Franciscan Saints

6th February

The Venerable Mary Teresa Bonzel

A person who was conversant with her in life writes that Mother Mary Teresa lived a holy life, observed many heroic acts of virtues, and became a brilliant model for all the members of the congregation which she had founded and which was so deeply blessed by God. The writer then expresses the confident hope that the day may not be far distant on which she will be honoured and invoked as Blessed.

Mary Teresa saw the light of day in the little town of Olpe, in southern Westphalia, as the eldest daughter of the merchant Bonzel. This was in 1830, on the feast of the Stigmata of our Holy Father St. Francis. A remarkable coincidence, when we remember that she was called to present to the Franciscan family a flourishing new branch and to renew in her person the spirit of the Poor Man of Assisi.

Already at her first Holy Communion she embraced herself  our Saviour and prayed again and again: “O Lord, I am Your victim, accept me as Your victim, do not reject me.” She entered the Third Order when she was not quite twenty years of age. Her whole being compelled her toward convent life. But a heart condition and the opposition of her mother hindered her plans.

Then it was that a devout woman made the unusual statement: “You are called to found a convent of perpetual adoration in your native town." Wisdom guided her. Already on December 30, 1860, Mother Mary Teresa and eight young women who were similarly minded received the holy habit in the parish church at Olpe. After many efforts, the foundation was incorporated in the great family of the saint of Assisi under the name of the Poor Franciscans of Perpetual Adoration.

The members pledged themselves to attain the spirit of the Poor Man of Assisi, to carry on perpetual adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, to engage in the education of youth and the care of the poor and the sick. When death beckoned the foundress to receive her well-earned reward on February 6, 1905, her sisters were active already in both the Old and the New World. The servant of God had no doubt earned this blessing from on high, above all, through her Franciscan spirit, the piety which permeated her whole being, her willing and resigned acceptance of bodily and spiritual afflictions coupled with an all-embracing trust in God, and last, but not least, through the charity which she never refused either to her sisters or to the poor, the sick, and poor sinners. “To become all to all" was the motto of her life, and it appears that even now she wishes to become all to all through her intercession at the throne of God.1

Heroic Virtue

On March 27, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI signed the decree which recognized Mother Maria Theresia's heroic virtues and named her Venerable which precedes the step to beatification.  Beatification is a declaration from the Church of a deceased person as Blessed and worthy of public honour.  In addition to examining the virtues of one's life, the complex beatification process requires a Church-confirmed miracle. Already in the year 2001, a miracle was recognized officially, through our Mother's intercession. A four year old boy in Colorado Springs had a persistent severe viral illness that normally ran its course in one week but was stretching into months.  The Sisters began a novena to Mother Maria Theresia and the young boy was healed without any scientific explanation.2


Prayer of the church

Thou dost permit, O Lord, that to those who love Thee, all

things tend to their good. Grant us the imperishable sentiments

of charity, so that in those things which we feel impelled to do

in charity through Thy inspiration, we may not be made to waver

because of any adversity.

Through Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth
Thee and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.


1. Habig, Marion A., O.F.M., 1959, ed., The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois
Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration (Immaculate of Mary Province, Mishawaka, Indiana), 2012, Community- Our Foundress, accessed 2nd January 2013 <>

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