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Dernbach (Westerwald), Germany: Saint Katharina Kasper


About Katharina Kasper:

Catherine Kasper was born May 26, 1820 here in Dernbach. Her father had been married before and had four daughters and then in his second marriage he had four children as well.

As a young child of six, Catherine went to the school in her little village. Reading was the subject she liked most.  Catherine would often read to other children and they would visit a Marian shrine outside their village. They would sing on the way and Catherine would tell stories about God and Mary.

Catherine’s father died when she was 21 years old, but due to the laws at that time, all property went to the four children of his first wife, so Catherine and her mother were reduced to renting a house and working at whatever jobs they could find.  Since her mother was in poor health, she could do little and Catherine often hired out as a “farm hand” for about 10 cents a day.

Finally, when her mother died, she felt that it was the time to follow her vocation. She started a small house with assistance from several friends with the approval of the Bishop of Limburg, Germany. The foundation became official in 1845 and later on, they established as the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ on August 15, 1851.

Maria served as superior for 5 consecutive terms where they even opened a school in 1854 which later spread to the Netherlands in 1859. On 9 March 1860, they received a decree from Pope Pius IX.  Their ministry continued throughout Germany and spread to England, the United States in 1868, the Netherlands, India, Mexico, Brazil, Kenya and Nigeria.

Catherine Kasper, known in religious life, as Mother Mary, died on February 2, 1898.  She was named Blessed Catherine Kasper on April 16, 1978, by Pope Paul VI and later became Saint Catherine Kasper when both she and Pope Paul VI were canonized by Pope Francis on October 14, 2018.

The remains of St. Katharina Kasper sit under the altar here in the Motherhouse in Dernbach, Germany.

The Katharina Kasper Foundation:

There is a  foundation here named after her:  it is a state-recognized psychosocial counseling center on prenatal diagnosis, disability and early child loss.  They inform, advise and accompany expectant parents, couples and families beyond the specialist care, to prenatal examinations, in difficult decision situations, in expected impairment of a child, after the birth of a child with disability, after the early loss of a child by miscarriage, Premature birth or abortion.  You find more information here (in German).

Traveling to Dernbach & the Monastery:

There is train service to Montabaur, about 2 miles away. It is about 1 1/2 hour trip from Frankfurt. Get train and bus schedules, buy tickets,  here.

Address:  Monastery Maria Hilf, Katharina-Kasper-Straße, 56428 Dernbach

Tel: +49 02602 683-190           Fax: +49 02602 683-194

email:  provinzialat@dernbacher.de

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