Magdalene was born in Verona, Italy to a rich and noble family. Though born to wealth, her life was filled with misfortune, such as the death of her father, the departure of her mother, sickness and misunderstandings.
At 17, she believed she was called to the life of the cloister and attempted to join the Carmelites twice, but the Spirit of God drew her to give herself to the service of the neediest persons with whom she would not be able to contact from a cloister.
Magdalene could see the misery of the peripheral districts of Verona from her magnificent palace. The impact of the French Revolution, the alternating domination of foreign emperors and the Veronese Pasch, had left evident signs of devastation and human suffering. She sought and found her first companions who welcomed the invitation to share her life of poverty and unconditional charity and in 1808, having overcome the final resistances from her family, she left the Canossa Palace to initiate, in Verona, what she interiorly felt was God’s will: to serve Christ in the poor.
Within a few decades, she founded houses in other towns such as Venice, Milan, Bergamo and Trent and sent her daughters who had grown in number. Magdalene obtained the approval of the Rules in 1828.
Today, the Institute of the Daughters of Charity are present in all five continents. The Sisters number about 2,300, constituting 18 provinces and work on spreading of the Kingdom of God. Also today, the Sons of Charity are steadily increasing in numbers bringing the name and love of God to all in Italy and abroad.
She died in Verona, assisted by her Daughters on Passion Friday, April 10, 1835. On December 7, 1941, she was proclaimed Blessed by Pope Pius XII. She was declared a saint by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 2, 1988.
Adapted by A.J. Valentini from: St. Magdalene of Canossa, Foundress. (n.d.). Canossian Daughters of Charity. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.canossiansisters.org/st-magdalene-of-canossa