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The history of the Sisters of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer (O.Ss.R.) is intertwined closely with the birth, development and history of the Redemptorist Congregation (C.Ss.R.).
Both were born in Scala, Italy, The Nuns were founded on May 13, 1731 by Sr. Maria Celeste Crostarosa. The Redemptorists were founded on November 9, 1732 by St. Alphonsus. The two branches originally were called institutes of the "Most Holy Savior" – a name that was changed with pontifical approval to "Most Holy Redeemer" on February 25, 1749 for the male branch and on June 8, 1750 for the Nuns.
After the foundation of the monastery in Scala, Sr. Maria Celeste Crostarosa founded the monastery of the Most Holy Savior in Foggia, Italy, following the primitive rules. St. Alphonsus, on the high regard he held for the Nuns in Scala, called on them to found a monastery in St. Agatha of the Goths, Italy in 1766, while he was bishop there.
Father Joseph Passerat, Vicar General of the Transalpine Redemptorists, invited the Redemptoristines to found their first monastery outside of Italy in Vienna in 1831. From Austria the Order began to establish itself in Europe with monasteries in Belgium (1841), Holland (1848), Ireland (1859), France (1875) and England (1897).
In the twentieth century the Order spread throughout the world: Spain (1904), Canada (1905), Brazil (1921), Germany (1934), Argentina and Japan (1949), United States (1957), Burkina Faso (1963 ), Australia (1965), Venezuela and Peru (1976), Haiti (1976), Philippines (1980), Colombia (1988), Poland (1989), South Africa (1991) and Mexico (1993). In recent years there have been three new foundations: Kazakhstan (2001), Slovakia (2007) and Thailand (2011). And new foundations are being planned and prepared for in Vietnam and Ukraine.
A brief review of statistics shows that in 1931, two hundred years after its founding, the Order had 663 religious, 51 novices and 53 postulants in 26 monasteries, most with over 30 members. In 1947, after the Second World War, the number of nuns came to 690, while the novices and postulants were only 54. The number of monasteries continued to rise: in 1978 there were 39, but the number of nuns began to decrease, to 619. Today there are 422 nuns in 42 monasteries.
The current situation of the Order is a reflection of the general crisis of religious life throughout the world and particularly in Europe and North America. In the Order, as in our Congregation, communities are aging and there is a decline in vocations. Recently Redemptoristine monasteries have been closed in Fort Erie (Canada), Merrivale (South Africa) and Liverpool (England). In many monasteries, there are communities of only three or four sisters who are advanced in age. But there are a significant number (over 100) younger sisters who, although limited to a few monasteries, are a source of hope for the future of the Order.