Arnold Janssen

Saint Arnold Janssen, S.V.D. (5 November 1837 – 15 January 1909), was a German-Dutch Catholic priest and missionary who is venerated as a saint. He founded the Society of the Divine Word, a Catholic missionary religious congregation, also known as the Divine Word Missionaries, as well as two congregations for women. In 1889 he founded in Steyl, Netherlands, the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit and in 1896 at the same place the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters. He was canonized on 5 October 2003, by Pope John Paul II.

Arnold Janssen
Born(1837-11-05)5 November 1837
Goch, Germany
Died15 January 1909(1909-01-15) (aged 71)
Steyl, Netherlands
Venerated inCatholic Church
Beatified19 October 1975 by Pope Paul VI
Canonized5 October 2003, Saint Peter's Basilica, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II
Feast15 January

Life and work

Janssen was born in Goch, in the Rhineland, Germany, not far from the Dutch border, one of eleven siblings. He developed a deep, simple faith. His first school was the Catholic Augustinianum High School in Gaesdonck, which is near his birthplace. He did his college degree, then studied theology and was ordained to the priesthood on 15 August 1861.

For a while he worked as a high school teacher in Bocholt, Germany, teaching physics and catechism. His real passion, however, was for the foreign missions. In 1867 he became the director of the Apostolaat des Gebeds for Germany and Austria and founded a scientific institute in Mödling, near Vienna. He also founded already in 1874 the German language journal "Kleiner Herz-Jesu Bote" (Little Messenger of the Sacred Heart), which looked to enlist the faithful in prayer and support for the mission.[1]

The Kulturkampf, however, hampered his efforts, and Janssen purchased land in Steyl, the Netherlands to begin his seminary, dedicated in 1875 as the "St. Michael the Archangel Mission House". Within a few years, many seminarians, priests and brothers were preparing for missionary service there, and the first two missionaries, Joseph Freinademetz and John Anzer, were sent to China.[2] Janssen also founded two congregations of Religious Sisters: The Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters (members known as "Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit") on 8 December 1889, and the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters ("Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration") on 8 September 1896.


In his hometown of Goch, the Arnold-Janssen-Church and the Arnold-Janssen-Community are named after Saint Arnold. His birthplace can be visited in the Arnold-Janssen-Street.

The St. Arnold neighborhood in Neuenkirchen, Westphalia, has an Arnold-Janssen High School. It was founded 1929 by his religious community, but since 1996 it has been administered by the Diocese of Münster. The Arnold-Janssen High School in Sankt Wendel, Saarland, is also named for him, as is the Arnold-Janssen-Hauptschule in Bocholt.


Janssen and Joseph Freinademetz, along with Daniele Comboni (an important missionary in Africa) were canonised on 5 October 2003 by Pope John Paul II. Janssen was elevated to sainthood after the healing of Pamela Avellanosa, a Filipina teenager living in Baguio who fell from a bike and was not expected to recover from the resulting head injury. According to her relatives and the Church, she was healed miraculously following prayers to Janssen.

See also


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