Saint Arnold Janssen

Saint Arnold Janssen
Born: 1837, Goch Germany
Died: 15 January 1909, Steyl, Netherlands
Feast Day: 15th January
Beatified: 19th October 1975 by Pope Paul VI
Canonised: 5th October 2003 by Pope John Paul II

Saint Arnold Janssen was born in Goch, Germany in 1837, to pious parents, the second of 10 children.  At a young age Arnold decided he wanted to dedicate his life to God and joined the priesthood, entering a minor seminary in Gaesdonck in 1849.  He studied mathematics and natural science as well as philosophy and theology and was ordained in August 1861. Once ordained Arnold spent 12 years teaching science and Catholic doctrine.  In 1873 Arnold moved to the Ursuline convent to serve as chaplain and took on the Apostleship of Prayer directorship.  Arnold had a call to spread the good news farther.  He wrote several books on prayer and published a magazine called “The Little Messenger of the Heart of Jesus”.

At that time Germany were not sending missionaries and the government were restricting growth of the Church so in 1875, in Steyl, Holland, Arnold founded a missionary society known as the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), which was funded by his books and magazines.  Houses were soon established in Austria and Germany. He sent his first missionaries to China in 1879 and by the mid 1880’s missionaries were being sent to North America, Argentina, Paraguay, Japan, New Guinea and Togo.  News houses in many of these regions were soon established.

With Maria Virgo, Arnold established the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters in 1889 to assist the SVD, serving as teachers, especially working with young girls.  In 1896, Arnold formed the Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration – a contemplative order, praying for the success of the missionaries and evangelisation.  Their habits were pink, and they soon became know as the “Pink Sisters”. Arnold died in 1909 and by this time his society included 1,500 priests, Missionaries and nuns working in 10 Countries. Today there are nearly 10,000 members working in 80 countries.

The miracle that led to Arnold's sainthood is taken from

On Jan. 2, 1995, 14-year-old Avellanosa was in a serious bicycle accident and the doctors declared her brain dead. The doctors told her family she would not survive and if she did, she would be a vegetable with no more intelligence than a 4-year-old. On Jan. 6, her grandmother began praying a novena of the sick to Blessed Arnold Janssen, S.V.D., to heal her granddaughter. Avellanosa woke up two weeks later Jan. 15, the feast day of Blessed Arnold Janssen. Now, Avellanosa is studying for her master’s degree in pastoral council in Chicago.

After investigation, Avellanosa’s recovery was recognized as a miracle and led to the canonization of St. Arnold Janssen, S.V.D., the founder of the Divine Word Missionaries.