The Conversion of Claire Fraser (or Religion in #Outlander Part II)

Rosary01If Jamie Fraser has the faith I wish I had (the unwavering faith that I strive to have), then perhaps Claire’s faith is a bit closer to my religious reality.  Like Jamie, Claire was also a “cradle Catholic.”  But when we first meet Claire she was (and had never been) a practicing Catholic.  (That isn’t to say that she didn’t have some core beliefs tucked away under the foul mouth and headstrong ways that we all know and love.  That’s just to say that, well, Claire changes over the story.  And her religious beliefs are one of the things that change…or at least deepen and evolve.)

Claire’s initial brush with organized religion might have tainted a lesser person… Certainly her run in with the local priest, circa. 1743, wasn’t an event likely to make her feel welcomed into the proverbial fold and, when later faced with an abundance of Highland superstitions, a visit to Auld Nick’s kirkyard, and charges of witchcraft, one might be able to see her, ahem, disinclination.

But Life (even Fictional Book Life) has a way of making you have to rethink things, and often results in the need to eat your words, totally change alliances, or otherwise transform yourself.  (*Ahem* Not that I’m speaking from experience here).  Yep.  Claire has one of Those Moments.

After saving Jamie from the Wentworth, and their subsequent escape to France and to the abbey, Claire finds a kind of spiritual advisor in Father Anselm.  (And yes, this was one of the scenes that I really, really wish had been on the show.  Feel free to lament the loss with me.)

When Father Anselm and Claire discuss her religion, she tells him that she isn’t Protestant, but she isn’t really Catholic, either.  She isn’t much of anything.  But he explains to her that if she was baptized Catholic, then the mark is still on her.  (You know, kinda like that “J” scar that we all secretly…or not so secretly…wish we had on the base of our hand. *swoon*)

It’s Father Anselm who introduces Claire to the ritual of Perpetual Adoration (and it’s a ritual that Claire takes comfort in more than once in the books).  This time spent in quiet contemplation, alone and yet so very NOT alone, marks the turning point in Claire’s religious metamorphosis.  (And, yes, I do see the change in Claire as being exactly that pronounced.)

Of course, falling through time, having everything you know ripped away from you, and finding yourself in constant danger are certainly enough to make one call out for the help of someone, or something, greater to intervene on your behalf.  Except Claire didn’t.  Or rather, those things weren’t what finally pushed Claire to examine her beliefs.  Those things weren’t what finally formed a prayer on Claire’s lips.


Old time, old life, old world be damned.  It was the thought of losing Jamie that made her reach for something, anything, to save him.  It was Jamie that finally evoked a prayer from Claire’s lips.

It was always Jamie.

When situations warranted, the Claire of the later books makes the sign of the cross without hesitation.  The Claire of the later books also routinely blesses Jamie before battle, and she is clearly moved when Jamie invokes the same blessing on her behalf when she goes to deliver a child.  She often utters prayers to saints over the course of the later books.  (Something that Book 1 Claire was not likely to do!)

However, her Catholicism is colored by Jamie’s own and, like his, there is a certain spirituality rooted in Jamie’s Celtic homeland that permeates her beliefs as well.  While not quite as superstitious as her Highlander husband, she finds great comfort in the fact that Jamie knows just the right saint for every occasion, and that he knows that salt keeps the spirits from walking.

Her perfectly rational 20th century certainty definitely took a blow once she went through the stones.  When science and reason can’t find explanation, one must look elsewhere for answers.  Is it any wonder that the things that finally give her grounding, are things based on faith…religion, love, the hope for a future?

Not bad things to build a life around, if you ask me.*

*  Of course, having a strapping Highlander husband around to share that life doesn’t hurt, either. Speaking of which, I’m very grateful for my own Scottish-blooded husband.  (See, honey, I don’t just talk about Jamie.)

NOTE:  For those who might wonder about the use of “conversion” in the title, since Claire did not initially identify as “Catholic,” or anything for that matter, it seems to me that by adopting any form of religious identity she actually did undergo a religious conversion.  (Plus, I’ll be honest, I really like alliteration.)


