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Maria Theodor Ratisbonne

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Theodore Ratisbonne

Portrait of Theodore Ratisbonne

Maria Theodor Ratisbonne (December 28, 1802 - January 10, 1884) was a Catholic priest and missionary who founded the Order of Our Lady of Sion. He was the brother of Maria Alphonse Ratisbonne.

Biography

Maria Theodor Ratisbonne was born in Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine to Jewish parents, Auguste and Adelaide (Cerfbeer) Ratisbonne. [1] His father was a banker and president of the Consistoire of Alsace. [2] After the conversion of his friends Emile Dreyfus, Alfred Mayer, and Samson Liebermann to Christianity, Theodor spent two years studying Catholicism and the history of the church. In 1827, he converted to Roman Catholicism, and was ordained as a priest in 1830.

Conversion

In the 1820s, Ratisbonne joined a wave of apostasy in the French Jewish community triggered by a sense that the Jews could not achieve full integration in French society as long as they remained Jews. [3] Ratisbonne reached the conclusion that there was a fundamental incompatibility between Judaism and French citizenship. Until his conversion, he was active in the Societe d'Encouragement au Travail en Faveur des Israelites du Bas-Rhin. According to Ratisbonne, this involvement in Jewish communal affairs was undertaken as a preparatory step prior to baptism. [4]

Missionary work

He became director of the Arch-confraternity of Christian Mothers. Pope Gregory XVI decorated him a Knight of the Order of St. Sylvester and praised his biography of St. Bernard of Clairvaux), Life of St. Bernard. He obtained permission to work as a missionary in Jerusalem, where he established the Order of Our Lady of Sion. The sisters devoted their lives to hastening the "fulfilment of the promises concerning the Jews and the Gentiles" while avoiding all proselytism. Ratisbonne's directive was: "Remain firm in your own faith without attempting to impose it on others." [5]

Published work

Ratisbonne was the author of Essay on Moral Education (1828), a Life of Saint Bernard (1841), Meditations of Saint Bernard on the Present and Future (1853), a Manual for Christian Mothers (1860), Jewish Questions (1868), and other works.

Death

On his deathbed, Ratisbonne received the last Sacraments from the Archbishop of Paris, Joseph Hippolyte Guibert, and the final blessing from Pope Leo XIII. He died in Paris.

References

  1. :: Ecce Homo Convent >> History ::
  2. Encyclopedia Judaica, Ratisbonne Brothers, Volume 13, pp.1570-1571, Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem, 1972
  3. Rites and Passages: The Beginnings of Modern Jewish Culture in France, 1650-1860 Jay R. Berkowitz, University of Philadelphia Press, 2004, "Revolution, Regeneration and Emancipation,' p. 156.
  4. Rites and Passages: The Beginnings of Modern Jewish Culture in France, 1650-1860 Jay R. Berkowitz, University of Philadelphia Press, 2004, "Revolution, Regeneration and Emancipation,' p. 156.
  5. http://www.cjre.net/history.htm

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