Mother Benedicta Riepp

I saw a large tree growing up, covered all over with beautiful white blossoms. I believe that the dream is an image of the beautiful life of unity and love shared by all the members [of the new foundation in America].

Adapted (by Owen Lindblad, OSB) from the words of Mother Augustina Weihermuller, OSB, of Eichstätt,
on February 11, 1957.

Mother Benedicta (Sybilla) Riepp

Benedicta_riepp.jpg Mother Benedicta Riepp at the age of 27, was sent with two other Sisters from Saint Walburg Abbey, Eichstätt, Bavaria (Germany), to Saint Marys, Penn., to help educate German immigrants and to spread the Benedictine way of life. At the time of her death, after only 10 years in the United States, six independent communities of Benedictine women were established and thriving. One hundred sixty five years later, over 40 monasteries in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Taiwan and Japan trace their roots to Mother Benedicta Riepp.

A survey of these monasteries revealed that a minimum of 2 million people have had been influenced and continue to be served in instititutions of education, health care, social service and spirituality instituted or administered by Benedicta Riepp’s daughter houses. The Benedictine Sisters of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., founded on July 4, 1857, are part of that heritage. Over the past 150 years, the Benedictines of St. Joseph, Minn., have served thousands of people in the Diocese of St. Cloud, other dioceses across the United States and abroad.

The Sisters of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., grew to be the largest community of Benedictine women in the world within their first 90 years, with a roster of 1,278. At the crest of their numbers, they were ministering in over 83 schools and health care organizations. Today, the monastic community numbers 290, still the largest Benedictine community in the United States.

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.

Mother Benedicta joined the newly founded community in St. Cloud, Minn., in the spring of 1858, and died there four short years later on March 15, 1862. In 1884, her remains were moved from St. Cloud to the monastery cemetery in St. Joseph.

You can also read Sister Ephrem Hollermann's entry about M. Benedicta in MNopedia.

Important Dates

  • Born June 28, 1825, in Waal, Swabia, West Germany
  • Entered Saint Walburga Convent in Eichstätt, Bavaria on July 7, 1844
  • First Profession was made on July 9, 1846
  • Died on March 15, 1862, St. Cloud, Minnesota, of tuberculosis
  • Burial site is in the Monastery Cemetery at Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minnesota

Below is a brief video on Mother Benedicta Riepp from our Sesquicentennial exhibit at the Haehn Museum at Art and History Place. For more videos on our history, click here.