Who are you, Elizabeth Eppinger?
==> A poor, sickly, insignificant girl …
==> A girl touched by God, seized with longing to love Him and to make known His love to all
Elizabeth was born on September 9, 1814, in Niederbronn as the first child of George and Barbara Eppinger. The young family occupies the first floor of the parental home constructed in 1807. The parents of George Eppinger and the unmarried siblings live on the ground floor of this house.
As time went on, 10 more children were born bringing joys and worries to this modest home. Elizabeth lived her life in this context: in the house, on the fields, in the church, in the village. Barbara, the mother, assumed the responsibilities of day-to-day life like all women of her condition. George, the father, took care of the heavy work and the running of the small farm.
Life at the Eppingers was decisively marked by work; however, there was also time for the joy of family life. Their days were marked by Christian faith giving meaning to their entire life. Every day all members of the family gathered together for prayer even after a long day of hard work. The mother taught her little daughter very early to kneel down for prayer mornings and evenings.
“It happens that one evening a neighbor came to my father and talked with him; he spoke about the passion of Christ … I listened attentively and began to cry. Noticing this, my father asked me why I was crying. I couldn’t answer because of my tears.
A little later the neighbor came again and while we were having supper he again talked about the Passion of Christ. I was sitting at the table, but at once I laid everything down and turned to a crucifix hanging over the table on the wall. Again I started to cry. Seeing this, the neighbor said to my father: ‘Look, there is something extraordinary happening to this child’ ” (Autobiography, 5).
Endowed with a strong personality, Elizabeth showed a great spiritual sensitivity. She was touched by the suffering of the people that in many ways alienates them from the infinite love and mercy of God. She wants “to know God, to love Him and to do what pleases Him”.
During her younger days, Elizabeth was, several times, afflicted by long periods of illness. She spent the decisive years prior to the foundation of the Congregation in a small room of her parental home. She received numerous visitors. She was an instrument of the grace of God for many. Here, the plan for her work matured with the help of Father Reichard.
Today the former sickroom of Elizabeth is a place of reflection and of prayer. It reminds us what the grace of God could accomplish through this woman of faith. The cross in this room shows/presents the spirituality of our Congregation.
The life of Elizabeth can remind me of my own life history.
==> What do I long for?
==> I look back at my life:
• What would I like to give thanks for? For joys, gifts, talents, successes … for the insight/recognition that God loves me…
==> I dwell also on:
• What paralyzes my life, what makes it difficult?
• What has helped me in times of trial, of discouragement, of suffering?
• What helps me still today to hold on in difficult times?