Theresa Weber
Foundress - Sisters of the Most Precious Blood

The Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of O’Fallon, Missouri, had its beginnings in Steinerberg, Switzerland, on September 8, 1845, as a contemplative community. On that day a group of young women from Baden, Germany, joined together for the purpose of perpetual adoration of the Most Precious Blood in the Blessed Sacrament. Magdalen Weber, known in religious life as Mother Theresa, became the first superior of the fledgling community and is revered as its foundress.

The congregation was founded under the guidance of Reverend Karl Rolfus, a priest from Baden. Searching for a spirituality to counteract the growing secularization of southern Germany, Rolfus had found his answer in contemporary devotion to the Precious Blood and shared this spirituality with his many directees. German convents were not allowed to accept new candidates at that time, however, so the women journeyed to Switzerland where the pastor of St. Anne’s Church was supportive of their desire.

The Swiss government prohibited the establishment of strictly contemplative orders, and the pastor also saw the coming of these young women as an opportunity to improve his parish school. Thus from the beginning the congregation had both a contemplative and an apostolic dimension.

Within three years, however, the congregation was forced to leave Switzerland because of the growing hostility of the Swiss government. In the summer of 1848 the exiled community found a home in Ottmarsheim in the French Alsace. Since the Sisters were of German origin they were not permitted to teach in the schools there, but they continued their contemplative life style. Then in 1857 a request for teachers came from Gurtweil in Germany, and thus the teaching ministry was resumed. At Gurtweil, the making of church vestments was also introduced and the ministry of the Ecclesiastical Art Department continues to this day.

In 1860 the contemplative Sisters in Ottmarsheim and the active Sisters in Gurtweil decided to separate, the former group eventually becoming monastic Benedictines. While not forgetting their contemplative roots, the Sisters in Gurtweil continued to expand their teaching and art activities with notable success until another hostile government again forced them to seek refuge elsewhere. Bismarck’s KULTURKAMPF inaugurated a military policy against the Church in general and, by the MAY LAWS, decreed the expulsion of all religious congregations. Through this unfortunate occurrence, however, God led the young community to respond to a request that had previously been made for its expansion to the New World.

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