Saint of the Day – 9 May – Blessed Theresa of Jesus/Karolina Gerhardinger (1797-1879). – Religious nun, Foundress, Teacher. Born on 20 June 1797 at Stadtamhof, Bavaria, Germany as Caroline Gerhardinger and died on 9 May 1879 in München, Bavaria, Germany of natural causes. She was Beatified on 17 November 1985 by St Pope John Paul II. Patronages – The School Sisters of Notre Dame and Teachers.
Karolina Gerhardinger was born in Bavaria on 20 June 1797 as the sole child of Willibard and Franziska Gerhardinger.
Karolina lived during turbulent times in Bavaria. At the age of 15, she was already a certified teacher in the school for girls in Stadtamhof near Regensburg. She was a very gifted educator whose enthusiastic and encouraging acceptance of the children soon made her a beloved teacher. Under the spiritual guidance of Bishop George Michael Wittmann (1760-1833), Karolina gradually recognised God’s call to found a religious community in order to respond to the needs of the times through education.
On 16 November 1835, Karolina professed her religious vows and took the name, Mary Theresa of Jesus. Her love for God, nourished and strengthened by her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, enkindled the burning desire of her life: to know God and to do God’s will. God’s cause was the only concern of her heart. Blessed Theresa anchored her community in poverty and dedicated it to Mary.
In 1822, Karolina had written, “The love of Jesus sees into the future.” As foundress, she endeavoured to give the new congregation a future. She sent her sisters in communities of twos and threes to small towns and villages where they taught girls who would have been deprived of an adequate education. This brought about the development of a new form of apostolic religious life whereby all the sisters and houses were governed by a member of the congregation, a general superior. As a result, the congregation experienced rapid growth and acceptance but Blessed Theresa and her sisters also suffered great hardship and painful struggle. In 1865, the rule and constitutions of the School Sisters of Notre Dame were finally approved by Pope Pius IX. Blessed Theresa then continued to govern the congregation as its general superior until her death in Munich on May 9, 1879.
On 17 November 1985, Theresa of Jesus was declared “Blessed” by St Pope John Paul II in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.