Blessed Clara Fey

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Blessed Clara Fey  

Founder, Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus (1815–1894)  

Clara Fey, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, was born in Aachen, Germany. In her youth, she observed the hard living and working conditions of the poor. In 1837, with friends, she established a school to serve poor children. Over time, this became the foundation for a new religious congregation, the Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus. The name implied a combination of the contemplative and active life. It was inspired by a dream in which Fey had encountered a little boy. When she asked where he came from, he pointed above. When she asked his name he replied, “The Poor Child Jesus.” Fey took religious vows in 1850 and assumed leadership of the congregation, a position she occupied until her death.  

The early work with young children expanded to include high schools for girls and homes for young women working in business and factories. During the Franco-Prussian War, the sisters nursed the sick and wounded. This did not spare them from anti-Catholic persecution that broke out during the Kulturkampf of 1875, and Fey was forced to relocate her community to the Netherlands. There she died on May 8, 1894.  

A decree of 1958 recognized her holiness. She was beatified in 2018.  

“‘Whoever receives such a child in my name receives me.’ So we can receive the Lord. . . . The poor, especially the poor children, are the best friends of Jesus. He loves them so much that he sees everything that happens to them, as if it had happened to him.” —Blessed Clara Fey 

© Liturgical Press.

Robert Ellsberg

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and the author of several award-winning books, including All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time; Blessed Among All Women; and The Saints' Guide to Happiness.

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