Sisters of St. Maria Magdalena Postel

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The sisters of St. Maria Magdalena Postel ( order abbreviation : SMMP ) are a Roman Catholic religious order founded in 1807 under the name “Poor Daughters of Mercy” by the teacher Julie Postel in Cherbourg , France . The founder took the religious name Maria Magdalena Postel , from which the current name of the community goes back, which is counted among the school sisters. Since 1862 there has been an independent branch of the German order, which is also known as the Heiligenstädter School Sisters . Its mother house is located in the Heilbad Heiligenstadt in Thuringia .

Originated in France

Julie Postel was born on November 28, 1756 in Barfleur, France, as the daughter of a rope maker . She worked as a teacher for a long time and founded her own school where she taught poor children. In doing so, she followed the reform pedagogy of Jean Baptiste de La Salles with her progressive educational method . In 1807 different trends gave her the reason to found her own community of sisters: She was dissatisfied with the work of other orders, which often exhausted themselves in glamorous representation and feudal housekeeping. In addition, considerable hostility towards religion spread during the French Revolution , which drove back the influence of the Church. Julie Postel helped many persecuted French priests to flee to England.

For more than two decades, the young community had been looking for a suitable place to work. Often times the sisters were pressured to leave newly occupied homes because they were undesirable. It was not until 1832 that they found a new home in the ruins of the former Benedictine abbey in Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte in Normandy. At an advanced age, Julie Postel worked hard to make this building, of which little more than the foundation walls stood, habitable again. To this day this abbey is the seat of the French tribal congregation. Maria Magdalena died on July 16, 1846.

13 years later, in 1859, the community was founded by Pope Pius IX. officially recognized as a congregation . In 1908 the foundress Maria Magdalena was beatified by Pope Pius X , and in 1925 she was canonized by Pius XI. The successor of St. Maria Magdalena Postel as superior, Sister Placida Viel, was also beatified in 1951. In 1990 the French sister Martha le Bouteiller was beatified by Pope John Paul II , a contemporary of Maria Magdalena Postel and Placida Viel.

On September 8, 2006, the 200th anniversary year was opened in Germany and France. The following months were marked by intensive preparation for the anniversary on September 8, 2007 in Cherbourg. The 250th birthday of St. Maria Magdalena Postel was celebrated on November 28, 2006.

History in Germany

Sister Placida Viel made contact with four teachers in Eichsfeld, Thuringia, on her travels, where she begged for money to rebuild the motherhouse. So in 1862 the first German religious establishment was founded in Heiligenstadt . Since that time, the nuns in Eichsfeld have also been known by the nickname "Heiligenstadt School Sisters". From Eichsfeld, the sisters founded numerous convents in what is now North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Thuringia and the Netherlands. They are still particularly active in hospitals, schools and facilities for senior citizens. About 30 of these institutions are currently in their own sponsorship. In addition, the sisters are involved in pastoral care and pastoral work in various parishes.

Due to the political tensions between Germany and France after the First World War, the German branch of the order has been an independent congregation since 1920.

Bestwig mountain monastery

The division of Germany within Germany prompted the sisters to move their motherhouse from Heiligenstadt to Geseke after the Second World War . From 1968 it was then located in the newly built mountain monastery of Bestwig . In 2003 the Generalate of the Order returned to Heiligenstadt. Bestwig becomes the seat of the European Province. In 1992 sisters moved into the former Premonstratensian monastery in Oelinghausen .

Sr. Aloisia Höing had been Superior General since 1996. From 2003 to 2006 she was also chairwoman of the Association of Superiors of Germany (VOD) . After the merger of this organization with the associations of superiors of the orders of priests and brothers in 2006, she was elected first chairman of the newly founded Conference of German Superiors of Orders (DOK) . She held this office until 2010. Sr. Maria Thoma Dikow has been Superior General since January 2015.

Monasteries in Germany

Schools in Germany

International commitment

Since 1923 the Sisters of St. Maria Magdalena Postel is also active internationally in schools, hospitals, facilities for senior citizens and other charitable institutions. As early as the 1920s and 1930s, Heiligenstadt founded new provinces in the Netherlands, Bolivia and Brazil. In Bolivia, the sisters work in Bermejo , Cochabamba , La Paz , Oruro , Santa Cruz de la Sierra , Tarija and Vallegrande .

The sisters have also been active in Romania since 1998 and in Mozambique since 2001 . According to the motto of its founder "Educate the youth, support the poor and alleviate hardship as much as possible", they work in all countries for a good school education for children, justice and humane care for people in all phases of life.


  • Wilhelm Hünermann : The rope daughter of Barfleur. Life picture of St. Maria-Magdalena Postel , Herder Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 1956. New edition under the title Daughter of the Storm , Verlag Petra Kehl, Fulda 2006.
  • Ed. Kinderheilstätte Nordkirchen: 100 Years Sisters of St. M. Magdalena Postel - Heiligenstadt School Sisters - in the children's sanatorium in Nordkirchen. - Festschrift - self-published Nordkirchen 1993
  • Heiligenstädter Schulschwestern 1862 - 1962. Self-published in Heiligenstadt 1962 (no author given)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Article: Aloisia Höing re-elected Superior General of the Heiligenstadt School Sisters on January 5, 2009 on medals, accessed online on January 5, 2009