Born at Demonte, diocese of Cuneo, October 31, 1800
Taking of the habit at Saint-Just, June 24, 1829
Oblation at Marseilles, August 15, 1830. (no. 45)
Ordained to the priesthood at Nice, December 25, 1830
Expelled at the end of 1836.
Died …

Joseph Rossi was born at Demonte, diocese of Cuneo in Piedmont, October 31, 1800. He entered the novitiate at Saint-Just, June 24, 1829 and made his oblation at Marseilles August 15, 1830.On December 25 of the same year, he was ordained to the priesthood at Nice at the hands of Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod who had taken refuge there after the July Revolution of 1830.

The name of Father Rossi rarely appeared in the documents of the day and always in a bad light. June 18, 1832, Father de Mazenod wrote to Father Tempier in Rome. He discussed with him plans for an Oblate foundation in that city. He stated that it was Italians that would have to be sent there, but he added: “You know our limits here. There is only Albini, for Rossi will never be presentable especially as a witness to exterior regularity, as all his virtues are interior ones.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1831-1836, Oblate Writings I, vol. 8, no. 425, p. 148)

Father Rossi acted as professor of philosophy at the major seminary in Marseilles from 1830 to 1833. Subsequently, Father Tempier permitted him to go home for a short period of time to help out his mother and father, whom, it was claimed “had fallen into a state of dire necessity.” On February 12, 1835, Bishop de Mazenod wrote to reprimand him for living outside of an Oblate community without regularizing his situation. He urged him to do so and added: “I hope that you will recognize in everything I’ve said the solicitude of a father who loves you.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1831-1836, Oblate Writings I, vol. 8, no. 505, p. 148)

In the course of the summer, Father Rossi asked to be dispensed from his vows. In a December 30th letter, the Founder gave him his response. “My dear Father Rossi, it is really deplorable, to see the extent to which you nurse your dreadful self-deception. Do you think you can mock God as you mock men? Surely, you can see that in your heart you have apostatized and that the pitiful reasons you allege are but miserable pretexts quite powerless to mask the crime of your defection. […] In the last analysis, the reasons you allege cannot be admitted on account of their utter frivolity, and since the Congregation has too much respect for the sacred ties and awesome oath that binds its members to dispense then without grave and weighty reasons, you are and will remain a member of the Congregation, and as such are bound to the obedience you have vowed; in consequence I am ordering you to go as soon as possible to our house of Notre-Dame du Laus.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1831-1836, Oblate Writings I, vol. 8, no. 553, p. 203; 204-205)

Father Rossi obeyed. May 26, 1836, the Founder advised Father Mille, the superior never to be lenient with this individual and to “indignantly brand the very idea of apostasy,” while “showing some interest in the position of this person’s relatives” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1831-1836, Oblate Writings I, vol. 8, no. 575, p. 234 and 235)

Father Rossi was then sent to Corsica. He spent the summer at Vico. The following October 17, Father Albini wrote to the Founder: “Would that I had wings to fly to Marseilles to arrive before the scandalous hypocrite Father Rossi who will cloak with a fabrication of lies the anti-regular conduct he carried out since he is in Corsica. I would like to warn you to be on your guard. Father Guibert […] has given me the responsibility to tell you that the deed we attributed to this wretch during vacation time at Vico has been confirmed by the discovery we have just made of lay attire in terms of a cap and pants, etc., in his trunk which he had taken care to carefully conceal. It seems that, in his theology, lies are not sinful; he spewed out a good four or five of them in my presence. Father Guibert retained his cross for fear that it would not arrive at Marseilles. After that, I would not consider myself as failing in charity if I made the wish that these kinds of individuals should go shut themselves up in the Carthusian monastery far removed from our Congregation which should no longer be responsible for providing their sustenance. To count on his mending his ways would be in vain: insanabilis plaga tua (your wound is incurable), at this juncture. How fortunate you are, my beloved Father, since Divine Providence is so richly endowing with so many means to become a saint of the highest calibre. From the time that I have gotten to know you, not one single year has passed without some new trial for you. Chosen souls like you have to walk this road. Deo gratias!

Father Rossi was then expelled from the Congregation. Bishop de Mazenod makes one final mention of him in his Diary entry of May 15, 1837, when Bishop Casanelli d’Istria was passing through Marseilles: “At the same time, the Bishop of Ajaccio confided to me that Rossi had asked him for some letters of commendation to Rome. He admitted to me that, when this wretch visited him in Ajaccio, he had the effrontery to speak ill of the Congregation, a fact which greatly displeased the bishop. He tried to make the bishop believe that he would leave the Congregation voluntarily, whereas he very well knew that he was being threatened with expulsion and that he was, indeed, expelled from the Congregation upon his return to the continent. The reasons for his expulsion are recorded in the report and the act of his expulsion. They are so serious that this wretch would have done better not to have stirred up again the memory of such a profusion of baseness.”

Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.