The Congregation's History


The Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion was founded in France in 1842 by Theodore Ratisbonne and a small group of women.

The Ratisbonnes were a well known Strasbourg family, highly assimilated Jews, who knew very little of their Jewish faith. Theodore set out on a search for meaning. He joined a group studying philosophy, and slowly made a decision to become a Catholic and later a priest.


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The Jews of Europe had suffered anti-Semitic attitudes and been forced into ghettoes. In Theodore’s time they were emancipated from the ghetto and many felt assimilation was a security. How wrong the Holocaust in the 1930 - 1940s proved them.

Because of this journey Theodore insisted on religious freedom in relation to the children who came into his care. He said: 'The Religious of Sion will respect freedom of conscience and will allow each student to practise her parents' religion.' The Sisters were not to proselitize. He wanted the Sion family to be respectful of each person in all her diversity and to be united in love.

Today the sisters are present in many countries and this tradition of inclusion and tolerance is very much alive.

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