Maria Domenica Mazzarello was born to an Italian farming family in 1837. When she was fifteen she began volunteer work with the Association of Daughters of Mary. She nursed some of her relatives during a typhoid epidemic and contracted the disease herself, which left her unable to help at her family's farm. Mary tried dressmaking and established a training program for other girls that gave them job skills and encouraged their spiritual lives.
John Bosco, who had already established similar programs for boys, encouraged Mary in her work. Together they founded the Daughters of Our Lady Help of Christians, later known as the Salesian Sisters (after St. Francis de Sales). Bosco named Maria Domenica Mazzarello Superior of the Sisters' Convent. Within a few years, the Salesian Sisters founded thirteen more convents in France and Italy and reached out to educate and inspire countless young women.
Mary Mazzarello died in her forty-fourth year on May 14, 1881, and is buried next to another saint, John Bosco.