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Maria Elisabeth Gruyters

De Stichteres van de Congregatie, Maria Elisabeth Gruyters, werd op 1 november 1789 geboren in het dorpje Leut aan de Maas. Haar vader, Nicolaas Gruyters, was rentmeester van het kasteel van Leut en haar moeder, Maria Borde, was huisvrouw. Het gezin met acht kinderen - Elisabeth was de oudste dochter, woonde in de rentmeesterswoning op het kasteelterrein. 

Huis familie Nijpels - kamer Elisabeth.p

Her father, Nicolaas Gruyters, was steward of the castle of Leut and her mother, Maria Borde, was a housewife. The family with eight children - Elisabeth was the eldest daughter - lived in the steward's house on the castle grounds.

Little is known about Elisabeth's childhood, only that she received some education, through which she learned to read and write. In her own notes on the foundation of the Congregation, it says: "But it seems to me ... before I start writing about this, I must ...". From 1794-1814, Leut belonged to France, which certainly conducted an anti-church policy during the first years. Elisabeth experienced this up close.


In 1820, Elisabeth left the parental home to, in her own words, respond to her call to live a religious life. She moved to Maastricht, although there were no monasteries in that city in the early 19th century. All existing monasteries had been abolished by the French in 1796.

She was employed as a housekeeper by wealthy families. Finally, she worked for the Nijpels family (now Henric van Veldekeplein) near the later Mother House. For seven years, Elisabeth cared for the paralyzed lady of the house, whom she persuaded on her deathbed to receive the sacrament of the dying. In her spare time she visited the sick in the nearby Calvary asylum from about 1825 onwards.


Elisabeth's life of faith became more and more intense, with almost mystical peak experiences, in which she identified very strongly with the suffering of Christ. Gradually the desire grew to dedicate her life completely to God.

In her own words, from 1820 to 1836 she had "stood supplicating day and night in the spirit before the throne of God."

Her ardent wish was "that a monastery would be founded here in this city of Maastricht, in which God would be served sincerely".

On August 15, 1836, the feast day of the Assumption of Mary, her wish was granted. Sunken in prayer in front of the statue of the Star of the Sea in the St. Nicholas Church, "I heard this blessed Yes from Heaven ... and this Yes was this ... and no different than this ... it will succeed" .


Her desire became a reality with the foundation of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of St. Charles Borromeo, together with Dean PA van Baer of the St. Servaas Church. The members of the congregation would devote themselves to caring for the sick, the needy and educating poor children.

In the meantime, she had inspired many other women who, like herself, felt called to sincerely serve God. From 1918 the congregation spread to many areas of the world.

Elisabeth Gruyters died on June 26, 1864. She was buried in Wolder.


The story of the birth of our Congregation, as written down by the Foundress, during the last years of her life contains important facts and is at the same time the story of her own calling and spiritual growth.

Graf Moeder Elisabeth in Wolder
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