Foundress of the Daughters of the divine redeemer; b. Niederbronn, France, Sept. 9, 1814; d. Niederbronn, July 31, 1867. She was the eldest of the 11 children of simple, pious, and poor parents, George and Barbara (Vogt) Eppinger. Her formal education was limited, and she suffered long periods of physical illness as well as severe spiritual trials. In 1846 began a period of visions, revelations, and ecstasies. As the fame of her prophecies and ecstasies spread, she became known as the "Ecstatic of Niederbronn," and her advice was frequently sought. Her energetic and enlightened pastor and confessor, Father Jean Reichard, became convinced that these graces were supernatural; so did Bishop Raess of Strasbourg and the professors at the seminary there. After a remarkable cure of her illness, she was accepted as a postulant in the Sisters of Divine Providence of Ribeauvillé (1846), but before entering the community, heeded her bishop's urging and continued counseling at home. With permission she took the three vows of religion privately (1848). Along with Father Reichard she founded her religious congregation (1849) devoted originally to caring for the sick poor in their homes and aiding other poor persons. As Mother Marie Alphonse, her name in religion, she acted with great competence as superior general until her death, when the congregation had 372 sisters in 74 houses. Her beatification process has been instituted.
Bibliography: l. cristiani, L'Extatique de Niederbronn (Paris 1958). a. richomme, Mère Alphonse-Marie (Paris 1963). j. leflon, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller et al. (Paris 1932) 4.1:909–911.
[m. a. varga]