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Lange, Mary Elizabeth (?–1883), educator and founder of both the oldest Catholic school for African Americans and the first order of African-American nuns in the United States, the Oblate Sisters of Providence., The place and date of Lange’s birth is unknown. Oral tradition says that she was born on the western part of the island of Saint Domingue (now Haiti). Born Elizabeth Lange, she was the offspring of mixed parentage and was a free mulatto. Her mother was Annette Lange; her father’s name is unknown. The revolution on the isle of Saint Domingue coupled with the Napoleonic revolution forced the emigration of many natives; both black and white refugees fled to other parts of the Western Hemisphere. Lange arrived in the United States educated, refined, and fluent in French. When she first came to the shores of Maryland, she encountered major problems. She was a free person of color in a slaveholding state and spoke French in a country whose native tongue was English. She was a black Catholic and a single woman in a foreign male-dominated society. In spite of such difficulties, by 1828 Lange had established a school for children of color in Baltimore, St. Frances Academy, still in existence....

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Marty, Martin (12 January 1834–19 September 1896), Benedictine monk and missionary, was the son of Jacob Alois Marty, a shoemaker and church sexton, and Elizabeth Reichlin. He was born in Schwyz, Switzerland, and baptized Aloysius. His earliest education was at Jesuit schools in Schwyz and later at Fribourg. When the Jesuits were expelled from Switzerland in 1848, Marty entered a monastic community, the Benedictine College of Einsiedeln, taking the religious name “Martin.” He was professed a monk in 1855 and ordained to the priesthood in 1856....

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Merton, Thomas (31 January 1915–10 December 1968), Trappist monk and writer, was born in Prades, France, the son of Owen Merton, a New Zealand–born painter, and Ruth Jenkins, an American. In 1916 the family returned to the United States. Following Merton’s mother’s death of cancer in 1921, his father took him to Bermuda for a year and, after a return to New York, left for France where he enrolled Merton in the Lycée Ingres at Montauban in 1925. In 1928 Merton’s father moved to England to exhibit his paintings. Merton himself left Montauban to enter Oakham School. In 1931 Merton’s father died of a brain tumor while still resident in England. In 1933, thanks to a scholarship, Merton entered Clare College, Cambridge, where he remained until 1934....

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Michel, Virgil (24 June 1890–26 November 1938), monk, was born George Francis Michel in St. Paul, Minnesota, the son of Fred Michel and Mary Griebler. His father owned a large general store and speculated in real estate and insurance. At the age of thirteen Michel was sent to St. John’s Preparatory School at Collegeville, Minnesota. He stayed there to complete college at St. John’s University; he then entered the Benedictine community, taking the name Virgil, in 1909. He made profession of monastic vows in 1913 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1918....

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Moosmüller, Oswald William (26 February 1832–10 January 1901), Roman Catholic priest and Benedictine monk, was born into a wealthy family in the village of Aidling, Bavaria. His father was a forester and a gamekeeper, but his parents’ names are not known. Baptized William, he began his formal education in the parish school of Aidling and subsequently enrolled at the monastic school of St. Michael’s Abbey, Metten. While studying at Metten, he learned of the missionary work undertaken among German immigrants in North America by Father ...

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Walters, Sister Annette (18 May 1910–22 February 1978), experimental psychologist, educator, and Catholic nun, was born Margaret Anna Walters in Elmwood, Wisconsin, the second child and only daughter of Emil A. Walters and Anna Berglund. Raised in the Lutheran faith in Minneapolis, Walters attended public schools until her mother placed her in St. Margaret’s Academy, which was staffed and administered by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet (CSJ). In 1927 Walters enrolled at the College of St. Catherine (later St. Catherine’s University) in St. Paul, Minnesota, with plans to pursue a career in medicine. She converted to Catholicism during her sophomore year, and in February 1929 she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph as a postulant. Several months later she was given the religious name of Sister Annette....

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Wimmer, Boniface (14 January 1809–08 December 1887), the founder of Benedictine monastic life in the United States and the first archabbot of St. Vincent's Abbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the founder of Benedictine monastic life in the United States and the first archabbot of St. Vincent’s Abbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, was born Sebastian Wimmer in Thalmassing, Bavaria, the son of Peter Wimmer, a tavern owner and farmer, and Elizabeth Lang. Sebastian Wimmer was born during the Napoleonic wars and at a time when German Catholic life in general and Benedictine monasticism in particular were undergoing a Romantic revival. He matriculated at the University of Munich (1827–1830), where he studied theology and where the German Romantic revival was in full swing. In 1831, after completing one year of studies for the priesthood at the Regensburg diocesan seminary, he was ordained. His bishop, Johann Michael Sailer, sent him to serve as a curate at the Marian shrine at Altötting in the diocese of Passau because the diocese of Regensburg had more priests than it needed....