Theodore Ratisbonne

In 13 History on 2015/06/26 at 12:00 AM

The Sisters of Sion Congregation was founded on a threefold commitment: to the Church, to the Jewish people and to a world of justice, peace and love.

Such a unique vision came to be through a Jewish man, Theodore Ratisbonne, born in Strasbourg , France in 1802. His family believed deeply in education and established a school in that town and Theodore was its principal.

Meanwhile his own studies led him to study Philosophy with a group of young men. Interestingly, they were guided spiritually by a very wise and learned Catholic woman, Louise Humann. She led him to an in-depth reading of both Jewish and Christian scriptures. Through her, he saw with great clarity the link between the two sacred texts. Always after, he proclaimed that the Old and New Testaments formed one continuous expression of God’s continued faithfulness and love. Together they reveal God’s all embracing love and the biblical call to act to bring about God’s reign.

When Theodore chose to be baptized by Louise in 1827 he had to relinquish his role as principal and experienced a separation from his family. Further study prepared him to be ordained a priestin1830andalongwith theother young men in his group taught near Strasbourg. In 1840, he moved to Paris and his reputation as a preacher and as a sound spiritual director of women grew.

His thoughts and words were grounded in the Scriptures, a practice that was not so common at the time. He was so steeped in the Word of God that his own vocabulary was biblical in tone and values. Many of the women he guided spiritually urgedhimtoformareligious community but he was hesitant until an event of January 20, 1842.

His youngest brother, Alphonse, visiting Rome, had an experience of the Blessed Virgin Mary which he simply called ‘light’. It led him to be baptized within 12 days andlaterbecomeapriest.Thiswas a sign for Theodore to form a community of religious women. Both brothers, henceforth shared a vision to ‘journey by the light of the Word of God and Mary’.

At the time of Theodore’s death in 1884, the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion were established equally in three distinct areas, one third in each of Muslim countries, in Orthodox countries and in CatholicEurope.Theodore insisted we have hearts “ bigger than the world”.

Sisters of Sion Dynamic Movement of the Holy Spirit #23


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