An outline history of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Marcellina
The Sisters of St.Marcellina –commonly known as ‘The Marcelline’- are a Religious Pontifical Congregation with the aim –at its origin- of education
They took the name from Saint Marcellina, sister and teacher of her brothers, St.Ambrose and St.Satyrus.
Marcellina lived in the IVth Century, chosen as Patroness and model having educated her younger brothers in the Christian faith and living her virginal consecration to Christ together with other young ladies that came to her house to share Holy Scripture studies, prayer and charitable works.
The Congregation was founded in 1838 in Cernusco sul Naviglio (Milan), where the then Spiritual Director of the Senior Seminary, Fr.Luigi Biraghi, opened a boarding school for young middle-class girls, entrusting it to the care of four young teachers guided by Marina Videmari who, following his example, decided to live the religious life, teaching and educating the girls
3. Canonical Erection and Rule
After the initial approval in 1839 by Archbishop G.Gaisruck, the Institute in 1841 opened a second boarding school in Vimercate (Milan), thanks to the support of Count Giacomo Mellerio (1777-1847). Having obtained the Imperial authorization, according to the obligations in the Lombardo Veneto reign, in 1852 it was canonically established by Archbishop Bartolomeo Romilli who presided over the first public profession of the religious members, to whom he gave the Rule written by the Founder, called The Rule of The Sisters Ursulines of St.Marcellina in the Milanese diocese (….)
The name of Ursulines had to be put before specifying.’ of St.Marcellina’ as the erection of new Orders was not allowed after the suppression of the Religious orders in 1810, but only the restoration of the old ones.
Luigi Biraghi, therefore, referred to the sixteenth century Institution of the Ursulines of Saint Angela Merici, highly rated by the Milanese Archbishops who succeeded St. Carlo and also by Cardinal G.Gaisruck.
This Rule, which had its second edition in 1875 with the addition of a “Costumiere’ written by Mother Marina Videmari,in order to obtain the approval from the Pope, was successfully reinstituted according to the legislation of Canon Law and finally approved in 1899.
In 1921, in compliance with the new Canon Law, a new edition was written divided into two parts: Constitutions and Directory.
In 1980 the new text of the Constitutions and Norms of the Institute of the Sisters was revised during the Special Chapter of 1968-1970 and was approved according to the renewal of Religious Life as laid down by Vatican II.
4. Aim and Charism of the Institute
The Founder finalised the Congregation of the Sisters of St.Marcellina for the education of girls, as a precise choice of apostleship.
Aware of the importance that women were occupying in modern society, which was getting more and more distant from Christian values under the atheistic and revolutionary ideologies at the end of the XVIIIth century and the beginning of the XIXth, Biraghi saw the Christian formation in the schooling period a means of a new Christianization of the family and society in general.
Le nostre prime educande
The purpose with God’s help of the establishment of the Congregation, as stated in the prologue of the Rule, was to provide a sound education for young girls as the good of the Church and Society depended on their Christian and cultural formation.
The text continues ‘-as the work of educating is holy, difficult and arduous and as such requiring much ability, good examples, complete selflessness and constant sacrifices, the Religious Congregations are therefore welcome to provide not only the method and knowledge demanded by the times and by school curricula, but also a Christian spirit and the teaching of the Gospel”.
The Rule therefore has a double purpose; to give the Sisters every facility to live in full their religious life and “all the means to educate the girls in sincere Christian bounty for the most useful family chores and for the studies conducive to the formation of honest young ladies”.
Here the Rule emphasises the special distinctive badge of the religious vocation of the ‘Marcelline’ who as consecrated virgins and educators were committed to being “saints to educate” and “to become saints in the field of education”.
In this way Biraghi made his Congregation an amalgamation of the contemplative and active life.
For this reason, in addition to St.Marcellina as Patroness he gave the Sisters, as a model, the two sisters of the Gospel: Marta and Maria, depicted in the lunette over the main door of the first college in Cernusco, traditionally indicated as symbols of the Contemplative and Active Life.
5. The historical context of the Foundation
It is indispensable to consider the historical context in which the Sisters of St.Marcellina were founded and then developed in 1800.
The libertarian and egalitarian ideas spread by the illuministic, revolutionary and Napoleonic France marked the new generations, especially in Lombardy, that in less than 20 years were exposed to the political enthusiasm and disppointments of the goverments of The Cisalpina Republic (1800), a short- lived Italian Republic (1801) and Italian Reign (1805-1815).
Such ideas vanished when in 1815 the Napoleonic Star disappeared and when the Lombardo-Veneto Reign was re-established under Austrian dominion.
Austria, on the other hand, while in the nations forming its Empire, presented itself as the restorer of the Roman Catholic religion seriously hit by the Napoleonic reforms and in particular by the suppression of the Religious Orders which were considered ‘parasites of society’ by the atheistic illuminists; it could neither ignore the new requirements of the peoples or betray those social openings already undertaken in Lombardy by the government of Maria Teresa, during the previous century.
Therefore the so-called period of the ‘restoration’ between 1815 and 1848, can be considered a period of fervid renewal in the Lombardo-Veneto region, both from the social-political aspect and also from the religious-cultural side.
In this ambit L.Biraghi worked to bring back the people of his era, fascinated as they may have been by the illusory promises of an earthly and materialistic happiness through Progress, to an enduring and sustaining faith in Christ.
Without rejecting the conquests of science and with an open mind to the lesson of history, he understood that for the rapidly changing times it was necessary to change the forms of apostleship and founded his Religious Institute for Education wanting it to be distinguished from the previous ones which were devoted also to the education of young girls.
The innovations that distinguish the Marcelline system relate to:
a) the Religious life of the Sisters, who freed from their cloistered bonds, now found themselves tied by the more compelling and rewarding one of living with their pupils in their day-to-day development, in their dormitories, in the refectory, in their educational outings and at recreation, in “a family spirit”.
b) the teaching and educational system.
6. The ‘distinctive’ innovations of the “Marcelline”
a) Religious life and Spirituality
Although showing an awareness of the needs of the new times, the Rule written by Biraghi for the Marcelline Sisters has also strong general ascetic and spiritual aspects and asks of the Sisters a total detachment from oneself, from one’s own inclinations and from one’s own tastes in order to realize the uniformity and equality of methods that could guarantee the unity and harmony of the communities in the various colleges and among the different colleges of the same Congregation.
This is what comes out of the four chapters, which point out: the daily time table and the ordinary daily occupations, the food, the clothing; times and forms of prayer, the spirit to carry out the observances laid down by the Congregation and the Marcelline’s own virtues.
Among these virtues evangelical humility has the first place as the basis of charity and of genuine fraternal life.
Corporal penances are forbidden to the Marcelline; these are substituted by the great exercise of penance that the educational work and the life they share with the pupils involve.
In the Rule L.Biraghi is very exacting in asking of his Sisters the pledge of sanctity, to be obtained through an intense life of prayer, which brings an indispensable support to the practice of the virtues.
In addition to the spiritual exercises prescribed by the Rule, the Founder wanted his Sisters to have rectitude of intention coupled with a sincere humility prohibiting them from pursuing the many devotional practices, often signs of superficiality and mistaken piety and recommending constant prayer
to them and the ordinary fidelity to their day-to-day lives and duties..
In addition to the short indications given in the Rule, the spirituality of the Marcelline, as the Founder envisaged it, can be found in his letters to Mother Videmari and to the Sisters.
It is a Christ-centre spirituality. The Founder, above all, recommends a complete love for Jesus whose passion and death he invites them to meditate on and to imitate His obedience to the Father, his compassionate love for others, humility and a spirit of sacrifice up to His acceptance of death for the salvation of souls.
In his vivid Marian piety the Founder wanted the Marcelline also to have a fervid devotion to Our Lady and with Her, apart from St.Marcellina, Patroness of the Institute, to invoke in particular the patronage of St.Joseph as their protector in all the circumstances of the various foundations and development of the work.
b) The School in Biraghi’s plan
In the educational plan of the Marcelline drawn up by the Founder two aspects appear of particular importance:
-the education provided in the colleges had to be completely in conformity with that of the State Schools that were increasingly attended especially by middle-class girls.
-the teachers had to meet all the requirements and qualifications requested by the educational Authorities.
The first Sister to take the State Exam in order to get the necessary qualification to be able to open a primary school was Marina Videmari, who began again her studies privately. In Summer 1838 she attended a period of training in “S.Tommaso” school in Milan and successfully passed all the necessary examinations for qualification as a primary school teacher.
Then all those who wanted to join the Marcelline, apart from Emilia Marcionni, a colleague of Videmari at “S.Tommaso” School and who was already qualified, had to take, in turn, the State examinations to become qualified teachers for the primary school and then the qualifications for teaching languages: French, German and English in addition to music and painting according to the curricula requirements.
