The origin of our Congregation can be traced back to 19th century in the State of Tamil Nadu,India.
It was founded by a lay woman namely Thatipathri Gnanamma. She was a courageous and committed woman who hailed from Phirangipuram, a simple yet significant village in Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh, South India. She was given in marriage to Innaiah, the catechist of Phirangipuram. This pious couple was blessed with five sons. Unfortunately she became widow at the early age of 37 years.
Left all alone with five boys to bring up, she put her entire trust in Divine Providence and raised her children strong in Christian faith. All her five sons joined training for priesthood and after the death of Mother Gnanamma one of them settled in family life and other four became priests. Freed from all family commitments, Gnanamma moved to a village called Kilacheri, 40 km from Chennai and settled down there, although she had no acquaintances there. Thus the infinite wisdom of God led her step to the cradle, the Bethlehem of the new Congregation.
During her time, education of young girls was an unimaginable dream. Gnanamma was constantly in touch with the illiterate girls in the locality and identified education as a principal means of empowering them. Fr.Arokianadar, Parish Priest of Kilacheri, helped her to reflect effectively and to go ahead with her mission. She went to her native place, sold off all her properties and invested the money in starting a primary school exclusively for girls in Kilacheri on 3rd May 1863. Thus she became the pioneer in the field of education of women in 18th century.
Inspired by the committed service to the cause of women, two young girls requested Mother Gnanamma to let them help her in her great work and expressed their desire to do so as nuns. Mother Gnanamma, who was anxious to ensure that her work should continue, accepted their request and sent them to be formed at St.Anne’s Novitiate of the Good Shepherd Congregation in Bellary. After their initial formation, on 04.10.1874, these two became sisters and thus a religious Congregation for women known as “Sisters of St.Anne - Madras” was born. Our Congregation was founded out of the need for empowering the women through education.
The life of Mother Gnanamma was other-oriented and dedicated to the welfare of others. The noble qualities of our Foundress exhort us to commit ourselves for the cause of uplifting the life of the less privileged in the society. She has been given the title ‘Servant of God’ by the Catholic Church and the same was declared by Most Rev George Antonysamy, Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore at Kilacheri on 21st March 2014.