Antonio Rosmini-Serbati, founder of the Institute of Charity, was born on 24 March 1797 at Rovereto in the Italian Tyrol. His parents were rich and of noble descent. Antonio was one of three children. Antonio was brought up in a
religious atmosphere and was by nature a serious and bookish child. He was a voracious reader and by the age of 11 he made two resolutions: to finish every book he started and always to take notes. He graduated from school in 1814 at the age of 17.

He decided to study at the university of Padua where he impressed all around him by his goodness and learning and attracted a wide circle of friends. He started a learned society at Rovereto where for the first time since the 16th century the philosophy of St Thomas Aquinas was studied.

Rosmini was ordained priest in 1821. Meanwhile his sister Margarita had opened an orphanage at Rovereto. She learned of the work of St Maddalena di Canossa, founder of the Canossan Sisters, and sought her advice. Antonio took his sister to see her. The meeting was providential: Margarita herself joined the Canossan Sisters, and St Maddalena pressed Antonio to start an Institute which would do for boys what she was doing for girls

Rosmini's ideas were more general, but under her influence he agreed, if the time was ripe, to found an Institute not adapted for any particular work but for all works of charity. The opportunity arose during 1827. At the house of a mutual friend, Count Mellerio who had property in Domodossola, he met a French missionary priest, Abbe Jean Loewenbruck, a zealous man who expressed ideas similar to his own. They decided to meditate together and pray for God's guidance. They chose the sanctuary of Monte Calvario, on the spur of the Alps at Domodossola, now the mother house of the Rosminians.

During this time of retreat Rosmini wrote the Constitutions of the Institute of Charity, and also his most fundamental work of spirituality, the Maxims of Christian Perfection. Over the next ten years he was to spend most of his time at Monte Calvario, and there wrote several of his many philosophical works for which he has become well known, especially in Italy

In November Rosmini left Loewenbruck in charge of the little community and went to Rome to consult his friend Cardinal Cappellari about the embryo Institute While Rosmini was there he met the brilliant lawyer, Luigi Gentili, who would later join him and lead the Rosminian mission to England.
The Sisters of Providence : Loewenbruck had gathered together some peasant girls in the region near Calvario and began to undertake foundations without training them for the Religious life or for teaching. The task was beyond him, and his zealous plans eventually had to be placed in the hands of Rosmini. So the latter found himself guiding another Congregation that was to spread quickly through northern Italy and to do great work especially in elementary education. Antonio transformed this infant struggling Institute in the spirit of his own. In fact it grew during his lifetime more quickly than his own Institute of Charity.