Monasteries of Great Britain and Ireland – Servites

Article

Mixed. Under Solemn Vows. Founded 1240. Motto: Ave Mater Dolorosa.

The Order of the Friar Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commonly known as the Servites, was founded indirectly by seven Florentine merchants, or, as the Bull of their canonization permits us to say, by Our Blessed Lady herself, who appeared to them and revealed the rule, habit, mission, and name of the Order she desired them to found.

The names of the holy founders were Bonfilius Monaldi, Buonagiunta Manetti, Amideus, Hugh Uguccione, Sostene Sostegni, Manettus del’ Antella, and Alexius Falconieri, who was the uncle of Saint Juliana Falconieri, foundress of the Mantellate nuns, the Third Order of the Servites.

They were all canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1888. After Our Lady’s first appearance to them they retired first to Camarzia, and then to Monte Senario, nine miles from Florence, where, having sold their property and given the money to the poor, they built on the top of the mountain a convent, which remained the mother-house of the Order for centuries. Here they gave themselves up to a life of great austerity and prayer, devoting themselves especially to the devotion of the Seven Dolours of Our Blessed Lady, which is one of the chief devotions of the Order; they followed the rule of Saint Augustine, and wore a black habit and scapular, as directed by Our Blessed Lady, who once more appeared to them on Good Friday, 13 April 1240. Thus the foundation of the Servite Order was definitely accomplished, and they called themselves her Servants.

The Bishop of Florence was one of their earliest benefactors, and allowed them to make a foundation in the city, which afterwards, under Saint Alexius, developed into the celebrated convent of the Annunciation (S. Annunziata). In 1243 foundations were made in Siena and Pistoia, and in the following year at Arezzo. They were, however, threatened by the decree of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, which had forbidden the foundation of any new Orders, but by the exertions of the Great Inquisitor, Saint Peter Martyr, O.P., the confirmation of the Order was obtained from Pope Alexander IV in 1255, an d it was saved a second time from extinction by St Philip Benizi, the fifth General of the Order, under whom it spread considerably.

For three years Saint Philip lived a hermit’s life on Mount Senario, until he was made Novice-Master at Siena, when he laid before the General Chapter of Secular Tertiaries was drawn up by Saint Philip Benizi.

The Order has, exclusive of the nuns, one flourishing monastery in this country in the Fulham Road, where the Fathers are doing excellent work; one at Bognor, Sussex, one at Fordingbridge in Hampshire, and one at Begbroke, near Oxford, which is the novitiate and house of studies.

In America the Servite Fathers have two monasteries and churches in Chicago: one English, with six Fathers and three lay-Brothers; and one Italian, with four Fathers and three lay-Brothers, for the Italian population of the city of Chicago, and in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee at Granville; one which is file novitiate and house of studies; and one at Delta, Diocese of Denver.

The Servite Fathers came to England in 1864, first to London, and opened a little chapel in Park Walk, Fulham, whence they afterwards removed to their present monastery in Fulham Road, where they built their beautiful church.

The Servite Fathers went to America in 1870, and settled first at Chicago, whence they spread to the other monasteries above named.

MLA Citation

  • Francesca M Steele. “Servites”. Monasteries of Great Britain and Ireland, 1903. CatholicSaints.Info. 2 December 2018. Web. 12 December 2018. <>