Blessed Maria Luisa Merkert
Nysa, Poland, September 21, 1817-November 14, 1872Nysa, Poland, 21 Sept. 1817-14 Nov. 1872
Before and confused Superior General of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth.
Maria Luisa Merkert was born, second, on 21 September 1817 in a bourgeois family of Nysa, in Upper Silesia, at the diocese of Wroclaw. The town, known as the Silesian Rome for its numerous monuments, is now in Poland but in those days was German. The religious atmosphere of the family was a great influenced on the future religious vocation and her sister Maria Matilde. The parish of St. Giacomo, where Maria was christened, was an important reference. The Merkerts were part of the Confraternity of the Holy Sepulcher. The father held various positions and died when Mary was only a year old. It was up to their mother to educate the two, a teacher of real life and faith. She died in 1842 and Maria, who was twenty-five, with her sister Matilda el’amica Frances Werner, guided by the confessor, united with Clara Wolff, a young Franciscan tertiary, committed to helping the sick poor, without care because only at home. The four women formed a sort of association. Clara, the oldest, had a the lively nature, sensitive and volatile and had already given assistance during a cholera epidemic. Francesca, a peer of Maria, had a strong personality even if it was humble and modest.
Surviving over ten years at Blessed, succeeding as Superior General of the congregation. Matilda Merkert was mild in nature and very religious. The pious association began its activities on September 27, without votes and without official approval, but in a few months won the attention and esteem of the authorities. Two years after the priest prepared a first rule that women received consecrating the Heart of Jesus. On 8 May 1846, a Prudnik, Matilda died as a result of an infection contracted during treatment for some patients with typhoid. It was a hard blow, but she went ahead. Following the will of their confessor, Maria and Clara entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo in Prague, an organization of French origin, the Czech branch was founded in 1837. They were subsequently formed to give life to the service who felt the need to achieve. The Sisters Borromeo considered but secondary care and home care for the sick On June 30 1850, Matilda left the novitiate. Divided as the destinies of Maria and Clara. The latter, in 1852, going from treating the ill, was involved in an accident and on January 4, 1854, died of her wounds. Maria was left alone, the responsibility of continuing became heavier, who had seemed almost to give up her vocation.
The abandonment of the Sisters Borromeo had caused a certain sensation and disagreements with the confessor. By Francesca Wermer shooting privately work at home visit the sick poor. They went to Prague for training, which was very important for the emerging congregation, so that on November 19 1850, despite opposition and shortage of resources, they assumed the name of “Sisters of St. Bigie Elizabeth” (the color of organic), the Feast of the Holy Thuringia who was chosen as Patron. At Nysa poverty was widespread, Silesia had suffered heavily from the liberal revolutionary storm and was involved in wars and Prussian Austrian, with injuries and the resulting epidemics. Many recoursed to the sisters, sure to be heard and helped. Maria, tireless, was ready to follow everyone. Her companion testified: “Mother Mary bought meat, coffee and bread for the poor and widows, wore it herself to the poor and gave it with kindness of heart that those old crying with joy and everyone used to call her `the dear mother of all’ “. In 1859 the association had sixty religious in eleven houses, even in regions with predominantly Protestants. They now needed official approval to simplify relations with the public.
The Rule, inspired by that of the Third Franciscan Order, was approved by the Bishop of Breslau. On May 5, 1860 took place in the occupation of twenty-six nuns who, in addition to the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, had a fourth vow, to help the sick poor at home. They acquired an appropriate forum for the Institute. Mother Mary was concerned immediately to give it a church that was beautiful and functional. All the responsibilities affect you, in the anticlerical climate caused by the Prussians. It held the first general chapter and Mary was elected Superior General. In subsequent years the current Motherhouse of the Congregation took form. In 1864 there was state recognition, including interest from Queen Augusta. Two years after they were formed, they sent their first missionary nuns to Sweden. The archbishop of Wroclaw, took part in 1870 at the Vatican, to accelerate the papal recognition. Maria reached the moment so desired by so many years. On 7 June 1871 Pope Pius IX granted the decree of praise. Assisting the sick poor, meant for Maria, adhering to the love of Christ, which took all her energy, until death. She was a woman of great prayer, taking the Madonna as her model, and had every need addressed. The work of the sisters said later to be looking after the needs of the elderly, orphans, the educational activities in kindergartens and schools. The founder was always very attentive to the moral and spiritual education of her sisters. In twenty-two years, she prepared about five hundred sisters. At the end of each year the news was gathered approximately ninety houses. The mission of Mother Maria was now complete, she had offered all her life for others. Towards the end of 1872 omens now that her day on earth coming to an end. On November 14 her generous heart ceased to beat, quietly, without any agony. She was fifty-five years old. The piansero all the poor of the city. In its latest circular letter to the sisters she had spoken of a “loving hand of God that moves all our destinies.” The approval of pontifical right of the Sisters of St. Rave Elizabeth was granted by Pope Leo XIII fifteen years after her death. In 1964 the remains of the “Samaritan of Silesia” were brought to the crypt of her church, where they have been, in a side chapel, since 1998. In Nysa, now in the diocese of Opole, she was beatified on September 30, 2007. The congregation is now headquartered in different places in the world.
Holy Trinity, one God,
humbly beg your kindness
mercy and help in our need,
through the intercession of the Blessed Maria Merkert,
that your love for life and served prodigal
for the sick, the poor and abandoned.
For Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sisters of St. Elizabeth
Via dell’Olmata, 9
SOURCE: Santi e Beati