Protmann, Regina, Bl.

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Foundress of the Sisters of Saint Catherine (Katharinenschwestern ); named sometimes spelled Prothmann;b. c. 1552, Braunsberg, Warmia (Ermland; now Braniewo, Poland); d. there Jan. 18, 1613.

Regina, daughter of the merchants Peter Protmann and Regina Tingels, left her family in 1571 to serve God with two other young women, who were soon joined by others. They lived as Beguines in an inherited house and tended the sick daily in their homes. In 1583, Protmann wrote the group's ascetic rule and placed the fledgling congregation under the patronage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. On Mar. 3, 1583 their ministry received the approbation of Bishop Martin Kromer (c. 151289) and spiritual direction from the Jesuits.

Initially the Sisters of St. Catherine cared for plague victims in modern northeastern Poland. As they spread to Wormditt (1586), Heilsberg (c. 1586), and Rössel (c. 1593), their contemplative spirituality was combined with further active Apostolates, including instructing children and providing pastoral care to women. A new rule, written with the assistance of two Jesuits, was approved by the bishop and recognized by the papal nuncio (1602). Since that time the congregation has been closely associated with the Jesuits, as acknowledged in the writings of Jesuit Superior General Claudius Acquaviva.

The first vita (Das Leben der gottseligen Jungfrau Regina Protmann, 1623) of Mother Regina is presumed to have been written by her Jesuit spiritual director, Engelberg Keilert. Uncharacteristic for the period, Protmann had her spiritual daughters instructed in theology. By the time of her death, the order had 35 sisters in four convents.

Regina Protmann was declared venerable on Dec. 17, 1996. A miracle attributed to her intercession was approved on Apr. 6, 1998, leading to her beatification in Warsaw, Poland, by John Paul II on June 13, 1999.

Feast: Jan. 18.

Bibliography: e. m. wermter, ed., Quellen zur Geschichte der ersten Katharinenschwestern und ihrer Gründerin Regina Protmann (Münster 1975). g. bellgardt, Die Bedeutung der Kongregation der hl. Katharina für die Erziehung der Mädchen (Berlin 1931). a. boenigk, Regina Protmann und die Kongregation der Schwestern von der hl. Katharina (Braunsberg 1933). h. hÜmmeler, Regina Prothmann, und die Schwestern von dr. hl. Katharina (Siegburg 1955). j. grunenberg, Die Congregation der hl. Jungfrau und Märtyrin Katharina. Ihr Entstehen, ihr inneres Leben und Wirken, wie es durch den Wandel der Stifterin und durch die Satzungen der Ordenregel vorgezeichnet ist (Braunsberg 1868; reprinted Berlin-Wilmersdorf 1961). c. feldmann, Neuer Geist sucht neue Formen (Freiburg 1999). m. treu, Die katholische Kirche ehrt eine Braunsberger Bürgertochter: Regina Protmann seliggesprochen (Münster 1999).

[k. i. rabenstein]