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The Death of Mother Benedicta Riepp


Campus: CSB

In 1852 Benedicta Riepp, at the age of 27, was sent with two other sisters from Saint Walburg Abbey, Eichstätt, Bavaria (Germany), to Saint Mary’s, Pennsylvania, to help educate German immigrants and to spread the Benedictine way of life.  She joined the newly founded community in St. Cloud in the spring of 1858, and died there four years later on March 15, 1862. Her death was depicted in a sculpture by CSB artist Joseph O’Connell, "Moment of Death",” which is displayed in the Monastery’s Gathering Place.  No photos of Mother Benedicta are known to exist.

Mother Benedicta Riepp’s years of leadership were embroiled in controversy with church authorities over who had jurisdiction of Benedictine women in the United States, a struggle that took her case to the Vatican, removed her from office and sent her into exile.

In 1884, Mother Benedicta’s remains were moved from St. Cloud to the monastery cemetery in St. Joseph.  She is credited as their foundress and as the foundress of Benedictine women in America.

The Grave of Mother Benedicta Riepp, for more photos visit the Monastery's cemetary page

Benedicta Riepp
Nata.28 Jun.1825
Prof.9 Jul.'46  [age 21]
Mort.15 Mart.1862  [age 36]

For further information:

With Lamps Burning by Grace M. McDonald, OSB, publisher St. Joseph Minn.: Saint Benedicts' Priory Press, 1957. Available in CSB Library's General Collection: BX4278.S25 M27

Behind the Beginnings: Benedictine Women in America by Incarnata Girgen, OSB, publisher St. Joseph, Minn.: Saint Benedict's Convent, 1981. Available in the CSB Library's General Collection: BX4278.S25 G57

The Reshaping of a Tradition: American Benedictine Women, 1852-1881 by Ephrem Hollermann, OSB, publisher Saint Joseph, Minn.: Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, 1994. Available in the CSB Library's General Collection: BX4277.U58 H64 1994