From the memories of the beginning of the Generalate in Rome

Sr. M. Luka Spengler was one of the sisters who witnessed the move of the Generalate to Rome in 1970 and the early days there.

In the following text she tells from her memories:

Our trip to Rome began at the end of July 1970. We, Sr. Genovefa and I, first took the interzonal train from Berlin / West to Frankfurt / Main. We had to change there. Sr. Kuniberta joined us in Frankfurt, who had broken off her vacation to help with this not easy undertaking. We had a lot of luggage and it was not so easy to keep track, not to forget or lose any luggage. It was a long journey to Rome and we were glad when we finally drove into Rome.

We were supposed to be picked up there by sisters from another congregation, but no one was there. We had no choice but to wait, because we neither knew the language nor did we have money. And it was very hot!

After a long wait, the sisters finally came (I don’t remember which community they belonged to) and fortunately they spoke German. They took us to their house and there Mother Gertrud, the General Treasurer Sr. Florina and the General Assistant Sr. Doris, who had arrived by plane, were waiting for us. We stayed with the sisters for one night. The next morning the Vicar General Sr. Maria and Sr. Edda Krüger arrived in Rome by car from Berlin. Together we then drove to La Storta. There we had rented a house on the premises of the Dillinger Franciscan Sisters, which was to become the seat of the general government for two years.

The house we found was completely empty. The furniture transport from Germany was supposed to arrive in the course of the morning, but did not arrive until evening. So we had no choice but to wait in the Roman heat. We didn’t have anything and at least I got a chair from a nearby stable so that Mother Gertrud could sit on it. The rest of us sat on the steps and waited.

When the furniture transport finally came, it was late and we unloaded everything and only set up the beds for Mother Gertrud, Sr. Maria, Sr. Florina and Sr. Doris. The rest of us slept on the mattresses we had put on the floor. We didn’t put all the furniture up until the next day.

Until we (Sr. Genovefa, Sr. Kuniberta and I) took the train back to Germany, we stayed in Rome for about 3 weeks and experienced the early days and initial difficulties first hand. It started with shopping. La Storta is a bit outside of Rome and the nearest shops were far away and there was no bus. Mostly it was Sr. Doris who did the shopping and she was often taken away by Italian soldiers who were probably stationed nearby.

The Dillinger Franciscan Sisters, on whose grounds we now lived, were also very hospitable to us. They did a lot of farming and gave us fresh milk and eggs every morning. We were also able to take part in the Holy Mass there every day.

Language was a big problem in the early days. None of us spoke Italian. There were some misunderstandings, but they often made us laugh. For example, an electrician came into the house. It was hot and he always spoke of caldo, caldo. The nurse would always say, no, it’s hot. But we didn’t know that “caldo” means “hot” in Italian and that we always only understood “cold”.

Looking back, I can say that it was a difficult but also a very nice time and today I am grateful that I was able to help with the beginnings of our Generalate in Rome

Sr. Luka Spengler