Scherer, Maria Theresia, Bl.

views updated


Baptized Anna Maria Katharina; co-foundress of the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross; b. Meggen (near Lucerne), Switzerland, October 31, 1825; d. Ingenbohl, Switzerland, June 16, 1888. Maria Theresia Scherer was seven years old when her father died, and she was placed in the care of two uncles who provided her with a Christian education. A conscientious child, she began working in hospitals at age sixteen.

Following a pilgrimage to Einsiedeln, she recognized her vocation and joined the Teaching Sisters of the Holy Cross, or Menzingen Sisters, an order founded in 1844 by Theodosius Florentini (180865). After teaching in three different parochial schools, and in an industrial school, she became superior of the congregation's first hospital (1852). Out of this institute developed the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross, or Ingenbohl Sisters, founded in 1856 by Florentini to care for the poor, aged, and sick in their homes or in hospitals, and to train children who were mentally or physically handicapped. Maria Theresia, generally considered as cofoundress, was one of the first members. As the first superior general (185788), she was noted for her energy, sacrifice of self, and ability as organizer and administrator.

Despite many material difficulties, she established and directed houses in her native land, in Germanic and Austrian-Hungarian territories, and in Rome. Throughout the growth of the Ingenbohl Sisters, she retained her motto: "No work of Christian love of neighbor may be considered beyond the scope of this institute." At the time of her death (1888) following a prolonged, painful illness, her order had become one of the largest religious congregations. She was beatified, October 29, 1995, by Pope John Paul II.

Feast: June 16.

Bibliography: v. gadient, Die Dienerin Gottes, Mutter M. Theresia Scherer (Basel 1954). w. heim, Briefe zum Himmel. Die Grabbriefe an Mutter M. Theresia Scherer in Ingenbohl (Basel 1961). e. martire, Madre M. Teresa Scherer (Rome 1947). c. rutishauser, Mutter Maria Theresia Scherer: Leben und Werk (Ingenbohl, Switz. 1959), Fr. tr. r. m. mermod (Paris 1964). m. g. secchi, Suor Maria Teresa Schererei suoi tempi (Milan 1959).

[a. kunz]