The Servite Order was founded in 1233 AD, when a group of cloth merchants of Florence, Italy, left their city, families and professions to retire outside the city on a mountain known as Monte Senario. There they pursued a life of poverty and penance. In 1888 they were canonized by Pope Leo XIII.
The seven were members of the patrician class in Florence: Buonfiglio dei Monaldi (Bonfilius), Giovanni di Buonagiunta (Bonajuncta), Amadeus of the Amidei (Bartolomeus), Ricovero dei Lippi-Ugguccioni (Hugh), Benedetto dell’ Antella (Manettus), Gherardino di Sostegno (Sostene), and Alessio de’ Falconieri (Alexius), the last to pass on to the next world. The seven had been meeting regularly as members of a lay group formed to honor Mary, the Mother of God.
Alexis Falconieri (d. 1310), one of the seven founders of the Servite Order.
Sometime between the years 1240 and 1247, under the name, Friar Servants of Mary, they were approved as a religious Order by the bishop of Florence. From the beginning, the members of the Order dedicated themselves to Mary under her title of Mother of Sorrows. Dedicating their devotion to the mother of Jesus, they adopted Mary’s virtues of hospitality and compassion as the order’s hallmarks. The distinctive spirit of the order is the sanctification of its members by meditation on the Passion of Jesus and the Sorrows of Mary, and spreading abroad this devotion.
The first General of the order (elected 1265), and its great propagator, was St. Philip Benizi.