On May 15, 2021, the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, Italy will be the site of the beatification of our founder, Father Francis Jordan.
Fr. Jordan’s path to beatification began in 1943, when documentation of his life and works was sent to the Vatican for review. After Fr. Jordan received the title, “Servant of God,” Salvatorians helped spread his reputation of holiness with more and more people around the world. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI published the Decree on the Heroicity of His Virtues and declared Fr. Jordan “Venerable.” The next step – testimony of a miracle – would need confirmation before Fr. Jordan could be approved for beatification.
John Baptist Jordan was born on June 16, 1848, in Gurtweil, Germany, a small town in the Black Forest area. He travelled throughout his homeland for work as a labourer and painter-decorator. In his travels, Jordan saw how government constraints on the Church – known as the Kulturkampf – discouraged people from practicing their faith. It only strengthened Jordan’s faith, however, and on July 21, 1878, he was ordained to the priesthood in Freiburg, Germany.
As Fr. Jordan pondered how to combat the growing void in spirituality and religion, he sensed something more for his future. In September 1880, he met with Pope Leo XIII and outlined his vision to found a society devoted to teaching of the faith. The Pope gave Jordan his blessing to proceed.
On December 8, 1881, Father Jordan and two others professed private vows as members of the Apostolic Teaching Society. Soon, Therese Von Wüllenweber joined them. The new foundation grew in members and sent missionaries around the globe. Together with Fr. Jordan, Therese would co-found the Sisters of the Divine Saviour and lead the congregation as Mother Mary of the Apostles for 19 years.
For the times, Fr. Jordan’s vision was bold: men and women, religious and lay, working together as equals to bring the Gospel of the Saviour to all people everywhere. Today, more than 2,000 priests, sisters, brothers and lay women and men carry out that mission in a variety of ministries on six continents. They are known as the three branches of the Salvadorian Family: The Society of the Divine Saviour; the Sisters of the Divine Saviour; and the International Community of the Divine Saviour, or Lay Salvatorians.
Fr. Francis Jordan died in Tafers, Switzerland on September 8, 1918, and was buried in the local church. In 1956, his body was moved to Rome and entombed in a special chapel in the Society Motherhouse. On March 19, 1999, Pope John Paul II visited there and prayed at Fr. Jordan’s tomb. On June 19, 2020, Pope Francis declared the authenticity of a miracle through the intercession of Fr. Jordan. It was the final step on his path to beatification, and on May 15, we will call him Blessed.