Don Bosco

The presence of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in 1925, 1940 and 1955

Works, personnel and activities
of the Society of Saint Francis of Sales.

Quantitative descriptive data in the years 1888, 1895, 1910, 1925, 1940 and 1955

Marco Bay, sdb

Francesco Motto, sdb

 

1. Introduction

The Society of Saint Francis of Sales has had a continuous development since its foundation in 1859 to 1967, the year of the maximum presence of members (21,614 professed and 1,196 novices), but not of houses, provinces and countries of presence that instead continued to grow in the following years. In the context of this conference we refer to the time span 1888-1955. Only quantitative information and data relating to six specific years 1888, 1895, 1910, 1925, 1940, 1955 are taken into consideration, viewed under the triple profile of the evolution of personnel, works and activities. The tables offered here are a very small part of the entire work, which includes many other summarized and disjoint graphs and tables.

The reliability of the data is based above all on the counts carried out starting from the General Lists of the Society of Saint Francis of Sales (EG) and from the other published sources consulted [1] or unpublished archive [2] which have mostly confirmed with small error tolerances the data of the EG itself. When there was some suspicion of unreliability, analytical details were neglected to communicate adequate information to a more comprehensive, but still plausible and objective level.

Alongside the overall data of the Salesian society, data on Italy alone have sometimes been added in a column of their own, as they allow a useful comparison between the two different realities and the "weight" of the founder's country of origin with respect to expansion international [3] .

It should immediately be pointed out that the mosaic of data that follows should be interpreted analytically, which however cannot be done here, in which we will instead confine ourselves to underlining some of the most significant statistics.

The strong increases or decreases of members and works, the development or decline of some traditional Salesian activities are due to factors both external and internal to the Salesian society. We remember some of the major ones; others will be recalled by subsequent interventions.

  1. On a civilian level we recall the two world wars and the local wars , imperialism , nationalisms and totalitarianisms , the emigration phenomenon , improvements in communication routes (Suez, Panama), the growing literacy of the masses, urbanization and the industrialization of many countries at different times with the growth of the proletariat, the religious persecutions of some countries (Ecuador, France, Portugal, Spain, Eastern Europe, China ...).
  2. At the ecclesial level the Church-State concordat in Italy, the evolution of catechesis and pastoral care, the growth of Catholic Action, the Church's missionary impetus, the liturgical reform, the positive image of society have affected the entire Salesian society Salesian, the favorable climate for consecrated life ...
  3. Endogenous factors in Salesian society for faster growth or innovative choices can be considered the founder's drive in the early years of his death, the declaration of venerability (1907, beatification (1929), canonization (1934); moreover, 50 ° of the first missionary expedition (1925), the centenary of the Oratory (1941). The governing action of the Major Rectors of the period was remarkable, although very different: M. Rua (1888-1910), P. Albera (1910-1921 ), F. Rinaldi (1922-1931), P. Ricaldone (1931-1951), R. Ziggiotti (1951-1965).

 

2. Members and works

From 1888 to 1955 the increase in members and attendance in the world is an easy-to-read statement (tab. N. 1). The increase in members has more than doubled in the initial 22 years of peace and in the 15 years between the two world wars; it has increased by about one and a half times in the two periods of war. In turn the pace of growth of the works generates an abundant doubling in the two initial periods of peace, with a regularity just below double in the intermediate fifteen years between the two wars, and in the two periods of world conflicts continues but with an expansion which is around half a time.

Table n. 1 - Prospectus of shareholders and works (1888-1955)

Year

Eternal

TEMPOR.

deacon

CHIERICI

COADJUTORS

PRIESTS

ASKED

TOTAL
(without registration)

WORKS

     

MN

IT

MN

IT

MN

IT

MN

IT

MN

IT

MN

IT

MN

IT

1888

678

95

24

19

245

170

182

117

306

184

276

228

773

490

60

24

1895

1.462

273

36

22

672

362

416

211

587

290

702

530

1,735

885

148

54

1910

2,872

1.129

104

51

1118

544

970

413

1,684

689

476

213

4.001

1,697

320

101

1925

3,968

1,643

63

48

1659

565

1456

489

2.571

902

643

194

5,611

2.004

492

137

1940

8.116

3.939

247

97

4122

1.312

2744

923

4,661

1,359

877

328

12,055

3,691

846

184

1955

12,262

4.899

291

94

5241

1.086

3550

1.230

8.149

2.506

1.079

299

17,161

4,916

1,278

219

(abbreviations: tempor .: temporary; MN: in the world; IT: in Italy)

The ratio between the total number of members present in Italy and the total of all the members (tab. 2) develops a progressive and constant decrease from 63% in 1888 to 29% in 1955. The same is true for the works: it passes from 40% of houses concentrated in Italy in 1888 to a total of 17% in 1955. They are both positive indicators of expansion and change of distribution and presence of members from Italy to the rest of the world with a certain progressiveness.

