PRAYERS
   
  21 NOVEMBER 1832
   
  The Institute of the Sisters of Charity of Saints  B. Capitanio and  V. Gerosa was founded at Lovere (Bergamo District) on 21st November 1832 by Bartolomea Capitanio (1807-1833). Her closest friend and collaborator was Caterina Gerosa (1784-1847), later Sr. Vincenza. Caterina was older in age and very different in character and in upbringing. Binding them together, however, was a sincere friendship and a passionate dedication to works of charity. 

 

Still in her teens, Bartolomea resolved to become a “saint, a great saint, soon a saint”. Drawn by the love that Jesus practised in the course of his life, she felt called to follow His example by consecrating herself to Him and dedicating herself to the good of her neighbour, as a visible instrument of His love for every human person.

 
In her life she harmoniously blended an impelling love for prayer with a deep commitment to blessed charity, which made her envisage and undertake daring ways of doing good to others. At the age of twenty-five, she knew beyond any doubt that God wanted her to found an Institute with the purpose of doing works of mercy. And so, helped and supported by Gerosa and wisely guided by Fr. Angelo Bosio (1796-1863), Bartolomea started the Institute, meaning it to be “totally founded on charity”.


In the Founding Document she traced out its broad lines and its aims; these had by now become very clear to her under the action of the Holy Spirit. There had matured in her life an “Institute of the Redeemer”, a “beloved house of Charity”. Through it she meant to continue in the Church the gift which the Holy Spirit  poured in her own heart: to let the ardent love of the Redeemer live on, day by day, and continue to be expressed through the works of mercy towards all those in need.

 
She considered the Institute to be “God’s Providence” to meet “the great, extreme need” of humanity, an initiative of charity that would contribute towards making the world “the family of God”, where all were to be acknowledged as neighbours worth giving up one’s life for.


In the “Founding Document” Bartolomea proposed that its members should live according to the charism of charity, as “daughters and followers of the Redeemer” in a stable form of life characterized by a public profession of the vows, by life-in-common, by a boundless self-availability to the extent of “doing everything possible, suffering everything and even shedding their blood for the good of their neighbour”, in the spirit of the vow of charity.

 


 
Eight months after the foundation of the Institute, Bartolomea died, and on Gerosa fell the heavy task of realizing the ideal that Bartolomea had envisaged, proposed and lived in her short lifespan.

Caterina Gerosa did not consider herself equal to the task, but from the Crucified Lord she loved to meditate and follow as her rule-of-life, she drew the strength to do the will of God; her fears were thus stilled and she took up Bartolomea’s project with deep faith, saying, "Let us go ahead with trust, since the project comes from God. May His will be done!”
With the help of Fr. Angelo Bosio, she tended the seed sown by the foundress and brought it into flower by fostering the vitality and growth of the Institute. She also let it spread outside Lovere, by accepting works that served the purpose for which it was founded.

By 1860 the Institute
had already reached Bengal (India). It is now international in character, with religious communities in Europe: Spain (1950), England (1959), Romania (1990); in Asia: India (1860), Bangladesh (1864), Myanmar (1916), Japan (1961), Thailand (1966), Israel (1984), Nepal (1999); in America: Argentina (1909), Uruguay (1937), Brazil (1947), California (1959), Peru (1969); in Africa: Zimbabwe (1959), Zambia (1967), Egypt (2000).

Its development is not simply a historical fact, but also a gift and prompting of the Holy Spirit to those called to be “Sisters of Charity, Daughters of the Redeemer” - by expanding the bounds of charity after the manner of Jesus, who had compassion on the multitudes. Today, the Institute is increasingly aware of its international dimensions, seen as a challenge to understand anew the full potential values of the charism and express its vitality through the various cultures: this demands a constant readiness for a change of mentality in order to keep alive the dialogue of charity.

The official name of the Institute, made up of provinces and communities, is “Sisters of Charity of Saints B. Capitanio and V. Gerosa”, generally known as “Suore di Maria Bambina" (Sisters of the Infant Mary). They have been called by that name from the time when Maria Bambina, venerated in the image presented to the Institute in 1842, manifested Her particular protection, through a miracle in 1884. In the same spirit of Bartolomea and Vincenza, canonized by Pope Pius XII on 18 May 1950, the Sisters of Charity aspire to partake of the merciful love of Jesus our Redeemer, who lays down his life so that all human persons, restored in their dignity and reconciled to God, may have in themselves the fullness of life and be made capable, in their turn, of charity towards their neighbour.

Through various works of mercy to meet the needs of suffering humanity, the Institute becomes a visible sign of the compassionate heart of our Redeemer. In its sectors of service in the changing life-situations at different times and places, it caters for the youth, with preference for the poorest and the most neglected, for the sick, the aged and the marginalized, and for those who do not yet know the Gospel.
It aims at being in the Church a presence intent on helping the needy on both the human and the Christian plane.
It renders service in educational institutions, in hospitals and rest-homes, in social welfare centres, in new forms of pro-life activities, in the field of formation to faith, in collaboration with the pastoral ministry of the Church.




web site official: www.suoredimariabambina.org
5