The Life of Father Francis Jordan
Mary-of-the-Cross Jordan, was born as John Baptist
Jordan, on June 16, 1848, in Gurtweil, Germany, a small town
in the Black Forest area of the southwestern part of the country,
only a few miles from the border of Switzerland. Even in his youth,
Jordan was known to be a devout young man and he often spent time
in private prayer.
While working as a laborer and painter-decorator traveling
throughout his homeland, Jordan became keenly aware of the
difficult spiritual situation of the people in his homeland.
Because the Church had been limited in its mission by the
government (in what became known as the Kulturkampf)
people were turning away from God and the practice of their faith.
This only strengthened Jordan's faith and he began to sense a call
to the priesthood. On July 21, 1878, he was ordained a priest in
Freiburg, Germany, and, because he was known to have a talent for
languages, he was sent to Rome by his bishop for advanced language
studies. He became fluent in Syrian, Aramaic, Coptic, Arabic,
Hebrew and Greek.
But Jordan was sensing that something else was in store for his
future. He began thinking about ways to combat the growing
disinterest in spirituality and religion. In September 1880, Jordan
met privately with Pope Leo XIII in the Vatican, where he outlined
his plan to begin a society devoted to spreading the teachings of
the faith. The Pope gave Jordan his blessing to begin creating such
an organization. On December 8, 1881, Father Jordan witnessed the
Profession of Vows made by his first followers.
This marked the beginning of the Society of the Divine
Savior. After working several years with
Therese von Wüllenweber (now known as
Blessed Mary of the Apostles after her
beatification in 1968), they founded a community of women in their
shared cause, and on December 8, 1888, Jordan witnessed her
Profession of Vows. She was known in the community as Mother Mary.
This marked the beginning of the Congregation of the
Sisters of the Divine Savior.
Together, the members of their communities became known as
"Salvatorians" - from the Latin word < salvator
> meaning "Savior." The original plan of Father Francis and
Mother Mary was to bring lay men and women into the work and
mission of their community as well, but this didn't fit the vision
of the Church at the time, so it wasn't permitted. Only after the
completion of the Second Vatican Council was the dream of Father
Francis and Mother Mary fully realized when, in the early 1970's,
the first Lay Salvatorians made their
formal commitment. Finally, the Salvatorian Family
The Motherhouse of the Society is just down the street from St.
Peter's Basilica in Rome. The Motherhouse of the Sisters is nearby,
atop one of the great hills of the city. Today, more than two
thousand Salvatorians around the world continue the mission of
Father Francis and Mother Mary:"To proclaim the
goodness of kindness of Jesus, the Divine Savior, by all ways and
means the love of God inspires."
This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the Death of
Father Jordan. On September 8, 1918, he died in
Tafers, Switzerland, and he was buried in the local church. In
1956, his body was transferred to Rome and is now entombed in a
special chapel in the Motherhouse of the Society. On March 19,
1999, Pope John Paul II visited the community and prayed at the
tomb of Father Jordan.
In 2011, the Vatican published the Decree on the Heroicity of
His Virtues and declared Father Jordan "Venerable." His cause
for beatification is now in process in the Vatican, and we pray
that soonthe Church will be able to call him by the title
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