Society of Priests of St Joseph Benedict Cottolengo (SSC)

St Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, Canon at the Church of Corpus Domini in Turin, on September 2, 1827 lived a particular spiritual experience. He had long been in inner search of his full vocation and was much edified by a biography of St Vincent De Paul. He was deeply troubled by the death of a young mother of a family passing through Turin, who although seriously ill, had been rejected for reasons of regulation, by the two city hospitals. Few faithful were gathered and with them the litany was sung before the image of Our Lady of Grace; Cottolengo felt inspired by God, for a grace of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to create a work of charity that would avoid the recurrence of similar episodes. This work began on January 17, 1828, when, in some rented rooms near the Church of Corpus Domini, under the name “Storage of the sick poor of Corpus Christi”, with the patronage of St Vincent de Paul, he received the first two patients who could not get admission in city hospitals. The work had a modest growth within the same building until in 1831. It was closed by order of the health authorities. After the discharge of patients, he placed some in private homes and paid for their maintenance. Seeing the Storage empty, he used it as a school for abandoned little girls, to which he gave the name of the Ursulines, entrusting them to the care of young nuns led by Marianna Nasi, with an operation which is recalled as “transplants of cabbage.” The work was transferred to Valdocco, where he restarted the activity on April 27, 1832, taking the name of “Little House of Divine Providence under the auspice of St Vincent De Paul”. In the new place the work took ample development opening itself to all kinds of needy people, who could not find other possibility of decent care and human promotion. He received legal recognition by decree of King Charles Albert on August 27, 1833. Cottolengo began his work with lay people, of whom majority worked free of charge and some on payment, but soon he became convinced that to serve the sick well, he would require the work of people devoted full-time and by way of consecration. The Society of Cottolengo priests was founded in 1839, after founding the congregation for sisters and brothers since the fonder felt the pastoral need in the Little House.

The Society of Cottolengo priests is a clerical Society of Apostolic life with Pontifical Right approved by the Church in 1969. The main activities are pastoral and charitable works.