Introduction Geographic location (map) - Catchment area - Community and health status
St. Walburg's Hospital Nyangao is a voluntary agency general hospital in Lindi Rural District, Lindi Region. It is owned by Catholic Diocese of Lindi supported by the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing.
It is now 49 years since this present hospital was built. Its history began 12 years before that, when in 1947 a small dispensary was opened. In 1959, Sister Doctor Tekla Stinnesbeck decided that Nyangao was an ideal location for new health facilities and she initiated plans for an 86 bed hospital.
Most of those original buildings lasted many years and housed 150 beds.
In 1982 a major rehabilitation programme of the whole hospital began, initiated by Sister Doctor Raphaela Haendler.
The third and final phase was completed in 1996 with the total number of beds increased to 220.
Saint Walburga our Patronness
She lived from 710 to 779 and was one of the most popular saints of the Middle Ages. She was born in England and educated by English Benedictines. St. Boniface asked England for help in the missionary work in Germany. Because St. Walburga was open to this call, she left her homeland in England and devoted her life to the conversion of Germany. Walburga became the Abbess of a double Benedictine monastery in Heidenheim. She was responsible for the spiritual and material welfare of both the monks and the nuns. St. Walburga was respected and loved during her lifetime. People remembered her deep prayer life, charity, and courage, as well as miracles of healing when she prayed for them. The legends written about her after her death give us a good picture of her spirit. One of these stories is
The Light Miracle
One night when Walburga asked one of the monks to light the candles so that she could go to her room, he refused. Walburga had to find her way alone in the darkness. When her sisters came to accompany her to supper, the hallway was lighted, not by candles, but by a divine light. It lit the dormitory brightly until time for the office of Matins. The nuns went to Walburga, filled with joy over the miracle, and she prayed to the Lord in these words:
"Oh Lord, as a humble maid who committed my life to you since my youth, I thank you for granting this grace. You have honored me in my unworthiness with the comfort of your light. This sign gives courage to the souls of your handmaids who are dependent on me. And you have driven out the darkness and our fear through the bright light of your mercy."
This prayer gives a good idea of who she was.
Walburga died in February of 779. One hundred years later, Bishop Otkar of Eichstätt exhumed Walburga's relics from Heidenheim and brought them to Eichstätt, where they were buried beneath Holy Cross Church on the outskirts of town. Miraculous healings were reported all along the way to Eichstätt.
A community of religious women who cared for St. Walburga's grave was the first beginning of our Abbey's history.
For one thousand years, a mysterious moisture has collected every year on St. Walburga's relics. This water became known as "Walburga's Oil", and was seen as a sign of her continuing intercession. The oil has always been collected and given to pilgrims. Healings attributed to St. Walburga's intercession continue to be reported up to the present day.
The history of Sr. Walburga Diepolder OSB
Josefa Diepolder was born in Germany in 1870. Name Walburga was given after joining the Congregation of the Missionary Benedictines. In 1894 she was sent to East Africa to Dar es Salaam where she was nursing the sick and helped all who needed her at the Sister's hospital. In 1897 Sr. Walburga was sent to Lukuledi where the new mission was opened. Water shortage in Lukuledi forced the missionaries in 1898 to transfer Sisters to Nyangao. The little St. Agnes Convent was first a temporary building accommodating Sisters in Nyangao.
In August 1905, five month after Sr. Walburga returned to Nyangao ending her four years rest in Germany, the Maji Maji revolt spread in the South East of Tanganyika. Bad news were coming from different directions and on Sunday 27 August rebels approximate Nyangao. Their aim was to destroy the whole mission and to kill all the missionaries. The missionaries decided to flee. There were the parish priest, Fr. Leo, Br. Cyprian, Sr. Bernardine, Sr. Walburga, Sr. Helena and Sr. Avia. They were accompanied by seven orphan girls. They crossed the Nyangao creek and took the direction to Ng'awa. Christians took them to a hiding place behind the fields of the village. After spending sleeplessness night in the morning they hear sounds of destruction of the mission. On mid-day attack started from three sides. Attackers were in their scary war attire of animal skins bounded towards them in big jumps. The wild warriors looked like devils incarnate, their bodies painted in most fantastic fashion, their rolling eyes, their frantic gestures, their horrible cries. The Sisters had fallen upon their knees and praying when the first yell announced their arrival while Fr. Leo and Br. Cyprian were shooting. Both of them were shot by attackers. Fr. Leo made a big sign of the Cross three times over the Sisters and the Brother. Attackers thought it must be some form of witchcraft, and all fled in a panic at the very instant the missionaries could no longer defend themselves. That event gave missionaries chance to escape. It was while they were thus engaged that they discovered Sr. Walburga was missing. Local people told later some datailes of her death. She was found by them still living, wounded by a shots. According to them Sister died on August 30.
Now the place where Sr. Walburga was killed has a big cross with inscription. A pilgrimages are organized to that place.
The fruits of Sr. Walburga are visible in the parish of Nyangao and the diocese of Lindi and Mtwara, Nyangao Hospital is one of them.