Nalegam, moje drogie Córki, odprawcie Nowennę do Świętego Dzieciątka z zapałem i miłością, oczyśćcie wasze serce, by przede wszystkim stało się gotowe i zdolne do otrzymania wszystkich łask, które Dziecię pragnie wycisnąć w waszych sercach.

st. Magdalena di Canossa
Foundress

Saint Magdalene of Canossa (1774-1835)

Foundress of Dauhters of Love, Servants of the Poor, Canossians

 

SAD CHILDHOOD
The Marchioness Magdalene Gabriella of Canossa was born in the evening of March 1, 1774, in Verona, the beautiful city of the Scaligeri family. She was the third child of the Marquis Ottavio and his twenty year old wife, Countess Teresa Szluha. Her birth was no mment of joy for her parents, but a bitter dissapointment. They had been expected the son.
The baby was baptised the next day in the parish of San Lorenzo.

Magdalene stood out among her brother and sisters for her vivacious, open charakter, both affectionate and strong.

Unfortunately, the harmonious development of a tranquil childhood was interruted by a family tragedy which suddenly befell the Canossa house. On October 5, 1779, Marquis Ottavio had a seizure while on excursion toLessini hils. He was olny 39 years old. He died the next day.
Just a few monhts later, magdalene and her brother and sisters were hit by an even worse tragedy: to loss of their mother. On her husband’s death, teh 27-year-old Countess Teresa had found herself alone,the only woman in the Canossa household, with four men to look after, in addition to her own five children. Her knowledge of Italian language was only fair. her mentality was opened and very different from that of the Marquises which was somewhat rigid and conservative. She married Marquis Odoardo Zenetti of Mantua, abbandoning to their fate her five small children, of whom the oldest was nine the youngest only two.
Yet, Countess Teresa was attached to her children. On many occasion later and, in different circumstences, Magdalene would repeat: “mother loved her children very much”. In fact, she kept up a discrete and affectionate correspondence witn her children. Who will eve be able to unveil the mysteries of a woman’s heart?!
Magdalene was 7 years old. She shut the traagedy of that incomprehensible separation un in her heart and kept it there forever in absolute and respoctful silence.

A DISCONCERTING GOVERNESSThe choice fell on a French woman, for at that time it was felt that only the French were endowed with the necessary competence and “savoir faire” for preparing the daughtersof noble families for life in society.
unfortunateky, Francesca Capron soon revealed hersefl to be an unscrupolous woman. In the beginning, Magdalene, a liveli headstrong  child, seemed to be her favourite. She tought that her antics and temperament were qualities necessary to give that touch of originallity considered desiderable in a future lady and, instead of educating and correcting the child, encouraged and praised her.
Albeit confusely, the child felt that there was something cowardly in accepting an education that was no honest. On the occasion, when her teacher suggestet that she should tell a lie to get out of a well-deserved punishment from the uncle, she refused to obey. When, on another occasion, a noble woman from Venice came to stay in the Canossa huosehold, having been entrusted by the children’s uncle with the precise talk of examining his nieces’ behaviour and progress in their studies, Magdalene again got herself into trouble. The noblewoman and Miss Capron were in one of the rooms of the palace talking about the best way of teaching catechism. The Venetian lady expressed some doubts on the value of the method based solely on learning by heart. The conversation started to become animated when Magdalene suddenly burnst into the room. The guest, who didn’t want to, in any way, lessen the prestige of the teacher in the eyes if her pupil, turned to the little Marchioness and warned her: “Woe betide young ladies who lear catechism in the same way as they learn grammar, history and geography!”.
Magdalene liked these words of warning so much that she ran to her bedroom to write them on the front page of her catechism book. Some time later, Miss Capron noticed the words and interpreted the fact that the child had copied them in her catechism book as a sign on insolence towards her.
From on then, Magdalene became her target. The child was persecuted for years, the victim of increasing unfairness and at times real cruelty, so much so that her girlhood became increasingly unhappy.
What was surprising, and was taken note of by almost all those who witnessed it, was she maintained absolute silence. She never rebelled, nor lacked in respect or obeddience. She knew how to suffer with a maturity and a strength far beyond her years.
Her older sister Laura could not understand why Magdalene said nothing. She indignantly urged her sister to tell their uncle about the very unfair treatmente she was being subjected to. The young Marchioness would simply repeat: “Madame is right. I am the one who is bad”, adding: “With this guardian angel, I will never bo able to go the wrong way”.
If, however, she knew how to remain silent when it was a question of her own sensitivity, she knew that she had to talk when it came to preventing something really bad from happening. The two older sister had an Italian teacher, a certain Giuseppe Mindini, who was on excessively close terns with the governess. One morning Magdalene firmly announced to Miss Capron that neither she nor her sister Laura would attend the lesson of a man whose ambiguous words were endangering their purity. The governess knew immediately that her pupil would not give in: she knew too well that, being a real Canossa, there would be no going back on her decision.
Hence she advised Marquis Girolamo to dismiss Mr. Mondini. Soon after, she also resigned and, in April of the same year, 1798, she married the professor. Magdalene, who had already forgiven and forgotten the way Madame Capron dealt with her, sent them a wedding present.