History of the Shrine
Mother Brunner: foundress of the Sisters of the Precious Blood
Mother Brunner founded the Sisters of the Precious Blood, and was known for her generosity, not only to those who came to her home, but as she walked through town she was ready to assist those in need, often giving loaves of bread to the poor. As part of the Shrine’s identity and ministry Mother Brunner Bread is sold in the Pilgrim Gift Shop every weekend.
The Sisters of the Precious Blood
A spiritual son of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, the Very Reverend Francis de Sales Brunner, who, with his Mother, Maria Anna Brunner, had established a community of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Loewnberg, Switzerland, was instrumental in bringing the first of these Sisters to America in 1844.
When the Bishop Purcell of Cincinnati went to Europe, to Germanic speaking countries, Fr. Brunner accepted the invitation to return to America with him in 1843 to serve the German speaking Catholics of this area. He brought with him seven Precious Blood priests and seven Precious Blood brothers, along with many of the relics which he had been acquiring for several years.
The following summer, in July of 1844, the first three Sisters of the Precious Blood arrived in this area, bringing with them the remainder of his collection of relics.
The first settlement in America was made in New Riegle, Ohio where, on Christmas Eve, 1844, six Sisters of the Precious Blood began their nightly vigils adoring the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar I the wilderness of America.
The cornerstone for the convent Maria Stein, was laid November 16, 1845. In the fall of 1846 Father Brunner dedicated the chapel under the title of Mary Help of Christians, and called the convent Maria Stein in memory of the Swiss Benedictine convent of that name. On September 24, 1846 eight Sisters came from New Riegel convent and, entering the frame house built for them as their first convent, began perpetual adoration that night.
The "new" convent for the Sisters was built in 1901, a four story structure using wood from the surrounding heavily wooded landscape, and bricks made locally. The walls of the structure are four bricks thick.
In 1950, when the European convent of Loewenberg was sold, all the Sisters came to America. Convents then arose in quick succession in Mercer, Auglaize, Seneca and Putnam Counties in Ohio, and Jay County, Indiana.
Maria Stein was the Motherhouse of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Precious Blood until 1923 when it was transferred to Dayton, Ohio. There the unique privilege of Perpetual Adoration enjoyed at Maria Stein was extended to comprise also the great grace of Perpetual Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Since 1844 the Sisters of the Precious Blood have served God’s people in the United States in fields of education, pastoral ministry, health care and social services: in schools, orphanages, nursing homes, parishes and seminaries. Their ministries have spread the influence and spirituality of the Sisters of the Precious Blood to many states in this country, to Guatemala in Central America, and to Chile in South America.