In 2019, the Sisters of the Precious Blood celebrated their 175th anniversary in the United States. This timeline describes the events leading up to the Sisters’ arrival in Ohio in 1844.
Left, Castle Loewenberg; middle, Mother Brunner; right, Father Francis de Sales Brunner.
1834 – Mother Maria Anna Brunner founds the Sisters of the Precious Blood at Loewenberg Castle in Switzerland. Mother Brunner’s deep devotion to the Precious Blood and her adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (especially at night) attracted two young women to join her in forming a nighttime prayer group.
1836 – Mother Brunner dies. Father Francis de Sales Brunner, Mother Brunner’s oldest son, becomes the spiritual director for the steadily growing Community.
1838 – Father Brunner joins the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and continues to minister in Switzerland.
1843 – Father Brunner receives word from Bishop Purcell of Cincinnati that priests and Brothers are needed to minister to the German Catholic immigrants in Ohio. Father Brunner, along with seven priests and seven brothers and students, prepared to travel to America. They arrive in December to Peru, Ohio, at St. Alphonse’s, the first settlement of the Precious Blood in America, about 45 miles northeast of New Riegel, Ohio.
Left, the historical marker commemorating the Peru settlement was erected in 2001 at St. Alphonsus Church in Norwalk, Ohio, by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, the Sisters of the Precious Blood and the Ohio History Connection; middle, The St. John Neumann Prayer Center, a restored 19th-century cabin much like the one the Sisters of the Precious Blood lived in when they came to America in 1844, at St. Alphonsus Church, Norwalk, Ohio; right, two Sisters with orphans in front of the New Riegel cabin in 1848.
Spring 1844 – Father Brunner writes to the Sisters at Loewenberg, indicating that they are also needed in America to assist with teaching the German immigrant children and to care for orphan girls.
July 22, 1844 – Three Sisters arrive in Peru at St. Alphonse’s. They are Mother Mary Ann Albrecht, Sister Rosalie Albrecht and Sister Martina Disch. Their first act upon arriving in Ohio is to assist at Mass, honoring the Precious Blood.
December 24, 1844 – The (now 10) Sisters move into the log cabin built for them in New Riegel, Ohio; this was the Cradle of the Community.
For more information on the early Sisters of the Precious Blood, read Not with Silver or Gold, the history of the Congregation from 1834 to 1944.
– Story by Sarah Aisenbrey; photos from the CPPS Archives collection