Cottolengo, Giuseppe Benedetto, St.

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Founder of the Piccola Casa and of several religious congregations; b. Bra, near Turin, Italy, May 3, 1786; d. Chieri, near Turin, April 30, 1842. Cottolengo, the eldest of 12 children, was ordained (1811), gained a doctorate in theology (1816), became a canon (1818), and devoted himself to pastoral work in Turin until 1827. Influenced by St. vincent de paul, he spent the remainder of his life caring for the sick and unfortunate. In 1828 he organized the Brothers of St. Vincent, a pious association of laymen, and opened a small hospital in Turin. In 1832 the Piccola Casa della Divina Providenza (Little House of Divine Providence) moved to nearby Valdocco. Eventually it developed into a huge complex of institutions that still flourishes and includes a general hospital; homes for the mentally ill, the blind and crippled, deaf-mutes and orphans; a refuge for penitent women; and a nursing school for religious. To assist him in these diverse works, Cottolengo founded a number of religious congregations, each of which was intended to perform a separate function in the Piccola Casa. Best known of these congregations is that of the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul, or Cottolenghine, founded in 1830 with the collaboration of Marianna Nasi. Cottolengo insisted on supporting his Piccola Casa by private donations and refused to permit it to be endowed. Cottolengo was beatified on April 29, 1917, and canonized on May 19, 1934.

Feast: April 29.

Bibliography: p. gastaldi, San Guiseppe Benedetto Cottolengo (new ed. Turin 1959), 1st pub. 1892, repr. in 3 v., 1910; The Life of the Ven. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, tr. and abr. by a Jesuit Father (San FranciscoNew York 18931897). b. lejonne, Miracle à Turin: Saint Joseph Benoit Cottolengo, currier de la Providence (Paris 1958). v. di meo, La spiritualità di S. Cottolengo (Pinerolo 1959). r. nash, God Is Our Banker (London 1960). e. pilla, Un gigante della carità (Siena 1964). g. bitelli, Il Santo degli infelici (1964). g. barra, Quando l'amore si fa pane (Turin 1974). l. piano, San Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo (Turin 1996). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 2:191192.

[f. g. sottocornola]