Don Bosco

The holiness of Don Bosco: theological hermeneutics of depositions in the processes of beatification and canonization

The holiness of Don Bosco:

theological hermeneutics of depositions in the processes of beatification and canonization

Andrea Bozzolo, sdb

1. Intentions and assumptions of the investigation

The aim of the present study is to try to focus on the form of sanctity that emerges in the processes of beatification and canonization of St. John Bosco, through a theological hermeneutics of the depositions made by witnesses. We speak of a form of holiness to highlight two elements, which must necessarily be taken into consideration and which in a certain sense constitute the objective and subjective pole of our theme.

The first pole - objective - concerns natureof holiness, that is its theological identity. Holiness is above all a characteristic of God, which designates the vertiginous abyss of his mystery, the splendor of his being, the greatness of his glory. However, in Jesus and in his Spirit, it is really participated in man, so that the path of personal sanctification comes to be participation in the life of Christ, "in living his mysteries, in making his attitudes, our thoughts, his behaviors. The measure of holiness is given by the stature that Christ reaches in us, by how, with the power of the Holy Spirit, we shape our whole life on his own ”(Benedict XVI). In this sense we can and must say with LG 41 that holiness is "unique" in all believers. The paradox of the human adventure comes to light in the most evident way: man becomes fully himself in virtue of an Other from himself. For this reason, arranging to study the sanctity of Don Bosco, we set ourselves in search not only of an aspect, however important, of his experience - as if holiness were something that is "added" to man, considered in himself as a reality already accomplished (extrinsicism of theduplex ordo ) - but we try to grasp the only logos that ultimately makes its history intelligible (see Thomistic idea of ​​theology). 

Having recalled this objective dimension of sanctity, it must however be affirmed that it has infinite colors and extraordinary nuances, it lives in the most diverse times, places and experiences, it presents itself each time with the creative audacity of love, out of every flat uniformity and repetitive. If, in fact, the power of evil operates a sort of downward massification, enveloping everything in a single darkness, the power of the Spirit makes the rays of its light shine with infinite chromatic variations and figural. That is why, when approaching the study of a saint, it is necessary to speak of formsubjective of sanctity: the only common sanctity that the saints share is given in each of them in a completely original form. Every saint does not limit himself to confirming the established features of Christian perfection, but highlights new nuances and new reflections, thanks to the multiform action of the Spirit. This is particularly true for those saints who receive from God the task of inaugurating a new strand of spirituality, pointing to an original road of conformation to Christ, on which many will have to follow them. It is the case, in particular, of the great Founders whose mission consists precisely in presenting their life as a "rule" for others. They are in some ways comparable to those mountaineers who, on the arduous and rocky walls of a mountain, identify a new path that leads to the summit,

The ecclesial fruitfulness of the founders, however, arises exactly from the peculiar kind of holiness they have achieved. Seizing theologically this figure is therefore a task of extraordinary importance: it goes not only to an understanding of the personal experience of the saint, but also to the right interpretation and consistent implementation of his charismatic and pastoral heritage, in obedience to the will of God. To draw on the theological intelligence of a form of holiness, however, it is necessary to overcome the level, also useful and important, of the edifying reading. This approach, in fact, limits itself to highlighting the excellence of a saint's virtue and to presenting virtuous behaviors as examples of imitating; in other words, it limits its life, or more often an "episodic" reading of it, to our relationship. The theological level is properly reached when the life of the saint, his story, is thus "opened" in two directions: on the one hand in the direction of the Christological event, to grasp the relationship that it has with the giving of revelation, and for the other in the direction of the historical epoch in which the saint lived and of the successive ones, to which his testimony is destined, to grasp in what way through he God has responded to the needs of his people, indicating a path to take.

2. The holiness of Don Bosco according to witnesses

Before taking into consideration the most peculiar characteristics of Don Bosco's sanctity, which emerge from the acts and can be considered in a certain sense as the dynamic knots around which he has plastically defined his figure as a believer, it is above all to give voice to the conviction of witnesses about the elements that objectively indicate that Don Bosco wasa saint. This conviction can be summarized briefly through the words of Francesia: "I do not know if another priest has aroused so much enthusiasm around him as Don Bosco lived, and was more universally held as a saint, while he was still alive" (Francesia 2086 ). Beyond the enthusiastic tone that emerges in the disciple's words to his teacher of life, the affirmation of Fr Francesia hits the mark pointing to the chorus of the judgments that recognize the exceptional spiritual stature of Don Bosco. This unanimous chorus includes the voices of simple people of the people, fellow citizens and childhood friends, seminary and ministry comrades, children raised at the Oratory up to those of authoritative personalities, such as bishops, cardinals and popes.

The reasons most frequently used to support the claim that Don Bosco was a saint can be traced back to the following: "The Servant of God 's reputation for sanctity was born of his intemperate and blameless life, of the great works he made, of the prophecies that came out of the event, and by the many miracles that he worked and that he ascribed to the graces of Mary Help of Christians ”(Dalmazzo 945v). There are therefore three orders of elements joined together: an evangelical life of the highest spiritual profile, a sign of an eminent practice of virtues; an extraordinary pastoral fruitfulness manifested by the flourishing of his works and initiatives; a conspicuous presence of peculiar charismatic phenomena, of a prophetic and thaumaturgical nature. It can be said that, with different emphases, these three levels return assiduously to the depositions and that,

However, one should not think that the statements of the witnesses are limited to being laudatory or naive. It is interesting to hear what some of them, especially the most intimate, say about the natural temperament, which Giovanni Bosco had, and about the spiritual work he had to do on himself. Monsignor Bertagna and Don Secondo Marchisio, both originally from Castelnuovo d'Asti, respectively affirm: "I believe that the Servant of God had an easily ignitable natural and at the same time very hard and no folding" (Bertagna 261r / v) and "Per suo herself confession, heard by me, was of natural fiery and haughty and could not suffer resistance, yet with many acts he was able to restrain himself from becoming a peaceful and meek man and so master of himself that he seemed never to have anything to do "(Marchisio 629r) . "Fiery", "Ignitable", "hard", "haughty" are the adjectives that come back to describe a temperament with a strong sensitivity, but which was naturally susceptible, impetuous and prone to impulsiveness, "could not suffer resistance", tended to stiffen in its own convictions and hardly humiliated to ask. This is somehow the starting point of an itinerary of conformation to the Lord, realized with a continuous dominion of himself and "with frequent acts contrary to" the inclinations of the character.

All the witnesses, however, converge in admiring the transfiguration operated in him by grace and his commitment, to the point of making him an extraordinarily peaceful man, "a model of patience, meekness and gentleness" (Rua 2621v), alien even to every disturbance. Perhaps the most touching description of this transfigured humanity is that which Bertagna himself makes to us, presenting the image Don Bosco, which has now advanced over the years: “In my opinion, seeing it in the last eight or ten years, already full of ailments, an occupancy overrun, always besieged by all sorts of people, and he always calm, never giving in even the slightest impatience, without showing haste, never precipitating what was put to him by hand, gives good reason to say, that, if he was not a saint, however, he made the image of a saint ”(Bertagna 246v).

Don Bosco was therefore, in unanimous judgment, a saint. It was, however, because it became so, accepting the gift of grace and engaging with every fiber of its volitional temperament to reach the stature that the mission entrusted to it by God demanded from Him. It did not become, however, like other saints, passing through experience of a radical conversion from a worldly and disordered life or even just from a lukewarm life to spiritual fervor. Don Bosco is not a "converted" saint, nor could he have been due to the nature of his mission, all inspired by the "prevenente" mystery of grace. [...]

3. The dynamic knots of Don Bosco's spiritual experience

Having recalled the elements from which the judgment of witnesses on the sanctity of Don Bosco clearly emerges, we can now try to highlight its spiritual physiognomy, trying to identify what could be defined as the dynamic knots around which its Christian experience was structured . To make this attempt at interpretation it is necessary to move with a certain freedom with respect to the expository order of the depositions. While, in fact, the questions of the process, following the pattern of the virtues, intended to verify that there were in Don Bosco all the objective requisites of holiness, the reading that we give of it aims rather to bring out what distinctive features it has had and around what elements did you gather,

After a careful and thoughtful reading of the material, which led to a certain familiarity with the most recurrent themes in the depositions and with their different modulations, we seem to be able to gather the many facets of the experience of Don Bosco around five central nuclei:

  1. the union with God, that is the absolute total adherence to the will of the Father, the total and confident abandonment to his love, the exclusive orientation of the intentions to his service, the full assumption of the youth mission he received, as a factor unifying of existence;
  2. the identification with the feelings of Jesus, in the expression of a pastoral loving kindness towards the little ones made of benevolent closeness and sacrificed immolation;
  3. the openness to the prodigies of grace, which makes a happy, generous and free from sin (salvation of souls) humanity blossom from the first years of life, one participates in the sacraments, has his most eloquent image in the mystery of Mary feast of Paradise its crowning;
  4. fortitude of mind against every obstacle and difficulty, in the dramatic perception of evil that acts in history, in patience in the face of resistance and persecution, in tenacity until the last breath;
  5. a firm belonging to the Church perceived as a place of truth (bond with the Pope) and space of salvation (missionary thrust), but also as a joyful and simple fraternal community and Oratorian family. This is also where the priestly experience and charism of foundation are located.

For each of these elements, let us now try to gather some of the most significant testimonies offered by the witnesses, so as to bring out in some way the traits that characterize the spiritual image of Don Bosco. For methodological reasons it seems convenient to consider apart the consistent weight that the "extraordinary" has in the testimonies: the specific problems of interpretation that it poses suggest to delineate first the picture of the spiritual experience within which these phenomena manifested themselves.

3.1. Union with God

The first element that emerges unanimously from the testimonies is that Don Bosco's life is dominated by love for God. God shines like a sun in his soul and illuminates every thought and every action, setting itself as the absolute point of reference for everything . This is how Fr Rua expresses himself in this regard: "One can say that in all of Don Bosco's life, the love of God was the motive of all his works, the inspirer of all his words, and the center of all his thoughts, and of his affections, as I was able to convince myself in the 43 years that I had the good fortune to pass under his direction "(Rua 2585r). In other words "the Servant of God loved the Lord with all the strength of his soul" (Giacomelli 671r).

First of all, this love made his intention clear and pure: "the expressions" All by the Lord and by his glory "were his daily refrain, which I heard from his mouth thousands of times," recalled Don Cagliero (Cagliero 1143r). And this purity of intention constituted the secret of the profound interior unity of Don Bosco's heart, that is, of that admirable synthesis of prayer and action which in our tradition we have learned to call "grace of unity". It manifested itself in the ability to live in God also by participating in the whirlwind of recreation or facing the setbacks and unforeseen events of life.

Thus, for Don Bosco, the union with God did not take the form of the search for solitude and prayerful isolation, which often filled his nights, but expressed himself in unconditional adherence to the mission received from the Lord, turning into a zeal unparalleled pastoral care and untiring hard work. The vigor and resourcefulness he manifested in his actions, however, were not only the expression of an exuberant personality, rich in projects and highly creative, as could be that of an entrepreneur determined in his plans and tenacious in his initiatives. The impetus and vigor of Don Bosco, while indicating in him the natural qualities of a leaderwhich certainly cannot be underestimated, above all attested to a radical decentralization by oneself and a total surrender to the will of God. This emerged above all in the fact that, by contrasting himself with the natural thrust of his character to protagonism, he continually attributed all his activity to the Lord , recognizing him as "master, inspirer and supporter" of his works, and considered himself nothing but a poor instrument (see Rua 2573v). And in fact, rather than relying on his own ability, he relied above all on faith and prayer, believing, even in the midst of the greatest difficulties, that he had to rely more on God than on men.

This radical trust in God, perceived as a good and provident Father, in whose hands one can rest with total security, was the origin of that "rare improbability" which did not make him lose "his calm, sweetness and serenity of mind and from his heart, however serious the slanders were, the oppositions were proud, and the attacks against his person, his Congregation and his Works were repeated, always telling us: " Est Deus in Israël ; nothing upsets you "" (Cagliero 1160r). Love for God and confidence in him, then, came to be expressed with the utmost naturalness in truly paradoxical forms. As Don Rua testifies in the process

this trust in God was so great that when he found himself in the greatest deficiency of means, or in the most serious difficulties or tribulations, he saw himself more cheerful than usual; so that when we saw him more facetious than usual, we said among ourselves, his sons: "It is necessary, that Don Bosco is well in the troubles, since he shows himself so cheerful"; and in fact, examining his circumstances and questioning him, we came to discover the new and grave difficulties which appeared before him "(Rua 2574v-2575r)

This shows how much Don Bosco lived the logic of the beatitudes, in which the poor in spirit and the troubled experience the paradox of being more filled with divine help and consolation. It also confirms one of the central messages of Paul's letters, namely that nothing can "separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord" ( Rom 8:39). Thus the Pauline word resounds in the calm and smiling joy that Don Bosco maintained even amid the most arduous oppositions and difficulties: "If God is for us, who will be against us? He, who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not give us all things together with him? "( Rom 8,31s).

Don Bosco thus appears to the witnesses so filled with the love that God has poured into our hearts, that every fiber of his being seems touched and transfigured, to the most intimate strings of sensitivity and emotional resonance. This was evident in the way he spoke of God and the pervasive reaction he felt in the face of the tragedy of sin. Love for God "transpired from his face, from the fiery gesture and words that came from his heart, when he spoke of God, both from the pulpit, from the confessional, and in private conferences" (Cagliero 1143r).

4. The extraordinary in the life of Don Bosco

Against the background of the image of holiness of Don Bosco that the depositions of the processes give back, we must face the question of the "extraordinary" present in his life. Needless to say, this is a theme of such complexity that it requires a powerful study of its own. It seems to me that the first thing to do with intellectual honesty is to acknowledge that the attestation of the presence of uncommon phenomena in Don Bosco's experience is well documented and very consistent. Without drawing up a complete list, the most recurrent phenomena in the testimonies are the prophetic spirit, the scrutiny of hearts, the gift of tears, the gift of healings and other miracles (multiplication of hosts, etc.). Particularly impressive is the story of Don Bosco's "bilocation" in a night of January 1886 in Barcelona (Sarrià), told in the first person by the director of the house, Fr Branda, called by the judges to testify directly on this point. [...]

With respect to all these phenomena, it seems to me that the following assessments are required.

- we must not overestimate them, as if the sanctity of Don Bosco consisted in these gifts, because it is not so; we must not however underestimate them as if the concrete figure of holiness of our father could disregard these realities. In fact they belong to his experience and to neglect or ignore them means to lose something of Don Bosco. Like the evangelical miracles, these phenomena are also signs that must be read and interpreted. In this sense the fact that two hundred years after Don Bosco's birth we do not yet have a thorough theological study of this theme constitutes a serious gap, which should be filled.

- These phenomena are in no way intended as alternatives to the regime of faith; brightness and darkness of mystery grow together; the more we have light on the mystery of God and of our own vocation, the more it appears disconcerting and paradoxical; extraordinary phenomena therefore demand a greater and more proven faith from the subject.

- It is important to observe how these phenomena are deeply coherent and, so to speak, "internal" to Don Bosco's mission. In the mystics the extraordinary graces manifest themselves as graces of prayer and contemplation; in Don Bosco as "pastoral" graces (eg the scrutiny of hearts). It should be noted that Fr Rua himself, who is very sober and prudent in speaking of the "extraordinary" in Don Bosco, is very firm in attributing to him this supernatural gift (see Rua 2670v), which is one of the highest (the knowledge of consciousness is only God's own).

- They have a deep Christological coherence, in their happening (Jesus knows the hearts, foretells future facts, heals ...) and in their meaning (the works that I do are not mine; the Father acts in me). The same most striking elements that leave us most disconcerted (such as bilocation) are to be understood as participation in the paschal power of the humanity of the Risen One.  

- A point of particular interest is that relating to dreams. The biblical attestation of the dream as a place of divine communication, both in the OT and in the NT, is too imposing to be able to neglect the form that this experience takes in Don Bosco. The observations of Guardini and Balthasar on the intrinsic link between word and image in biblical revelation could guide a hermeneutic of the phenomenon.

5. In conclusion

This is a brief summary. The text, with the complete development of the arguments, will be published later.

Salesian holiness in history: emerging aspects in the beatification processes of the SDBs

Pier Luigi Cameroni, sdb

This contribution, because of the short space in which it must be contained in the face of a vast field of investigation, wants to be a stimulus to pursue a research that leads to highlighting how the charism flourished by Don Bosco find in time a wealth of incarnations and together want to be an invitation to overcome partial and reductive visions that impoverish the charism itself. In the light of the analysis of the Positiones on virtues or on martyrdom, the choice was made to present three significant figures:

- Blessed Michael Rua (1837-1910), Don Bosco's first successor, who, as well as the studies, research and conferences carried out on the occasion of the centenary of his death, demonstrated [1] that he overcomes the traditional cliché of "copy of Don Bosco ”, sometimes with even less attractive features or even in opposition to the founder, to free a more complete, harmonious and sympathetic figure.

- The Venerable Don Andrea Beltrami (1870-1897), emblematic expression of a constitutive dimension not only of the Salesian charism, but of Christianity: the oblative and victim dimension, which in a Salesian key embodies the needs of the " caetera tolle". A testimony that, both for its singularity and for reasons partly linked to readings dated or handed down through a certain vulgate, has disappeared from the visibility of the Salesian world, but which makes us aware that the Christian message intrinsically presents aspects that are not never compatible with the world and which, if ignored, risk making the same Gospel message and, specifically, our Salesian charism, not safeguarded in its charismatic roots of a spirit of sacrifice, hard work, apostolic renunciation. The testimony of Don Andrea Beltrami is paradigmatic of a whole vein of Salesian sanctity which, starting from the trilogy Andrea Beltrami, Blessed Augusto Czartoryski, Blessed Luigi Variara, continues over time with other family figures such as Blessed Eusebio Palomino,

- Blessed Stephen Sándor (1914-1953), the last blessed of the family, is remembered to recall the vital need for complementarity of the two forms of the only Salesian consecrated vocation: the lay one (coadjutor) and the presbyteral one. The numerical decrease and the absence in different parts of the Congregation of the figure of the coadjutor is an indication both of the crisis of the identity of the consecrated life and of the risk of its clericalization. The luminous testimony of Stephen Sándor, as a Salesian brother, expresses a clear and decisive vocational choice, an exemplary life, an educational authority and an apostolic fruitfulness, to which to look for a presentation of the vocation and mission of the Salesian brother in shape but concrete and lived.

1. The secret of the Venerable Don Andrea Beltrami [2]

In his text, fundamental to understanding the story of Don Andrea Beltrami, Don Giulio Barberis situates the sanctity of the young Salesian in the orbit of that of Don Bosco, apostle of abandoned youth. For his fame of sanctity and signs, Don Barberis speaks of Don Beltrami, calling him "shining as a distinguished star [...] that so much light shone with a good example and he encouraged us to do good with his virtues!" [3]. It will therefore be a question of grasping what kind of life it is and to an extent that encourages those who consider it. The testimony of Fr Barberis becomes even more stringent and in a very bold way he declares: “I have been in the pious Salesian Society for over 50 years; I was over 25 years Novice Master: how many holy brothers I met, how many good young people have passed under me at this time! How many chosen flowers the Lord was pleased to transplant from the Salesian garden to Paradise! And yet, if I have all my thoughts to say, although I do not intend to make comparisons, my conviction is that no one has surpassed our dear Fr Andrea in virtue and holiness " [4]. And in the process he affirmed: "I am convinced that it is an extraordinary grace that God wanted to do to the Congregation founded by the incomparable Fr. Giovanni Bosco, so that by trying to imitate him we can reach in the Church the purpose that Ven. D. Bosco had in founding it " [5] .

            At first glance the light of sanctity of Beltrami would seem to be in contrast with the sanctity of Don Bosco, of which it should be a reflection, but a careful reading allows us to grasp a secret warp on which the authentic Salesian spirituality is woven. This is the hidden, non-visible part, which nevertheless constitutes the supporting framework of the spiritual and apostolic physiognomy of Don Bosco and his disciples. The anxiety of the " Da mihi animas " feeds on the asceticism of the " caetera tolle ""; the frontal part of the mysterious character of the famous dream of the ten diamonds, with the gems of faith, hope, charity, work and temperance, demands that in the back correspond those of obedience, poverty, reward, chastity, fasting. The brief existence of Don Beltrami is full of a message that represents the evangelical leaven that makes ferment all the pastoral and educational action typical of the Salesian mission, and without which the apostolic action is destined to run out in a sterile and inconclusive activism. "The life of D. Beltrami, completely hidden in God, all in prayer, suffering, humiliation, sacrifice, all in a hidden but constant work, in a heroic charity, albeit restricted to a small circle according to his condition , in a complex it seems to me so admirable to say:[6] .

            It is a total and unconditional delivery of oneself to the project of God that motivates the authentic radicality of the evangelical following, that is to say of what is "at the base", at the foundation of an existence lived as a generous response to a call. The spirit with which Don Beltrami lived his own story is well expressed by this testimony given by one of his companions who, while commisera for his illness, was interrupted by Beltrami in these terms: "Leave", he said, "God knows what does; to each one to accept his place and in that to be truly Salesian. You other healthy workers, I suffer and pray " [7] , so convinced that he is a true imitator of Don Bosco.

            Certainly it is not easy to grasp this secret, this precious pearl. It was not for Fr Barberis who also knew him seriously for 10 years as spiritual director; it was not in the Salesian tradition that gradually marginalized this figure; neither is it for us today, nor for all of a cultural and anthropological context that tends to marginalize the Christian message, especially in its core of redemptive work that passes through the scandal of humiliation, passion and the cross. "Describe the unique virtues of a man lived always closed in a religious house and, in the most important years, in a small room, without being able to go down the stairs, for the sake of his illness, of a man then of such humility that carefully made all the documents that could have made his virtues known disappear, and that he sought not to reveal a shadow of the high senses of his pity; of one who, to whomever he wanted and who he did not want, protested to himself a great sinner hinting at his innumerable sins, while instead he had always been kept the best in whatever school and college he had presented himself, it is not a difficult task, but almost impossible "[8] .

2. The secure tradition of Blessed Michael Rua [9]

Don Rua is the consecration and exaltation of the Salesian origins. It was witnessed in the trials: "D. Rua should not be placed in the ranks of the common followers of Don Bosco, even the most fervent, because everyone precedes them as a perfect example, and for this reason they too will have to study how many want to know Don Bosco well, because the Servant of God performed on D. Bosco a study that no one else can do " [10] . No one like him understood and interpreted the Founder in his educational and ecclesial action and spirituality. The vocation and ideal of Fr Rua were life, intentions, works, virtues, the holiness of the Father and guide of his youthful, priestly and religious existence. Don Rua always remains of vital actuality for the authentic Salesian world.

When it came to finding the director of the first house outside Turin, in Mirabello Monferrato in 1863, Don Bosco chose Don Rua "admiring in him, beyond the exemplary conduct, the tireless work, the great experience and a spirit of sacrifice that we would say unspeakable, as well as good manners, so much to be loved by all " [11] . More directly Don Cerruti, after having affirmed that he had found in the young director the portrait and the image of the Father (Don Bosco), testifies: "I always remember that tireless activity of his, his so fine and delicate prudence of government, his zeal for the good not only religious and moral, but intellectual and physical of the Brothers and young people entrusted to him " [12]. These aspects summarize and admirably embody the Salesian motto "work and temperance". He is a true disciple of Don Bosco verb et opere, in a wonderful synthesis of prayer and work. A disciple who followed the master from his earliest childhood doing everything in half, assimilating in a vital form the spirit of the charismatic origins; a son who felt himself generated by a unique love, like so many of the first boys of the oratory of Valdocco, who decided to "stay with Don Bosco".

Many of the procedural depositions are of people who for many years had tradition with Don Rua and this brings out how the Salesian spirit finds in the common life and in the deep personal relationships the natural humus of culture and growth. These are testimonies that express a profound communion of life that favors learning and the assimilation of the spirit in the form of osmosis.


Some of the traits of the virtuous life of Fr Rua, an expression of continuity and fidelity

                        This is the tradition of those who receive a gift and who in turn transmit it trying not to lose its dynamism and apostolic, spiritual and affective vitality that must permeate the institutions and works. Don Bosco had already guessed: "If God were to say to me: Prepare that you must die and choose your successor because I do not want the work you started to fail and ask for your successor how many graces, virtues, gifts and charisms you believe are necessary , so that I can give you your office well, which I will all give you, I assure you that I would not know what to ask the Lord for this purpose, because everything I already see him possessed by Fr Rua " [13]. This is the fruit of assiduous frequentation, of treasuring every advice, of continuous study in observing and noting every act, every word, every ideal of Don Bosco. Together with the exemplary conduct, the tireless work, the tireless industriousness and extraordinary activity we like to underline the great experience and prudence of government that distinguished the government action of Don Rua.

In the context of a congregation dedicated to the education of young people, he introduced the practice of training in the formative process, a period of three years during which the young Salesians “were sent to the Houses to carry out different attributions, but mostly of assistants or teachers , with the primary aim that they made a common life with young people, they studied their mentality, they grew up with them, and this under the guidance [and] supervision of the catechist and Director " [14] . Furthermore, it offered precise and clear directions in the most varied fields of the Salesian mission, with a spirit of evangelical vigilance.

This exercise of prudence was characterized by a docility to the Spirit and by a marked capacity for discernment about people called to hold positions of responsibility especially in the field of formation and government of houses and provinces, about works and different situations, such as when for example he chose Don Paolo Albera as a visitor to the houses of America or Don Filippo Rinaldi as general prefect. “He instilled in all the Brothers, especially the Directors and Inspectors, the exact observance of the Rules, the exemplary fulfillment of the practices of piety and always the exercise of charity; and he himself preceded them all by example, saying: "A means of gaining more and more the confidences of the employees is that of never neglecting one's duties" " [15] .

The practice of prudence above all in the exercise of government produced as fruit the filial confidence of the confreres towards him, considering him as an expert counselor and spiritual director, not only for the things of the soul, but also for the material ones: "The prudence of Servant of God shone in an extraordinary way in jealously preserving the confidential secret, which he buried in his soul. He observed with the greatest caution the secret of personal correspondence: this was a general confession, and therefore the confreres turned to him with great confidence because he answered everyone in the most delicate way " [16]. The rudder of prudence in fact guides the work of Don Bosco's first successor, not only in reference to the vast amount of work carried out and the numerous fields and fields of action, but moving in a significant and original way to discerning people with traits of a living pastoral and "motherly" charity.

3. The evangelical radicality of Blessed Stephen Sándor [17]

What gave depth to the witness of Salesian life and which immediately struck those who met Stephen Sándor, was his inner figure , that of a disciple of the Lord, who lived his consecration at all times, in constant union with God and in evangelical fraternity. A complete figure emerges from the testimonials .

            A striking feature of this radicalism is the fact that since the novitiate all his companions, even those aspiring to the priesthood and much younger than him, esteemed him and saw him as a model to imitate. The exemplarity of his consecrated life and the radical nature with which the evangelical counsels lived and witnessed distinguished him always and everywhere, so that on many occasions, even in the time of his imprisonment, several thought he was a priest. This testimony says much about the singularity with which Stephen Sándor always lived his vocation as a Salesian brother with a clear identity, highlighting precisely the specific of Salesian consecrated life as such. Thus, among the novitiate comrades, Gyula Zsédely speaks of Stephen Sándor: "We entered the Salesian novitiate of Saint Stephen in Mezőnyárád together. Our teacher was Béla Bali. Here I spent a year and a half with Stefano Sándor and I was an eyewitness of his life, a young religious model. Although Stephen Sándor was at least nine to ten years older than me, he lived together with his novitiate companions in an exemplary way; participated in the practices of piety with us. We didn't feel the age difference at all; he stood beside us with fraternal affection. He built us not only by his good example, but also by giving us practical advice on youth education. We could already see how he was predestined to this vocation according to the educational principles of Don Bosco [...] His talent as an educator caught the eye even of us novices, especially during community activities. With his personal charm, he excited us so much that we took for granted that we could easily deal with even the most difficult tasks. The engine of his profound Salesian spirituality was prayer and the Eucharist, as well as devotion to the Virgin Mary Help of Christians. During the one-year novitiate, we saw a good friend in his person. He also became our model in obedience, since, being the oldest, he was tested with small humiliations, but he bore them with mastery and without showing signs of suffering or resentment. At that time, unfortunately, there was someone among our superiors who enjoyed humiliating the novices, but Stefano Sándor was able to resist well. His greatness of spirit, rooted in prayer, was perceptible to all ». The engine of his profound Salesian spirituality was prayer and the Eucharist, as well as devotion to the Virgin Mary Help of Christians. During the one-year novitiate, we saw a good friend in his person. He also became our model in obedience, since, being the oldest, he was tested with small humiliations, but he bore them with mastery and without showing signs of suffering or resentment. At that time, unfortunately, there was someone among our superiors who enjoyed humiliating the novices, but Stefano Sándor was able to resist well. His greatness of spirit, rooted in prayer, was perceptible to all ». The engine of his profound Salesian spirituality was prayer and the Eucharist, as well as devotion to the Virgin Mary Help of Christians. During the one-year novitiate, we saw a good friend in his person. He also became our model in obedience, since, being the oldest, he was tested with small humiliations, but he bore them with mastery and without showing signs of suffering or resentment. At that time, unfortunately, there was someone among our superiors who enjoyed humiliating the novices, but Stefano Sándor was able to resist well. His greatness of spirit, rooted in prayer, was perceptible to all ». He also became our model in obedience, since, being the oldest, he was tested with small humiliations, but he bore them with mastery and without showing signs of suffering or resentment. At that time, unfortunately, there was someone among our superiors who enjoyed humiliating the novices, but Stefano Sándor was able to resist well. His greatness of spirit, rooted in prayer, was perceptible to all ». He also became our model in obedience, since, being the oldest, he was tested with small humiliations, but he bore them with mastery and without showing signs of suffering or resentment. At that time, unfortunately, there was someone among our superiors who enjoyed humiliating the novices, but Stefano Sándor was able to resist well. His greatness of spirit, rooted in prayer, was perceptible to all ».[18]

            Regarding the intensity with which Stephen Sándor lived his faith, with a continuous union with God , an exemplary example of evangelical witness emerges, which we can well define as a "reflection of God": "... For me and my peers " Mr. Sándor "It was an ideal, and not even as a dream did we think that everything we saw and heard was a superficial staging. I believe that only his intimate life of prayer could fuel this behavior when, still a very young brother, he understood and took Don Bosco's method of education seriously ». [19] Some aspects deserve to be remembered:

            The Gospel radicalism is expressed in different forms over the religious life of Stephen Sándor:

- In patiently waiting for the parents' consent to enter the Salesians.

- In every passage of religious life he will have to wait: before being admitted to the novitiate he will have to make the aspirantate; admitted to the novitiate he will have to interrupt it to do military service; the request for perpetual profession, previously accepted, will be postponed after a further period of temporary vows.

- In the harsh experiences of military service and at the front. The clash with an environment that tended many traps to his dignity as a man and a Christian strengthened in this young novice the decision to follow the Lord, to be faithful to his choice of God, whatever the cost. There is really no harsher and more demanding discernment than that of a novitiate tried and tested in the trenches of military life.

- In the years of the suppression and then of the prison, until the supreme hour of martyrdom.

All this reveals the look of faith that will always accompany the story of Stephen: the awareness that God is present and works for the good of his children.

            Stephen Sándor therefore from birth to death was a profoundly religious man, who in all circumstances of life responded with dignity and consistency to the demands of his Salesian vocation. Thus he lived in the period of the aspirantate and initial formation, in his work as a typographer, as an animator of the oratory and of the liturgy, in the time of clandestinity and imprisonment, until the moments that preceded his death. Eager, from his early youth, to consecrate himself to the service of God and his brothers in the generous task of educating the young according to the spirit of Don Bosco, he was able to cultivate a spirit of strength and fidelity to God and to the brothers who placed him able, at the time of the trial, to resist, first in situations of conflict, and then in the supreme test of the gift of life.

            T estimone of evangelical radicality . From the reconstruction of the biographical profile of Stephen Sándor, a real and profound journey of faith emerges, begun since his childhood and youth, strengthened by the Salesian religious profession and consolidated in the exemplary life of a Salesian brother. We note in particular a genuine consecrated vocation, animated according to the spirit of Don Bosco, from an intense and fervent zeal for the salvation of souls, especially youth. Even the most difficult periods, such as military service and the experience of war, did not undermine the frail moral and religious behavior of the young coadjutor. It is on this basis that Stephen Sándor will suffer martyrdom without second thoughts or hesitations.

            Stimulus to promote the vocation of the Salesian brother . As a lay Salesian, he succeeded in giving a good example even to priests, with his activity among young people and with his exemplary religious life. It is a model for consecrated young people, for the way in which it faced trials and persecutions without accepting compromises. The causes to which he dedicated himself, the sanctification of Christian work, the love for the house of God and the education of the youth, are still the fundamental mission of the Church and of the Salesian Congregation.

            Exemplary educator of young people , in particular apprentices and young workers, and animator of the oratory and youth groups, he is an example and a stimulus in announcing to young people the gospel of joy through the pedagogy of goodness .


Salesian holiness in history: emerging aspects in the beatification processes of the FMA


Sylwia Ciężkowska, fma


The theme of Salesian holiness in history is rich and vast, embraces the journey of maturation in faith, hope and charity of all the members and sympathizers of the Salesian Family who, starting from the time of the Oratory of Valdocco and of the first community of Mornese, they have found and find up to date, in the lifestyle of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello, the valid elements to reach the fullness of Christian life. The subtitle of the present report: Emerging Aspects in the FMA Beatification Process narrows that vast field of Salesian sanctity related to the FMA and among them, even more, only to those whose processes for beatification are taught inperiod considered by this research. For this, two premises:

  1. The sanctity female Salesian is not limited only to the FMA whose cause, on the contrary has been introduced: there are numerous FMA who have conducted a heroic life in silence and sacrifice through their presence in courtyards, kitchens, laundry rooms, laboratories, speakers , schools, missions, at home and in the most remote places in the world. No one has ever thought of introducing their Cause, and for this reason they, despite having lived an exemplary life, escape our search. Those who have received the recognition of the Church with the title of venerable, blessed, holy are not by this fact more holy than others. I am therefore referring not to a complete picture, but only to a representative portion of female sanctity.
  2. The second clarification concerns the content of this report in reference to the chronological period envisaged by this Congress: 1900-1950. If we take as a criterion the opening of the processes we would have as object of our study only the three Causes of the FMA that were introduced at this time: that of Sr. Maria D. Mazzarello (now saint), of Sister Teresa Valsé Pantellini (now venerable) and of Sr. Maddalena Morano (today blessed), introduced in the years 1911, 1926 and 1935 in the respective dioceses of Acqui, Turin and Catania, and we will remain only in Italy. If instead we serve as a criterion the life of the FMA, inserted in the frame of the period considered by the Congress, we will find again both the blessed Laura Vicuña (+1904) and eight FMA operating in the contexts of their mission in Europe and in America of which the Processes are in progress [20] .

