Stagel, Elsbeth (Elbethe)

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Dominican nun, chronicler, and spiritual daughter of Bl. Henry Suso; b. c. 1300; d. Töss, Switzerland, 1360. She entered the Dominican monastery of Töss at an early age and became its first chronicler. Using data gathered from the archives and from older sisters, she wrote the biographies of about 40 sisters who had lived in the convent from its founding in 1233 until 1340. Elbethe ardently sought perfection and sought help in the works of mystical writers. Finding the works of John Tauler too difficult for a beginner, she wrote to Suso for direction. To console her in an illness he revealed his own mystical experiences, which, without his knowing it, she wrote down from memory. These memoirs and their correspondence form the bulk of Suso's Life and Book of Letters. Their relationship is explained in the prologue and in Part II of the Life. She is remembered not only for her saintly life but especially for the influence she exerted on Suso, and for giving to the world the experiences of that renowned German mystic.

Bibliography: j. ancelethustache, La Vie mystique d'un monastère de Dominicaines au moyen âge (Paris 1928). h. suso, The Exemplar, tr. a. edward, 2 v. (Dubuque 1962).

[c. hahn]