Don Bosco

Don Bosco Lived Here - Tours and visits based on history, geography and spirituality - Aldo Giraudo, Giuseppe Biancardi



Tours and visits based on history, geography and spirituality



This text is part of the many initiatives launched by the Salesian Family to effectively celebrate the centenary of Don Bosco's death.

It is a guide to the places that have seen the unfolding of the splendid human and Christian adventure of the Saint of young people. But it does not want to be a simple tourist manual, but rather an aid that, starting from the historical-geographical context, seeks to help grasp that spiritual and pedagogical message arising from the experience of Don Bosco that has a perennial and universal value.

For this reason, along with the historical and biographical information relating to the various locations, there are passages that illustrate particularly significant episodes that occurred in those same environments. Don Bosco's choices, inspiring values, spiritual and educational indications and his achievements thus acquire a unique evocative power. As far as possible, Don Bosco was allowed to speak in first person, preferring to draw on the autobiographical Memoirs of the Oratory and his other writings; Biographical Memoirs, compiled by GB Lemoyne, A. Amadei and E. Ceria, are often used.

The guide is divided into 4 parts, corresponding to different moments in the life of Saint John Bosco: 1. The years of infancy, childhood and early adolescence that wind around the birthplace of the Becchi (1815-1831).

2. The period of studies in Chieri, in public schools before and then in the seminary: it is the time of adolescence and youth, during which Giovanni Bosco makes the fundamental choices of his life (1831-1841).

• 3. The first nine years of priesthood, in which the young priest completes his pastoral formation at the Ecclesiastical Boarding School and begins, among difficulties and problems, his apostolate among the young (1841-1849).

4. The years of maturity, whose epicenter is Valdocco: forty years that see the prodigious explication of Dor Bosco's operational project from a local ray to a world dimension. The Valdocco Oratory becomes the forge of educational, scholastic and editorial activities of the Saint. Here he founded his religious families and lay associations of socio-apostolic commitment; hence the great missionary project in favor of the whole Church and of human society (1850-1888).

The individual parts are structured in a uniform way: • The meaning that the various periods and certain places have had in the global picture of Don Bosco's life is presented first and the teachings, the spiritual and pedagogical references still particularly fruitful are highlighted: Meaning and testimony.

• Some general historical-geographical information and information on the biography of Don Bosco are then recalled to help us better understand the visit of the places: historical-geographical and biographical notes. A summary chronological table outlines dates and salient events. This is followed by the proposal of different itineraries, starting from the type of group that makes the visit and the objectives pursued: Itineraries and suggestions.

• Following is the guide proper for visiting places and environments, accompanied by the passages mentioned: Visit to places.

For reasons of geographical contiguity and, even more, of spiritual affinity with Don Bosco, the manual also presents the environments linked to the figure of Saint Dominic Savio.

As can be easily seen, the work does not replace, indeed it presupposes the reading of a good biography of the Saint, of which he wants to be a simple complement.

This aid was designed primarily for members of the Salesian Family called to animate the centenary celebrations, but even more to the important task of educating young people in the school of Don Bosco. It is offered to them in a spirit of fraternal service.


MB = GB LEMOYNE, Biographical Memoirs of Don Giovanni Bosco, then: Biographical Memoirs of the Venerable Servant of God Don Giovanni Bosco, flights. 1-9, S. Benigno Canavese - Turin 1898-1917; GB LEMOYNE - A. AMADEI, Biographical Memoirs of St. John Bosco, vol. 10, Turin 1939; E. CEIUA, Biographical Memoirs of the Blessed John Bosco, vols. 11-15, Turin 1930-1934; ID., Biographical memories of St. John Bosco, vols. 16-19, Turin 1935-1939.

MO = SAN GIOVANNI Bosco, Memoirs of the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales from 1815 to 1855, edited by E. Certa, SEI, Turin 1946. There is also a transcription in this current language edited by Teresio Bosco entitled Memorie, Elle Di Ci, Leu mann (Turin) 1985.

ODB = F. GIRAUDI, Don Bosco's Oratory. Beginning and progressive building development of the Salesian parent company in Turin, SEI, Turin 1935 '.

