Ignatius Fortuna was born around 1730 in the Dutch colony of Surinam. In 1735, as a young boy, he was taken to Europe by Franz Adam Schiffer, an Essen merchant, who presented him as a gift to the abbess of Essen Abbey, Countess Palatine Francisca Christina of Sulzbach..
Ignatius Fortuna was born around 1730 in the Dutch colony of Surinam. In 1735, as a young boy, he was taken to Europe by Franz Adam Schiffer, an Essen merchant, who presented him as a gift to the abbess of Essen Abbey, Countess Palatine Francisca Christina of Sulzbach. This act marked a significant turning point in Fortuna’s life, as he transitioned from slavery to courtly servitude.
Upon entering the abbess’s household, Fortuna was baptized, adopting the name Ignatius Christianus Fredericus and thereby attaining full acceptance within courtly life. Fortuna swiftly gained the trust and favor of Countess Palatine Francisca Christina, as his dedication and impressive abilities left a lasting impression on her. This paved the way for his steady rise in prominence within the court, further solidifying his influential position.
Over the years, Fortuna proved his value and loyalty to the Abbess, earning his place as one of her closest advisors. His trustworthiness and competence were evident in the fact that he was granted personal chambers adjacent to hers, within the most elaborate part of her residence. This privilege was shared only with the treasurer of the congregation and the abbess’s personal priest, underscoring Fortuna’s esteemed position.
Following Countess Francisca Christina’s passing in 1776, her will revealed the depth of her appreciation for Fortuna’s service and companionship. She bequeathed him perpetual free boarding and medical care at the orphanage she had founded in Steele, along with financial resources and luxury items. Fortuna, affectionately known as Herr Ignaz, continued to serve the subsequent abbess, Maria Kunikunde, until his own demise in 1789.
Upon Ignatius Fortuna’s death, he was laid to rest in the church of the Steele orphanage, where he had been granted perpetual care. His burial within the institution he held dear was a testament to the lasting impact he had made on the lives of those he served and the respect he garnered from the community.