Sturdy Roots

Fine Arts Education was a Key Component Within SSND

Josepha Learns to Sew :

A pious and beautiful custom among the warm-hearted Suabians made an indelible impression on little Josepha, when spending her vacations at Lauingen in her sixth, seventh and eighth years. The first pieces of handiwork made by little girls were offered to the Blessed Virgin or St. Anne and then brought to the alms-house. Grandmother Friess required little Josepha to comply with this custom.

The first pair of stockings she knit, when five years of age, she offered to Mary on her altar in the grave-yard chapel at Lauingen. Her next offering consisted of the first yarn she spun, when six years old. Grandma had taught her to use the spindle in preference to the wheel, because of the better quality of the yarn it produced.

Notwithstanding the lively child's fondness for active sports, she succeeded in spinning seven skeins of yarn, each consisting of one hundred threads which she tied together with red ribbon. As to the length of these threads, the narrator is, of course, ignorant. This yarn, Josepha offered to St. Anne in a grotto beneath our Lady's altar. Grandma, who was even prouder of the offering to be made than her grandchild, when leading Josepha down the stairway, whispered: "Hide your yarn, my child; for the Blessed Virgin might be jealous." She placed her offering at the foot of St. Anne's statue, which Mother Caroline was wont to call a "frightful image," as it rudely represented the Saint, above life-size, holding the Infant Jesus in her arms, and Mary standing by her side.

In her third vacation grandmother Friess was rejoiced to lead little Josepha to St. Anne's statue once more with the first little under-garment the happy child had made. Truly, a touching and beautiful ideal, this threefold offering of a little girl! How deep must have been the impression of child-like faith and tender devotion, made upon her susceptible young mind. Even on her deathbed Mother Caroline besought the narrator not to omit this beautiful custom of her cherished Suabia. (P.M. Abbeln,Life of Mother Caroline Friess, 1893.)

The pictures above are sections from Mother Caroline's tapestry that hangs at Notre Dame of Elm Grove.

Needlework Introduction
Mother Theresa's Needlework
S. Josepha's Needlwork
Needlework in America
Student's Needlwork
Holy Rule of 1924
German Needlework Teachers
Needlwork in Missions
Needlework Today

© Judith Best, SSND - 2010 - School Sisters of Notre Dame
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