Institute
Brief History of Institute
     The Institute of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Garden was born of a spiritual urgency, of an intense act of redemptive love. It burst forth in the heart of St. Anthony Gianelli, from the passionate love he had for the children of his parish. It was Gianelliís charity wide-awake and open to all that moved him to start a new order.

     On the evening of January 12, 1829, thirteen young ladies whom Gianelli had come to know and to advice, gathered together in Chiavari, Italy. They were of various ages and social conditions, but all were animated with the same spirit and were ready to stay together united in perfect community life. Thinking about giving them a title, Anthony Gianelli called them "Daughters of Mary", and in reference to those who were to remain in Chiavari, he added the words "of the Garden" as an act of homage to the miraculous image venerated in this Shrine.

     As soon as they came into existence, the Sisters began to help their neighbors. They took care of a hospice for orphan girls. Under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, in a few years their service extended to the whole Liguria region, in Northern Italy, taking also other forms of charity such as the care of the sick and the poor. They opened a school and started visiting the hospitals around the area; this care for the sick resulted in the Sistersí call to direct the hospital and to administer the orphanage. Some years later, God called upon them to serve in La Speziaís hospital. Here they persuaded the hospital commission to open a school of Charity for abandoned girls. In addition, they founded a center of education for girls of distinguished families in the same city of La Spezia. In 1836 they voluntarily offered themselves to assist the victims of cholera.

     In 1836, the Founder, St. Anthony Gianelli, revised the General Rules, known as the Fifteen Articles, in which he defined the scope and the identity of the Congregation.

     In 1842 the Institute had its first Superior General, Mother Caterina Podesta. During this time the Congregation spread throughout Ventimiglia, Piacenza, and other cities of Northern Italy. By 1853 the Diocesan Church recognized and officially received the Institute by approving the Constitutions.

     General Superior, Mother Caterina Podesta moved to Rome in 1864 and established the Generalate House of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Garden. Having grown sufficiently and having proven its overall stability, the Institute obtained Pontifical approbation in 1868 from Pope Pius IX, who personally visited the Sistersí Mother House.

     As more people became acquainted with the charitable, social, and academic works of the Congregation, more young women were attracted to join them. The Gianellian spirit of going where the need is the greatest led the Sisters to open houses not only in Italy but also in other countries. By 1856 eight Sisters embarked at Genoa to go to Uruguay as missionaries and from this country to Argentina, in 1859. In both places the Sisters took care of the sick in hospitals, and assisted the poor, the elderly, the chronically ill, the mentally afflicted and the abandoned infants. At the same time they offered excellent education to the children and the youth by founding about 30 schools in few years.

     Times have changed, but apostolic needs, to date, have remained basically the same since 1829. The spirit of St. Anthony Gianelli, a man of vision, lives on in the apostolate and the ideals of his daughters who daily invoke his assistance. Gianelliís apostolic spirit helps them to work together for the greater glory of God and the salvation of people in a generous attitude of love and poverty. Since the foundation of their Institute, the Sisters have dedicated their efforts to serving in nursery schools, elementary and secondary schools, colleges, training schools, hospitals, social services, mission places, nursing homes, vocational centers, and parishes. Thus, in addition to the 38 communities in Italy, 10 in Uruguay and 39 in Argentina, the Sisters of Our Lady of the Gardenís mission has expanded throughout the world. At the present they serve in 2 communities in Palestine, 14 in Brazil, 4 in Spain, 2 in the U.S.A., 7 in Paraguay, 3 in Chile, 7 in India, 2 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 2 in Jordan, and 1 in Bolivia opened recently in 2001.