Saint of the Day – 19 June – Blessed Maria Rosa/Margaretha Flesch FSMA (1826-1906) (commonly known as Mother Rosa), Religious Sister and Founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Angels, Apostle of the sick, the poor, orphans, spiritual writer, Nurse and Teacher. Margaretha assumed the new religious name of “Maria Rosa” after she made her profession into her own order and was its first Mother Superior and of which Order, she is the Patron. Her feast is today, 19 June – the date of her solemn profession – rather than the date of her death.
Margaretha Flesch was born to a poor oil-seed miller on 24 February 1826, in Schönstatt, near Koblenz, in Germany. She was the oldest of seven. When her mother died in 1832 the family moved to Niederbreitbach, in the hope of improving their financial situation. Margaretha’s father died when she was 16, leaving she and her stepmother to care for her siblings. Since no social services for the poor existed then, the family was left to fend for itself.
Margaretha worked as a day labourer, gathered and sold herbs and was skilled in handicrafts. The needs of the people, especially orphans and the sick were one of her major concerns, motivated as she was by strong faith in God she felt called to serve the poor, the sick and the helpless.
In Autumn 1851, Margaretha and her sister Marianne moved into the small quarters at the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Waldbreitbach. They lived parsimoniously, trusting God for their daily sustenance while serving the poor and sick of the community. In addition to working as a day labourer, Margaretha took in orphans and taught home economics in some of the nearby schools.
In 1856, Margaretha was joined by two women who also felt called to serve the poor and sick. In 1860, the local pastor invited them and the orphans to move to premises in Hausen.
These premises proved totally uninhabitable. In the Spring of 1861 they were at last able to begin building their first house on Waldbreitbach Chapel Mountain. It was to be their residence and a home where they could care for the sick. On 11 November 1861, they moved into their first “St Mary’s Home.” Her great devotion to Francis of Assisi since her childhood was instrumental in her founding her own Franciscan-branched order on 13 March 1863. During this time, Mother Rosa also built an orphanage and a hospital.
On 13 March 1863, with two other women, Margaretha professed the Evangelical Councils, publicly, in the Chapel of the Holy Cross. She took the name of Maria Rosa. She was known henceforth as Mother Rosa, the first Superior General of the Franciscan Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Angels.
Her Congregation increased rapidly. By 1878 there were 105 Sisters serving in 22 mission homes. It was also in that year, that she ended her term as Superior General. The Congregation thrived and when Mother Rosa died on 25 March 1908 there were 900 Sisters and 72 mission houses serving the sick and the poor, now spread as far as the Americas and in many countries of Europe.
Mother Rosa died on 25 March 1906. Her order received the decree of praise of Pope Pius X on 12 December 1912 – after her death – and later received the full papal approval of Pope Pius XI on 30 April 1928.
“It is through service to others, lovingly given,” Mother Rosa said, “that we reach a special fulfilment and union with our Lord.”
In 1957, the cause for her Beatification was introduced in Rome. … Vatican.va
The decree on her writings was approved on 21 November 1980 and was placed under the care of theologians so that the latter, could investigate her written works, in order to ensure that each of them adhered to Church doctrine and did not contradict or oppose it. Following this the diocesan process received ratification from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in 1999. The miracle needed for her Beatification was investigated from 1998 until 1999 in Trier and involved the healing of Monica Schneider in the evenings of 5 and 6 September 1986. The C.C.S. approved the process of completing its work in 2001 and took possession of the boxes of documents for their own evaluation. It did not receive the approval of the Pontiff until 2007. Cardinal Joachim Meisner presided over the Beatification on 4 May 2008 on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI.
The current Postulator assigned to the cause is the Franciscan Giovangiuseppe Califano.