Table n. 2 - Members and works (1888-1955)% of works in Italy compared to the rest of the world

Year

SDB *

% SDB* IT su MN

WORKS

% OPERATION IT su MN

 

MN

IT

 

MN

IT

 

1888

773

490

63

60

24

40

1895

1,735

885

51

148

54

36

1910

4.001

1,697

42

320

101

32

1925

5,611

2.004

36

492

137

28

1940

12,055

3,691

31

846

184

22

1955

17,161

4,916

29

1,278

219

17

* (without registration)

The relationship between temporary professed and total-professed (Table 3) is an indicator of relative growth. Until 1940 there was a constant increase in the number of members, perpetuals and temporary and the ratio between temporary and total, and then decreased in 1955. In 1910 the number of members was lower than in 1895, but then continued to grow until to 1955. The overall trend is growth.

Table n. 3 - Prospectus of shareholders (1888-1955)

Year

Eternal

TEMPORARY

PRIESTS

ASKED

TOTAL

RELATIONSHIP

R. IN %

1888

678

95

306

276

773

95/773 = 0.12

12

1895

1.462

273

587

702

1,735

273 / 1.735 = 0.16

16

1910

2,872

1.129

1,684

476

4.001

1.129 / 4.001 = 0.28

28

1925

3,968

1,643

2.571

643

5,611

1,643 / 5,611 = 0.29

29

1940

8.116

3.939

4,661

877

12,055

3,939 / 12,055 = 0.33

33

1955

12,262

4.899

8.149

1.079

17,161

4.899 / 17.161 = 0.29

29

 

3. Two simple comparisons
    1. G. Rocca ( Don Michele Rua in history. Rome, Las 2011, pp. 84-85) offers a useful reference for ten clerical congregations born in the years 1849-1875. The total number of SDBs in 1900 (3,526) and in 1930 (8,493) is slightly lower than all the institutions combined (3771, 9951); but as a development index the primacy is due, for particular local conditions, to the German Verbites.
    2. According to the Pontifical Yearbook (tab. No. 4) in 1955 there are 184 male religious institutes with a total of about 250,000 members: 68 orders, 92 clerical congregations, 20 lay congregations, 4 secular institutes. The SDB occupy the first place for the percentage of increase, the second for the annual progress, the third for number of members.

Table n. 4 - Society of St. Franc. di Sales compared with the main male religious institutes (1955)

N

Name

Initials

Number of Professed

Annual Increase 1946-56

Expressed in%

Foundation year

one

Jesuits

SJ

31,356

435

1,3

1540

two

adheres Minori

OFM

26,061

3. 4

0.1

1209

3

Salesians

SDB

18,728

424

2.8

1859

4

Brothers of Christian schools

FSC

15,254

86

0.5

1680

5

Cappuccini

OFMC

14,225

130

0.9

1525

6

Benedictine

OSB

11,500

30

0.2

529

7

Dominicans

ON

9,000

100

1.1

1200

8

Little Brothers of Mary

PFM

8.646

110

1,3

1817

9

Redentoristi

CSSR

8.038

130

1.6

1749

(Source: Pontifical Yearbook 1956)

 

4. Case per continent

In 1895 the American houses compared to 1888 (tab. No. 5) tripled (3.1 times) while the European ones more than doubled (2.4 times); in 1910 the American houses compared to 1895 increased more than double (by 2.3 times) while the increase for the Europeans was less than double (1.8); instead, homes in Asia are tripling. In 1925 while the works in Asia have multiplied considerably (from 9 to 31), for American houses and for Europeans, growth has been around one and a half times. In 1940 there was a triplication of Asian houses (from 31 to 90), a continuity in the growth of European houses, rather similar to those in America (about 1.5 times). In 1955the increase of one and a half times is for American works, for European houses, as well as for Asian ones (which go from 90 to 145).

Table n. 5 - Houses for continents over time

 

1888

 

1895

 

1910

 

1925

 

1940

 

1955

 

AFRICA

0

 

3

 

3

 

10

 

3. 4

 

39

 

AMERICA

19

 

59

 

137

 

209

 

274

 

420

 

ASIA

0

 

3

 

9

 

31

 

90

 

145

 

EUROPE

37

 

91

 

169

 

256

 

405

 

657

 

(Italy)*

(24)

65%

(54)

59%

(101)

60%

(137)

54%

(184)

Four. Five%

(219)

33%

OCEANIA

0

 

0

 

0

 

two

 

one

 

6

 

Total

56

 

156

 

318

 

508

 

804

 

1267

 

(Italy) *: in brackets the n. of houses over European ones; number of houses in Italy in% compared to the total in Europe

In the overall period of 67 years considered, the progress of the company was twenty times as much with a decline in Europe, compensated however by the spread in Asia, Africa and Australia (non-existent in 1878 and notably significant in 1955).

