Saint Maria Katharina Kasper

Saint Maria Katharina KasperAlso known as

  • Catalina Kasper
  • Catherine Kasper
  • Maria Caterina Kasper



Third of four children born to Heinrich Kasper and Katharina Fassel, poor but devout peasants; she had four half-sisters from her father‘s first marriage. A happy, out-going child, Maria was an avid reader with a fondness for both the Bible and The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. Health problems often kept her home from school, but there she learned to spin and weave. She worked with her parents in the fields, and when she could do it, earned extra money by breaking stones for road construction.

Maria she felt an early call to religious life, and would lead pilgrimages of other children to local Marian shrines. However, her father died when she was 21, one of her brothers when she was 22, and the family was left so poor that Maria had to stay to help them survive by selling her weaving. When her mother died, Maria felt she could finally follow her vocation, and with the approval of the bishop of Limburg, Germany, she started a small house with several friends who also felt the call. They became a formal association in 1845, and on 15 August 1851 they were established as the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, a congregation dedicated to caring for the poor. Maria served as superior for five consecutive terms. The Handmaids opened their first school in 1854, spread to the Netherlands in 1859, received a decree of praise from Pope Pius IX on 9 March 1860, and formal approval by Pope Leo XIII on 21 May 1890. Her order continues its good work today with 690 sisters in 104 houses in Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, Mexico and India.







Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Maria Katharina Kasper“. CatholicSaints.Info. 5 October 2021. Web. 28 November 2021. <>