demanding in addressing novices and newly professed nuns. This is against the background of penal times, when the life of ordinary lay Catholics in England was so hard and dangerous, that pious women could have thought of life in a convent abroad as a soft option. A note in the front of each volume says that they were copied in 1710, apparently from her originals, which were on loose sheets. They are in no particular order. A few can be dated by external events, and are scattered through the two volumes. There are thirteen Chapters for Advent, thirteen for Lent, and seven for the approach to Pentecost. A large number in the second volume are Chapters to Novices, but the names of the novices are not given, and they are mostly in general terms. The rest of the Instructions are mainly based on a particular chapter or quotation from the Rule of Saint Benedict, forming together a spiritual commentary on the most important points of the Rule.
There is also a manuscript of Chapter Instructions in her own hand, four small sheets sewn to make eight double-sided pages, containing four conferences. The last of these conferences certainly refers to Baker, though without naming him, as: “our most Dear fa: & spirituall director, in his writings”. All these Chapter Instructions are an important witness to the tradition of Baker spirituality in the Paris community, and are included in the Colwich collection of “Baker Manuscripts”.
The History of the House
The History of the House contains episodes from the life and times of Mother Justina, under the heading of “Difficulties”, which were intended for the instruction of the community in future, in case similar problems arose. These serve to illustrate how she applied Baker’s teachings in practice, and one of his works is quoted by name. The manuscript History was completed in 1695, five years after the death of Mother Justina.
Discretion the Mother of all Virtues
We see how as Prioress Mother Justina put into practice Baker’s teaching about discretion, when some benefactors objected to the apparent laxity of the Constitutions of the fledgling Paris community, measured against particular standards of French reformed Benedictinism:
Baker’s doctrine about discretion in mortifications, from “Discretion”, is:
The Paris house was in fact less “strict” than the founding house at Cambrai, where the Divine Office was performed at midnight. In Paris, Matins began at 4 a.m. This could only provide a motive for humility.
Baker’s attitude of spiritualised common sense
in matters of penance is evident in a conference of Mother
Justina for Lent:
I desire everyone will understand & take this Chap [Chapter of the Rule of Saint Benedict on the Observance of Lent] in its spirituall sens. And endeavour as I have allready said, to abstain from all vice; and labour to fight against & overcome ye disordered appetites of nature, mortifying and subduing our Will, that it may be subject to god. For this is wth in ye compass of everyones strength and ability wth the assistance of gods grace.
”But as for corporall abstenance & other austeritys, we see that many of us are not able to do what is ordain’d by our orders (but have need of dispensations) and much less can we add any thing in that kind, by withdrawing from our selves part of our ordinary allowance. Therfore it will suffise, and we shall rightly comply in ys point, if in Will and sincere desire, we would gladly doe it, were we able. But since we can not, Let us humble ourselves; and take our necessities in a mortifi’d Way, not to please & feed sensuality; But to sustain nature and conserve our healths; that we may the better serve Allm: god in all purity and sanctity of mind. Who be ever blessed. Amen. 
It is not clear what the expression “practises in Devotion
& prayer” means. However, the teachings of
Father Baker, in the past, had put the Cambrai nuns under
The outcome of the enquiry was that the Prioress was exonerated. The History quotes a letter from Kelly to Fr. Serenus Cressy:
I doubt not, Rd. Father, but you have heard of your good English Benedictine Dames, are in as great Union & peace as one can hope for; and God would have it, that their Superiour (Me. Benjamin) should name me to go to their house, to hear their complaints, if they had any against one another, or against their Superiour, & to see what was the Subject of their small Division. I heard them All, One after another; I found not, Thanks be to God, Any disorder in the house: There was only some Mis-intelligence in their minds, for want of understanding one another, Which mis-intelligence did by no means breach Charity, being both parties sought God, but as They thought, in different manners: Though having examin’d the business to ye. bottom, I found it was the same thing; & after having shew’d them, that Mother Priouresse her Conduct was not, what the other thought it to be, that she was very Vertuous, & a good Christian, and the necessity there was for uniting themselves again: They have submitted themselves, & promis’d me to submit to Her, or any other that shall be chosen Priouresse.
