Convent of the White Women of the Penitential Order of Mary Magdalene
Community ID
Alternate Names
Weisse Frauen
Date Founded
Religious Order
Penitential Order of Mary Magdalene
probably Augustinian (see contributor's note)
Foundation Information

The foundation of this convent created a furor. In 1229 various unidentified citizens of Cologne constructed a house for this order on property belonging to S. Pantaleon NULL without having obtained proper permission from the abbot. The abbot and monks were unsympathetic to this order for reformed prostitutes. They lodged a protest with Archbishop Henry I of Molenark; Henry responded in September of 1229 by ceding a different property to the convent , to which it was moved. Stein concludes that this convent was a strictly bourgeois foundation not undertaken at the initiative of the women who would become nuns there (44).

Social Characteristics

In its early years, the nuns of this convent were drawn from the poorest stata of Cologne's society. (the convent served as a refuge for converted prostitutes) After circa 1250, the nuns of this order were recruited from the propertied classes of Cologne. Of the nine nuns identified, only three were patrician and six were middle-class. By the mid-thirteenth century the convent was primarily for middle-class women. In this respect it was unique.


The abbot and monks of S. Pantaleon ledged a protest over the foundation of this convent with Archbishop Henry I of Molenark. The Archbishop responded in September of 1229 by moving the location of the convent.

Published Primary Sources

[1]Annales Colonienses Maximi, MGH SS 27, 841.
[2]Lacomblet, Theodor J., ed. Urkundenbuch fuer die Geschichte des Niederrheins. vol. 2. Dusseldorf: J. Wolf, 1840-1858.

Secondary Sources

[2]OPLADEN, Peter. "Das Koelner Augustinerinnenkloster S. Maria Magdalena (zu den weissen Frauen) am Blaubach," Jahrbuecher des Koelnischen Geschichtesvereins 29/30 (1956).
[3]Simon, Andre. "L'ordre des Penitentes de Ste. Marie-Madeleinde en Allemgne au 13e siecle." Dissertation, Fribourg, 1918.

June Mecham
Contributors Notes

The Ordo sororum poenitentium Mariae Magdalenae, also known as the Reuerinnen in Germany, received papal recognition by 1227. The order included primarily, if not exclusively, prostitutes who had converted to a life of poverty and chastity. Houses of the order of S. Maria Magdalene generally followed the Benedictine rule under Cistercian institutions until 1227 when Pope Gregory IX committed them to the rule of S. Augustine and the constitutions of S. Sisto, a Dominican house in Rome. Rudolph of Hildesheim is credited as the founder of the order.

Date Started