The brevity of this report suggests to us the first option, leaving the richness of the references and the sanctified experience of the six Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and of Laura Vicuña for another occasion.

The last introductory clarification concerns the source, already indicated in the title with the expression: Processes of beatification . Each Process collects and produces various documents, starting from the public copy that documents the diocesan phase, through the Positio that is elaborated by the Postulation, up to the Brief Apostolic, signed by the Supreme Pontiff who closes the procedure. I chose only one type of document, the so-called Positio, which constitutes the reasoned presentation (Informatio) of heroic virtues, through the use of testimonies and documents collected during the canonical process (Summarium). Having three figures of reference, I consulted a total of sixPositiones : three super Introductione Causae [21] and three super Virtutibus [22] , finding in them a rich procedural material (more than 1200 pages) according to the questioning done to eyewitnesses in reference to the theological virtues , cardinal and religious vows lived from our protagonists.

 Methodologically I decided to choose a specific question from the interrogation concerning the FMA's reputation for sanctity and I asked myself: Who and how did you talk about the sanctity of our three sisters; then I tried to identify the Salesian imprint of their holiness . This is how my relationship is structured: I called the first part: Perceived and declared Holiness , the second: The desired and professed holiness .

1. Perceived and declared holiness


The first aspect that emerges is a series of perceptions Personal v erbalizzate during interrogation or declared in writing by the witnesses who speak out about the people who have known visually or hearsay. This phenomenon is interesting, given that none of the witnesses starts from the definition of sanctity, but the formula uses the data it deems appropriate for this concept. After all, however, their judgment is the expression of the concept of holiness elaborated in their historical epoch and filtered by the sensus fidei of the people of God.

1.1. Sister Maria Domenica Mazzarello (1837-1881)

During her first meeting with Don Bosco, Maria Mazzarello immediately realized her holiness, and already in October 1864, 70 years before her canonization, she formulated the famous declaration: "Don Bosco is a saint and I feel it". Then throughout her life she deepened and lived through the constitutive traits translating them into categories appropriate to her situation as a woman and as an educator.

Proceedings assure us that his sanctity has not escaped both Don Bosco himself and the other Salesians. The card Cagliero declared: "I was witness for six and more years of the same virtues exercised with ever greater Christian and religious perfection, to the point that immediately after the expiration, I told the Sisters, who surrounded her, not to be saddened, because their Mother Superior if she had flown to heaven to enjoy the just reward of her holiness [...] so I thought so and like myself thought the Ven Founder Don Bosco equal, who had a high concept of their Mother as a religious Saint, of very discreet Superior ”. Sister Teresa Laurentoni adds: "I saw letters that Don Bosco wrote to the Pastor of Valence in which he said that Sister Maria Mazzarello was a saint". And Sister Ursula Camissasa testifies that D..

Regarding the impression of the FMA, Sister Elisabetta Roncallo states: “in the community the opinion was that we had a Holy Superior. This perception was also of those who approached it, coming from outside ”. The missionaries in America complete: "In life all held them as a holy religious, after her death we prayed her to obtain graces for us".

1.2. Suor Teresa Valsé - Pantellini (1878-1907)

Monsignor Giovanni Marenco in Rome in 1908 affirmed: "For the knowledge that I had of the Sisters, during the time in which, as General Manager, I had to deal with it, I can say that some died in the concept of holiness: and one should promote the Beatification process and among these, Sister Valsè is one of the first ”.Mons Marenco himself asked Sister Maria Genta "to keep the clothes of the dead Servant of God, because she said," who knows, one day the Lord will not wish her to the honors of the altar! "" His intuition was confirmed and specified by Fr. Filippo Rinaldi, Rector Major, who during the Ordinary Process said: "I have heard extolling his inner sanctity consisting in a truly illibate life, of profound and firm and regular piety, devoid of any faintness, without no exaltation, it was of an extraordinary inner sanctity, apparently living an ordinary life. The sanctity of the Servant of God also appeared to her sisters, with whom she used true religious charity and also towards the youth of the oratory and laboratory for whose spiritual and material salvation was sanctified. The girls then followed and studied also in their deficiencies to help them and conquer them with goodness. For my part, then, I am convinced that the Servant of God had such a virtue as to be balanced with the most holy souls, but she knew how to hide herself so much that she could not see all her holiness. A special study was carried out so as not to allow the person to understand that [what] he did and practiced “

The FMA agree with the perception previously highlighted: "I can attest - testifies Sister Maria Genta who was his teacher and then director - that during the religious life of the Servant of God in Rome both the Sisters and the Patronesses of the Oratory, like the young women and the workers who attended the Oratory and the laboratory, considered her a Saint and had a great veneration for her ”. However, there is also a contrary case recorded in the procedural documents: "For the love of truth," says Sister Luigia Rotelli, "I must say that I have heard some Sisters report that Sister Brusco Maria (FMA) certainly does not share the concept of the Servant of God, saying that he did nothing extraordinary, even though he considered it a pious and exemplary Sister ”. The laity had no such doubts. Mrs. Olga Mazzetti, companion of the Servant of God in the Sacred Heart in Florence, he said to D. Maccono: "she deals with making St. Sister Valsé; we girls said already since then that she was a saint ”. Another companion of his adds: "Reading the life of the Saints it always seems to me to find exaggerations, but reading the life of Sister Valsé I find that it was really painted as it was".

1.3. Sister Maddalena Morano (1847-1908)

Mother Morano had a fear; being aware that people considered her a saint, she said: "When I am dead, do not say" M. Morano was a Saint and will be in Heaven "and with this you let me burn in Purgatory until the end of the world, if by mercy of God I am saved. Pray, pray for me ”. She knew "that holiness is all about doing God's will, this being the only way to show our love for Him"

 Both the Salesians (Cagliero, Marenco) and the diocesan priests were convinced of the sanctity of Mother Morano, starting from the pastors of the local Church to the simple priests of the countryside. Testimony of Sr. Paolina Noto: “I remember that in a visit that card. Nava a Trecastagni told us: "You have a holy Superior, let her know how to appreciate". And the Provincial of the Salesian houses in Sicily, Fr Franco Piccollo, wrote: "Certain names [...] acquire special meanings and, for those who have known M. Morano, this name takes on three meanings: that is , unbeatable fortress, authentic and full of sanctity generosity with God and exquisite goodness with all. [She] showed strength in suffering for almost all her life uncomfortable and very serious ailments, although she kept them secret, true daughter of Ven. Don Bosco was waiting for rest in Paradise ". "Don Albera, still only spiritual director of the Salesian Society, who first came to Sicily, as Morano knew, was amazed to find in her so many beautiful qualities and one day he said: oh this mother Morano who is a wonderful nun! It could govern not only a province but the whole FMA congregation ".

Nevertheless the FMA and her boarders respected her. Sr. Signorina Meli testifies: “Her beautiful character attracted all the people who were lucky enough to approach her and brought them to the Lord. [...] He united in himself the contemplative life for the constant union with God and the active life for his tireless action for the good of souls, fulfilling exactly his duties in all the works entrusted to his care, sparing neither fatigue nor sacrifices in all his life. The Servant of God had a reputation for holiness even during her life, being considered by all as a privileged soul enriched with singular virtues ". And Sister Decima Rocca: "She was intensely loved by her employees and they all had a concept of saint". An isolated voice of Sister Sister Rosaria Cuscunà from Biancavilla (FMA) is accepted, accepted by a singular exception by M. Morano herself in the Institute, who is opposed to the concept of holiness of the Servant of God. Her position is considered by the other FMA as an unbalanced judgment. In the name of the boarders, the sign is expressed. Agata Zappalà: “I can attest that the Servant of God was kept inconcept of holiness not only from us schoolgirls, but from the people who knew it ”. In fact the President who had threatened to close the College, having heard of the death of M. Morano, said: "Too bad, this nun did not have to die. There may be good and holy Superior, but they cannot have all the virtues and all the sanctity of Mother Morano ".


2. The desired and professed holiness

Another aspect, which emerges from the trial witnesses, is the lively desire for one's own sanctification and the salvation of the souls of our protagonists. It is an inner fire that was consumed translating the Founder's motto into practical language: Da mihi animas, cetera tolle.His own sanctification was sought in adherence to the Will of God, understood as observance of the Rule and obedience to superiors without making the community miss the joy and creativity of women. The apostolic passion in them was expressed according to the categories of the preventive system in the contexts of the North (Mornese, Nice), South (Sicily) and Center (Rome) of Italy. The religious profession has allowed us to give to the future FMA, a Salesian imprint on their holiness through community life committed to the education of the young, in the common journey towards Paradise , imitating Jesus and the Saints, in obedience and joy, showing himself always strong in the face of contrary situations.

2.1. Community life and the education of the young were for the FMA from the beginning the space of sanctification, then extended to the missionary horizon, in which professed obedience destined them to live.

Mother Mazzarello took great care of the atmosphere of fraternal life, favoring the conditions of growth both for the sisters and for the girls. "Once - testifies Sister Felicina Ravazza - by hosting in a small nascent community, she came to know that among those daughters there was no harmony and she worked until past midnight to bring peace to that community". "She had great love for girls; - adds Sister Teresa Laurentoni - she sacrificed herself and wanted us to sacrifice ourselves for [their] good education ". "She was always ready to fulfill her duties and always be cheerful - complete Petronilla Mazzarello - all the Sisters who knew her can testify how well she held up the spirit of the Community, even in very painful circumstances ". Mother Caterina Daghero specifies: "what she did recommended that it be done also by the sisters and inculcated that they immediately did it on occasion, saying" what you can do today, do not wait to do it tomorrow "". Don Cagliero noticed it immediately, declaring during the rogatory process: "Only one was the spirit, which reigned among them, one heart only to love each other, one will of all in obeying. Only one desire to become saints and one only their love for God, for the holy poverty of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for sacrifice, prayer and work. And this sacred concert of hearts, of will and of love was directed by the superior, or rather the very zealous and dearest mother Maria Mazzarello, always first of all in everything and above all in humility,

The same tireless zeal characterized his spiritual daughters: Sister Teresa Valsé and mother Maddalena Morano. From the first we read in the Summarium : "The Servant of God was burned by the desire to make God known, Jesus Christ, his Church [...] burned by the desire to leave for the missions among the infidels of China ... this desire had from the moment of his first Communion ". And of the second: "With regard to the propagation of the faith, it itself prepared and formed the Missionary Sisters, whom she sent to various brackets in the missions. He told us to teach souls in our Holy Religion and bring all souls to the Lord. "

Sister Teresa Valsé took care of the girls of Rome: “She put particular emphasis on teaching catechism in the parish of St. Prassede which she imparted to the highest of whom she was an assistant. These were particularly numerous and she did not neglect any effort to make themselves useful to them in their spiritual formation ". And Mother Morano did the same for the young people of Sicily: "In the feasts she managed to call and induce young people to approach the Holy Sacraments, using her motherly and persuasive manners for this purpose. The Servant of God distinguished herself above all by the catechetical apostolate among the ignorant; indeed the foundation of the catechetical schools was the soul of his mission ".

2.2. With a mother's heart and fidelity to the preventive system :

The apostolic action and the animation of the FMA, as the witnesses point out, were pervaded not by a technique, but by a method that had the traits of maternal warmth and emanated from their way of interacting with everyone, especially with the recipients of education .

"Maria Mazzarello was endowed with an uncommon criterion," testified Sister Enrichetta Sorbone; she possessed the gift of motherhood, and the truly admirable gift of government, an energetic, vigilant, but loving government; he treated us frankly, yes, but he loved us cordially; he had something I knew that dragged us to good, to duty, to sacrifice, to Jesus with a certain suavity, without violence; she saw everything, foresaw the good and evil of her daughters, always ready to provide for both the physical and the moral, according to need and possibility ". And Sister Maria Rossi adds: "In the office of superior she always turned towards the sisters with maternal charity; he was prudent; he demanded that everyone do his duty, but he had no hardship. At the various offices of the Institute he always chose those that seemed most suitable to him ”. Then specify:

Regarding Sister T. Valsé it is said: "He kept watchful that the girls were animated by the living love of God and stayed away from sin. And for this purpose he carried out an intense activity in the oratory. From here I infer that he had a great horror of sin and therefore it was studied to prevent it and even to repair it "; "Made a Sister, she perfectly practiced the system of the Founder Ven, the so-called preventive system". "To devote ourselves to our good - adds Mrs Regina Cerrai - she never knew hours of rest and especially on holidays that were days of great sacrifice for her [...] I can say that I saw how for the solicitude of the Servant of God, the the most mischievous became the best ”. And the sign. Giulia Conciatori: “With those who were afflicted with illnesses or misfortunes, even financial, she was of a maternal charity. He visited them, consoled them, also helped them materially ".

Also Mother Morano: “He venerated and esteemed Don Bosco as a saint and wanted his preventive system to be practiced wellin school and in assistance [...] He told the Sisters and Assistants: «Do you want to be respected? Respect. The girls are like we want them: let's not complain of them, but of us who don't always know how to do our part well "". Sister Teresa Pentore adds: "He had a method of his own in dealing with certain bizarre and stubborn students: he did not exacerbate them, he did not scold them, nor did he punish them, yet he obtained what many others would never have obtained from those rebellious natures". And Sister Teresa Comitini states: "The Servant of God as an educator understood by experience the efficacy of the spirit of Don Bosco, that is: [that] cheerfulness in life is a force, an essential element in the education of youth. As a religious she understood better that joy is the atmosphere of heroic virtues; it is a necessity of spiritual life. His activity can be said to be a continuous irradiation of holy joy and Salesian goodness ". Sister Giovanna Costa complete: "Truly the most tender of mothers could not have done more than what the Servant of God did for all her daughters. No one can have any idea other than those who had the good fortune of knowing it and practicing it [...] He did not allow himself to be moved either by sympathy or by antipathy, which in fact, when necessary, used the necessary seriousness, firmness and fortitude as the one he used to use an excellent mother to whom it is dear to her that her daughters grow well, virtuous and holy, and we felt ourselves so loved by her, that each of us was convinced that she was her darling ". "Often during the night you could see her with her little lamp making the rounds for the dormitories like a true guardian angel and with maternal attention" confirms Sister Teresa Comitini, her external student, then FMA. "The Servant of God was appreciated, loved and desired. Like prudence, all the virtues that in a religious soul indicated constant zeal for their own perfection and for the salvation of souls shone in M. Morano ".


2.3. Towards Paradise:

The atmosphere of the communities and the magisterium of the Institute made desirable the ideal of holiness that culminates in the experience of full life beyond death. There was talk of Paradise as the achievement of the prize after so many sacrifices, as a peaceful reality that is enjoyed after work and acceptance of the cross. But not only that, also as an atmosphere of peace and joy in mutual relations.

Mother Mazzarello - Sr. Enrica Sorbone testifies - “had a lot of faith in God and it was really an extraordinary thing to hear her talk about God, about Paradise. In all he revealed this hope, this confidence in the Lord and in Mary Help of Christians ”. "It was animated by a lively desire to be holy and to see the Sisters diligently await their sanctification. - adds Sister Octavia Bussolino - Then she often sang us in recreation: «I want to become a Saint and daughter of Mary - I want to become a Saint and Bride of Jesus - I want to become a Saint - and Santa in joy - I want to become a Saint - And Santa always more"". Complete Sister Clara Preda: "She was very much in love with Paradise, she also animated hope, she urged me to ask for the grace to die in an act of Love of God and pain of my sins, telling me in Purgatory we don't want to go". Even in his letters he often spoke of Paradise. To Sister Angela Vallese in 1879 she wrote: "We made ourselves nuns to make sure of Heaven, but to earn Paradise, we need sacrifices; we carry the cross with courage and one day we will be happy ”. And to Sister Pierina Marassi in 1880: "Let us remember that Paradise is not acquired with satisfactions and with being preferred, but is acquired with virtue and suffering". To the community of Saint-Cyr: "My good sisters, think that where charity reigns, there is Heaven [...] words do not make you go to Heaven, but rather facts". we carry the cross with courage and one day we will be happy ”. And to Sister Pierina Marassi in 1880: "Let us remember that Paradise is not acquired with satisfactions and with being preferred, but is acquired with virtue and suffering". To the community of Saint-Cyr: "My good sisters, think that where charity reigns, there is Heaven [...] words do not make you go to Heaven, but rather facts". we carry the cross with courage and one day we will be happy ”. And to Sister Pierina Marassi in 1880: "Let us remember that Paradise is not acquired with satisfactions and with being preferred, but is acquired with virtue and suffering". To the community of Saint-Cyr: "My good sisters, think that where charity reigns, there is Heaven [...] words do not make you go to Heaven, but rather facts".

Even Sister Teresa Valsé Pantellini "often had the word on her lips: Heaven! Paradise! Which he pronounced with an accent that showed his lively desire to possess it. And it also seems to me that I heard - testifies Sister Adelaide Barberis - that she said: a piece of paradise makes up for a whole life. It was easy to understand that everything in her: mind, heart and thought were completely oriented towards Heaven ".

Sr. Elisabetta Dispenza confirms this with regard to Mother Morano: "the only desire of the Servant of God was Paradise and in certain moments of greater fervor she began to sing" Paradise, paradise - of the chosen great cities - in you joy, songs and laughter - reigns and will always reign ». Then he exclaimed: "If I go to Heaven, in this world I will never go back" ». Sister Elisabetta herself remembers this prayer of M. Morano: "Give me so much to suffer here on earth, my God, because after my death you will take me with you to Heaven, because in hell I do not want to go". Sister Paolina Noto, ex officio witnesshe adds: "I learned [...] from her [...] that the Servant of God embraced the religious state for a true vocation, for the desire to consecrate herself to the Lord, to become holy, to save souls and gain Heaven" and quotes what M. Morano often said to the sisters: "Daughters, we came to the Congregation to become saints and to buy Paradise".

2.4. Imitating Jesus and the Saints:

The look at Paradise for the FMA was not a magical or poetic feeling. There were God and the Saints, considered models to imitate; after having traveled the earthly path, they enjoyed the eternal reward. Paradise was seen as a celebration of the encounter with Jesus, with Mary Help of Christians and with the patrons of the Institute: St. Joseph, St. Francis of Sales and St. Teresa of Jesus, and Don Bosco himself who had promised to wait for everyone right there. The references to the Saints are very abundant in the Processes and present themselves as non-secondary aspects in the path of holiness. I mention only a few.

Beginning from the fundamental nucleus of the Christian life which consists in following Christ, the Saint par excellence. All three figures have in common the reading of the Imitation of Christ and the imitation of Jesus in the everyday life. It was a book prescribed by the first Constitutions , but our protagonists already knew it before they entered the Institute. Maria Mazzarello discovered it in the IMF group and made some expressions of it that we find in the correspondence. Don Maccono, the publisher of his first 15 letters, cites in the notes 17 pieces of the Imitation of Christto make the reader understand the analogy of the contents. Maria Mazzarello recommended it not only to the sisters, but also to lay women. Ms. Angela Mazzarello, a resident of Mornese, recounts that she once received a rosary and a recommendation from Mother Mazzarello from Nice to read and meditate on the Imitation of Christ". Another lady, Caterina Mazzarello, speaks of Mary's spiritual fervor: "She had a lot of devotion to Our Lady; he exhorted us to recite three Hail Marys to his purity [...] He also exhorted us to recommend ourselves to the Guardian Angel suggesting the recital of the Angel of the Gods ". Sister Maria Genta adds: "Among the saints in particular he recommended the devotion to St. Joseph, of which he inculcated in imitating the hidden virtues, humility and silence, etc., to St. Louis, to whose honor he recommended the practice of the six Sundays, to St. Francis de Sales, to St. Teresa, our special protectors ". Card Cagliero states: "He lived lost in God! Whether when it was gathered in prayer, when it was engaged in work, when in rest, in wakefulness, and it can be said that in sleep, like the bride of songs ”

Regarding Sister Teresa Valsé, Sister Maria Genta, of whom the Servant of God was secretary for a time, she says: "From it I learned that, even before being a religious, she regularly attended to prayer, doing meditation every day and that, between the meditation books preferred the De Imitatione and the Practice of loving Jesus Christ of St. Alphonsus ”. In his notebook we find written: "Take advantage of all the opportunities to humiliate", and, in larger characters, copy the maxim of the Imitation of Jesus: "She loves not being known and respected for nothing" and it is for this reason - explains Sister Eulalia Bosco - that she knew how to bear the affronts of the spit [of a girl] without disturbing the point ". "In front of such a beautiful figure, my heart feels moved, - states the sign. Pia Basetti, her schoolmate - and I thank the Lord for giving me the grace to know [...] the Servant of God Sister Teresa Valsé Pantellini. Oh! May I imitate her in her virtues; this is what I ask of her, with all the impetus of my poor and miserable soul! " .

Of Mother Morano, his biographer Don Garneri, states: "I can say [that] his intimate study was to imitate Jesus in everything". And he did it also repeating the ejaculations: "All for you my good Jesus, my immense good! Only my love and glory is enough for me my Jesus ". Faced with this love, Sister Elisabetta Dispenza confesses: "I felt attracted as if by a magnet ... when I saw her go and return from Communion. He no longer looked like a human creature but an angel. In those moments I wanted to imitate her ... ". "He often spoke of the Madonna, and sometimes he also sang his praises in Sicilian dialect with the people:" Long live Maria, always alive Maria. Long live Mary and the One who created her, and without Mary you cannot save "". He often said to the Sisters: "Let us remember that we bear the name of Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and we must be such in words, not but with deeds, imitating their virtues, and with our good example "and repeated:" My sisters, we became Sisters to make us holy and sanctify the souls that the Lord entrusts to us ". Speaking with her adds Sister Dispenza: "I had this impression several times that in its spiritual perfection it followed in the footsteps of St. Teresa, St. Francis of Sales, St. John Bosco, three saints of whom he often spoke and of whom he knew life well" . Don Monasteri expresses this impression of his: "When I saw her I seemed to be in front of a St. Teresa". Mother Morano "devoted to all the saints, had a special devotion to the Patriarch St. Joseph, so much so that under his protection he placed the Sicilian Province. In honor of the Saint he composed a special rosary and in the needs of the House he made us pray like this: "Saint Joseph think of you".

2.5. Fortress in difficulties and contrary situations:

Evidence and opposition are not lacking along the way and even the FMA face them with courage, releasing the inner resources that make them strong and courageous in challenging circumstances.

Mother Mazzarello, testifies Petronilla: “he showed great strength when Don Pestarino died suddenly and found himself deprived of the one who had always been his adviser and his guide. Yet he went on full of resignation, urging the others to think that we are in the hands of God who will provide ". Sister Giuseppa Balzoni recalled that "many times the Servant of God told her employees that men could take everything away, less the heart to love God". And Sister Enrica Sorbone adds: "he wanted his daughters to be strong"

With regard to the fortress of Sister Teresa Valsè, she offers an eloquent example Sister Maria Genta who experienced the same difficulties as the Servant of God had: "The very special conditions for the continuous difficulties in which we found ourselves in keeping open the Oratory came to the point that he dealt with suspending everything and closing the Oratory itself, especially as before us four other religious institutes had to leave the camp. Under these conditions [Sister Teresa Valsé] was always the one who animated us, she encouraged us to make prayers, prayer novenas, assuring us that God's assistance would not fail. He reminded us of the example of Ven. Don Bosco, who in the same critical circumstances found himself and was never discouraged by trusting in the help of Divine Providence. I can really say that, if at my side I had not had his help and encouragement, I would certainly not have continued in the work, but I would have also closed the house ”. Sister Adelaides Barberis adds: "I can attest that the Servant of God was endowed with a strong character. He was not afraid of difficulties and contradictions, but continued to carry out his apostolate with zeal and constancy ".. And Sister Luigia Rotelli explains the secret of this fortitude of mind: "because it was animated by the very lively hope of possessing Heaven one day [...] it knew how to overcome every difficulty [it was] a true model of Salesian religious".

Of the same temperament was Mother Morano: “The Servant of God prayed and always prayed, - declares Sister Elisabetta Dispenza - indeed, when adversities occurred to her, she did not lose courage; but always hilarious and serene he doubled his prayers, he recommended to us to pray with more intensity, and then he remained calm and serene abandoned to the wish of God, sure to be consoled. Meanwhile he often repeated: "O will of God, you are my love". And Sister Angela Macchi adds: "The Servant of God never let herself be overcome by any difficulty, however grave it may have been, because she said that the difficulties show the works of God; the devil puts these obstacles to prevent doing good ”. M. Morano "always showed himself strong in the various circumstances of life,When you can't face a difficulty, turn around it . " And she herself said: "In struggles, opposition and suffering we think of the eternal reward that will be given to us by the Lord as a reward for our small sacrifices and our sufferings. We should not be discouraged by the FMA, because our Father D Bosco used to say to us: "To those who continue to persevere in their vocation, the Lord has promised bread, work and paradise" ".


The sanctity of the FMA in the period considered was a visible and perceptible reality both within the Institute itself and from outside. On the part of the same FMA was desired and embraced with the religious profession as a sure way of salvation, beaten by Don Bosco who, making his own charisma fruitful, undertook to imitate Jesus the Good Shepherd for the salvation of youth. She was incarnated by strong women, in love with God who, following the example of the Founder, were ready to suffer any humiliation for the good of the young. It was lived by the FMA in the community dimension, with creative fidelity, in an atmosphere of joy and holy joy. Holiness was admired in its originality of the preventive system and appreciated, because of its effectiveness, by the people who entered the radius of its irradiation. They were searched by imitation because of the positive experience. She was also confused by someone with extraordinary actions that should confirm and express her, while her strength lay in the extraordinary inner finesse , attentive to the young people of the popular class, and hidden behind the apparently ordinary life. The aspects that emerged from the Positiones we can see from the perspective of Don Bosco's exemplarity continued by our protagonists in the constitutive features of his spirituality, expressed not only in the feminine, but enriched by their educational and spiritual motherhood.


Fidelity to the Spirit of Don Bosco in the teaching of the Major Rectors: from Fr. Michele Rua to Fr. Pietro Ricaldone

Giuseppe Buccellato, SDB

The study assigned to us would cover a section of history that goes from 31 January 1888 to 25 November 1951; about 63 years of teaching of the first four successors of Don Bosco, a magisterium made up of circulars, Councils and General Chapters, teachings, publications, important operational decisions; the first 63 years of history of the different foundations that originated from D. Bosco, the most important in terms of discerning the charism of the founder. It is quite evident that such an undertaking would require other areas of reflection and study.

The choice made then was to try to make a theological contribution to the theme of the Congress, in keeping with the perspective of some of our studies. We will ask ourselves, in particular, what it means to be faithful to the Spirit of Don Bosco, according to the documents of the Church and the reflection of some authoritative authors . At the end of this theoretical reflection we will try to apply the principles expressed to a particular theme, to an aspect of the charism, making recourse to the teaching of the first four successors of Don Bosco.

The expressions like "spirit of D. Bosco" or "Salesian spirit", dear to the Donboschian tradition and, in particular, to Fr. Alberto Caviglia, in keeping with the theme of the Congress, will be considered by us to be equivalent to "the charisma of D . Bosco "or" Salesian charism ".


The lack of a living contact with the founding experience can transform the charism of foundation into a pile of extinguished ashes. To avert this danger the Council had affirmed: «The adequate renewal of religious life involves at the same time the continuous return to the sources of every Christian life and to the primitive inspiration of the institutes and the adaptation of these institutes to the changed conditions of the times ... Back to the advantage of the Church itself that the institutes have their own character and their own function. Therefore the spirit and intentions of the founders, as well as their healthy traditions, should be brought to light and faithfully maintained, because all this constitutes the patrimony of each institute "(PC 2).

The renewal of Consecrated Life therefore necessarily passes through a revitalization of the charism of the founder. "The understanding and plans of the founders - the CJC states in can. 578 - sanctioned by the competent authority of the Church, in relation to the nature, purpose, spirit and character of the institute, as well as healthy traditions, things that constitute the patrimony of the institute, must be faithfully kept by everyone ».

Antonio Romano wrote several years ago, in a study entitled Charisma dei fondatori and institutionalization process : «A creative stimulus in this process is the loving listening of the founder, the meditation of his writings, which are charismatic impact within a community that is institutionalized, care of interiority, study, prayer, reflection, communion of life. If this is missing, it means that the charismatic and institutional fibers of the group have not absorbed the potentiality of the founder's charism and community life is heading towards a sterile survival with an inexorable path towards its extinction ".

The term charism, in relation to religious life, does not appear in any of the documents of Vatican II; makes his first appearance at the number 11 of Evangelical Testificatio of Paul VI. In the light of this text and of the subsequent magisterium we can define the charism of the founder as the personal and "non-communicable" gift that a man or woman receives from the Spirit and that places them at the origin of a religious family.

This definition underlines the theological content of the term charism and, therefore, its divine and consequently personal origin . The specification of the founder, in fact, represents a sort of absolute possessive. The other expressions, such as foundational charisma, collective charisma , charism of the Institute are to be considered valid only in an analogical sense . "When applied to the institute - says Giancarlo Rocca on this line in his The charism of the founder -, becomes synonymous with end-mission-apostolic task, that is, it becomes a content, a program ». If we wanted to use, for example, the expression charism of the Institute , in the strict sense, this would imply that the Holy Spirit gave the charism to an institution or a group ; this fact, difficult to understand on the theological level (the gifts of God are by their nature "personal") and often contradicted by the history of some foundations that they knew, at the origins, internal difficulties and controversies. The expression Salesian charism, therefore, can risk "fading" the necessary reference to the charism of Don Boscoas the only objective criterion for verifying fidelity to the task we are called to perform in the Church.


The distinction between the charism of the institution and the charism of the founder , therefore, can accentuate the possibility of its development , to the detriment of the necessary continuity, and give life to what Fabio Ciardi stigmatizes in his listening to the Spirit. Hermeneutics of the charism of the founders, as "the danger of replacing the founder".

The true concern of the magisterium is "the excessive desire for flexibility and creative spontaneity". "Disordered outbursts - continues the number 32 of the ET - , which appeal to fraternal charity or what is believed to be the motion of the Spirit, can also lead institutions to their debacle".

Equally dangerous is revealed the distinction, introduced by some, including charisma permanent and charisma transition. In fact, the possibility of a sort of "natural selection" would insinuate, which allows only certain aspects to survive, without any objective criteria of discernment. In what sense could one speak of fidelity in the face of a charisma in continuous evolution?

Rocca still writes: «If we accept that the“ charisma of the institute ”is that of the institute as it lives today, we consider its current position to be entirely correct. In this case the institute would have its own charisma that it would develop according to the times and places ... The correct charisma would always be the last, and the modalities of the past could all be wrong ».

As Rudolf Mainka notes, in his article Charisma and history in religious life, "the charism of foundation is certainly subject to a natural development and is enriched with an ever new creative capacity; but this growth is nothing other than the "manifestation", the clarification and development of that strength of the Spirit which the charism, "gift of God", had in itself from the beginning and which not even the founder and his companions were fully aware of ».

The development of the charism of the founder, therefore, must be compared to that of a living organism that continues to grow without losing its identity, remaining equal to itself. «For a living being - the ET states in fact to the n. 51 - the adaptation to his environment does not consist in abandoning his true identity, but in asserting himself, rather, in the vitality that is proper to him ».



The rereading of the sources, however, is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to be faithful to the mandate of the Council and to the gift received.

Indeed, the historical approach is accompanied by a phenomenological, spiritual-experiential, theological and, ultimately, hermeneutical approach. This particular discernment, as far as its general characteristics are concerned , does not differ from any other spiritual discernment.

The mandate given to religious families by Vatican II, in any case, does not imply an "archeologism", a static restoration .

Many authors (Ciardi, Romano, George, Futrell, Lozano ...) agree in identifying three different ways of approaching the founding charism:

  • the historical approach that moves from the life and activity of the founder, taking into account almost exclusively the founding experience; this approach contains the danger of a sort of fundamentalism that mummifies the charisma.
  • the experiential approach, which starts from the life of the Institute today, from the awareness of having to respond to the changed social and cultural needs. The founding experience ends with the emphasis only on the elements that "confirm" the choices made today. The founder risks being reduced , as Rudolf Mainka states in Charisma and history in religious life , "to an instrumental role that we use whenever we can justify our opinion and our activity through him, but which we leave aside at other times ".
  • the hermeneutical approach, which uses the demands and conclusions of contemporary hermeneutics, valuing both the contact with the sources and the founding experience, and the current theological and cultural presuppositions and the "experience" of the Institute. This last approach is considered by many authors to be the only one capable of adequately safeguarding both the issues that emerge from the reflection made: fidelity to the origins and renewal.

Hermeneutics as a science is usually applied to the interpretation of a literary work; but its fundamental canons ( object autonomy, circularity, timeliness of understanding, hermeneutical consonance ... ) can be effectively lent to interpreting a living and dynamic reality as the charisma of a founder.


A valuable contribution to the hermeneutics of the charism can be derived from the testimonies of those who have been co-protagonists of the founding experience.

The group of the first disciples, especially after the death of the founder, assumes directly, a fundamental role in the interpretation of the charism; discernment the more authoritative the more the spiritual closeness to the founder and the relevance of the institutional role exercised can be demonstrated . "They have lived day after day - Mainka states - in intimate communion with the founder; they were able to assimilate his spirit and personally experience the way in which the Founder overcame and resolved the first difficulties and were able to grasp what was in him the particular charism of the founder of the new religious Family ". "Like the apostles - remarked Romano in The Founders, a prophecy of history- the first disciples are the principal custodians and privileged witnesses of the original charism in its nascent moment ». «The body interprets itself - continues the author - and, with the same activity of interpretation, creates a community of memory and hope , unites the past and the future in a present and dynamically develops the historical-communitarian dimension of the same members , creatively planning their future ».


The history of the saints is the story of a fruitful relationship of Love. The great apostolates, the works, the foundations are important details but, at the same time, they do not serve to understand their lives in depth. They are only the fruits of that dialogue that has become fruitful with new life.

Fidelity to the Spirit of Don Bosco is above all fidelity to this spiritual experience. Although we are aware of the fact that the most precious part of his inner story escapes every inquiry that claims to be objective, we wanted to take into consideration, among the different aspects of the inheritance left to the spiritual movement that originated from him, the theme of meditation or mental prayer, still prescribed today in the constitutions of the SdB and the FMA. The theme would require other in-depth studies, but here it is only an example.

