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The 1952 General Chapter was opened in Aachen, Germany, on September 20, 1952. The following Sisters were elected:

Sister M. Alexiana Schnaus       
Sister M. Genthilda Ludwig      
SisterM. Clarita Heinrichs       
Sister M. Blanca Hoehner       
Mother M. Simon Petra Rosfeld   
Sister John M. Berchmans Jakobs   
SisterTeresa M. Bertram  


Superior General
Mother Vicar
Second General Councilor
Third General Councilor
Fourth General Councilor
General Secretary
General Procurator


        c7 01Aachen, Germany
A letter from Mother Alexiana dated September 23, 1952, reads:
"It is the decision of the assembled General Chapter that our Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor of Saint Francis should in future consist of two independent branches:
1. The European Branch with its Motherhouse in Aachen, Germany;
2. The American Branch with its Generalate in Frascati-Rome”.

"All the German Sisters in America and in Rome will be left free to choose whether they wish to return to Germany, or whether they will permanently attach themselves to the American Branch. The American Provincial Superiors will give further details about this matter to these Sisters in their respective provinces after the decision of the Holy See is received”.

C 7 02Rome, ItalyThe reasons for this decision are stated in the Decree of Separation released by the Sacred Congregation of Religious in 1959 and related later on:

“Certain difficulties arose in the field of government and mutual concord. During the period of the World Wars when the houses abroad were for so long a time cut off from the Motherhouse in Germany, these problems became more acute”.

On September 1952, Mother Tarsicia Marie Fries, the previous Superior General, was put in charge of the Generalate House in Italy and the provinces in the United States. Mother Alexiana authorized this in the following letter:


C 7 03 Mother Tarsica Marie FriesC 7 04Mother M. Alexiana Schnaus“The undersigned Superior General of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis hereby authorizes Reverend Mother Tarsicia Marie Fries to conduct the administration of the Generalate House in Frascati, Rome, Via Tuscolana, as well as to dispatch all business which concerns the property of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis in America as well as in Italy, and the government of the American Provinces.

Aachen, September 23, 1952    

(Signed)     Mother M. Alexiana Schnaus
            Superior General”

The United States Delegates returned to Rome on September 24. The authorization of the separation by the Sacred Congregation was awaited. No news was officially announced until the end of the year in 1952. On January 29, 1953, Mother Innocenta Donnelly wrote to the Sisters in Cincinnati that a communication had been received:

C 7 05Mother Innocenta Donnely“In order that the Communities in Germany and in America can function independently of one another, the Sacred Congregation for Religious has appointed Reverend Emilio Herman, S.J., as its representative, to handle the affairs of all the Provinces of the Congregation temporarily. Father has informed us that the General Chapter is thereby closed, and the American delegates are now free to return home.”

Rev. Emil Herman, S.J., communicated the decision of the Sacred Congregation of Religious to Mother Tarsicia Marie on March 2, 1953, which was to grant autonomous administration to the US Provinces and temporary separation from the German Provinces “for as long as the Holy See should so wish.”  Mother Tarsicia Marie Fries was appointed General Vicar with full powers of a superior general, and the house at Frascati was designated as the Generalate for the US Provinces.  To assist her, and in agreement with her, the following Sisters were appointed:

First Councilor               
Second Councilor           
Third Councilor and Secretary   
Fourth Councilor and Procurator
Sister M. Paula Schenk
Sister M. Lucida Donahue
Sister Marie Victoria Beck
Sister M. Wencesla Simecek 


In May 1959, the Sacred Congregation of Religious released the decree of separation.  The transcription below was included in letter from Mother Tarsicia Marie dated May 17, 1959:

Authentic Translation
No. 2020/50

The Sisters of the Poor of the Third Order of Saint Francis were founded in the year 1845 by the holy Mother Frances Schervier, whose Cause for Beatification was undertaken in 1934.

This small society, whose purpose was to assist the sick poor, also through home nursing, to teach Christian doctrine to young girls and provide them with the proper education, and to offer hospitality to the derelict poor, gradually grew to such a point that it founded houses all over the world and increased both in numbers and in activities.

    In the month of August 1870, the Apostolic See granted to this new Congregation a Decree of Praise, approving it definitively on October 12, 1901. Then on October 6, 1908, it approved its Constitutions, which were later revised and brought into harmony with the Code of Canon Law on June 25, 1930.

