Saint of the Day – 15 December – Blessed Karl Steeb (1773 – 1856) Priest, Founder, Apostle of Charity, Lawyer, Teacher of Languages. Blessed Karl was born on 18 December 1773 in Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg (modern Germany) and died on 15 December 1856 at Verona, Italy of natural causes. Blessed Karl founded the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy in support of the needy and the sick of which he is the Patron.
His father was a highly esteemed businessman of the Lutheran faith who administered the assets of the Duke of Wurttemberg. He sent Karl to Paris at sixteen and at eighteen to Verona, Italy to study further. He was a mature and reserved boy, focusing his attention on his studies. He was a fervent Lutheran but was fascinated with the lively Veronese world, with its cultural and religious vitality. He attracted a dialogue with some well-known priests and laity and this led him in September 1792, to become Catholic.
Four years later he was ordained a priest, which caused great bitterness on the part of his father, who disinherited him. However, upon the death of his sister Guglielmina he did inherit, all proceeds of which he donated to the poor of Verona. It was a time of war between Napoleon and Austria – the battles of Bassano, of Bishop’s Castle, the Rivoli and then the uprising of anti-1797 (the “Pasque Veronese”). Blessed Karl lived at this time between infirmaries, hospitals, the military sickbays and the infectious lepers, as a priest, nurse and interpreter in three languages.
He contracted typhoid through his work in the hospitals but his spiritual director, Father G B Bertolini, assured him “It’s not your time. The Lord expects something great from you.”
His Order, the Sisters of Mercy, was born in 1840, in two rooms, dedicated to all the suffering and needy. From the two rooms, the Institute began a journey that continues still, with homes in Europe, Latin America and Africa.
Karl, who many called the “father of the sick”, died in 1856 after seeing the completion of a church as the Mother Church of the Sisters of Mercy, in Verona, where his body is buried. Pope Paul VI Beatified him in 1975 after confirmation of a miracle.
(This biography was translated from Italian and is not comprehensive but the best I could find).