Having told this to their Superiour Me. Benjamin, & let him know, that they were very well dispos’d to submit to her that should be chosen, we went to the Convent, where Mother Justina was continued Priouresse.
Yet in December 1674, Father Maurus Corker was still writing to one of the nuns about the difficult situation of the community:
I suffer for ye sufferings of yr house, both from necessity, as from ye scandal & prejudice it receives ex falsis sororibus. 
The History shows that the External Superior felt it necessary to provide the community with a declaration of orthodoxy in January 1675:
to be shewn to divers of our Benefactours, that had some prejudice against us, upon those former Relations.
Benjamin refers to the Visitation of 1674, and not just to “practises in Devotion & prayer”, but to allegations of error in matters of Faith:
Visit, upon occasion of some reports spread abroad, that
there were some Religious Women in that Monastery, who had
erroneous Opinions about several Articles of Faith,
occasioned by the Conversation which they are obliged to
have, with several Persons of their own Countrey. We have
very exactly examined & question’d the said Religious,
upon all the Articles wherein they were rendred as
Suspected: And we are oblig’d in conscience to declare by
the Grace of God, that we have not found any of their
Sentiments, in their Words, nor in their Conduct, in as
much as they have explicated themselves to Us, Any thing
which is in the least contrary to that Faith, which the
Holy Catholick, Apostolick, & Roman Church doth
professe; In which Profession of Faith, they have
unanimously testify’d & desired to live and die,
& be ready to lay down their lives for the maintenance
There may be a reference to this allegation about error in Articles of Faith in a Chapter Instruction by Mother Justina on Divine Inspirations. In the tense religious climate of the time, reliance on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit could sound too much like the doctrines of the Protestant Reformers. She said:
The Doctrin of following Divine Inspirations & gods holy grace in all meritorious works is an Article of faith, and yt no good & gratefull work to God interior or exterior can be done wth out it. For as Thaulerus saith, God rewards no Works but his owne; And the great Apostle St Paul saith ‘wee can not say Jesus, meritoriously but in ye holy ghost, but by his impuls & assisting grace; and therefore he teacheth that in every Place all good Christians must be Docibiless Dei, to be taught & drawn by God.’ O most sweet & comfortable Doctrin! Can there be any thing more delightfull and more secure, then to be taught by God himselfe!
The full text of this Instruction is in given in the Annex. 
Benjamin then allows that “spiritual conduct” may be different in each individual monastery. His Declaration continues:
What Mother Justina and many of the nuns ‘exposed, as what they observ’d’ would certainly have been the teachings of Father Augustine Baker. There had been similar problems with External Superiors at Cambrai. Indeed, it was at some time before May 1676, that Abbess Catherine Gascoigne of Cambrai had felt obliged to ask for a letter from the President of the English Benedictines, Stapleton, reaffirming the approbation of Father Baker’s Instructions. This was copied in full by the Paris nuns into their obituary notice of Baker. 
As a follower of Baker’s teaching on mortification, Mother Justina knew well how to make use of these difficulties. In a Chapter for Lent, she wrote:
Direction by a Woman Superior
Following on this controversy, one of the External Superior’s “Rules, wch. we thought necessary to maintain good order, & conserve peace among them” was about spiritual direction by a woman superior. It is referred to in the House History as one of his Acts of Visitation (1674):
One of Me. Benjamin’s Acts of Visit [was about] a practice us’d in some Monasteries, by many of the most Regular Religious, discovering their Interiour to their Abbesses & Prioresses, to take direction about their spirituall difficulties. He expresses his mind in these Terms.
The writer of the House History then brings in an explicit quotation from Father Baker to support this instruction:
This is likewise conformable to what the Venerable Father Baker teacheth in his Commentary, upon the Rule, whose Words are these
I say, you may, if you
will; but you are not oblig’d to declare your Interiour
difficulties to your Abbesse or Priouresse: But you may
instead thereof, go to your Ghostly Father. But it is
lawfull for you, & conformable to ye. Rule, to go
& consult, if you think good, with your Abbesse &
Priouresse; Yea oftentimes it may be very convenient, that
you do so, either in regard of the Sufficiency you
conceive to be in them, Or else in regard of the matter it
self, whereof you would consult & communicate to one
of your own Sex, rather than to one of another. 
