Sion’s Miraculous Beginning
The Congregation of Our Lady of Sion was founded by Father Theodore Ratisbonne in 1843. He and his brother, Alphonse, were born into a well-educated Jewish family in Strasbourg, France. Theodore came to Christianity through the study of Scripture and was ordained a priest in 1830. His mentor, Louise Humann, inspired him to read, love and center his life on the Word of God. At his request, she baptized him Catholic and will be forever remembered and revered in Sion as a woman of deep faith and rare intelligence, an excellent educator, well ahead of her time. Alphonse also embraced the faith and became a Catholic priest following a vision of Mary on January 20, 1842, at St. Andrea della Fratte Church in Rome. The profound influence of this vision led the Ratisbonnes to name the newly formed congregation after The Blessed Mother, Our Lady, “Notre Dame de Sion.” Both brothers saw a particular need in the world and the Church to witness God’s faithful love of the Jewish people. By 1856, the congregation was established in Jerusalem, and by the turn of the last century, several Sion schools and orphanages throughout the world had been created as communities that welcome all faith traditions.