Blessed Maria Helena Stollenwerk

November 28, 1852 - February 3, 1900

Feastday: November 28

Sister Maria Helena Stollenwerk was born on November 28, 1852 in Rollesbroich, a village in the Eifel, in the diocese of Aachen. She was baptized the next day. From childhood she was drawn to missionary work. Her wish was to preach the Gospel in China.

She was a German missionary sister and in 1889 the co-founder of the Missionary Sisters of Steijl (Limburg), the Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit (the religious name "Maria Virgo", a foundation of Arnold Janssen. Together with Hendrina Stenmanns and Father Arnold Jansen , the founder of the Company of the Divine Word.

Still, after taking her first vow in 1894, she was not sent to China. Her task was in Steyl, where she, as superior, had to lay the foundation for her mission congregation. The missionary sisters were nicknamed "blue sisters"; the closing sisters were called "pink sisters", after the color of their habit.

Steyl's two sister congregations both experienced rapid growth in the first half of the 20th century. In 1915, Sister Adolfine Tönnies founded the Convent of Divine Love in Philadelphia, the first of four lock sisters' convents in the United States. This monastery was also the first monastery foundation after the mother house in Steyl. Then followed monasteries in Germany, the Philippines and China. In 1927 a second Dutch monastery was founded in Soesterberg, called Cenakel. In 1999 this monastery moved to Utrecht, where it also bears the name Klooster Cenakel. The Castle Sisters of Steyl now have monasteries in the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Togo, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Although she would have liked to go to China as a missionary, her destiny turned out to be the spiritual support of the missionary work through the adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Eight weeks later, on February 3, 1900, she died in the castle monastery in Steyl from the consequences of meningitis.

Sister Maria Helena Stollenwerk was beatified on May 17, 1995 by Pope John Paul II.

Beatification requires at least one officially recognized miraculous event. It is the cure of a Japanese woman who suffered from Crohn's disease. The woman was nursed in a hospital of the Steyl Missionary Sisters in Kanasawa in 1962. After seven unsuccessful operations, the family decided on the advice of the sisters to keep a novena to Mother Maria, the monastic name of Helena Stollenwerk

Her body is kept in a sarcophagus in the chapel of the missionary sisters of Steyl.