Blessed Maria Virgo, SSpS, SSpSAP
(Helena Stollenwerk)


Blessed Maria Virgo (Helena Stollenwerk) was born in Rollesbroich, Germany on Nov. 28, 1852. Already while still at the little village elementary school she began enthusiastically reading the annuals of the Holy Childhood Association, now the Papal Work for Children, in her free time. They roused her determination to help the children of China. When at the age of twenty she tried to follow her calling, she found no convent in Germany that sent missionary sisters to China and for many years she searched in vain for the address of such a congregation.

During a visit to Steyl she learned that Arnold Janssen saw the need to found a congregation of missionary sisters, although he could not promise that he would do so in the near future. He offered her employment as a maid in the Mission House kitchen. Helena was 30 years old when she accepted his offer. She hoped in that way to reach her goal.


Two years later, in 1884, she was joined by Hendrina Stenmanns from Issum in the German Lower Rhineland. For the first several years the two women worked in kitchen and laundry and lived in a small, very simple house. Years later, when a neighbouring convent became vacant, they moved there. On December 8, 1889 Helena, now Mother Maria and superior general, co-founded with Blessed Arnold, the Missionary Sisters. From then on the development of the Congregation of the "Servants of the Holy Spirit", as they are officially called, really took off. The rapidly growing community sent out the first sisters to Argentina in 1895; soon followed by a group sent to Togo. After only seven years the Congregation numbered 100 sisters.

Arnold Janssen regarded prayer as an absolute necessity to support mission work. He had long been thinking of a third, contemplative branch for his foundations. So on 8 December 1896 he clothed the first Adoration Sisters in their pink religious habit. In 1898 Mother Maria transferred to the cloistered Sisters becoming a novice with the name Sister Maria Virgo. She would really have preferred to remain with the Missionary Sisters but responded generously to Arnold Janssen's wish when he asked her to take the step. Helena's dream, to go out to the great land of China, was never fulfilled. On February 3, 1900 Helen was stricken by a serious illness, she was admitted to religious profession as a Holy Spirit Adoration Sister on her deathbed. On May 7, 1995, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II.

Blessed Maria Virgo's Motto:


"To God the honor, to my neighbor the benefit, and to myself the burden."


"If you find things difficult at any time in the future, be comforted by the thought that, like Moses in the Old Testament, there is a Sister before the tabernacle raising her heart and hands to Heaven for you."


Source: Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters