Canossian Daughters of Charity Projects


The Canossian Daughters of Charity is a religious congregation founded by Magdalena di Canossa in Italy. This article explores the life and work of Magdalena di Canossa, her calling to serve Christ in the poor, and the establishment of the Canossian congregations. It also highlights the mission and impact of the Canossian Daughters of Charity in today’s world.

Magdalena di Canossa: A Life Devoted to Serving the Needy

Magdalena di Canossa, born on 1 March 1774 in Verona, was a woman of wealth and privilege. However, her social status did not deter her from following her calling to serve Christ in the poor. Despite the protests of her relatives, who believed such work was beneath her, Magdalena remained steadfast in her desire to dedicate her life to serving those in need.

At the age of 15, Magdalena expressed her wish to become a nun. She initially tried out her vocation with the cloistered Carmelites but soon realized that her true calling was to serve the needy without any restrictions. She spent years working among the poor and sick in hospitals and their homes, as well as with delinquent and abandoned girls.

The Call to Serve the Neediest

In her mid-20s, Magdalena felt a strong inner calling to the life of the cloister. She attempted to join the Carmelites twice but was urged by the Spirit of God to give herself to the service of the neediest individuals whom the convent grills prevented her from reaching out to. This calling led her to a new path of serving the poor in a more direct and hands-on manner.

The Founding of the Canossian Daughters of Charity

Magdalena di Canossa believed in the love of the Lord Jesus and felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to serve those most in need. She gathered her first companions, individuals who were called to follow Christ and dedicated themselves to a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Together, they became witnesses of Christ’s unconditional love for all people.

In 1808, Magdalena overcame her family’s opposition and left Canossa Palace to begin her mission in the poorest district of Verona. She established what she knew in her heart to be the will of God – to serve the neediest persons with the heart of Christ. This marked the beginning of the Congregation of the Canossian Daughters of Charity.

The Growth and Impact of the Canossian Daughters of Charity

Under the guidance of Magdalena di Canossa, the Canossian Daughters of Charity grew rapidly. Houses were opened throughout Italy, allowing the congregation to reach and serve a wider population in need. The Canossian education, inspired by their Foundress, focused on teaching selfless love and offering humble service to others.

Magdalena’s legacy emphasized that those who love are never tired, as love knows no burden. This profound understanding drove the Canossian Daughters of Charity to serve others with humility and genuine concern for the needy. Their work extended beyond Italy’s borders, as they ventured into foreign lands to fulfill their mission of making Jesus Christ known to all.

Formal Recognition and Expansion

Magdalena di Canossa sought the formal recognition of the pope for her congregation’s work. She met with Pope Pius VII in Genoa in 1815, but unfortunately, he had already left for Rome. Despite this setback, Magdalena’s perseverance paid off when Pope Leo XII approved the Rule of the Institute with the Brief Si Nobis on 23 December 1828.

The Canossian Daughters of Charity continued to expand their reach and impact. In 1834, Magdalena organized the Spiritual Exercises for the congregation in Verona before embarking on a journey to Venice and later returning to Verona. However, her health began to deteriorate, and she realized that her time was coming to an end. She passed away on 10 April 1835, leaving behind a profound legacy of love and service.

The Canossian Daughters of Charity Today

The Canossian Daughters of Charity continue to carry forward the mission and spirit of Magdalena di Canossa. Their focus remains on the educational and spiritual needs of women, ensuring that they receive the necessary support and guidance to lead fulfilling lives.

The congregation has also established a smaller congregation for priests and brothers, known as the Sons of Charity. Both groups work tirelessly in various cities across Italy, Latin America, and the Philippines, striving to make a positive difference in the lives of those they serve.


Magdalena di Canossa’s selfless devotion to serving the needy laid the foundation for the Canossian Daughters of Charity. Her tireless efforts to follow Christ’s example of unconditional love and compassion continue to inspire generations of Canossian sisters and brothers. Today, the Canossian Daughters of Charity remain committed to their mission of making Jesus Christ known, serving with humility, and showing genuine concern for the needy. Their impact can be seen in the lives they touch and the communities they serve, as they strive to bring hope, love, and transformation to those in need.