© Peter Neher

Name: Eva G.-Z.
Mother tongue: German
Occupation: Teacher, retired
My object: Chinese embroidered picture “Heavenly birds”
My story about it:

I dedicate this item to the memory of my aunt, sister Antonilla, SSpS. When she was banished from China in 1954, after 20 years of missionary work and care for the ill, she brought with her some silk embroidered pictures.

In 1920, she entered the congregation of the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters and adopted a religious name Antonilla. In the monastery Vallendar near Koblenz, she was trained as a nurse and sent to the Chinese province of Honan in 1934.
The painstaking efforts of the order in building a new hospital were almost completely ruined during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). After fleeing the communists in 1947, she worked for several years in a Beijing hospital. The help of nuns was indispensable during the civil war, because 80-100 injured or starved patients a day were no rarity. As an experienced nurse, my aunt was among the few members of the order who were not banished immediately after Mao Zedong established the communist People’s Republic of China on 1 October 1949. “I always wore my habit even after the communists took over power“, she later recounted.
She eventually did end up behind bars in 1954 because of her perseverance. It was only because of the intervention of influential Chinese officials that she was deported to Germany and survived.