Outstanding personalities in the history of the Alexian Brothers

Outstanding personalities in the history of the Alexian Brothers

There have been many general superiors in the history of the Alexian Brothers, whose work had an impact on how the congregation's ways were shaped.

The general superior is the highest authority in a congregation. He is responsible for the entire congregation. Learn more about the history of the Alexian Brothers. 

Brother Rütger Linden

10th Superior in Aachen (1633-1642)
Born in: Bedburg
Died: 11th of November 1642 in Aachen
The city of Aachen was actively involved in the battles of the Thirty-Years
War (1618-1648) since 1632

The monastery of Aachen did not remain unaffected by the war. During the time Brother Rütger Linden was in charge, the Alexian Brothers shifted their focus of work step by step from taking care for the victims of the plague to the care for the so called mentally ill.

On the 26th of September 1634, Brother Rütger Linden was severely wounded with a big butcher knife by an allegedly mentally disordered man while he was looking after him. It was mentioned in the chronicle that "he reigned the monastery well and worthily". 

Brother Dominikus Brock

28th Superior in Aachen (1844-1860)
Born: 24th of February 1813 in Köln
Died: 9th of April 1880 in Krefeld
Habit: 13th of February 1837
Final vows: 13th of March 1838 (celibacy, obedience)

Brother Dominikus Brock is known as the most important reformer of the Alexian monastery in Aachen.

On the basis of secularization he pleaded for the autonomous status of the monastery towards the state and the church. Moreover he revived the ideal of poverty. He gained permission to take final vows and the vow of poverty on the 14th of March 1854. 

Brother Dominikus Brock filled the most important position in the monastery. During his curatorship as general superior 1857-1859 he drafted new statutes, together with Father Schleiniger SJ and Brother Klemens Wallrath CFA. The statutes gained episcopal approbation in 1859 and, 11 years later, on the 12th of September 1859, pontifical approbation. 

Brother Dominikus Brock was a man of prayer. He was a man of fine and fair character. He was patient and modest and he knew how to use charity and severity in the right way. Since he promoted the ideals of the congregation with the three classical vows (celibacy, obedience, poverty) he is considered to be "second founder of the congregation".  

Brother Alexius Böcker

39th General Superior in Neuss (1859-1862)
41th General Superior in Neuss (1865-1887)
Born: 24th of September 1824
Joined the order: 1st of August 1853
Died: 29th of January 1892

During the curatorship of Brother Alexius Böcker the Alexian Brothers of Neuss moved from Brückstraße to the new premises at Obertor (Alexianerplatz).

His move was important in many ways. The centuries-old interlacing with the city of Neuss was terminated by changing residence. The contractual commitments which limit the number of brothers to eight were no longer binding. Subsequently the monastery continued to grow steadily, so after 1888 new monasteries could be established such as Berlin-Weißensee, Bonn and Rome. Just prior to the beginning of World War II, 150 brothers lived in the monastery of Neuss. By moving into a new, expandable hospital, the Alexian Brothers were able to catch up with the renewal of psychiatry in Rhineland. 

After the ramifications of secularization Brother Alexius Böcker promoted at the beginning of the 19th century the ideal of poverty and strived for the reinstallment of the final profession. 

Brother Klemens Wallrath

29th General Superior in Aachen (1860-1886)
Died: 23th of April 1910 in Münster/Westfalen
Joined the order: 24th of June 1846
Final vors: 14th of March 1854

Brother Klemens Wallrath continued the big reform which was initiated by Brother Dominikus Brock. 

He achieved the pontifical approbation for the new statutes and the congregation became thus a pontifical-law institution. Since 1869 he was allowed to call himself general principal. On the 12th of December 1865 he sent Brother Bonaventura Thelen on a journey to the United States of America and on the 3rd of June 1875 three Brothers were sent to Manchester in Great Britain. In order to prevent confiscation of the Brother's assets during times of persecution, the „Aachener Aktiengesellschaft zur Unterstützung hilfsbedürftiger Personen“ (stock corporation for the support of the needy) was established on the 23th of September 1885.

Brother Klemens Wallrath governed the congregation for 27 years, unprecedented in those days. During his curatorship, the membership figure increased tenfold. Moreover he was able to establish ten satellite monasteries. Brother Klemens Wallrath was a powerful figure and a wise man with outstanding knowledge and organizational talent.

Brother Quirinus Bank

30th General superior in Aachen (1886-1906)
Born: 17th of November 1844 in Lövenich / Kreis Euskirchen
Died: 3rd of March 1917 in Henri Chapelle / Begien
Joined the order: 15th of May 1867
First Profession: 6th of March 1869

In 1885, Brother Quirinus Bank was appointed coadjutor for Brother Klemens Wallraht, who was in fragil health. 

During his curatorship as general superior he succesfully continued the development and expansion of the congregation. He was in charge of the new establishments in Cologne-Lindenthal (1888), Haus Kannen in Münster (1887), Elisabeth in the United States of America (1893), Maria Haus in Aachen (1897), Twyfort Abby in England (1902) and the Monastery Ensen in Cologne (1905). 

Brother Quirinus Bank was a entrepreneurial and powerful personality. The defined goal was prevailed with insistence and indurance.

Brother Paulus Overbeck

31st General Superior in Aachen (1906-1920)
Born: 1851 in Meppen / Emsland
Died: 9th of January 1934 in Aachen
Joined the order: 1882

During his religious life, Brother Paulus Overbeck had been filled all important positions once: 

He was Rector in Mariaberg in Aachen (1891-1897), Provincial Superior in Cologne-Lindenthal (1897-1901), General Assistant and Novice Master in the mother house in Aachen (1901-1906) as well as General Superior from 1906 to 1920. 

During his curatorship there was a good religious spirit to be found in the monasteries, which attracted many aspirants. The institutions in Germany and in the United States of America were economically stable. However, World War I with its deprivations, sorrows and troubles left it's traces. Brother Paulus Overbeck spent his last years of life in silent seclusion.