On April 10, 1836, Barbara Weinzierl became one of the first six novices received into the School Sisters of Notre Dame. She was given the religious name Mary (although in later years she was usually known as Sister Mary Barbara). She professed her first vows in 1838.
In celebration of Sister Mary Barbara’s nameday, she was presented with this poem in honor of St. Barbara, whose feast day is December 4, and who was Mother Mary Barbara’s patron.
What is a nameday?
When the novices received their religious names at reception, they were usually given a small card or paper with a brief biography of the saint whose name they would bear for the rest of their lives (that is, until after Vatican II when sisters were given the option to return to their baptismal names). The paper also had the month and day when the church celebrated that saint and was therefore considered the respective sister’s nameday. Until shortly before Vatican II, sisters did not celebrate their birthdays, but rather, their namedays. So Mother Mary Barbara and her community would have celebrated her nameday on December 4 rather than her birthday on April 11.
Since she was the superior, and even more so, since she was one of the first to be received into the congregation, her nameday would have been a very special occasion. On these kinds of occasions, it was customary to have some kind of program in her honor, often with the recitation of a poem depicting the virtues of the sister’s patron saint.