Blessed Regina Protmann (1552 – 18 January 1613) was a Polish Roman Catholic and the founder of the Sisters of Saint Catherine who was a pioneer in the establishment of hospitals as well as schools for girls. Her first biographer was the Jesuit Engelbert Keilert who described her as an intelligent and well-versed woman with a deep faith and sense of conviction.
Her beatification was celebrated on 13 June 1999 in Warsaw.
Regina Protmann was born in Braniewo in 1552 and was born to a patrician. Her uncle was one of the government officials.
Protmann became familiarized with religious and political matters during the time of the Protestant Reformation and the Counter Reformation. She joined a Marian group that the Jesuits had set up and she entrusted herself to their spiritual care. In 1571 she explained to her parents that she could not be married as expected but was devoting herself to religious studies and taking care of the sick and poor.
Despite the opposition of her parents Protmann moved out on her own and with two other women lived in an abandoned house. The group made a living in taking care of and nursing the sick and also doing housework. During a time of witch hunts and strict counter-measures from the Roman Catholic Church it was unheard of for women to live on their own. There were no female cloisters in the area at that time. The recent Council of Trent restricted females to work and worship within the confinement of convent walls. Protmann persevered and founded one which became her religious order the Sisters of Saint Catherine. Protmann had chosen Saint Catherine of Alexandria as her role model for her order. Protmann helped to nurse the sick and educated nurses while seeing to it that nurses themselves received care when it was needed. Under the government of the prince-bishops schools for males existed alone but Protmann founded schools for girls as well.
Protmann died in 1613 after a painful illness she contracted that winter while on a travel trip.
World War II and after
The Saint Catherine of Alexandria church in Braunsberg was ruined in 1945 during its capture from the Soviet forces during World War II and assigned to Poland. During expulsion of inhabitants of East Prussia including the sisters of her order over 100 sisters died. It was rebuilt after 1979 and in 2001 dedicated as a Minor Basilica.
The beatification process opened on two fronts in Warmia and in Frascati in an informative that opened in 1957 and closed sometime later before it received the validation needed from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 19 September 1991 for it to proceed. The postulation officials compiled and submitted the large Positio dossier to the C.C.S. in 1992 prior to historians evaluating and approving the cause on 27 October 1992. Theologians also approved the dossier's contents as did the C.C.S. on 15 October 1996. This allowed for Pope John Paul II to confirm her heroic virtue and name her as Venerable on 17 December 1996.
The miracle for her beatification was a healing that originated in Brazil and it was investigated in a diocesan tribunal that later received C.C.S. validation. The panel of medical experts approved this miracle on 26 June 1997 as did theologians on 9 January 1998 and the cardinal and bishop members of the C.C.S. on 17 March 1998. John Paul II confirmed on 6 April 1998 that this healing was a miracle attributed to Protmann's intercession and the pope later beatified Protmann in Warsaw on 13 June 1999.
On 28 June 2000 she was made the patroness of Braniewo.
The current postulator for this cause is Sr. Józefa Krause.