"Praying - writes D. Bosco in the introduction to The Catholic Provision of 1868 - means raising one's heart to God and spending time with him through holy thoughts and devout affections ... Therefore praying is something very easy. Everyone can in every place, at any time lift his heart to God ... A prayer that consists of thoughts only, p. es. in a quiet admiration of divine greatness and omnipotence, it is an internal prayer, or meditation, or contemplation ».

This conception of prayer, probably of Teresian inspiration, is perpetuated concretely in the constitutional dictates of the SdB which, starting from 1874, provides "no less than half an hour of mental prayer" every day; in dialogue with the authorities and in accordance with the principle of graduality , Don Bosco is now more clearly presenting to his needs the needs of religious life. Three years later, in the second Italian edition, he will annex, between the introduction To the Salesian members and the text of the Constitutions, a Letter of St. Vincent de Paul addressed to his religious on the raising of all at the same time.The message of this long letter can be summarized in one of his sentences: "The grace of vocation is linked to prayer, and the grace of prayer to that of rising. If we are faithful to this first action, if we find ourselves together and ahead of our Lord, and together we present ourselves to him, as the first Christians did, he will give us each other, enlighten us with his lights and do himself in we are the good that we are obliged to do in his church ».

From the first year in which the canonical novitiate began at Valdocco (1874), the first concern of the ascritti master , D. Giulio Barberis, was to teach the novices the need and method to usefully make the morning meditation (cf. ACS A 000.02.05). The method, which he illustrated in detail, is that of St. Ignatius, on which the first General Head of the Salesians will be enthusiastically pronounced in 1877 (cf. ACS D 578, 116-117); it is the same method that D. Barberis will describe in the well-known Vade mecum of the Salesian ascribed (1901).

Let us now try, in a necessarily essential way, to follow the path of these ideas through some fragments of the teaching of the first four Rector Major.

* The program drawn up by Fr. Michele Rua , since its first circular dated 03/19/1888, is all based on the person and spirituality of the great disappeared; he identified his own spiritual path in the contemplation of Don Bosco and in his love for his Rule, towards which he had a real cult .

His own pity was constantly inspired by the precious inheritance received. In a circular dated 11/21/1900, feast of the Presentation of Mary, he announced the solemn consecration of the Society to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the paragraph entitled The devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Religious he writes: «One word in particular, among those that Jesus said to Blessed Margaret M. Alacoque, it must strike us Religious. Most of all he complains that the unknowns and the puns come to him from Hearts consecrated to him ...What cannot be understood and pains him is that the same people consecrated to him, the Religious himself, love him so little, abandon him only in his tabernacles ... Seeing himself abandoned by many, he turns in particular to some souls that he prefers, souls that He wants to fill and filled with heavenly charisms, which He calls to Himself more intimately, souls that He brings into His wine cell, to inebriate them with His love; souls that He transplanted, as chosen field flowers, into more select gardens, which are the houses and convents of the religious orders: and he does not leave them without having elected them to his spouses ... From these so privileged souls and so much from him benefit, He expects special love, adoration, reparation. We, my good brothers, are in the number of these privileged souls ».

Today, we are surprised by the familiarity with this spousal language which brings us back to the spiritual experience of the great mystics of all times; but it is not difficult to prove that this language is anything but absent from the early Salesian tradition.

* D. Paolo Albera , le petit Don Bosco, is probably one of the most attentive witnesses of the origins in grasping the spiritual and mystical dimension of the founder.

The circular D. Bosco model of the Salesian Priest, 19/03/1921, is certainly one of the most interesting to "recognize" some characteristic traits of the piety of the origins. The two central paragraphs of this long letter, the numbers 15 and 16, carry respectively the title How it must be our prayer and Method to do the prayer well. « The prayer,that the Constitutions prescribe us for nourishment of the spirit - we read you -, is the mental one, which according to St. Teresa is "a pure communion of friendship, through which the soul entertains itself alone with God alone, and he never tires of showing his love to the One from whom he knows he is loved ”; and according to St. Alphonsus de 'Liguori it is "the furnace where souls become inflamed with the love of God" ... We therefore, my dears, to conform ourselves to the spirit of the Constitutions, we must give mental prayer the character of true intimate detention , of simple and affectionate conversation with God, both to manifest our love for him, and also to better come to know the works necessary for our sanctification and to animate us to practice them with greater generosity ».

"In making mental prayer - we read in § 16 - we follow the method learned during the novitiate and the years of our religious formation ... But our meditation is active, that is a real work of the powers of the soul, which does not degenerate however in arid speculation, but limits the activity of the intellect only to the considerations necessary to move the will, and to excite in it the supernatural affections ... To the extent that the force of the passions goes into us diminishing, and the desire of the spiritual progress and more ardent the love of God, the work of the intellect will have an ever smaller part in our prayer, while the movements of the heart, the holy desires, the suppliant questions and the fervent resolutions will prevail. This is the so-called affective prayer, which is superior to mental prayer, and which in turn leads to unitary prayer, called by the spirit masters ordinary contemplative prayer. Someone may think that a Salesian should not aim so high, and that Don Bosco did not want this from his children ... But I can assure you that it was always his desire to see his children rise, through meditation, to that intimate union with God that he had so admirably put into practice in himself, and to this he never tired of inciting us on every auspicious occasion ".

* Another "snapshot" we take from the album of D. Filippo Rinaldi . The episode he told himself is known, in relation to a confession made with Don Bosco in the last months of his life; the beloved father would have left the word meditation as the only spiritual teaching . Always attentive to the themes of initial formation, D. Rinaldi writes in 1930, in a circular addressed to novice masters: "Prayer and the spirit of union with God are necessary, we must pray and meditate a lot; we have to make the novices pray a lot and teach them to meditate well in time. Our members when they come to the novitiate already love prayer in general; they are ordinarily the best young people in our colleges, in which they attended the sacraments and attended with special devotion to the sacred functions. But of meditation they could have no idea whatsoever. Be therefore your first great concern, at the beginning of the novitiate, that of teaching to meditate, well convinced that only when they have begun to take a taste for meditation will the novices be able to start real progress in the spiritual life "(ACS A 384.01.15, 7) .

* Of particular interest in this regard are the many teachings of Fr Pietro Ricaldone and his very rich teaching. His booklet Piety, which is part of a series of thirteen volumes all dedicated to spirituality and Donboschian pedagogy , contains a true treatise on prayer, where the categories and terminology of mystical theology are used .Commenting on the passage of his predecessor Fr. Albera, quoted earlier, he states at a certain point: "" Someone - continues the second successor of Don Bosco - will perhaps think that a Salesian should not aim for so much ... But I can assure you that it was always his desire to see his children rise ... ". May the Lord deign to grant the grace of contemplation to many of Don Bosco's sons, so that they may increasingly imitate their Father and Founder by reviving the flames of his own zeal in contemplative prayer ".

This last quote gives us the awareness, again expressed by D. Ricaldone, of the mandate to continue to build a spiritual building, rather than to build a new one ... A circular from 1936 bore the title Loyalty to D. Holy Wood (cf . ACS 74). As soon as he was elected, he had declared: "I tell you that if I changed one iota of what Don Bosco did or said, I would destroy everything", then adding: "We jealously preserve the spirit and traditions of Don Bosco" (cf. BS 76 [06/01/1952]).


In 1920, in times that we would say "not suspicious", Fr. Albera wrote: "There are many, even among us, who speak of Don Bosco only for what they hear about; whence the real and urgent need that life be read with great love, with lively interest if its teachings are followed, its examples are imitated with filial affection ".

The magisterium of the first successors of Don Bosco also provides us with very topical criteria for discernment . In 1911, when discussing the opportunity to open up pensioners for public school students or not, the same Fr. Albera said: "To the observations that it is a question of preventing evil ... and the like, we answer that the Salesians do not have the they alone are the mission of preventing all evil, nor of doing all the good of this world ».

Today as yesterday, the task assigned to us is to read the past , to continue to hope to write a fruitful future of good for the young people that Providence has entrusted to us.


Spiritual Identity of the Salesian Brother from Don Bosco to Don Ricaldone

John Rasor, sdb

1. Written by the Foundation Period

Let's start with the identity of the lay members of the Society and the "Coadjutors". These terms are different in the Salesian meaning and are used in the Constitutions of Don Bosco and in the acts of the third and fourth General Chapters.

1.1. Names

Students are students who attend courses in humanity and classical subjects; the artisans, on the other hand, are those who learn and practice in a trade: tailors, painters, trainers. In the 1850s Don Bosco built laboratories where many of these jobs were learned.

The school of the oratory was the background of the legendary aspects of that phenomenon that was Don Bosco: the holy boys, the dreams, the prophecies and the stories of miracles, the complete figure of the operator of wonders and his great and lively troop of urchins. In none of those biographies do we find traces of the laboratories or the specific characteristics of the artisan world.

Where does the name "coadiutore" come from? At the beginning of 1854, names of people called "coadjutors" appear in the Oratory registers. They are defined as groups of domestic workers: cooks, waiters, helpers in the laundry and in the wardrobe. Note that they are not artisans; they did not work in the laboratories. These first brothers were not Salesians.

But who were the Salesians then? When Michele Rua, Giovanni Battista Francesia, Angelo Savio, Giovanni Cagliero and others gathered in Don Bosco's room to establish the Salesian Congregation in December 1859, there were no lay people, nor coadjutors nor artisans among them.

And the Salesian brothers? In the Constitutions of 1858 they do not appear entirely, while in those of 1875 they are mentioned twice. They are lay Salesians. This is the meaning in the broad sense of the term "coadjutor" and it is the meaning of the "Salesian Coadjutor" today.

The strict sense must be applied to those domestic workers who appeared in 1854, of which some later became Salesians. The Regulations of the Houses of 1877 (1877R) make it clear that these assistants do not become members of the teaching staff, but rather become households that are part of the non-Salesian service personnel.

 The "Salesian Lay" item appears more often than that of "coadjutors". "Laity" appears in the Constitutions since 1858, almost always in the trinomial "priests, clerics and laity"

1.2. The Constitutions of Don Bosco.

Articles 3 and 4 of the Constitutions of Don Bosco indicate a need and a remedy

  1. The first exercise of charity will be to welcome poor and abandoned youth, in order to teach them in the Catholic religion especially on holidays.

But for some young people the Oratory is not enough. There is a need. The answer? Interned for arts and crafts.

  1. However as it may be that some of them are so abandoned that if they are not welcomed into a school every care would be in vain for them, do everything possible so that 'houses are opened in which, with the means that Divine Providence puts in our hands , provide them with board and dress. As they are instructed in the truths of Christian religion, they will be introduced to the learning of arts and crafts.

These then became vocational schools run by artisans who became Salesians.

Coadjutors in the strict sense of the word acquire a role in the "Regulations of Houses" of 1877. They are not teachers, nevertheless they help the educational process with work, piety and good example. The importance of a Salesian who serves as a good administrator is underlined in a famous conference held in San Benigno shortly after the third General Chapter.

1.3. The third and fourth General Chapter

THE GC3 addressed the issue of the Salesians Lay in September 1883 and in October Don Bosco went to San Benigno to speak to 22 coadjutor novices and their superiors. Most were artisans. This is the key paragraph that describes the function of the coadjutor in the Salesian ministry:

There are things that priests and clerics cannot do, and you will do those ... I need someone to send to a house to which I can say, "Your duty will be to see that this or those laboratories are fine and do not leave nothing to be desired ... I need trustworthy people to be responsible for.

The CG3 did not finish the document and left it to the GC4 of 1986. The acts of these two chapters were published together in 1987; we will call it the "CG3,4". It gives us a framework of reference for the identity of the coadjutor in theme III: the Salesian vocation in general and in it the specific role of the "coadjutor".

III. About the religious spirit and the vocations of the brothers and artisans.

  • 1. Assistants


Our Pious Society is not only composed of priests and clerics, but also of laity (1875C I.1). They are called Coadjutors (X.14, XIII.2, XV.3) because their specific role is to help priests in the works of Christian charity proper to the congregation. In the history of the Church there are many examples of lay people who were of great help to the Apostles and other ministers and the Church has always had the help and service of the faithful for the good of the people and the Glory of God.

      And what about the identity? To understand the Salesian coadjutor among the Salesians it is necessary to refer to the laity in the Church.

2. RECTORATE BY DON RUA (1888-1910)

We will now examine the identity of the coadjutor in the times of the Rectorate of Don Rua

2.1 How the General Chapter changed the Constitutions and Regulations

The GC6 produced a booklet where the Constitutions of Don Bosco of 1875 appeared, followed by more than 700 articles produced by the six General Chapters. I call this CG1-6.

The GC10 concluded that Don Bosco had begun and GC1 had begun. As a result, the "organic deliberations" of the Constitutions of Don Bosco were deemed necessary because the conditions had changed. And then come the Regulations, in1406 articles, in 7 volumes.

The theme of the coadjutors and artisans from the CG3,4 appears fragmented. Note here the leap from artisans and vocations to the single and internal concern of the brothers:

CG 3, 4 Theme III On the religious spirit and vocations between the brothers and the artisans.

CG1-6 D. IV.II On the religious spirit among the Coadjutors.

1906 RI Regulations for Houses. Chapter III of CG3, 4 as a presentation of the identity of the coadjutor.

2.2 Development of Spiritual Identity During the Rectorate of Don Rua.

Adopting Theme III of the GC3, 4, the CG1-6 had called family style relationships in the non-legal "equality" community. However, a deviation from equality can be noted in progress without an attention that compensates or completes the various roles in the family. An article of the GC10 shows us the situation in the refectory, where they are separated from the priests and clerical confreres.

  In his circular Don Rua comes forward precisely where the General Chapter seems to go back. In asking to work with commitment for vocations The Rector Major echoes the Don Bosco conference:

For the proper character of our Society there is reserved for us a very abundant harvest not only for the ecclesiastics, but also for our coadjutors, who also are called to exercise the true apostolate in favor of the young in all our houses, but especially in the vocational schools. This is why we must cultivate vocations even among young artisans and coadjutors.


Here is a brief summary of the vocational identity of the coadjutor: he is an apostle of the young.

How did the brothers find their place in the apostolate? Not only vocational schools but also the Oratory is a way of dealing with the problem of "workers" that Leo XIII had faced in Rerum Novarum. As a reminder of the pastoral care of vocations, it is recommended to look for vocations at the service of the apostolate precisely in the context of the apostolate carried out in professional schools.

The formation project of Fr Rua for the whole Salesian world included the idea that in every province a novitiate for clerics and one for cooperators, or at least a unified novitiate should have been established. The GC10 turned towards the unified novitiate, and established the stage of post-novitiate formation for all the young coadjutors.

2.3. Don Rua: our second founder

Twenty-two years of redefining and organizing the Salesian Don Bosco movement are the contribution made by Don Rua and by the generation of those who together with him made Don Bosco's dreams come true. Being made the dreams come true in their time; and plans and projects began for their new realization. But in every passage from dream to project some of what is magical is always lost.

3. RECTORED BY DON ALBERA (1910-19219)

Like Fr Rua, Fr Albera also practically grew up alongside Don Bosco and covered important roles in the young Congregation: first inspector in France in 1881, General Spiritual Director in 1892, and Visitor in America in 1900-103.

3.1. Vocational Identity

What is the Salesian coadjutor called to be? His vocational identity consists in answering this question. Don Albera looks at the whole of the Salesian apostolate. Moreover this apostolate is Oratorian and educational because it aims at the salvation of souls. Since the purpose of the salvation of souls is the same purpose of divine love, this apostolate leads to perfection and without perfection it cannot achieve its purpose.

Don Albera is content to entrust the drawing up of the regulations and tasks of professional schools to Don Ricaldone, with the exception of a draft of those for the General Councilor for the Arts and Crafts. This is a summary summary that closely reflects the world of Scholastic Advisors.

The fact that the coadjutors taught in elementary and middle schools is something new to which Fr. Albera spoke in 1921 in a circular letter on vocations.

3.2. Spiritual Style

Don Albera was the first to write on the subject of spiritual theology. What interests him most is helping the Salesians in their daily effort towards perfection, with Don Bosco as a model. He wanted them to know in a simple way and at the hands of when he best emerged from theological debates on the subject.

In his letter on the pastoral charity of 1920 he asserts that the apostolate is the efficient cause of Salesian perfection and that perfection is the foundation of the apostolate. Work leads to Heaven and work and prayer are united in God's love.

Don Albera touches on the subject of profane studies and spiritual life no less than eight times. Already in 1911 and even more so in 1914 he would like that, as long as in Italy the "today's law on education" does not change, the course of technique recommended by the CG2 was shortened. Don Albera is against it because 'it seems to him that he does not give vocations and that he reduces the candidates of the classical course. Furthermore, in an apostolic letter of 1913 (where he does not refer to professional schools) he adds that we taught human sciences only to acquire the right to teach the divine sciences.

But in 1921 the scenario changes. Don Albera says that learning and spiritual progress must be combined so that they help each other. In a circular of 1921 in practice he withdraws the "mixture" of the sacred doctrine with the human sciences.

Letter on the Apostolates of 1913


Dear children, never forget that Don Bosco told us to cultivate the human sciences only to have the right to teach the divine ones, who form the true Christian and to collaborate with him in cultivating numerous vocations among the many children entrusted to our care.

  Perhaps we have lost sight of the fact that Don Bosco told us to cultivate the human sciences especially to have the opportunity to teach the divine sciences, that they form the true Christian and above all with God's help to cultivate numerous vocations among the many boys entrusted to our care.

The teaching of Fr. Albera on spirituality in general, and in particular on the Salesian spirit seems to be the most significant progress achieved in these years on the identity of the coadjutor. More than any of his predecessors, Don Albera presents the mystical, ascetic and theological foundation of the Salesian spirit. He first establishes that the length of the formation of the clerics and of the brothers is the same. But these decisions were short-lived and practically nil.

3.3. The years of Don Albera: a Partial Identity

After the war the Congregation evidently showed itself to be more robust than before. But Don Albera seems to sometimes forget about lay Salesians. The most apparent mistake in speaking of the coadjutors is his attempt (circular on correct vocations in 1921) to omit professional schools from the list of works of the Salesian apostolate.

Nevertheless Don Albera makes good progress in outlining the identity of the coadjutor. The task begun by Fr Rua to fill with his letters the lack of a lack of identity in the introduction to the section on the CG3 cooperators continues. He emphasizes that the brothers are called to perfection like the priests; this vocation is a way to perfection open to many. And for the first time it indicates the principle that (at least) as regards the duration, the formation of the brothers is the same as that of the priests. 



Don Bosco's third successor led the Salesians during the shortest rectory in Salesian history. He is the last Rector Major who has worked with the Founder and perhaps the closest to him for his initiatives and paternal style.

4.1. CG12 and the great codification of 1924

Don albera died in October 1921 and Don Rinaldi as Prefect General reconciled the GC12 to elect the new Rector Major and to review the Constitutions and Regulations in accordance with CIC 1917. The Chapter met at Valdocco from April 23 to May 10. The theme V barely managed to recommend that there be a special house for the training of the brothers.

4.2. GC12 Key Articles in the Regulations

The division of the Regulations into six blocks of the GC10 is preserved such, but the number of articles is reduced from 1406 to 416. The first part, which derives from the Regulations of the Houses of 1977, remains such as an indication for the application of the Preventive System.

A second relevant part is logically structured and refers to houses of formation: the novitiate, the studentate of philosophy and theology. The internship is a problem that only concerns clerics; is considered under the heading "clerics" of the trinomial "priests, clerics and brothers" in the first block of the part on religious life. Particular articles appear on aspirantates and the last course for coadjutors, but for no one there is a separate chapter.

At the level of the articles in particular, the detailed indications about the coadjutors of the GC10, 15 now appear in a group of four. Article. 58 proposes weekly instruction for all the coadjutors, but does not specify that it is the director who does so. Article. 59 recommends that there be a small library for them; these two things keep alive the idea that training must be part of regular life in homes. Article. 60 brings us something new: the last course of the coadjutors is clearly established as a stage of formation. Finally the art. 61 continues with the recommendation that goes back to the GC3,4 that the coadjutors teach catechism in the Oratories.

4.3. The Circular of Dumiana of 1927

Don Rinaldi wrote it to Cumina on the occasion of the opening of the aspirantate house and the conclusion of the course for missionary coadjutors. The vocation of the coadjutor is treated from the spiritual point of view.

In the Congregations of the past, the coadjutors were a sort of second order dependent on the first and shared their spiritual goods in a lower degree; moreover they were not considered true missionaries, but only helpers of the missionary priest ... From the Gospel it seems clear that one can be religious without being called to the priesthood; Jesus himself did not then consecrate all the disciples he sent to the cities and villages to announce the Good News.

Lay religious can access perfection and the apostolate just like their brother priests.

Don Bosco… .. wanted all the members, priests, clerics and lay people to enjoy the same rights and privileges…. They are absolutely not a second order, but true Salesians, with the same obligation to strive for perfection, and to put into practice, according to his profession of arts and crafts, the same commitment to apostolate and education that forms the essence of Salesian Society.

This is why the vocation of the coadjutor is essential in the Salesian Society.

 ... At Cumiana we must form men full of the spirit of God, which is the true Salesian spirit, so that they may one day go to the Missions and practice Christian doctrine to evangelize those people whom the priests teach in the faith.

The complementarity of priests and lay people is therefore the work of Jesus who is a Worker and a Master.

4.4. Don Rinaldi's years: from Codification to Practice.

It could be said that the coadjutor's post-novitiate formation program was covered by that of the Salesian priest for about 30 years. But already in 1932 important theoretical components appeared: the very important principle of its own length; Don Rinaldi overcame the initial declaration of Don Rua disapproving of the necessity of the articulated stages: the final course, the practical training, the training as a teacher.

Other components of a practical nature such as the pastoral care of vocations and the aspirantate are due to the efforts of Don Rinaldi, Don Vespingnani, Don Giraudi, Don Ricaldone, some inspectors and directors and more and more qualified assistants. the previous ones are made clear by the statistics of the period. The result is a rectory whose influence is extraordinary considering that it lasted only nine years.


This long rectory evolves at the center of the twentieth century and sees many of the events that characterize it as the most violent of all: the global economic crisis, the war that caused the most deaths in history and the "Cold War" between two blocs of nations powerfully armed.

5.1. Training work

Formation was one of the priorities of Fr Ricaldone's program. And practically so had to be given the strong expansion that took place in the period in which he was Rector Major. Towards the end of Don Rinaldi's rectorate in 1930 the Salesians were 8,493. The increase continued: 12,881 in 1940 and then 15835 in 1950. But the professed Salesians and the novices who left the Congregation were 9,000 and it was this that made Don Ricaldone understand that training was the key to everything.

Meanwhile vocational schools continued to increase: 114 in 1930, 122 in 1940 and 166 in 1950. And the same must be said for agricultural schools: from 44 in 1930 they became 60 in 1940 and then 77 in 1950. If this development is added the growth of technology (and costs) and the tendency to grow works already in life can easily be understood that this development was about to exceed that of qualified teachers and personnel. In fact, in the two decades the number of students became almost triple, going from 10,000 to 27,000.

Fr Ricaldone was the Rector Major who saw the enormous development of these houses outside of Italy: aspirantates in Cuenca in Ecuador, in Coat an Doch in France, in Ballinakill in Ireland, in Patterson in the United States and still others. In some of these houses there were courses for coadjutors, but the largest and the best were in Italy. Moreover, he crowned this System with a splendid flag: namely, the Pontifical Salesian Athenaeum which not only had (at Rebaudengo) the faculty of philosophy, and those of canonical law (both at Crocetta), but also had a specialization course in pedagogy in the philosophy faculty. This specialization will later become the renowned Faculty of Education Sciences.

5.2. GC15 (1938): The Chapter of Formation

Formation was the theme of the GC15. Its laborious results are widely documented in ACS ; they are presented in the form of regulations for the various phases. However, they were not added to the Company's Regulations.

Aspirants are divided into aspirants to the priesthood and aspiring assistants. The latter would give themselves either to a trade or to agriculture or some other job; there had to be laboratories or fields for their work. The aspiring assistants who were preparing for some profession had to attend a special two-year course and lend their service by turn in the sacristy, in the infirmary, in the kitchen, in the fields, etc. Candidates for the priesthood should have completed their regular course of study approved by the Councilor for the Schools before the novitiate; craftsmen and aspiring farmers should have finished their respective programs.

An appendix that follows the articles adds something about the novice coadjutors. Their studies are more or less like those of clerics and include language, mathematics, design and notions of liturgy which would help them to be good sacristans. Even the time is the same.

Some articles about the final course of the coadjutors are somewhat similar to those of practical training and others similar to those for studentates. The GC15 prescribes the final course for all the coadjutors; the parallelism between the latter and the studentate clearly shows that the formation houses for the coadjutor were a kind of student residence.

In the past there had never been a series of regulations for training so unified.

5.3. A vision of the age of Don Ricaldone

In addition to the doubling of the number of Salesians and the increase of 70% of the coadjutors from 1930 to 1950, Don Ricaldone gives an enormous development to education and welcomes about 200-250 aspiring assistants every year.

Don Ricaldone also distinguished himself particularly by his mode of government. His was an efficient, centralized and full of great plans and projects. Don Ricaldone shows no particular interest in the events of the time: at the beginning of the war, peace, radar, television, atomic energy makes only a brief mention. Furthermore, he does not show attention to other religious families: Don Ricaldone is satisfied to tell others what the Salesians do and does not seem interested in learning from others. His favorite model of the Salesian school is a hermetically closed inmate who, except for the name, has everything about the aspirantate.

This exceptional rectory at the beginning seems somewhat pre-announced by the previous one and will continue to have influence on the following rectorate.



(Translated from the French by Achille Loro Piana)



Spiritual Identity of the Salesian Brother
from Don Bosco to Fr. Ricaldone

John Rasor, sdb

1. Writings from the Founding Period

We begin with the identity of lay members of the Society, and of “coadjutors”. These terms are different in Salesian meaning. They are used in Don Bosco's Constitutions, and the acts of the 3rd and 4th General Chapters.

1.1. Names

Students are boys who study a course of humanities and classical subjects; artisans instead are those learning or practicing a trade: tailors, cobblers, painters, ironworkers. In the 1850s, Don Bosco was installing shops for many of these trades.

The school at the Oratory is the background for the legendary aspects of the Don Bosco phenomenon: the saintly boys, dreams, prophecy and miracle stories, the whole picture of the wonder-worker and his huge, lively band of ragamuffins. There is no trace of the shops, or any other specific feature of the artisan’s world, in any of those biographies.

Where did that name “coadjutor” come from? Beginning in 1854, persons called “coadjutors” appear in the Oratory registers. They are a narrowly defined group of domestic workers: cooks, waiters, helpers in the laundry and cloakroom. Notice that these are not artisans; they did not work in the shops. These earliest coadjutors were not Salesians.

Who then were the Salesians? When Michael Rua, John Baptist Francesia, Angelo Savio, John Cagliero and others met in Don Bosco’s room to found the Salesian Congregation in December of 1859, there were as yet no laymen, no coadjutors, no artisans among them.

What about Salesian coadjutors? In the 1858 Constitutions they do not appear at all, while in 1875 they occur in two places. They are lay Salesians. This is the wide sense of the term “coadjutors”, and is the meaning of “Salesian coadjutor” today.

The narrow sense is that of those domestic workers who began coming in 1854; later some of these became Salesians. The 1877 Regulations for the Houses (1877 R) make clear that these coadjutors do not evolve into the professional school staff but instead into non-Salesian service personnel or domestics.

“Lay Salesians” occur more than “coadjutors”. “Laymen” are in the Constitutions continuously from 1858, nearly always in the trinomial “priests, clerics and laymen”.

1.2. Don Bosco’s Constitutions

Articles 3 and 4 of Don Bosco's Constitutions point out a need and a remedy:

  1. The first exercise of charity shall be to gather together poor and neglected boys, in order to instruct them in the holy catholic religion, especially on feast days.

But, for some boys, the Oratory is not enough. That's a need. The response? Resident schools for arts and trades:

  1. However, since one often finds boys so neglected, that, unless they are received into a school, every care would be expended upon them in vain, every effort shall be made to open houses in which, with the means that Divine Providence puts into our hands, they shall be provided with lodging, food and clothing. While they are instructed in the truths of the Catholic Faith, they will also be introduced into some trade or craft.

These later develop into the professional schools staffed by artisans who became Salesians.

Coadjutors in the narrow sense have a role in the 1877 Regulations for the Houses. They do not teach, but nonetheless by work, piety and good example support the educational process. The importance of a Salesian in the service ministry as a skilled administrator is highlighted in a famous 1883 conference given at San Benigno, just after the 3rd General Chapter.

1.3. The 3rd and 4th General Chapters

GC3 discussed the lay Salesians in September 1883, and in late October Don Bosco went to San Benigno to talk to 22 brother novices, with their superiors. Most were artisans. Here is the key paragraph, describing the brother’s function in the Salesian ministry:

There are some things that priests and clerics cannot do, and you will do them... I need someone I can send to a house and say to him, “It will be your job to see to it that this workshop or those workshops run in an orderly fashion and leave nothing to be desired... I need people I can trust with these responsibilities.

GC 3 did not finish its document, but left it to GC4 in 1886. The results of these two chapters were published together in 1887; we will call it “GC3, 4”. It gives us a framework for the brother’s identity in its Theme III: the general Salesian vocation, and the specific role of the “coadjutors” within it.

III. On the religious spirit and vocations among the coadjutors and the artisans.

  • 1. The Coadjutors

Our Pious Society is composed not only of priests and clerics, but also of lay persons ([1875 C] I.1). They are called Coadjutors (X.14, XIII.2, XV.3) because their specific role is to help the priests in the works of Christian charity proper to the congregation. Throughout the history of the Church examples abound of lay persons who were of greatest help to the Apostles and other sacred ministers, and the Church has always had the services of the faithful for the good of the people and the glory of God.

What does it tell us about identity? To understand the Salesian brother in the Salesians, look at the lay person in the Church.

2. RECTORATE OF FR. RUA (1888-1910)


Now I will examine the brother’s identity in Fr. Rua's time as Rector Major.

2.1. How the General Chapters Changed the Constitutions and Regulations

GC6 produced a handy little book containing Don Bosco’s 1875 Constitutions, followed by the over 700 articles produced by the six General Chapters. This I call GC1-6.

GC10 finished what Don Bosco and GC1 began. The result was the “organic deliberations”, additions to Don Bosco's Constitutions deemed necessary due to changed conditions. Then come the Regulations, 1406 articles, in 7 volumes.

The theme on brothers and artisans from GC3, 4 was fragmented. Note the shift away from artisans and vocations to exclusive and internal concern with coadjutors in these titles:

GC 3, 4 Theme III On the religious spirit and vocations among the coadjutors and the artisans.

GC1-6 D. IV. II.  On the religious spirit among the Coadjutors.

1906 R I. Regulations for the Houses, Chapter IX: To the Coadjutors.

Nothing in the Rua years approaches Theme III of GC3, 4 as a unified exposition of the brother’s identity.

2.2. Developing Spiritual Identity During the Rua Rectorate

In adopting GC3, 4’s Theme III, GC1-6 had called for family-style relationships in community, not legal “equality”. But a definite drift away from equality, without a compensating or complementary respect for different family roles, is underway. A GC10 article shows the situation in the refectory with glaring clarity, separating them from their priestly and clerical confreres.

Where the General Chapters move backward, Fr. Rua in his circular letters moves forward. In appealing for vocation efforts, the Rector Major echoes a Don Bosco conference:

By the character proper to our Society, there is reserved a most abundant harvest not only for ecclesiastics, but our dear brothers are also called to exercise a true apostolate in favor of youth in all our houses, especially in the professional schools. So religious vocations should be cultivated also among our young artisans and coadjutors.

Here, then, is a very brief synthesis of the brother’s vocational identity: he is a Salesian youth apostle.

How did Salesian brothers fit into the apostolate? Not only the professional school, but also the Oratory is the way to confront the “workers’ question”, confronted by Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum. Some vocation appeals in the circular letters recommend searching for vocations to the service apostolate alongside the professional schools apostolate.

Fr. Rua’s plan for organizing formation all over the Salesian world included each Province setting up brothers’ and clerics’ novitiates, or at least a unified novitiate. GC10 moved toward the unified novitiate, and established a stage of post-novitiate formation for all young brothers.

2.3. Fr. Rua: our Second Founder

Twenty-two years of refining and organizing Don Bosco’s Salesian movement are the contribution made by Fr. Rua and the generation who, with him, saw Don Bosco’s dreams coming true. They made them come true in their own time; they began to lay down designs and programs for making them come true yet again. But in any translation of dream to program, a little magic is lost.

3. RECTORATE OF FR. ALBERA (1910-1921)

Fr. Paul Albera, like Fr. Rua, practically grew up at the side of Don Bosco, and filled important positions in the young Congregation: first Provincial in France in 1881, Spiritual Director General in 1892, and Visitor to America in 1900-1903.

3.1. Vocational Identity

What is the Salesian brother called to be? The answer to this question constitutes his vocational identity. Fr. Albera looks at the whole Salesian apostolate. Further, that apostolate is Oratorian and educative because it is aimed at saving souls. Because its soul saving aim is the same as that of divine love, this apostolate leads to perfection, and without perfection cannot achieve its aim.

Fr. Albera is content to leave professional school job descriptions to Fr. Ricaldone, except where he gives one for the Councilor General for Arts and Trades. His summary is rather sketchy; it parallels closely the clerical world of the Scholastic Councilor.

Brothers teaching in elementary and middle schools is new, something Fr. Albera brought up in a 1921 circular letter on vocations.

3.2. Spiritual Style

Fr. Albera is the first to write to Salesians about spiritual theology. His interest is to help the Salesians in their daily striving for perfection, with Don Bosco as model. He wants them to have, in simple and usable form, the best of what was coming out the debates in this developing theological field.

His 1920 letter on pastoral charity said that the apostolate is the efficient cause of Salesian perfection, That perfection is the foundation of the apostolate. Work leads to Paradise; work and prayer are united inGod’s love.

No less than eight times does Fr. Albera touch on the problem of secular studies and the spiritual life. As early  as 1911, even more in 1914, he wants to limit the technical course which GC2 had recommended, as long as the “current educational laws” in Italy remain. Albera is against it because it does not look like it can give vocations, but would drain off candidates for the classical course. He adds in a 1913 apostolates letter (which leaves out the professional schools) that we teach human sciences only to have the right to teach divine science.

But in 1921 the picture changes. Fr. Albera says learning and spiritual progress have to develop together, so as to be of mutual support. In a 1921 circular he practically retracts the 1913 “no mixing” doctrine of sacred and human sciences:

1913 Apostolates letter:

1921 Vocation letter:

      To achieve this, never let it pass from your minds, O dear sons, that Don Bosco told us to cultivate human sciences only to have the right to teach that divine science that forms true Christians, and above all to work with God Himself in raising up numerous vocations from the great numbers of boys placed under our care.