 

5. Composition of the provinces, visitatoria, prefectures and apostolic vicariates

Over the years, Salesian society has established particular juridical circumscriptions which group together Salesian presences in areas of the world due to cultural affinity (language, traditions, styles, ecclesial lines ...), to respond more effectively to the immediate and concrete needs of Salesians and recipients. local level, for pontifical appointments etc. They could embrace the houses of a part of a country, of all and only one country, of several countries, even of different continents. The tab. n. 6 summarizes their evolution with some approximations.

Table n. 6 - Jurisdictions and houses

 

1888

1895

1910

1925

1940

1955

jurisdictions

9

fifteen

33

39

fifty

58

Case 1

56

148

314

492

843

1155

Case 2

61

156

319

509

846

1277

( 1,2 ) The difference between the two values ​​takes into account in the aggregation in an approximate way those houses which are to be understood as particular missions or temporarily closed due to various reasons (political, economic, warlike or because they are not canonically erected, or in restructuring and / or maintenance)

The number of houses is constantly growing for each province. In 1888 there were three provinces in Italy, one respectively in France, Argentina, Uruguay-Brazil, in addition to a Vicariate and a Prefecture in Patagonia and houses directly dependent on the Superior Chapter. In 1895 to these nine were added the Sicilian, Spanish, Argentine, Chilean, Colombia-Mexico-Venezuela provinces and a foreign province. In 1910 the provinces had doubled thanks also to their canonical reorganization of 1902 and to the important General Chapter of 1904. In 1 925 the provinces were numerically increased by only six units but with first presences in 10 new countries. In 1 955 the increase consisted of ten provinces, with first appearances in 19 new countries.

 

6. Dead members

Below are the overall data on deaths, distinguishing in the tab. n. 7 the number of deceased members in a time interval, while in the tab. n. 7bis the dead are found in the corresponding year.

Table n. 7

 

Tabella n. 7 bis

From the

To the

SDB deceased over the years

 

Year

SDB deceased in the year

1888

1895

134

 

1888

9

1896

1910

480

 

1895

24

1911

1925

751

 

1910

41

1926

1940

1239

 

1925

57

1941

1955

1826

 

1940

113

       

1955

108

 

Note the growing trend : on average, 19 Salesians per year died in the first seven years, 32 in the second fifteen years, 50 in the fifteen years of the First World War, 82 between the two wars and 121 in the second post-war period.

 

7. Salesian members who abandon society

The phenomenon of the confreres who for various reasons abandon the Society is indicated in the tab. n. 8 which shows only the last four of the six vintages taken into consideration: 1910, 1925, 1940 and 1955. The data available from the abandonments in 1888 and 1895 are not reliable.

Table n. 8 - Abandonments

Years

Professed present

Professed out

% Percentage

An inquiry%

Temporary%

1888

773

       

1895

1,735

       

1910

4.001

165

4.12

24.23

75.77

1925

5,611

106

1,89

12.26

87.74

1940

12,051

271

2.25

35.52

64.58

1955

17,161

410

2.39

27.56

72.44

 

The peak of outputs in the fifteen years of the First World War is striking compared to the much less significant increase in expenses in the fifteen years of the second. The proportion between the abandonment of members with perpetual vows and those with temporary vows is between about half in 1940, around a third in 1955 and 1910, and a seventh in 1925. The First World War, which he enrolled in Italy alone over 1,000 Salesians, did their part with the abandonment of many very young soldiers, often of temporary vows only.

 

8. Activities

The indications found "house by house" by the EGs show a multiplicity of activities carried out within them. The information contained therein is progressively developed and enriched and the types of activity descriptors-indicators increase for better specifications between an EG and the other. It was necessary to aggregate these activities: a complex work due to the diversity and also ambiguity of the meanings attributed to educational and pastoral institutions and above all to pastoral, educational, training, welfare, charitable exercises and so on. This aggregation was attempted with the tab. n. 9, which indicates a dozen macro activities, divided into forty more specific types. However, it must immediately be said that the increase over the years (and therefore over time) of the activities that are noticed in the counts are data to be interpreted with prudence. In fact, it is not possible to equate each year chosen with the next one precisely because of the operational, political, national or local cultural evolutions. Moreover, these are indicative counts extracted from lists that undergo improvements and enrichments along the different editorial offices, but are however orders of magnitude useful.

