Theodosius Florentini : A Pastoral Heart


Fr.Theodosius Florentini, OFM Cap. was born on May 23rd, 1808 in Mustair (Canton Grisons) a village near the Italian border. In 1828 he took up the religious vows as a Capuchin. Being a man of strong convictions and deep-rooted religious values, Fr. Theodosius was entrusted with major responsibilities in the Church as well as in his Order soon after his ordination.


During the years of his stay at Baden Fr. Theodosius realized with all clarity the need to struggle for a new society. The prevailing condition of deprivation of education and child labor sickened him. Aware of the needs of the time, and being an-illustrious teacher he decided to fight the enemies of the Church by making education available to the ordinary people with special emphasis on the education of girls.  He was passionate for new ideas and so pursued his goal. His motto:

“The need of the time is the will of God” 

His conviction was that the Catholic Church should be active through the religious communities. He wanted to establish religious congregations in such a way, so that they would fit everywhere. In his biography 1853 he writes:

“Before 1839 I drew a plan to establish a religious congregation,
conforming to the needs of the country”. 

Fr Theodosius made it possible for Maria Anna Heimgartner (Mother Bernarda) and her companions to realize his vision for the future. The first seed was sown for the future congregation of “Teaching Sisters”. He faced many challenges. The sisters opened the girls’ school in Menzingen in 1844 on the 3rd November for the higher classes with 32 students and on 27 November for the lower classes with 56 students.


Fr. Theodosius willingly risked and explored new ways of providing work opportunities for the impoverished people, caring for the poor, the sick and the neglected. As an organizational genius, rich in ideas and of tremendous vitality, with great drive for dynamic work, Fr. Theodosius with deep trust in Divine Providence ventured into the unknown, the uncertain. He was a man of far vision.  He broke with the monastic concept of religious life limited to within the walls to embrace an apostolic religious life based on a social concern and involvement. “As long as there is a poor child under the sun, I cannot rest”, became his life’s guiding principle. 


In Fr. Theodosius, people found a “noble priest, a teacher of the youth, a nurse of the sick, and the father of the poor.” He had an uncompromising determination in pursuing his goal. He was convinced that one who trustfully puts one’s life under God’s guidance perceives the ideas that come from the core of his living as an expression of God’s will. He reformed the Catholic education system and the charitable works of mercy in Switzerland. This untiring organizer founded many houses in which the sisters rendered great service in education, nursing, social work and pastoral work, etc. 

Besides being a social reformer, he was also a Catholic reformer. He undertook diverse activities in response to the demands of his time.

He passed away on February 15th 1865 in Heiden while on a journey. In our search for appropriate answers to the needs of our time for the transformation of our society with diverse cultures, we seek the guidance of the Spirit and intercession of our founder’s Fr Theodosius and Mother Bernarda.