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The Canossian Daughters of Charity, Servants of the Poor are an international missionary congregation of women founded by St. Magdalene of Canossa, canonized in 1988. Our actions arise from our identity born of Christ crucified, the Greatest Love. We are called to journey in simplicity, sharing a common life at the service of our brothers and sisters on every continent. Through ministries of education and human promotion, evangelization and faith formation, and pastoral care among the suffering, we strive to touch each person with the love of God. Our motto is “to make Jesus known and loved,” especially to those most in need.
Magdalene of Canossa, canonized in 1988, was a woman of noble birth who ardently desired to live in service among her “beloved poor.”
In 1808, she gathered several companions to assist her in meeting the needs of the neglected in Verona, Italy. Since then, women and men inspired by her to serve as sisters, priests, brothers, lay missionaries, and volunteers have witnessed to the Greatest Love all over the world.
With the opening of the first Mission house in 1860, the Institute of Magdalene of Canossa has spread to Asia, North America, South America, Africa, Australia and Europe.
St. Magdalene of Canossa - Our Foundress
Magdalene of Canossa started her charitable works at the age of 34, after a long struggle and search for God’s will for her.
She was born in Verona, Italy, on March 1, 1774, to a rich and noble family. Through painful events, like the death of her father, the departure of her mother, sickness, and misunderstandings, the Lord guided her towards unexpected paths which Magdalene tried hard to understand.
At 17, she believed she was called to the life of the cloister and attempted to join the Carmelites twice, but the Spirit of God urged her interiorly to give herself to the service of the neediest persons whom the convent grills prevented her from reaching out to.
She returned home and, forced by the sorrowful family circumstances and tragic historical events of the 18th century, she concealed in her heart her dream of offering herself to God and neighbor. She lived in the Canossa Palace, accepting the administration of the huge family patrimony.
In the midst of her tireless activities and heavy family responsibilities, Magdalene found the time to intensify her prayer, the daily contemplation of the Love of Christ on the Cross and of the Mother of Sorrows.
Inflamed by the same fire of God’s love, she opened herself to the cry of the poor, hungering for bread, instruction and God.
Magdalene looked from her magnificent palace at the misery of the peripheral districts of Verona, where the impact of the French Revolution, the alternating domination of foreign emperors, and the Veronese Pasch, had left evident signs of devastation and human suffering.
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In the face of so many needs, Magdalene felt unequal to the task. She sought and found her first companions who welcomed the invitation to share her life of poverty and unconditional charity.
In 1808, having overcome the final resistances from her family, she left the Canossa Palace to initiate, in Verona, what she interiorly felt was God’s will: to serve Christ in the poor.
Charity is like a fire that ever spreads out and Magdalene opened her heart to the urgent needs of other towns like Venice, Milan, Bergamo, and Trent, where in a few decades, she founded Houses and sent her Daughters who had grown in number. Magdalene obtained the approval of the Rules in 1828.
She died in Verona, assisted by her Daughters on Passion Friday, April 10, 1835.
On December 7, 1941, she was proclaimed Blessed by Pope Pius XII. She was declared a Saint by Pope John Paul II on October 2, 1988.
MOTHER OPEN TO THE WORLD
The spirit of the Daughters of Charity “is that of being detached from everything … and ready for the divine service and to go anywhere, even to the remotest Country.” St. Magdalene
In 1860, animated by the spirit of Magdalene, the Daughters of Charity sailed for the East to spread the “good news” among the people who had not yet heard the proclamation of the Gospel.
Today, the Institute of the Daughters of Charity are present in all five continents.
The Sisters number about 3,000, constituting 18 provinces and work on spreading of the Kingdom of God.
SONS OF CHARITY
Magdalene of Canossa is Mother not only to her Daughters but also to her Sons.
While remaining one community of religious for almost a century and experiencing the uncertainty of survival, they succeeded through many difficulties to keep alive the ideal of Magdalene and to transmit, as precious heritage, a spirit of humble and generous service to the poor and little ones.
Today, the Sons of Charity are steadily increasing in numbers bringing the name and love of God to all in Italy and abroad.
CANOSSIAN LAY FAMILY
It is Magdalene’s apostolic invitation to all the lay people, who, in syntonic with her charism rooted in the Spirit of Jesus Crucified, wish to collaborate in their state in life and workplace to spread the Kingdom of God.
St. Josephine Bakhita –
Canossian Daughter of Charity “The Universal Sister”
On October 1, 2000 – Pope John Paul II, canonized a Canossian Sister from Africa, Saint Josephine Bahkita. Since then, this holy woman of faith and forgiveness has been interceding for many, especially those who are sick, those who are in any form of slavery, and those who need to find peace, forgiveness and reconciliation in their lives. If you know someone who needs this kind of powerful intercessor, why not ask her?
Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan in 1869 and died in Schio (Italy) in 1947. This African flower, who knew the anguish of kidnapping, slavery and torture, bloomed marvelously in Italy, in response to God’s grace, close to the Daughters of Charity.
Bakhita, which means “fortunate one,” is the name given her by her kidnappers. Sold and resold in the markets of El Obeid and Khartoum, she experienced the humiliations and the sufferings of slavery, physical, mental and moral.
Fortunately, Bakhita encountered a good owner, who didn’t use the lash when giving orders and treated her in a loving and cordial way.
She later celebrated the sacraments of Christian Initiation and was given the name, Josephine, on January 9, 1890. Bakhita joined the religious institute of the Daughters of Charity of Canossa on December 8, 1896.
On May 17, 1992, Josephine Bakhita was beatified by Pope John Paul II. She was proclaimed Saint on October 1, in the Jubilee year 2000.
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For more information, visit our International Website.