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Ludwig Missionsverein (Ludwig Mission Society)

LUDWIG MISSIONSVEREIN (LUDWIG MISSION SOCIETY)

Also known as "Missio Internationales Katholisches Missionswerk Ludwig Missionsverein," or more commonly as "MISSIO München (Munich)," with its head office in Munich. The society is one of the two German branches of the pontifical mission society MISSIO that was created by the German Catholic Bishops' Conference in 1972 with the merger of Ludwig Missionsverein (which became MISSIO München) and the St. Francis Xavier Mission Society of Aachen (which became MISSIO Aachen). MISSIO München encompasses the Bavarian region of Germany (covering the sees of Augsburg, Bamberg, Eichstätt, München and Freising, Passau, Regensburg, and Würzburg) and the diocese of Speyer. Together with its sister agency, it promotes and sponsors mission and human development projects in partnership with local churches in the Third World, especially in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.

History. The society was founded through the efforts of Frederick Résé, a German missionary priest originally attached to the Cincinnati diocese, at Munich, Bavaria, on Dec. 12, 1838, for the express purpose of giving financial assistance to the Catholic missions of Asia and America. When Résé, encouraged by his recent success in Austria in founding the leopoldinen stiftung, first approached King Ludwig of Bavaria in 1828, the king thought the time inopportune. Ten years later Résé, now Bishop of Detroit, obtained Ludwig's consent; and the society, which bore the king's name, was established with headquarters in Munich and St. Francis Xavier as patron.

Initially the Ludwig Mission Society collaborated with the Society for the propagation of the faith, which had been founded in France in 1822 for the distribution of funds and as a means of obtaining authoritative information about the missions. Mutual dissatisfaction over the allocation of funds led to a complete separation of the two societies in 1844, after which its efforts were directed especially to the needs of German Catholics in the United States. Valuable aid was also rendered to religious orders in the United States, particularly the Redemptorists and Benedictines, and to a lesser degree the Franciscans, Capuchins, and Premonstratensians. The Austrian Jesuit missionary F. X. Weninger, who worked principally with the Germans in the United States, was the recipient of annual allotments from Munich until his death in 1888 at the age of 83. The society contributed annually from 1862 to World War I to the American College at Louvain and helped to develop a corps of German American priests by promoting St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee. It helped teaching communities such as the School Sisters of Notre Dame, founded in Bavaria in 1833, and in the United States in 1847. Native American missions also benefited and, through Weninger, some pioneer work among African Americans was undertaken.

The society's magazine, Annalen der Glaubensverbreitung, published about 300 letters pertaining to the United States before it was supplanted in 1918 by a periodical of the Francis Xavier Mission Society of Aachen. More than 2,000 additional letters are still extant in the society's archives in Munich. In 1922, Pope Pius XI elevated the Ludwig Mission Society to a pontifical mission society.

Bibliography: t. roemer, The Ludwig-Missionsverein and the Church in the United States (18381918) (Catholic University of America, Studies in American Church History 16; 1933); Ten Decades of Alms (St. Louis 1942).

[b. j. blied/eds.]

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