The Institute of the Canossian Sisters can be traced to form its foundation based on five moments in the young life of its Foundress, Saint Magdalene of Canossa. Each of these experiences were provoked through her listening to the Sacred Scriptures in her own seeking for the will of God in her life. These spiritual movements became the foundation for the kind of society the Daughters of Charity would become:
1st Movement: “I felt a strong inner impulse to dedicate myself to works of Charity.”
2nd Movement: “I felt urged to teach Christian Doctrine to others.”
3rd Movement: “hearing ‘Euntes in mundum universum’ (Go out to the whole world) I was deeply moved and filled with consolation.”
4th Movement: “The very mention of ‘Divine Glory’ would suffice to touch my heart deeply.”
5th Movement: “I felt urged to follow the Crucified Christ without understanding anything.”
Based on these early spiritual experiences (1795-1799), Magdalene founded this Institute of Charity. She began simply by housing two girls at risk from the slums of San Zeno in Verona, and put a companion in charge. The Canossian Daughters of Charity started to put down roots as an institution. On May 7, 1808, Magdalene left her palace for good, and moved into Saint Josephs convent; there she was joined by several women companions whom she called Daughters of Charity. The Institution was formally established.
The first tasks of the Daughters of Charity were care for the sick in hospitals and the organization of a school. As she and her first companions began these works of charity, news of them spread, and over the next two decades new convents for her followers were established: Venice 1812; Milan 1816; Bergamo 1820 and Trent 1824.
She drew up the Rules for the congregation as fruit of these movements taking the Crucified Christ as the Model of the two great precepts of charity the love of God and the love of neighbour. On December 23, 1828, the Canossian Daughters of Charity received ecclesiastical approval from His Holiness Pope Leo XII.
Here’s a video that tells her story well: