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Adelheid Amalie Gallitzin

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Adelheid Amalie Gallitzin

Adelheid Amalie Gallitzin.

Princess Adelheid Amalie Gallitzin (also known as Amaliia Samuilovna Golitsyna or in Russian as Амалия Самуиловна Голицына) (28 August 1748 – 17 April 1806), was the daughter of the Prussian Field Marshal Samuel von Schmettau and the mother of Prince Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin.

She was born in Berlin and educated in the Roman Catholic faith, although she soon became estranged from it through the influence of Voltairian tutors.[1] In 1768, she married the Russian Prince Dimitri Alexeievich Galitzine, who was under Catherine II ambassador at Paris, Turin and The Hague. In each of these capitals, the princess, thanks to her beauty and her qualities of mind and heart, played a brilliant role. At the age of twenty-four she forsook society suddenly and devoted herself to the education of her children. She applied herself to the study of mathematics, classical philology, and philosophy under Franz Hemsterhuis, who kindled her enthusiasm for Socratic-Platonic idealism, and later under the name of "Diokles" dedicated to her the "Diotima", his Lettres sur l'atheisme.

The educational reform introduced by Franz Friedrich Wilhelm von Fürstenberg, Vicar-General of Münster, induced her to take up her residence in the Westphalian capital. Here she soon became the centre of a set of intellectual men led by Fürstenberg. This circle also included the gymnasial teachers, (whom she incited to the deeper study of Plato), Bernhard Heinrich Overberg, the reformer of popular school education, Clemens Augustus von Droste-Vischering, Count Leopold zu Stolberg, the profound philosopher Johann Georg Hamann, who was interred in her garden. The poet Matthias Claudius of the "Wandsbecker Bote" was also a familiar visitor, and Johann Wolfgang Goethe said that his hours in this circle were among his most pleasant recollections.

The reading of Sacred Scripture, necessitated by the religious education of her children and her constant interaction with Catholics led to her return to religion. On 28 August 1786, at the instance of Overberg, she approached the Confessional for the first time in many years. Soon afterwards, she made Overberg her chaplain. Under his influence, she underwent a complete change which affected all her surroundings. Her religious life took on a larger importance. She became the centre of Roman Catholic activity in Münster. In those revolutionary times, she provided for the spread of religious writings, proved a support for the religious faith of many of her friends, and induced others, among them Count Stolberg, to make their peace with the Church.

She was known for gentle charity and as a model for religious life. Portions of her correspondence and diaries were published by Scheuter (Münster, 1874-76) in three parts. She was the mother of the well-known American missionary Prince Demetrius Gallitzin. She died in Angelmodde.

References

This article incorporates text from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain.

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