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Warrior Nun has delivered us a new queer icon: Sister Beatrice
When you think of superhero shows, you normally don’t think of the Catholic Church. Or a secret sect of militant nuns. Or quadriplegic orphans brought back from the dead.
But Netflix’s Warrior Nun isn’t your “normal” fantasy series, and while the existence of mystically-powered halos and holy sisters toting shotguns and portals leading to unknown realms goes a long way to proving that, it’s the journey of one character, Sister Beatrice (Kristina Tonteri-Young), that feels like the most inventive part of this hell-raising story.
If anything, she’s certainly the most badass.
Warrior Nun’s basic plot revolves around a young orphan named Ava (Alba Baptista) whose corpse is reanimated by a heavenly object. She’s imbued with supernatural abilities, dubbed the new Halo Bearer, and introduced to a clandestine arm of the Catholic Church: The Order of the Cruciform Sword (OCS). While Ava’s accidental induction into this long-standing institution throws the balance of good and evil into absolute chaos, we’re treated to glimpses of the women who make up this group of feminist disciples, a squadron of kickass warrior nuns trained in martial arts and weaponry who hunt demonic spirits intent on possessing innocent souls.
Beatrice is one of those women. Intuitive with a keen strategical eye and an almost unwavering sense of belief in her sisters and her cause, she’s shrouded in mystery for most of the show’s first season. We learn of her past, her parentage, and her acceptance into the order in the final few episodes as her relationship with Ava deepens. And while she may not be the Chosen One of this series, she has amassed a following of dedicated apostles willing to kneel at the altar of this queer cinnamon roll that kills. (Fun fact: Ariana Grande wrote “God is a Woman” about Kristina Tonteri-Young. We’ll die on that cross.)
So in honor of Sister Beatrice, we’re paying tribute to some of her best moments in Season 1 of Warrior Nun, diving into how her character gave us a new lesbian role model in genre TV.
Did you know Sister Beatrice invented couture chainmail? That’s right. Eat your heart out, Givenchy, because not only did our petite nun say “And? What about it?” to dressing up her habit with leather, steel, and hidden knives like some BDSM-loving Mother Mary, she also easily dispatched a gang of trained guards without spilling even a drop of sweat in the show’s fourth episode.
After being ordered to retrieve the Divinium shield by Cardinal Duretti, Beatrice led her sisters to Jillian Salvius’ lab, fighting off grown men as they stole Adriel’s armor in the name of the Lord. But Duretti can keep the armor because the only thing worth coveting here is Beatrice’s ability to crush these boys like cockroaches under her tiny, divine boot. Not only does she wipe out a room-full off buffoons while calmly spouting off scripture, but she does it blindly, gifting us the true blessing of witnessing the full-power of what wearing a face mask can do. She could flagellate us friendly all over the Cat’s Cradle and we’d just keep repeating, “Faith is my business.”
There’s no question that Sister Beatrice was the most capable fighter of the group — don’t come for us, Shotgun Mary — but she was also a damn good example of what a non-problematic person of faith could look like. Sister Beatrice could convince us to go to church, take the sacrament, and confess all our sins. Full stop.
She didn’t spend the season evangelizing to Ava, a woman clearly not down with Jesus or the idea of dying to save others of their sins. Instead, she befriended her, educated her, and empathized with the difficult position she’d been placed in. From their first meaningful conversation in the dining hall when she admitted to not fitting in with the OCS at first, to her encouragement of Ava’s abilities when training at Jillian Salvius’ lab, Beatrice always lifted up those who were struggling. Adriel can suck a Tarask’s horn because she was the real angel on this show. After all, you don’t get skin that flawless without dropping straight from heaven.
Her lesbish pride
You never want sexuality to define a character, but in Sister Beatrice’s case, her journey to accepting her queerness ended up being more inspiring than seeing Ava run on the beach for the first time. Towards the end of Season 1, we learned how Beatrice came to the OCS. Raised by a wealthy family, she was raised to believe her sexual orientation wasn’t “normal” or “acceptable.” It’s one reason why she was sent to the OCS, and why she’s so skilled in so many different areas. She tried to prove her worth by excelling in every other part of her life. And yet, it’s only when she found her sisters that she felt like she had finally found a family.
Hopefully, the show continues to explore Sister Beatrice’s romantic journey in future seasons, but for now, we’re proud of our little sapphic marshmallow and her willingness to open up about such a universal struggle.
Speaking of, it’s time we now christen the maiden voyage of the good ship Avatrice. Beatrice’s bond with Ava continues to deepen as the season moves along, and within that relationship, we see both women mature and grow into more capable warriors. For Beatrice, finding a kindred spirit, a member of the OCS who also felt like a misfit for much of her life, gave her the courage to open up about her own emotional roadblocks. Through their friendship, we saw Beatrice serve as a mentor, a cheerleader, and a partner for Ava to lean on during impossible trials, while Ava encouraged Beatrice to break out of her shell, to find joy in the small moments, and yes, to rebel. There was nothing platonic about their sister-mance by the end of Season 1, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.