The Best Religion

Diesdorf Monastery lies in the Altmark region, fairly close to Salzwedel. This is one of the oldest monasteries, and was founded in the year 1161 during the times of margrave Albert the Bear. There were many unmarried women who lived in its convent according to the rules of Saint Augustine. During the time of the Reformation, the two sisters Elisabeth and Ursula von Ritzebüttel lived there. They were unable to decide for themselves which one was the best religion - the papacy or the new teachings of Luther. Finally they agreed that, if one of them were to die first, she should report which of the religions was the superior one. Then, the other one would adhere to that religion afterwards.

As it happened, Elisabeth was the first to pass on some time after that. And soon after, a spirit in her shape visited Ursula. After receiving the question if she had entered bliss, the spirit only answered with the words: “Hardly, hardly!”

Upon hearing this, Ursula decided to change her religion. But when she wanted to go to the church to make her statement of faith, and reached the so-called “Crevice”, a dark entranceway from the convent into the church, she suddenly received a slap from an ice-cold, invisible hand. But she declared: “I shall not be deterred by this!”, and bravely went onwards and put her intentions into practice. The other nuns of the convent now followed her example, and the convent now became entirely Protestant in this manner.

See also:
Beckmann histor. Beschreibung v. Brandenburg. Part 5. Book 1. Chapter 10. p. 154-155.
Ueber die Altmark. II. p. 202.

Source: Temme, J. D. H. Die Volkssagen der Altmark. 1839, p. 35f.

Notes and Commentary: Ghosts of the Reformation