St. Mary Bernard Bütler (1848-1924)
Feast Day: May 19
Canonization: October 12, 2008
Verena Bütler was born in Switzerland in May 1848 as the fourth of eight children to devout Catholic parents.
As a young woman, she fell in love and was engaged to be married, but broke off the engagement to enter a convent at age 18. She discerned a different kind of religious life and later entered the Franciscan Monastery of Mary Help of Sinners, where she took the name Sister Mary Bernard of the Heart of Mary.
In 1888, after accepting an invitation to serve as a missionary, she and six other sisters arrived in Ecuador, where they founded a new congregation, the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Sinners.
In 1895, a violent persecution prompted the sisters to flee Ecuador. They traveled to Colombia and worked in a hospital for women in the Diocese of Cartagena. Sister Mary Bernard’s example helped her congregation grow, with houses opening in Austria and Brazil.
Sister Mary Bernard died in 1924 at age 74. Pope Benedict XVI canonized her in 2008.