What Do Passionist Sisters Do?

First of all The Passionist Sisters are called to holiness and to live and promote the Passion of Jesus, to make reparation for our sin, and the sins of the whole world according to the charism of Maria Maddelena Frescobaldi.

They are women of prayer and meditation. Theirs is a contemplative, meditative and apostolic life whilst caring and sharing within the community of sisters and with all they are in contact in daily life. In their ministry, they respond to the needs of the times.

Passionist Sisters in Australia

Here in Australia the Passionist Sisters are engaged in many elements of ministry, some of which include pastoral care in a parish environment, working with youth, children’s liturgy, domestic assistance and Retreat Centre hospitality. At the same time some of the sisters are increasing their knowledge by undertaking tertiary education in theological and ministry disciplines. A number of the sisters are multi-lingual.

In Sydney, the sisters in concert with the Scallibrinian Fathers engage in geriatric care and pastoral and work in ethnic cultures. Following the Passionist charism, the Passionist Sisters share in good times and bad in their contact with people.

The History and Growth of the Passionist Sisters of St. Paul of the Cross in the world

1771 Nov 11

The Foundress, Maria Maddalena was born

1771 Nov 12

Was baptized at Sta. Maria del Fiore Church in Florence

1778 – 1782

Received the sacrament of Confirmation at the same church where she was baptised. She was sent to a convent school for non- formal education, at the practice of the noble family


She was 18, she was reunited to her family again

1790 Nov 13

She was married to a rich man named Pier Roberto Capponi who was working with the Duke of Florence.


Napolean Bonaparte invaded Italy. Duke Fernando and Pier Roberto Capponi were forced to leave Florence and they lived in Austria. The soldiers of Napolean made the Capponi’s house as their head- quarters. This was added to the sadness and sorrows of Maria Maddalena.

As from a small seed we have grown


Pier Roberto was back in Italy, yet he was exiled again because of the French invasion. In this second exile he brought with him his wife and his only son. They stayed in Austria for three years. While they were in exile Maria Maddalena joined a movement called Christian Friendship. This movement was so devoted to the Lord Jesus.


After the death of the wife of Duke Fernando, the Capponi family was back to their home at Florence. There they lived in peace again. Maria Maddalena was attached to the Spirit of the movement. Eventually, she was so enthusiastic to continue her social commitment. One of her apostolates was to work in the hospital. While working in the hospital she realized the great need of the girls or young ladies who were victims of prostitution and other vices. Because of this, she started to help the young girls and ladies who needed most help especially those girls who wanted to renew their life. In 1806 She has begun to go to assist the sick at the Hospital of St. Boniface. A hospital for the incurable and it was then that she began to see the young poor girls who became prostitutes. By the year 1811, she opened a house for them. It was called the Retreat of St. Mary Magdalene, Repentant… to teach them what they would need to know to lead honourable lives and be able to obtain honest work. On her walks to hospital, she would talk to the girls along the way and little by little befriend them and offered them the possibility of changing their lives. If they wanted to do so of their own free will or they didn’t show themselves capable of conversion. She didn’t want them to have an adverse effect on those who really did want to repent.


Maria Maddalena met Pope Pius VII at Imola, Florence, Italy and she presented to him her plans of helping those young ladies. The Pope saw the nobleness, the goodness of her plans and work. So he blessed her.

1815 Mar 17

Good Friday the first four of the young girls pronounced their vows. This marked the start of the Congregation called “THE HANDMAID OF THE PASSION”.

Because Maria Maddalena saw in the Passion of Jesus the most effective and only way in helping to the fullest the young ladies who were victims of vices. To liberate sinners from the slavery of sin Maria Maddalena centred all her works and apostolate in the PASSION OF JESUS.


Maria Maddalena visited the Passionist General Fr. Thomas. 1822 the Girls made their vows.


She went to the first monastery of the Passionist Nuns in Tarquinia to study more about the spirituality of St. Paul of the Cross.

1825 – 1829

She wrote the rules of her institute.


The rules were promulgated.

1839 Apr 8

She went back to the Giver of Life. She entrusted her institute to her son Gino. But Gino was not interested in the institute so he entrusted it also to the people particularly to Mr. Carli Michalgnoli. Both of them were not interested with the institute.


The institute was closed. The sisters were given a pension and all of them were scattered. Sr. Crucifissa Tognioni, the first superior after the death of Maria Maddalena and Sr. Pia Frosali were still hopeful that the institute would rise again through the help of God and the spirit of the Foundress.


After the separation of Sr. Crucifissa and Sr. Pia for one year they met again and lived together in Signa. They worked and helped the parish of Signa particularly in the Castel de Signa. Mgn. Giuseppe Fiametti, the parish priest of the Castle the Signa had helped much in the reactivation of the Passionist Sisters’ spirituality.

1872 Sep 14

Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Sr. Crucifissa and Sr. Pia received again their habit with a new sister Giovanna Bailon. This period the Spirituality of the Congregation was alive again.


Sr. Crucifissa died and then Sr. Pia became the next superior.


Sr. Pia died then Sr. Angelica Michalagnoli who joined the congregation in the year 1881 became the third superior. She governed the Congregation for Fifty years since 1896 – 1946.

1919 Nov 7

The first Passionist Sisters had their first foundation abroad in Brazil. The Congregation spread all over the world.

Italy, Brazil, Spain, Belgium, France, Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Columbia, Canada, Portugal, Philippines, Ivory Coast, Panama, Poland, Cuba, Paraguay, Peru, Angola India, Bolivia, Tanzania, Djibouti, Korea, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Nigeria, Australia.

Contact us