Blessed Karolina Gerhardinger (20 June 1797 – 9 May 1879) was a German Roman Catholic professed religious who established the School Sisters of Notre Dame with the name of "Maria Theresia of Jesus". Gerhardinger served as an educator in Bavaria until the establishment of her order which dealt with education and soon expanded in Europe.
The beatification process opened in 1952 under Pope Pius XII when she was titled as a Servant of God. Pope John Paul II named her as Venerable in 1983 and beatified Gerhardinger on 17 November 1985.
Karolina Gerhardinger was born in Bavaria on 20 June 1797 as the sole child of Willibard and Franziska Gerhardinger.
Her parish priest encouraged her to become a teacher as did the Bishop of Regensburg Georg Michael Wittmann. She commenced her training as a teacher in 1809 and in 1812 she secured a teaching accreditation and began teaching at a female school in Regensburg. In 1815 she asked Wittmann for guidance on entering the monastic life. She taught from 1816 until 1833.
The Augustinian canonesses oversaw her education until 1809 when religious congregations were closed due to a decree that the Bavarian government issued. Nevertheless, she decided to begin an order of her own devoted to the theme of Christian education. These plans had greater prospects for materialization after 1828 when Pope Leo XII managed to procure concessions from the Bavarian government and orders were reopened.
She moved in with two fellow companions to start living the monastic life on 24 October 1833 – this saw the formal establishment of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. There were initial complications for official recognition but King Ludwig I granted them approval for a monastic cloister in March 1834. She made her religious vows in the Saint Gallus chapel in Regensburg on 16 November 1835 and assumed the name of "Maria Theresia of Jesus". She accompanied five religious in 1847 to the United States of America to expand the order and assist German immigrants.
Gerhardinger and other religious later moved into a refurbished convent and began the School Sisters of Notre Dame. The order received initial approval on 21 January 1854 and full approval from Pope Pius IX in 1865. From 1850 the order spread to England and other European nations.
Gerhardinger fell ill in 1877 which prompted Pope Pius IX to send her a telegram with his blessings. She died in 1879 in the presence of other religious and Gaetano Aloisi Masella. Her remains are housed in the Saint Jakob church in Munich.
The informative process for the beatification cause commenced in 1929 that Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber both inaugurated and later closed in 1932. Theologians approved her writings on 22 February 1933 while the apostolic process opened in 1953 and concluded in 1955. The Congregation of Rites validated the previous two processes in Rome on 31 January 1952. The formal introduction of the cause came under Pope Pius XII on 11 July 1952 that accorded her with the title of Servant of God.
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints had their officials and consultants discuss the cause on 18 May 1982 – in which the board approved the cause – while the bishop and cardinal members of the C.C.S. approved the cause on 7 December 1982. Pope John Paul II declared Gerhardinger to be Venerable on 13 January 1983 after confirming her heroic virtue.
The process for investigating a miracle attributed to her opened and concluded in the area that it originated in and received C.C.S. validation on 3 July 1983. The medical board approved the miracle on 8 November 1984 while consulting theologians also voiced approval to the miracle on 28 February 1985. The C.C.S. approved the miracle on 16 April 1985 while John Paul II granted final assent to the healing on 9 May 1985.
John Paul II beatified her on 17 November 1985.