Sisterhood of St. John the Baptist

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The Sisterhood of St. John the Baptist or Baptistines was a Roman Catholic religious institute dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.[1]

The Baptistines, or Hermit Sisters of St. John the Baptist, had as their founder Giovanna Maria Baptista Solimani. In 1730, when she was 42 years old, she gathered her first companions together at Moneglia, not far from Genoa.[2] The congregation intended to lead a life of penitence. All the choir sisters added to their names in religion that of Baptista in honour of their model, John the Baptist. A Capuchin by the name of Athanasius aided them by his advice during the drawing up of their constitutions. Soon after they came under the direction of a priest named Olivieri. Shortly after taking Olivieri as their director, the foundress went to Rome and with the aid of the Barnabite Mario Maccabei obtained the approbation of Pope Benedict XIV in 1744. Two years later, on 20 April 1746, the Archbishop of Genoa received the religious profession of Giovanna Solimani and her twelve companions. Soon after, Solimani was elected abbess and governed the house until her death on 8 April 1758.

In 1755 the congregation sent a group to Rome which founded a convent near the church of San Nicola da Tolentino. Houses were also founded in other cities of Italy. The congregation drew its members from among the young girls and widows who were admitted into their houses as lay-sisters. Tertiaries took care of their churches and gathered the alms they needed. A rigorous cloister was observed. The sisters rose at midnight for Matins, slept in their clothes, went bare-footed, and observed continual abstinence from meat. Their whole life was one of extreme austerity. Several convents of the congregation still existed in Italy in 1914.


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Baptistines". Encyclopedia Americana. 
  2. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainJean M. Besse (1913). "Baptistines". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.