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SISTERS OF THE INSTITUTE OF CHARITY

An offshoot from the Sisters of xxyyyk.htm">Providence, founded by Jean-Martin Moye in France in 1762 for teaching poor girls and tending the sick. Their present existence, constitution, and religious character are due to Antonio Rosmini, of whose institute they really form a part. In 1831, at the request of Abbé Löwenbruck, the French sisters received into their house at Portieux four pious but uneducated young women from the Val d'Ossola and neighbouring Swiss valleys. This priest, one of the moving spirits in the Institute of Charity then beginning at Domodossola, wished these young women to receive a religious training at Portieux and then to found a house in Italy. They returned in 1832 and joined a community already organized at Locarno in Ticino, and designed to be a novitiate as well as a school for the poor. He provided no funds, however, and though they opened a school, being but slenderly educated they could get no salaries as recognized teachers. This bad management induced Rosmini to intervene. He reformed their rule to suit it to its new conditions, and thenceforward had to assume entire responsibility for them. Thus they were from the first a distinct body, the "Rosminiane", as the Italians call them. A house for novices and school for the education of teaching sisters was formed at Domodossola in a former Ursuline convent. The Holy See in its solemn approval of the Institute of Charity in 1839 gave an indirect recognition of the sisters also, as adopted children of the institute, From that time they have steadily increased. The order is mainly contemplative ; but, when necessary, they undertake any charitable work suitable to women, especially the teaching of girls and young children, visiting the sick, and instructing in Christian doctrine. The central houses have smaller establishments emanating from and depending upon them. For each of these groups there is one superioress, elected by the professed sisters for three years, and eligible for three years more. Aided by assistants, she appoints a procuratrix over each lesser establishment and assigns the grades and most of the offices. All the sisters return to their central house every summer for a retreat and to hold a chapter for the election of officers. The novitiate lasts three years; the usual three vows are then taken, at first for three years, then either renewed or made perpetual. In each diocese the bishop is protector.

There are houses in Italy, England, and Wales. In Italy there were in 1908 about 600 sisters and 60 novices. They have 64 establishments, most of which are elementary schools for children and girls; there are also several boarding-schools for girls, a few orphanages, and a home for poor old men. They are scattered in nine dioceses, some in Piedmont, others in Lombardy. The principal houses are those of Borgomanero, the central house for Italy, Domodossola, Intra, and Biella. The English branch began in 1843 on the initiative of Lady Mary Arundel, who had taken a house at Loughborough in order to aid the Fathers of the Institute in that mission. Into this house, fitted as a convent, she received two Italian sisters, the first nuns to wear a religious habit in the English Midlands since the Reformation. A year later they opened a girls' and infants' school, which was the first day-school for the poor taught by nuns in England. The first English superioress was Mary Agnes Amherst, niece of the Earl of Shrewsbury. Under her rule the present central house was built at Loughborough. A boarding-school and middle and elementary schools are conducted by the nuns. There are six other establishments. At St. Etheldreda's in London and at Whitwick, Rugby, and Bexhill they have girls' and infants' schools, at Cardiff, two houses, one for visiting the sick and aiding the poor, and the other a secondary school and pupil-teachers' centre. Whitwick and St. David's, Cardiff, are the only places in which their work is not auxiliary to that of the Fathers of the Institute. (See ROSMINIANS.)


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