A congregation of lay brothers of the Third Order of St. Francis, instituted for charitable work among orphan boys and for educating the youth of the poorer classes. The founder was Philip Hoever, born at Obersthöhe, near Cologne, Germany, 1816; a schoolmaster at Breidt and Aachen. Through the influence of Mother Frances Schervier, foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor of St Francis, Hoever, at Christmas, 1857, dedicated himself with four others to the service of God and of the abandoned men. In 1860 the Brothers obtained a home at Aachen. In the following year (5 Jan.) Cardinal Geissel, Archbishop of Cologne approved the new congregation. When Hoever died in 1864, it had twenty-six members and some postulants. In 1869 the institution received a Catholic orphanage at Moabit, Berlin, and since 1866 it has spread in the United States (Teutopolis, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan ; Thenville, Kentucky ; and Cincinnati, Ohio ). Although in the Austro-Prussian war, 1866, and in the Franco-Prussian war, 1870-71, the Poor Brothers were helpful in the field hospitals, the Prussian Kulturkampf did not spare them; in 1876-77 they had to give up all their houses in Prussia. They retired to Blyerheide on the Dutch frontier, where the new mother-house was erected. After 1888 the Brothers were allowed to return to Prussia, and different houses were founded; Hohenhof in Upper Silesia, 1891; Dormagen on the Rhine, 1902, etc.; in Belgium at Voelkerich, 1900; in Holland at Roermond, 1903. In the United States the Poor Brothers possess a house of education at Mt. Alverno near Cincinnati ; and St. Vincent's in Cincinnati. In 1907 the members of the Congregation were 230, of whom 50 were in the United States. The constitutions of the Poor Brothers were approved by Pius X in 1910.
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