Table n. 9 - Main activities (source: EG)

ACTIVITY

1888

1895

1910

1925

1940

1955

 

world

Italy

world

Italy

world

Italy

world

Italy

world

Italy

world

Italy

ASSOCIATIONS

Various parish associations

0

 

0

 

0

 

10

 

74

3

121

13

Various associations (eg. Action Catt.) And religious companies

0

 

0

 

0

 

8

two

136

95

252

116

Various clubs, after work, military meeting place, railwaymen

0

 

one

 

one

 

14

9

5

one

109

one

Union of family fathers

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

5

3

39

6

SANTUARI BASILICHE

Basilica Cathedral Sanctuary Temple

0

one

two

two

4

4

10

two

24

5

36

5

TRAINING HOUSES

Aspirantati

0

 

0

 

0

 

43

eleven

95

25

125

2. 3

Novitiates

3

3

6

4

22

7

29

6

Four. Five

9

52

8

Seminars (and minor seminars)

two

two

5

4

two

two

4

two

8

 

18

 

Studentates (philosophical, theological ...)

one

one

one

one

7

3

31

5

71

eleven

72

8

INSTITUTES HOUSES

Houses occupied or temporarily closed or suspended

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

6

 

43

 

Special or specific houses and special centers

3

two

10

3

17

5

12

one

46

6

65

10

institutions

0

 

9

 

48

 

two

 

4

 

4

 

CATECHESIS PUBLISHERS LIBRARIES

Catechesis (dom., Priv., Public schools, center, ...)

0

 

0

 

0

 

3

one

7

 

152

one

publishers

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

4

 

Bookstores

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

19

5

CHURCHES CAPPELLANIE

chaplaincy

0

 

3

 

two

 

58

14

282

78

386

84

Various chaplaincies (filial., Rail., Pubbl., Semip., ...) and for nuns

0

 

0

 

0

 

Four. Five

5

81

twenty

149

3. 4

Churches (pubbl., Semip., Succurs., Filial., Vicaria parr., ...)

two

one

two

 

5

 

106

3. 4

243

60

331

54

EXCELLENT COOPERATIVES

cooperator

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

7

 

Unione exallievi

0

 

0

 

0

 

42

17

266

95

560

149

MISSIONS

Missions (home, center, residence, station ...)

4

 

9

 

10

 

55

 

104

 

112

 

ASSISTANCE WORKS

Assistance of various types (migrant, immigrant, prig., Carcer., ...)

one

 

4

 

7

 

24

 

63

two

85

8

Boarding schools

22

8

77

twenty

143

35

115

25

228

71

185

53

Dispensary

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

6

 

12

 

Afterschool

0

 

0

 

0

 

eleven

9

61

2. 3

68

24

External (and Semiconvitti)

0

 

0

 

0

 

29

4

33

5

80

18

Orphanages

5

 

10

 

eleven

 

8

5

twenty

4

48

19

Hospices

5

3

5

4

8

4

62

19

104

twenty

102

16

Retirees

0

 

0

 

0

 

25

twenty

44

25

48

19

Institutes (generic)

 

 

 

5

 

25

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPEAKERS

Speakers

7

4

27

14

41

2. 3

13

0

32

5

33

10

Festive speakers

0

 

two

one

7

6

266

97

355

87

442

58

Daily speakers

0

 

0

 

0

 

6

two

153

Four. Five

251

106

PARISHES

Parishes

9

one

22

4

40

7

132

18

250

38

476

67

SCHOOLS

University faculties, University

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

6

two

Schools

3

two

10

5

27

8

248

75

454

94

659

165

PROFESSIONAL AND AGRICULTURAL SCHOOLS

Agricultural colony

one

one

3

one

7

two

one

one

4

two

3

0

Agricultural schools

0

 

0

 

one

one

27

4

13

 

16

 

Professional development schools and sc. evening

0

 

0

 

0

 

10

4

twenty

two

59

19

Vocational schools

one

 

two

 

22

3

110

24

145

25

241

47

 

The final report of this intervention, full of additional tables, will allow a more detailed analysis of the single activities grouped above and also of the relationship between those present in Italy and the overall ones of the Salesian society. 

