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Regina Protmann

Regina Prot(h)mann (also Brotmann) was born in the Prussian city of Braunsberg , Ermland in 1552. She was a pioneer in the establishment of community hospitals as well as starting schools for girls in her state.

Regina Protmann came from a well to do Patrician family. Her first biographer, a Jesuit named Engelbert Keilert, described her as smart, well versed, able to read and write and correspond with church officials. Her uncle was one of the government officials (Ratsherren). While growing up, she became familiarized with religious and political matters during these times of upheaval and great unrest (Reformation and Counter-Reformation). At the age of nineteen, she explained to her parents, that she could not get married as expected. Rather she was devoting herself to religious studies and taking care of the sick and needy. Despite the opposition of her parents, she moved out on her own and with two other women lived in an abandoned house. They made a living by taking care of and nursing the sick and by doing housework. During a time of witch hunts and strict counter measures by the Catholic church it was unheard of that women live on their own. There were no female cloisters in the area at that time . The recent Council of Trient[?] restricted females to work and worship within the confinement of abbey walls. But Regina, headstrong and determined as many of her fellow countrymen/women were, persevered and founded one, the Saint Catherine Sister Cloister.

Her first rule stated: "Do not flee from the world, but instead confront, engage and embrace it, constantly. Service to the needy and sick humanity shall have precedent over any formal regulation."

The way the women devoted their lives to the community convinced and won over the Braunsberg burghers. More and more young women applied to become members. Church recognition came in 1583. The bishop recognized the St. Catherine Order in 1602 with papal approbation. Since then the order is recognized by the Vatican.

Regina Protmann had chosen Saint Catherine of Alexandria as her role model. At a later time Vincent de Paul would follow in taking care of the needy. Regina, later to be blessed, nursed the sick, educated nurses and saw to it, that nurses themself received care, when needed. Under the Catholic government of the prince-bishops only schools for boys existed. Regina founded schools for girls as well. At the time of her death in 1613 four convents already were established in Ermland.

This partial translation by H. Jonat is based on : Ulrich Fuesser, Regina-Protmann-Schule (School for Nurses),Frankfurt a.M. "Das leben der gottesseeligen Jungfrawen Regin Brotmanns Stiffterinnen der Loeblichen Gesellschaft Sanct Catherinen Jungfrawen und martyrinen, durch ein glaubwuerdigen Priester beschrieben. Kracow 1623. 2.edition Braunsberg 1727.

Portrait , outside link : http://www.hregina.com.br/html/protmann

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