God deserves all, therefore the small privations we suffer are nothing.

st. Magdalena di Canossa
Story

More than two centuries of story 1808-2008

Magdalene was born in Verona the 1 of march 1774, a descent of the noble family “Canossa”.  She was the third of six children. Yet, as a child, she felt the desire to consecrate herself to God and this desire matured through life experiences (the dead of her father, the second marriage of the mother, an illness, incomprehensions).

As she lived in the climate of tragic events of war and political circumstances of the French Revolution, Magdalene discovered, in deep prayer, the “greatest” love of God, revealed in Christ Crucified.
Look at more: knowing of the plan of God

She sees the face of Jesus in the poor, alienated and suffering people in the suburb of Verona (San Zeno). Since that time she desired to dedicate herself at the service of Christ and His poor.

She decided to leave the palace, but she meet the strong opposition of her family.

The circumstances costrain her to assume the leadership of the family in the palace Canossa. Magdalene coltivated her vocation in the depth of her heart, engaging herself entirely to the everyday duties of the family. In the 1808 she overcame the opposition of her uncle and left the native palace Canossa – renouncing the wealth and the title of marchioness – and together with the first companions founded in Verona, 8 of may 1808 her “Work of Charity”.

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23 of  decembre 1828 obtained the approval from the Apostolic See of the Institute of the Daughters of Charity Servants of the Poor. It was already present in the cities of Venice, Milan, Bergamo and Trent.

As a “Daughter of Charity”, full of an ardour – while the number of the members od the Institute was increasing – on the 23 of May 1831 Magdalene started the male branch: the Institute of the “Sons of Charity”. The male members of this Institute dedicated themselves for the formation of boys and men. (You are invited to visit the page of the Sons of Charity: Canossian Brothers )

The extremely active and fruitful life of Magdalene came to an end on 10 of April 1835. She was 61 years old.
The 8 of December 1941 Pope Pius XII beatificated her in Rome. 47 years later, 2 of October 1988 Pope John Paul II canonized her and thus she was included among the Saints.

“Love is like a flame” – this was her motto. In the course of the years the number of Sisters and Communities increased and became a large Religious Family, dedicated  for the spreading of  the Kingdom of God and to make Jesus known and loved. Today the Canossian Family include the Sons and Daughters of Charity, the Lay Canossians and the Missionaries of Saint Magdalene.
The spirit and work of charity of Saint Magdalene is now developed in 36 countries of the world.


The first Canossian Mission

Magdalena who lived in the time when women couldn’t go to the mission, had a heart throughout missionary. She often explained fervent desire to go even to the conrers of the earth to make Jezus know – as she accented  – “Jesus is not loved, because he is not known”.

In 1860 her profound desire became reality. Divine Providence let her sisters reach an Asian continent, because they responded for an invitation from Hong Kong, thanks to the patriach of Venice, Angelo Ramazzotti.
In this way canossian charism from that country spread in the other part of asian countries.


