Bärbl Ruess was born on 15 June 1924 in Pfaffenhofen, the eldest of six children of Hans Ruess, a successful business man and Helene Köhl. After her mother’s early death, her father remarried and Bärbl left for boarding school. After completing her Reichsarbeitsdienst as a streetcar conductor in Munich, she returned to her father’s company. In 1947 and 1948, she worked in the parish office of Pfaffenhofen. After a few weeks she complained about pain in her hands and feet and near her heart. On 21 February 1947, the wounds started to bleed and on Good Friday she went into ecstasy and experienced Christ’s Passion. It was not the first mystical event Bärbl reported. She had her first vision of Mary on 13 May 1940, who had taught her how to pray the Rosary. She saw the Virgin three more times at a site in the woods where a votive chapel was built (Marienfried). Bärbl practised ‘Sühneleiden’ (reparatory suffering) and took on the illness of a school friend, among other acts of reparation. In May 1947, bishop Kumpfmüller ordered the Jesuit, P. Heinrich Bleienstein, to examine her case. A year later, the ecclesiastical authorities also wanted more information about the alleged kidnapping of Bärbl by Satanists on Good Friday. As the police report (August 1948) seemed to suggest that the event had been staged because Bärbl did not show the stigmata that day, the case was dropped. In 1948, Bärbl graduated as a religious teacher and taught classes on the outskirts of Munich. In 1950, on a trip to Rome, she visited Assisi and prayed at the grave of Saint Francis that her stigmata would not remain visible. She married Anton Rehm on 15 August 1952 and they had five children.
On 14 February 1969, Josef Franz Künzli of the Miriam Verlag received an imprimatur from Dr Josef Zimmermann, episcopal vicar in Augsburg, allowing him to publish the book Erscheinungen in Marienfried (indicating that the messages of the apparitions did not contain anything contrary to the Catholic faith). The new bishop, Viktor Josef Dammertz, created two commissions: the first to examine the pastoral practices in Marienfried, which led to Marienfried becoming an ecclesiastical foundation called ‘Mary, mother of the Church’; the second, to examine the apparitions (1995-2000), which were declared non constat. Bärbl died on 4 November 1996 (she had been diagnosed with multiple scleroses ten years earlier).
Gutwenger, Lisl, 2015. Die Seherin von Marienfried. Sind Bärbls Leben und Botschaft glaubwürdig? Jestetten: Miriam-Verlag (1. Auflage 1997 @ Christiana-Verlag, Stein am Rhein)