Friedhofen, Peter, Bl.

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Chimney-sweep; founder of the Brothers of Charity of Mary Help of Christians; b. Feb. 25, 1819, Weitersburg (near Koblenz am Rhein), Germany; d. Dec. 21, 1860, Koblenz. A year after Peter's birth, his father died, leaving his wife to provide for seven children. Each of the children had to begin earning money for the family as soon as they were able. Peter, next to the youngest, and his older brother Jacob traveled around the region sweeping chimneys. Jacob died leaving a wife and 11 children whom Peter tried to assist financially. While continuing his work, Peter began to engage in his vocationcaring for the helpless, especially children. He established charitable projects in Adenau, Cochem, and Wittlich. From these charities evolved the Order of Brothers of Mercy of Mary the Helper (founded 1849) for the service of the poor, the sick, and the aged. Once Peter and his companion Karl Marchand were trained by the Alexian Brothers, adapted their Rule, and had the order's constitution approved by Bishop Arnoldi of Trier (July 2, 1848), the Brothers of Mercy opened their first house (June 21, 1850). The first brothers received the religous habit in 1851. The bishop of Trier and president of the Rheinland patronized the order and assisted in its work. At the time of Friedhofen's death from tuberculosis, the congregation had spread throughout Europe and into Brazil, China, and Malaysia. His body was interred at Trier am Mosel. He was beatified by John Paul II on June 23, 1985.

Bibliography: Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1985) 784. L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. ed. 29 (1985): 67.

[k. i. rabenstein]