Educator and Foundress (1797-1879)
+ Caroline Gerhadinger was born in Bavaria and was educated by a religious community known as the Canonesses of Our Lady.
+ Napoleon suppressed the community of canonesses as part of his campaign to limit the authority of the Church, but after his fall from power the local priest re-founded the community and Caroline became a member, receiving the religious name Maria-Theresia.
+ She is said to have been an unyielding and determined woman and these qualities would serve her and the community well as they faced an uncertain future.
+ In 1839, Maria-Theresia was chosen as superior of the community and held the post for forty years.
+ Accepting an invitation from Saint John Neumann, the bishop of Philadelphia, Maria-Theresia sent sisters of her community to America. There, the sisters, who had come to be known as the School Sisters of Notre Dame, opened an orphanage in Baltimore and schools in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. By 1850, the sisters had established communities in several countries.
+ Highly regarded by Church and civil authorities, Blessed Maria-Theresia Gerhardinger died in 1879 and was beatified in 1985.
On this day, the Church also remembers Blessed Thomas Pickering, a Benedictine lay brother from the monastery of St. Gregory in Douai, France. He served as a missionary in England during the reign of King Charles II. Falsely accused of being part of the so-called “Titus Oates Plot,” Blessed Thomas was executed on May 9, 1679, and was beatified with other English martyrs in 1929.
“The love of Jesus sees into the future.”—Blessed Maria-Theresia Gerhardinger
To learn more about the life and ministries of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, visit: www.ssnd.org.
O God, who raised up blessed Maria-Theresia in your Church to show others the way of salvation, grant us, by her example, so to follow Christ the master, that we may come with our neighbor into your presence. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For an Educator)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.Access our archives of daily saint biographies here