      Perhaps we have lost sight of the fact that Don Bosco told us to cultivate human sciences especially to have a way to teach that divine science that forms true Christians, and above all with the help of God to raise up numerous vocations from the great numbers of boys given to our care.

Fr. Albera’s teaching on spirituality in general and on the Salesian spirit in particular seem to be the biggest advance achieved for the brother’s identity in these years. Fr. Albera, like no other before him, sets mystical and ascetic theological foundations for the Salesian spirit. He  is the first to declare for an equal length formation for the clerics and brothers. But the short term effects of this are practically nil.

3.3. The Albera Years: a Partial Identity

The Congregation after the war was stronger than before, by any measure. But Fr. Albera occasionally forgets the lay Salesians. The most glaring failure to see the brothers is in the 1913 attempt (corrected in the 1921 vocations circular) to omit the professional schools from the list of Salesian apostolic works.

Nonetheless, Fr. Albera’s progress on delineating the brother’s identity is considerable. He continues the task begun by Rua of supplying in his letters the void left by the loss of GC3, 4’s identity introduction to the section on the brothers. He insists that brothers are called to perfection just as much as the priests; indeed, this vocation is a way of perfection open to many. And he states for the first time the principle of brothers’ formation equal (at least) in length to that for priests.


Don Bosco’s third successor guided the Salesians for the shortest rectorate in Salesian history. He is the last Rector Major to have worked with the Founder, and perhaps the closest to him for initiative and fatherly style.

4.1. GC12 and the Great Codification of 1924

Fr. Albera died in October of 1921, so Fr. Rinaldi as Prefect General re-convoked GC12 to elect a new Rector Major, and to revise the Constitutions and Regulations to conform with CIC 1917. The Chapter met from April 23 to May 10, 1922 at Valdocco. Theme V only managed to recommend a special formation house for brothers.

4.2. GC12: Key Articles in the Regulations

The six major divisions of the GC 10 Regulations are retained, but the number of articles is reduced from 1406 to 416. The first division, deriving ultimately from the 1877 Regulations for the Houses, remains essentially regulations for applying the Preventive System.

The second major block is on formation houses, logically structured: the novitiate, the studentates of philosophy and theology. Practical training is a purely clerical issue; it is treated under the “clerics” term of the trinomial “priests, clerics and coadjutors” in the first block’s religious life part. While there are individual articles on the aspirantates and the brothers’ finishing course, neither has an independent chapter.

At the individual article level, GC10's 15 detailed regulations concerning the brothers are now a compact set of four. Article 58 retains the weekly instruction for all brothers, but does not specify the Director to give it. Article 59 recommends a little library for them; these two keep alive the idea of formation as a part of regular life in the houses. Article 60 is the big news: the brothers’ finishing course is now a firmly established stage of formation. Finally, Article 61 keeps the recommendation, going back to GC3, 4, that brothers teach catechism in the Oratories.

4.3. The Cumiana Circular of 1927

Fr. Rinaldi wrote on the occasion of the opening of the house of aspirantate and finishing course for missionary brothers at Cumiana. It discusses the brother’s vocation from the spiritual point of view:

In the Congregations of the old days, the lay brothers were a kind of second order dependent on the first, and shared its spiritual goods only to a minor degree; furthermore, they were not considered real missionaries, but only as helpers to the missionary priest... Now, from the Gospel it seems clear that one can be a religious without being called to the priesthood; not all the disciples Jesus sent through the cities, villages and towns to announce the Good News did he later make into priests.

Lay religious have equal access to perfection and apostolate with their priestly confreres:

Don Bosco ... wanted all its members, priests, clerics and laymen, to enjoy the same rights and privileges... These are certainly no second order, but true Salesians obligated to the same perfection, to the exercise, each in his own profession, art or trade, of the identical apostolate of education that forms the essence of the Salesian Society.

Here is why the brother’s vocation is essential to the Salesian Society:

...We have to form men at Cumiana filled with the spirit of God, which is the true Salesian spirit, so they can one day go to the Missions and live Christian doctrine in practice, so as to evangelize those savages that the missionary priest is instructing in the Faith.

Salesian lay and priestly complementarity, then, is the action of Jesus, Worker and Teacher.

4.4. The Rinaldi Years: from Codification to Implementation

One could say that the brothers’ post-novitiate formation program lagged that of Salesian priests by 30 years. But important theoretical components were in place by 1932: the all-important principle of equal length; Fr. Rinaldi advanced it beyond Fr. Albera’s initial statement by ticking off the need for articulated stages: finishing, practical training, teacher training.

Practical components like vocation ministry and the aspirantate are due to the efforts of Fr. Rinaldi, Fr. Vespignani, Fr. Giraudi, Fr. Ricaldone, some of the Provincials and Directors, and those increasingly qualified brothers. The advances are clear from the statistics of this period. The result is a rectorate whose influence is far out of proportion to its nine short years.


This long rectorate spans the core of the twentieth century, including many of the events that stamp it as the most violent of all: a world economic depression, history’s deadliest war, and the “Cold War” between two powerfully armed blocs of nations.

5.1. Working on Formation

One of Fr. Ricaldone’s programmatic priorities was formation. It practically had to be, given the great expansion that took place during his time as Rector Major. The Salesians were 8,493 in 1930, toward the end of Fr. Rinaldi’s years. The expansion went right on: 12,881 in 1940, then 15,835 in 1950. But 9,000 novices or professed Salesians left the Congregation, so Fr. Ricaldone saw formation as key to any solution.

Meanwhile, the number of professional schools kept right on growing: 114 in 1930, 122 in 1940, 166 in 1950. So did the agricultural schools: from 44 in 1930, they went to 68 in 1940 then to 77 in 1950. Add to these raw increases their increasing technical sophistication (and cost), and the tendency of older ones to expand, and one quickly sees that their growth was virtually certain to outstrip that of qualified teachers and other staff. In fact, the number of pupils in these schools nearly tripled in the two decades: 10,000 to 27,000.

Fr. Ricaldone presided over an enormous expansion of these houses outside Italy: aspirantates in Cuenca in Ecuador, Coat an Doch in France, Ballinakill in Ireland, Paterson in the USA and others. A few of these places also had finishing courses for brothers, but the biggest and best of these were in Italy. Still more, he gave the whole system a splendid flagship: the Pontifical Salesian Athenaeum, which not only had departments of philosophy (at Rebaudengo), theology and canon law (both at the Crocetta), but a pedagogical specialization available within the philosophy department. That specialization would eventually grow into a full-fledged department of education.

5.2. GC15 (1938): The Formation Chapter

The general theme of GC15 was to be formation. Its labors are amply reported in ACS; they are in the form of regulations for the various phases. They were not added to the Regulations of the Society.

Aspirants are divided into those for the priesthood, and brother aspirants. These last will learn a trade or agriculture, or do some other work; there could be shops or fields for their practice. Brother aspirants training for other jobs should do a special two year course and take turns in the sacristy, infirmary, kitchen, fields, etc. Those to the priesthood should have finished their regular course of studies in the program approved by the Scholastic Councilor before going to novitiate; artisan and farmer aspirants should have finished their respective programs.

An appendix after the articles has more on the novice brothers. Their studies are much like the clerics’; they include the local language, mathematics, drafting, and notions of liturgy that will help them be good sacristans. Their timetable is similar as well.

In some ways, articles for the brothers' finishing course are similar to those for practical training, and in others, to those for the studentates. GC15 prescribes the finishing course for all brothers; the parallelisms between it and the studentates show a clear move in the direction of the brothers’ formation houses considered as a kind of studentate.

Nothing like this unified set of formation regulations has ever existed before.

5.3. The Ricaldone Era at a Glance

Besides the near doubling of the numbers of Salesians and 70% increase in the number of brothers from 1930 to 1950, Fr. Ricaldone presided over an enormous development of formation, and a yearly river of 200-250 novice brothers.

Fr. Ricaldone also brought a distinctive governing style. This is a rectorate of efficient, centralized government, of large plans and large projects. Fr. Ricaldone shows no interest in the larger world: the coming of war and of peace, of radar, television and atomic energy, all merit at most passing mention. Nor do other religious families rate much attention: Fr. Ricaldone is pleased to tell others what Salesians do, but has no interest in learning from others. His favorite Salesian school model is the hermetically sealed boarding school, itself an aspirantate in all but name.

This remarkable rectorate is foreshadowed in the beginnings made by the one before it, and will still throw a long shadow over the one after it.


Don Bosco spiritual guide
in light of his correspondence with Claire Louvet

Martha Seide, fma


The Society of Saint Francis of Sales, aware of the historical value of the correspondence to deepen the figure of the Founder, has taken care of the collection of his letters from the beginning. For more than a decade, the Congregation has been engaged in the great project of the critical edition with the aim of presenting the correspondence as a source of knowledge and studies on Don Bosco. Precisely in presenting this project, the historian Francesco Motto offers an interesting picture of the peculiarity of the Founder's epistolary that allows us to better understand his correspondence with Claire Louvet, since the critical edition does not yet exist, nor even specific studies. except for the contribution of John Itzaina published in 1990.

Rightly, in this contribution, Itzaina declares that the correspondence with Claire Louvet reveals Don Bosco as a spiritual guide, sensitive, practical and paternal. Furthermore, it is worth remembering that an anonymous polygraphic pamphlet entitled Claire Louvet, Salesienne française and fille spirituelle de saint Jean Bosco, is preserved in the Salesian Central Library . These statements reveal a fact to be explored. Here is the reason for our title: Don Bosco spiritual guide in light of his correspondence with Claire Louvet. What is this spiritual paternity? How does it manifest itself? To answer these questions, it is first of all necessary to place these letters in the global picture of Don Bosco's epistolary, gathering through the sources at our disposal biographical extracts that allow us to draw a brief outline of the correspondent; in a second place, to operate a hermeneutic of the correspondence to make the possible paths of spiritual direction / guidance emerge.

1. Don Bosco's correspondence with Claire Louvet

To undertake a correct interpretation of Don Bosco's correspondence with Claire Louvet, it would be interesting to also have the correspondent's Letters, which would allow us to grasp his state of mind, the traits of his identity and his spiritual progress. In the absence of this material, we try to trace, albeit in a summary way, the profile of the Louvet according to the accessible sources.

1.1. Who is Claire Louvet?

From the sources received, Claire Louvet, unmarried, therefore called "Mademoiselle" Louvet, was born in 1832 in Aire-sur-la-Lys (Pas-de-Calais), 12 years after the marriage of Louis-Agricole Louvet, French commanding officer and by Julie Lochtemberg, belonging to a noble family of Rincq, a hamlet of Aire-sur-la-Lys.

According to the anonymous book, Claire inherited from her father a strong, rather choleric, frank, orderly character, typical of her status as the only daughter of a captain. The story of the sufferings suffered by both the paternal and maternal families left her with an instinctive aversion to war and revolutions.

From his mother, he received a very delicate heart, attention to the poor, to the Church and a filial love for Mary Most Holy. Thanks to the family education particularly taken care of by her mother, she was able to shape her character. On the death of her parents, which occurred between 1875 and 1878, Miss Louvet, a forty-six year old , found himself the heir of a good fortune comprising above all land and farms.

Of delicate health, he went every year on the French Riviera for a few months of vacation, especially during the winter. On one of these occasions he met Don Bosco for the first time in Maritime Nice, in March 1881. Later, he showed him a profound veneration and, despite the great difference, at first sight conflicting, that existed between the two characters, he began a profound relationship that Claire will soon make of a great Salesian cooperator and benefactor and of Don Bosco her spiritual father. At this first meeting, several others will succeed in Turin and, above all, an intense correspondence will develop. At Don Bosco's death, Louvet continued her relationship with her two successors until her death in 1912 at the age of 80.

On this biographical background, we focus our attention on Don Bosco's collection of letters.

1.2.   The collection of letters

From the sources consulted, we know that the preserved letters to Claire Louvet are fifty-seven. The correspondence lasted five years and eight months, from 1 January 1882 to 7 September 1887.

The originals and copies, collected in the Central Salesian Archive (ASC), are classified in three positions for years. We find the complete collection of the 57 letters in the fourth volume of the correspondence edited by Eugenio Ceria and in the XVI volume of the Biographical Memoirs.

A careful reading of the correspondence in question clearly confirms the observations of the scholars, since Don Bosco was not an intellectual who wrote his letters as a rhetorical exercise and neither was his correspondence intended for spiritual direction. It is a business correspondence, written quickly to communicate a direct, urgent message.

The correspondence with the Louvet evidently falls within these parameters; Don Bosco wrote because he was constrained by the demands of his priestly and educational mission, by the hard need to provide bread to the thousands of children welcomed in his works, by the duty to help, to direct, to support those who opened their hearts to him. For this reason, his correspondence is strongly marked by the pecuniary aspect. Nevertheless, correspondence with its correspondents also allows us to grasp the traits of their personality, of the environment in which they live, as well as the emergence of possible moral and spiritual situations.

From this point of view, we can assert with Motto that the letters "send signals, so to speak, not only in the direction of biography and history, but also of psychology and psychoanalysis, of literature and linguistics, of local history and politics , of genealogy and pedagogy ». In this context it can be affirmed that the letters of Don Bosco to Claire Louvet do not escape from these considerations, therefore it is possible to trace in them the figure of Don Bosco also as a spiritual guide.

On a formal level, scholars maintain that Don Bosco did not submit his letters to particular stylistic and lexical interventions, «his style is made of simplicity, frankness, familiarity, wit, not without hesitations in writing and spelling , [...] often nourished by grammatical and syntactical irregularities, which are not unseemly as they are destined to remain in the reserved environment of the recipient ». The letters addressed to Louvet, written in French, a foreign language for the author, reveal these limits even more clearly. Aware of the situation, he himself asked Louvet for patience in reading or if he preferred the mediation of the secretary (L 3; 4). Moreover, in his Memoirs, consider his spiritual testament, 

As for the contents of the letters, we can see a very varied range of themes, typical of Don Bosco's style. However, the theme of thanksgiving is predominant for favors and gifts received economically for his works; greeting cards for special circumstances, liturgical feasts and saints, name days; news on the events of society and the world; communication of his news, of his works, of the Salesian Family, of the boys and of the missions; advice letters, exhortation and recommendation for health care, peace of mind and soul, spiritual journey. In all the letters, we always find the promise of his prayer, of the community and of the boys accompanied by the blessing. He asks for the exchange of prayer and always signs as a humble servant.

According to Itzaina, the contents of the letters to Claire Louvet reveal some features of Don Bosco's figure such as interests and curiosities, attitudes, mood, sensitivity and delicacy in the relationship with women.

From this variety of themes mentioned in the letters, we are interested in this aspect of spiritual direction as a guide for souls. For this I will use the term guide as a synonym of direction. What does your spiritual direction consist of for the laity, especially for Miss Claire Louvet?

2. Don Bosco spiritual guide

To prove the hypothesis that Don Bosco was a spiritual guide from his epistolary to Mademoiselle Louvet, we must first investigate, albeit briefly, the reality of spiritual direction in its nineteenth-century context, ie nature, principles, mission etc. to see how Don Bosco was able to assume his attitudes even though he was not a theorist of the subject.

2.1.  The figure of the spiritual director of the nineteenth century in the western world

When the authors of the nineteenth century question the nature of spiritual direction, the set of proposals offers us a conceptual framework that presents it as a means of fundamental importance for achieving sanctity. In this sense, spiritual direction is described as the science and art of leading a soul to the perfection of Christian life, that is, to holiness, according to its state of life and its personal vocation. The immediate object, therefore, is the accompaniment of the person towards the progress of the interior life through religious practices, in the development of grace, in the exercise of every virtue.

The description of nature allows us to perceive the principles of psychological and theological order that support spiritual direction. In fact, "taking care directly of the spiritual life, - the director - must take into account all the manifestations of temporal life as they favor or hinder holiness. In particular he must supervise the specific practices of Christian life (use of the sacraments, prayers); the exercises proper to perfection (asceticism, exercise of virtues, practice of presence and union with God); the fulfillment of family, social and professional duties ". From this point of view, the theological and psychological elements are intertwined in a single reality in favor of the growth of the person towards holiness. Spiritual direction by nature has an essentially educational and decidedly ascetic task.

What then is the director's mission? Spiritual authors attribute an instrumental function to the guide , that is, in general, it is a priest and mediator , since it is the mediation of the Holy Spirit, the main actor. By virtue of his ministerial priesthood, the director affirms himself as an authorized teacher and guide towards Christian perfection. Therefore, he has the task of guiding and teaching the way forward in concrete life. As a representative of God, he is also a counselor , because he is called to give advice adapted to the situation of the direct person with authority. In certain circumstances, the spiritual director is also an educator and doctor of the soul both to accompany it in its progressive growth and in the commitment to help it free itself from scruples and other difficulties that hinder the path to holiness.

What are the attitudes to cultivate to live this mission in a profound way? Following the great spiritual masters like Francis de Sales and Teresa of Avila, - therefore also the masters of Don Bosco - the Carmelite Ermanno Ancili describes the profile of the spiritual director, highlighting the need to acquire attitudes that express the fundamental traits of humility , of charity, of intense spiritual life, of science, of experience, of prudence. In the following paragraph, I will try to see how Don Bosco embodied these peculiar attitudes of spiritual guidance.

2.2.  The spiritual direction according to the correspondence to Claire Louvet

Scholars recognize that Don Bosco was not a theoretician of spiritual direction, but he felt the need from an early age and complained about his absence. For this reason, attentive to this profound aspiration of the human heart, he became an enlightened guide for souls, directing people towards the ideals of Christian perfection according to the different states of life. Retracing the correspondence we will try to examine how we can trace the characteristic features of the spiritual guide described above.

Since the first letter sent by Don Bosco in response to an offer received from the Louvet, we note the concern of the Cooperator for his leadership Msgr. Scott, elderly and sick. Don Bosco shares his anxiety by offering his prayer, calms her, inviting her to patience and trust in God who will fix everything and, of course, offers his advice and help to continue with perseverance on the path of holiness (cf L 1, 01 / 01/1882).

These expressions reveal Don Bosco's attention and willingness in the art of directing the soul in the progress of the interior life, in the development of grace, in the exercise of virtue: "Blessing on your business with perseverance on the path to paradise" (L1).

Other expressions clearly reflect the concept of spiritual direction of the Founder: "My purpose has always been to do everything possible to detach the hearts of my friends from the miserable things of this world and raise them to God, to eternal happiness" (L 3).

The letters let us perceive in a transparent way how much Don Bosco knew how to harmonize theological and psychological principles in accompanying the human soul (cf L 4, 15/07/1882). Like the great spiritual masters of his time, he showed that he had a good knowledge of his direct and knew how to propose, with determination and determination, suitable and balanced orientations according to the concrete situation, going beyond any tendency to scruple. In fact, knowing the weak health of Louvet, he invites her to exempt herself from Lent fasting: "During these days, she must think neither of the meager nor of fasting: she is strictly forbidden" (L 34).

With these very brief references, we have seen how Don Bosco's sensitivity was in perfect harmony with the classics of his time in matters of spiritual direction, although he did not theorize, but rather experimented.


2.3. Don Bosco's profile as a spiritual guide

Don Bosco was a spiritual master, but he would not understand his educational commitment if we ignore the sources that inspired and nourished him. He not only maintains that holiness is attainable in every state of life, but that it is easy to become saints. For him, the path of holiness is characterized not so much by exceptional virtues and extraordinary facts, but by the strong will and strenuous perseverance in fulfilling the duties of one's state. In fact, in its perspective, educational action must gradually become a spiritual guide. From this point of view, considering Don Bosco as a spiritual teacher of young people is a fairly peaceful fact.

What are the style and characteristics of the spiritual direction of adults? According to Carlo Colli, Don Bosco did not make a substantial difference; besides the different level of human and Christian maturity and the evident diversity of problems, he makes a proposal based on simplicity, practicality, firmness and lovable kindness. Going through the correspondence in question, let us try to identify some nuclei that can describe the spiritual fatherhood of Don Bosco.

2.3.1. A guide who knows, educates and helps the soul

A careful reading of Don Bosco's letters to the Louvet makes it possible to glimpse Don Bosco as a guide well aware of his task of guiding the soul to realize God's plan for her and, therefore, knows its potential and the obstacles that hinder it his journey in the work of detachment, of virtue and of prayer (cf L 2, 31/05/1882; L 37, 7/10/1885; L 47, 26/12/1886).

The global knowledge of the soul allows the guide to instruct, that is to give the guidelines on how the soul must act in the present moment to discover and fulfill the will of God. It is a process that leads to spiritual maturity, so that the person becomes progressively autonomous and follows the spiritual path according to the divine will. Upon exposing some difficulties presented by Louvet, Don Bosco instructs it by giving precise guidelines (cf L 41, 19/03/1986).

The letter of 17 September 1883 is a very illuminating example of this and testifies to the clarity of its direction which proposes few things, but demands that they be observed with diligence, regularly scanned over time every year, every month, every week, every day and always. It is a method of spiritual life that is very practical and able to free it from the fear of never doing enough (cf L 18, 17/09/1883).

This letter shows that Don Bosco not only teaches, but helps with a concrete method to progress on the path of holiness. Moreover, he is interested in his family life, in his relations with the people at his service, so as to ensure a path of integral growth towards the perfection of the Christian life which translates itself into charity towards others. In this way, the guide helps according to the concrete situation and the degree of spiritual life of the companion (cf L 42, 27/07/1886; L 52, 12/06/1887).

2.3.2. Collaborator of God and companion of human beings


The letters to Claire Louvet highlight a profile of Don Bosco who was able to profoundly assume his mission as spiritual director with all the meanings generally present in his contemporaries, enriched by the originality of his rich personality. He is a collaborator of God and a companion of human beings.

He is above all a priest and mediator , he does not present himself as superior of his direct, on the contrary the relationship is rather friendly, affectionate and marked by familiarity. Demonstrates attention and respect for the freedom of the person (see L 35, 27/02/1885). The conclusion of his letters always highlights the blessing of God and the protection of Mary the true guide; they are invariably signed with the expression "your humble servant". It is not just a courtesy formula, but fully expresses the awareness of the instrumental function of its task, as it is a collaborator of God in indicating the path to follow.

Precisely because of his priestly character, his mission as mediator of the Holy Spirit transforms him into an authoritative teacher and guide in the area of ​​conscience. The guide teaches concretely what the soul must do according to its specific nature (cf L 3, 17/06/1882). In the same letter he continues reflecting on the proposal to convince the disciple of the right choice: "You see Signorina trying to make you rich or better to make the riches of the earth bear little fruit, and change them into eternal treasures forever" (L 3, 06.17.1882).

 Therefore, as an authoritative teacher and guide, his directives are wise councils that deeply touch the soul as a word of God. In this case, Don Bosco, as a spiritual guide, is a counselor . From the first letter, before Claire's apprehension about the illness of her spiritual director, Don Bosco proposes himself as a counselor: "Your pains, you will tell me and I will try to give you directions and advice" (L 1, 01 / 01/1882).

 In the uncertainty of good asset management in anticipation of the days of scarcity, Don Bosco responds by offering a very wide range of possibilities for living charity by helping others (cf L 3, 17/06/1882).

The fact that Don Bosco assumes education as an instrument of his priestly work means that all his actions and, therefore, also the spiritual direction of adults have this educational value. Therefore, as a spiritual guide, he is also an educator / formator because he accompanies the process of human-Christian maturation of the person towards the high ideal of Christian life, that is holiness. In fact, the theme of holiness is very present in the correspondence and Don Bosco indicates it to Claire as his vocation.

The letters highlight the figure of the Louvet as an often restless, scrupulous soul. Indeed, one of Don Bosco's most frequent exhortations is tranquility, to free it from scruple and fear.

These traits, brought to light albeit concisely, allow us to confirm Don Bosco's spiritual paternity exercised as a teacher, guide, counselor, educator, doctor in the sole purpose of accompanying the soul towards the perfection of Christian life, according to one integral perspective of salvation.

2.3.3. A virtuous high profile guide


At this point in our discussion, it can be affirmed that Don Bosco's correspondence in his relationship with Claire Louvet reveals a guide with a high virtuous profile and has nothing to envy to the well-known masters of his time in humility, charity, intense life spiritual, a science that becomes wisdom, nourished by experience, lived in prudence. The only difference is that he was not a theorist, but a witness.

It is said that humility is the fundamental virtue of the spiritual director in that he puts him in the right position before God and souls. In his epistolary relationship with the Louvet, Don Bosco has always presented himself as a humble servant , faithful to the demands of divine life and inclusive of human weakness. He does not impose himself as a wise teacher, his interventions are aimed at encouraging and directing, but not at breaking down and destroying; to correct without offending, medicate without irritating, illuminate without forcing.

Another characteristic virtue of the spiritual director lived to the highest degree by Don Bosco is charity. We know that the inspiring principle of the practice of his educational method is the divine charity, which is configured as "pastoral charity deeply adherent to human reality, extremely respectful of the person capable of earning his heart". This pastoral charity, lived fully by the educator, will have an involving aspect. In this logic the director, as an educator, also teaches charity; then he will invite the souls entrusted to him to openness, to sharing, to giving, to sacrifice, to mutual understanding. The friendly relationship established with the Louvet bears witness to Don Bosco's capacity to relate not only with young people and religious, but also with lay adults in every social category. Moreover, he has always shown an open relationship that involves the guided person to do the same. Louvet's great generosity in placing her possessions in favor of Salesian work is a very convincing evidence of how Don Bosco knew how to educate his friends about charity.

The spiritual director is not able to guide souls to holiness if he does not have a consistent depth of inner life . Don Bosco's letters to Claire Louvet reveal, in a very massive way, an intense spiritual life. There is no letter where Don Bosco does not assure him of prayer, especially in the Eucharist, of the active presence of the blessing God, of the maternal guidance of Mary who protects from all evils. The relationship with the supernatural in Don Bosco becomes a natural, living, palpable communication. Just think of the antidote proposed to Louvet against cholera.

Another important trait of the director is science , which must become wisdom as it enables the guide to the capacity for discernment. Although Don Bosco is not a theorist in the subject, his educational qualities have predisposed him to an extraordinary capacity for discernment with the gift of reading hearts as well. Letter 52 is a testimony of this.

Another aspect to consider in the profile of a high profile virtuous guide is the experience both on a personal level and in contact with others. In fact, the interpreters agree in stating that Don Bosco drew his criteria from experience rather than from books. He himself recounts his experience in the field, when he placed himself in the hands of Don Calosso and began to taste what was the spiritual life. Precisely on the basis of his personal experience, he will set up his educational-pastoral action to promote this same experience in the relationship with young people and adults. The tone of the letters to Louvet reveals a man expert in humanity, a friend of the soul.

Finally, a final feature to be emphasized in the director's profile is prudence , seen both in the common sense of the term and from the theological point of view. From this point of view, the director is a moderate, balanced, discreet person; adapts itself to the abilities of the individual, without straining or demanding too much; remember that the weak do not tolerate heavy food and that the note of progressivity is fundamental in the interior life and for every formative action. In his relationship with the Louvet, Don Bosco has always shown discretion, judgment and command with loving kindness.


In conclusion, we can say without hesitation that the correspondence of Don Bosco to Claire Louvet clearly reveals his spiritual paternity. Naturally, to generalize the hypothesis and to claim that he was the spiritual leader of the laity, it would be appropriate to study also other epistolary corpus addressed to the laity, for example the letters sent to the Counts Colle.


The apostolic dimension of Salesian lay spirituality

Emerging from the Salesian Bulletin and the Congress of Cooperators (1877-1952)


Giuseppe Biancardi, sdb


1. Premises

              Purpose of the intervention: to illustrate the strong apostolic component of Salesian lay spirituality (specifically: the Cooperators), as was proposed by the Major Superiors of the Salesians from the foundation of the Cooperators themselves to the 1950s.

              Sources for this survey:

* The Salesian Bulletin (BS), from its origins to the 1950s, in its Italian version. Version that at least in the first decades of the magazine's life is the official and "unitary" voice of the Congregation addressed to lay-cooperators (cf. MB XVII 668 and MB XVIII 186).

* The main International Cooperator Congresses : 1. Bologna (1895) - 2. Buenos Aires (1900) - 3. Turin (1903) - 4. Lima (1906) - 5. Milan (1906) - 6. Santiago de Chile ( 1909) - 7. Sao Paulo (1915) - 8. Turin (1920) - 9. Buenos Aires (1924) - 10. Turin (1926) - 11. Bogotà (1930) - 12. Rome (1952). The voice of the Superiors comes to these conferences. Of various of them we have the documents ; of all we are informed by the BS.

              These sources say the actual apostolic proposal conveyed.

2. The apostolic torment and its reasons

              We assume the knowledge of the history of the Church for the period that interests us and we immediately note a very evident fact: the sources cited always indicate the constant presence of a real pastoral concern that we want to communicate to the laity of the Salesian Family; an obsession that evolves over time, taking on different motivations and directions but always remaining very strong.

              We ask ourselves: what are the reasons? Among the main ones we have above all those of a strictly theological order, especially in the field of ecclesiology and soteriology.

              We know them, starting from the ecclesiology of Vatican I which, dominant until Vatican II, identifies the Church with the Kingdom of God. A perfect , irreformable society , centered on the principle of authority , with a hierarchical-clerical character , it is an absolutely necessary instrument of salvation (the Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus is interpreted in the exclusive sense).

              More than sufficient statements to justify an untiring apostolic zeal for the salvation of the soul of all and to make the Christian world, since the ideal (the "thesis" to say it with the Jesuit language of the nineteenth century) is Christian society Catholic. These are the most lasting reasons.

              Further motivations come from the situation of the "world" that the Church of the time wants to save: a world that gives life to a crescendo of radical processes of secularization of societies and laicization of public institutions, which are typical of modernity ; very evident phenomena in Europe and Latin America. Then, theological reasons are mixed with others, also of an ideological nature, since the ideal to strive for, that is, the whole Christian-Catholic society, is the societas christiana of the past, as opposed to the emerging secularized and secular society. The Church feels besiegedfrom an enemy world that, under the guidance of multiple seven conspirators, turns against it, wanting to avoid its protection (which is the protection of Christ and ultimately of God). With this world the Church is at war : hence its militaristic language and the appeal to all Catholics, even lay people , to take the field, for a battle that does not allow for any neutrality but which requires instead a choice of field: or that of the world, or that of God. The war will certainly be long and hard, but the Church, according to the non prevalebuntof Christ, he will come out victorious thanks also to Mary's help. These further justifications for the apostolic commitment of the Salesian Family lay people, present but never excessively emphasized, dissolve a lot especially after the Twenties, when - as we will see - the motivations prevail, all within the Salesian reality.


3. The apostolic proposal to the Cooperators until the 1920s

            On the basis of the reasons just given, a continuous appeal to commitment is developed in our sources.


3.1. The appeal to the laity: working together and all , that is, cooperating

            In the pages of the BS the imperatives follow one another, starting from "Laboremus!": It is the cry of D. Bosco, "the key to his secret". And then: "Let us cooperate!", "Let us cooperate" in the restoration of Christian society. In short, the imperative is to work: "It is time to work". And therefore: "Work! Work! Work!"; "We work, we work, we work!" (They are BS titles).

            The obligation of apostolic work affects everyone , even the laity, men, women and young people.

But working is not enough; it is necessary to work together , to cooperate. It is the refrain of our sources. In fact, on several occasions they repeat: once the Catholic had only to pray; now this is no longer sufficient; to prayer - though always necessary - it is necessary to unite the action, but an action conducted in harmony, precisely together.

3.2. The Cooperators: Catholics of every category who work together for their own spiritual good and the salvation of the young and of society

            The same Don Bosco does nothing but repeat, in the pages of the BS, what he already expressed in the Regulations for the Cooperators of 1877: it is necessary for Christians to unite in good work. The Pious Union is, precisely, the ideal instrument for the purpose.

            Faithful to the founder, the BS and the Congresses then periodically remind lay collaborators of their identity and apostolic mission, always proposing the contents of the charter. In the Congresses there is almost never missing, for example, an ad hoc intervention on the nature and mission of the Cooperators, entrusted to a Salesian.

3.3. The multiform action of religious and charitable apostolate suggested

            Aware of his own identity, the lay person who is committed to fighting the good fight of faith as a Salesian Cooperator, has a vast field of action ahead of him.

3.3.1. The indications of the Rector Major

            A first, authoritative indication in this regard comes, through the pages of the BS, directly from the Rector Major. On the initial number of each year, he invariably illustrates the accomplishments implemented by SDB and FMA in the past year, reports the projects for the coming year and asks for prayers and "alms", especially for missions.

3.3.2. A wide range of commitments                     

The lay person who intends to commit himself is first of all proposed the care of his own spiritual life, also valuing the devotions emphasized by the Church with the changing of socio-political and religious contingencies (Sacred Heart, Christ, King, St. Joseph ...).

* There is also a considerable number of possible apostolates , part of the ecclesial and / or typical tradition of the Salesian charism: spiritual and material help for vocations, even adults ( Work of Mary Help of Christians wanted by D. Bosco); participation in the leagues against pornography, blasphemy, indecorous fashion, alcoholism, malpractice. The support of the spiritual crusade for the dying suggested by Guanella, etc. is also in sight.

* The exhortation to engage against the bad press and in favor of the good is then pounding and persistent . Many concrete suggestions in this regard: recommending good books; talk about the good press and recommend it; buy the texts at Catholic bookstores; implanting circulating libraries; subscribe to the periodical press; check that bad books do not enter the house; support the Salesian press (in particular Catholic Reading and BS).

* The emphasis on catechetical ministry is equally insistent . In this regard, our sources offer: timely information (eg on papal documents); exhortation pages to engage directly in the Lenten catechisms; methodological suggestions . These are, for the moment, of a traditional type; that is, there is no effective openness to the indications emerging from the catechetical movement that has developed since the last two decades of the nineteenth century (even if the BS welcomes some pages of the Italian innovator L. Vigna in favor of an inductive and global-cyclical catechesis ). Emblematic, in this regard, the indication given by D. Rua, in the school year '93 -'94, to adopt the catechistic forms of the Roman can. Schüller; praised and suggested also by the Vatican hierarchy but then by the same cassati in 1901, as they were too "theological" and difficult.

* Another vast field of action is offered by the elimination of religious instruction from the school, a phenomenon common to various countries, not only in Europe but also - for example - Latin Americans. In this case there is to fight the secular school, that is the school without God, the ruin of societies. On the positive side, we need to: avoid pessimism; ask for religious education where possible; let extracurricular schools of religion participate; to resort to all possible legal claims to reintroduce religion into classrooms; check school texts, in particular those that illustrate the rights and duties of the citizen; to report on the BS the texts adopted in Salesian schools; claim for unsuitable school subsidies; denounce, through the press, the non-satisfaction of one's requests.