OE = GIOVANNI Bosco, Published works, anastatic reprint, flights. 37, LAS, Rome 1976-1977.

OS = Works and writings published and unpublished by "Don Bosco" again published and revised according to the original editions and surviving manuscripts, edited by A. Caviglia, voll. 6, SEI, Turin 1929-1965.

RSS = Salesian Historical Research. A six-monthly magazine on religious and civil history organized by the Salesian Historical Institute of Rome. Published by LAS since 1982.

Other texts reported sporadically, are cited in full from time to time.


In addition to the texts mentioned above, we consulted: P. BARICCO, Turin described, GB Paravia, Turin 1869.

G. CASALIS, Historical-statistical-commercial geographic dictionary of the States of SM the King of Sardinia, vol. 21, G. Maspero - G. Marzorati, Turin 1851.

S. CASELLE, Farmhouses and peasants in Monferrato. I Bosco di Chieri in the XVIII century, LAS, Rome 1975.

F. GIRAUDI, The Shrine of Mary Help of Christians: mother church of the Salesians of Don Bosco in Turin, SEI, Turin 1948.

M. MOLINERIS, Don Bosco unpublished. What the biographies of Saint John Bosco do not say, Colle Don Bosco 1974.

ID., New life of Domenico Savio, Colle Don Bosco 1974.

E. PEDERZANI - R. ROCCIA, Don Bosco in Valsalice. A contribution for the centenary, organized by the Liceo Valsalice, Turin 1987.

P. STELLA, Don Bosco in the history of Catholic religiosity, 2 flights., LAS, Rome 1979-1981.

ID., Don Bosco in economic and social history, LAS, Rome 1980.

A. VIRIGLIO, Turin and the Turinese. Minuzias and memories, A. Viglongo and C. Ed., Turin 19803.

Furthermore, for information not contained in this bibliography, concerning the period of Giovanni Bosco's stay in Chieri and the Ecclesiastical Boarding School, we used documentation drawn from: - Municipal Historical Archive of Chieri (Ordinate).

- Archive of the Archbishop of Turin (section 12).

- Turin Metropolitan Seminary Archive (sections 7 and 24).

- Oblate Archive of the Virgin Mary of Pinerolo (section 1).


1. Meaning and testimony


In the territory of Castelnuovo, between the Becchi, Morialdo, Capriglio and Moncucco, Giovanni Bosco spent his childhood, childhood and early adolescence. The native human datum, full of potential, is shaped and shaped under the influence of the family climate, the intense religiosity that permeates the environment and events, the peasant mentality with its culture, the rhythms of the seasons, the harsh demands of work, but also the warm human contacts, the tendency to concretize values ​​and ideals. Giovannino reacts happily, favored by a very positive nature.

In these first fifteen years of life the foundations of the human and Christian personality are laid, of the basic choices and spirituality which, consolidated in youth and early maturity, will give us Don Bosco, a wonderful and complete character, with universal dimensions. It is therefore extremely interesting, from the pedagogical and cultural point of view, to analyze the first steps of his life, to discover values, principles of educational method and emotional relationships that cooperated in this successful construction.

John's childhood and boyhood years were undeniably hard, marked by difficulties and fatigue, but were not unhappy years. Indeed, serenity, the ability to face difficulties with a positive and combative attitude, joy, are dominant dimensions.

Its mother, Margherita Occhiena (1788-1856) undoubtedly has a decisive role in the formation of mentality and attitudes. On the death of her husband Francesco, twenty-nine years old, she is faced with managing the family on her own: there are the sharecropping commitments previously undertaken with the Biglione to be completed, in an extremely critical moment for the great famine that hit the Piedmont; then there is the problem of child support and that, felt more important, of their education and training.

