Bütler, María Bernarda, Bl.

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Baptized Verena; missionary and foundress of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians; b. Auw, Aargau, Switzerland, May 28, 1848; d. Cartagena, Colombia, May 19, 1924. Verena, born into a Swiss peasant family, joined the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Maria Hilf at Altstätten where she was professed as Maria Bernarda (1869) and served as novice mistress. While superior of the convent, she was invited by Bishop Schumacher of Portoviejo to establish a presence in Ecuador. Maria Bernarda left Switzerland with six sisters on June 19, 1888. In Ecuador she founded communities of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Help of Christians (María Ausiliatrice ) in Chone, Santana, and Canoa Ben. Persecution in 1895 forced her community into exile in Bahia, Brazil. From there fifteen sisters traveled to Colombia, where they were welcomed by Bishop Eugenio Biffi of Cartagena. He gave the sisters a wing of the Obra Pia women's hospital from which Mother Maria Bernarda founded communities in Austria and Brazil. She died after serving the poor and sick for fifty-six years as a religious. A miracle attributed to her intercession was approved March 26, 1994. Pope John Paul II beatified her, Oct. 29, 1995.

Feast: May 19 (Franciscans).

Bibliography: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, no. 44 (1995): 12, 4.

[k. i. rabenstein]

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Bütler, María Bernarda, Bl.

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