Take Aways from the Cast’s Conversation with Cecilia Galante

Mount Hope housed around 367 people.

The Great House was the size of a barn and was filled with long wooden oak tables. Herbert lived in the Great House in this gigantic room that the men built for him on the side of the Great House. There was an enormous kitchen.

Herbert and Veronica lived lavishly in the commune. Herbert had a baby grand piano in his room, racks and racks of exotic wines, and an expensive stereo. The room was also used for prayer hour, where the adults would come in and listen to a sermon.

The commune made its money by having 150 men go out and work in neighboring towns and the checks they would make would go straight to Herbert. It is estimated that by the time Herbert had passed away, Herbert was a millionaire.

Herbert choose favorites from the commune and would grant them gifts. Doing this made the members of Mt. Hope feel inferior.

Herbert had no respect for the mothers, he would separate the children from their families for 6 months for 7 years, by doing this he created a bond between him and the children. Children didn’t trust their parents and didn’t have control over them.

Children depended on each other.

Honey and Mr.Winky were the lowest of the low – neither of them were rechristened.

Veronica, Herbert’s wife, was brought to Mt. Blessing at the age of 14. She was strikingly beautiful and had no fear. Herbert molded Veronica into the Virgin Mary.

Herbert was threatened by other relationships. He would have the husbands smack their wives, or humiliate them in front everyone.

Herbert was a very intelligent man. He had published a “newsletter”. He did not get into seminary and was bitter toward the Catholic faith.

There was only one nurse that lived in the commune. The finger incident actually happened.

There were only two asians and everyone else was white.

Mt. Hope was very isolated geographically.

Children had exceptional schooling. When the children were out into public school they all scored above average.

People were kicked out of the commune for various reasons. They had to prove themselves to enter back in.

Ascension Week – Women would prepare the food for the feast. Common Jewish delicacies were served at the feast. There was a major cleaning and decorating of the Great House. Children would decorate the Great House with palm leaves and draw pictures to hang for the feast.

It was not “dark” at Mt. Hope. It was very bright and beautiful which made it very confusing and foreboding.

Christmas – parents bought gifts for their children and Herbert would dress up as Santa and hand out the gifts to the kids from his room at the Great House.


“Patron Saint of Butterflies”

Cecilia Galante’s young adult novel was published in 2008. Her novel tells the story of two sisters, Agnes and Honey, and their experiences of living in a religious commune, Mount Blessing. The book is the fictionalized account of what Cecilia Galante experienced when she was at the Mount Hope commune.

Links below contain interviews and more information about the book and Cecilia Galante




You can find the book online or in most bookstores.