KATREI Sister (14th)

 “This is the story of Sister Katrei, (spiritual, ndt) daughter of Meister Eckhart in Strasbourg” (Pseudo Master Eckhart, p.11). With this enigmatic incipit, it opens a text of the fourteenth century, written in medium-high German, included by Franz Pfeiffer in the volume dedicated to Master Eckhart. But who is sister Katrei ? Marco Vannini, editor of the Italian edition, assumes that most likely Katrei was a beguine, very inspired by the thought of Eckhart. Even such a humble girl, she eventually surpassed the Master for the radicality of her conclusions. Perhaps because he was more than her “worried about saving compatibility of his tought with the ecclesiastical institution” (Pseudo Master Eckhart, p.11) Vannini argues.
Katrei is considered a beguine because she could operate her choices freely, move her residence and be independent of any authority. The name sister perhaps intervenes to indicate her belonging to the Free Spirit movement, with which Eckhart also had contacts. For this he was accused of heresy and called to a trial, but he died during the journey to go and justify himself to the pope.
At that time there were 85 houses of beguines in Strasbourg and 169 in Cologne. These places were well known and frequented by Master Eckhart, especially during his position as Vicar General of the Order from 1314 in Strasbourg, but also in Cologne where he tought in the Dominican Studium perhaps starting from 1324.
In her profound spiritual experience, collected in the above mentioned manuscript, Katrei arrives at the conclusion of being able to achieve a stable condition of grace (bewerung in German), of permanent union with God. Not the God (gotten) determined in the ways of the various religions, but the unnamed Deity (gotheit), bottomless bottom, which no one can not appropriate. This happens through “that complete disappearance … or that complete annihilation that necessarily involves the bonds and religious contents” (Pseudo Master Eckhart, p.17).
Source : Pseudo Master Eckhart, Diventare Dio. L’insegnamento di sorella Katrei, a cura di Marco Vannini, Adelphi edizioni, Milano, 2006