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Canossa, Maddalena Gabriella, St.


Foundress of the Daughters of Charity of Canossa; b. Verona, Italy, March 2, 1774; d. Verona, Italy, April 10, 1835. After the death (1779) of her wealthy father, Marquis Ottavio of Canossa, Maddalena's mother, Marchesa Teresa Szluha, remarried in 1781. Maddalena was then raised by an uncle and given a private education. In 1799 she dedicated herself to caring for poor girls, and in 1800 she began to house some of them. In 1803 she opened a charity school, but when she attempted to dwell there herself (1805), she was constrained to return to her family. In 1808 she founded her religious congregation, dedicated to educational and hospital work. By the time of her death the Canossian Sisters had five houses. Maddalena, whose remains are housed in a marble sarcophagus in Verona, was beatified by pius xii on Dec. 7, 1941. During her canonization on Oct. 2, 1988, Pope john paul ii related that when she saw the material and moral misery around her "she saw that she could not love her neighbor 'as a lady,' that is, by continuing to enjoy the privileges of her social class, and merely sharing her possessions without giving herself."

Feast: May 8 (formerly May 14).

Bibliography: d. barsotti, Dio solo e Gesè crocifisso: teologia di un carisma (Milan 1985). m. farina and f. rispoli, Maddalena di Canossa (Turin 1995). i. giordani, Maddalena di Canossa, 4th ed. (Brescia 1957). l. libera, Lettere di direzione spirituale alla marchesina Maddalena Gabriella di Canossa, supplement to a. cattari, Maddalena Gabriella di Canossa, gli anni decisivi di un itinerario spirituale (Milan 1982). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. (New York 1956), 2:309311. t. piccari, Sola con Dio (Milan 1965).

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