* Related is the subject of education and school in general. The theses on the subject, expressed by our sources, are clear: a) the need for education, b) a Christian education, c) to be given as soon as possible to the growing minor, d) in a Christian school and family, d ) from the perspective of the educational method of Don Bosco, which is the ideal method. Hence the duty to: denounce naturalistic and lay education; to counter the education of "sectarians"; to activate an educational intervention in a Catholic key, the only advantage for all; claim the freedom to teach; choose the school that fits your own ideals of faith; to encourage the creation of schools of the Salesian Family; create retirees for students, with libraries, reading rooms, meeting places and gyms; to place young students who are away from home for study in morally safe families; create centers of interest for these young people in the speakers; to favor the press that deals with scholastic questions from a Christian perspective; encourage university students to enroll in Catholic university circles; suggest teachers to enroll in Catholic-inspired trade associations.

* A leading role in the educational field is reserved for women and their mother . And then the help to the young and the preparation for their task as wives and mothers is a must, especially through collaboration with the FMA. More specifically, there will be work to do

to: entrust girls only to those schools that guarantee religious teaching; to encourage female catechesis in all ways; intervene in the municipalities to be hired truly Christian teachers; to establish festive oratories, Sunday schools and women's work schools, entrusting the direction to the sisters; support these structures where they already exist; promote the introduction of female religious personnel in industrial plants; and, of course, to make known and help the works of the FMA.

* Having affirmed the necessity and urgency of an authentic human and Christian education, our sources cannot fail to mention the oratory . The subject, in addition to frequent informative articles, the BS dedicates, between 1903 and 1906, a systematic treatment signed by Don Simplicio (difficult to identify: D. Anzini, D. Minguzzi, D. Amadei?). The argument, then, we find in the agenda of the work of all the various Congresses that formulate more and more precise and demanding votes , up to the indication to found new ones, even with the former students. On the subject it is worth mentioning also some unusual pages in the BS: pages that collect a debate between readers on the level of lay involvement in the animation of the oratory. The discussion starts in June of '16 with the letter of a parish priest, and expresses varied positions that move between tradition and innovative ideas. For its part, the BS concludes the debate by reiterating that the soul of the oratory is the priest, who, however, can and must form good and excellent lay collaborators

* The laity of the Salesian Family is also called to engage in the vast field of youth work and of the working world in general, in the face of the spread of the workers' question and socialism. In this regard it is probably necessary to distinguish between a theoretical and a more operational level. As for the first level, the sources lack a theoretical and systematic treatment of the problems. We limit ourselves to hints from which, however, it results a clear condemnation of socialism, guilty of atheism, egalitarianism and rejection of private property. Consequently, the labor movement inspired by it is looked upon with suspicion, especially dangerous for the young workers; we reiterate the Christian vision of work developed at that time, which sees in Christian faith and charity the key to solving problems; the ideal to follow is indicated in the action of Don Bosco, as it signals the only two things the young worker needs: learning a trade and religious instruction.

            If on the theoretical level, the thought of the sources is on the other hand conservative positions, for a sort of happy dichotomy, at the level of operative suggestions it is instead more advanced and very varied. The Cooperator will collaborate in setting up mutual aid societies, employment offices, school-schools, economic boarding schools for workers away from home. He will advise them to join Catholic unions, patronages, mutual benefit schemes for disability, old age and accidents. It will also favor what the patronages will put in place for the rest, reading and honest fun of the worker. He will also help the worker in any trials and offer him training courses on labor legislation and occupational hygiene. There is no lack of interest in agricultural work, in the context of that movement of "return to the earth" that develops between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which finds the sensitive Salesians (D. Baratta) and founders of various agricultural schools: initiatives to which the Cooperators are called to make their contribution.

            Among the workers, for easily understandable reasons emigrants receive special attention , especially in Congresses held in America. In addition to the material support (for the reception, the arrangement, the bureaucratic practices) there is to offer them so much spiritual help, placing them for example. in contact with the new parishes, taking care of the ecclesiastical certificates necessary for the celebration of the sacraments and that there are priests at their disposal etc. 

            It is noteworthy that, on the Italian BS , all the aforementioned commitment to the world of work is proposed without an explicit reference to Rerum novarum (1891), to which only two fleeting references are reserved. (But notable is the attention to the encyclical by the Spanish BS). Silence can perhaps be explained taking into account that the document falls at a time still marked by too many divisions in the Catholic field and pushes the discussion on a political terrain. It is an area on which our sources, loyal to Don Bosco, do not want to commit themselves and, in fact, they are silent, limiting themselves essentially to suggesting a charitable social action. So much so that the BS in 1901 will publish Graves de communi with great prominence of Leo XIII, where Catholics are prompted to a social action not characterized in a political sense.

* Leaving aside the punctual reports of our sources for assistance interventions in the face of contingent emergencies (aid to the children of those recalled in the Great War and displaced persons, abandoned children and war orphans), we come to the period from the Twenties to the thresholds of Vatican II; period in which we record a clear change of direction in the topic that interests us.

4. Between the Twenties and the eve of Vatican II

            From 20 to 23 May 1920, to coincide with the II International Congress of ex-pupils and former students, the analogous VIIIth gathering of the Cooperators is held; events that culminate with the inauguration of the monument to D. Bosco in front of the Basilica of Ausiliatrice. From the assumption of the Cooperators derive the practical Norms approved by the Rector Major Fr. Albera and received by the Acts of the Superior Chapter, which offer the Cooperators themselves two lines of action: the first, to support and collaborate with Salesian works; the other of "imitation" of the Salesian apostolate in all the areas highlighted above, but to be carried out in environments not necessarily linked to a specific Salesian presence. D. Albera (Rector from '10 to '21) and his successor D. Rinaldi (Rector from '22 to '31) fully share this perspective, in an atmosphere of attention to the AC indicated by Pius XI. However, the XII General Chapter of 1922 (which elects D. Rinaldi) praises the Norms but does not accept them as rules of the Pious Union, except in the organizational indications, thinking of the Cooperator as a de facto figure directly engaged in the ambit only Salesian. Impoverished visioncompared to that of D. Bosco, but also incorporated in the Regulations of the Congregation approved in 1924, according to which «to be Cooperators it is sufficient that in some way, either with prayers, or offers, or with personal works, you contribute to the development of 'Salesian action'. According to G. Raineri, the proponent of this significant change would have been D. Ricaldone, already as vicar of D. Rinaldi and then in charge of the Cooperators, and even more, after 1932, as Rector Major.

            The aforementioned evolution is symbolically represented by the Italian BS. The passwords we already know from time to time return on its pages, as headlines: "Everyone at work!", "Cooperating", "Collaborating"; no longer, however, with the bishops, parish priests, all the "good", but fundamentally with the religious family founded by Don Bosco.

Of course, over the years there is no lack of references to the traditional areas of apostolic commitment common to the whole Church, such as catechisms, the good press (especially around the years of the beatification of Don Bosco), fashion, the family (with a particular insistence on creating "leagues" of the fathers of families). Nor are there any worried reports of new apostolic lands created by technological progress (cinema and radio) or political evolution (communist ideology). And it continues, even in the decades that we are now interested in, the "distance" from politics, with a fleeting nod to favor Christian-inspired electoral lists at the municipal level; all within the framework, in fact, of an almost total silence on the political theme, broken only by some sober mention of: the Spanish civil war,

However, these are essentially marginal indications with respect to the repeated, incessant reference to Salesian work and the need to support it in all ways, spiritual and material.

Wanting to look for the reason for this ad intra concentrationsome responses of the Salesian Family can be hypothesized, first of all the actual and macroscopic diffusion of the Congregation; growth that obviously absorbs all the resources of the Salesians and of the forces that collaborate there. We can add the beatifications and canonizations of Don Bosco and of our other saints: events which also orient everything about specifically Salesian work. It should also not be forgotten that Fr Ricaldone is the last Rector Major to have known D. Bosco, so his government activity is certainly marked by the concern to bequeath to future Salesians a faithful Congregation in all of its founder who, in the In our case, he saw the Cooperators as closely related to his work. Nor is the situation that is created between the two world conflicts to be overlooked:abroad they try to exploit the missionary action in support of a colonialist policy, while inside they put obstacles to the activities of the Church, especially among the young. In such a climate, the Salesians focus on their activities, accentuating their religious purpose and carefully avoiding exposing themselves on political and social grounds.

Whatever the causes, it is a fact that - as we said - the proposals of apostolic commitment presented to the Cooperators are directed in very clear prevalence over Salesian realizations in the world. Among these, the missions take on very special importance, especially those between the "savages" of Latin America or those developed in countries considered "exotic" (Far East). Attention to the missions is favored by the 50th of the first expedition (1925). The anniversary is underlined, at the level of Cooperators, by two of their Congresses: the IX °, celebrated in Argentina in 1924 (Buenos Aires), land of the first expedition landing, and the X °, held in Turin in 1926, in conjunction with a major missionary exhibition. For the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the missions, the BS launches a great missionary crusade, then sustained for a long time, in favor of scholarships in favor of missionary vocations.

Despite this fervor of activity, one has the impression of being faced with a crisis of the Cooperator, reduced almost exclusively to benefactor . The stasis can be symbolically identified in the death of D. Trione (1935), the soul of the Pious Union.

The horizon is once again expanding beyond the boundaries of the Salesian Family starting from the late Thirties and then the Forties, when the well-known Catechetical Crusade commissioned by D. Ricaldone for the centenary of the "first catechism" of D. Bosco (8.12.1841); initiative that is quickly spread in various ecclesial environments, with competitions, exhibitions, conferences and catechetical conferences supported by the publications of the LDC. For over a decade the BS informs and instructs the Cooperators on the subject, called to become apostles of the catechism, this time with some openings to catechetical renewal .

Further signs of orientation towards a wider apostolic action are, in the fifties, the attention given to the difficult post-war situation, in particular in the field of youth marginalization (“sciuscià”, in Italy), of work and education in gender.

In short, one has the impression that, in the last post-war period, the Cooperators are progressively urged to overcome the previous stasis, recovering the more properly ecclesial dimension of their action. This "rediscovery" can be attributed to various factors, starting from the relaunchcommissioned by D Ricaldone who, in 1947, attributes to D. Fedrigotti, general councilor, the specific care of the association and in 1950 appoints D. Favini as secretary. Other factors are undoubtedly: the celebration of the World Congress of the Apostolate of the Laity (Rome, 1951); the XIIth Congress of the Cooperators themselves (Rome, 1952), when Pius XII defined them as "most effective auxiliaries" of the "provident Catholic Action" (!); the appointment of D. Ricceri, general councilor, at the head of the Pious Union (1953); the celebration of various other Cooperator Congresses (Brussels, 1958 - Rome, 1959 - Madrid, 1960 - Barcelona, ​​1961).

The Cooperators are thus opening up to accept the message of Vatican II on the laity. 

The emerging spirituality in the female associations of the FMA environments

Runita G. Borja, fma

1. Associationism as an educational strategy

            The term association is used to indicate the group of individuals who adhere to a program, to common standards, to a pre-established purpose based on a statute or regulation. The association ordinarily presents the following characteristics: organic and institutional structure, defined by a statute; membership of members through the sharing of commitments and statutory purposes; stability and autonomy as an institution, beyond the variation of members; attribution of associative positions based on criteria established by the statute [23] .

  1. John Bosco, apostle of youth and educator par excellence, experienced the efficacy of youth religious associations. From the earliest years of the Oratory, he had given rise to the "Companies" which he called the key to piety, the conservatory of morals, the support of vocations [24] . The Associations responded to the needs of the young age and to the need for spontaneous activity and social life in the group, offering opportune spaces for religious formation in a climate of commitment, joy and charity.

            The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, founded in 1872 to "educate Christian women who are not well-off, or poor and abandoned, to lead them to morality, science and religion" [25] , immediately felt the need to have their own Associations for the formation of girls. Despite the spread of numerous Female Youth Associations, many Religious Institutes had their own Youth Associations that carried out the educational mission with their own spirituality.

            The methodological choice of the group is a pedagogical intuition that continues throughout the history of the Institute. In fact, among the three methodological ways proposed by the Guidelines for the educational mission of the FMA is the group as an opportunity for openness to the relationship, to work with others and to overcome individualism and subjectivism [26] .

2. Beginning and development of associations in the FMA environments

2.1 At the beginning of the Institute

            The Pious Associations date back to the origins of the Institute and reflect the intentionality and spirit of the Founders. Of the first nucleus of the FMA Institute, four were members of the Association of the Daughters of the Immaculate which had been founded in Mornese in 1855: Maria Domenica Mazzarello, Petronilla Mazzarello, Giovanna Ferrettino, Rosina Mazzarello.

            Already in the first laboratory opened for girls in 1862, Maria Domenica Mazzarello wanted to create a family environment to teach these girls a job, but above all to bring them to the Lord. A first example of the associated life among the girls of the Mornese laboratory was the Giardinetto di Maria recommended by the theologian Giuseppe Frassinetti, introduced by Maria Domenica to train girls in Christian values.

            Other means of training followed such as the 12-star practice introduced by sr. Enrichetta Sorbone in Nizza Monferrato in May 1878 and the Giardinetto di Maria established in Chieri by sr. Rosalia Pestarino, similar to the one started by Mother Mazzarello in Mornese. 

            In 1877 in Turin, sr. Elisa Roncallo founded an association dedicated to the Sacred Heart that Mother Mazzarello supported in every way. In this initiative, Sr. Elisa was inspired by Don Bosco who had organized the Companies among the boys of the Oratory, including that of the Holy One. Sacrament. Sr. Elisa outlined a simple regulation, adapted to the abilities of the girls. The intention of the Association was to repair the offenses done to the Sacred Heart with the flight of sin, with good and frequent Communions and with working for the salvation of souls. From this association many collaborators arose inside and outside the oratory.

            In 1879, on the 25th anniversary of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Fr. Lemoyne compiled the regulation for the experiment of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate with a single form of consecration also for those registered with the Guardian Angel Association. In 1880, in Bordighera, the director sr. Adele David outlined the Regulations of the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate and of the Guardian Angel and experimented it with external girls.

            Between 1886-87 there were other attempts at the Turin oratory for the project of a unique Marian Youth Association for the whole Institute. The Regulation of the Pious Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians was prepared, attending the festive Oratory of St. Angela Merici in Turin which did not go into effect. In several houses there were groups of Daughters of Mary, some of which were aggregated to the Primary of Rome [27] .


2.2 After the death of the Founders

            With the expansion of the Institute the need was felt for a unique and organized Association for the Houses. In 1897 the first regulation was printed with the title Regulation of the Association of Mary Help of Christians for Institutes and Festive Feminine Oratories with the approval of Fr Rua, attached to the Archconfraternity of the Devotees of Mary Help of Christians. The Association of the Daughters of Mary soon spread to other Houses in Italy and in the missions of Patagonia and the Magellanic Lands.

            The first decades of the twentieth century saw the liveliness of female associations in Italy also due to the increase in girls attending schools and other activities outside the usual family circle and for the strong female presence in the industries. Meanwhile, the Institute continued its expansion with new foundations in Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Spain, and new openings in Italy and other parts of Europe, the Middle East, Central and North America and Asia. The missionaries brought the consolidated forms of association to Italy in these lands.

             With the Decree of April 24, 1940, the Rector Major was given the power to erect in the Houses the four Associations of the Holy Angels , of the Garden of Mary , of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians and the Missionary Association of the Apostolate of Innocence. Over time, the Statutes - Regulations of the individual Associations approved by the Rector Major, Fr. Pietro Ricaldone - were revised. The Congregation of Religious gave approval to the Regulations of the four Associations with the Decree of 5 January 1953 [28] .

            It wasn't all easy though. Already around the 1950s objections arose about the desirability of the Associations for various reasons: the stronger needs of the firm; the girls' coldness and lack of enthusiasm; the many offers elsewhere. In response to these objections, the importance of the FMA's enthusiasm as animators was reaffirmed, the strength of the good example among the girls and the fact that the Associations are of free choice. We needed an exercise in trust and awareness of the importance of the Pious Associations as an educational strategy that favors the integral formation of girls [29] .

            Another problem was the apparent competition with other associations. In the IX General Chapter, Fr. Filippo Rinaldi urged the FMA to promote their own Associations, but to collaborate with other associations (Catholic Youth, Catholic Men, etc.) in favor of the Church and society, recalling that the FMA are auxiliaries , so they must help all [30]. In the following General Chapters X (1934) and XI (1947) space was given to the theme of the relationship with Catholic Action which is now widespread. The Rector Major Fr. Pietro Ricaldone encouraged the FMA to promote Catholic Action because it was the Pope's desire and because it was a valid means both for the lay and religious apostolate. The need to prepare the FMA for the animation of the institute's own associations was emphasized. The XII General Chapter addressed this issue about the relationship between the Oratory, Daughters of Mary and Catholic Action [31] . In the First Conference of the Provincial Delegates of the Pious Youth Associations of Italy and of Europa held in Turin, from 22nd to 25th September 1959, the need for a collaborative relationship with Catholic Action was reaffirmed especially in the parish oratories, taking concrete steps such as adapting the time of the Associations' meetings so that they did not coincide with the meetings of Catholic Action and keeping in mind what foundation and leaven of Catholic Action are the Youth Associations [32] .

  1. Youth associations promoted by the Institute until the 1950s

            The sources show that in the first half of the twentieth century, among the girls of the different Houses of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, four are the female Associations promoted and most widespread. The first three are Marian Associations: Saints Angels for girls, Mary's Garden for preadolescents, Daughters of Mary for young women. The fourth Association, the Apostolate of Innocence , extends to all the students who attend the various Houses. The Associations are based on free choice and therefore more important is the quality than the quantity of the adherents.

            For this study I will present the Youth Associations spread throughout the Institute, using as a reference the text of the Statutes - Regulations , published in the 1950s [33] .

3.1 Pious Association of Holy Angels [34]

            The particular devotion of St. John Bosco to the Guardian Angels inspired the idea of ​​establishing the Association for the girls who attend the festive Oratories and the elementary schools of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. The houses of Nizza Monferrato, Turin, Bordighera and Chieri were the first to introduce the Association with its own regulation.

            The Association is proposed for girls from about seven to ten years. Its purpose is to honor all the Angels in general and the Guardian Angels in particular, and to train girls to imitate the three principal virtues of the Angels, that is, purity, obedience and the desire to make known and serve the Lord and his Immaculate Mother [35] .

3.2 Pious Association of Saint Mary D. Mazzarello or Mary's Garden [36]

            When Maria D. Mazzarello was a daughter of the Immaculate Conception she introduced the Giardinetto di Maria Association promoted by Fr Frassinetti among the girls of the Mornese laboratory. It was also introduced among the Oratoriane of Chieri. After the death of Mother Mazzarello the Association spread in Italy and abroad with the same purpose, although not in identical forms.

            The Association is for girls aged ten to thirteen, with the aim of forming them to a true and heartfelt devotion to the Virgin Mary and growing in imitation of her virtues. The girls are divided into flower beds or groups of five or twelve or fifteen, and each flower bed is ordinarily presided over by a so-called Gardener's Daughter of Mary , with the task of watching over her group inside and even outside the Oratory or School [37 ] .


3.3 Pious Association of the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate Help of Christians or 'Daughters of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians' [38]

            Don Bosco wanted to found an association for the young women based on the two columns of the Eucharist and of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians. The desire found concretization in the time of Don Michele Rua when at Valdocco, on December 8th 1895, the Association of the Daughters of Mary began, inscribed in the Archconfraternity of the Devotees of Mary Help of Christians. The Association has spread rapidly in Italy and abroad. He then received his canonical recognition.

            The Association is for teenagers from thirteen onwards. It has the dual purpose of training girls in piety and in the apostolate , through a particular devotion to Mary. and to the Eucharist, according to the spirit of St. John Bosco [39] .

3.4 Pious Apostolic Association of Innocence [40]

            The association called Apostolate of Innocence has its origins in the context of the difficult mission in China. The Salesian missionary Don Giovanni Fergnani, passing through Nizza Monferrato in 1908, invited all the students from kindergarten to the upper classes to pray and do good works for the conversion of these peoples. With the support of Fr Rua, the Association soon spread to the other houses of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. After some years, its Statute was extended. In 1940 the Apostolate of Innocence received its canonical recognition.

            The members come from kindergartens, public oratories, from different schools and boarding schools for workers and students, regardless of age. The most active associates are divided into groups called Missionary Propagandists . The purpose is to offer prayers, virtuous acts and small alms for the conversion of sinners, the propagation of the Gospel, the preservation of the faith and the multiplication of ecclesiastical, religious and missionary vocations.

4. Lines of spirituality of the FMA youth associations

The lines of spirituality promoted by the youth associations are drawn from a careful and thorough reading of the Manuals, Statutes or Regulations and the Formulary of these four Associations, accompanied by the reference to the Deliberations of the General Chapters of this period and the Acts of the First Conference for Delegates Provincial Youth Associations of Italy and Europe .

4.1 Personal relationship with Jesus and Mary Most Holy

All four Associations indicate the personal relationship with Jesus and Mary as means to form youth for prayer, purity and the apostolate.

Devotion to Mary is expressed in a familiar and filial way, as for example the prayer of the three Hail Marys daily with the prayer to you I give my heart, Mother of my Jesus, Mother of love , the special homage in her feasts and on the Sabbath day, and the promotion of devotion to Mary Help of Christians. The aim is also to imitate Mary, especially in her character of help, of charity, and therefore of Help of Christians.

Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is expressed in daily participation in Mass, in communion, in the visit to the Blessed Sacrament, in the spread of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and other manifestations of Eucharistic piety. The remedial dimension of Communion is also emphasized for the Daughters of Mary .

4.2 Gradual proposals adapted to age and circumstances

It could be said that the Associations propose a spiritual journey that involves the different ages, starting with the girls ( Association of the Holy Angels ) up to the age of the young adults ( Daughters of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians ). The proposals are demanding but age-appropriate and require radical choices of Christian life from girls, preadolescents, adolescents and young people. The especially emphasized virtues are: obedience, purity, piety, sincerity, charity, humility, joy. They are considered the most necessary virtues for the period from childhood to youth.

But there is no lack of means that the Associations propose to help the associates reach these goals: the weekly, bi-weekly and monthly conferences; mutual help; the good example; the holidays; the accompaniment. The Associations stress the importance of religious education and docility to spiritual guides.

Youth protagonism, an important element in the Salesian educational method, is expressed in the collaboration of the girls in the various activities, the choice or election of the leaders of the various teams, the assistance of the Daughters of Mary to the Angioletti and as a gardener in the various groups of the Giardinetto di Maria and participation in the Association Council. The division into teams also helps to develop interaction and mutual aid.

4.3 Practical, simple and daily practices

            In order to achieve concrete life and promote the gradual growth of girls, the various Associations propose concrete actions. The various documents contain many practices that might seem overly punctual, but in reality they are valid means to start taking habits that will be useful throughout life.

            The various proposals concern the care for the moments of morning and evening prayer, assistance to religious services, attendance at the Sacraments, fulfillment of one's duties such as participation in the lessons of the catechism and at the meetings of the Association, hard work , the mortification and escape of bad companions and readings. The celebration of various anniversaries and parties with specific programs fosters interest and increases fervor or renewal of commitment.

4.4 Apostolic-social purpose

The insistence with which the various Associations propose the apostolate shows the intention to focus on a non-intimate holiness, but which tends to bring other peers to a truly Christian life. The expressions of the apostolate are varied and suited to different circumstances. Apostolic commitments extend from the tight circle of companions, to the family, to the community. The means of the apostolate are above all the good example among peers and among family members, the invitation to attend the Oratory, the teaching of catechism, the care of the brothers and sisters, the accompaniment of the Viaticum to the sick, the diffusion of the good press, the propagation of devotion to Mary, the work of the diffusive good.

The apostolate has a more social outlet thanks to Don Filippo Rinaldi, to his sensitivity to the social changes in which the Daughter of Mary leaves home and goes to workplaces where she is called to give testimony with her being. Don Rinaldi makes his contribution to the wider opening of social Associations, educating girls in opening up a network of ecclesial and social relations, and developing the spirit of initiative, courage, solidarity and spiritual depth, always with the spirit of St. Francis de Sales [41] .


4.5 Strong sense of belonging and serious commitment

Belonging to the Associations also manifests itself in a formal way and with external practices, expression of a deeper reality rooted in the relationship with Jesus, with Mary Most Holy, with angels and saints. Among the signs of belonging there are: the admission form, the prayers, the registration certificate, the own medals, the banners. Furthermore: the "kissing the medal", the offering of a special tribute to Mary Most Holy in her feasts and on Saturday, the practice of the maxims of St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello, the assiduous participation in meetings and on special days with a precise program. The exhortation to fraternal correction is not lacking.

5. Conclusion

The rise of women's Associations in the FMA circles is very united with the origins of the Institute, so much so that it could be said that for the Institute the Associations are one of the conditions of its mission of integral education. Through the Associations the relationship of familiarity and collaboration between educators and students, between adults and young people is realized, and safe spaces and concrete experiences of solidarity and participation are created.       

However, the Associations are only a dimension of the educational method, and not the only one. In fact, membership in the Associations is not mandatory, rather, it is a free choice that involves a willingness to participate and adhere to a gradual and serious path. The focus on quality rather than on the number of members is reiterated from time to time in the sources consulted. In this sense, it can be affirmed that the Associations have given a strong impulse of growth in the Christian life, forming coherent people in the faith and true ferment in their own family, in the school, in the oratory and in the world of work. Associations are also fertile ground for the development of vocations to Salesian religious life.


The emerging spirituality in the SDB male associations

Rodolfo Bogotto, sdb

1. Introductory remarks

The title of the intervention is at once suggestive and deceptive because it is a question of examining the 18/20 volumes of the Companies or Assistant Edition Companies or Management Companies , and the 14 of Companies in Action or Ragazzi in Azione , to find traces of youth spirituality Salesian or perhaps simply what education in the faith was suggested by the magazine during its twenty-year existence.

He guided me to clarify the choice and identify the Luigi Borgogno approach, a Salesian of the editorial staff, who in an article published in two consecutive months talked about "school of holiness".

"The extension of the Holy Year to the whole Catholic world shows us the main path of our work: [...]. We do not waste time: our educational responsibility has a single name: to form saints ; and our associations of Catholic action have a single mission: a school of holiness . [...] Again and again Domenico Savio reminds us of the path traced by D. Bosco: do not get lost in frills, but build the interiority of our young people , use everything for one purpose only: sanctify them ".

The history of the magazine accompanies and expresses a phase of development and adjustment of the Salesian Work and its associationism, from 1949 to 1967. We are in an ecclesial context in which the need for a change that finds its apex and point of departure in the Second Vatican Council. The world picture is characterized by the cold war and the opposition of the two blocks. In the Italian national context, instead, we are witnessing the reconstruction process in the immediate post-war period, followed by the economic boom and the gradual transformation of the face of society.

Since the beginnings of Valdocco the Companies are intended as instruments for perfecting and training the most sensitive young people and, at the same time, as groups that help individuals to grow spiritually, to animate-ferment the mass, to take care of the good progress of the environment. Don Pietro Ricaldone, during his term as Rector Major, wants to relaunch the CCs, giving them a rather rigid structure, articulated in a group of groups connected to the top through pyramidal processes and informative passages between precise and punctual center and base.

And the magazine Le Compagnie first of all acquires the function of "voice" which enters the Salesian houses to bring the fervor back to the CCs. and serves primarily as a coordination tool, as it provides stimuli, operational suggestions, educational programs, contents.

2. Salesian youth spirituality in the magazines The Companies and Children in Action

2.1 The first proposal for education to the faith

Don Pietro Ricaldone on February 24, 1950, that is «in the days of fervent expectation of the glorification of our angelic Dominic Savio», he wrote a circular letter inviting the confreres to «take the utmost account of the second part of Domenico Savio's admonition to Don Bosco (ed. Dream of December 22, 1872), that is to say "to preserve the virtue of chastity that so much pleases in the eyes of God" ». In that precise context he feels the need to propose a clarification which he describes as "appropriate". For this reason he introduces a paragraph: About "Spirituality" of Don Bosco .

The Rector Major first admits that "not everyone agrees in defining it", so much so that some tend to make it "consist of a specific and distinctive virtue", while others describe it as "a flower of virtue". Then he determines it as " the way or method to elevate a soul to Christian perfection ". And he clarifies: "In guiding souls to the practice and perfection of Christian life - and it was above all a matter of youthful souls or engaged in the youth apostolate - Don Bosco went on as the Lord inspired him and as the circumstances of people, of place , of time, of condition, they demanded ". And immediately draws a first consequence: " the obligation to study incessantly the whole life of our Father». And at the end of his reflection he hopes that "with the passing of the years and with the studies on our Father [...] it will be possible to ignite this new type of spirituality " because "the son of Don Bosco" is a new type "".

Looking at the periodical with a critical eye, we have the distinct feeling that the concern to restore sometimes emerges, at other times to safeguard and sometimes to strengthen the Salesian charismatic element par excellence. Organized youth groups are the privileged tool through which to train the person anchored in the great values, educate them in the faith, convey their attention to the needs of others, let them experience apostolic commitment, recognize their vocation to best realize their project of life in the light of God.

Luigi Borgogno is the first of three columnists who, in the first issue, follow one another and intertwine, face different problems and integrate, so as to form a sort of editorial triptych. He shares a widespread conviction: religious companies "are one of the cornerstones of his (Don Bosco's ed.) Educational system". Therefore it is a question of digging "in depth to lay bare the roots of its fruitfulness". It is not enough: we need to "understand them, love them, realize them". Only in this way will some goals be achieved: "restore to them all their educational efficiency, their spiritual constructiveness , renew their external structure and youthful dynamism . We will form a flourishing Catholic youth [...] for the fulfillment of its temporal and eternal destiny, for the Church that entrusts it to us, for the world that hopes for salvation from it ". It seems that precisely in defining the aims of this constitutive element of Don Bosco's pedagogical system, and specifically in the expression "spiritual constructiveness", the writer wishes to highlight the role that education to the faith, structured and lived in an associative context, plays in making the educator's personality grow and mature.

His thought is completed by Eugenio Valentini, who, after having defined the Companies " an indispensable instrument of education in a climate of freedom ", "brilliant intuition", highlights other fundamental aspects for our theme: "Having then inoculated it into young hearts the flame of the apostolate , having called them to part of our worries , practically making them live our lives , giving them a lot of trust: all this is the most effective means of forming them and of starting them to a higher vocation, if they are acts ». So much so that he summarizes the speech by quoting a motto, often on Don Bosco's lips: « Hi, by saving, saved». And he adds that it does not concern only the Salesian, but "for anyone who lives in our environment" represents "the principal means of sanctification ".

To substantiate this thesis, mention a consideration by Fr Ricaldone:

"The Companies are a prominent pedagogical creation, one of the most fruitful and powerful manifestations of healthy activism , because with them the educators, while forming and improving themselves , become in their turn and almost without realizing it, educators : and all the more effective inasmuch as their work is less noted and in more intimate contact with the mass, [...]. In this way the holy emulation , the stimulus of good example , formation in the apostolate , a truly fruitful action to keep sin away and prepare for the Church and country, will be perennial among our young people. Christians and worthy citizens ".

The third article, by Giovanni Marocco, with military language, as a crusade, proposes Dominic Savio, next blessed, as a proven ideal for his imitable exemplariness. 

"The" Companies "are a sacred militia of Salesian youth, pure, strong and fierce, in whose ranks our great Founder wanted to organize that army of his young sons, scattered on all the continents. Companies of authentic Christians , to be confirmed and therefore true " soldiers of Jesus Christ " who actively militate against the world, against the devil and against evil inclinations. Dominic Savio is the model born of our "religious companies", because he was ordained by God and sanctified by his grace , and by Don Bosco marked with a fingerand placed at the head of the youth groups that are educated, in all the heavens on all continents, in Salesian Institutes. [...] in an environment, made up of good, ordinary and sometimes bad boys, he grew up and [...] fought generously , fought and won the battles of the Lord: he sanctified himself with obedience , the spirit of piety , the mortification ; and with that ardor of the apostolate , which was the most surprising and active characteristic of his holiness, he sacrificed himself for the sanctification of all those who lived around him, companions and strangers, small and large, inside and outside the Oratory ".

2.2 Essays on Salesian youth spirituality

To systematize the data, I accepted the periodization, developed at the time by Enrico Lupano.

2.2.1 First period (1949-1954)

If we think of finding an organic proposal, that is a well-structured set of objectives, stages, contents, initiatives and evaluation criteria of the experience, we remain disappointed. We are rather in the presence of declarations of intent, underlining, resuming and in-depth analysis of some salient aspects of a journey to faith that is substantially presupposed and which finds its prescriptive description in the Regulations, in the Preventive System and in the edifying biographies of model students, detail Domenico Savio.

A partial survey, concentrated on the first two years, allows us to gather interesting elements. A character and virtue package is suggested for character formation: accuracy in fulfilling one's duties, crystalline sincerity with oneself and with others, integral honesty in relationships and friendship, willpower, affability and selfless generosity, humility, gratitude, obedience that requires, among other things, strict observance of the rules of the house, joy. But shaping the person also involves activating the ascetic dimension and self-discipline, knowing how to occupy time exactly and therefore fighting idleness, emulating the purpose of Dominic Savio's "Death but not sins!", This involves "conscious purity, escape of dangers, severe spirit of mortification, retreat »

"Our principal, I would say," professional responsibility " towards the Church and society is to prepare young Christians, firmly rooted in faith, giants of charity, radiant with grace, who are the new men of the new world". Here then is the invitation to acquire a spirit of piety and devotion, which is substantiated by daily prayer, regular confession and frequent Communion, "the intimacy of Eucharistic talks"; filial love towards the Blessed Virgin Mary, that is, knowing, loving, imitating Mary, proposed as a " guide to Jesus and Help of Christendom "; to honor and imitate the Saints.

A primary purpose of the Salesian educational process consists in "forging a living cell of the Church, a leaven of new life for humanity". Therefore the individual is asked to "build his companions, admonishing them charitably, and exciting them to good with words, but much more with good example", "works of zeal for his own and the sanctification of others". But the emphasis is above all on acquiring the spirit of apostolate which must be combined with the care of the missionary ideal, the will to cooperate in the good of souls, a valid competition for Catholic Action, for catechetical, cultural and sporting associations, charitable, w giving rise to them, perhaps, where they do not yet exist, fomenting them and developing them where they already flourish.

