Family of Origins

Young Josepha Friess (Mother Caroline) was a precocious child whose French and German family provided the context for her formation. Discover facets of her personality in the four vignettes offered here: they offer quite a case study. Facilitator directions are available for download.


Mother Caroline's Family

This is a study in cross-cultural families. This vignette gives an appreciation of her childhood and the roots of her courageous personality.

Grandmother & Grandfather Friess

Mother Caroline’s paternal grandfather was a tanner who died in 1828. He and his wife lived in Lauingen, Bavaria. After his death, Grandmother Friess moved to Donau, Bavaria, where one of her sons was the parish priest, Father Michael Friess. Grandmother Friess became his housekeeper. A second son, John George, was a translator of French living in Paris. He translated for Captain Chapoulard.

Grandmother and Grandfather Chapoulard

Her maternal grandfather was an officer in Napoleon’s army. He and his wife lived in Choisy-le-Roi, a suburb of Paris. They had one child, Catherine, whom they loved dearly.

Mother Caroline’s Parents and Siblings

John George Friess married Catherine and they had five children. Three were born in France: George, Josepha (Mother Caroline) who was baptized at Notre Dame Cathedral on August 24, 1824, and Adolphine. Two other children were born in Bavaria. Frederic who became Father Frederic Friess, Mother Theresa’s biographer and the Spiritual Director at the Munich Motherhouse at the time of Mother Caroline’s death. Walburga became Sister Alipia, SSND. Adolphine was Father Frederic Friess’ housekeeper.

Move from Paris to Bavaria

In 1828, when Grandfather Friess died, he left his tanning business to his son, John. John and Catherine then moved with their three children to Lauingen, Bavaria to carry on the family tanning business. Grandparents Chapoulard could not bear to part from their only child, Catherine, and their grandchildren, so they moved to Bavaria with the family.

Grandmother pressures John to leave Josepha with her and Father Michael Friess

En route they stopped to visit the grieving Grandmother Friess, living in Donau with her son, Fr. Michael Friess. It was apparent to Mrs. Friess that her French daughter-in-law, though beautiful and well educated, was not a religious woman. This upset her and Father Michael. They recognized that the precocious 4-year-old, Josepha, had no religious training. In the context of the grief of Grandmother Friess and the need to give young Josepha a religious education, Father Michael suggested to his brother that Josepha would get a better religious education if she stayed in Donau with them. She could go home during summer vacations. With reluctance, Josepha’s family left her with Father Michael and her grandmother. (Source: M. Caroline Friess, by P.M. Abbelen, 1893, pp. 21-27.)

Case Study, Part 1 (PDF)

Little Caroline

This vignette portrays a child who, at the age of four, showed how persuasive she could be in financial matters.

She loved to hear the jingle of money (age 4). She would make little purses and fill them with pebbles from the garden. Then she would come to her Grandmother and Reverend Uncle showing them proudly, “Look how much money I have?”

If she would not obey or displayed her temper Father Friess would punish her by fining her: letting go of her money was very painful for her. However, Grandmother Friess would immediately replenish what she had been fined.

After one episode of an angry outburst, Father Friess corrected her and she began pouting. She refused to speak to him for three days. Grandmother promised to pay her to break her silence and speak to her uncle. Josepha talked her Grandmother into 24 pennies: this was a considerable sum in 1828. (Ibid, pp. 28-29)

Her Reverend Uncle bought her first pair of earrings when she was 5. (p.30)

Case Study, Part 2 (PDF)

Education of Young Caroline

This vignette exemplifies the intellectual gifts of young Mother Caroline that would later serve her well as a religious leader.

When she was seven she memorized a poem of five stanzas for the ordination of a young priest. On her seventh birthday, her Reverend Uncle told her that since she was entering her girlhood, she could no longer address him with the familiar German “Du”, but should use the more formal, “Sie.” Nor would he kiss her goodnight, but only bless her.

She was perplexed and whispered into his ear, “But Reverend Uncle, when we are alone, may I say ‘Du?’ He agreed. Often he had visitors and she would call him into the passage to ask her question and use, ‘Du.’” (p. 38)

Her Rev. Uncle was transferred to Eichstaedt when she was ten years old. He gained a reputation as a fine orator. Often she would listen to him practicing his sermons.

One day, at age fifteen, she found herself alone in the Church of St. Walburga. She ascended the pulpit and preached to an empty church for some time. (p. 56)

Just before entering the convent she lived in the Bishop’s residence (Carl von Reisach) where she was to learn cooking.

When she graduated at fifteen, she had received the highest honors. However, her Reverend Uncle would never let her accept the first-place honor, only third. Even her Benedictine teachers pleaded with him, but he was adamant. After she had come home she threw the third place award in the “lumber room,” in disgust.

Case Study, Part 3 (PDF)

Remembering Her First Communion

Her First Communion records the importance of the Blessed Sacrament in her deepening spirituality. This experience was the root of her desire for perpetual adoration in the congregation.

On April 3, 1836, at the age of twelve, she made her First Communion.

Her Reverend Uncle carefully prepared her for this great event. Like the rest of her class, she was looking forward to wearing a veil and a lovely white dress on this special day. However, her Reverend Uncle gave her a choice. She could either receive Holy Communion with her class wearing her lovely dress and veil or receive Holy Communion privately from him in a little chapel. With difficulty, she chose the simpler option and remembered the graces of that day for the rest of her life.

On that same day, her Reverend Uncle took her to Mount St. Mary’s and consecrated her to the Blessed Mother, commending her to Mary’s care.

In 1837, the newly consecrated Bishop von Reisach confirmed her. Much to her displeasure, Bishop von Reisach and her Reverend Uncle chose her confirmation name. She received the name “Eve” because of her curiosity. (p. 47)

On her death bed July 22, 1892, she asked that her First Communion holy card be placed in her coffin. (pp. 42-45)

Case Study, Part 4 (PDF)

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