The Wreck of the Deustchland

The five were Sister Barbara Hültenschmidt, aged thirty-two, Sister Norberta Reinkober, thirty, Sister Henrica Fassbender, twenty-eight, Sister Brigitta Dammhorst, twenty-seven, and Sister Aurea Badziura, twenty-three; all of a religious congregation called the Sisters of Saint Francis, Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, founded by Mother Clara Pfänder in 1859.

On Thursday, December 2nd, 1875, just before the Offertory at a sunrise Mass in their convent in Salzkotten, Germany, each of them singly knelt in front of Mother Clara, their eyes silvering with tears of bliss and their hands in prayer. Each wore a black veil that fell to the waist and was indented at its peak like a valentine heart, with a starched white headband and hair-and-neck-hiding wimple; their habits chocolate-brown wool with a white cord cincture and a five-decade rosary hanging along the left thigh. With Mother Clara’s soft hands gently shut over theirs, each professed the handwritten vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience that each would fold into leather phylacteries and hide underneath their habits like necklace amulets. She gave each a platinum gold wedding ring to wear as symbol of their marriage to Christ.

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