Venerable Father Gregorio Fioravanti, Co-Founder of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, was born on April 24, 1822, in Grotte di Castro (Viterbo), a small village near the lake of Bolsena. He was the last of nine children, and belonged to a simple and modest family. As an adolescent, he was inclined to be reserved and determined.
In 1838, at the age of 16, he entered the Order of Friars Minor in Orvieto, where he took the habit of Francis and received the name of Fray Gregorio; a year later he made his solemn profession. In 1845 he was ordained a priest. He was a professor of philosophy in Rome, then was sent to Venice as professor in the Theological Study Center of St. Francis della Vigna. He distinguished himself by his humility and serenity, and was the wise and respected professor for many young people. In 1856 he was called to govern the Venetian Province of St. Anthony of the Regular Friars Minor.
After his three years as Provincial Minister, a young French lady,
Mrs. Laura Leroux, wife of the Duke of Bauffremont, eager to found a religious community for women, came to him asking help to begin a new institute of Franciscan religious devoted to the apostolic missions.
Fully obedient to God's will, with great sacrifice and humility, he accepted the task of guiding the new foundation of the Franciscan Tertiaries for the missions, which, according to the wish of the Duchess, was canonically erected, in Gemona del Friuli, on April 21st, 1861. Though the beginning of the Institute was very promising and hopeful, Fr. Gregory found himself to be the only one responsible for it, with difficulties and unspeakable sufferings, because of the departure of the Duchess in 1863. The painful and heroic story of the beginnings of the Institute, marked deeply by the cross, reflect the fortitude, patience, and wisdom of this humble Franciscan who assumed the many difficult tasks, only for the glory of God.
Fr. Gregory wrote the Rule for the new Institute, which began to row and flourish. The Sisters established their Motherhouse in Gemona, Italy, where, to this day, many Sisters reside as they continue to witness to their call as Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart.
At the request of the Franciscan Fathers, three Sisters came to America to St. Francis of Assisi Parish, New York City in 1865, to serve the migrants, the orphans, the poor. The community continues its service today in the United States. In 1872 he began a new Mission in the Middle East, where the sisters dedicated themselves to the education of the poor and abandoned youth. For this the Servant of God, though he never traveled outside of Italy, has been recognized as an Apostolic Missionary.
Today, the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart carry out their apostolic service in 20 'mission' countries of Europe, America, Asia and Africa. The Sisters' missionary work takes them to Italy, France, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, Bulgaria, Albania, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Cameroon, Republic of Central Africa, Congo, India, and the Philippines.
Founded mainly for evangelization through caring for the poor in the United States, the Sisters minister in elementary school, nursing, adult care, and other programs within the Church in New York and New Jersey.
As vowed women, the Sisters live the Gospel in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi,
drawing inspiration from the compassionate, redemptive love of Jesus for all people.
The Sisters share in a community life of prayer, penance and apostolic activity.