The Paris nuns must have had a copy of Father Baker’s Commentary on the Rule of St Benedict, from which the author of the House History here quotes. However, the manuscript now at Colwich is a 19th century copy.  The quotation in the History of the House is from Baker’s Commentary on Chapter 4 of the Rule, Of the Instruments of Good Works, in the section: All evil thoughts that come upon us forthwith to reject them, converting us to God, & revealing them to our Spiritual Father. 
The House History then continues without a break with material that does not follow at that point in Baker’s commentary:
St Therese in her Constitutions chap. ye. 14th speaks conformably to what is said before, using these Terms.
All the Sisters shall render an account once a year to the Priouresse of the profit they have made in Prayer, & how our Bd. Saviour doth guide them; who will not fail to give light how to direct them, if they chance not to make a right progress therein: And to do this, are requisite Humility & Mortification, as the means to reap great profit.
Neverthelesse, what is here said, viz. that the Novices render an account to their Mistresses, & other Religious to their Priouresses, about their prayer, and what profit they make therein; Yet this ought to be done in such manner, as that it proceed from their own voluntary disposition, knowing that they will receive thereby great Spirituall advance, rather then by being constrain’d thereunto.
Wherefore we prohibit the Priouresse, & Mrs: of Novices overmuch to presse the Religious in this point.
This may suffice to satisfy any one that shall presume to discountenance or disapprove of what is here said, esteeming that none but Priests & Confessours ought at all to meddle with giving any direction about Interiour difficulties & Temptations; Since it is manifest in 3 Chapters of our holy Rule, that this practice is particularly recommended unto Us, by our Holy Father, to wit, in the 4th. Chapter, wherein hee tells Us, That all ill thoughts coming to our hearts, ought to be dashed against Christ, & made known to a Spirituall Seniour; and in the 7th., wherein he says, That the 5th . degree of humility is not to conceal, but to declare by humble Confession, all evil cogitations coming to our hearts, As also all evill things secretly committed by Us; & 3dly. in the 46th. Chapter, wherein he speaks of such as commit little faults, & ordains, That if the Sin, or fault be secret, then it is only to be declar’d to the Abbot, Or Spirituall Seniour, who know how to cure their own wounds, & those of others, and not to discover, or publish them.
Now, it is not to be suppos’d, that our Holy Father St. Bennet, and those Spirituall Seniours he mentions, were all Priests or Confessours, it being more probable that our Holy Father St. Bennet was no Priest himself, nor his Disciple St. Maurus: As the learned Abbot Haftenus in his excellent Comentaries upon the Rule delivers, citing twenty Learned Authours for his Opinion: Neither can it be said, that his Rule was only writt for Men, since he gave it also to St. Scholastica, and wee now see it daily practised by Religious Women her followers.
Our Lord be with you. You aske my advise about this yt you are drawne to praie to God. I like it well & councell you to it as long as you are yr sellf, & free & active, for wn it shall please God yt you be passive, you can neither praie, desire nor knowe anie more, & then God will doe in you better then yr sellf can doe. thus all will be more pleasing to Him & yr desires will be graunted wth out praieng. I will lead her into solitude & there I will speake unto her hearte. A holie man saies that to reforme a Religious house yea ye whole Religion ther needs noe more yn to bring them to be observant in matter of silence. Lett silence be but well observed in yr house & I will warrant your reformation.
Father Baker was in favour of nuns, especially the superior or novice mistress, giving such direction as was necessary. Mother Justina, in this note exercises the restraint advised by Baker in this delicate matter:
The 17th century language of Mother Justina’s Instructions differs somewhat from our own, but it is not too difficult to understand. There are some pencil alterations in the manuscript, designed to make the wording more understandable, and this indicates that the conferences have been re-used by some later superior, who read them out in Chapter. There are annotations in the hand of Very Reverend Mother Mary Clare Knight (Prioress, died in 1860).
