October 03, 2011

The Southern California teenage girl who grew up to wear a pectoral cross

[I first posted this in 2006.  A new comment just came in.]

At St. Walburga Abbey in Colorado, as at all Benedictine monasteries, the nuns weave daily life in and out of the repeating Liturgy of the Hours or “Divine Office”— services of communal prayer occurring throughout the day.

It is a rhythm of daily worship that the early church created— from matins before dawn, through lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers and finally compline just before retiring.

Monks and nuns also observe some time each day in solitary prayer and reading as individuals.

After these priorities of worship and prayer, domestic chores fill out the day at St. Walburga Abbey— feeding cattle, planting crops, cleaning linens, cooking meals, tending to the guests.

Benedictines follow the regulations of St. Benedict— seeking God in worship, prayer, work and community life under a superior.

St. Walburga Abbey's current abbess, Mother Maria-Michael Newe, O.S.B., was born in Norwalk, California, and entered the monastery at age 17 in 1976.

Three nuns from Abtei Sankt Walburg, Eichstätt, Germany, founded St. Walburga Abbey, Colorado, in 1935, originally to serve as one of several possible places of refuge for the Eichstätt Benedictines who realized the threat in Hitler's rise to power.

An abbess of Eichstätt, Mother Augustina Weihermüller, O.S.B., about 1959 ... yes, with pontifical gloves, ring, pectoral cross and crozier!

Read more about the Colorado monastery through the link below.
Click HERE for it.


Blogger Saint Peter's helpers said...

Father, are nuns allowed the pectoral cross, gloves, ring and crozier? Forgive my naïveté.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Today abbesses use all of those except the gloves.

On the following page you will find pictures of the abbess of Eichstatt a few years ago attending the dedication of the new church of their daughterhouse in Pennsylvania. She is using her crozier and you can see her pectoral cross. You can't see her abbatial ring in the photos.


11:49 AM  
Blogger Saint Peter's helpers said...

Thanks. Are abbesses the only ones who use them or do other prioresses in cloistered communities use them as well? Also, what's the difference between a daughterhouse and a motherhouse?

3:12 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Only abbesses, not prioresses.

However, some religious orders have a crucifix or cross that forms part of the habit of all members--but those are distinct from a pectoral cross.

In monastic orders, "daughterhouse" simply means a monastery founded by another monastery (the "motherhouse"). Benedictines actually take a vow, called "stability", that unites them to one physical monastery for life; and they normally remain in that one monastery for life.

In non-monastic orders, the motherhouse is instead the "headquarters" of the congregation. The members of the congregation can be transferred from house to house within the congregation throughout their lives.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Saint Peter's helpers said...

I've learned so much here - I didn't know any of these about the monastic order especially about the vow of stability. This is great edification for me! Thank you Father.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

You can read my description of monastic life at:

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Bob Farrell said...

We had an amazing vocations talk a couple of weeks ago (I am a trainer of radical papists for 7th and 8th graders), and the reason it was so amazing was that it was done by a young nun who had a life that most of my students would kill for, and gave it all up to be a bride of Christ (and she was dang joyful about it too!).

A summary of her story can be found here:

She also writes a blog:
(crud, got it bookmarked on another machine and can't find it)

9:31 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Bob Farrell, her blog is

10:31 PM  
Blogger Saint Peter's helpers said...

Thanks again, Fr.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Stephan Becker said...

Hi, just came by through searching for my grandaunt, the abbess Weihermüller. Great to find her picture.

I vaguely remember visiting her with my mum, Ingeborg Becker (born Weihermüller) at St. Walburg in Eichstätt as a young child, although I could not have been older than four or five.

Thanks for (kind-of) refreshing my memories.

Stephan Becker

1:19 PM  
Blogger Anthony S. Layne said...

Father — It's odd, I just noticed you're back to posting. Welcome back! What happened?

10:10 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...


I started the blog while doing a stint working on staff and in residence at a parish. My day there was much less structured than here in the monastery, so I had much more time to maintain the blog.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here is a more updated photo and history : http://www.walburga.org/abbey/

7:43 PM  

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