Main source for the historiography of the CB Congregation are the writings our Foundress left us. She wrote her ‘memoirs’ in an exercise book, the first pages of which had already been used for other notes. This authentic writing is kept in the congregational archives.
In establishing her convent Elisabeth Gruyters was supported by P.A. van Baer who was appointed priest-dean of the St Servaas church in 1836. Dean van Baer admitted Elisabeth Gruyters as ‘Sister of Charity of the Order of St Vincentius à Paulo. From later historiography it appears that Rome objected to this title.
Mother Elisabeth and Dean van Baer were put to the choice either of associating with the Congregation founded by Saint Vincent or accept Saint Charles Borromeo as Patron Saint. That they have chosen the latter becomes clear from the Constitutions or Rule of conduct written by Elisabeth herself. Saint Charles Borromeo is mentioned as Patron, as well as Saint Vincentius à Paulo.
When Mother Elisabeh died St Vincent was explicitly mentioned on her obituary card. As far as the congregation is concerned St Vincent always remained their second Saint.
Ecclesiastical administrative structure in Maastricht in the 19th century
At the beginning of the 19th century the administrative structure of the Netherlands was chaotic. What follows is a short summary of the history of the Southern part of the country:
- 1801 Maastricht comes under the diocese of Liège.
- 1830 Beginning of the Belgian Uprising: disruption of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Maastricht remains Dutch territory under military government.
- 1833 Maastricht is put under the jurisdiction of the Apostolic Vicariate of ‘s Hertogenbosch.
- 1840 Erection of the Apostolic Vicariate of Limburg.
- 1853 Restoration of the ecclesiastical hierarchy in the Netherlands. Roermond is made a diocese. The Right Rev. J.A. Paredis becomes the first Bishop of Roermond.
The relationship with ‘s Hertogenbosch from 1830 – 1840 makes clear why priests from Northern Brabant could be transferred to Maastricht. P.A. van Baer from Waalwijk was appointed parish priest and Dean of the Saint Servaas church. This relation also explains why he asked two Sisters of the Charity in ‘s Hertogenbosch to initiate Mother Elisabeth and her first companions into religious life.