Religious and Founder (1820-1989)
+ Katharina Kasper was born in Dernbach, Germany, in 1820. Her poor parents were unable to provide her with a proper education. This was complicated by the fact that she was often sick as a child.
+ Following her father’s death when Katharina was twenty-two, her family had to sell their home and she was forced to do manual labor, including breaking stones for road-building, to help support her family. One day, she had a vision that caused her to exclaim, “Sisters! Oh, what a large number of sisters!” According to one account of her life, she later said it was so clear “that she even saw the color, pattern, and material of the habit of her future Congregation.”
+ Katharina did not enter an existing religious order. Instead, she asked the local bishop to provide her with a house where she could bring together a group of women into a new community. After many difficulties, she and her companions moved into their new home on August 15, 1848. As the women settled into the routines of religious life, Katharine began to write a rule of life for them and she chose the name for her new community: “The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ.” The sisters began to wear the religious habit and pronounced religious vows in 1851.
+ The original aim of the Poor Handmaids was to look after poor and abandoned children and to care for the sick and elderly. Soon, however, the sisters began running schools and in only a few years, Poor Handmaids were establishing schools and convents in other countries.
+ Saint Katharina Kasper died on February 2, 1898, and was canonized in 2018.
For prayer and reflection
Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”—John 15:9-10
The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ: https://www.poorhandmaids.org/
O God, who have taught your Church to keep all the heavenly commandments by love of you as God and love of neighbor; grant that, practicing the works of charity after the example of blessed Katharina, we may be worthy to be numbered among the blessed in your Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For Those Who Practiced Works of Mercy)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.