Magdalene Gabriella of Canossa was born at Verona on 1st March 1774. At the age of five she lost her father. At seven her mother remarried leaving all her five children in the Canossa palace.
She was then entrusted to a governess who did not understand her and caused her to suffer much. Her long suffering brought her closer to God and Magdalene decided to consecrate herself wholly to him. She dedicated herself to the care of His dear ones with great love, giving help, comfort and serenity to all those whom she encountered.
In 1797 when Napoleon’s troop occupied Verona, Magdalene sought refuge at Venice, where she experienced the difficulties and sadness of being in exile. After returning to her native city, she was moved by the site of the many miseries which were the lot of the poor. What impressed her most was the frightening state of so many children and ignorant young girls, left to themselves and exposed to numerous dangers. Urged by ardent charity she began to look out for them assist and educate them and act as a mother to them. She was helped in this work by generous collaborators.
In 1808, free at last from all obligations to her family, she finally left her rich palace to live a poor life and serve the poor. In the parish of St. Zeno the most destitute in the whole of Verona.
The sources of her inspiration were Jesus Crucified who showed the most perfect love to His Father and to all people by dying for us, and His mother who stood by her son as he hung on the cross, sharing in his mission.
Magdalene died on 10th April 1835 and on October 2nd Pope John Paul II declared her SAINT.