Bl. Mary Frances Schervier
Franziska schervier.jpg
Born 3 January 1819(1819-01-03), Aachen, Germany
Died 14 December 1876 (aged 57), Aachen, Germany
Venerated in Roman Catholicism
Beatified 1974, Rome by Pope Paul VI
Feast December 15

Mary Frances Schervier was born into a wealthy family in Aachen, Germany. Her father, Johann Heinrich Schervier was a wealthy needle factory owner and the vice-mayor of Aachen. Her mother, Maria Louise Migeon, was the god-daughter of Emperor Francis I of Austria. After the death of both her mother and two sisters from tuberculosis, Mary Frances become the homemaker for her father, and established a reputation for generosity to the poor. In 1844 she entered the Third Order of St. Francis. The following year, she and four companions established a religious community devoted to caring for the poor. On 2 July 1851, the local bishop approved the "Poor Sisters of St. Francis", and the congregation soon spread. An American foundation was established within seven years of its founding, to serve German emigrant communities in New York and Ohio.

In 1857, she encouraged Philip Hoever in establishing the "Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis" (a congregation of lay brothers of the Third Order of St. Francis instituted for charitable work among orphan boys and educating the youth of the poorer classes). At the same time she oversaw the foundation of several hospitals and sanatoria. In 1863, Mother Frances visited the United States and helped her sisters to nurse soldiers wounded in the Civil War. She visited the United States again in 1868.

When Mother Frances died, there were 2,500 members of her congregation worldwide. The number kept growing until the 1970's, when, like many other religious orders, they began to experience a sharp decline in membership. They are still engaged in operating hospitals and homes for the aged, but have transferred the ownership of many of these institutions to other organizations. Mother Mary Frances was beatified in 1974.

In 1959, the American province of the congregation separated from the German branch, to become an independent congregation called the "Franciscan Sisters of the Poor." They have their headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.

Institutions dedicated to her in the United States:

The Poor Sisters of St. Francis serve in:

The Franciscan Sisters of the Poor are active in:

External links


  • Mccloskey, Patrick (1999). Day by Day with Followers of Francis & Clare. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press. ISBN 9780867163360. 

This article incorporates text from the entry Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis in Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain.

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