Sisters of Charity of Saints Bartolomea Capitanio and Vincenza Gerosa (SCCG)
The Institute of the Sisters of Charity of Saints Bartolomea Capitanio and Vincenza Gerosa (SCCG) also known as the Sisters of Maria Bambina (Sisters of Holy Child Mary) had its origins in a house which the people called “Conventino” (small convent) in Lovere, Italy. It was founded by a young girl of 26 named Bartolomea Capitanio in 1832. Bartolomea was helped in her project by Catherine Gerosa, a simple and rich lady of Lovere who later took the name of Sister Vincenza, in honor of St. Vincent de Paul when she became a nun. Together they consecrated themselves to God in a simple ceremony on 21 November 1832 in the presence of Fr. Rusticiano and Fr. Angelo at the altar of the parish church of St. George in Casa Gaia. Thus began the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Lovere. Bartolomea died on 26 July 1833 just eight months after founding the Congregation. It was left to Catherine Gerosa, under the able guidance of Father Angelo Bosio to carry on the work begun. A few years later Catherine was elected superior and went on to serve as Sister Vincenza. She along with Fr. Angelo Bosio introduced their charitable service in prisons and went on to build hospitals for the needy. She died on 29 June 1847 after a long illness and was succeeded by Sister Crocifissa Rivellini. Bartolomea and Vincenza were both canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in the year 1950 by Pope Pius XII. Vincenza's feast day is celebrated on 28 June every year. Today the institute has a worldwide presence with provinces in Europe, South-East Asia, Asia, Middle East, Africa, North America, South America.
Bartolomea was born in Lovere into a family of modest means. She had two brothers and four sisters, who apart from one named Camilla all died in infancy causing deep sorrow, above all, to their mother. Her father ran a business dealing in grain and also a small greengrocer’s. It was enough to support the family and also to finance some charitable donations. Her mother educated her daughters with care and also a deep Christian faith. As she grew up her father became an alcoholic and became aggressive at home. This affected the young Bartolomea and her mother decided to send her to the boarding school of Poor Clares at the age of 11 where she acquired a deep piety under the ever vigilant Mother Francesca Parpani. Bartolomea was only 12 when, during a game suggested by Sister Francesca Parpani, she drew the longest straw. It was then that she told them she would be the first of her friends to become a saint. She revealed the ambition that she retained all her life.
"I want to be a saint. I want to be a saint soon. I want to be a great saint" she said.
It was a sincere wish, but one marked by youthful enthusiasm. She finished her education with the Poor Clares when she was 18. Soon she was empowered by the call to serve her neighbor and began to recognize the importance of charitable work. She realized she needed a companion, a house and also recognition from the church. She then approached Fr. Angelo Bosio, her spiritual teacher for help. Fr. Angelo recognised from what Bartolomea told him, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and joined her along the path of discernment and ecclesiastical approval involving also the parish priest of Lovere, Fr. Rusticiano Barboglio and the Bishop of Brescia, Gabrio Nava. The Bishop's authorization allowed Fr. Angelo Bosio and the parish priest to buy a house. This came to be known as the “Conventino” (small convent) from where the congregation's work began.
About the same time Catherine Gerosa who had lost her family in rapid succession was left alone to manage the family business. She prayed constantly to accept the will of the Lord in her life, and used her family’s money to provide charitable works in the community. Catherine became involved in her Church parish, organizing a women’s oratory with meetings and retreats. She founded a practical school to teach the poor girls of the community domestic work so as to improve their station in life. In one of these meetings, Catherine encountered Bartolomea Capitanio, and together they embarked on a new mission that is to start a hospital to care for those who could not afford medical care. After having accomplished this they decided to extend their mission to establish a special religious institute with the objectives of providing assistance to the sick, free education for girls, Christian orphanages, and programs designed to promote youth welfare. To accomplish this mission, together they founded the Sisters of Charity in 1824.
General Delegations: Japan
Communities dependent on Superior General: Wiang Papao, Sri Vicien
- Official website of Sisters of Maria Bambina (Holy Child Mary)
- Official website of Sisters of Charity of Saints Bartolomea Capitanio and Vincenza Gerosa (SCCG) Indian Provinces