A kindly older woman, the Reverend Mother was the Abbess of Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg in 1938. In that year a young novice named Maria came to to abbey. Her free spirited nature led the Reverend Mother to conclude that Maria would do better outside the Abbey. She gave Maria the assignment to Georg von Trapp, an Austrian Naval officer engaged to be married to Baroness Elsa Schraeder.
Maria did an excellent job with the children, and convinced von Trapp to open himself up to his children and express his love for them. As time went on she found herself falling in love with von Trapp. Afraid to express her true feelings she returned to the abbey, while Schraeder released von Trapp from the engagement after seeing that the Captain was falling in love with Maria.
Back at the abbey Reverend Mother encouraged Maria to return to the von Trapp household, telling Maria that the love she had for von Trapp was as holy as consecrated life. She agreed and returned to the abbey, where von Trapp and Maria admitted that they were in love with each other, and von Trapp proposed marriage.
The nuns helped Maria as she stood in a small anteroom, and followed her as she walked to a massive baroque Cathedral to be married. Reverend Mother opened the gate to the sanctuary so that Maria could walk through, and closed the gate, signifying to Maria that her life as a novice was now over. Maria walked to the altar where Captain von Trapp was standing, and the two were married.
Later the Reverend Mother assisted the von Trapp family in escaping from Austria after the Anschluss when the Germans wanted to conscript Captain von Trapp into their navy. She provided the abbey's car to the family and told them to head for the mountains where they could escape into Switzerland. She gave some final words of encouragement to Maria as she prepared to leave Austria behind, perhaps forever.
As the car sped off the Nazis tried to pursue the von Trapps but their cars would not start. Two nuns gingerly appraoched the Reverend Mother to confess that they had sinned - namely that they had done some work on the cars.
Behind the Scenes
- The Reverend Mother was played by the Peggy Wood. Neither the Reverend Mother's real name or religious name were revealed on screen and the credits have her listed as Mother Abbess.