The Chapter Instructions of another 19th century Prioress, Mother Francis Magdalen Taunton, were also collected into two manuscript volumes after her death. Each of these conferences begins with Mother Justina’s formula: “Benedicite dear Sisters.” There are at least two conferences commending Baker as the community’s spiritual guide. One dated 1880 reads:
The Spirit of Our House is then, the primitive spirit of Our Holy Father St. Benedict, in itself essentially Contemplative; and the practice of this has been facilitated to us by some of the writings and directions of the celebrated Contemplative Venble. Father Baker. He made our holy Mother Beginners (with the concurrence of Divine Grace), fit instruments to lay a solid foundation of the same Spirit, to be afterwards propagated by all that should succeed them.
These 19th century conferences also are annotated in pencil for re-use. One originally given by Mother Francis Magdalen Taunton in 1886, on The Contemplative Life, is marked as having been read in 1946, presumably to the nuns in Chapter by Abbess Evangelista de Capitain. It contains these words:
It seems likely that Mother Justina Gascoigne’s Chapter Instructions have been passed down from one superior to the next, providing them with a model and inspiration into modern times.
By following Father Baker’s teachings, the English Benedictine nuns of Paris kept out of Jansenism, despite having close links with Port Royal. The Messieurs of Port Royal were always regarded as great benefactors, but the community in no way adopted their views. It was to one of their number that Mother Justina addressed her remarks about discretion in matters of abstinence from flesh meat. In the same way, the community also avoided falling into another religious aberration of the times, Quietism, which was in danger of becoming all the rage in Paris. English Benedictine writings about passivity in prayer, as in Mother Justina’s note of direction, may have had a superficial resemblance to quietism. However, whatever were the accusations or suspicions, the English nuns’ training enabled them to transcend all difficulties and turn them to spiritual benefit, continuing to live a hidden life of prayer, well away from the over-heated political and religious salons of Paris.
Father Baker understood and admired women religious and encouraged them to “stand on their own feet” spiritually. Following his lead, they not only copied his writings but also produced their own, in the form of community history and oral and written instruction. These were tailored to the current needs of their community, and were also intended as guidance for its future generations. Today, as the legacy Mother Justina Gascoigne left us begins to see the light of day, it also speaks to people who are neither nuns nor Catholics, “and comes to us down the centuries with a beauty of language and sentiment which has a universal and timeless appeal”. 
A Chapter Instruction of Very Reverend Mother Justina Gascoigne
transcribed from Colwich Manuscript H 71 Volume I Chapter 37
The Doctrin of following Divine Inspirations & gods holy
grace in all meritorious works is an Article of faith, and yt no good & gratefull work to God interior or exterior can be done wth out it. For as Thaulerus saith, God rewards no Works but his owne; And the great Apostle St Paul saith “ wee can not say Jesus, meritoriously but in ye holy ghost, but by his impuls & assisting grace; and therefore he teacheth that in every Place all good Christians must be Docibiless Dei, to be taught & drawn by God.” O most sweet & comfortable Doctrin! Can there be any thing more delightfull and more secure, then to be taught by God himselfe! Audiam quid loquatur in me Dominus Deus. I shall willing-
-ly hearken to wt our Lord God saith in me; and undoubtedly He will give us grace to perform itt, if we do our best endeavours, & confide in him. What was it but ye Divine Inspiration yt made our holy Fa runn from his Nurs & flye into ye Desert, where he had no other Maister but God himselfe all all sufficient; He was his sole Guid, Derector & Protectour; St Romanus tis true administred him a little food for his corporall sustenance, but his soule was fed only by ye Spirit of God, & had no other Director. The Ways by wch God Calls soules, saith a holy servant of God are infinite
,various & changeable, seeming strangly impertinent above all reason; and therefore ye soule must dispose her selfe to follow ye Call and tracts of God thro thick and thin, sower & sweet, light & darkness, wth reason & without itt, as having neither understanding nor will of her owne; and this for ye interior & ye exterior. And having such a Guid she can never err in her way, which ever tends to ye mortification of herselfe & renouncing her proper will, and finally to ye perfect Love of God; Such a soule adheers to god constantly, Passing over & transcending all difficultys & distractive things by ye Abnegation &
