Servite religious life has always been a community of brothers, many of whom are priests , united in the Lord to live fraternally according to the Gospel. The Servites understand fraternity as an invitation to see the values of community living.
Each Servite community is called to offer to the world a witness of compassionate love which consists in the fullest service of the Lord and of the people of God in imitation of Jesus and Mary.
The person of Mary has the special place in the lives of every Servites. Challenging us to develop attitudes of welcoming the Lord, who calls us to respond to his invitation to holiness as Mary did when she said, “ I am the servant of the Lord.”
The Order of Servants of Mary was founded in Florence (Firenze), Italy in the 13th century. It ranks as one of the Mendicant Orders, alongside with the Franciscan, Dominicans, Carmelites, and Augustinians. The Order began with a group of rich merchants in the city of Florence, during the time when that flourishing city was disturbed by political factions and religious relaxation. These holy men are Bonfilius Monaldi, Bonajuncta Manetti, Manettus dell’Antella, Amideus Amidei, Sosthenes Sostegni, Hugo Uguccioni, and Alexis Falconieri. Some records show that two of them were widows, two were married, and the rest were celibate.
It was in the year 1233 when these Florentine friends decided to reform their lives through prayer and acts of charity. Finding the “pearl of great price” and inspired by the Blessed Virgin Mary, they left their families and their business for the sake of the Kingdom of God. They went outside the city walls and lived a life of prayer, simplicity and closeness to the poor. Later on, they were called by the people as the “Servants of Mary.”
Some years later, they went further from the city, to Monte Senario, where they lived in great austerity and contemplation. Here, others came to join them. In 1249, they were recognized as a religious Order, living by the ‘Rule of St. Augustine’. Being ministers of peace and apostles of charity, they recalled men of hatred and pride to brotherly love and humility. These Seven Holy Fathers of the Order of Servants of Mary were canonized together by Pope Leo XIII in 1888, emphasizing their fraternal charism.
The seed of the Servite Order was sown in the Philippines on August 23, 1984 (feastday of St. Philip Benizi,OSM: illustrious promoter of the Order). Fr. Gerardo Maestrami, Fr. Ettore Turrini, Fr. Tarcisio Roffi, Fr. Luigi Ilari, Fr. Giuseppe Benassi, and Fr. Gino Leonardi were the Italian friars who nourished the Philippine Servite foundation. When the friars decided to take a parish, the late Jaime Cardinal Sin entrusted the Tunasan, Muntinlupa City, which was dedicated under the protection of St. Peregrine Laziosi,OSM (patron of cancer patients).
The ‘Foundation’ was raised as ‘Delegation’ in 1998. Years later, on December 4, 2004, the Delegation was canonically erected as the St. Peregrine Philippine Vicariate.
To date, the Philippine Vicariate has 34 Solemn Professed, 15 Temporary Professed, 2 deacons and 7 communities: St Peregrine, Seven Holy Founders, St. Mary of the Servants, St Philip Benizi Community, Surigao (parish), St. John the Evangelist, Infanta, Pangasinan (parish) and the St. Peregrine Parish (Sanctuary) in Muntinlupa. There are also five Congregations of Servite Sisters, the Regnum Mariae, the OSSM, a youth group, St.Peregrine group and an association of Benefactors.