Servites, Or Servants Of The Virgin Mary, an order of monks in the Roman Catholic church, founded in Florence in 1233 by seven patrician Florentines. Their main object was to propagate devotion to the Virgin Mary. They lived at first as hermits, but soon became a monastic community under the Augustinian rule. They were approved in 1255 by Pope Alexander IV., founded establishments in every state of western Europe, and were ranked as a mendicant order by Pope Martin V. In 1593 a branch of the order, under Bernardino di Ricciolini, adopted the original eremetical mode of life. The Servites have produced a large number of distinguished men, among whom may be mentioned St. Philip Benizi (died 1285), one of the apostles of western Europe in the 13th century, and Fra Paolo Sarpi. There were also female Servites, who were never very numerous, and a large body of Tertiarians. (See Tertiarians.) The order in 1870 was divided into 27 provinces, the central house being the monastery of the An-nunziazione in Florence. They were subsequently involved in the decrees suppressing religious orders in Italy and Germany. They were introduced into the United States in 1870 by Bishop Melcher of Green Bay.