The Origin of the sisters of Our Lady of Amersfoort . In approximately 1822 several young women chose to devote themselves as religious to the education of poor children in Amersfoort . Although it was not possible in the Netherlands at that time to live together as a religious community, due to the fact that King Willem I had forbidden such communities, the women nevertheless lived in community as inconspicuously as possible and they began their educational work.

Father Matthias Wolff S.J., the spiritual leader of this group, brought several of the women in contact with the Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur.

The work of this congregation, founded in 1804 by Julie Billiart in Amiens , had much in common with the goals of the group in Amersfoort. Because of the unfavourable climate of the times, the women chose to name themselves: the Firm van  Werkhoven & Co, after one of the first sisters, Maria van Werkhoven*. The women administered an educational institute called the “Pédadogie Chrétienne”. In reality they were Sisters of Our Lady and they lived according to the rule of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur . This rule reflects thespirit of Saint Ignatius and was written for the Congregation of Namur by Julie Billiart and her first companion, Mere St. Joseph Marie Blin de Bourdon. Toward the end of a difficult first phase of existence, three women were instrumental in enabling the congregation to stay afloat and to experience, as it were, a new surge of life. These sisters, Joseph and Agnes Kisters and Brigitte Hans, declares in 1840; “The three of us have committed ourselves to one another and, with childlike trust in the blessing of our heavenly Father, we have purchased a house in order to devote ourselves entirely to the education of young people and the teaching of poor children.”
In this way the congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Amersfoort came into being. According to the tradition, July 29,1822 is the official day that the congregation was founded. From the congregation in Amersfoort the foundation was laid, in 1850, for the Congregation of Our Lady of Coesfeld ( Mülhausen). The Sisters of Our Lady of Amersfoort, both past and present, have found in Julie Billiart a woman who experienced the goodness of God in an exceptional way. The exclamation : “How good God is!” returned to her time and again anew with the sound of ever new amazement at the discovery.
 She made it her life's task to manifest this goodness of God. This had a contagious effect on other women who gathered around her and joined with her to take on the challenge of her time.

She lived in a period of history (1751-1816) which, with the French revolution, preceded a new birth as it were, with all the pain thereto attendant. Her commitment to God freed her heart to discern the signs of her times.
She chose to serve the matterially and emotionally deprived young people whom she saw going through life without any education or christian upbringing. With that choice she risked beginning something that she herself could not completely foresee, but she believed that God's goodness enable her to act creatively.
Considering her very modest education she went about things with a surprising originality and power. She did not allow herself to be encumbered by the established views and norms of her time. Going against the opinion of her bishop, she fought for a rule which explicitely stated that her congregation would not bind itself to any particular diocese; she resisted the enclosure, common in that time, by which the sisters would lack the mobility to go wherever they were needed. It was her desire that the members of her congregation, being sisters of one another, make no distinction between choir - and lay-sisters; she understood the art of relativizing and adapting the rule if circumstances demanded it.

With dogged persistance, generations of women in three congregations have tried to proceed in the spirit of Julie Billiart. In 1969 the community of the church explicitely confirmed her life by declaring her a saint. The Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Amersfoort has also established itself in Indonesia (1926), Philipine (2004), Malawi (1959), Norwegia (1924 - 1934) and Brazil (1968 - 2000).

Founders (Foundresses of the Congregation)
Our Congregation was founded by a joined cooperation of:
  •    Father Matthias Wolff S.J.
  •    The R.C. Society
  •    Maria van Werkhoven
  •    Martha Pijpers
  •    Matthia Stichters
 With this declaration we also intend to clear Matthia 
Stichters’ name  from the negative judgement, which has 
been her part in our congregation up till now due to one-
sided historiography.

According to our tradition we regard 29th of July 1822 as
our foundation - day.

The Christian Education.jpg  
The painting of The Christian Education
W. Schacken  1825
The sun – as it were the light – God – sends its rays over everything and everybody.
Next to Mary, Josef and the child Jesus we see St. Anthony and the archangel Michael.
The sister turns herself in confidence towards Jesus, Mary and Josef to ask for help in her task of educating the children who have been entrusted to her. The children, a poor and a rich child.
St. Anthony protects her and the archangel Michael fights the evil one. On the shield is written: Protegit Paedagogiam Christianam
“I am the protector of the Christian education.”

The two angels on top in the painting carry the symbols of the religious life, i.e. The ring, the crown, the cross and the lily.

Resource : "History of the origin of the Congregation of Sisters of Out Lady of Amersfoort, by Prof. G.A.M. Abbink