Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

A sect of visionary fanatics which flourished in the eighteenth century at Ronsdorf in the Duchy of Berg, now part of the Prussian province of the rhine. The sect sprang from a Philadelphian society founded at Elberfeld in 1726 by Elias Eller and the pastor Daniel Schleiermacher. Eller was the foreman of a factory owned by a rich widow. He read eagerly the writings of ancient and modern visionaries, and then formed an apocalyptic, millenarian system of his own. He made such an impression on the widow, twenty years his senior, that she married him. Thus he obtained the means and influence to draw adherents around himself. The pastor Schleiermacher, grandfather of the celebrated theologian, was also duped by Eller. The prophetess of the society was the daughter of a baker, Anna van Bushel, who had dreams and visions and saw apparitions. After the death of his wife, Eller married her. She called herself mother of Zion, her husband father of Zion, and prophesied that she would bear the saviour of the world. The new order of things was to begin in 1730. Her first child was a daughter, but Eller was able to console the society with Scriptural texts. A son born in 1733 died two years later. Eller made himself the central point of theology. Christian morality was replaced by the craving for coarse and sensual pleasures. In 1737 the sect left Elberfeld and founded Ronsdorf which soon prospered, and, through Eller's influence, was raised by the State in 1745 to the rank of a city. Eller took the most important offices for himself, lived with his wife in great pomp, and governed tyrannically. When Eller's wife died suddenly in 1744 doubts arose in the mind of Schleiermacher, who was pastor at Ronsdorf. He confessed his mistake, and sought to open the eyes of the deceiving leader, but Eller managed to maintain himself until death. The sect was carried on by the pastors who took Schleiermacher's place, by Eller's stepson Bolckhaus, and continued to exist until 1768. The new pastor chosen in this year and his successors brought back the inhabitants of Ronsdorf to Protestantism. The after effects of the movement could be traced into the nineteenth century.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 3:14-21
14 This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-19
1 Shout for joy, you upright; praise comes well from ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:49-53
49 'I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 23rd, 2014 Image

St. John of Capistrano
October 23: St. John was born at Capistrano, Italy in 1385, the son of a ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter