The Daughters of Charuity known as Canossians was founded by Magdalene Marchioness of Canossa in 1808 at Verona, Italy to help the neediest who were left in utter misery because of the Napoleonic war.
Jesus on the Cross inspired her so much that the daughters of Charity were asked to contemplate Him and practice His virtues on the Cross, namely charity; humility, patientance , meekness, poverty, zeal, fortitude and generosity,
Magdalene had a great devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows, so this devotion of Mary, Mother of charity at the foot of the Cross, compliments and completes the spirituality of the Canossian.
Magdalene’s contemplation led her to devote herself to the three main works of Charity that was the need of the time. So she started gratuitous schools for the poor. She felt that she should educate the poor girls to be human (education), Christian (catechesis) and assist the suffering members of humanity. These later grew into the types of schools, hospitals and assisting works that are there now.
Pope Leo XII officially recognized the Institute in 1828. The Foundress, Magdalene of Canossa died on April 10, 1835 and was canonized by ope John Paul II on 2nd October 1988.
The Institute spread chiefly to various towns of Northern Italy. In 1860 it was introduced to the Far East and subsequently to all parts of the world. The first house in India, Cochin had its beginning in 1889.
The Foundress, St.Magadalene of Canossa also founded an institute for men, the Canossian Sons of Charity which received papal recognition in 1832. They were meant to do for boys what the Canossian Daughters of Charity were doing for the firls.