Dorothea was born on October 27, 1813. She was brought up in a very poor family in Männedorf, Switzerland. She was one of 11 children.
Her father was an angry man who drank, and could not support his family financially. At one point he sold one of their two cows, a source of income, and then disappeared for several years. The sad thing about this, is that Dorothea indicates that these were the happy years of her childhood. Dorothea had a very Godly mother who prayed continually. They could not afford doctors so normally when they were sick they relied on God and prayer. Dorothea saw many amazing answers to those prayers, which set a foundation of faith, in the goodness of God, in her heart.
Dorothea earned her living by working with flowers. She was a hard worker and eventually came to have several people working under her. When she was thirty-seven, four or five of her workers became sick. She nursed them but the disease grew worse and the situation seemed hopeless. She had heard stories of God moving to bring healing and deliverance, probably of Johann Christoph Blumhardt in Germany. She prayed for her workers and searched the scriptures. While doing this she says ”that, like a sudden light, she says, the well-known passage from the Epistle of James 5:14-15, flashed upon her.” Although her childhood had been filled with the necessity for prayer, it now dawned on her that this was something God wanted her to do. She went to her workers, brought anointing oil and prayed for them. They recovered. Her initial experiment became a settled conviction. God heals through prayer! A wave of sickness broke out in her village. In her free time she nursed, prayed, and taught about God’s ability to heal using prayer. Many people in the village recovered due to her prayers. Soon people from all around her area began to come to her, and all her spare time was spent praying for the sick.
Trudel was not physically a strong person. Otto Stockmayer reported that she had a curvature of the spine. There was pressure on her to leave her flower work. She was hesitant to do this, as she felt that God had provided for her through it. She was also a normally shy woman who did not like public attention. So many people were showing up at her door, however, that finally she began to take some of them in. When her home filled up she bought another, and then another. Her time was now spent in supervising the homes and praying for the sick. Hundreds of people were healed through prayer. The stories quickly spread and people came from all over Europe to receive prayer, including France, Germany, and Great Britain. There were so many people coming that her homes were considered a hospital.