Königin der Apostel




Jesus Christ, Son of God, sent by the Father, came to this earth, to bring the GOOD NEWS of the Compassion, Kindness and forgiving Love of the Father. His Love was to go to the extent of giving His Life as a ransom for many. This good news our Lord extended to all who search Him in truth; to all who needed Him most and these were pri­marily the poor. To those who heard His call and left everything behind to be with Him" He entrusted His mission: “Go into all the world, preach the Gospel, baptize them!"Since then, many men and women have heeded Christ's invitation and followed Him generously to continue His mission.

During the second half of the last century, a German Jesuit and missionary, Father Antonius Maria Bodewig, received a "call within his call". Working in the Mission territory of the German Jesuit Province in Bombay, during the years 1873-1876, Fr. Bodewig very soon felt the need to intensify the work of direct Evangelization in India. He thought of the foundation of a Missionary Society, specifically devoted to the Evangelization of India, and concretely of Benares in North India. He felt himself strongly drew to this City, which was considered the Centre of religious India and the heart of Hinduism. Fr. Bodewig would have no peace until Christ the Son of Mary Immaculate would crush the head of him, who was the source of every sin and evil" (cf. Gen. 3, 15) and became the revered and loved LORD of BENARES, (Holy City) in a sanctuary dedicated to Mary Immaculate, a longing, which during the last decades has found its fulfilment to a good extent.

Another thought, which occupied Fr. Bodewig's mind, was the formation of sisters who would devote themselves for the uplift of women, female youth and the care of widows (ZANANA SISTERS) After a prolonged and mature discernment to know the Will of God, he left the Jesuit Society in 1888, and started in his hometown Cologne the foundation of the "Missionary Society of the Immaculate Conception".

There was no lack of zeal on his part, as the many young men and women gathered around him, show. But several unfortunate coincidences, caused by the particular situation of his time, let the undertaking end in "failure", since the approval from the hierarchy did not come forward.  Fr. Bodewig suffered the failure of Good Friday, a lot, which frequently befalls men and women with a prophetic mission and live ahead of their time. Fr. Antonius Maria Bodewig died in Rome on 8th January 1915, as a consequence of physical hardships; more still, of his interior sufferings, which he had to endure, his vision unfulfilled. 'Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, itself it remains alone, but if it dies, it will bring fruit a hundredfold!

Father Bodewig's charisma lived on in his brothers and sisters, who remained faithful to him, until his death and beyond. Already in the year 1906, P. Paul Sonntag and a group sent by him to Vienna, founded in the year 1916 in the City of Vienna the pious Association 'Catholic Mission Work for India". The great promoter and soul of this undertaking, was Dr. Theodore Innitzer, Professor of Theology in the University of Vienna. It was he, who gave every encouragement to the pioneers, brothers and sisters. Of these special mention must be made of Brother (later Father) Paul Sonntag, who led the group of Brothers. Mother M. Xaveria Blas, who became the first Superior General of the Congregation, Mother Theresia Gromoeller of Mariaveld and Mother Jerome Willmes, who was one of the Pioneers in India.

Dr. Innitzer was inspired by the enthusiasm of the group and their dedication to the cause of India. The missionary Pope, Leo XIII and his encyclical of 24th June 1893 further inspired him. He led the started work and brought it to the canonical erection as a missionary Society in the City of Vienna. The canonical approval of the diocesan Missionary Society of the Queen of the Apostles was granted by His Eminence, Cardinal Dr. Gustav Piffl, Archbishop of Vienna, on the 1st July 1923. Prof. Innitzer was appointed the Superior of the new Society and remained the spiritual Father of the sisters until his death on the 9th  Oktober 1955.

If we speak of our Founders, we think with gratitude of Fr. Antonius Maria Bodewig, who has left us his charisma, his vision and the Marian ideal as a most precious heritage. We rejoice that his vision has been realized in India in the way he had fore­seen it. We remember Cardinal Dr. Theodore Innitzer, who made this charisma his own, protected and promoted it, until it found the canonical approval of the Church. It was due to his personal interest, which brought already on the 7th April 1949 the Papal approval, when the Congregation was honoured with the DECRETUM LAUDIS, and finally approved on 29th  February 1964.

In the first letter to the Corinthians we read: “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are equal and each shall receive his wage according to his labour" (1 Cor. 3:7 - 8).