Basiliea Schlink was the co-founder and spiritual leader for half a century of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, a community dedicated to a Christian literature and radio ministry. She was herself a prolific writer, her devotional books, pamphlets and hymns being translated into more than 60 languages.
The Sisterhood of Mary, initially Lutheran but now interdenominational, numbers more than 200 women from 20 countries, with 14 men in the affiliated Canaan Franciscan Brothers. It has branched out from its centre in Germany, at Darmstadt near Frankfurt, to Australia, Israel and the United States, and has one community at Radlett in Hertfordshire. The Sisterhood publishes tracts in 90 languages and distributes them on all five continents, while its radio and television programmes are broadcast in 23 languages.
Perhaps Mother Basilea’s most noted contribution to religious life was her work for reconciliation between Germans and Jews. As a young woman she had learnt with horror of the Nazi extermination of the Jewish communities of her homeland and much of Europe, and dedicated her life to seeking forgiveness and overcoming the legacy of this mutual bitterness.
As national president of the Women’s Division of the German Student Christian Movement from 1933 to 1935, Schlink refused to comply with Nazi edicts barring Jewish Christians from meetings.
It was not until March 1947 that Schlink and Madauss were eventually able to fulfil their vision of establishing the Sisterhood.