May 19, 1895 – Attending a papal audience is a distinct honor. Pilgrims from all over the world travel to St. Peter’s square in Rome, Italy just to catch a glimpse of the Pope. Before the first three Salvatorian Sisters left for the United States of America, they joined our co-founder Mother Mary of the Apostles (Theresa von Wuellenweber) in an audience with Pope Leo XIII. A well-regarded friend of the community, Monsignor De Waal, arranged for the visit, and the four sisters felt privileged to attend the Mass for Italian and Polish immigrants. During the audience, the Pope unexpectedly allowed the sisters to speak with him, and they each received a personal blessing on the head and forehead.
Sister Margaret Shekleton, SDS documented Mother Mary and Sister Raphaela’s reflections in her book, Bending in Season: History of the North American Province of the Sisters of the Divine Savior – 1895 to 1985.
“Oh, what a day of grace! I wept with emotion.”
While Mother Mary’s response was filled with reverence, Sister Raphael’s words also revealed the fear that filled her heart for the journey ahead.
“Nobody will ever understand what it cost me to tear away from our beloved Holy Father, to enter a future so dark and uncertain.”