Sisters of Mercy of Holy Cross


Sr. Magna Maria Lang

Born: 13 September 1933

Professed: 19 March 1956

Died: 31 May 2011

The home of Anna, that as the baptismal name of Sr. Magna Maria, was a farm in in Prägraten, East-Tirol; there she grew up with one brother and two sisters. For eight year she went to the village school, not very happily, as she told. She preferred to work at home, in the field, with animals. When she was eight years old she decided to enter the convent of the Dominican sisters in Lienz but then she came to know Holy Cross. Her elder sister was already a candidate in Hall. Anna worked for some time in the kitchen of the Provincial House and so gained closer insight into the convent life. She recognized the call of God and decided to become a Holy Cross sister. After some consideration her father finally gave her permission to enter on 2nd February 1951. She did the Nurses’ Training as candidate and obtained her diploma in 1954. 

After her Profession she got her first assignment in the Sanatorium in Innsbruck and later worked in the hospital in Hall for seven years. Then her great desire found fulfilment. After a time of preparation she was sent to the Mission in India in 1966.

She considered India as her home and took the many poor people into her heart. She saw the need all around; there was a lot of work to do.

In the hospitals she gave practical training to nurses and midwifes. She was very practical, could organise, and most of all, she was very hard working herself and was able to master difficult situations.A striking example: During a doctors’ strike, the government had put military doctors to the hospital for emergency service. There was no gynaecologist among them. But some women who were admitted needed urgently life-saving surgery. Sr. M. Magna acted. She locked the operation theatre, requested one of the military doctors to stand near her and performed the operations herself.

Her readiness to shoulder responsibility, her dealing with employees and business people, her involvement in every kind of work did not remain unnoticed. She was entrusted with different responsibilities like planning and supervising constructions. Besides all the managerial involvements, she was very interested in the young Indian religious and was caring for them. For the sustenance of the community she planted vegetables, potatoes, wheat, groundnuts in the convent garden and did not forget the flowers, either. Young people could learn a lot from her. But her main aim always remained the mission of helping all those in need.Sr. Magna Maria required much strength to fulfil her duties, to bear the many tensions and struggles. She found it in prayer. She unloaded her worries before the tabernacle, there she received new strength. This enabled her to work in the spirit of our founder and do whatever possible.  

For many years the missionaries hailing from Europe were in the leading positions. It needed openness, understanding, mutual trust and respect from the side of the Europeans as well as from the young Indian sisters to work together for the common goal, to incarnate the charism of Holy Cross into the Indian culture.  It was Sr. Magna Maria’s concern to live an authentic religious life, to build up communities, to foster team spirit, to make bridges between the different cultures. When she realized that the “bridge” was stable and the Indian sisters were prepared and capable to continue the work, she wrote to her superior in Austria: “I have had the chance to live our charism in India as a missionary and did it with great joy and sisterly love. I am no more young and I can no more work as before, therefore I would like to return to my Province. That was in 2007.

She returned to Austria, but her heart remained in India. Only here did she realize how deep her roots were in the Indian soil. She lived between two worlds.

Repeatedly she was urged to put her Indian experiences in writing. However, she consequently refused. May be it would have been too painful, and she was not one to show her emotions. She hardly ever spoke of her achievements in India. She wanted to close that chapter and live in the presence, but she did not manage. For one term of office she was superior, cared for her sisters, looked after flowers and the garden.  Her health deteriorated, she suffered from cardiac insufficiency and insomnia. The blood circulation became ever worse and restricted her movements. When the pain in the legs increased and she was in need of more help, she was moved to the sisters’ nursing home St. Elisabeth. But our hope for improvement did not realize and one of her legs had to amputated.  After seven weeks she was ready to be discharged from the hospital – but she did not return to the convent. The Lord led her to her final home, to the place he had prepared for her and for which she had been longing. Sr. Magna Maria died on 31st Mai at 4 o’clock in the morning.. When returning from India after more than 40 years, she said: “It was always my goal to live as Holy Cross sister till the end.” She expressed the wish to have a simple funeral, as it is fitting for a Holy Cross Sister. We have prepared it for her gratefully.  from Tirol, Translated by Sr.Clarentia, Hazaribag.