Luise Hensel

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Luise Hensel, drawn by her brother Wilhelm Hensel .

Luise Hensel (born March 30, 1798 in Linum , Mark Brandenburg , † December 18, 1876 in Paderborn ) was a German Christian poet .


Luise Maria Hensel, sister of the painter Wilhelm Hensel and sister-in-law of the composer Fanny Hensel , b. Mendelssohn, sister of the composer Felix Mendelssohn , was born on March 30, 1798 in Linum ( Brandenburg ) as the daughter of the local pastor Ludwig Hensel and his wife Johanna Albertina Trost. After her father's death, she and her mother moved to Berlin in 1809 . After she had "secretly made a pact with God" at the age of 14 and had been searching for the truth for a long time, both mentally and emotionally, she converted from the Lutheran to the Catholic faith on December 7, 1818 when Probst made the Catholic creed Johannes Ambrosius dove .

The romantic poet Clemens Brentano and the composer Ludwig Berger were in love with her during this time. However, for reasons of faith, she could not reciprocate these feelings. But it contributed significantly to the inner change of Brentano. In 1817 he wrote to his brother Christian about 20 songs from Luise that he had sent: “These songs first broke the bark of my heart, they made me tear into tears, and so in their truth and simplicity they have become the most sacred thing to me streamed to me in life from human sources. "

The poet Wilhelm Müller was also unhappy in love with Luise Hensel. This unfulfilled love was reflected in the two song cycles set to music by Franz Schubert , Die Schöne Müllerin and Die Winterreise . Luise Hensel's love, however, was for the Protestant childhood friend Ernst Ludwig von Gerlach , who later enjoyed a high reputation as Bismarck's teacher and a friend of the center . Her religious feelings, however, disturbed the relationship and, as a convert, brought her into a mental crisis.

The circumstances caused Luise Hensel to leave Berlin in 1819. She entered the service of Princess Marianne Salm-Reifferscheidt-Krautheim and Dyck , called Mimi, daughter of Amalia von Gallitzin , and stayed first in Münster and then in Düsseldorf . In Münster she was under the influence of the pedagogue Bernhard Heinrich Overberg and in Düsseldorf she finally took the vow of virginity from the Jesuit father Heinrich Wüsten on March 6, 1820 .

From 1821 Luise Hensel was a partner in the widow of Count Friedrich Leopold zu Stolberg-Stolberg and teacher and educator of their daughters Maria Theresia, Amalie and Pauline. She stayed on the Stolbergschen Gut Sondermühlen near Melle until 1823. There she completed her religious development. With her foster son Rudolf Rochs from Berlin, the child of her sister who died young, she moved to Wiedenbrück in Westphalia to have him teach there at the “good Wiedenbrücker boys' school ”. Here she led a quiet and benevolent life until 1825. She made friends with the stigmatized nun Anna Katharina Emmerick from Dülmen, looked after her and after her death in 1824 she sifted through her estate. Brentano, who portrayed Luise and the nun, also traveled here. The decades-long friendship with Brentano was the reason for the poet to entrust Luise Hensel with the inspection of his literary estate, with the task of bringing his work to the public after his death.

Every year she lived for a few weeks at Knippenburg Castle , which her friend Friedrich Carl Devens , district administrator and member of the Westphalian Provincial Parliament, had acquired in 1821. The stays at the moated castle on the Emscher inspired her to her famous prayer Tired, I'm going to rest and the poem Knippenburg :

A castle rises gray and solemn,
made of corridors and ancient trees,
the hospitable gate
to the stately rooms of the house opens in a friendly manner .
And the myrtle turns green and the laurel rustles
and oranges blow in the wind,
and some kind words are exchanged
on the green, fragrant linden tree.
But on the terrace, in the garden and park,
there is no poetic essence; the word of eternal life
resounds through hearts and marrow
Because when the bell of the tower rings
high above the silent chapel,
the speech of the mouth fades away
like the wave fleeing the stream!

A lifelong pilgrimage

Memorial to Luise Hensel in Paderborn

Another important acquaintance from the time with Brentano and Emmerick in Westphalia was Apollonia Diepenbrock from Bocholt . Together, the friends (also with convert Maria Pohl, the daughter of physicist Georg Friedrich Pohl , and who, like them, had close contact with the Breslau prince-bishop Förster ) decided to do charitable work without joining an order. They traveled to Koblenz, where in 1825/1826 they helped as volunteers in the newly established Bürgerhospital , a former Franciscan monastery. Diepenbrock then went other ways.