To "deepen some aspects of spiritual life", Salesian educators are urged to offer young people a series of lectures, "wisely distributed throughout the year and organized in various ways". And the "general program" is inspired by the figure of Domenico Savio. We recall that the five-year period is marked by some ecclesial events of strong resonance and of high emblematic value: celebration of the Holy Year and beatification of Domenico Savio (1950), canonization of Mother Maria Domenica Mazzarello (1951) and of Don Bosco's pupil ( 1954), "first modern champion of youthful secular sanctity [...] First, not unique. First, not last! "

2.2.2 Second period (1954-1957)

The magazine splits into The Assistant Edition Companies , still destined for the leaders and animators of the Salesian works and the Companies - Member Edition , then Companies in Action . In the first article of the new vintage the team announces "A new column [...]:" Letters to a young educator ", in which the phases and the most characteristic aspects of the psychology of the boy and the adolescent are outlined». In fact the new phase is characterized in the first place by a more massive attention to the pedagogical and psychological aspects, so that the articles, entrusted to sector experts, are thought of as an aid to guide educators and allow them to deepen the theoretical bases- pedagogical aspects of their educational intervention.

Also the introductory article of the 1955-56 vintage confirms the progressive transition. On the one hand it reaffirms that the "work of excavation and enhancement of the fundamental pillars of the preventive system , precisely because they are vitally connected with the CCs ", which "in the thought of the Superiors, must really invest all our pedagogical action, be grafted" continues in the courtyard as in the school, in discipline as in piety ". On the other hand, the themes for the new year are set out, qualified as "airy", "extremely topical", "extremely interesting task":

"Password for 1956: missionary crusade and" religious instruction to support the Faith and guide the Christian life ". [...] Missionary crusade founded primarily on clear and profound ideas: [...]. The missionary idea, in the integral sense of the word, " aedificatio Corporis Christi ", must invest the whole spiritual life of the young and unify it, because in each of his actions he becomes the builder of the Mystical Body of Christ in development , " quod est Ecclesia", And therefore every action has a missionary soul. A topical theme, then, because today's world marks its breath by now on an international basis and the missionary problem today has the meaning and value of a true openness to the international sense, in a Pauline and Christian conception [...]. On the other hand, the need for a solid religious education is imperative precisely because it forms a mentality, a conception, a Christian evaluation of our time , in which there is a tendency towards a progressive cancellation of the more human values, leveling all under the depersonalizing press of the public opinion, a prelude to a renewed paganism of customs and life ".

Let's now take a look at Companies in Action . After a package of numbers that we can consider "ad experimentum", the staff in October 1954 acknowledged that the publication is "a formative-technical organ, [...], more formative than technical", for a choice made "on purpose". In fact, the magazine "is aimed above all at our audience of adolescents rather than children", because it was conceived as "an instrument in the hands of the Assistant for the life of the Society itself: (he) must know how to value it and make it understood ", that is, "it will be enough to read, discuss and bring into practice an article to have the meeting ready and activated". The director then goes on to illustrate the training sections:

«Training that will take place in 4 directions:

1) Human formation : " Men under construction ": it is concerned with giving the solid basis of human virtues to the construction of the social, Christian and apostolic personality. Beware that being a Christian without being a man is the worst propaganda that can be done to Christianity itself!

2) Social formation : " Men these our brothers " section: today the problems of social life are at the forefront and, on the other hand, there is an impressive series of authoritative recommendations that invite us to open these horizons to our young people to guide them to the sense of solidarity which is, for us, the sense of Christian caritas .

3) Christian formation : section " My Christianity ": it is the central nucleus of our formative work. Challenging articles on the vocation and Christian faith. We are convinced, in fact, that if we do not aim decisively to make Christians aware of the richness and splendor of their vocation, we will end up, with the times they run, making holes in the water, and many perhaps.

4) Specific apostolic formation according to the spirit of the CC. with technical-organizational elements ("Activity of the month" section) and photographic documentaries on the vitality and development of the CC. in the world ("CC. in the world" section) ".

And it clarifies other editorial choices. Precisely because the global approach is "very serious", then "we try to lighten up with stories and documentation on the Church of silence and current situations of Christianity, which will serve to give our children the sense of time in which we live, with services on specific phenomena of our time, cinema and sport, understood not so much in an informative sense, but rather as training in the personal capacity for reaction and evaluation, or biographies of contemporary young people, always very eloquent, etc. ». The artisans are given a "special constant column" (" Ragazzi lavoratori "), "to discuss the problems of work".

2.2.3 Third period (1957-1963)

Change the title of the magazine: Company Executives . Furthermore, the evolution in terms of direction and editorial formula continues: in the last two years it has been preferred to offer «mainly subsidies, without however renouncing, ... to broader theoretical studies and reports».

1958: "centenary of the Apparition of the Immaculate in Lourdes"; the magazine sets its work plan so as to make the year " live in the Marian spirit" . It welcomes the Strenna of the Rector Major, who invites us to honor "the Blessed Virgin with the devout recitation of the Holy Rosary", and underlines how this constitutes "a very happy occasion to re-present the value of this prayer, so important and so dear to Don Bosco ». And the paragraph, which illustrates the unitary program of the year, divided into four stages, is entitled "The meeting with the Mother":

1st time : from the Immaculate to the Epiphany: "The Immaculate restores Jesus to the world". Guiding idea: "Christ came into the world through Mary and the world will return to Christ through Mary";

2nd time : 12 January - 10 February (carnival): "Pilgrims with the Rosary to Lourdes". Guiding idea: "the road to Lourdes is the road to the Rosary";

3rd time : February 11th - April 7th (Lent): "The days of the Grotto". Guiding idea: "relive the great invitations of the Madonna to Bernadette: prayer, penance, sacrifices for sinners"

4th time : May: "The month of the Madonna". Guiding idea: "Don Bosco's boys and their wonderful intimacy with the Madonna Ausiliatrice". It is accompanied by the recovery of two traditional initiatives: the "Peregrinatio Mariae" to one of the famous Marian shrines and the practice of "florets", referred to as the "31 diamonds for the crown of the Queen".

On the next page we come across the announcement that the topic of study for the new year will focus on " social formation ", a subject that "links up organically" with what preceded it, namely the formation of character , "a logical passage from the study of the individual to that of society ". "A very topical subject", "in a social era par excellence", "in which social problems are imposed with increasing urgency". It aims to "make the individual aware of this living and pulsating reality in which he lives and develops, from which society receives and to which he must give"

"A first cycle (ed. 11 conferences) will study the elements of a natural, human sociality that springs from our very nature: we will lead the young person to discover the profound unity and natural solidarity that binds every man to the great human family, thus examining the more important social virtues , from justice to obedience, from freedom to sincerity, to kindness, etc. [...], we will examine, in a second series of conferences (ed. 7), the revealed foundations of a supernatural and Christian society , starting from the reality of sin as destruction of sociality in individuals and nations, attacking civilization and progress, cancer of the modern world. We will then move on tostudy of Grace as an expansion of sociality through the channels of the Sacraments and the reality of the Mystical Body of Christ. Finally we will study the apostolate as the summit of sociality and the reasoning of Grace ».

The assistant is entrusted with the task of «choosing and presenting [...] those parts that he considers most suitable for his audience, going down, in the discussions, on the practical aspects in which the ideas transmitted are concretely realized». That is, to identify knowledge that is indispensable to adequately understand Christian life, to choose experiences capable of mediating and proposing attitudes and knowledge, cultivating attitudes to be subjected to frequent verification. Bearing in mind that "the first social reality in which young people live is precisely the oratory, the college, the Society and it is in this environment that they must give their first contribution to social life and make it their first experience".

The Compagnie magazine in action , up and down remains structured in headings that generally return from month to month. The starting point is the dialogue with the readers ( Without stamp ). The problem questions range from personal training to the life of the Companies, from civil and ecclesial current affairs to sport, from school to popular curiosities.  I, the others, the world. And what can I do ? is in close connection with the theme of the annual study on "social formation", while Adolescent Itineraries , signed by a certain D. Luciano, continues the journey of building the person, partially developed in advance with the theme of character formation . Giuseppe Pace, instead, with Vita di Gesùguides the boy to know the gospel texts, their message, their authors, and concludes his interventions with 5 imaginary interviews that allow a "narrative reconstruction" of the Easter events. Testimonials proposes the stories, sometimes unpublished, of 8 protagonists who, touched by the "hand of God", experienced facts that changed their existence or left an indelible mark on those who met them. Novella rocket , or Centosecond of humor allows Massimo Marcelli to propose episodes of daily life by way of anecdote, which make it possible to pass on, through the technique of projection, ideas for reflection and “social” qualities-values ​​to be acquired.

2.2.4 Fourth period (1963-1967)

Whoever passes through the years of the magazine cannot ignore the editorial of more than three dense pages signed by the director Carlo Fiore, which appeared in October 1961.

"A new view" - the columnist begins - permeates the Catholic world. In view of the next Council, we are witnessing the "progressive focus in the Church of the Apostolate of the laity, of their function and mission in the dynamics of the Mystical Body". And he comments laconically: "sign of the times".

 Therefore the CC., "Our school [...] of the Apostolate of the Laity", must be reset. "They represent the summit of our educational work and respond to the trust and expectation of the Church that asks us militants capable of operating tomorrow the" consecratio mundi "which is their exclusive competence". This will happen only if the boys of the Salesian works begin "today concretely to" consecrate "their little world of children and adolescents". And "without a serious inner life the apostolate would be an empty word today and a source of trouble tomorrow".

A new problem, then, "awaits a solution". The range of action of the magazine must widen "vertically": "from the boys we pass to the young people of secondary schools". because "youth is becoming a phenomenon and an age to itself, with dimensions unknown to other times". This requires "a lot of openness and flexibility, a great deal of sensitivity to today and freedom in methods, [...] we need what, with a comprehensive term, we call Don Bosco's" modernity "." "For the rapid evolution of times and mentality", the solution must be discovered in the "spirit" of Don Bosco, which "requires us to emphasize, in any eventuality, on supernatural values, also and above all with young men".

And so to Joseph Aubry is entrusted the honor of presenting the "Campaign" for 1962. He starts from the need to interest young people in sacramental life, "accessible only to the living faith that knows how to read in the signs and humble love that extracts and experiences its riches ». It is antisalesian to suppose that they have less need to "learn to convince themselves of their baptized reality or to approach the Sacrament of Confession" than to know how to take advantage of entertainment and study.

Precisely because the Campaign " does not arise on the level of an intellectual study, but on the level of action, starting from the concrete realities lived by the young ", one understands "the choice of the Sacraments to be rediscovered and lived and the order in which they they will be ».

The choice made comes from the " sacramental reality inscribed in the being and in the life" of the young people themselves. In the first place they are "marked, by means of Baptism and Confirmation, of an indelible character and provided with permanent graces upon which all their Christian life is built". Furthermore, Eucharist and Communion "offered permanently to their Christian vigor". The other three "Sacraments do not represent for them a present center of interest" because "they have not yet" entered "into them".

The order adopted is determined by a decisive fact: "the logic of life". It is not possible not to take into account that "the Church itself, in its most important liturgical periods strives to officially revive in its members their reality as baptized and confirmed: Lent and Easter Time . Easter and Pentecost each year are truly to be understood as a deepening offered to all of the graces of Baptism, the first Easter of the Christian, and of Confirmation, the first Pentecost of the Christian ".

The Compagnie magazine in action enters in perfect harmony with the magazine intended for the "managers". It translates and exemplifies step by step what is formulated in the "guide".

            Here is an example of how the effects of Baptism are presented in the magazine:

"You have been" grafted "," transplanted "into Jesus, you have become a piece, a member, a cell of his Mystical Body. And of course you live of his divine and supernatural life, no longer of your purely human and natural life. In the veins of your soul circulates, so to speak, his blood, his life, you are one with Him, you share his fate ... [. ...] if I have become a "piece" of Christ, one of his members, if I have to live his life and not mine , how many things change! I must judge things as He judges them, react to evil and sin as He reacts, sacrifice me if it is necessary as one sacrifices Him, have in my heart his yearnings, his hopes, his bitterness ... rejoice, cry with Him ... ».

3. Conclusions

17 years have passed since the Easter of 1949, the debut year, in December 1966. If we compare the first and the last number we have the feeling that an abyss separates them.

Carlo Fiore, at the end of the twenty-year service provided by the magazine, while preparing to hand over the deliveries to the new publication, draws up a budget. It was about "stirring the waters of a certain pedagogical stagnation, starting from the relaunch of the associative movement of Salesian Youth to revive the dynamism of the House of Don Bosco". Results: ?? the magazine fulfilled the task "extending its range of action to the whole sphere of pedagogical problems , reawakening dormant sensibilities, favoring the exchange of experiences, providing suggestions and work themes". ‚Added to the work of renewal of the associative movement that« ended up touching the whole complex of relations and educational methods to invest all the problems of the formation of young people». "Around the magazine" a halo of publications and aids (n. 40) dedicated to educators and young people [...] a set of initiatives that attracted the attention and sympathy of educators even outside the Salesian circle ". And he points to the new in the wake of continuity: " Catechesis , liturgy , spiritual-moral and social formation , associationism, the problems of leisure and vocation orientation in its broadest sense, will be debated in the new magazine under a typically youthful, pastoral and Salesian angle ».

One can ask what a great contribution the two magazines with their "induced" have given to the Congregation for the definition and qualification of Salesian youth spirituality. An answer may be the entire second part of the acts of the 23rd general chapter, entitled "The journey of faith" which finds its synthetic expression in the formulation of the "four great aspects of Christian maturation", or "areas".

We are only at the beginning of exploration.


Elements of the missionary spirituality of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians


Piera Cavaglià, fma

       The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians [FMA] does not address the missions in its reached maturity, almost as an extension of its works - as happened for other religious institutes - but arises with a specific missionary spirit. It nourishes the lifestyle, the climate of the communities, the educational works and takes shape, five years after its foundation, in sending young sisters to Uruguay and Argentina. The first missionary dream of Don Bosco, relating to Patagonia, is in fact dated in 1872. The FMA Institute, founded on 5 August 1872, therefore bears the imprint of the explicit missionary intentionality of the Founder and his direct collaborators. "Remember that for October we will send thirty MA daughters with a dozen Salesians; some even earlier, if there is urgency "(Don Bosco in Cagliero,

       Don Bosco saw the female Institute founded by him open to the ends of the world: "I pray to God that in all he instills the spirit of charity and fervor, so that this humble Congregation may grow in number, expand into others and then other remote countries of the earth ... "(ms aut. in the minutes of 1880).

       The same Salesian directors of the FMA, Don Cagliero and Don Costamagna, contributed to strengthening the missionary fervor in the first FMA as a universal dimension of the "spirit of Mornese". With their sense of utopia, enthusiasm and dream for the missions of America, they nurtured missionary universality in the first community. And we find this characteristic mark along the history in the various communities, in the various periods and in different geographical contexts.

1. The challenges of the context and the sending of missionaries

            The socio-political-cultural context that is the background to this reflection is not only a context that favors missionary expansion, promoted on the other hand at the ecclesial level, but it is a context marked by the two world wars, by the rise of totalitarianisms and from several national conflicts. These inevitably hindered the Institute's missionary projects, but they did not stop them altogether, on the contrary they required a strong commitment to adapt to the emergency and apostolic creativity.

If the missionary development had marked a phase of slowing down in the years of the First World War, however it had a decisive recovery on the occasion of particular events, such as: the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute (1922), the celebration of the jubilee of the Salesian missions (1925), the canonization of Don Bosco (1934) and the beatification of Sr. Maria D. Mazzarello (1938).

The Superior General Mother Luisa Vaschetti, who in 1924 succeeded Daghero mother Catherine, had left for Argentina still a novice and then it increased by missionary the Institute's expansion and the formation of the missionaries.

In the period considered by the present research, the Institute considered the various nations, including those in Europe, a mission land. Thus it was in the mentality of those who sent FMA to strengthen the educational works already begun or to found new ones. For an expanding religious congregation, the charism of the Founder and the Merger was a gift to be radiated with a sense of responsibility to reach children, girls, boys, poor, immigrants, in need of integral promotion of any geographical and cultural context.

            Despite the challenges, the Institute since the death of its Founder in 1951, continued sending missionaries (2,094 in all, including 298 novices) to respond to the pressing demands of the Bishops and the Salesians themselves who were already in areas that demanded the presence educational program of the FMA.


FMA sent on a mission from 1877 to 1957


Mother Maria D. Mazzarello  (1877-1881)           48

Mother Caterina Daghero      (1881-1924)          983

Mother Luisa Vaschetti          (1924-1943)          771

Mother Ermelinda Lucotti     (1943-1957)          531

The process that led to the juridical autonomy of the Institute in 1906, with the separation from the Salesian Congregation and with the re-elaboration of the Constitutions, did not compromise, as feared by the superiors themselves, the vitality of the Institute and its fidelity to the Founder, indeed he strengthened them. "The Institute develops prodigiously in all parts of the world, the discipline is excellent and the Constitutions are faithfully observed [...]. In my humble opinion, the Sisters of Mary Help of Christians deserve praise and encouragement from the Congregation for their zeal and their good will "(Report to the Holy See of 7 June 1908, after legal separation, drafted by the Benedictine Consultor Pierre Bastien ).

2. The sources of missionary spirituality

            Being a way of life and relationships, it is necessary to resort to experience as a methodological way. In fact, among the sources consulted there are no studies carried out by missionaries, systematic elaborations on their activity and on the spirit that animated them, but simple letters, travel diaries, stories, testimonies, articles for missionary magazines, for the Institute's Newsletter and the Salesian Bulletin . The "way of experience", which is of a wise nature, allows a knowledge of spirituality not through the speculative modality, but through the concreteness of experience.

It therefore appears that the faces of missionary spirituality are as many as there are people who live and embody it, however it is possible to grasp some basic lines from the sources.


3. The spirituality of the FMA: a missionary spirituality

            The assumption at not only theoretical, but experiential level of Don Bosco's programmatic ideal: da mihi animas cetera tolle, triggers a missionary dynamism in the FMA Institute, which becomes a lifestyle, educational passion, energy of renewal and inculturation in the name of the proclamation of the Gospel, a source of human fulfillment for people and peoples.

It was a common and rooted conviction at the origins of the Institute that every FMA would be realized as a religious and as a Salesian educator in self-donation for the salvation of souls: "A daughter who entered with intention of thinking only of her soul is not fit for 'fulfillment of the duties incumbent on the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians ”(1st meeting of the directors at Mornese 1878). Missionary life is not seen as an addition to the activity of the Institute, but constitutes one of the essential elements of its spiritual heritage . It is in fact rooted in the following of Christ, nourished by apostolic daring, by the community dimension of the Institute and by the sense of belonging to the Church and to the Salesian Family.

It is a recurrent observation in the General Chapters: "The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians is a missionary Institute, and therefore must have a missionary spirit" (IX CG).

       The model of holiness proposed by Don Bosco to consecrated men and women for the salvation of the young is "a model so radical and austere as to leave us stunned: an obedience without limits, very generous; an essential, ascetic, yet joyful lifestyle; an impressive industriousness according to the community mission; a charity without boundaries [...] for the divine service and the salvation of souls "(cf study by Aldo Girando).

       It is evident that this spirituality is proposed to all the FMA, but in a more radical way it is assumed by those who choose to leave their homeland because they are sent on missions properly so called. Each - wherever it is found - feels a living part of a missionary Church and of an Institute open to the dimensions of the world. The mission in fact is not identified with an activity that some FMA carry out, but it is the paradigm of the educational action of a religious Family called to share with the youth of the whole world the joy of the encounter with Jesus.

            The Vicar general, mother Enrichetta Sorbone, who for many years was also coordinator of the missions and missionaries, in a circular recommended to all the FMA to cultivate " universal charity " as a characteristic dimension of the spirituality of the Institute:

"The Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, who feels her mission to help Jesus in the sublime work of human redemption, can no longer live on herself and on her own; but he must feel himself to be under the influence of a perpetual inspiration of being all for the salvation of souls, whatever his particular use in the House.

Therefore not an occupation, not a suffering, a prayer that does not suggest the dear refrain: "Lord, for you and for the dear souls; for your priests; for your Missionaries; for the holy vocations, for those who suffer in the soul and in the body, who live and die, who know and love you, or do not love you because they do not know you ”.

The Teachers of the novices see to instill in all the ways these and other similar thoughts and feelings of universal charity; and the number of holy professed, angels of peace in the communities and wonderful apostles of good everywhere and always will grow "(Circular No. 120 of 24 October 1928).

       This attitude preserves from the dichotomies between human promotion and evangelization, educational and pastoral activity, action and contemplation and gives unity and fruitfulness to lifestyle and mission.

It is interesting to point out that what is recommended to those leaving for missions is no different from what is required of every Salesian or FMA. Don Cagliero's proposal to the first General Chapter of the Salesian Congregation in 1877 bears witness to this from the beginning. He wanted an article to be included in the Constitutions on the criteria for choosing personnel to be sent to the missions. The proposal was accepted by Don Bosco, albeit with some modifications. The result was this formulation: "For foreign missions, preferably the most tried in piety and the strongest in morality should be chosen".

            The missionary dimension of the Institute is also nourished by the awareness of belonging to a religious Family open to the various nations without barriers of language and culture. This awareness gives the experience of the FMA a broad and universal horizon. The transfer of personnel not only from one Province to another, but from nation to nation facilitates the opening, the exchange, the sense of belonging, the overcoming of nationalisms. It is convinced that it feels responsible for the wide progress of the Institute's global development, its spread throughout the world, up to economic sharing, the interest in building a house in Italy with the industries of all (eg Torino Casa “ M. Mazzarello ”and Rome,“ Istituto Gesù Nazareno ”).

Don Filippo Rinaldi, speaking of the opening of the Institute starting from mutual solidarity between the Provinces, stated in 1925: "Personal giving for the Missions is a means to awaken new vocations. I will bless the Lord the day I know that the exchange of personnel between one Province and another has brought down the barriers of the Alps, the Andes and the Ocean, to form the unity of the Institute "(1st conference for the novice teachers, Turin 1925).

The spirituality of the Institute is missionary spirituality, not just of the missionaries!

4. The interpretative key to the missionary spirituality of the FMA


            From the sources it is clear that the Founders of the Institute in their formative interventions intended to cultivate in the religious the "good spirit" and therefore warned the FMA, and even more so the missionaries, from the risk of activism, superficiality, emotional fragility. It can be deduced from the repeated references to interior unity, to the care of the depth of life, to being more than acting as missionaries. In the first Constitutions (1885) revised by Don Bosco in the first place he inserted the " patient and zealous charity[...] in order to do as much good as possible for souls ". After having listed the other virtues, he explains the basic motivation: "These virtues must be very tried and rooted in the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, because the active and contemplative life must go hand in hand with them, portraying Martha and Magdalene, the life of the Apostles and that of the Angels ”.

            The great challenge for the FMA is to reach the balance between the sometimes nagging activity and prayer, preserving the union with God in work. "Preserve - wrote Mother Mazzarello to the first missionaries - as much as you can the spirit of union with God, be in his presence continuously". The core of this spirituality is "patient and zealous charity", an element of synthesis between active and contemplative life. The various dimensions of the FMA missionary spirituality converge around this unifying center.


5. Dimensions of the missionary spirituality of the FMA

       We do not have a systematic reflection on the spiritual physiognomy of the FMA pertaining to the period under consideration and with the specific perspective of the missionary spirit. However, based on the available documentary and narrative sources, it is possible to identify common values, shared choices, characteristic elements of an identity qualified as educational. This in fact is constructed and elaborated in a fabric of relations with God, with the recipients of the mission, in the community to which they belong and in carrying out a specific task in a particular social context. It is a spirituality with non-intimate and self-referential traits, but a concrete expression of the title "Daughters of Mary Help of Christians", a synthesis of a charismatic vision, of a project, of an inspiration: to be active and prompt "help" especially of the young in their journey of human and Christian maturation.

5.1. The centrality of Jesus Christ, source of missionary dynamism

            The personal relationship with Jesus has the primacy in the missionary faith life. And this is expressed in the daily gift of self, sometimes monotonous, often interwoven with sacrifices and fatigues, perhaps of defeats and frustrations, but where the missionaries mold themselves to the availability, to the strength of the interior life, to the gratuitousness of love.

The look at the Crucifix gives them life and wings to work: this is the certainty that sustains them and that nevertheless does not dispense them from suffering and nostalgia.

In general, the missionaries willingly walk the path of the cross of Jesus ( via crucis ) every day , followed by meditation and the Eucharist. Identified to the passion of Christ, even the limits, the fragility and the failures acquire a redemptive meaning.

       The vital contact with the Lord almost identifies the missionary with the saving mystery of Christ: "With what joy we would like to irrigate these forests with our blood, to make the flowers of Christian truth sprout" (from a writing by Sr. Maria Troncatti, missionary in Ecuador ).

Faith and love for Jesus does not alienate them from the context, but guides them to immerse themselves in reality, to transform it, to recognize the Lord in the faces of the suffering. Hence the fruitfulness of their work.

  1. 2. Detachment as a path of freedom and joy

       The missionary, as a disciple of Jesus, is called to share the destiny of the Master to the cross. And this involves detachment, inner freedom, poverty, abandonment of the homeland, of the family, renunciation of dearest affections. Many FMA promise God to remain in the mission land forever, without returning home. We understand that someone has voted explicitly.

The power of love supports the missionary and disposes it to accept the cross in its many forms: diseases, physical pain, fatigues, misunderstandings, loneliness, impossibility of communication, failure, ingratitude.

       The ardent zeal for the salvation of souls gives the missionaries flexibility, agility of spirit, readiness to change and a certain indifference in choices. "All the houses are good to make us saints, because we are the ones who must make ourselves saints, it does not matter whether the house is this or that" (Sister Caterina Dabbene, missionary in Tierra del Fuego). "We are neither from America nor from Italy, our home is everywhere. The Heart of Jesus is always open, it is only up to us to want to enter it, is it not? "(Sister Angela Vallese, missionary in Patagonia).

5.3 Evangelization within an integral educational project

       According to Salesian pedagogical realism, evangelization is concretely implemented within a global project of integral education. In attention to the local context, we start from the person, from his needs and processes of maturation and the conditions are laid so that he can open himself to God and accept the Gospel, respecting the rhythms of growth and cultural conditioning.

The FMA missionary, with flexibility and pastoral zeal, therefore develops non-uniform itineraries, with wide margins of pluralism because it takes into account the different situations, availability or unavailability to the Christian message of the different types of young people, women, families, ethnic groups. It starts from the levels that include all forms of human, health, cultural, moral, affective promotion, up to the educational-evangelizing goal of holiness.

       " Making God known and loved " is the priority goal of missionary action. The purpose of Christian education does not end with instructing, socializing, making competent in a profession, healing diseases, but proposing to lead every person to recognize themselves as children of God and to live a life worthy of this vocation . Hence the constant commitment of the missionaries to proclaim Jesus, guide him through his Word, catechesis, education in the sacramental life, the witness of Christian values.

Of many missionaries, especially nurses, we read that they were "physician of the body and the spirit". Their activity, aimed at the "salvation" of every person, especially the poorest, was aimed at the healing of the body understood as a specific way of evangelization, transparency of the merciful love of the Father who bent down with tenderness on every creature of his.

Physical care, the search for all that is good for the well-being of the person, for his cultural promotion is not an instrument for evangelization, but is already in itself evangelization and therefore part of the mission of the Church whose priority vocation is to announce to all love of God in Christ Jesus.

5.4. Dialectic between trust in God and apostolic initiative

       The missionary FMA embodies and manifests the difficult balance between total trust in God and in Mary Help of Christians and, at the same time, the apostolic ardor that stimulates her to develop gifts of creativity, audacity, initiative. " Hands to work and heart to God " is the motto of many missionaries.

The awareness of being called and sent by God and of having a Mother who watches over the path of her daughters is a source of security and trust. At the same time it is a source of creativity and perseverance in missionary commitment.

An attitude of optimism, joy and amazement transpires from almost all the letters of the missionaries. Educators, nurses, teachers, catechists contemplate admiring the extraordinary possibilities of good that God gives them freely as a tangible sign of his presence. When they talk about their activity, the constant reference is to God and to Mary Help of Christians who do wonders through their poor missionary work. "Let us throw the seed and God will make it fruitful"; "We are always useless services". The missionary FMA, from those of the first expedition to the others, warn that they are sent in the name of the Lord, they are certain of his help, they take charge of his plan of salvation in the historical context. At the same time, the mission is conditioned by the vicissitudes of human freedom, from the more or less enlightened discernment that guides the decisions, from the audacity and courage of the initiative. The FMA is aware of being sent by God, but also of having chosen the mission through an explicit request to be sent. Therefore, an ardent desire to develop their talents to the full and to give concrete answers to the needs of the context, to the needs of the people, is intertwined in her together with trust in God. Generally the missionaries become poor and even beggars for the poor. And even as an old woman they do not know the word "rest". an ardent desire to develop to the maximum their own qualities and to give concrete answers to the needs of the context, to the needs of the people. Generally the missionaries become poor and even beggars for the poor. And even as an old woman they do not know the word "rest". an ardent desire to develop to the maximum their own qualities and to give concrete answers to the needs of the context, to the needs of the people. Generally the missionaries become poor and even beggars for the poor. And even as an old woman they do not know the word "rest".

5.5. Spiritual and educational involvement of the educating communities

       The missionary ardor, as in Valdocco and Mornese, pervades the climate of the educating communities and feeds not only enthusiasm, but also the commitment and active involvement of all. It is a spirituality that becomes an educational journey as it involves and awakens children and young apostolic energies in a missionary dimension.

"Prepare a large house for us as the schoolgirls want to become so many missionaries" (Letter of M. Mazzarello to Cagliero). It was therefore a climate that also infected the girls, as was the case in Valdocco and how it was very soon seen also in the mission areas. Since the beginning of the foundation of Candelaria in Tierra del Fuego, we read in the Chronicle of that community: "Even the Indians of Candelaria began to become apostolic among their friends".

The FMA Institute extended the commitment of missionary cooperation through the Apostolate of innocence , a broad movement of prayer and sacrifice involving children and pupils of the various houses of the Institute to support the work of missionaries (cf Don Giovanni Fergnani missionary in China, passing through Nice in 1908). The initiative led to the establishment of a real youth missionary association in the FMA Institute which then extended to all communities.

"Keeping the missionary idea alive and active in the young girls of our Houses is not only an effective means of formation to the Christian sense and to charity, but it is also a ferment of generous vocations" (circular letter by M. Vaschetti, 24 April 1940) .

       An interesting dimension that attests to the realism of the missionary spirituality of the Institute in the 1920s and 40s is the opening of houses for missionary formation. In 1924 the missionary home "Madre Mazzarello" was established in Turin where missionaries were prepared through specific training courses on spirituality and professional preparation. Furthermore, in those years, similarly to what took place in the Salesian Congregation, the missionary formation of the same girls was promoted, also through the Missionary Youth Magazine begun in 1923.

       The "pressing and insistent" requests of new missionaries, who came from the frontier places, found not only an immediate response in sending FMA, when this was possible, but were concretized in the choice and training of adolescents who had a solid religious vocation, they were of good character, intelligent, healthy and with a character resistant to difficulties. Later they could be available to the General Council for the needs of the Institute, especially for missions.

       In some General Chapters, some concern emerged over time on the part of the Superiors: the observation of the urgent needs of the Provinces which could have limited missionary vocations. It was therefore constantly in progress a work of training the young candidates to make them aware of being in an international institute and therefore without nationalistic barriers. The need was felt to form for an open and collaborative spirit aimed at the unity and missionary vitality of the Institute. For this reason it was essential to shape the FMA "in the mold of the Founder who, in the name of Mary" had sent his sons and daughters across the ocean to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth, especially to young people.


       The period considered in the present research coincides with one of the most complex and difficult phases for the missionary development of religious congregations, due to the two world wars and to the advent of totalitarianisms after the collapse of the liberal states. However, for the FMA Institute, it is one of the most lively and fruitful periods from the point of view of missionary expansion. This is increased by the consistent growth of vocations, the challenge of popular education and in particular the promotion of women, by the insistent requests by Bishops, civil authorities and by the Salesians themselves who are already working in mission lands.

       The FMA is not considered by the FMA as an addition to the activity of the Institute, but constitutes one of the essential elements of its spiritual patrimony inspired by the apostolic passion of Don Bosco and Maria D. Mazzarello and lived in an Institute open to world dimensions . For this reason the mission is not identified with an activity that some FMA carry out, but it is the paradigm of the educational action of a religious Family called to share with the same young people the ardor of the da mihi animas cetera tolle.


The "Spirit of oblation" in the life of Mons. Giuseppe Cognata (1885-1972),

Founder of the Oblate Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Heart

Jesús Manuel García, sdb

I gladly accepted to write this article for the International Congress of Salesian History : " Development of Don Bosco's charism until the middle of the 20th century ", to be held in Rome-Pisana from 19 to 23 November 2014.

First of all, I am indebted to the Salesian Oblate Sisters with whom I share a journey of spiritual accompaniment, which began as far back as 1990. A duty of gratitude is combined with a commitment to "professional responsibility" to approach me personally to the original sources, some of the which are still considered "confidential". Despite the destruction of most of the documents, however, we have sufficient and useful documentation to faithfully reconstruct the experience of Msgr. Cognata and draw from those constants that determine the meaning and meaning of an apparently failed life and to understand also the reason for the birth of a Congregation that still today lives a vocation - that of «gathering the advanced pieces, so that nothing is lost» -, carried out with so much joy and generosity.

As a theologian of spirituality, in this simple but documented work, I use the experiential method of spiritual theology: I start from a historical-critical reading of the long and tormented work of Msgr. Cognata, to capture then, above all from his writings, the constants that define the spirit of the Oblation. I conclude by designing the charismatic intuitions of the Founder today.

Two brief notes: These pages presuppose the general knowledge of the experience of Msgr. Sister in law. Furthermore, the material used, the respect for the people involved in the story, the attention to the decisions taken by the various ecclesiastical institutions and the difficulty in tracing new documents that clarify the weak points of the path, impose certain limits and omissions on my work but together they light up also the desire to continue towards a more accurate search to do justice to the truth.

1. The spirit of oblation in the life of Msgr. Sister in Law

The exhilarating and suffered spiritual journey of Msgr. Giuseppe Cognata (1885-1972), Salesian bishop and founder, in 1933, of the religious congregation of the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart (SOSC) remains today a "book of particular value and interest", and covers a time span of almost 80 years. Based on a careful reading of the available documentation it is possible to consider it divided into five successive periods.


1.1. First choices and beginning of the "Calvary" (1885-1939)

A first period is marked by important choices made by the young Giuseppe and by the first obstacles and trials: the determination to become a Salesian; his oblation to Jesus Christ for the conversion of his Mason father; the episcopal consecration in 1933 and the foundation, in the same year, of the religious Congregation of the SOSC as bishop of Bova. This first period of the life of the Salesian bishop ends with the closure of the Villa Fassini Mission, located in Casal Bruciato (Rome), on 12 April 1939.


