ASP Golgi-Redaelli boasts an extremely long history, being heir to 40 Luoghi Pii Elemosinieri (almoners’ charity houses) that originated in Milan from the fourteenth century onwards. These charity houses were set up by individuals from all walks of life but predominantly by laymen belonging to the string of local merchants. The oldest is the Scuola delle Quattro Marie (brotherhood of the Four Marys), which dates back at least to 1305, while the most recent is the Luogo Pio della Carità verso i Carcerati (charity house for prisoners), founded in 1750. Although each charity house had its own point of focus, they all shared the goal of giving charity by providing help in the form of money or in kind and distributing dowries to poor girls. Monetary help was given using so-called ‘segni’ (signs of charity): paper vouchers or metal tokens carrying the emblem or name of the charity house that issued them and which granted the right to collect rations of rice, wheat, bread, wine and various other edibles, as well as articles of clothing and bundles of wood. Activities carried out by Luoghi Pii did not end here though, as they sought to attend to a wide range of needs: the Loreto charity house, for instance, helped the so-called ‘poveri vergognosi’, or shamefaced poor, that is, fallen noblemen who were helped to maintain their standard of living without the news of their decline being made known.
Each charity house had its own wealth, which varied from one Luogo Pio to the next, and thanks to which it could carry out its charity giving. Such wealth came mainly from donations and bequests from generous benefactors, whose personal and family papers can often be found in the Organisation’s archive, and in memory of whom oil on canvas portraits were often painted as a sign of gratitude. Donations from charity house members contributed to this wealth, too, as did proceeds from the collection of alms on certain occasions, such as Christmas and Easter.
Between 1784 and 1788 Joseph II condensed 40 charity houses into 5 larger entities: Quattro Marie, Misericordia, Divinità, Carità and Loreto. In 1801 these were brought under one body, which, during the European Restoration, was then called the Amministrazione dei Luoghi Pii Elemosinieri (administration of almoners’ charity houses). This unification saw an increase in the number of care providers, with institutes and almshouses run by the Luoghi Pii Elemosinieri being created in response to changing needs and social policies. Founded by Joseph II, the earliest of these were the Pia Casa degli Incurabili (charity home for the chronically sick) in Abbiategrasso and the Pie Case di Lavoro (charity homes for the workless) in Milan.
With the extension of Savoy legislation on welfare, after Italian unification the Amministrazione dei Luoghi Pii Elemosinieri was replaced by the Congregazione di Carità. This found itself having to run a complex network that included numerous healthcare structures and Opere Pie (charity organisations), which, on the basis of Crispi law, in 1890 became public bodies in their own right under the name Istituzioni pubbliche di assistenza e beneficenza or Ipab (public institutions of charity and care). In 1937 the fascist regime ordered that the Congregazione di Carità be closed down and the running of the charity organisations that it managed was entrusted to the Ente Comunale di Assistenza or Eca (city council welfare board), thereby giving a new form of centralization to welfare services.
Tasks facing Eca were broad-ranging, going from providing allowances, night-time shelter for the homeless and assistance in winter-time for the needy, to organizing summer camps on the coast or in the mountains for poor children.
From the 1950s onwards, the Organisation progressively began to direct its services towards assisting the elderly with what came to be known in 1966 as its Geriatric Institutes. These were in Milan, named Piero Redaelli, in Abbiategrasso, dedicated to Camillo Golgi and subsequently in Vimodrone, where a purpose-built Institute was also named after Piero Redaelli. Care for the poor, which the Italian constitution assigned to local authorites, was completely transferred to the city council in 1978 following the introduction of a regional law. Eca was dissolved and geriatric institutes along with other Istituzioni pubbliche di assistenza e beneficenza or Ipab (public institutions of charity and care) had functions that fell outside Eca care and so were run separately under the name Amministrazione delle Ipab, ex Eca di Milano (administration of Ipabs, former Eca of Milan).
Since October 2003, the Organisation has been assigned new legal status as Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redaelli (Golgi-Redaelli services for people trust), a public body with social and socio-medical objectives.