DSPT Events

Don Bosco: Photographs of the Life of a Saint

Dates of Exhibit: September - December 2010

Photographs of a Saint

Saint John Bosco (popularly known today by the way that the young people of Torino called him in life: Don Bosco) was one of the first saints to be photographed and extensively. In addition to the formal portraits done in studios in Torino, Marseilles, Paris and Rome, Don Bosco was photographed at his youth center in the poor district of Valdocco with his young people: standing in the playground, hearing confessions, posing with the Marching Band. He also posed for photographs with his first Salesians on the occasion of pasteral visits, general chapters, directors' meetings, and the sending of missionaries to Latin America. At the time of his death, his successor, don Michele Rua (now Blessed Michael Rua, feast day 29 October), did not want a death mask made, as was the custom, but asked that Don Bosco's body be composed and photographed. These photos also were shown in this exhibit.

Biographical data: Who is Don Bosco?

John Bosco was born in Cascina Biglione by the Becchi, a hamlet of Castelnuovo d'Asti (now Castelnuovo Don Bosco), about 40 km from Torino on 16 August 1815. His father died when John was 18 months old, and was raised by his mother together with his two older brothers. They were sharecroppers. Against all odds, John followed a calling to the priesthood, and was ordained in Torino on 5 June 1841. He worked for poor and abandoned young people in the pastoral style of St. Francis de Sales. On 18 December 1859, Don Bosco founded the Pious Society of St Francis de Sales (the Salesian Society), followed by the founding of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (1872) and secured Vatican recognition of the Association of Cooperator Salesians soon afterwards (1876). He extensively published Christian formative texts for youth and the common people, and founded a system of educational works that targeted those on the margins. Today the Salesian Movement is active in 134 nations. On 31 January 1888, Don Bosco died at the Salesian motherhouse in Valdocco (Torino). He was canonized by Pius XI on 1 April 1934 at the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Redemption. On 31 January 1988, John Paul II gave the saint a new official title: Father and Teacher of Youth.

Saint John Bosco a Pilgrim Visit

The relics of Saint John Bosco arrived at DSPT on Tuesday, 14 September 2010. The arrival of the relics coincides with the 25th Anniversary of the affiliation of the Institute of Salesian Studies with the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology. Significance of the veneration of relics in connection with Don Bosco: As Christianity is born in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, so from the earliest times the Christian community has honored the mortal remains of the martyrs and saints, recalling how their lives mirrored the Gospel, and how their passage to Glory is an encouragement to the living to persevere in faith and witness. The pilgrimage of the relics of Don Bosco recalls the ancient devotion of the faithful to the cult of the martyrs and saints as ultimately a devotion to Christ Resurrected. This event introduces the Salesian Family to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Don Bosco in 2015 (as the pilgrimage is ongoing from 2009 through 2014). The pilgrimage is an occasion to study Don Bosco's life and mission, so that testimony of his life will help us to imitate his faith, his love of the Lord and his zeal for all people, but above all for the young and the poor. The pilgrimage is a worldwide event. The nine days that the relics will be in California is part of a larger journey. In a real sense, then, Don Bosco's "visit" to California is a visit to the churches and societies today that would become an invitation to a renewed sense of faith among youth and young adults, and the wider Catholic population in solidarity with the rising generations.

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