Opening of the school in Verona

RECOGNITION OF THE PROJECT OF GOD At the age of 17 Magdalene entered the Carmel convent, but – in spite of her deep desire of prayer, she felt that the grates of the monastery separated her from the people outside who needed her and her work of charity. Magdalene decide to return home and  – under suggestion of a wise carmelite, sr Luigia – “placed herself trustingly in the hands of a holy priest, don Luigi Libera”. He was Magdalene’s guide for approximately nine years. His delicated spiritual guidance with the young girl helped her to clarify to the full her vocation and to proceed confidently towards her future mission of charity. He met her often at the Canossa Palace and they both exchanged many letters. Unfortunately, but understandably, none of Magdalene’s letters have reached us, while there are about sixty-eight of Don Libera’s letters to her. Through this correspondence we can reconstruct Magdalene’s spiritual progress from July 1792, following the episode of Conegliano, to December 14, 1799, the date of the director’s last letter. He died, too soon, on January 22, 1800. Don Libera’s method appears to be very different from that of the Carmelites. He used understanding rather than authority, respecting the independence and freedom of the penitent rather than forcing his will on her, giving her orders. His first act was to advise Magdalene to “lead a very withdrawn life within her own home for a year and pray fervently to know God’s will”, without making any decision as to her future. At the request of her uncle, she was asked to take care of her two younger sisters, Rosa and Eleonora, and accompany them on the first steps of their social life. Don Libera encouraged her and gave her useful advice on how to guide her sisters, urging her to avoid the always harmful extremes of excessive severity and laxity. Don Libera’s realism and optimism were in contrast with Magdalene’s rigor and scrupolosity. The wise director patiently, but firmly, set about freeing her from this sad excess. He assured her that she was living in the state of grace: “We should not allow ourselves to be slaves of scruples; blessed are those who live in the fear of offending God, but let us ensure that our fear be filial and reasonable, because it is born of love”. Magdalene reiterated her fear of not having been understood: she had the sensation that if both her director and confessor knew her well, in depth, they should have realised that she was a great sinner. She was convinced that it was she who did not know her true self. Don Libera told her insistently that her conscience should be at peace. With serene irony he wrote: “Can everyone be wanting to betray you? I know full well how bad you are, but should we despair for this? My daughter, I don’t consider you as an angel from heaven, but I cannot bring myself to believe that you could have committed so many sins”. To pacify his penitent, Don Libera frequently cut her short and prescribed generous and ready obedience, an effective means of conserving one’s peace of heart. “Have trust in this beautiful virtue of obedience, practise it with all your commitment and in the simplest way possible”.He required obedience also regarding temptations against faith which tormented Magdalene for several years, temptations against the existence of God, against the truths of the Creed: “To counteract your thoughts against faith, pray to God three times a day expressing your belief in what the Holy Church believes and your will to die in this faith: in peace and quiet, without being scrupulous about your every thought”. Another way of expressing obedience was to renounce completely her desire to go into the convent, which from time to time she continued to feel growing inside her. By the end of the first year of trial, Don Libera told Magdalene that he was certain that God was not calling her to be a Disclaced Carmelite and that he could not discover in her any certain sign of vocation to the religious state; likewise he did not see her as being called to matrimony. Instead he urged her to wish only that which the Lord wanted from her, and to continue to be ready to sacrifice her every desire and will to accomplish the Will of God. This divine Will was expressed in the events concerning her family which, for example, required her to follow more closely her sister Rosa, who was about to be married, and to be an element of peace between the members of her family, divided over questions of inheritance. He advised her to take over the running of the big house, even though with certain limitations, since there was no female hand able to do so. He asked her to give up a consecrated life in the cloister for a service of charity in the family and in the world. Consecration to God did not necessarily involve segregation from the world but loving acceptance of God’s will. He wrote: “My daughter, I will never cease thanking the Lord for giving me the light to keep you in the world. For you it is hard, but let it all be done to the glory of the Lord and be assured that, in the present circumstances, in the segregation of the cloisters you would not be doing the good that you can do at home”. The wise director, who was familiar with the young Marchioness need to act, had gradually approved the different charitable activities which she had started in the city. A fairly vast network had developed which was increasingly and carefully analysed and completed, as part of a Plan which anticipated the creation of a permanent institution for the poorest and the forgotten. It was an imaginary dream, for now, jealously held in custody in Magdalene’s heart, but which contained in embryo her future mission of charity. When she illustrated it to the director, she met with his complete approval: “I urge you with all my strength and, if you wish, I even order you to give your whole heart to the institution”. Don Libera encouraged her, but was, at the same time, careful that her activity should not become activism. He urged her to pray and especially to devote herself to mental prayer which should become simple and true contemplation. He advised her to dedicate much space to prayer, without neglecting her family duties. He recommended the use of ejaculations which favour an attitude of familiarity with the Lord. He encouraged her, contrary to the custom of the time and the general jansenistic mentality, to