The Opere Pie di San Paolo (1853-1932)


With the liberal State and particularly with a decree of 1853, Victor Emanuel II restricted the Compagnia’s activities to religious practices and entrusted its assets and the management of charity and credit work to a publicly appointed council: the Opere Pie di San Paolo (later, the Istituto di San Paolo). The new institution developed its banking activity through the Monte di pietà: already in 1879, Giovanni Giolitti (at the time royal commissioner of the Opere Pie di San Paolo) described it as a bank for all practical purposes. A little over forty years later, in 1923, the Monte di pietà was recognized as having a prevalent credit activity compared to the pawning activity.
In 1867 the institute took on the exercise of land credit, an event that launched an important activity sector. During the years of Torino’s industrial development, the San Paolo started supporting towns through public loans and participating in the new financial institutions like the Consorzio sovvenzioni su valori industriali, the Istituto federale per il credito agrario in Piemonte, and the Consorzio nazionale per il credito agrario di miglioramento. In 1931, unharmed from the great crisis of the twenties, the Istituto was able to take over the deposits from the Banca Agricola Italiana in Piedmont and in Liguria, extending its activity beyond the city limits and obtaining, in 1932, the status of Credit Institution of Public Law.
Parallel to the credit sector the activity of the Ufficio Pio and of the Educatorio Duchessa Isabella continued (the name of the institute that, from 1883 on, united the Case del soccorso e del deposito) that gave young girls a complete education and that in 1899 started the first training courses for teachers.