Today in Catholic History – The Foundation of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration

On 20 July 1863, Mother Maria Theresia Bonzel established the congregation of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Olpe, Germany.

This Third Order congregation sought to connect Mother Maria’s devotion to St. Francis of Assisi and Eucharistic Adoration with a real need to provide education to orphans and homeless children and to minister to the sick and wounded. Her motto was “He leads, I follow.”

In 1875, six of the sisters will emigrate to Lafayette, Indiana in response to the persecutions of the German Kulturkampf. In 1876, they will establish St. Elizabeth’s hospital. In 1886, the community will be divided into German and American provinces – the American province would later be divided into Eastern and Western provinces. A province in the Philippines has also been established.

When Mother Maria died on 6 February 1905, there were more than 1,500 sisters in her congregation.

Today, the sisters continue to minister in health care and education.

On 20 March 2010, Pope Benedict XVI declared Mother Maria Venerable.

Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration


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