In 1865, Lombardy became a province of the Italian Reign.
The Founders, to abide by the new authorities’ requirements, didn’t hesitate to ask the Sisters already qualified under the Austrian Government to get the new diplomas.
They were prepared by eminent teachers and passed their exams.
Sr.Marianna Sala (1829-1891) was one of the Sisters who passed with merit; she was one of the first pupils attending the college in Vimercate (Milan) and in addition she was one of the first Sisters who publicly took her vows in 1852.
After an exemplary life as a teaching religious, she was the first “Marcellina” to be beatified in 1980.
It was very courageous of the Founders to ask the Sisters to take the public examinations and soon they were followed by the other Religious teaching Institutes.
This fact allowed the Marcelline to teach also in the High Schools enabling them in those years to open“La Scuola Magistrale” modelled on the State one.
At the end of the century when women could freely attend University Mother Videmari, in 1889, took the opportunity of sending some of the younger and more inclined Sisters to get the degree in Literature and Science at the Genoa and Pavia Universities.
Thus the Mothers General who succeded Videmari understood the necessity of having highly qualified Sisters as headmistresses and teachers in the High Schools, in particular the “Liceo” that were set up in different colleges.
In 1897 Mother E.Marcionni opened a student house in Rome for the young Marcelline who were going to attend the “Regio Istituto Superiore di Magistero Femminile”.
The following Sisters qualified in 1901: Valentini Antonietta (1867-1932),Robecchi Ida (18-1952), Mercalli Teresa (1875-1962), Biella Giuseppina (1873-1947, Carpani Maria (1871-1943), Riva M.Laura (1875-1944). Their examiners included university lecturers Costanzo, Mantica, Pirandello, Navarro and De Gubernatis. All obtained their diplomas with full marks.
In 1905 Sr.Carlotta Luraschi (1878-1950) and Sr.Felicita Sirtori (1875-1961) obtained diplomas with full marks also.Their examiners included Dott.Nicolo D’Alfonso, as president; Dott.Maria Montessori; Dott. Evangelina Pagano; Comm.Giovanni Morris-Moore, On.Luigi Credono as external examiner.
Suor Genoveffa e Suor Maria Anna Sala
Suor Emilia Marcionni
However the Founders gave the greatest priority to the theological formation of the Sisters as their first task was the teaching of Religion in the Schools and Parishes.
In this connection it is worth noticing that during the Religion lessons given by the most learned theologians and priests the Marcelline teachers stayed in class as supervisors so that they could learn and repeat the lessons to the pupils.
The Courses set up in the Marcelline colleges were initially primary courses.
In the state archives of Milan and on a photocopy kept in the Mother House in Milan we can see the first plan of the studies of the College in Cernusco dated 1839, outlined by the headmistress Miss Videmari Marina. It also contained the daily time table of the boarders, the distribution of the different subjects in the classes and the general lines of the educational methodology they were going to use.
The Marcelline had to live by their own resources; the communities earned their own living with the fees of the boarders, all openly declared to the school authorities. In addition they availed of dowries of the Sisters.
On the explicit will of the Founder every college had to accept and organize classes, free of charge, for poor girls.
So it continues up to the present according to the social and charitable evolution of the times.
7. The Marcelline up to the Founder’s death
After the notable achievements of the colleges opened in Lombardy the Marcelline were called to operate in Milazzo (1861), in Canton Ticino (1865) and in Zara (1866).
However these proposals couldn’t be fulfilled due to the political circumstances of those years.
Finally in 1868 L.Biraghi opened a college at Genoa-Albaro and in 1876 a house was opened at Chambery in Savoy.
Following the Founder’s death in 1879 Mother Videmari in 1882 opened the College in Lecce which proved to be a great success.
In 1885, on the 50th anniversary of the first meeting between Marina Videmari and L.Biraghi in 1839 which determined her life and the birth of the Congregation, Mother Videmari wrote, without publishing them, the memoirs of the origins of the Institute, dedicating them to the Superiors of the six communities of the Marcelline operating in the promising field of education at the time.
Among the various historical circumstances that the newly founded Congregation met, Videmari remembers the law of the suppression of the religious Orders in July 1866.
On that occasion while Mother Videmari and the Sisters were facing the civic authorities’ financial inspection of the two colleges in Milan, the Founder, with the advice of Count Paolo Taverna, lay protector of the Marcelline since 1847, after Count Giacomo Mellerio’s death, assured the survival of his Institute giving it the legal position of “A Teaching Society”, run by lay teachers owners or usufructuaries of the building forming Biraghi’s property, in which they kept boarding-schools.
In reality, before the Church and the Society they had always been the Marcelline, the teaching religious who had established their reputation for about thirty years in their four colleges in Lombardy.
Other fights that Mother Videmari resisted successfully alone in the last period of her life were those that she undertook in defence of the house in Chambery, when the hard Ferret Laws were passed in France.
But also on that occasion the Congregation could keep open the Schools in Savoy thanks to the presence in the community of French Sisters.
On the other hand, no little was the satisfaction that gave much joy to the generous co-foundress !
First of all she was grateful to God for the good state of the Institute, which had earned the esteem of the people and the favour of the bishops and priests in the places where the Marcelline were working in the schools, in the parishes and with the charities.
Even if Mother Videmari had failed to get the Pope’s approval for the Institute in her various visits to Rome since 1866, her perseverance bore fruit in more favourable times as approval was granted a few years after her death in 1891.
8. The “good fruits” of the first fifty years
Beyond the evident success obtained by the Marcelline through their work, which was largely appreciated in Italy and abroad, the validity and the timeliness of Biraghi’s plan for the evangelisation of modern society are certified by the the spiritual fruits ripened not only by the faithful observance of the Rule by the Sisters who carried it out but also by the good success of wives and mothers who were former pupils educated by them.
It is enough to mention among the many Sr.Marianna Sala, whose life so perfectly portrayed the charism of the Institute that she was named “the living rule” and Mrs Alghisi Martini Giuditta, Pope Paul VI’s mother, who had been educated in the college of Quadronno in Milan since she was a child and had as a teacher the blessed Marianna Sala.
Pope Paul VI more than once declared his debt in the blossoming of his faith to the nurturing influence of his mother whose formative years were under the guidance of the Marcelline.
Giuditta Alghisi Montini, madre di Paolo VI
The Marcelline in XX Century
The XX Century is marked by the spreading of the Congregation beyond Italy: in Brazil (1912), in Canada (1959) and in Mexico (1980) and in Europe by the foundation of new educational works in England (1955), in Switzerland (1964) and in Albania (1996).
The Congregation was getting International.
Mission in Brazil
Initially the Marcelline, under the leadership of Mother Valentini, opened colleges in the major cities, similar in their educational methodology and discipline to the Italian models. But very soon because of the serious social and financial differences present in Brazil the sisters devoted themselves also to social and medical projects, potentially present in the inspired vision of the Founder.
Since 1905 Mother Acquistapace, who went to Rome and was received by Pope S.Pio X, had felt encouraged by Pius X to start a new scheme in Brazil.
In our Regional House in Sao Paulo we keep the Pope’s benediction, written by him, in which he encouraged the Sisters to leave Italy for this new foundation.
Papa San Pio X
Madre Virginia Acquistapace
In 1912 the Congregation decided to open a house in the small town of Botucatu (in the State of Sao Paulo), a diocese newly founded and guided by His Excellency Bishop Lucio Antones De Souza.
He asked the Sisters to devote themselves to education in the State of Sao Paulo where there were many Italian immigrants.
Sister Antonietta Valentini, then Deputy General, left Italy with two other Sisters, Sister Giuseppina Fantino and Sister Elisa Varenna, in order to evaluate the situation and the action to embark on.
After their return to Italy, in March 1912 the first ‘Marcelline’ departed from Genova for Brazil.
Il sogno della fondazione del Brasile
Sister Rita De Stefanis’diary reported all the emotions of these courageous pioneers who arrived in Santos on 19th March 1912. The following day, 20th March, after a nine hour journey by train they reached Botucatu.
Bishop Lucio De Souza suggested that they should buy a large plot of land to build a boarding school.
The building work started. On Christmas Eve of 1912 the school was inaugurated, adopting the name, College of Angels
In February 1913, the School-Year began
The following year the first World War broke out. The Sisters remained isolated from Europe but their work was rewarded. By 1917 the number of boarders had soared to150.
In the meantime Sr. Antonietta Valentini (1867-1932) was elected Mother General. A very interesting letter was written by Mother Valentini to the Sisters in Tommaseo (Milan) from Botucatu. ‘We could consider it “The Magnificat” for what God has done through the Sisters in seven years’.
Madre Antonietta Valentini
The foundation in Brazil developed materially and spiritually. In a few years the number of students reached 190 and the Marcellines were blessed with their first vocations.
(In Brazil people had no idea of what the consecrated life was.)
In 1921 the novitiate was opened in Botucatu.
Since the foundation started the Marcelline had also opened free schools for the less well off children.
Today the social activity “Madre Marina” is still operating in the outskirts of Botucatu where the children can have a meal and medical care and can play games and music completely free. This also provides jobs for unemployed people.
Collegio di Botucatu
In 1924 Mother Valentini encouraged by the Bishop of Sao Paulo bought another plot of land at Perdizes, a lovely quarter of Sao Paulo where today there are; a college, the Regional House, a University and a Residence for students. The brainchild of these works was Sr.Sofia Marchetti whose elder brother contributed invaluable architectural advice and support.
In 1927 five Sisters from Botucatu opened a boarding school in Muriae’ in the State of Minas Gerais for girls whose families lived in a rural area or in small villages.
In 1994 following the social, economic and political transformation the boarding school was turned into a mixed day school. The Sisters’aim was to cooperate in the education and formation of the young students on the principle of a warm and caring family environment, so dear to the Founder’s ideals
Let us listen to the testimony of two Sisters still living and ex-students, Sr Iolanda Scaviglioli and Sr. Olga Magdalena who knew the founders.
These pioneering Sisters with others to follow left a deep impression that is to say a simple, serious and solid spirituality founded on a great love for Jesus our Saviour.
Jesus kindled a burning desire in them and gave them the strength to overcome a lot of great and small difficulties. They were emotionally mature and courageous ladies who didn’t worry about appearances. They were women of prayer and action, strong, maternal, good and determined women of exceptional courage.
They knew when to praise and when to correct. They didn’t yield to tiredness and discouragement.
They could face the unknown: language, uses and customs and culture.
In the sober house you could breathe a fine style.
They studied and wanted the others to study in order to carry out their educational mission fruitfully. They were respected because of the seriousness of their consecrated life in the Church and in Society.”
In 1961still in Muriae’ in the mining area the first University was established by the Marcelline for the Humaniities disciplines. This could offer the girls a university education.
In 1967 it was moved to a modern building with more facilities.
Today together with Humanities this University offers courses in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.
Recently the School of Biological sciences, History and Geography have been added.
Muriaé, l'università Santa Marcellina
It is 50 years now since this University has been doing the work of education promoting humanistic and scientific culture with human and Christian formation in a world that is in constant evolution and rapid change
Nationally it is prestigious and it contributes to improve the professionalism of the teachers in addition to elevating the cultural level of the people living in the area.
Encouraged by their success the Brazilian Marcelline opened other schools.
1939 – Rio de Janeiro (RJ)- The school was established in a very beautiful Palace of XIX century English Style built by Mark Sutton and equipped with all the modern comforts.
Only ten years later, in 1949, did they start the building of the Primary and Secondary School.
The first building, named ‘ Il Castellino’ became the nursery school.
The Marcelline also opened a school and a social activity for children who live in the ‘favelas’.
1952 – Belo Horizonte (State of Minas Gerais) a boarding school for girls was opened. Since 1985 it has become mixed, accepting both girls and boys.
Il collegio di San Paolo
The Marcelline’s charism was afterwards extended to other social and pastoral activities.
In Itaquera, a small town near Sao Paulo, the Marcelline bought a plot of land to build a nursing home for the Sisters.
An Italian Sister, a doctor from Cremona, arrived in Brazil and started a small hospital that very soon developed into 4 hospitals all of them adjacent to each other. The State of Sao Paulo entrusted the management of these to the Marcelline, who as good teachers attended to the human and professional education of the nurses.
Ospedale di Itaquera - San Paolo
In addition to these there are four kindergardens and a centre with various courses for teenagers.
Through the students the Sisters reach to their families.
There is also a school for young people in difficulty (drug addicts etc.)
The Emmaus House receives the sick with accommodation for their families.
Another project in cooperation with the State is the education of students who show a talent for music.
In Amazzonia, in 1975, Sr.Maria Rosa Gambella, Sister Dolores Greco and Sister Libera Todesco committed themselves to continue in Porto Velho (State of Rondonia) the work of Father Jose’ devoting themselves to the lepers and their children.
Rondônia - Suor Claudia in visita alle famiglie della foresta amazzonica
Today there are a Hospital, a School and an Orthopaedic workshop.
The Marcelline mission expanded to Bahia, Terranova where the Sisters cooperate with an educational centre for minors.
In addition to giving out food and medicines this centre offers vocational courses, a kindergarten and a primary school.
In Bahia at San Sebastao do Passe’ the Sisters are present with social and pastoral activities and have set up a crèche.
At Cascavel in the south of Brazil – Parana the Marcelline work in a house for abandoned old people and carry out a pastoral and diocesan activities.
In Brasilia, the capital town of Brazil, the Sisters have a Residence for students and a handicraft school.
In 2012 there have recently been celebrations for their 100 year anniversary.
Foundation in London (England) (1955).
College di Londra
In 1955 Mother Maria Elisa Zanchi a wide broad minded and courageous woman, bought a splendid old building, the work of the architect Richard Norman Shaw in the heart of Hampstead, a beautiful area of London.
The Marcelline have been providing for more than fifty years, a welcoming residence in a friendly atmosphere to students and school groups coming to London to learn the language.
Foundation in Canada – Montreal (1959)
Madre Elisa Zanchi, fondatrice delle opere marcelline a Montréal
The increasing number of vocations and the interest in foreign languages encouraged the Marcelline to cross the Ocean again to Quebec – Montreal, in 1959.
The Sisters are now running three schools: La Villa, Le College and Le College International and a Nursing home, La Residence de l’Amitie’.
Montréal: collegio Santa Marcellina
Foundation in Switzerland 1963
Madre Elisa Zanchi
In 1963 Mother Maria Elisa Zanchi opened a new house in Lausanne. The new building, at 780m., in the quarter of Valmont was named “Pensionnat Valmont de l’Istitute International Saint-Marcelline”
The aim of the new foundation was, as with all the other buildings of the Institute, to help young girls coming from all over the world and from all religions to learn the language and to have a solid human, cultural and spiritual education.
The good results of exams achieved by the students and the opening to some high school students encouraged the Sisters to establish a school that followed the French curriculum.
In 1990 the Pensionnat Valmont became “ L’Ecole Francaise Valmont”.
Scuola francese di Losanna - Valmont
The Foundation of a Hospital in Tricase-Lecce (1967)
The Brazilian medical experience that offered the Marcelline a new method of evangelisation, teaching Jesus to the children, in evangelical terms, was brought to Italy in 1967 when the Congregation took over the large hospital in Tricase (Lecce) at the request of Cardinal Giovanni Panico.
The work of the Sisters of St.Marcellina had already been in operation in Tricase since 1961 when they opened the ‘Oasi”
Then they continued with the Hospital (1967), the Hospice ‘Casa Betania’ (2009), the University Medical Centre for the sanitary services and the Dialysis Centre ‘St.Marcellina at Santa Maria di Leuca (Lecce), all buildings for the service of the individual and his or her needs when suffering in sickness.
The Foundation of the Nursing Home ‘Soggiorno Biraghi’ in Cernusco sul Naviglio-Milan (1981)
The experience of the Nursing Home opened in Canada was closely followed in Italy by the opening of a Nursing Home for old people in Cernusco.
Foundation in Mexico (1984)
On 18th July 1984, Sister Antonia Contaldo arrived in Mexico with Sr.Anna-Rita Cordella, accompanied by Sister Orietta Roda, then Superior of the College St.Marcelline in Montreal.
The house was not ready yet so they were guests of the Eucharistic Sisters of the Soledad de Marie.
A week later they were joined by Sister Rosalba Proto and Sister Grazia Semeraro. They started their first community in Mexico.
The integration was easily done thanks to the good will of all the Siisters and their desire to always serve our Lord.
Beginning with one year of pastoral work in a Parish, they then opened a kindergarten for the children and carried on the catechesis in the neighbouring parishes. The Marcelline’s charism of educating and evangelising young people is the main objective also in Mexico.
They integrated easily in the area taking part not only in the joys but also in the sorrows of the Mexican people who felt the blessed presence of the Sisters always at hand..
Città del Messico - Collegio Santa Marcellina
The strong earthquake that hit Mexico City on 19th September 1985 saw them working generously among the victims. The Sisters brought help, prepared food, put their small van at the people’s disposal to distribute food, making themselves always available.
Today the Sisters of the Community in Mexico City, in addition to the primary school, take care of the Triquis, natives who live in a shanty in the greatest poverty.
In 1989 another Community was started in Queretaro where the school developed quickly.
Querétaro - Collegio Santa Marcellina
Querétaro - Collegio Santa Marcellina - Atrio
Today they welcome pupils from kindergarten through to the final year of high School.
As the Founder Monsignor Biraghi wished in addition to schools for well off children, schools for poorer and disadvantaged children were also opened.
After many families were forced to leave the ‘basurero’, the ‘rubbish dump’, the strong willed and great hearted Siste Assunta Fantastico managed to open ‘Girasol’ (October 2001)
The school was enlarged and enriched with the essential necessities and was blessed in 2009. Today it receives about a thousand children from nursery through to the end of primary school.
The mothers of the children offer their voluntary work, ‘paying’ in this way their contribution to the education of their children
Querétaro - Collegio Girasol
At Bolano, ‘Maria Anna Sala Centre’ offers lunch, play-time and after school study to a hundred children. Sister Maria-Carmen has an open heart and an attentive ear for all the mothers.
The smiling faces of so many children being prepared for a better future are the reward for all the Sisters involved in these projects.
In 2008 the novitiate was opened at Pueblito a twenty minute walk from the College of Queretaro.
Today it is also a place for spiritual retreats.
Sori – Genova (1994)
The Nursing Home in Sori is well known for the special attention given to old people and for its high level of medical success.
This residence for old people lies in a privileged place: the Gulf of Tigullio, also named the Paradise Gulf, half way between Genova and Portofino.
The professional expertise of the people working there with the cooperation of the Sisters, gives these frail old people a support and a valid acoompanying.
Foundation in Albania (1996)
Since 1995 the Marcelline have been giving their support to those in need in the heart of Saranda, in Southern Albania.
In 1996 the Sisters opened a kindergarten recognising the necessity and urgency of gathering 3-4 year old children in an environment where they could get an adequate education.
As the years went by the number of children increased.
Since the foundation the Sisters have also been running a surgery together with three doctors for the people of Saranda, Shendelli and other neighbouring villages.
They endeavour to make people understand the importance of good health.
Albania - Saranda
In 2002/2003 vocational courses of Computering Italian language and handcrafts were started..
In July a Summer camp is organised in order to keep children and teenagers off the street thanks to the help of many Italian volunteers.
All of them, children and families, like this project as they understand its educational and recreational values.
The Marcelline in XXI Century
The teaching passion, a characteristic of the Marcelline, is repeated in the dynamic opening of projects to keep up with the times fundamentally faithful to a serious and constant up-to- date pledge together with a serene, welcoming and family-like environment.
In 200 the Day Centre ‘Marina Videmari’ (Milan) was set up for independent old people.
On April 30th, 2006 the Beatification of our Founder, Luigi Biraghi, marked an important step in the history of the whole Congregation. The solemn celebration, the first one in Milan was presided by Cardinal Jose’ Saraiva Martin, representative of Pope Benedict XVI, and by the Archbishop of Milan Cardinal D.Tettamanzi.
The newspapers headlined this event as “The Gift of God to the Ambrosian Church that today honours two great priests”
An historic event that gives sense and new vigour to the day-to-day life in the local Church: so could be defined the beatification of Monsignor Luigi Biraghi and Don Luigi Monza occurred Sunday 30th April 2006 in Milan.
This was really the atmosphere that everybody breathed during that whole morning among more than twelve hundred people present in the Square of the Duomo, opposite the front still half covered by the scaffolding still under repair. The Cathedral, even if it is quite large, would have been too small for so many people. It was a historic event, in fact for the first time a beatification was held in Milan.
The representatives of Institutes and the needs of modern society were epitomised by these two simple faithful of the Communities of the Ambrosian Archdiocese were living example of people of God who understood that sanctity is a universal call, to which we have to respond personally every day.”
The educational call in Africa, in Brazil and in certain areas of the south of Italy was answered by the Marcelline.
In October 2007, following the decision taken during the XXIV General Chapter, the Mission in Benin was opened at Glo Yekon, a village about 20 Km from Cotonou at the beginning of the School Year.
On August 10th, 2009 at Palmas (Tocantins-Brazil) a teaching centre “Saint Marcellina” (CESAM) was opened.
On August 21st of the same year 2009 three Sisters opened the new project at Falerna (Calabria-Italy)
The General House is at Piazza Cardinal Andrea Ferrari, 5 - 20122, Milano (Italy)