9 thoughts on “The Conversion of Claire Fraser (or Religion in #Outlander Part II)

  1. Thank you so much for posting this! I’m stopped in a parking lot and just do not have the time to write out just how much I’ve been yearning to find someone who is as moved as I am by how much FAITH shapes these characters!

    I will come back later, but as a complete fan of the adaptation, I am utterly saddened that one of the strongest qualities of this story, FAITH, has taken a backseat. It’s not that it’s missing…it’s just been tempered down and doesn’t stand out.

    Another Cradle Papist


  2. Marifel said it. I was taken aback by the feelings and affect Jamie’s, Claire’s and Roger’s expressions of faith. They changed my outlook and lifted me up when I was in a dark day and it goes on from there. And I so, so, so appreciate both of you saying what makes me saddest- the heart of this saga is evolving faith but it is diminished or omitted in the show. An extended scene of Claire’s talk with Father Anselm and vigil of Perpetual Adoration wouldn’t have been offensive and was so anticipated.


    • I very much miss the faith that was portrayed in the book. ALL of the faiths. As a “stinkin’ Papist,” it gave me great pleasure to read the prayers, traditions, and such. I also enjoyed reading about the other religious and spiritual practices, too. It adds so many more layers to the story. It adds depth to the already rich characters. It gave me hope during my own Dark Night of the Soul.

      While I respect the actors and the show, I am glad I can turn back to the book to find the bits that were left out nbut which still speak to my soul.


  3. I love this, Terri. Thanks for posting it. In reading the novels over the past 24 years, I found my own spirituality deepened by Diana’s writings. In fact, I finally converted to become “officially” Catholic in February 2013, and Diana’s words were a part of that evolution. God bless you!


    • Thank you for your kind words, and for sharing this. I converted back in 1999 and I, too, find that the books have deepened my own faith. They have also made me more “prayful.” Books have so much more power, so much more “reach” than a non-reader could ever imagine.

      Beannachd Dia dhuit.


  4. Great post! Basically she went from non-practicing Catholic or agnostic (due to her uncle) to a practicing Catholic. When Claire went back to the 20th century, she did not want to be with Frank anymore. However, she remained married to him until his death. Of course, Brianna was probably the main reason why they remained attached. However, one wonders whether the Catholic faith had a role to play in that loveless marriage (the Catholic Church does not allow divorce).


  5. Terri, I somehow missed Pt 1 until tonight, but reading both parts together is a joy. Looking forward to your thoughts on Young Ian. I’ve been struggling with a reply tonight. I have a particular regard for people of faith and always thought that Jamie was a very fine example. Claire’s conversations with Father Anselm and the passages regarding Perpetual Adoration are some of my favorite. I’ve always felt that was a very pivotal event for Claire and as you note, probably impacted the arc of her faith like nothing else. If Jamie’s need had not been so great, and if Claire hadn’t felt so powerless to meet that need, she may not have reached for the spiritual help needed to regain Jamie’s soul. Her love of Jamie was indeed a powerful inducement to reach out for that help! I appreciated the nod in the show, but it understandably didn’t deliver the same punch it did in the books. I was born, baptized and confirmed in the Church, but my own faith journey hasn’t been very straightforward. I find myself, at present, on more of the Uncle Lamb end of the spectrum (“everything and nothing”), but as I’ve gotten older the faith elements and the simple, heartfelt prayers of the story resonate with me now more than ever. It’s an evolution, I suppose. Thanks for the thoughtful post and the great replies! Lots to think about!


    • The best journeys are rarely the most direct route. A simple Point A to Point B route leaves no room for adventure and misadventure, no room for the wonderful, unexpected things that Life can offer.

      My own faith journey has been hit and miss, stumble and fall and rise again. Certainly not a tale of inspiration, but definitely one of endurance. Despite this, along the way, I have found small bits of bliss, moments of magic, and fellowship with friends that has sustained me.

      Different things can lead people to faith: hope, love, desperation… And faith, of course, can be quite a different thing than religion.

      Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum, whether Uncle Lamb, or Claire, or Jamie, I hope you find peace and comfort, friends and fellowship, and plenty of love. Beannachd Dia dhuit.

      (And, in the words of another lovely author: Not all those who wander are lost.)


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