Istituto Canossiano Postulazione

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Foundress of the Canossian Family - (Verona 1774 - 1835)


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 on 1 March 1774 of a rich and noble family.

Through painful events like the death of her father, the departure of her mother, sickness, 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 ad attempted to join the Carmel twice.

But the Spirit of God urged her interiorly to give herself to the service of the most needy persons whom the convent grills prevented her from reaching out to.

She returned home and, forced by sorrowful family circumstances and tragic historical events of the 18th century, she concealed in her heart her dream of offering herself to god and neighbour. She lived in the Canossa Palace, accepting the administration of the huge family patrimony and promised her aunt, Maria Claudia, who was dying, to become the adoptive mother of her young son. Charles.


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 opens herself to the cry of the poor, hungering for bread, instruction and God.

Magdalene looks down 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, the Veronese Pasch, had left evident signs of devastation and human suffering.


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 the 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 opens her heart to urgent needs of other cities like Venice, Milan, Bergamo, 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, 10 April 1835.

On 7 December 1941, she was proclaimed Blessed by Pope Pius XII.

She was declared a Saint by Pope John Paul II on 2 October 1988.


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”. (Magdalene, Ep. II/I, p. 266)

In 1860, animated by the spirit of Magdalene, the daughters of charity sailed for the East to spread the “good news” among the peoples who have not yet heard the proclamation of the Gospel.

Today, the institute of the Daughters of Charity is present in all five Continents.

The Sisters number about 3000, constituting 22 provinces and work for the spreading of the Kingdom of God.


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, 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 the 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.


“Jesus is not loved because he is not known.”

(Magdalene, Spiritual writing I, p. 180)

It is Magdalene’s apostolic invitation to all the ay people who, in synchrony with her charisma, rooted in the Spirit of Jesus Crucified, wish to collaborate in their state in life and workplace, for the spread of the Kingdom of God.