Charitable associations of women in Germany who minister to sick and poor
Elizabeth Associations (Elisabethenvereine), charitable associations of women in Germany which aim for the love of Christ to minister to the bodily and spiritual sufferings of the sick poor and of neglected children. On December 10, 1842, eight ladies of Munich formed a society, of which the Princess Leopoldine von Lowenstein was the head, for the purpose of visiting and aiding the sick poor in their homes. In 1851 it was made a religious congregation to which many indulgences were granted by the Holy Father. In order to carry on better the visiting of the sick the first branch or conference of the association was founded in 1870. According to its statutes the members are divided into two classes: associate members, or those who aid the organization by means of annual contributions, and active members who, besides contributing of their means, also visit the sick poor and perform other duties, as those of administration, at the direction of the president of the society. The branches are merely means of carrying on the affairs of the main society with which they are closely affiliated, but they are independent in administration. The Elizabeth Association of Munich, according to the financial report covering the year 1907, has 157 active and 3686 associate members; the receipts were 129,559.06 marks ($32,339.76), and disbursements, 123,422.77 marks ($30,855.69). During the year 1907 4345 poor persons were assisted, 195 children cared for in asylums and nurseries, and 18 old people were provided for in asylums and infirmaries.
Other Elizabeth Associations, although with some differences of organization, were formed on the model of that of Munich at Barmen and Trier in 1843, Collogne in 1848, etc. These societies are now found chiefly in the following sections of Germany: Bavaria, 36 societies, 24 of these being in the Palatinate; Diocese of Cologne, 110 societies with 1200 members, about 7000 contributors, and a total income of nearly 150,000 marks, families assisted 3500; Diocese of Paderborn, 120 societies with over 16,000 members and contributors, and an income of 175,000 marks, families assisted 3600. There are also Elizabeth Associations in the Dioceses of Freiburg, Münster, Trier, Limburg, Hildesheim, and the Vicariate Apostolic of Saxony; in the Diocese of Breslau, instead of Elizabeth Associations, there are about 130 women’s conferences of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. In Germany the Elizabeth Associations number altogether some 550 branches or conferences which aid annually 10,000 to 12,000 families.