    Because the number of houses, in America, as well as elsewhere, grew rapidly, certain difficulties arose in the field of government and mutual concord. During the period of the World Wars, when the houses abroad were for so long a time cut off from the Motherhouse in Germany, these problems became more acute.

    Slowly, and through the fault of no one, these difficulties reached the point where the flourishing Congregation of Mother Schervier was divided into two parts, the European and the American, with its center in the United States of North America, each having its own local customs and its own superiors. Because of this situation, already in the year 1952, the Sisters of the Poor of the Third Order of Saint Francis asked this Sacred Congregation to divide their Congregation into separate societies, while retaining a mutual moral federation, inasmuch as they had the same Mother Foundress and had by her been given the same basic laws.

    This Sacred Congregation, being opposed in principle to the division of Congregations, issued instructions to have the proposal studied by experts, appointing successively the Very Reverend Father Emil Herman, S.J., and the Very Reverend Father Augustine Bea, S.J., as Apostolic Visitors, with the instructions to carry out an investigation and then to report to the Holy See.  Having diligently completed the task entrusted to them, and having sought out the opinion of the interested Most Reverend Ordinaries, both Visitors concluded that the separation requested was already in fact in existence and, on the basis of this judgment, that no other course was open than to request the approval and confirmation of the Sovereign Pontiff.

    Having carefully weighed all the foregoing considerations, the Most Eminent Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Religious, submitted the matter to the August Pontiff in the audience granted to him on April 13, 1959. His Holiness, after mature deliberation on all the elements involved, deigned to separate the Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor of Saint Francis into two autonomous religious Congregations, at the same time establishing each of these Congregations as a juridical person of pontifical right, with its own rights and obligations, including financial administration, in compliance with the Sacred Canons.

    Consequently, in execution of the dispositions of the Sovereign Pontiff in the above-mentioned audience, the Sacred Congregation of Religious decrees as follows:
1.    The Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor of Saint Francis is divided into two autonomous religious Congregations, the vernacular name of the one, with its Generalate in Aachen, being “Armen Schwestern vom heiligen Franziskus," while that of the other, whose Generalate is in Frascati, is "Franciscan Sisters of the Poor.” Nevertheless both Congregations are associated in a moral federation, since both of them draw their origin from the same Mother Foundress and pursue the same end.

2.     To the Congregation of Aachen belong all the houses in Germany and Belgium; to the American Congregation, those founded in the United States of America and in Italy. Through this division of the houses, the Sisters themselves are thereby divided, without any further juridical formality being necessary. Should any individual religious wish to pass from one Congregation to the other, this can be arranged with the permission of the interested Superiors General.

3.    The Constitutions of each of the new Congregations are those by which, with the approval of the Holy See, the former Congregation was bound, with those modifications which either of the Congregations may present for the approval of the Sacred Congregation of Religious.

In addition, the habit of the Aachen Congregation is the same as the one now being worn, while that of the American Congregation is practically the same, with the changes approved by the Sacred Congregation of Religious.

4.    The aforementioned Federation of the two Congregations has its purpose not only in a mutual sharing in the prayers and good works performed by the members of each Congregation, but likewise in the intercession for the absolution of the souls of the deceased Sisters from each Congregation as well as the celebration of the feasts of saints common to them both.

Furthermore, this should be deemed advisable, for which reason both Congregations may arrange meetings in order that the spirit of the Mother Foundress be maintained intact, especially in what concerns the Apostolate.

Likewise, through mutual agreement between the Superiors General, they may provide reciprocal help, sending Sisters from one Congregation to the other, particularly for assignments of a specialized nature. In those cases no authorization is required for the transfer from one Congregation to the other, in compliance with the norms of the Sacred Canons.

5.    The Congregations separated by the terms of this present Decree will be governed until the year 1962 by the present Superiors General, who, in concert with their respective Councils, have the duty to take all steps necessary to effect the division of the Congregation and to prepare for the General Chapter, compliant with the Constitutions, which will be held in the aforementioned year, all things to the contrary notwithstanding.

Given at Rome, from the Palace of the Sacred Congregation of Religious, the day, month, and year given above.
                        Signed: VALERIUS CARD. VALERI


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Published: September, 17, 2015