Born in Kerpen in 1813, Adolf Kolping grew up in modest circumstances and learnt about the poor life of travelling journeymen as a journeyman shoemaker. After attending grammar school and graduating from the Marzellengymnasium in Cologne in 1841, Adolf Kolping studied theology in order to become a priest. During his studies, Adolf Kolping was supported and encouraged by various people, while at the same time addressing the social issues of the time. On 13 April 1845, Adolf Kolping was finally ordained a priest before being appointed chaplain in Elberfeld. As part of this work, he was elected as the second president of the Catholic Journeymen's Association, which was founded by Johann Gregor Breuer in Elberfeld in 1846. As Kolping wanted to extend the association's reach, he applied for a transfer, which took him back to Cologne. On 6 May 1849, Kolping and seven journeymen finally founded the Cologne Journeymen's Association in the Kolumba School. The rapidly growing number of members led to a rapid expansion of the association's activities. The Catholic Journeymen's Association founded in 1849 thus became the starting point of the International Kolping Society (from 1953).
After an illness, Adolf Kolping died in 1865 as rector of the Minorite Church, where he is buried in accordance with his wishes. Adolf Kolping's commitment continues to this day. Kolping International continues to stand up for the values of its founding father and is active in 60 countries around the world. Adolf Kolping was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1991 for his services. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates Adolf Kolping's memorial day on 4 December.
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