Resignation of her selfe in all occasions; only regarding god in all Quietnes & simplicity; She makes use of all things to serve & move towards god, and wth all her industry she seeks to inhere immoveable to that One thing wch is only necessary, She lives in peace Even in ye midest of difficultys & distractions; and tho she be Employ’d in Labour & Buisiness Exteriorly, it nevertheless deprives her not of interior conversation wth God, she ceases not to pray, for she regards ye Divine Presence in all she doth, and if she be for a time Distracted, yet doth she speedily returne again to that One thing; having as Thomas of Kempis saith in her jnterior ye Divine Spirit that
often Calls upon her to return into her hart, saing Behold I am present, behold I come quickly, Loe I stand at ye Dore and knock, open unto me my Sister because I have coveted thy beauty, my delights are to be with thee. How happy & Blessed are those souls yt attend & are watchfull to this voice, they live & are Plac’d above all things in this life; So as none of ye Changes or troubles of itt doth hurt them, or hinder their enjoying of God. And this happiness they attain unto by seriously attending to god in their soule & following ye Divine Inspiration & sweet tracts of Love. For us our
Blessed Saviour saith Quia sine me nihil potestis facere. For without me you can do nothing; Tis most necessary yt we do believe, & Endeavour to live in ye practise of this truth wholly depending & confiding in the Divine grace & assistance; and Aspiring & tending towards Him by an affectionate desire of being jntirely his & perfectly united to Him in ye bond of Charity, that she/we may not be detain’d or kept back wth ye base love of jnferior things wch much distracts ye mind jnteriorly, and wch is the cause she/we can’t attain to the solitude of hart wherin God speaks Peace to ye devout soule. But alas, we are farr from this; For until a soule have learnt to wth draw her
selfe, & to forbare meddling wth things not concerning her; and wch nourish the jnordinate love & affections of selfe seeking nature, she is not in a disposition for ye Divine Visitation in this degree of perfection; If therefore we desire to experience it, we must seek to purifie our hart & affection from all desires yt are jnordinate, & mortifie our jnclinations, We must Dye to nature; and seek our comfort in God, not in creatures, Such souls will by ye working of Divine Grace, (being faithfull in their jndeavours) come to Taste & experience that our Lord is sweet, and how good & happy a thing it is for them to
attend & adheer to him alone, in peace & silence, Esteeming it an unspeakable Blessing (tho it be wth loss of all ye friendships & contentmts yt creatures can give, to be I say depriv’d of them all) to find & enjoy that precious Pearll and jnestimable Treasure the noble love of God; And will be well content to bear & suffer all Adversitys yt ye Divine Providence shall provide for them, & humbling them selves under his mighty hand, embrace all Cross doings and accedences, Whether they happen interiorly or exteriorly from god or from creatures; not troubling nor disquieting them selvs, but remembering that they came to holy Religion to mortifie, renounce & Dye to them Selves yt they may Live to god
alone, by harkning to His Divine Voice, and obeying his Will & good pleasure in all. This doing, is to fulfil that of ye Apostle exhorting & beseeching us that we walke worthy of our vocation, with all humility & mildeness, with patience supporting one another in Charity, carefull to keep the unity of spirit in ye bond of peace: And in this sort we are to endeavour wth all Humility & in true Resignation to suffer & indure ye most gracious will of God in all his proceedings wth us, in all his providences and permissions, and in all his Burdens wtever He shall please to impose, for in very deed & truth his yoak is sweet & his bur-
-den light; tho many times thro our weakness it seems otherwise; for ye yoak of our Lord is indeed sweet to ye loving and fervent soule, & his Burden light to the Milde, & most dear to ye humble of hart. In wch number His immense Goodness grant yt we may All be found worthy to be included. Amen.
 ‘Some perticuler Remarkes of our venerable Mother Beginners’. Published version: Catholic Record Society Vol. 9 No. 11. Original: Colwich archives R3 (Ms 43). The archives and books at St. Mary’s Abbey Colwich are private, but can be shown at the discretion of the Abbess.