Sybille Von Olfers

Sibylle von Olfers (8 May 1881 – 29 Jan. 1916); German art teacher and a nun who worked as an author and illustrator of children's books. In 1906 she published her most well-known work, The Root Children (original title: Etwas von den Wurzelkindern, "Something about the children from the roots").

She was born in the Castle of Metgethen in East Prussia. ...the third of 5 children, her full name was Maria Regina Angela Hedwig Sibylla von Olfers.

She led a sheltered childhood and she and her siblings were educated by governesses and private tutors. However, her grandmother wrote that in the early stages of her education, Sibylle did not pay much attention to her lessons, as she preferred to amuse herself with fantasies and games.

Sibylle revealed her passion for art early on and began writing and illustrating picture books for her little sister with whom she was very close. These picture books entertained and delighted the whole family.

Sibylle's aunt, the writer and painter Marie von Olfers, supported her interest in art. She taught Sibylle how to draw and paint plants and animals and Sibylle would spend hours at a time drawing in a corner of the palace gardens. At 17 Sibylle went to stay with her aunt Marie von Olfers in Berlin where she trained at art college.

Her life as a nun
As a child, Sibylle displayed a quiet, childlike piety and would pray in front of self-erected altars surrounded by candles and drew images of Madonnas and saints for her little sister.
Sibylle grew up to be a beautiful woman, attracting many admirers and suitors, but she remained aloof and distant from the 'useless world of the aristocrats'. In 1906, at 25 Sibylle joined the Sisters of Saint Elizabeth, an order of nuns, much to the dismay of her parents. She took the name Sister Maria Aloysia.

.... her lung disease returned and she died at the age of 35.
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First Collected by

Suzan Hamer


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