Francesca Butti and Maria Rossi, two friends and neighbours, hail from Como, Italy. Both of them were born in the same year 1812 with only months’ difference (May and July). They received baptism in St. Agata parish. Their families were rich in Catholic faith; hence these little girls grew up in the love of God. They shared their experiences, aspirations and hope each other. They were aware of the poor living condition of the villagers, especially the low moral and economic status of the people. Francesca Butti got trained as a silk thread weaver and Maria Rossi was specialized as an elementary teacher. Being true friends, the Spirit of God guided them and they were open to the Divine inspirations.
In 1827, when Butti and Rossi were 15 years old, they joined in the Pious Activity of Don. Luca Passi at St. Agata parish. Their active involvement in this activity helped them to grow deeper in their vocation. They became the leaders and animators of the Pious Activity in their parish. When they were 20 years old they strongly felt to consecrate themselves to God. They shared it to their Spiritual Director Fr. Giuseppe Cavadini that they wish to become religious by entering any of the monasteries existing at that time. But he advised them to dedicate their lives to the poor young girls in the village of Como who were very much in need of their help. He gave them two options: Either to take up a new activity by them or to join with an existing group with the scope of living together and receiving poor, orphans, abandoned and girls who lived in morally dangerous situation. So on 7th April Easter Sunday 1833, they started living together in a rented house of St. Orsula. Hence our Congregation was born. Their motto was to live in fraternal communion; prompted by charity, they received into their home orphan girls, abandoned and who were in dangerous situation. At the beginning there were 30 girls with them.
They underwent many crises: both financial as well as the struggles of the difference of opinion among the members regarding their choice of religious life or promoting the young girls without any vows. Divine providence led them throughout. Though some women left them as they were not interested in committing their lives as religious, our founders and other women lived in communion and promoting the young ones. They continued to work with full enthusiasm and trust in the Providence of God and they overcame all struggles and contradictions in life.
Observing the life of the first sisters, Fr. Antonnio Buzzetti, the parish priest commented that ‘there is nothing in abundance except, two precious things: Great harmony among the sisters and a good number of students to educate for the glory of God. It is Fr. Antonio who formulated the First Constitution for us. Just like Mosses who was unable to enter the Promised Land, our Founders were not fortunate enough to see the fruit of their labour – the First Constitution approved on 1st November 1874. After living 41 years together they left this world only in four days of difference. Maria Rossi died on 12th April 1874 and Francesca Butti died on 16th April 1874. They were born in the same year, led a Holy life together and died in the same year!
According to Sr. Robbiani who lived with them for so many years wrote, “even the memories about them brings blessings, to pronounce their name is holy, the heritage they left is very precious”