The Journey to Munich, 1626-27
The picture shows a dark scene – and indeed Mary Ward has left Rome at a time of discouragement, even failure. She has spent five fruitless years trying to find acceptance from the Roman authorities and after the closure of her three schools in Italy she has left Rome, convinced that there is nothing more to be done there. She is going north, probably intending to visit and encourage the sisters in the earlier foundations. But, to go back to the picture, there are also signs of hope: the raised hand of the man on the last white horse; the man in front of the carriage, pointing ahead; the rays of sunlight falling upon Mary Ward. In Florence she has visited Maria Magdalena, Grand Duchess of Tuscany, sister of Emperor Ferdinand II of Austria, who suggested that she call on the Elector Maximilian I in Munich, and gave her letters of recommendation. According to ‘The Brief Relation’, written by Mary Poyntz, one of those in the group travelling north, Mary Ward said not long before they arrived in Munich, ‘What will you say if we have a house here?’ In the course of that year she was to have a school in Munich, in the Paradeiserhaus, funded by Elector Maximilian, and a school in Vienna funded by Emperor Ferdinand II. Both were to be large and successful, as long as they were allowed to continue: it was to be a new beginning. Have I experienced times in my own life when a period of darkness and failure has been followed unexpectedly by new opportunities and success? Have I seen such ‘new beginnings’ happening for people I know? ‘Resurrection moments’ come after struggle and failure – like the ray of sunlight coming down on Mary Ward in the picture.
Sr. Patricia Harriss CJ