Foundress of the poor handmaids of jesus christ; b. Dernbach, near Montabaur (Unterwesterwald), Germany, May 26, 1820; d. there, Feb. 2, 1898. Katharina, who came from a poor, pious family, founded her religious congregation in her native village in 1848 to care for the sick. It received diocesan approval in 1851. From 1858 the congregation's apostolate broadened to include teaching. Mother Maria (Katharina's name in religion), who served as superior general until her death, saw her first house opened in the U.S. (1868). During the kulturkampf she went to England to establish houses (1875). By 1898 the Poor Handmaids had almost 2,000 members in 193 houses, including 286 sisters in 27 houses in the U.S. In 1950 her remains were moved to the chapel in the motherhouse in Dernbach. The Roman decree introducing her beatification cause was issued in 1946.
Bibliography: w. p. meyer, Heiliges Magdtum vor Gott: Mutter Maria Kasper (Wiesbaden 1933). g. t. meagher, With Attentive Ear and Courageous Heart: A Biography of Mother Mary Kasper (Milwaukee 1957).