frequently, even every day, receive Holy Communion: the real life of the soul, the food of the strong. He prescribed repeated visits to the Blessed Sacrament, as vital moments in her day. Eucharistic prayer was, for Don Libera, a source of great spiritual energy. He ardently urged her to grow in the love of the Virgin and to entrust herself to her, as a daughter. Devotion to Mary will be a characteristic of Magdalene’s spirituality and will accompany her whole life in a simple and loving crescendo. The young Marchioness succeeded in overcoming the greatest trial which the Lord asked of her, just when she believed she was free to try to fulfil her dream. In November 1797, the young wife of her uncle Girolamo, the Countess Claudia Buri became ill. On her death-bed, she entrusted to Magdalene’s care her baby, Carlino, who was just a few months old, begging her to be his mother. In the mystery of death, which comes only from God, Magdalene saw clearly His will. She accepted to be ”mother” and to continue to remain at home, awaiting other signs from Above. Her vocation was to give herself to others, to place herself totally at the service of those who were in need. This long and difficult itinerary leads Magdalene to know slowly the plan of God. Her life has to be a continue oblation, after the example of Jesus Crucified and the Mother of Sorrows who stands under the Cross. INSPICE ET FAC – look at, contemplate and act “secundum example”. Example is Jesus Crucified, expression of the greatest love that sacrifices oneself to God the Father for mankind.
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Magdalene opened the schools in which she started to educate girls and women who could not have partecipated to other tipes of education. She opened one school to prepare future teachers for the villages. She engaged herself in taking care of the sick in hospitals. She guided and organized spiritual retreats for women from nobile families to let them deepen their spiritual life end engaged them in the apostolic activities for the needy, as she and her companions, were doing.
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THE FIRST CANOSSIAN MISSION Hong Kong 12 of April 1860 Re-writing our story in the light of the faith, we can recognize the signs of Divine Providence covered in the events, in the persons which become in the hands of God the instruments of His Divine project. This is visible also at the beginning of the spreading of the Institute over the bordiers of Italy. We are in the XVIII century and we find ourselves at a time of religious and missionary renewal in the Catholic Church. This appeal is felt very much in the seminaries and in the religious institutes of Italy. In 1850 Ramazzotti, founded a new seminary for a Foreign Missions and entrusted it to the PIME Fathers. From this seminary the first missionaries leave for Oceania, India, Hong Kong. Ramazzotti, in Pavia (1852) found a great response to this call in the person of sr Luigia Grassi, a sister full of zeal and great desire to go to the missions. He then ask the superior, Margherita Crespi, to send sisters to Hong Kong and to India, to collaborate with the fathers in their missionary work. Meanwhile the bishop becomes the patriarch of Venice. The Institute of Dauthers of Charity choose four young sisters to be sent for the foreign mission: Maria Stella 27 years old, Rachele Tronconi 34 years old, Giuseppina Testera 29 years old, Giovanna Scotti 22 years old. From the house of Venice reach them: Lucia Cupis 40 years old and Claudia Compagnotti, the novice 20 years old. On 28 of Februray 1860, the first Daughters of Saint Magdalene leaved Italy to bring the Good News of Jesus and His Divine Mercy to Hong Kong, where they reached 12 of April of the same year. Thus the realise the dream of the Foundress: “JESUS IS NOT LOVED BECAUSE HE IS NOT KNOWN. ABOVE ALL, LETS MAKE JESUS KNOW THATS HE WOULD BE LOVED”. In the 1868r. the canossian Sisters reach China, Han-Kow first, later other cities inside the country. The remain there time of Mao revolution. They were expelled in 1950.  
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OPENING OF THE SCHOOL IN VERONA Magdalene, inspired by the Word of God, comprehended her mission and in 1799 edited “The Plan” which revealed the greatness of her apostolic heart. She presented her Plan to the Bishop Avogadro in Verona, who was contrary to the inclination of Magdalene who desired to take care the sick.  the Bishop asked her to open as soon as possible the School of Charity for the street children in Verona. In the same year Magdalene started the work by accepting two young girls, exposed to the dangers of the street, and housed them temporalily, at her own expense, with one of her companions. On march 1802, she moved them to a house in the Parish of the Filippini Fathers, along with a third girl. She then managed to convince two others companions to stay at the service of the girls and bought a house in the Parish of San Zeno, the filthiest and most infamous part of the town, with the intention of opening a school also for external pupils. Unfortunately, Magdalene had to continue to live at the Canossa Palace, but she was happy also to visit these children and did not disdain to wash them, comb their hair and remove the lices. After some years Magdalena “freed from her ties” (the death of her uncles, Carol, the small son of her brother was entrusted to the care of one protector) and therefore could start to look for a suitable building for the girls. Her eyes fell on the Monastery of Saints Joseph and Fidenzio situated is in the district of San Zeno and which had become State Property after the suppression of the Augustinian Sisters. She had to persevere tirelessly for two years before obtaining the Decree of Assignment, issued on April 1, 1808 by the Emperor, Napoleon. The Marchioness had the most urgent repairs done immediately. In the morning of 8 of May 1808, the third Sunday of Easter and on the feast of the patronage Saint Joseph, the great dream od Magdalene become reality: she moved her girls and teachers into the house, ex-augustinian monastery. Magdalene was 34 years old. For some years, among her companions in this house, there was Leopoldina Naudet, who later become a Foundress of the another religious Institute: the Nuns of the Sacred Family.
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