From then on, Hensel led a life full of privation as a pilgrim , after her stay in Koblenz mainly in Sondermühlen and in the girls' boarding school in Marienberg near Boppard , interrupted from 1827 to 1833 by her educational work at the St. Leonhard Higher Daughters School in Aachen . Here she taught a. a. three students who later religious founders were: Clara Fey , founder of the Order of the Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus , Mary Frances Schervier , founder of the Order of the Poor Sisters of St. Francis and Pauline von Mallinckrodt , founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Christian Love . In Aachen she was proposed by the doctor Clemens August Alertz , who later became the personal physician of Pope Pius IX. , again led to a severe test of their religious attitudes.

From 1833 to 1837 she lived in Berlin and Dresden, then until 1840 in the Neuburg Abbey in the house of the wife of Johann Friedrich Heinrich Schlosser . In 1841 she moved to Cologne and founded a charitable group there, the “Armenkränzchen”. As a result, she came into contact with the family of the businessman Wilhelm Bartman , a board member of the Cologne Cathedral Building Association, who was looking for an educator for his niece, who was orphaned in the same year, and his two nephews. From 1842 to the end of 1849 she ran the household in Bartman's house at Heumarkt 76 and raised the children. In 1853 she went to Wiedenbrück and lived there with interruptions until 1872. Then she finally moved to Paderborn, near Pauline von Mallinckrodt, her student from Aachen times. There she died on December 18, 1876 in the Westphalenhof and was buried in the Ostfriedhof in Paderborn not far from the chapel.


Her poems , initially combined with poems by her sister Wilhelmine (edited by Hermann Kletke , Berlin 1858, digitized ), were mainly characterized by the spirit of mild, heartfelt and longing piety. Your evening song or night prayer I'm tired, go to rest is one of the pearls of German religious poetry. A complete collection of the songs (edited by Christoph Bernhard Schlüter , Paderborn 1869, digitized ; 6th edition 1886) was followed by letters from the poet Luise Hensel (there in 1878, digitized ).


Memorial plaque for Luise Hensel at the Westphalenhof in Paderborn
Memorial plaque for Luise Hensel on the residential building at Bilker Strasse 14 in Düsseldorf

I'm tired, go to rest (1816), here is the text from the first print in 1829:

Night prayer

I'm tired, go to rest,
close both eyes:
Father, let your eyes
be over my bed!

If I did wrong today
, don't look at it, dear God!
Your grace and the blood of Jesus make
good all harm.

All who are related to me,
God, rest in your hand.
All people, big and small, are
to be ordered to you.

Sick hearts send rest,
wet eyes close;
Let the moon stand in the sky,
And see the silent world!


Web links

Commons : Luise Hensel  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Luise Hensel  - sources and full texts


  1. Hermann-Josef Fohsel: Berlin, you colorful stone, you beast: biographical explorations. Koehler & Amelang, 2002, p. 120 f.
  2. Quoted from Wolfgang Frühwald: Gedichte der Romantik , Volume 8230 from Reclam's Universal Library, Reclam, Stuttgart, 1984, p. 444.
  3. Erika von Borries: Wilhelm Müller. The poet of the winter journey. A biography. C. H. Beck, Munich 2007, pp. 52-65.
  4. Peter Gülke: Franz Schubert and his time. 2nd edition of the original edition from 1996, Laaber-Verlag, 2002, pp. 216–217.
  5. Winfried Freund : I'm tired, go to rest: the life and work of Luise Hensel . Güth & Etscheidt, Rheda-Wiedenbrück 1984, ISBN 3-922828-15-9 , pp. 30-33.
  6. Michael Sachs: 'Prince-Bishop and Vagabond'. The story of a friendship between the Prince-Bishop of Breslau Heinrich Förster (1799–1881) and the writer and actor Karl von Holtei (1798–1880). Edited textually based on the original Holteis manuscript. In: Medical historical messages. Journal for the history of science and specialist prose research. Volume 35, 2016 (2018), pp. 223–291, here: p. 250.
  7. Also in: Melchior Diepenbrock : Spiritual bouquet from Spanish and German poet gardens, presented to the friends of Christian poetry. JE v. Seidel , Sulzbach 1928, p. 270.
  8. Melchior von Diepenbrock , Geistlicher Blumenstrauss , Sulzbach 1829, p. 270