Mother Alphonse Marie Eppinger
Through the Eyes of Her Contemporaries
Abbe Busson was the most informed witness of the life of Mother Alphonse Marie. He says that even though she was thin, she was not weak. The expression on her face was serious but not somber. On the contrary, in conversation with her, everyone quickly gained confidence and felt interior joy. MAM looked at a person in a special way. Her look was penetrating, examining, yet generous. One can say that she knew to read in souls. Her voice was pleasant, tinkling but not strong. Her speeches were understandable.
Dr. Kuhn met personally with Mother Alphonse Marie. He says, “She is a young woman with fragile health. Her voice sounds clear, her behavior is of good faith, and her face features are intelligent. She answers my questions politely, completely, and spontaneously.”
Abbe Glöckler knew Mother Alphonse Marie, personally, and wrote her biography. He says that Mother Alphonse Marie is not tall, not short, slim, and almost skinny. On her oval face shine two deep eyes which penetrate visitors completely. Her mouth, with narrow lips makes the impression of rigor and dominion.
Looking at her last picture, we can see her determined and steadfast will, deep and probing eyes, and sleek behavior. Yet, this will is mitigated by warmness and goodness so she could understand everyone. Zealously she connects with wise solitude.
MAM was a balanced person. Her vivid temperament propelled her to act. Yet, she first thought and examined consequences of her actions. When she recognized God’s will, she followed it strictly, and nothing could hold her back. There are many examples of her obedience to our Lord in her life. She fulfilled His will always and in every circumstance. The clear goal she fulfilled straight ahead. From her childhood, she was steady which bordered on stubbornness for which she fought her whole life. Nothing escaped her bright look, yet, she judged very carefully.
Mother Alphonse Marie admonished her daughters seriously and strictly, yet, from the bottom of her heart she forgave and was good to them. Although she was strict, she immediately forgot everything of the hurt. She explained: “I am ready to kiss the feet of the Sister, who does not excuse herself while she is rebuked and is not offended.” In her mother’s strictness was noting that would deter anyone. The Sisters said about her: “We love our mother because of her simplicity in thinking and acting.”
Mother Alphonse Marie loved solitude, yet, she like to talk to people with joy. This woman had a great power over people, yet, she wanted to be unknown before the world. She loved kept silence. Thus, she brought her “work” to completion.
Her nature expressed something original. The special sensitivity of her soul feels every suffering which she bore out of love to the Crucified One. Even the bitter accusations could not take peace from her soul. She let the wise of the world speak, as she put all her trust in God.
Because she walked through long and hard the school of suffering, she tenderly understood the needs of her neighbors. All visitors were happy when they left because of her goodness and kind words.
The gift of seeing people, what is in their souls, made her an utter director for many. There are many witnesses of this. She had a right word and advice for everyone. God gifted her with a good mind and right judgment. Many left her with the decision to change their lives and to walk the right path.
God gave her a specific commission for priests, who visit her in abundant numbers. She told them about dignity and the grandeur of the priesthood. She prayed a lot for priests, the Holy Father, and the Diocesan Bishop. Her face shows peace. As St. Paul, the Apostle said, she finished the race.
Her eyes no longer stared at anything earthly, they see a nicer world. These eyes are not tired. In them shines the light of a pure soul.
What about her tender smiling? What would like it to say us? “After much suffering I know that faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Her soul is leaving her body which is now only a transparent ossuary.
This final picture is for us a harvest of rich life, which MAM made for herself in magnificent unity, according for the purpose she set out: “Everything in God, with God and for God, to His greater honor and glory!”
In: Sister Joseph-Marie Perrin, Mother Alphonse Marie, Elizabeth Eppinger 1814-1867, Foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Divine Redeemer, Alsatia, Colmar 1949.