Mother Seraphina (Our Foundress)
Mother Seraphina (Francesca Farolfi) was born on October 7, 1853 at Tossignano in
Italy. At the age of 20, with a Certificate in Teacher’s Training, she joined the
religious Congregation of the Franciscan Tertiaries of St. Elizabeth at Forli. On
November 4, 1873 the young Francesca was appointed Headmistress of St. Francis School,
Forli. Very soon she drafted the Rules and Regulations of St. Francis School and
a Handbook for the Teachers. In 1881, Seraphina was sent to Palagnano to open a
convent and school and 10 years later another at Bagno. Unforeseen events caused
the transfer of St. Francis School from Forli to Bertinoro and the subsequent birth
of a new religious congregation.
The Clarist Franciscan Missionaries of the Most Blessed Sacrament (CFMSS) - the
new Congregation founded by Mother Seraphina and officially approved by Rome, came
into being on May 1, 1898 opening branch houses in various parts of Italy and abroad.
On February 3, 1901 four young sisters set sail for India in order to serve the
women and children especially destitute in the Gangetic plain.
They initiated their
mission at Sardhana, taking care of Welfare Home for Girls. Three years later a
school was opened at Meerut and another orphanage at Agra in 1912.
On May 30, 1907 four zealous missionaries sailed for Brazil with the specific aim
of educating the tribal people in the backward areas of Minas Gerais. Itambacury
(1907), Diamantina (1909) and Concecao (1910) - all home to the Xavatos, Pugixao,
Bugre and hero woodsman, became the scene of the educative/medical activities of
When the earthquake of 1908 rendered many a child homeless, Seraphina opened Welfare
Centres to shelter the orphaned girls. Medical Care became a regular feature of
the mission of the CFMSS, ever since Italy entered the First World War.
However, Seraphina’s avowed aim was the education of the girl child. Her education
policy was geared to the integral formation of the pupils with stress on character
training and practical skill in fine arts and household works. She always urged
the teachers to be role models to the pupils through their comprehensive knowledge
of the subject matter, effective teaching methods and above all, by the example
of their own upright character. She insisted, too, on the teacher "keeping themselves
abreast of scientific progress, new findings and whatever can contribute to sharpen
Mother Seraphina - a person of frail constitution since her entry into religion,
passed away after a prolonged illness on June 18, 1917.