The Institute of the Comboni Missionary Sisters, “Pie Madri della Nigrizia”, takes its origin in the charism of Mgr. Daniel Comboni who with profound intuition, recognized that a consecrated woman has a special role to perform in the missionary action of the Church.
Daniel Comboni, took part to the missionary expedition of the Institute of Don Mazza. After long navigation on the Nile, reached the missionary station of the Holy Cross in the heart of Africa on February 14th 1858.
After the first African encounter, Comboni returned home exhauste. He had lived through a deep human and apostolic experience. He had watched his companions die one by one creating a deep void around him. His passion for Africa however emerged invigorated. His thoughts, love and energy were evermore turned towards the cause of the regeneration of Africa.
On 15th september 1864, while Comboni was praying at the Tomb of St. Peter, he conceived his Plan for regeneration of Africa with a view to involve the entire Church in his missionary activity and to promote the conversion of Africa by means of Africa, trusting that the Africans themselves would be the agents of their own salvation.
In order to put into effect its Plan, Comboni founded in Verona his own missionary Institutes : the Institute of Missionaries for Africa – MCCJ (1st. June the 1867) and the Institute of Pie Madri della Nigrizia – SMC (January 1st. 1872).
The beginnings of the Institute of the Comboni Missionary Sisters were uncertain and difficult especially through the lack of a suitable person as a Superior. On September 6th 1974 Maria Bollezzoli entered the Congregation and this was a decesive date for the Institute. She became the first Superior General. After the death of the Founder, she embraced the “newly born” Congregation encouraging the members to follow in the path of the Founder; she was the support of the Institute in the difficult period of the Mahdia revolution, she guided it with a faith that recognized this foundation as the will of God.
The Institute developed progressively in different stages marked by events, Chapters and the governing of successive General Superiors.
After the death of Mother Bollezzoli (1901) the Comboni Sisters from Egypt and from the Sudan, the first and then only mission fields, took on activities in Ethiopia and reached out as far as the great lakes of Central Africa in Uganda, thus realizing the dream of Daniel Comboni.
In the years ’30-’60 the Congregation had its widest expansion and the number of Sisters and activities increased. The Congregation extended its work into other countries of Africa; extended to U.S.A. and Latin America; took on work in the Middle East; in Europe centres were opened mostly for formation purposes.
From the beginning of 1970 till today the Congregation has expanded with new openings enlightened by the re-discovery of its original charism and re-affirmed by the special Chapters, is committed, above all, to give priority to activities of evangelization and to Mission Education. In these years there began the process of the reduction of the number of houses and activities which were not in keeping with our charism and the needs of the times; concern with the spiritual, professional and missionary formation of the members.
The history of the Congregation with its light and darkness, heroism and daily tasks, faithfulness and short-comings has been written by the lives of the Sisters who have preceded us in the same vocation: it continues to be written day by day by each one of us, who following the original inspiration of our Founder, dedicates her existence so that the light of the Gospel is not denied to anyone.