Sister Benigna Brandl

Age 95: She left Germany in '38, helped sisters sew veils

May 16, 2008|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Sun reporter

Sister Benigna Brandl, a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, died of acute respiratory failure at Sinai Hospital on May 8. She was 95.

Born Theresia Brandl in Oberpfalz, Germany, she entered the order in 1925 as a student and in 1937 took the religious name Sister Mary Benigna.

According to a biography her order supplied, she entered the congregation as Adolf Hitler was forcing religious education out of German schools.

Her mother superior received permission to send sisters to the United States. Sister Benigna agreed to leave Germany with 14 other members of her order.

She left April 20, 1938, and lived the rest of her life in Baltimore. She initially went to her order's Aisquith Street motherhouse in East Baltimore. She began sewing with her fellow sisters and helped make nearly 500 veils each year, along with numerous neckerchiefs, caps, forehead bands and other garments.

"She taught us how to sew the black habits," said Sister Patricia Glinka. "She was an extraordinary woman in terms of gentleness and service."

In the 1960s and the 1970s, Sister Benigna volunteered at the women's prison in Jessup and taught inmates how to sew.

For 43 years, she was her order's sacristan and prepared altar linens in the chapel at Villa Assumpta in the Woodbrook section of Baltimore County, where she later resided.

She was photographed by a Sun photographer in 2006 for her role in a medical study about aging. At the time she exercised daily on a stationary bicycle and was still sewing.

A Mass of Christian burial was offered Monday.

Survivors include two sisters, Sister Godberta Brandl and Stilla Mossburger, both of Bavaria in southern Germany.

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