Luther’s challenges to Catholicism would result in significant devastation…Convents were forced open and vandalized. Iconoclasts shattered stained glass, painted over artworks, and stole the clappers from chapel bells. Many of the great monasteries of England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, and Scandinavia disappeared completely.
The reformers focused especially on religious habits, ripping them to shreds or burning them, ordering sisters to adopt secular dress…Protestants proclaimed the idea of celibacy as unnatural, declaring marriage to be the most illustrious state and therefore seeking to “liberate” nuns so they could be free to marry…In England, King Henry VIII closed monasteries and obliterated orders in order to gain their lands.
Later Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) and his Puritan Roundheads escalated Catholic persecution with fierce brutality – his army slaughtered over 40 percent of indigenous Irishmen, for example, who clung to their faith. Rather than being an agent of reform, the Protestant movement became a tyrannical repression of religious freedoms of non-Protestants.
Elizabeth Kuhns, The Habit: A History of the Clothing of Catholic Nuns