The Misericordie: a history of service and solidarity
From Medieval Origins to Contemporary Social Impact
The Misericordie, with over eight hundred years of history, represent an emblematic example of service to others and community solidarity. These confraternities, originating in Italy, have deep roots dating back to the Middle Ages, with the earliest historical documentation attesting to the foundation of the Misericordia of Florence in 1244. Their history is intertwined with significant social and religious events, reflecting the spirit of dedication and assistance that animated medieval society.
A Tradition of Service
From the beginning, the Misericordie had a strong impact on the social and religious life of communities. In the religious context, the fraternities provided a space for devout laypeople, while on the civil front, they represented a desire for active participation in community life. These associations, characterized by their spontaneous and voluntary nature, became widespread throughout Europe, offering accommodation to pilgrims and aid to the needy.
Evolution and Modernization
Over the centuries, the Misericordie evolved, adapting to the changing times. Today, in addition to continuing their traditional work of assistance and relief, they provide a wide range of socio-health services. These include medical transportation, 24/7 emergency services, civil protection, management of specialized clinics, home and hospital care, and much more.
The Misericordie Today
Currently, the Misericordie are led by the National Confederation of the Misericordie of Italy, headquartered in Florence. This federative entity brings together over 700 confraternities with approximately 670,000 members, of which over one hundred thousand are actively engaged in charitable works. Their mission is to provide assistance to those in need and suffering, with every form of possible help.
With their steadfast commitment and widespread presence, the Misericordie represent a fundamental pillar in the social and healthcare fabric of Italy, offering an indispensable service in multiple areas of volunteerism and assistance.