1.2. The Process (1939-1940)

The second period runs from the end of April 1939 to January 5, 1940. Msgr. Cognata undergoes an inquisitorial trial at the Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office. He is accused of "de mysticismo sensuali et de falsa doctrina". The Process, which takes place without any defense being allowed by the accused, ends with a sentence, in which the Holy Office deprives him of the episcopal functions and prohibits him from having any relationship with the SOSC. Mons. Cognata, at the age of 52 and after seven years of exercising the episcopal ministry, was "expelled" from the Pontifical Yearbook.


1.3. A retired and strongly proven life (1940-1958) 

A third period includes the entire pontificate of Pius XII, during which the subsequent requests to review the case always had a negative outcome, due to a network of events, in some cases not easy to reconstruct and interpret, mainly due to the destruction of the original documentation, before September 1950.

Following the sentence, Msgr. Sister-in-law renews her oblative attitude, bound to a vote of which she saw now the concrete realization, the conversion of her father: "His Father - writes Msgr. Peruzzo in a 1962 Letter sent to John XXIII to ask for the grace of rehabilitation for Msgr. Sister-in-law - he died in the peace of the Lord, and the son was sanctified in an occult martyrdom ».

During this period, Msgr. Sister-in-law accepts the condemnation as a favorable circumstance to associate with the death and resurrection of Christ. For years in which Msgr. Sister-in-law imposes oblivion on the mind and heart of what had happened: "How many consolations the merciful Lord bestowed on me in these years of healthy penance! Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo ! ».

In agreement with the Major Rector of the Salesians, Msgr. Sister-in-law spent a month of strict spiritual retreat with the Trappists, in the Badia di Frattocchie (Rome). Follow 32 years of humiliating confinement in the Trentino (1940-1941) first, and later in the Veneto, in Rovereto (1942-1953), and, most recently in Castel di Godego (1953-1972).


1.4. The progressive and partial reintegration of Msgr. Giuseppe Cognata (1958-1972)

This fourth period of the life of Msgr. Sister-in-law is marked by the benevolent interventions of John XXIII (1958-1963) first, and then of Paul VI (1963-1978), to obtain the grace of the rehabilitation of Msgr. Giuseppe Cognata in his ministry as bishop and founder.

Mons. Mistrorigo, bishop of Treviso, known by Msgr. Cognata in 1960, becomes the great defender of the innocence of the Salesian bishop: thanks to his intervention John XXIII approves, on February 18, 1960, pro gratia the partial rehabilitation of Msgr. Sister in law. The same John XXIII, in 1962, following a plea by Msgr. Peruzzo, bishop of Agrigento, approves the partial reintegration of Msgr. Brother-in-law in the episcopal ministry, but he is again forbidden to exercise the role of Founder. Monsignor Cognata then resumes his insignia and takes part in the sessions of the Council, as titular bishop of Farsalo.

Partially rehabilitated, Msgr. Cognata returns to Castel di Godego and serenely continues her hidden service as confessor and spiritual director.

On April 14, 1964, Msgr. Cognata has the opportunity to meet Paul VI, in a private audience, and to present his case to him. Before the Pope, the bishop swears this oath: "I can say, blessed Father, that by the grace of God, I am not guilty of the atrocities of which I was accused for obvious revenge".

Other appeals will follow and many other negative responses from the SO (now now Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith [CDF]). In this regard, writes Don Castano: « ... To his elect, however, the Lord always asks for more. It seems that a drop of new suffering can always be added to their chalice. And Msgr. Sister-in-law still had to suffer for justifiable questions of competence in her personal affairs with the Holy See ».

May 19, 1972 is the same as Msgr. Sister-in-law who writes: «I am 87 years of age and I feel I can get closer to eternity: I dare to beg for the grace and charity to end my earthly life with the consolation of having relations with the Congregation of which the Lord wanted me founder". Finally comes the longed for grace of being able to resume relations with the Institute he founded, which had cost him so many tears. The grace is communicated to the Rector Major, Don Luigi Ricceri, on June 20, 1972: Paul VI grants pro gratia that «Mons. Cognata may have contacts with the congregation he founded. However, we advise Msgr. Sister-in-law to refrain, as far as possible, from the confessions of the Sisters ».

In the summer of 1972 he left for one of his many journeys and in Pellaro, the country of the first foundation of his sisters, he was seized by heart failure; despite timely medical intervention, he succumbs in the early hours of 22 July. Smiling and giving courage to his sisters, he said: "Do not be afraid, daughter, do not be afraid ... the heart of the father is about to leave you".

At the opening of Villa Fassini in Rome, in October 1937, there were about eighty Oblates, with 24 Missions. When Msgr. Cognata leaves the direction of the Institute, the Oblates are 116, and work with admirable zeal in the Dioceses of Bova, Reggio Calabria, Squillace, Trapani, Mazara, Piazza Armerina, Tivoli and Rome. When Mgr. The sisters are sister-in-law 284, scattered in 78 houses and 27 Italian dioceses. Today the Oblates are 193, scattered in 47 houses in Italy, 8 in Bolivia and one in Peru. The Dioceses in which they are present are 15 in Italy, 3 in Bolivia and 1 in Peru.

 1.5. Rehabilitation requests for the introduction of the Cause of beatification of Msgr. Giuseppe Cognata (1972-2014)

After the acts of benevolence carried out by Paul VI, other requests for rehabilitation by Msgr. Cognata, in order to promote the cause of beatification and canonization.

On March 31, 1988, Msgr. Mistrorigo submits a report , enclosing a long series of (duly authenticated) testimonies of ecclesiastics, lay people and Oblates who had witnessed places, people and events, or who had personally known Msgr. Sister in law.

Still on May 30th 1989 Sister Bice Carini and December 30th of the same year Msgr. Mistrorigo, request the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to consider the question of granting the authorization for the introduction of the Cause of Beatification of Msgr. Sister in law.

Salesian scholars, such as Don Achille Maria Triacca, who died in 2002, and Don Giovanni Fredigotti arrive, in their complaints, at the same conclusion: "[...] From the whole process of the documented work, the certainty of his innocence emerges". Finally, on January 24, 2012, the Rector Major of the Salesians commissioned the Salesian Mario Midali to make a new statement on the story of Msgr. Sister in law. He also concludes: "On the basis of the documentation examined, it is not possible today to support the guilt of Msgr. Sister in regard to the accusations brought against him both in the trial and in the post-trial. On the other hand, we can affirm with certainty and certainty the "truth" of his innocence, which he affirmed with an oath before Paul VI and Msgr. Mistrorigo, and testified with oath by numerous witnesses,

Despite the recent "uniatur-reponatur" of 2013 of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, efforts to do justice to the figure of Msgr. Cognata continue: in recent years there have been two lay people, sympathizers of the figure of the Salesian bishop, those who have published the most recent studies on the affair of Msgr. Sister in law. One of them, Giuseppe Perrone, hopes for a definitive revision of the 1939 Trial at the end of his work. Paradoxical that the title of the chapter is: «A difficult undertaking».

 2. The Salesian spirit of the Oblation in the writings of Msgr. Sister in Law

The spirit of the Oblation, lived by Msgr. Cognata during these long years of silence and humiliation, is transmitted and develops today in the SOSC oblative charisma. The Founder in fact gives the name of "Salesian Oblates" to the nascent Congregation, precisely to indicate both the substance of his own identity (the noun "Oblate"), as well as his particular quality, almost "the perfume proper to the Oblation" (l adjective «Salesian»).

As it was possible to see in the description of the historical experience, as a young man, when he offers himself for the conversion of his father, Giuseppe elaborates and experiences the spirit of oblation, that is of the total offering of himself to the Heart of Christ: then, for 32 long years, the spirit of the Oblation becomes an experience lived through its "occult martyrdom", and its daily life is transformed into a permanent oblation.

The writings are first of all the result of the experience personally lived and then communicated by the Salesian bishop to his most beloved daughters. From their reading, we can grasp some constants that, in my opinion, determine the Salesian specificity of the charism of the Oblation and, at the same time, represent the contribution that the Congregation of the SOSC pays to the other ecclesial groups of the entire Salesian family.

2.1. Meaning of the "Oblation" in the writings of Msgr. Sister in Law

The Oblation, in the mind of the Founder, becomes the essential element of the identity of the SOSC and shapes the relationship of consecration and mission of each sister. "Oblates", that is, immersed in the eternal Love of Christ and in the dynamism of reparatory salvation which unites every believer to the saving plan of the Father, with the invigorating energy of the Holy Spirit. Fruit of the love received and experienced, the oblate offers itself radically to God with an act of the most generous love, which does not calculate sacrifices and goes as far as the holocaust, dressing itself in admirable humility and meekness, in perfect imitation of the divine Master.

At the center, therefore, of the Oblation is the Christological dimension. The Christian recognizes in Christ "the Divine Oblate", the "Model of Oblation": His Oblation was manifested in the total offering of Himself to carry out the saving plan of the Father (cf. Jn 17:19). Active participation in the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus begins in the baptismal consecration: the Christian, through Baptism, is immersed in the new life in Christ; he feels unconditionally loved by God and, consequently, responds with his entire life which becomes an "oblation", offered to God.

More than written or spoken words in the life of Msgr. Cognata are the gestures that determine and make credible the spirit of oblation. Here are some.

 2.1.1. Msgr. Cognata forgives those who offend without recrimination

During the two decades of "Calvary" spent in Castel di Godego, he never mentions his situation. It is not a sad or resentful heart; he is serene, able to forgive everyone and everything. I quote the confessions of two of his Salesian directors: "I never heard from him - says Fr Virgilio Uguccioni - a word against those who were the cause of his regrettable situation. Never a complaint of what had happened to him ... Not a word of offense against others ". And Don Venco adds: "He never spoke of his things, much less expressed grudges or regrets ... He was of a rectitude and an enchanting simplicity; he was everyone's confessor. " He himself confesses to Don Castano: "I have faith in the value of prayer and sacrifice, and I embraced this special apostolate with good will,

Where does this merciful heart come from? We find the answer in the commentary on the Pater Noster : «[To imitazone of the Divine Master] Rather than react, we must be willing to new offenses and always forgive ... And the example comes to us from divine goodness, which never tires of forgive us ... But it is not enough to always forgive; we must also perfectly forgive, that is, from the heart ... We are not truly Christians, if we do not practice the sublime virtue of mercy ».

 2.1.2. Charity at the center of the virtuous life of the Founder of the SOSC

In the Letters, which Msgr. Sister-in-law writes to the nuns, she does not cease to insist on what must be the driving force of their spiritual life: charity. «I am not afraid of making unnecessary repetitions by insisting again on the sincere and profound spirit - and therefore constant in all your feelings - of Charity. It is the best Easter wish that my fatherly heart can conceive for your good; as it is the only means for your perennial enjoyment of the holy joy of the Resurrection ".

The reason for each apostolate is the union of love with the One who has redeemed us through the Cross. Therefore, the watchword of the oblation is: "everything for Jesus!"; "All for his glory and for the sanctification of souls!"

To achieve the perfection of the spirit of the Oblation in charity, "bond of perfection" (cf. Col 3,14), the Founder warmly recommends some attentions: a profound spirit of faith; living Eucharistic piety; serene trust in the redeeming Cross of Christ, the supreme proof of his charity; happy submission to the dispositions of God, especially if serious and painful.

 2.1.3. In the experience of Msgr. Cognata, charity finds its highest expression in the Cross

From the reading of the writings, one can see the double meaning that Msgr. Cognata gives to her personal adhesion to the Cross of Christ: the generous uniformity to the will of God is the necessary means to access the resurrection.

It is in the cross that the Oblation rises to the highest expression because it involves the denial of oneself, that is, of one's nature and will with all inclinations, sensibilities and aspirations, to live a new life: "more than taking up one's own cross, he crucifies himself with Jesus: more than following the Master, he unites with him ".

Furthermore the cross, in the life of Msgr. Cognata, is not an end in itself, but becomes necessary mediation to access the resurrection. After receiving the sentence in which the Holy Office deprives him of episcopal functions, Msgr. Cognata writes to one of her most faithful collaborators, prof. Anna Vultaggio: "We are at the last act of Calvary: on the Cross Jesus consumed what he wanted to suffer, showing himself dead as defeated: but afterwards, the triumph of the Resurrection. The Master has also associated me with this last act to hasten the triumph of his Oblates, in which my resurrection will also be ... So, my daughter, we are at burial! It's time for the last test; we know how to support it in silence, abandoned to the Heart of Jesus ... Let us keep ourselves to work and to triumph in the Name of Jesus, all suffering and overcoming, trusting in the Master ... Do not bother to defend me; there is the Lord for this ... ». Still in a second letter, written perhaps the day after the epiphany of 1940, addressed to Sister Vita Michelina, the bishop entrusts to the vicar the Cross he carried for six years as bishop,

 2.2. The "salesianity" of Msgr. Cognata and SOSC

The qualification of "Salesians" for the sisters he founded determines the proper style of the Oblation. The biographer of Msgr. Cognata, don Luigi Castano, in the introduction to the spiritual writings, highlights how the spirit of the Oblation is imbued with the Salesian charism, lived since its early youth by the Salesian Fr Cognata, to then become a characteristic and peculiar note in the mission of the bishop and Founder: «Mons. Cognata was an authentic Salesian, according to the forms and criteria learned at the school of Don Bosco. However, the maturity of the interior life and the needs of the diocesan groove entrusted to his care led him to a spirituality that differed from the simpler and more traditional one of youth formation. He certainly did not intend to leave a patrimony accumulated over decades of exemplary life and apostolate; but, accepting the divine plan that made him autonomous and responsible in the episcopal ministry, infused to the institution that Providence put in his hands the theological-mystical impulseof the Oblation , inspired by the Heart of Christ and the flames of his immense charity.

Hence the Pauline motto that becomes the flag of writings and preaching: "Christ's love spurs us" ( 2 Cor 5:14 ). Indeed, two years after the foundation, while the happy developments of the Work were taking shape, writing the Third Circular, he will call St. Paul "our Patron". It was the choice that led him to the person of the Savior in the Holy Year of the Redemption, sacrificed to the glory of the Father for the salvation of the brothers ".

The title of "Salesian bishop" is found since his first pastoral letter as prelate of the diocese of Bova: "I have also recommended myself to my Blessed Father Don Bosco, who has been protecting and blessing Bova for the past 35 years. sons. Don Bosco educated us in the sublime school of Love for souls, of which the Divine Master is Jesus the Redeemer. May the cry of the great Apostle of the Gentiles be a program of my episcopal life: Caritas Christi urget nos! ( 2Cor 5,14) ... To you, dear brothers and sons, I ardently ask what Blessed Don Bosco asked his young men : Help me to do you good, that is, to save your souls! ".

I now emphasize some characteristics of the "salesianity" of Msgr. Sister:

 2.2.1. Humility, simplicity and generosity in "collecting the advanced crumbs"

Mother Bice will be the one who, recalling the figure of the Founder, recalls the three characteristics that the bishop proposes as a specific style of the "salesianity" of the SOSC: humility, simplicity and generosity. In fact, by examining the experience of the Oblation of the Salesian bishop, who finds the central motor in charity and in the cross the supreme expression, we must highlight the virtue of humility that blends with that of simplicity and generosity: "We must possess humility, indispensable for reaching perfection ».

 2.2.2. The small and needy, first recipients of the pastoral action of Msgr. Cognata and SOSC

The "Gathering the advanced pieces, so that nothing should be lost" ( Jn 6,12) of the Gospel, becomes the fundamental norm of the Salesian bishop who, as a good son of Don Bosco, works in the poorest diocese of Calabria, preferring the little ones, especially if poor and abandoned.

Having experienced the needs of his diocesans, Msgr. Sister-in-law feels animated by Don Bosco's motto "da mihi animas, coetera tolle" and establishes the SOSC Institute, which has as its particular characteristic the missionary spirit, which must animate the action of the sisters in the most needy countries.

The preferences of the Oblate are those of the Heart of Jesus: the little ones, the poor, the abandoned, the lost, the needy of all kinds, materially and spiritually. To them he exercises his pastoral action with self-denial, with humility, naturalness and simplicity.

 3. The theological-mystical impulse of the Oblation in Salesian life: perspectives

Some concepts, often repeated in the life experience of Msgr. Sister-in-law, like "giving one's life", "immolating oneself", "being crucified", "oblation" ... these are categories that embody values ​​that our culture does not appreciate: it is true if one is beautiful, powerful, if one has fascination and ability as a leader ... It is therefore essential to grasp the current meaning of these terms to make them understandable and close to the sensibility of contemporary man. Without the fatigue of this hermeneutical-design reading, certain discourses and recommendations of the Salesian bishop risk remaining in the context of an empty rhetoric of content. 

It is true that in our culture there is no lack of examples of altruism, of volunteering and of missionary spirit loaded with that spirit of oblation lived by Msgr. Sister in law. However, they are not always exempt from a certain ambiguity. Not infrequently, for example, the "spirituality" that supports some of these "lifestyles" denies the dimension of transcendence and therefore the ultimate reference to eternal life, in open contrast with the formative projects of Don Bosco and of Msgr. Sister-in-law who make religion the fundamental pillar of their educational system.

On the other hand, we see the fatigue and sacrifice with which so many fathers and many mothers, at this time in which people are not always found who embody the values ​​in which they say they believe, try to carry on their families; or so many men and many women who, despite the crisis, never tire of working for free to assist those most in need who live in the basements of history, to seek in them the footprints of God; people who, with a special spiritual sensitivity, are able to read in depth the joyful and suffered events of life; men and women in whom - as Pope Francis says - "primal" God, because they are molded in the Spirit by the Word lived in everyday life.

Therefore, in dialogue with culture and contemporary spirituality, I try to outline some operative lines that, rooted in the particular charism of the Oblation, qualify the path of the Christian today.

3.1. Experience the love and mercy of God to reconcile the past

Living under the loving gaze of Christ (cf. Eph  3 : 18-19) supposes not only a purely intellectual knowledge of his person, but also a profound, vital interpenetration that invests a whole life conquered and dominated by his Love: "Caritas Christi urget nos! ».

The principle of the primacy of grace, of the gift received, must therefore be the beacon that illuminates the life of the Christian, who lives convinced that even in trials, falls and defeats, God loves him. It will then be the experience of God's loving gaze on us, to transfigure even a sinful past in a reconciled present, in a projection towards the eternal future. Within this dynamic of faith, we mean the expression of Fr Cognata: "I do not cease to thank the Lord for granting an inner peace, never tasted so wide and deep", and what Don Bosco addresses to his educators: " Let the boys remember happy days and forget the sad days ». It is a matter of accepting the mysterious journey that the love of God runs through the night of the believer, until it reaches a new dawn.

 3.2. To grasp the mysterious and providential divine plan in the sad events of apparent failure of life

One of the attitudes that Oblation entails, that is, the total offering of oneself modeled on Jesus Christ "obedient unto death and death by the cross" (cf. Phil 2,7-8), is that of knowing how to transform, with Christian optimism , the negative events of life, on favorable occasions to fulfill the offer of oneself pleasing to the Father.

Don Alberto Trevisan, who for 15 years lived next to Msgr. Cognata, highlights a characteristic trait of his personality, that of knowing how to discover, between the crooked and confused lines of history, the merciful action of God: «Mons. Cognata said at a less easy time than the Vatican Council: "Well, above all there is God, which makes even the most tangled things go smoothly". It was the synthesis of his life: God inspiration and joy of everything, support in the days of difficulty, consolation even in the days of tears, the certainty of a heaven of serenity and reward, beyond the clouds of his long day ".

Every moment of life, if lived by believers, can become an uninterrupted experience of the paschal mystery that knows how to turn pain into the joyful light of the resurrection. As sad witnesses to the passion of Christ, Christians become enthusiastic apostles of the experience of the Risen One.

 3.3. Accept the cross in everyday life

The charism proper to the Salesian Oblation recognizes in the Cross of Christ the source that gives new meaning to each of our "offer and sacrifice": every gesture of selfless service for others, every humiliation suffered to defend the other; every struggle maintained to establish justice; every renunciation accepted out of love ... renews our liturgy of praise to the Most High (cf. Rom 5 : 5). It is a matter, as Don Bosco reminds us, of "offering to God what he himself has lent us, so to speak, but which is his absolute property".

Following the example of Msgr. Cognata, it should be remembered that every choice of the day, even a small one, can become an association with the Redeeming Love of the Christ that is offered "for men and for our salvation". In this sense, our actions are not measured by their importance or their social and pastoral relevance, but only by the charge of gratuitous love given for the good of others. Attitudes such as mutual respect, simplicity, acceptance, harmony, collaboration, sincerity and affection in the relationship must constitute the fertile field for maturing the oblative union with Christ.

3.4. Exercise spiritual paternity / maternity with the little ones

In the autumn of 1929, after the solemn beatification of Don Bosco, Fr Cognata was appointed director of the "Sacred Heart" Hospice in Rome, in Via Marsala. At that time, in 1931, Fr Rinaldi wrote to the Salesians a beautiful letter on the exercise of Salesian paternity. It is taken for granted to hypothesize the resonance of the words of the Rector Major in the actions of the young managerial Sister. "As part of your duties," writes don Rinaldi, "you must be fathers of the youth entrusted to your care; that is, you must, day and night, breathe and live only for your young people, especially by loving their souls tenderly and sacrificing yourselves to preserve them from evil and strengthen them for good. In this sense paternity belongs to everyone and we are all bound to keep it alive in our hearts and in our works ».

Don Fiora, general prosecutor and postulator of the causes of saints, in the celebration of the centenary of the birth of Msgr. Cognata, evokes his paternal figure: «A Salesian who was always with the boys, a Salesian of the amiable smile, a Salesian of government who knew how to be firm, but who at the same time knew how to meet with understanding the needs of the confreres. A Salesian, above all, who knew how to be the spiritual director of many and many confreres, who went to him to receive a word of comfort and encouragement for their spiritual life and their apostolate ". And the great friend of Msgr. Cognata, the cav. Lucio Principale, declares in 1949: "I especially admired his kindness and the paternity with which he treated Sisters and children.

Today it will be a question of reformulating this exemplary tradition of spiritual fatherhood, lived excellently by Don Bosco and his sons, with opportune renewals urged also by the human sciences and the new sensibility of today's believers.

 3.5. Conversion to the poor

Faithful to the spirit of the Oblation, the sharing of goods with the poor is seen as a priority objective of the Salesian pedagogical and pastoral action. The Oblate, which has as its referent the Cross where Jesus was deprived of everything, even of any consolation, recognizes in the poor and the abandoned, the privileged of the Lord's saving love: "Truly I say to you: all that you have done to one of these my little brothers, you did it to me "( Mt 25:40).

Pope Francis must not remain in doubt - nor are there explanations that weaken this clear message. Today and always: "The poor are the privileged recipients of the Gospel. Never leave them alone ». And further on: «For the Church the option for the poor is a theological category rather than a cultural, sociological, political or philosophical one. God grants them "his first mercy". This divine preference has consequences in the life of faith of all Christians, called to have "the same sentiments of Jesus" ( Phil 2,5) "( EG 198).

Therefore, in a work of re-dimensioning of works, we must give priority to places where there is greater poverty, where "the cry of the poor" is raised, which requires our presence and our help.

The two attitudes that, following the spirit of the Oblation, characterize "Salesian" poverty are simplicity and modesty in life and in interpersonal relationships.

 3.6. Live joy, peace and inner serenity as an expression of love purified by trials

Those who knew the Salesian bishop described him as a man who distributed peace and serenity to all: "And never when he met him worried or tense: he always had his splendid, sweet, contagious smile on his face." Judged guilty, he feels he has gained freedom from the judgments of others: " Qui iudicat me, Deus est ... a God who has a Cuore patiens et multae misericordiae! ». With this certainty he can proclaim: "The Lord in his Mercy, gives me health and serenity".

Love, purified by the test, becomes more authentic, stronger and more deeply welded in the heart: "For those who believe in the infinite charity of the Lord, and rely on the inevitable fidelity of the divine promises, the trial is an effective means to purify the his love for God, to enrich her with new grace and that true joy that no one can ever take away from her ».

Accepting the message of Pope Francis, we are encouraged, following the example of Msgr. Cognata, to become a leaven capable of making peace and brotherhood, hope and joy grow in the heart of the world, values ​​that spring from the Gospel accepted, meditated and lived day by day following the example of Mary, mother of our Lord Jesus Christ , by which God pleased all things to be reconciled.

At the conclusion of these pages, in which I tried to make a hermeneutical-theological reading of the entire experience of Msgr. Sister-in-law, with the consequent repercussions on the Salesian charism, I hope that also for the Salesian bishop the interminable and desolate despondency of a night without stars and without aurora, unfold in a sunrise without sunset!

"It is a work of justice!" Exclaims with a voice suffocated by the emotion Msgr. Cognata, in the conversation she keeps with Don Castano, in Rovereto, way back in 1949. And adds: "Not for me: but for the Congregation". "Oh! for her too! - adds Don Castano - and for the Istituto delle Oblate ». It is also our wish: May the wind of the Holy Spirit make even the smallest dust disappear; that to the title of the book of Don Castano, "The Calvary of a bishop", may follow another entitled: "Calvary and resurrection of a Salesian bishop".


EUSEBIA PALOMINO: A mystic in the wake of Don Bosco

Antonio Calero, sdb

The figure of the today blessed Eusebia Palomino, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, has remained, until not many years ago, between ignorance and the subterranean suspicion of a 'sui generis' spirituality, relatively alien and even far from what can be called " normal parameters "of the most authentic and traditional Salesian spirituality. They actually appeared in and with Sister Eusebia a series of expressions and spiritual and devotional forms that had nothing to do with or departed sensibly from the "traditional" forms of expression of Salesian spirituality. To the point of being able to pose the question of whether Sister Eusebia really belonged to the scope of the Salesian school of spirituality.

The fact of her beatification, while giving support to the spirituality lived by her, has also raised the question of whether Salesian spirituality can really be enriched by the data and devotional expressions provided by Sr. Eusebia. Moreover, he has raised the question of whether in front of Sr. Eusebia we are in front of a true "mystic" Salesian religious.

Given the subject, we will take these steps for its study:

  1. Human mysticism, religious mysticism, Christian mysticism.
  2. Mysticism on the horizon of salesian spirituality

III. The mystique of Blessed Eusebia Palomino

  1. Meaning and value of the spiritual experience of the Blessed for the Salesian Family
  2. Open questions


I. Human mysticism, religious mysticism, Christian mysticism

An entry question: Is today's man interested in mysticism? The deepening and appreciation of the mystical phenomenon in our time, referred in particular to the mystical within Christianity, found in the theologian K. Rahner a formulation that, from then on, has become an indisputable principle: "The religious man of 21st century will be a 'mystic', a person who 'has experienced something', or will not be able to remain religious. " If things are like that, we must begin by stating that, contrary to what one usually thinks and says, "Christian mysticism is not a phenomenon reserved for a small group of people specially equipped for extraordinary experiences".

There is a double field in the mystical experience: the purely 'human' and the specifically 'religious'. The breadth of these experiences makes it possible to affirm that "mysticism" is not a univocal concept, but an analogical one. And so, in the strictly human field one can speak of a scientific, literary, political, economic, professional, cultural, pictorial, creative mysticism in general. As in the specifically religious sphere and adhering to the most significant religions existing today in the world, we speak of Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish or Kabda, Islamist or Sufiist 'mysticism',

As is easy to understand, there is a fundamental difference between human mysticism and religious mysticism: in the first case, mysticism focuses on some aspect worthy of the human condition; in the second, it is situated in the transcendent relationship of man with God, whatever may be the concept that different religions have of God.

Within the religious field of mysticism we focus on the "strictly Christian" mystique, which, as such, let us say it at the outset, is characterized by its triple nature, "trinitarian", "Christological" and "ecclesial".

If we wanted to make an approximation to describe the "Christian mystic" from a phenomenological point of view, it could be configured according to these notes:

- is a believer who is regulated, within the Church by the Word and by the Sacraments

- has a deep sense of the Covenant of God with man and of man with God.

- he has a clear awareness of the importance, 'relative' though 'real', of the experience he is experiencing.

- live your itinerary and experience in an objective way, marked by the 'ineffability'.

On the other hand, the Christian mystical experience itself has, among others, these features or fundamental characteristics:

- the immediate knowledge of God through loving contact.

- passive knowledge: it is God who initiates this experience.

- Simplicity or simplicity: the immediacy of contact with God.

- the totalizing character: nothing is left out of the person.

- the fruitive experience: it is enjoyed even when one suffers.

- the dark night: the experience is always in the mystery.

- the ineffability of experience: it is impossible to reduce it to words.

Particular attention must be paid to the multiple phenomena and manifestations that are frequently involved and accompany the mystical experience. There is a long though not always clear cast. One speaks, in fact, of levitation, transverberation, bilocation, stigmas or sores in the body, divination, reading of the spirit, knowledge of the alien heart, trances, ecstasies, visions, revelations, locutions, auditions, wounds of love, betrothal and marriage spiritual, blood sweat, tears of blood, absence of food and drink for a long time, etc.

II. Mysticism on the horizon of Salesian Spirituality

According to what has been said up to now, it is worth asking about the possibility of a true "mysticism" in the scope of the Salesian charism. The answer, based on the reality of facts and people, can not be more than affirmative. In fact, the history of the Salesian Family testifies that the "mystical experience" is not a reality alien to the spiritual sphere of this Family. It is not the time to extend widely to demonstrate this assertion. Suffice it to mention briefly the experience of some particularly significant members of the Salesian Family in which unequivocal features of true mystique appear according to the notes previously expounded. Let us remember, by way of example, to:

* Domingo Savio (1842-1857)

* Andrés Beltrami (1870-1897)

* Augusto Çzartoryski (1858-1893)  

* Alexandrina María da Costa (1904-1955)

All of them lived with absolute intensity of consciousness the presence of God in their lives. They also had a kind of "fixation" of the particular in the centrality of the Eucharist before which they spent hours and hours, even to have true "ecstasy" of love and devotion to it. Such 'ecstatic' love experienced even in relation to Mary. There was also no lack among them of the generous offer to God as 'victims for the salvation of men'. It is therefore not strange, in any way, the mystical experience in the field of the Salesian Family, even during the life of the founder himself, St. John Bosco.

III. The mystique of Blessed Eusebia Palomino

Admitted, from experience, the possibility that people who share Salesian Spirituality can also have true and specific mystical experiences, it is necessary to begin by considering the possibility that, before Blessed Eusebia, we are facing a true "mysticism".

III / I . A mystic "dreamer"

Although it may seem strange, our reflection at this point begins by presenting and analyzing the "dreams" that Sr. Eusebia had throughout her life. These "dreams", in effect, marked and even rhythmically marked her "religious experience" and, from her, her own life as a consecrated woman.


  1. Reality and meaning of "dreams" in the spirituality of Blessed Eusebia.

The fact of finding in Sister Eusebia a fundamentally "dreamer" is striking. Indeed, from very young (in 1908 to 9 years) and throughout its existence, until shortly before his death, (occurred on February 10, 1935), appears the fact of their "dreams." Dreams that bring together a series of peculiar characteristics: they are clear, transparent, concrete, detailed, internally coherent, with an idea-guide, always carrying a message in relation to the Christian mystery in its different aspects. Altogether, up to 14 dreams of diverse content are counted, but always in a convergent line that gives them a deep unity, within diversity.


2. Fundamental ideas of "dreams", by the importance or reiteration of the argument.

  • A fundamental element in the dreams of Sr. Eusebia is Christ, and Christ crucified.
  • Mary, also occupies a truly determining place. Already in the first dream (1908) he sees Mary surrounded by a multitude of souls: "this meant and meant the great number of souls that would be saved by accepting the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary". The fact that the Virgin Mary is the guide in the development of her dreams is not infrequent.
  • Of particular importance, because of the subsequent repercussions that he had in his life, it was the dream, held between the years 1927/1928 (it does not accurately state it himself), referring to Christ crucified. Important and definitive were the words that Sr. Eusebia says to have heard very clearly : "I am the Sma. Trinidad that you are not worth seeing. These are the last mercies of my love towards men, the devotion to the Wounds of Jesus . "
  • Of such interest is the dream in which, at the hand of Saint Teresa of Jesus, Sister Eusebia senses that her way of salvation happened precisely by constantly dying to herself, and becoming small as a child.

Both the personal experience of the mystic himself and the specialized science itself, highlight that, given the complexity of the phenomenon of dreams, there are numerous difficulties to get to make a clear and precise diagnosis of its origin. They mix in them such amount of data, conscious and unconscious, that determine the genesis and meanings of our dreams is a little more than impossible.  

This approach is also valid in the case at hand. Therefore, we can legitimately ask ourselves: are Sr. Eusebia's dreams really objective realities coming from an origin (natural or supernatural) that is beyond itself? Are they simply projection of their concerns and personal situations in the course of their history? Are they 'graces' of divine origin in the form of 'mystical graces'? As we said above, Sr. Eusebia's dreams are of such clarity, of such concreteness, of such adaptation to reality, of such projection towards the future, that they can hardly be attributed solely to the simple fantasy of a person who, on the other hand I did not have a particularly significant cultural preparation.

III / II. The victimal vocation of Blessed Eusebia

There are moments and circumstances in the lives of people who impress them and even 'mark' them definitively. One of those moments was the one experienced by little Eusebia the first day she went to school. She narrates it herself in her biographical notes. In the light of this narrative, the enormous and decisive influence, even more, decisive that the sacrifice of Isaac in the entire spirituality of Sr. Eusebia, from her childhood until the end of her life, was evident. In fact, his offering as a victim to the Lord was marking out his entire existence. The various "dreams" he had throughout his life, certify this. It was an offer never revoked, before on the contrary renewed whenever the occasion was propitious. It is the guiding thread of all his 'mystical' experience and of his Salesian religious spirituality.

It turned out for everyone, even for the doctors themselves, a mystery the illness that Sister Eusebia died of, which had reduced her to nothing, both in her physique and in her spirit. The testimony of some sisters who assisted her in that slow process of corporal deterioration, they affirm without hesitation:

The condition of 'victim', with all that it implies of immolation, of unconditional surrender, of self-denial and particularly of bloodshed, was always present in the 'personal' spirituality of Sr. Eusebia, beyond what, as a religious Salesian had already learned and practiced from the novitiate itself. This was an aspiration that nested in his heart from the first years of his life and that he reconciled with the values ​​of any order that the Salesian charism and spirituality carries with it. His offering to God as a 'victim' was the result of his experience of Christ and of a crucified Christ.

On this background, which underlies all his spiritual itinerary, the devotions to which he was particularly sensitive are explained. We focus on three: 1. The Rosary of the Wounds of Christ.2. the devotion to the Divine Mercy. 3. Marian slavery.


