Sister Beatrice, Carmelite nun, music teacher

March 15, 1991|By Carl Schoettler | Carl Schoettler,Evening Sun Staff

Sister Beatrice Bacchelli Oswald, who was the wife of an internationally known pianist when she entered the Baltimore Carmelite Monastery more than 60 years ago, died Wednesday at Villa Assumpta on Charles Street. She was 96 and the oldest member of the local Carmelite community.

A mass of Christian burial for Sister Beatrice will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at the Carmelite Monastery Chapel, 1318 Dulaney Valley Road in Towson. A vigil service will be held at 8 o'clock tonight at the chapel.

"She was a very cultured, civilized person," said Sister Colette Ackerman, the prioress of the monastery.

Her community remembered her "for her spirit of prayer, her feminine wisdom and graciousness, and a refreshing sense of freedom and flexibility."

She had been the first married woman to join the Baltimore

Monastery in more than a century. No married woman has become a member since.

Sister Beatrice and her husband, Alfredo Oswald, were both faculty members at the Peabody Conservatory when they decided to enter religious orders in 1930. They had been married 16 years.

Mr. Oswald became a lay brother in the Society of Jesus. He taught music and directed the choir at Georgetown Preparatory School in Rockville virtually all his years as a Jesuit brother. He died June 22, 1972.

"For many years, we have given our money to the church," Brother Oswald said, when he and his wife announced their intentions to enter religious orders. "Now we feel that the only thing we have left to give is ourselves.

"Our work," he said, "rests in the cloister rather than the world."

Beatrice Bacchelli was only 11 when she met Oswald, who was the son of Henri Oswald, a Brazilian diplomat-composer. They were married in 1913 when she was 18.

Educated privately in Italy, Sister Beatrice became fluent in five languages. She taught Italian and diction to opera students at Peabody. Her husband taught piano.

Brother Oswald had been a concert pianist who toured South America and Europe before coming to America for his "stunning" debut at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1920. He and his wife came to Baltimore in 1922.

Sister Beatrice was invested with the habit of her order by Archbishop Michael J. Curley in a remarkable ceremony April 13, 1931, at the old Carmelite Monastery at Caroline and Biddle streets.

She is survived by a nephew, Andrea Bacchelli, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a niece, Elizobetta Foglietti, of Florence, Italy.

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