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The "cross-bearers of the Virgin Mary", as they call themselves, reject the innovations of the Second Vatican Council. The real head of this group was Josef Zanker (kneeling in the front of the picture), who was addressed as "Brother Josef" (press photo from June 7, 1985).

The Marienkinder , also known as the cross-bearer of the Virgin Mary, are a so-called new religious movement , which is mainly found in the district of Unterallgäu and describes itself as "Roman Catholic".


They were founded in 1983 in Mindelheim by Josef Zanker ("Brother Josef"; 1939–2001), a former bricklayer foreman, and the priest Johannes Maria Bauer (1919–1999), former Roman Catholic pastor from Aresing , who was later relieved of his duties . They ran a publishing house (publication of the “Marienkinder-Bilderzeitung” etc.), a travel company and a transport company in which they let work for low wages. The transport company transported goods for the regional market-leading retail chain Georg Jos. Kaes GmbH . The name "Marienkinder", which was used as early as the 19th century, is derived from a script by the French people's missionary and founder of the order, Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort .

The members represent an apocalyptic dualism in which good and bad angels work and the world is understood as a place of struggle between Satan and God. This strongly emphasizes a negative anthropology, human guilt and the related necessity of sacrifice and atonement. The Mary children reject the Second Vatican Council . They are opponents of hand and standing communion , which they regard as "a satanic work", and they also reject the hymn book " Praise to God ". Human rights are also described as "satanic" and democracy as the "principle of the devil". In her writings, apocalyptic calculations were concretized and the Third World War was predicted for 1999. The date was later corrected to a range between 2000 and 2006.

The former bishop of the diocese of Augsburg , Josef Stimpfle , excommunicated Zanker and Bauer in 1985 "because of schism ". Josef Zanker was classified as a "dangerous psychopath" by the diocese.

The members initially lived together in the Mindelheim town mill. In the mid-1980s, the condition of the Marienkinder came to light for the first time: According to the teaching, people selected by Zanker took on all sins. He demanded total obedience and, according to the judicial investigation, also used physical violence, psychological terror and sexual abuse. In court he testified that he “beat up” children and young people because “they needed it”. In 1987 Zanker was sentenced to a suspended sentence in 21 cases for assault and coercion, whereupon the Marienkinder withdrew from the public.

In 1993, Zanker's violence escalated and he almost killed the co-founder, Pastor Bauer. Then the Marienkinder split in July 1994. Zanker went to Bad Wörishofen, where the Marienkinder companies are today. In August 1994 Pastor Bauer was reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church ; the excommunication was on the condition that he no longer spoke to St. May celebrate Mass and break off contact with the Marienkinder - canceled. Bauer later became involved in the Engelwerk and died in 1999.

The former pastor of Aresing, Johannes Bauer, acted as spiritual director (press photo from June 7, 1985).

Against Zanker, who had in the meantime withdrawn from the group leadership, charges of dangerous and life-threatening bodily harm , deprivation of liberty and coercion in seven cases were brought on account of the incidents.In October 1996 the Memmingen district court sentenced him to three years in prison. Zanker died in early 2001.

Today the center of the group is in the Bad Wörishofen area . She continues to hold fast to her beliefs, but is recognized as a charitable work and continues her religious activities. Since the beginning of 2008, the Marienkinder have been cared for by priests of the St. Petrus Society on behalf of the then Augsburg diocesan bishop Walter Mixa . In September 2008, Mixa has 30 followers Mary's children received Confirmation thus "retrieved" and in the Catholic Church.


  • Declarations of the Cross Bearers of the Virgin Mary , 1985.
  • Edmund Heger: Handbook for the Association of Marienkinder, which is under the direction of the merciful sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul (daughters of Christian love) 9th edition. Pustet, Regensburg / Rome 1913, DNB 573254427 .
  • Selina Krause: Marienkinder in Catholicism of the 19th century. Religiousness; Femininity and Catholic Society Education (= History , Volume 15). Frank & Timme , Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86596-295-9 (dissertation University of Bern 2009, 309 pages).
  • Julia Marie, Wolfgang Hillmann (ed.): An angel without wings , Lylot, Memmingen 2004, ISBN 978-3-980384-51-3 (report on the experiences of a woman who dropped out of the Marienkinder movement).
  • Hansjörg Schmid: The Marienkinder. An apocalyptic grouping of the present (= working texts for religious and ideological information and discussion , Volume 1), Academy of the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Bibles and Religions Unit, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1997, OCLC 313216735 .

Web links


  1. a b Spiegel Online: Bishop Mixa vies for sectarians from March 6, 2009
  2. ^ Mathias Petry: Time for changes. Donaukurier from March 2, 2018
  3. Augsburger Rundbrief No. 25 ( Memento of February 8, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) March 2008
  4. Mixa brings sectarians into the church ( Memento from March 5, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) March 4, 2009
  5. Quotations