  1. The origin of his devotion to the Rosary of the Wounds of Christ

In the opinion of one of his most enthusiastic and documented scholars and biographers, "it is not known how Sr. Eusebia came to know the existence of this devotion. But the truth is that he practiced it when he was in Salamanca, at the Sancti Spiritus school , according to Sister Amelia Hernández Blanco ( PositioII, 346) ". That is to say, before knowing the Salesians and, therefore, before entering to form part of that community: first as a student and later as professed as of August 5, 1924. This devotion fitted perfectly into the victimal spirituality that He accompanied Sr. Eusebia all her life. In fact, it was not only practiced by her, but it was disseminated and strengthened among the sisters and girls of the Valverde del Camino school, the only community to which she was assigned after her Profession and in which she died in 1935.


  1. The origin of his devotion to Merciful Love

The richness and breadth with which Sister Faustina Kowalska developed this doctrine of Merciful Love, transcended the borders of her native Poland. This devotion to the Divine Mercy, with which she felt particularly in tune Sister Eusebia, contains these elements that were particularly pleasing to her devotions:

- Message of Divine Mercy.- Crown of Divine Mercy.- Image of Divine Mercy.- Divine Mercy Festival and hour: Second Sunday of Easter and 15:00 in the evening respectively


  1. The practice of Marian slavery

Intimately linked with these Christological devotions, it was in the spirit and in the devotional practice of Sr. Eusebia the practice of Marian slavery. From her earliest childhood, devotion to the Virgin was a decisive reality in her life. Appreciated by her parents, from her early years she cultivated a filial devotion, full of confidence and dedication to Mary. Later, her filial devotion to Mary was reinforced by being called to enter the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Being already professed, her devotion to Mary took the prevalent form of "Marian bondage", of which she became an ardent propagator from her own experience, with numerous letters advising this form of devotion.


  1. Meaning and value of the mystical experience of Sr. Eusebia for the Salesian Family

The study conducted allows us to reach some modest personal conclusions:

1st Blessed Eusebia was a "peculiar" Salesian, with a profound and very special "mystical experience" that, in itself, is not officially assumed and imitated institutionally and indiscriminately by all the followers of Don Bosco.

2nd. There is, deep down, a deep harmony in the spirituality of Sister Eusebia with what was the spirituality of Don Bosco: a sincere love for Christ, a love and sincere to Mary and an indefatigable zeal for "the salvation of souls".

3rd. The life experience of Sr. Eusebia would be a specific aspect of the total dedication that Don Bosco asked his followers to serve and fully save the young.

4th The devotional expressions in which he embodied his mystical experiences, Eusebia, today have no particular echo in the Salesian Family.

5th As background of the profound experiences held by Sr. Eusebia, we can see these particularly valid and decisive aspects that perfectly coincide with the central lines of the Salesian charism: the central and unequivocal love for Christ, a deep, tender and apostolic love for Mary the Mother of Jesus, the pain suffered as true apostles and the salvation of all men.


  1. For this speaker, some questions remain open to which it will be interesting to be able to respond in subsequent studies with clear and objective data:

- Is the approach of the spirituality of Sr. Eusebia a homogeneous development of Salesian spirituality? How is this homogeneity demonstrated?

- Did Sr. Eusebia, during the years of the novitiate or in the following years, have direct knowledge of the work of the Salesian religious María Marta Chombon?

- How did you integrate your devotion to the Holy Wounds of Christ with the proper and peculiar notes of the Salesian charism? Was there real 'integration'? Was it a mere cumulative juxtaposition?

- Did you personally know the work of Grignion de Monfort during the years of his training? Did she cultivate and spread that devotion as a professed religious with the explicit consent of superiors? To what extent did she feel identified with devotion to the Help of Christians as understood and practiced by Don Bosco?

- What was the performance of your Novice Teacher and other formators before the devotional behavior of Sr. Eusebia? Did they just let them through? Was there discernment for its possible acceptance and integration in Salesian spirituality?

- did the confessor, who was not a 'Salesian', but the parish priest of Valverde del Camino, have any part in this whole affair?


Taking into account the global analysis carried out, we believe it is possible to affirm that Blessed Eusebia Palomino is "a mystic in the wake of Don Bosco".


Salesian Missionary Vision

Roy Anthony Prackal, SDB

            Don Bosco is reported to have said, "In this way we give the beginning to a great work, in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin, on 11 November, 1875 , not because we have pretension or believe we can convert the whole universe in a few days, no; but who knows, that it is not this departure and this little like a seed from which a great plant has to rise? Who knows, that it is not like a grain of millet or mustard, which gradually extends and is not to do much good? "

The number of missionary expeditions, the number of personnel, Salesians, FMAs and other members of the Salesian Family sent out to the missions, the number of youngsters who have joined the Salesian congregation all over the world, the thousands of persons who have come to know the saving love of God in Jesus Christ through the evangelizing activity of these valiant missionaries, and the number of young people who have passed through the salesian educational institutions all over the world  would suffice to understand the extend and fruitfulness of the missionary undertaking of Don Bosco and of his sons.  However substantial and impressive these figures may be, one will still have only a limited and partial view of the flowering of that great undertaking, if one limits oneself merely to these numbers. Along with the surprising progress of the work, what we notice is the formation and projection of an inner vision that gives life and sustained the external development: “the Salesian Missionary Vision”.

Don Bosco himself initiated the publication of “Bollettino Salesiano” to diffuse information about his missions, and to sustain financially the work of his missionaries. After the World War I, with the relaunching of the missionary enterprise of the whole church, with the specific impetus received from the encyclical of Benedict XV “Maximum Illud”, the Salesians felt the need for another publication, not so much for the financial support to the new missions, but more to awaken in the heart of its young readers, boys and girls, the zeal for the missions which would make many of these same  readers to opt for the Salesian missionary vocation. Thus was born the little review “Gioventù Missionaria”. It was a simple instrument of missionary animation for the young covering a period of more than 4 decades (1923 - 1967). This review was the carrier of what we name in this paper “The Salesian Missionary Vision”, though surely not the sole carrier. The study of “Gioventù Missionaria” reveals the Salesian image of the missions and of the missionary, the way the Salesians of the day perceived the missionary reality. Through the various narrations of the heroic feats of the missionaries, the idolising of their personalities, the detailed accounts of their apostolate among the poor and less civilised peoples of the world, and the first hand reports of various countries and curious traits of their cultures, the review projected to its young readers an image of the missions and held up a model of the salesian missionary which stirred the imagination and captured the hearts of the young readers. The various elements of this vision form the matter for study for this paper.

When we speak of a “Salesian Missionary Vision” we mean is the way the Salesians looked at the reality of the Missions; what were the motives they put forward for such a daring and sacrificing type of life; what were the different facets of the missionary apostolate which captured the fascination of the Salesians; what was the type of spirituality that flowed from this vision.

The congregation inherited from its Founder its motto: “da mihi animas, cetera tolle". The congregation came to birth for the "salvation" of souls. The Salesian is in the mission because he shares this dynamic spiritual vision of his Father and Founder. Moreover, the mission became a kind of privileged place for the realization of this primary purpose of the Congregation. "The task of the Missionary consists in facing Satan, in defeating him and in driving him out of positions, which he has been holding for so long. He must free many people who are born and raised from error and vice; whole races, which are inherent in error and vice, being pervaded by traditions, social institutions, religious practices, initiation into life, domestic laws and individual habits. "Salvation is the first and primary motive of Mission! Salvation,

Behind the passion for souls, there is an equally strong passion for Christ. Often times it remains unexpressed.  But that is the bedrock of all missionary enterprise. Every soul is redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. Everyone has a right to come to salvation. It is the expressed command of the Saviour to go to the ends of the World and to communicate to all the richness hidden in Jesus. The reason why the Salesian is in the mission is his profound passion for Jesus. The missionary’s love for souls is simply the reflection of his attachment to Christ. The commitment to mission is truly the flowering of Faith – that personal attachment to the Jesus, that personal appreciation of salvation in Jesus, the deep, intimate understanding of the “thirst” of the Lord and that generous commitment to satisfy that thirst.  Mission can flower only in an ambience of profound faith!

No one launches out into the mission field out of a sense of compulsion. It is the fire of heroic love that is the driving force of the missionary. And it is a question of heroic love that says the foundation for martyrdom. This martyrdom can be accepted only with that sincere joy motivated by faith. Mission in the Salesian Missionary Vision is an undertaking that comes from the experience of Christ, from the experience of the joy of being saved and from that passion to share with others what one intimately values as the “treasure hidden in the field...” In no way is Christianity yet another “slavery” (more benign and more reasonable) which replaces the slavery existing in the primitive cultures. It truly is liberation and a call to freedom. Truly the joy of the Gospel is that which motivates the missionary and sustains a life of heroic sacrifices. The missionary zeal is the zeal of the martyrs.

In the Salesian Missionary Vision, the missionary vocation is not something temporary. Precisely because of its deep motivations, it is a lifelong commitment, a total gift to the Master of the Vineyard. It is a continuous sacrifice for the salvation of souls. The goal is something that is perennial, and the love that sustains missionary action is also perennial! This obviously does not mean that one needs to be in the actual frontline mission areas to be a missionary, but missionaryiness is something one carries in one’s very being.  

Another very beautiful dimension of the Salesian Missionary Vision is the missionary’s profound love for the Church. Sure enough this love is proportionate to his love for the Master. There is no Christ outside the Church. Here again it is the Bosconian spirituality in one of its most explicit concrete expressions! Founding young Catholic communities, nurturing it and nourishing it even at the cost of great sacrifices, is one of the primary concerns of the Salesian missionary.  Because of his concern for the local communities, the missionary become the good shepherd who approaches the people with the attitudes proper to the Divine Good shepherd: the methodology of love, concern, care, understanding, becoming not only a Father to the people, but even a mother. He really is a master in the art of relationship! Here again an element so central to Salesian Spirituality! It is precisely the missionary’s love for the Church in its concrete realization in the local community that pushes him to do everything possible to promote local vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life. 

One of the characteristics which mark the Salesian Missionary is “salesian joy”. And the true joy of the Salesian missionary is to see the conversion of people, withdrawal of the powers of darkness and establishment and growth of the kingdom of God. Administering of baptism and being at the bedside of a dying person gain particular significance in this perspective of reality. Yet even with that deep motivation of faith, the missionary remains a human person with flesh and blood, and the daily demands of a life of dedication, in unknown lands do have an impact on his person. “Il missionario è un uomo come gli altri, con la sua natura fatta di sensibilità, col suo cuore umano capace di amare, di soffrire, di giorire, di temere, di operare; con le immancabili tentazioni di tristezza, di scoraggiamento, d’incostanza, di sfiducia;and his greatness lies precisely here: in knowing that his life is something that must be overcome. "

In the concrete carrying out of the missionary enterprise, health care occupies a special place. As Jesus went about healing bodies and souls, the missionary is also by vocation a “healer”. It is important to note that even in this very vital dimension of the missionary apostolate, it is not the administration of medicines which makes the service missionary. The missionary marks everything he does with his passion for souls and his passion for Christ. Otherwise, he simply tends to become a simple philanthropist!

Every activity, every enterprise which comes within the purview of “salvation” forms part of the missionary endeavour. Salvation of souls and liberation of bodies from situations of slavery go hand in hand. Here again it is the spirituality of Don Bosco: Good Christians and honest citizens! No developmental work is outside the ministry of the missionary. From the earliest times of “missions” this aspect marked the missionary work of the Church. The Church has always been an agent of civilization. A world untouched by the light of the Gospel often finds itself in the clutches of beliefs, rituals, practices, superstitions which even at the first sight appear to be so repelling to the outsider, but to which the local population is enslaved. The approach of the Church throws light on all these practices and gradually roots out these evils from the primitive cultures. “Civilization” in the mind of the Salesian missionary is the right ordering of the lives of the people, and in this right ordering God has a primary place. One cannot think of civilization, progress, development divorced from the notion of religion! A truly human civilization where God is absent is unthinkable. Education, both formal and technical, proves to be one of the very efficacious and non-substitutable means for salvation and civilization. It is an area that deserves topmost attention from the missionary. The first construction in a mission is often the school, not the Church!

The Salesian missionary is very appreciative of the positive traits of the local cultures, and he is the one to cultivate them and adapt himself to them. A few practical things which mark the salesian missionary are: learning the local language with enthusiasm, adopting local cultural practices in the proclamation of the Gospel, identifying oneself with the local people doing all things possible to bridge the gap between the “foreigner” and the “local”, taking part in the local feasts and celebrations. The missionary who leaves his original fatherland, finds in the territory of his apostolate, a second but true fatherland of adoption. The Salesian missionary does not import his culture into the land of his adoption, he has nothing to do with what would be called a “cultural colonization”!

Faith flowers into “mission”. But that does not make it something uninteresting, drab, not appealing to the human spirit particularly of the young.  Instead it is just the opposite. Mission is adventure! The adventure of stepping out of familiar situations, learning a new culture and a new language, traversing new lands, encountering new ways of living and acting simply form part of the mission. The element of surprise is always present in the life of the missionary. And often enough he meets with such adventurous situations as few in the world would meet with. The missionary is a true hero!

What is specific about the Salesian Missionary? The attention to the young! Salesians are missionaries of the young! The young people, according to the missionary dream of Don Boco, become those who lead the Salesian Missionary to the other sections of society. They are the pathways!  The Salesian makes his house a centre for the young particularly through the Oratory which truly becomes a parish, a school and a playground for the young!  Following closely in the footsteps of the Founder himself, the Salesian missions characterize themselves with the founding of technical schools to suit young people to be “honest citizens”. These become the “Salesian Speciality” in the missions! Because of the closeness to the young people, the salesian missionary intuits the first signs of a priestly and religious vocation in the young and is the first one to cater to this aspect.  Don Bosco’s helpers came from among the boys of the Oratory.

The transition from the “institutional” structure to the missionary structure not only did not in any way deprive the Salesian Vision of any of its constituent elements, but also served to further enrich it and actualize it. The missions highlighted the universality of the charism and the spirituality. The missions further reinforced a particular inherent dimension of the same charism so dynamically that it became one of the chief reasons for the prodigious growth of the same congregation and its spread to the four corners of the world. The missions made the Don Bosco reality a global reality.  And the universalization of the Don Bosco reality further enriched the same reality, and helped to draw forth its salient features in a clearer way. Today we cannot think of a “Salesian Vision” without at the same time thinking of a “Salesian Missionary Vision”.


The Salesian missionary vision

Roy Anthony Parackal, sdb

In the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin on 11 November 1875, at the Mass for the sending of the first group of his missionaries, Don Bosco said: "In this way we begin a great work, not because we have pretensions or believe to convert the whole universe in a few days, no; but who knows, that it is not this departure and this little like a seed from which a great plant has to rise? Who knows, that it is not like a grain of millet or mustard, which gradually extends and is not to do much good? "

To understand the extent and fruitfulness of the missionary enterprise of Don Bosco and his sons, it would be enough to consider the number of missionary expeditions, the number of people (SDB, FMA and other members of the Salesian Family) sent in the missions, the number of young people that the thousands of people who came to know the saving love of God in Jesus Christ through the evangelizing work of these valiant missionaries and the vast number of young people who have passed through the institutions have entered the Salesian Congregation throughout the world; Salesian educational programs throughout the world. However high and impressive these numbers are, we would still have a limited and partial idea of ​​the flourishing of that great enterprise, if we limited ourselves only to the figures. Along with the surprising progress of the work,

Don Bosco himself began the publication of the Salesian Bulletin for the dissemination of information on his missions and for the economic support of the work of his missionaries. After the First World War, with the relaunch of the missionary enterprise of the whole Church and the specific impetus given by the encyclical of Pope Benedict XV Maximum Illud, the Salesians felt the need for another publication, not so much for the financial support to the new missions, but more to reawaken in the hearts of its young people, boys and girls, the zeal for the missions that many of these same readers would opt to opt for for the Salesian missionary vocation. Thus was born the small magazine "Gioventù Missionaria". It was a simple instrument of missionary animation for young people which continued for over 4 decades (1923-1967). This magazine was the bearer, though not the only one, of what we call in this presentation "The Salesian missionary vision". The study of "Missionary Youth" reveals the Salesian image of the missions and of the missionary, and the way in which the Salesians of the time perceived the missionary reality. Through the various narratives of the heroic deeds of the missionaries, the admiration of their people, the detailed accounts of their apostolate in the midst of the poor and less civilized peoples of the world, and the first-hand reportage of the various countries and the curious characteristics of their cultures , the magazine designed a picture of the missions for its young readers and promoted a model of Salesian missionaries who seized the imagination and captured the hearts of young readers. The various elements of this vision constitute the material for our reflection in this presentation. and the first-hand reportage of the various countries and the curious characteristics of their cultures, the magazine designed to its young readers an image of the missions and promoted a model of Salesian missionaries who seized the imagination and captured the hearts of young readers. The various elements of this vision constitute the material for our reflection in this presentation. and the first-hand reportage of the various countries and the curious characteristics of their cultures, the magazine designed to its young readers an image of the missions and promoted a model of Salesian missionaries who seized the imagination and captured the hearts of young readers. The various elements of this vision constitute the material for our reflection in this presentation.

When we speak of a Salesian missionary vision, we mean the way in which the Salesians looked at the reality of the missions; What were the reasons they offered for such a bold and sacrificing life? What were the different facets of the missionary apostolate that captured the imagination of the Salesians? What was the kind of spirituality that flowed from this vision?

The Congregation inherited its motto from the Founder: "Da mihi animas, cetera tolle". The Congregation came to light for the "salvation" of souls. The Salesian is in the missions because he shares this dynamic spiritual vision of his Father and Founder. Furthermore, the missions become a kind of privileged place for the realization of this primary purpose of the Congregation. "The task of the missionary consists in facing Satan, in defeating him and in driving him out of positions, which he has held for a long time. He must free many people who are born and raised from error and vice: whole races, which are inherent with error and vice, being pervaded by traditions, social institutions, religious practices, initiation into life, and plants the Church as the unique family of the chosen people, saved and destined for salvation. The image of the missionary is therefore of a person, recruited in the army of Jesus Christ and occupied mainly in the war against the powers of darkness to gain souls for Christ and crush the eternal enemy of mankind. The salvation of souls is such a fascinating ideal that the missionary sacrifices everything, even his life, for this goal. "Their only desire is to earn and bring souls to Jesus." army of Jesus Christ and occupied mainly in the war against the powers of darkness to gain souls for Christ and crush the eternal enemy of mankind. The salvation of souls is such a fascinating ideal that the missionary sacrifices everything, even his life, for this goal. "Their only desire is to earn and bring souls to Jesus." army of Jesus Christ and occupied mainly in the war against the powers of darkness to gain souls for Christ and crush the eternal enemy of mankind. The salvation of souls is such a fascinating ideal that the missionary sacrifices everything, even his life, for this goal. "Their only desire is to earn and bring souls to Jesus."

Behind the passion for souls, there is an equally strong passion for Christ, which often remains unexpressed but is the basis of the whole missionary enterprise. Every soul is redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. Everyone has the right to come to safety. It is the express command of the Savior to go to the ends of the world and to communicate to everyone the wealth hidden in Jesus. The reason why the Salesian finds himself in the missions is his passionate love for Jesus. The missionary's love for souls it is simply the reflection of his attachment to Christ. His commitment to the missions is truly the flowering of his faith - that personal attachment to Jesus, that personal appreciation of salvation in Jesus, that intimate and profound understanding of the "thirst" of the Lord, and that generous commitment to satisfy that thirst .

No one goes into the missionary field because of a sense of constraint. It is the fire of heroic love that is the driving force of the missionary and lays the foundation for martyrdom. This martyrdom can only be accepted with that sincere joy motivated by faith. The missions in the Salesian missionary vision are an enterprise that arises from the experience of Christ, from the experience of the joy of being saved, and from that passion of sharing with others what one values ​​in its depth as 'the treasure hidden in the field' . In no way is Christianity yet another slavery (more benign and more reasonable) that replaces the slavery existing in primitive cultures. It is truly a liberation and a call to freedom. Truly, the joy of the gospel is what motivates the missionary and sustains a life of heroic sacrifices.


In the Salesian missionary vision, the missionary vocation is not something temporary. Precisely because of its profound motivations, it is a lifelong commitment, a total gift to the owner of the vineyard. It is a continuous sacrifice for the salvation of souls. The goal is something that is perennial, and the love that sustains missionary action is also perennial! This obviously does not mean that one needs to be a missionary in the current frontline frontiers of mission; missionary activity is something that leads to its very being.

Another very beautiful dimension of the Salesian missionary vision is the profound love of the missionary for the Church. Of course, this love is proportionate to his love for the Master. There is no Christ outside the Church. Also in this case we see the Bosconian spirituality in one of its most explicit concrete expressions! Establishing young Catholic communities, nourishing them and strengthening them even at the cost of great sacrifices is one of the main concerns of the Salesian missionary. Because of his concern for local communities, the missionary becomes the good shepherd who approaches the people with the proper attitudes of the Good Shepherd: the methodology of love, concern, care, understanding ... becoming not only a father to the people but also a mother. He really is a master of relationship art! This is also a central element of Salesian spirituality! It is precisely the love of the missionary for the Church in its realization in the local community that leads him to do everything possible to promote local vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

One of the characteristics of the Salesian missionary is "Salesian joy". And the true joy of the Salesian missionary is to see the conversion of the people, the withdrawal of the powers of darkness and the establishment and growth of the Kingdom of God. The administration of baptism and the presence at the bedside of a dying person gain meaning. particular in this perspective of reality. However, even with that profound motivation of faith, the missionary remains a human person of flesh and blood, and the daily needs of a life of dedication in unknown lands have an impact on his person. "The missionary is a man like the others, with his nature made of sensitivity, with his human heart capable of loving, of suffering, of rejoicing, of fear, of working; with the inevitable temptations of sadness, of discouragement, of inconstancy, of distrust; and his greatness lies precisely here: in knowing that his life is something that must be overcome. "

In the concrete development of the missionary enterprise, health care occupies a special place. As Jesus healed bodies and souls, the missionary is also a healer by vocation. It is important to note that even in this very important dimension of missionary apostolate, it is not the administration of medicines that makes this service missionary. The missionary marks everything he does with his passion for souls and his passion for Christ. Otherwise, we really tend to become a simple philanthropist!

Every activity, every business that falls within the sphere of "salvation" becomes part of the missionary work. The salvation of souls and the liberation of bodies from situations of slavery go hand in hand. Also in this case, we meet the spirituality of Don Bosco: good Christians and honest citizens! No development work is outside the missionary ministry. Since the early days of the "missions", this aspect has marked the missionary work of the Church. The Church has always been an agent of civilization. A world untouched by the light of the Gospel, is often found in the clutches of beliefs, rituals, practices and superstitions that even at first sight appear very repellent to the stranger while the local population is a slave to them. The Church's approach sheds light on all these practices and gradually eradicates these evils from primitive cultures. "Civilization", in the mind of the Salesian missionary, is the right ordering of the life of the people, and in this right order, God has a primary place. One cannot think of civilization, progress, development detached from the notion of religion. A truly human civilization, in which God is absent, is unthinkable. Education, both formal and technical, proves to be one of the very effective and non-substitutable means for salvation and civilization. It is an area that deserves the highest attention from the missionary. The first building on a mission is often the school, not the Church! it is the right ordering of the life of the people, and in this right ordering God has a primary place. One cannot think of civilization, progress, development detached from the notion of religion. A truly human civilization, in which God is absent, is unthinkable. Education, both formal and technical, proves to be one of the very effective and non-substitutable means for salvation and civilization. It is an area that deserves the highest attention from the missionary. The first building on a mission is often the school, not the Church! it is the right ordering of the life of the people, and in this right ordering God has a primary place. One cannot think of civilization, progress, development detached from the notion of religion. A truly human civilization, in which God is absent, is unthinkable. Education, both formal and technical, proves to be one of the very effective and non-substitutable means for salvation and civilization. It is an area that deserves the highest attention from the missionary. The first building on a mission is often the school, not the Church! proves to be one of the very effective and non-substitutable means for salvation and civilization. It is an area that deserves the highest attention from the missionary. The first building on a mission is often the school, not the Church! proves to be one of the very effective and non-substitutable means for salvation and civilization. It is an area that deserves the highest attention from the missionary. The first building on a mission is often the school, not the Church!

The Salesian missionary greatly appreciates the positive traits of local cultures, and he is the one who cultivates and adapts to them. Some practical things that mark the Salesian missionary are: learning the local language with enthusiasm, adopting local cultural practices in the proclamation of the Gospel, identifying with local people, doing everything possible to bridge the gap between the " foreigner "and the" local ", taking part in local parties and celebrations. The missionary who leaves his homeland of origin finds in the territory of his apostolate a second but true homeland of adoption. The Salesian missionary does not care about his culture in the land of his adoption; it has nothing to do with what would be called a "cultural colonization"!

Faith blossoms into "mission". But this does not make it something uninteresting, colorless, unattractive to the human spirit, particularly of young people. Indeed, it is just the opposite. Mission is adventure! The adventure of getting out of family situations, learning a new culture and a new language, traveling to new lands, meeting new ways of living and acting - all these things form part of the mission. The element of surprise is always present in the life of the missionary. And quite often he meets such adventurous situations as few in the world would encounter. The missionary is a true hero!

What is specific to the Salesian missionary? Attention to young people! The Salesians are missionaries of the young. Young people, according to Don Bosco's missionary dream, become those who bring the Salesian missionary to other sectors of society. They are the ones who open the streets. The Salesian makes his home a center for young people, particularly through the oratory, and it becomes a parish, a school and a playground for young people! Following closely the footsteps of the Founder himself, the Salesian missions are characterized by the foundation of vocational schools that prepare young people to become honest citizens. These become "the Salesian specialty" in the missions! Because of the closeness to young people, the Salesian missionary perceives the first signs of a priestly and religious vocation in the young and is the first to respond to this aspect. Don Bosco's helpers came from the youth of the oratory.

The transition from the "institutional" structure to the missionary structure has in no way deprived the Salesian vision of any of its constitutive elements, but has also served to enrich and actualize it. The missions highlighted the universality of the charism and spirituality. Furthermore, the missions have thus dynamically reinforced a particular dimension inherent in the same charism which has become one of the main reasons for the prodigious growth of the Congregation itself and its extension to the four corners of the world. The missions have made the reality of Bosconiana a global reality. And the universalization of the Bosconiana reality has further enriched the same reality and helped to bring out its salient features in a clearer way.

Translation from English by Chrys Saldanha, sdb)


[1] Grazia Loparco - Stanisław Zimniak (ed.), Don Michele Rua first successor of Don Bosco. Traits of personality, government and works (1888-1910) . Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on the History of the Salesian Work, Rome, LAS 2010; Francesco Motto (edited by), Don Michele Rua in history (1837-1910). Proceedings of the International Study Congress on Fr Rua, Rome, LAS, 2011.

[2] Rites. Taurinen. or Novarien. Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God, Andrew Beltrami, a priest of the Salesian Pious Society, Position on virtues , Rome, Tipografía War of War, 1955 La Posture e l kept the pressure Archive delta postulazione Salesian Rome.

[3] Giulio Barberis, Memoirs and biographical notes of the Salesian priest D. Andrea Beltrami , San Benigno Canavese (Turin), Don Bosco School, 1912 2 , p. 7. Don Giulio Barberis (Mathi Torinese 1847 - Turin 1927) was for over 25 years the first novice teacher of the Salesian Society and general spiritual director of the Salesian Society. He met the Venerable Don Beltrami when he attended the college of Lanzo Torinese from the age of fifteen and was always in relationship with him until his death

[4] there , p. 8.

[5] The position p. 879.

[6] G. Barberis, Memoirs and biographical notes of the Salesian priest D. Andrea Beltrami ... , p. 8.

[7] Testimony of Amilcare Bertolucci, in Positio , p. 285.

[8] G. Barberis, Memoirs and biographical notes of the Salesian priest D. Andrea Beltrami ... , pp. 9-10.

[9] During il presente lavoro facciamo riferimento by: Rites. Taurinen. Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God Michael Rua, a priest of the Rector Major Salesian Pious Society. Position on virtues , Roma 1947. La position from the archives are kept presso l'delta postulazione Salesian Rome.

See also Francis Desramaut, Life of Don Michele Rua. First successor of Don Bosco , Rome, LAS 2010. It is the most recent monograph on Don Rua. In the epilogue it is the beatification process of the blessed, pp. 459-465.

[10] Angel Amadeus, a posture , p. 715.

[11] The position p. 51.

[12] The position p. 116.

[13] The position p. 119.

[14] Filippo Rinaldi, in Positio , p. 730.

[15] The Angel Amadeo, the posture , p. 716.

[16] Giovanni Battista Francesia, in Positio , p. 704.

[17] This part is basically based on the documentary material and testimonial product in the occasional diocesan and Roman times of beatification and canonization of the young Salesian and columnist at the Positio . CONGREGATION OF CAUSES SANCTORUM (Prot. N. 2758). Strigonien.-Budapestinen. Beatificationis his Declarações Martyrii Servi Dei Stephani Sándor Laici Profecia e Societate Sancti Francisci Salesii in odium fidei, uti fertur, interfecti († 8 Iunii 1953) - POSITIO SUPER MARTYRIO , ROMA, Typography NOVA RES srl Piazza di Porta Maggiore, 2, 2012. The Positio and conserved at the Basilica of the Salesian Postulates in Rome.

See Pierluigi Cameroni, Stefano Sándor. Martyr of the gospel of joy , Don Bosco Kiadó, Budapest 2013.

[18] Testimony of Rev. Gyula Zsédely, in Positio , pp.81-82.

[19] Judge of Testimonianza del Rev. Lóránt, in Positio , p. 87th

[20] T. Valsè-Pantellini, M. Morano, E. Palomino, M. Troncatti, M. Romero, A. Carbonel, C. Moreno Benitez and L. Meozzi.

[21] For MDMazzarello (ed. 1925), for sister Teresa Valsè Pantellini (ed. 1943), for mother Maddalena Morano (ed. 1963).

[22] Published in the years 1934 (for M. Mazzarello), 1975 (for T.Valsé) and 1978 (for M. Morano).

[23] Cf. International Center for Youth Ministry, The Association of FMA from the educational reality of the group to 'Salesian youth spirituality' , Rome, FMA Institute 1982, pp. 7-8.

[24] Cf. [John Bosco], Epistolario . Introduction, critical texts and notes by Francesco Motto, vol. V, Rome, LAS 2012, p. 43.

[25] Application for the first diocesan approval of the Constitutions of the Institute , January 1876, in Giselda Capetti (edited by), Chronology of the Institute of the FMA , vol. II, Rome, FMA Private Printing School 1976, p. 400.

[26] Cf. Daughters of Mary Help of Christians Institute, To have life and life in abundance. Guidelines for the educational mission of the FMA , Leumann (Turin), Elledici 2005, n. 98.

[27] Cf. G. Capetti, Historical presentation of our Pious Youth Associations , in Acts of the First Conference Provincial Delegates of the Pious Youth Associations of Italy and Europe , Turin, Private Printing School Ist. FMA 1959, pp. 38-41.

[28] Cf Ibid , pp. 42-49.

[29] Cf Elba Bonomi, Our Pie Associations in the Internships and Externals , in Proceedings of the First Conference Provincial Delegates of the Pious Youth Associations of Italy and Europe , Turin, Private Printing School Ist. FMA 1959, pp. 59-61.

[30] Cf. General Chapter IX. Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, held in Nizza Monferrato 1928: Exhortations, Instructions, Answers from the Venerable Father Filippo Rinaldi , Nizza Monferrato, FMA Institute 1928, pp. 11-13.

[31] Cf. General Chapter X. Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, held in Turin in July 1934: Answers, Instructions, Exhortations by Ven. Pietro Ricaldone , Turin, FMA Institute 1934, pp. 46-47; Cf. Proceedings of the XI General Chapter of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, held in Turin Casa Generalizia from 16 to 24 July 1947 , Turin, FMA Institute 1947, pp. 180-182; Cf. Proceedings of the XII General Chapter of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians held in Turin - General House from 16 to 24 July 1953 , Turin, Scuola typ. private FMA 1953, pp. 285-291.

[32] Cf. Nilde Maule, Our Pious Associations in the festive Oratories and in particular in the parish Oratories , in Proceedings of the First Conference Provincial Delegates of the Pious Youth Associations of Italy and Europe , Turin, Private Printing School FMA 1959 , pp. 73-74.

[33] Cf. [Statutes and Regulations] Pie Youth Associations for the Houses of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (or Salesians of St. John Bosco) , Turin, LICE - R. Berruti [1953].

[34] Cf. [Statutes and regulations] Pie Associazioni Giovanili ... , pp. 5-10.

[35] The Association is governed by a Board of Directors on which admission to the Association depends. The main badge of the Associates is the blessed medal and the banner. The medal depicts Mary Help of Christians on one side and the Guardian Angel on the other, hanging on a red ribbon. The banner bears the image of the Guardian Angel.

[36] Cf. [Statutes and regulations] Pie Associazioni Giovanili ... , pp. 11-20.

[37] The Association is headed by a Council, presided over by the Director of the House or by an Assistant Sister assisted by no more than four Gardener . The main badge of the Associates is the blessed medal and the banner. The associates wear in the regular meetings and in the main religious festivals the medal blessed with Mary Help of Christians on one side and S. Maria D. Mazzarello on the other, hanging on a pink ribbon. The banner bears the image of St. Maria D. Mazzarello who invites the girls to present their flowers to Mary.

[38] Cf. Little Handbook of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians , Turin, Private Printing School, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians 1945.

[39] The Association is headed by a Council, formed by the Ecclesiastical Director or Assistant, by the Director, by the Vice-Director or Mistress of Aspirants, and, elected among the Daughters of Mary, by the President, by two or more Councilors, by the Secretary and Treasurer. The main badge of the Associates is the blessed medal and the banner. The medal bears the effigy of Maria SS. Help of Christians on one side and on the other that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, hung with a green ribbon for the Aspirants and a heavenly ribbon for the Daughters of Mary. The banner carries on one side the image of Mary Help of Christians surrounded by Daughters of Mary, and on the other, the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus or the radiant Host.

[40] Cf. [Statutes and regulations] Pie Associazioni Giovanili ... , pp. 53-63.

[41] Cf. Piera Cavaglià, Don Filippo Rinaldi and the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians , in "Crescere" 5 (2011) 38, 43; For the question of workers' unions, Don Rinaldi's answer is for the defense, not for the struggle. Cf. General Chapter VIII. Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, held in Nizza Monferrato 1922: Answers, Instructions, Exhortations of the Venerable Father Filippo Rinaldi , Nizza Monferrato, FMA Institute 1928, p. 36.