Thursday, October 27, 2016

The "Holy Oil" of Saint Walburga

I can still feel the chill that made me shiver when Sister Martina came to tell us the good news-- we were finishing supper, and it was the day of her Profession. She told us the Mother Abbess had announced to the community that the "holy oil" had started flowing, and that that evening, after compline, the nuns would descend to the crypt church to sing the Te Deum! Sister Martina was as happy as we were--that the community would again thank God for this annual event, and on the very day of her Profession and our presence there. She also said that although this is usually something they do in community, Mother was extending the invitation to us for that special time. 

For a bit of history:

Walburga died in February of 779. One hundred years later, Bishop Otkar of Eichstätt exhumed Walburga's relics from Heidenheim and brought them to Eichstätt, where they were buried beneath Holy Cross Church on the outskirts of town. Miraculous healings were reported all along the way to Eichstätt. A community of religious women who cared for St. Walburga's grave was the first beginning of our Abbey's history.
For one thousand years, a mysterious moisture has collected every year on St. Walburga's relics. This water became known as "Walburga's Oil", and was seen as a sign of her continuing intercession. The oil has always been collected and given to pilgrims. Healings attributed to St. Walburga's intercession continue to be reported up to the present day."

Their new priest chaplain was already there when we crossed the dark courtyard between our guest house and crypt church door--and waiting for the sister in the silent, dark, holy space is a memory I will carry until my death. We could hear the sisters singing compline faintly--until they finished with the Salve Regina and began approaching us through the many hallways and ancient doors and steps. 

After singing, and the many excited smiles, the nuns and guests were invited to climb the wooden steps they had brought for the event. I have photos of Sister Martina but yes, Number Six and I also climbed the steps with the help of the eager, jubilant nuns. We saw the chamber, so rarely open for view, under the high altar above that holds her remains, and the "holy oil" that is collected through an inventive system of little channels into a bowl that is collected every by the sisters, from now until her feast day in February. 

It is impossible to describe the spiritual dimension of the whole experience. I had not only brought my own prayer intentions, so many and heartfelt, nestled in mother's heart, but the petitions of so many friends who had entrusted me with their prayers. In fact the whole trip was a prayer in itself, as I do not like to travel, and that spiritual dimension took me smiling and prayerfully from airplane to airplane. 

The gratitude in my heart to the saint who now is my dearest sister's patron saint--to the prayers she was accepting to take to heaven for me... To be able to witness this annual event with the sisters and sing with them, this holy occasion that happens every year for a thousand years!

I felt blessed beyond any way I could possibly deserve it. The grace of our generous God, who brings Grace, comfort and consolation to us, sinners.

To finish the post I add three of the thousands of Thank You paintings on the abbey walls. I pray that one day I too will paint one of them!

Note: This post is dedicated to my beautiful brother Eduardo, who saw the coloring pages on the blog and inquired about the vial she is always depicted holding.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Saint Walburga Coloring Pages for kids

I made these two based on paintings I took photos... My CCD students already colored several! 

Monday, October 24, 2016

One week ago: a beer in Ireland

I spent a total of four to five hours in Beautiful Ireland--at least that was how it looked from airplane and airport windows. I was told to have a beer--and complied! :-)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

One week ago: Sunday at the Abbey with Sister Martina OSB

We helped Sister Martina and her fellow sister to finish her daily work, and the Abbess stopped to chat!  
Then we walked to go see the Abbey Church!


"Peace be with you" above on of the doors

Saint WIllibald is everywhere

Looking back, the sister's chapel is behind those windows

Breathtaking, truly



There were flowers for a diaconate ordination earlier

every side altar was a sight to see

Saint Walburga

There were hundreds, thousands of paintings made and given by people whose prayers were answered by the saint

Above the paintings, the crutches no longer needed

a sail from a sailboat above these paintings

so many!

each with a story

So many!

so many healings and graces

After the abbey church tour and the Vespers chanted on Latin, Sister martina came with us to our guest dining room

Number Six took good photos of the two of us

The meals were amazing

This one had German sausages. The bread and butter and fresh garden salads and soups were heavenly

Back to the church paintings: This was painted by one of the sisters. I loved meeting her! Before she was a sister, she was an avid cyclist and an artist, and credits St Walburga for saving her life when she was run over by a acar! 

So many "Dankes"

Love this one of the saint keeping the child from being hurt by the wardrobe!