The 'Opere Pie di San Paolo' (1853-1932)

History of the Compagnia di San Paolo

The ‘Opere Pie di San Paolo’ (1853-1932) 2018-06-13T17:45:09+00:00

With the establishment of the liberal State in Piedmont and in particular with the decree issued in 1853, king Vittorio Emanuele II restricted the activities of the Compagnia di San Paolo to purely religious ones while transferring its patrimony, together with the management of charitable and banking activities, to a publically appointed body called the ‘Opere Pie di San Paolo’, which later became the ‘Istituto di San Paolo’. The new organisation developed its banking activities with the ‘Monte di Pietà’. As early as 1879, Giovanni Giolitti (the Royal Commissioner at the time for the ‘Opere Pie’) described it as a bank in all but name. Just over forty years later, in 1923, the ‘Monte di Pietà’’ was officially recognised as an institution which now specialised more in financial services than in social credit.

In 1867 the Institute took on the responsibility of the ‘Credito fondiario’, a land bank dealing in property securities, thus opening an important new chapter of its activities. During the decades of Turin’s industrial development, the San Paolo started to finance the various local administrations with public loans and to participate in new financial bodies such as the ‘Consorzio sovvenzioni su valori industriali’ (funding industrial development), the ‘Consorzio nazionale per il credito agrario in Piemonte’ (funding agriculture) and the ‘Consorzio nazionale per il credito agrario di miglioramento’ (funding agricultural improvement). The bank emerged unscathed from the Great Depression; in 1931 it took over the deposits of the ‘Banca Agricola Italiana’ in Piedmont and in Liguria, extending its activities beyond Turin and in 1932 becoming an officially recognised credit institution regulated by public law.

In parallel with its banking activities, the Institute also continued the work of the ‘Ufficio Pio’ and the Duchessa Isabella College for Girls (the name of the Institute formed in 1883 from the merging of the ‘Casa del Soccorso’ and the ‘Casa del Deposito’), responsible for the education of young girls. In 1899 it also started teacher training courses for women.

Inaugurazione del palazzo dell’Istituto delle Opere pie di San Paolo alla presenza del re Vittorio Emanuele III, della principessa Lætitia e del principe Emanuele Filiberto, duca d’Aosta, 6 ottobre 1902.
Interni della sede di via Monte di pietà: il salone per i servizi di credito e tesoreria.
Interno della sala incanti del Monte di pietà a fine Ottocento, prima della ristrutturazione.
Paolo Gaidano, «Aprirai la mano al povero e gli darai a mutuo ciò di cui ha bisogno», affresco, 1909.
Palazzine operaie costruite su progetto di Andrea Torasso nel borgo San Paolo a Torino, 1904.
Gruppo di alunne del corso complementare dell’Educatorio duchessa Isabella che prese parte al concorso internazionale ginnastico tenutosi in Torino nel maggio 1911 durante l’Esposizione internazionale.