 

9. Students

According to the statistical data Atlas of 1925, young people in SDB institutes in Europe and in Salesian America would have been 217.330 (girls in FMA 256.183 institutes), students in missionary works (America, Asia, Africa and Australia) 124.327; that year, 597,840 pupils gravitated to Salesian works that year. Such data with probable propagandistic and administrative purposes, not yet studied for the dispersion of many materials, seem remarkably superior to those of the Salesian Bulletin of 1906 (p. 258) which, limited to young students in works managed by SDBs alone, estimated this category of young people in about 50,000.

According to P. Stella [RSS 1 (1982), pp. 45-47], according to the total data of 1925, the largest number was made up of the young people of the festive oratories of the big cities, especially in the Latin countries of Europe and America. The shares of young people in both classical and arts and crafts (then professional) schools were reasonably minor. The development of schools and the proportionally greater use of educators in the colleges, rather than in the speakers, seems to have been the fruit of a greater request in this sense by the civil and ecclesial society. The first fifteen years of the second post-war period was the period of maximum development of vocational schools. Generally it would seem that compared to classical schools,

For Italy alone we have the following comparison.

Table n. 10 - Students of houses in Italy (Source: Salesians of Don Bosco in Italy ...)

Year

1888

1915

1940

1970

Boarding school students

2.650

9.734

14,838

13.915

Oratoriani

4.000

18,561

30,317

49,401

Professional Schools

1,249

1,575

3.168

8.763

Hospices, orphanages

   

1,145

 -

Retired-residences

150

1,678

538

3,492

Semiconvitti

450

304

1,145

5.239

Outdoors

1,750

3,903

5,253

13,544

 

10. Open problems
      1. It is quite clear that, despite the limitations indicated in the introduction, the tables shown illustrate a constant, albeit not homogeneous, expansion of the Salesian Society from the numerical point of view of the personnel, of the foundations, of the wealth of initiatives, of the countries reached ( just under eighty). But it is more difficult to understand the development of the activities carried out both for the variable criteria with which the relative information has been given in EG in the various geo-cultural contexts, and for the uninterrupted evolution of the activities within the same Salesian house. Therefore, it will be a question of analyzing the data disjointed country by country and, one would say, almost house by house, in a synchronic and diachronic way, in order to be able to consider carefully the weight of the local context, with its demands, its challenges and its conditioning, as well as the weight of tradition and the provisions of the governing bodies of the Congregation and of the Church. And this without forgetting that often life, practice, decisions taken locally have gone beyond the official guidelines of the summits and the general rules. 
      2. The intelligence to perceive the "signs of the time" by meeting, without unnecessary delays and impromptu races, the changing needs of the young and the popular classes, the ability to prevent or stem the negative repercussions on the youth of unprecedented social phenomena by strengthening, at the same time the positive ones, the wisdom to put into practice strategies and activities that respond to their educational model but are adequate to the new times, the will to "remain in the field" actively in socio-political and ideological-cultural emergencies, the ability or otherwise of carry out a valid pastoral care in the so-called "mission lands" etc. they are all interesting topics of study already partly addressed in the ISS-ACSSA framework, partly to be addressed at this conference and again in future years.
      3. As already mentioned (n. 6), the search for the number of young people (and adults) reached by Salesian works is not a simple undertaking. The numbers available, often given for celebratory purposes, do not always correspond to reality and some realities such as oratories and parishes escape precise numerical data. Only the recovery of local data as true as possible will allow more reliable overall data.
      4. But even more problematic is the evaluation of the influence that the SDB have exerted on those who have entered the range of their action. Generally the sources of scholastic and professional results of the young are recoverable, but not the same can be said for the indicators of the received education and of the assimilated religious formation. How to evaluate the preparation for the future "honest citizen and good Christian" that the Salesian work as a whole intended to give, to be faithful to its own charisma, to the boy of the college, to the orphan of the hospice, to the pupil of the lower school or superior, to the young Oratorian, to the non-Catholic in the period of his stay in the Salesian area?

 


[1] Partial statistics can be found in S. Sarti, Evolution and typology of the Salesian Works (1880-1922) , in F. Motto (edited by), The Salesian Work from 1880 to 1920 . Rome, LAS 2001, pp. 108-118 . More detailed tables in JM Prellezo, Salesian Professional Schools. Moments of their history (1853-1953). Rome, Cnos-Fap 2010, passim

[2] Manuscripts, typescripts and printing are preserved in various positions in the Central Salesian Archive.

[3] The Salesian tables of Don Bosco in Italy. 150 years of education in Italy (by F. Motto). Rome, LAS 2011, pp. 38-97, lead to variations that are not very significant with respect to the data collected expressly in view of this report, due, except for errors, to the counting of Italian SDBs abroad, to foreign SDBs present in Italian homes, to the different way of counting the home-work-community and the activities within them etc. However, they offer the interesting location of the works on the national territory.