Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco

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Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco
Maria Dominika Mazzarello jpg..jpg
Maria Mazzarello, the founder
Abbreviation F.M.A.
Type Roman Catholic religious order
  • Rome, Italy
Superior general of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Salesian Sisters of St John Bosco
Yvonne Reungoat[1]
Key people
Maria Mazzarello

The Salesian Sisters of St John Bosco or Daughters of Mary Help of Christians are the sister order of the Salesians of Don Bosco. They were founded by Saint Maria Mazzarello in 1872 to work alongside Saint John Bosco in his teaching projects in Turin and continue to be a teaching order worldwide.

On August 5, 1872 in Mornese, Alessandria, Italy, the first Daughters of Mary Help of Christians gathered with Don Bosco and Msgr. Joseph Sciandra, the Bishop of Acqui, to celebrate their admission to the novitiate and the first professions. On that day St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello was also elected the first superior and given the title of “vicar”.

Through a gift of the Holy Spirit and the direct intervention of Mary, St John Bosco founded our Institute as a response of salvation to the profound hopes of young girls. He endowed it with a spiritual heritage that had its inspiration in the charity of Christ the Good Shepherd, and imparted to it a strong missionary impulse.(Constitutions of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, 1)

A year later their first boarding school and primary school was recognized by the educational authorities of Castelletto d’Orba. On October 8, 1874, the Salesian Sisters were able to open their first house in Borgo San Martino. They carried on the tradition of the Salesian Oratory (a place where young people could gather to enjoy themselves, learn, and grow in their faith, safe from harm), ran workshops to educated young women to help them to be self-sufficient, and taught.

The work of the Salesians Sisters was not limited to a schoolroom as they participated in social justice works and teaching trades to young women and girls.

St. Mary Mazzarello and her first companions were able to profess their perpetual vows, after studying with the Sisters of St Anne for their religious formation, on August 28, 1875 in the presence of Don Bosco.

Their first house outside of Italy was opened in 1877 in Nice, France. November 9 of the same year Mother Mazzarello and the first missionaries were received in an audience by Pope Pius IX, a great friend and supporter of Don Bosco. Five days later the first missionary sisters departed for Uruguay.

After many years of revision, discussion and consultation, Don Bosco was able to give to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians the first printed version of their Constitutions on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1878.

The year 1880 saw the second missionary expedition of the Salesian Sisters to Patagonia (Argentina), as they followed their Salesian brothers who had prepared the way for their arrival.

In 1881, Mother Mazzarello took ill and died on May 14, at age 44. In her stead were left 26 houses and 166 Sisters.

Mary Help of Christians saw to it that her Institute grew, and today we numbers over 15,000 members in 89 different countries, and on five continents.


  1. ^ "Vatican Information Service", Vatican City, 25 September 2012. Retrieved on 24 September 2012.

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