Brother Conrad (Johann Birndorfer) was not a part of the early history of the Shrine of Altotting. He was born in 1818in Passau, some 50 miles north of Altotting. His town bordered present-day Austria and the Czech Republic. He went to the local elementary school, but was denied entrance to the Benedictine university in Deggendorf, about forty miles from his home. More
Saint Conrad was an exceptionally pious boy from early childhood. He, like St. Dominic Savio, would wait outside the church for it to open, kneeling very often, praying. He had a special routine on holy days. He would rise at 4a.m., and proceed in his best clothes, to go to early Mass at one small town, Griesbach, about twenty miles from home; after that, he returned to Weng, near his home, for the solemn High Mass; he ended his day at a nearby town called Birnbach, for Vespers. For him, these were the most special days. His life was full; God was good.
He was extremely spiritual, to the point of annoying some of the townspeople. When he would take little groups on local pilgrimages, they had to be quiet. The only sounds he wanted to hear were the sounds of praying. He was fortunate in that he could spend most of his youth wrapped in the blanket of our Heavenly Family. He went to many parish missions at the local churches. After one such mission, the Holy Spirit entered into him. He knew he wanted to embrace the religious life. He didn’t know where to go. Like Padre Pio, he was told to join the Capuchins. In the case of Padre Pio, he was attracted by the facial hair, the beards. In the case of Brother Conrad, his confessor made the decision. “Go to the Capuchins. That is where you belong.”