Josephine Koch

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Mother Elisabeth of Jesus

Josephine Koch , religious name Elisabeth von Jesus (born January 21, 1815 in Aachen , Germany , † April 3, 1899 in Leuven , Belgium ) was a Catholic nun . She founded the the nursing dedicated Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Family , the first Superior General she became.

Live and act

Anna Maria Josephine Katharina Koch was born on January 21, 1815 in Aachen as the oldest of three siblings. Both siblings died as small children. As a little girl, she was brought up in foster families because of her mother's easy-going lifestyle, later her strictly religious grandmother took over the further upbringing. She was sent to Eupen when she was nine or ten years old , and she received her further education in the boarding school of the recollects (Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). This was followed by secular training as a seamstress in Verviers before she returned to her grandmother in Haaren near Aachen . During this time she became friends with Clara Fey and was in close contact with Franziska Schervier , who were both students of Luise Hensel at the time.

Josephine Koch joined the monastery of the Rekollektinnen in Eupen on October 19, 1837 . After a four month postulate , she was clothed and given the religious name Philomena. A year later she made her temporary profession for a period of five years. She felt called to nurse and after experiences during a devastating typhus epidemic in Eupen in 1839 and 1840, she was transferred as a nurse to the newly founded St. Nicholas Hospital of the Recollects on December 2, 1842. By 1855 there were a number of young women who wanted to devote themselves to nursing but did not belong to any religious order. On June 13, 1857, Josephine Koch and some like-minded women founded the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Family for the inpatient and outpatient care of the sick and mentally ill as well as the care of the poor and needy. The motherhouse was set up in the Eupener Haus Vercken on the market square. The first dressing took place on July 22nd, 1857, Josephine Koch took the religious name Elisabeth.

Elisabeth of Jesus' tomb

As Elisabeth of Jesus, she led the new community as the first general superior until her death on April 3, 1899. After unrest in Germany, the seat of the community was relocated to Leuven, Belgium, on September 8, 1875. It was not until 1922 that the construction of the new motherhouse ( Helgoland Monastery ) on German territory began in Mayen in the Diocese of Trier . In 1928 the coffin of the founder of the order was reburied in Eupen and since 1964 it has been resting in the grave chapel of the monastery.


To commemorate the founder of the order, the Sankt-Nikolaus-Spital in Eupen established the Josephine Koch Foundation in 1991 to celebrate its 150th anniversary .


  • Hubert Kolling: Koch, Josephine In: Horst-Peter Wolff (Hrsg.): Lexicon for care history. “Who was who in nursing history.” Urban & Fischer, 2001, ISBN 3-437-26670-5 , pp. 125–127.
  • Wenzeslaus Straussfeld: Elisabeth Koch, founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Family. A picture of life. Bonifatius, Paderborn 1928.
  • Josef Dreißen: Let's do everything in the name of Jesus: the founder of the “Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Family”. Johannes, Leutesdorf 1981, ISBN 3-7794-0824-4 .

Individual evidence

  1. Biography on Church in the Diocese of Aachen
  2. ^ Josephine Koch Foundation, renamed to Josephine Koch Service