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Servites

The Order of the Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary was founded in 1240 by seven influential Florentines, who had already withdrawn from the world in order to enter the service of Mary. The Servites adopted a black habit and the Rule of St. Augustine, modified to some extent by provisions taken from the constitutions of the Dominicans. Servite piety centers on the Sorrowful Virgin. While the Second Order of Servite nuns is principally a contemplative religious community, Servites also engaged in activity in the world. Servite missionaries had reached India by the second half of the thirteenth century, and Servite nuns of the Third Order (founded in 1306) devoted themselves to the relief of the sick and the poor and to the training of the young. The order received official sanction for its work from Pope Benedict XI in 1304.