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Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo

Founder known for his absolute trust in Divine Providence

Public Domain

Priest and Founder (1786-1842)

His life

+ Joseph Benedict was born in the Piedmont region of Italy. After his ordination in 1811, he was named parish priest of his home village and completed a doctorate in divinity. He was later named a canon of the Church of the Trinity in Turin.

+ For several years, he treated his service as a priest as more of an occupation than as a vocation. However, after an encounter with a poor, dying woman who was unable to provide medical care for herself and her child—and seeing the two die because it was too late for anything to be done—he experienced a profound conversion.

+ In 1827, he opened a home for the sick and the homeless. to help in this ministry he founded two religious communities: The Brothers of St. Vincent and the Sisters of St. Vincent.

+ Benedict Joseph eventually established a number of shelters, calling each a “Little House of Divine Providence.” This work eventually expanded to include orphanages, hospitals, schools, chapels, and homes for the elderly. Benedict Joseph supported the work only with the alms he collected.

+ During the course of his life, Benedict Joseph founded a total of fourteen religious communities in various parts of Italy, many of which now serve in nearly every continent.

+ Saint Benedict Joseph died of typhus on April 30, 1842, and was canonized in 1934.

For reflection

Come, you blessed of my Father, says the Lord: I was sick, and you visited me.”—Matthew 25:34


O God, who have taught your Church to keep all the heavenly commandments by love of you as God and love of neighbor; grant that, practicing the works of charity after the example of blessed Benedict Joseph, we may be worthy to be numbered among the blessed in your Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For Those Who Practiced Works of Mercy)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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