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"Marienkinder" (Children of Mary)

"Marienkinder" (Children of Mary)

Q: Could you please provide me with information about the Marienkinder (Children of Mary), a German association dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary?

A: In 1983 the Marienkinder who also go by the name Kreuzträger der Jungfrau Maria (Cross-bearers of the Virgin Mary) began to form a common household in Mindelheim, diocese of Augsburg, Germany. Approximately two hundred members joined the common life while the majority of members stayed in their own homes and parishes. A mason by the name of Joseph Zanker and the diocesan priest, Rev. Johannes Maria Bauer, were the first leaders of the Marienkinder, while the Blessed Virgin Mary is considered the actual foundress.

To join the community of the Marienkinder the candidate makes a consecration to Mary according to Grignion de Montfort. A vow which Joseph Zanker took after a conversion experience is the norm which all members follow:

1. a life style patterned after the ten commandments
2. daily prayer of the rosary, if possible
3. reception of holy communion on the tongue while kneeling.

In 1985 the Marienkinder made headlines when Bauer and Zanker were excommunicated after they had arranged and held a Corpus Christi procession simultaneously with the official local Corpus Christi Procession. The local ordinary offered repeatedly the possibility of reconciliation under the condition that Bauer would recognize the legitimacy of receiving communion in the hand while standing.

In 1987 Zanker had to serve a four-year sentence due to coercion and physical injuries inflicted in twenty-one cases; and in 1996 he received a three-year prison sentence. He is considered a dangerous psychopath.

In 1994 Bauer and Zanker separated due to quarrels. Zanker moved to Bad Wörrishofen, the new headquarters of the Marienkinder. Bauer returned to the Catholic Church, promising to discontinue his relationship with the Marienkinder. He died in 1999.

The Marienkinder consider themselves a countermovement to the world and devote themselves exclusively to the ‘interests of the Mother of God’. They are mainly blue collar workers, maintain a publishing house, a travel agency and a haulage contracting firm where they are working for below average wages.

The Marienkinder reject Vatican II and democracy as ‘the devil’s principle’.

For more details consult:
Bischöfliches Seelsorgeamt Augsburg.
Weltanschauung: Marienkinder zwischen Angst und Hoffnung. 2/2000

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