From the testimonies left to us in the Memoirs of the Oratory and from those that Don Lemoyne picked up from the living voice of Don Bosco, the figure of a strong woman, with clear ideas, determined in her choices, emerges with a sober but substantial philosophy of life, religiously centered . In the relationship with the children it is severe and at the same time sweet, concerned with motivating every choice of value and behavior, so that it is assumed with independent judgment criteria. He finds himself having to raise three boys with very different temperaments, two of which are Antonio and Giovanni, with marked and contrasting personal characteristics. She manages not to level or mortify anyone. Immediate economic problems, present and future of children, are tackled with extreme balance. She is forced to make choices that are sometimes dramatic and risky (like the

Under his guidance Giovanni learns, step by step, to dominate his character in the negative aspects, to channel energies, finalize resources and free vitality. From his earliest years he was educated in sobriety, in the responsibility of life and he was tempered by fatigue; intense, assiduous work is an existential necessity, but also a value in which the person expresses and constructs himself.

Characteristic of the agricultural activity is the constant, daily care in the patient waiting for the fruit season: it becomes a precious formative factor for those who, like Giovanni, are called to the mission of educator, trainer and promoter of initiatives that require constancy and long times. Even famines and atmospheric calamities or epidemics that destroy crops and livestock are elements of challenge and stimulus. Mamma Margaret confronts them and surpasses them together with her children, in the certainty that in nature nothing is ever irretrievably lost; one can always begin again and the results will come sooner or later, thanks above all to the providential action of God who does not fail to bless the human labors.

The religious sense of life, the certainty of the continuous, active presence of God in our lives and of his demanding and empowering love, are perhaps the most precious values ​​that John assimilates from his mother. If the Lord accompanies us and speaks to us, it is essential to understand his presence and to discern his appeals. Margherita begins her children to prayer; a prayer that imbues every action of the day, from awakening to the night, and which, together with the acts of community worship and the sacraments, marks the salient stages of the year and of the whole life. The Mother of God has been present since Giovannino's childhood, identified by Margherita as help, consolation, strength on the Christian journey of existence towards paradise.

The mother, who is also illiterate, encourages her son's thirst for education and culture, and faces sacrifices of all kinds when he becomes aware of his predispositions, of the tenacious will, of the actual consistency of a vocation that resists obstacles, even the most serious. After the trial of cascina Moglia, faced with the precocious maturity of the adolescent, he has no Riù hesitation and offers him full confidence and support.

It is interesting to highlight further traits of pedagogical wisdom in the education imparted by the mother. Although he requires a lot from his children in terms of work and collaboration to support them, he respects the needs of childhood: he approves Giovanni's pastimes and happy meetings and allows him to work to find the money needed for rudimentary magic tricks. It then educates him to the prudent choice of friendships, prudence and good manners in dealing with people, sensitivity and active piety towards the poor. From her, Giovanni learns balance, but also courage in choices, perseverance and tenacity.

The spirit of solidarity that links peasant families and manifests itself in times of need, has noticeable reflections on the formation of the mentality of Don Bosco. Even the collective vigils of the long winter evenings in the stables create in him the inclination for human contacts, the taste of welcoming friendship, of mutual confidences and train him to the fascinating art of narration, to the taste of dramatization.

Looking back over the first few years of the life of Saint John Bosco, we can see his positive and active attitude that transforms adverse situations and difficulties into growth. Poverty and continuous precariousness, work under master, difficulty in attending school and finding time for study, forge his personality, stimulate imagination and creativity, consolidate and make the dreamed-of destinations be loved. Even the understandable hostility of his half-brother Antonio trains him to the capacity for dialogue and adaptation; makes it attentive to the points of view of others; induces an attitude of intelligent approach to obstacles, in the search for alternative ways and in temporization; it whets his ingenuity to make the most of the opportunities allowed in a narrow margin of choice.

The human and spiritual outcome is remarkable, even if the results from a scholastic and cultural point of view can only be fragmented.

To complete this itinerary, precisely on the blossoming of adolescence, the encounter and familiarity with the elderly Fr Calosso, give Giovanni a precious opportunity for cultural consolidation, but above all for starting a more conscious spiritual life. Under the guidance of the wise priest the horizon is clearing and the vocational yearning becomes more concrete. Mamma Margaret, now, in comparison with the experience and advice of Don Calosso, confirms that her son's aspirations are not the result of unrealistic fantasies or human ambitions. She courageously determines the division of the modest family heritage among the children: a decisive and quite unusual step in the patriarchal conception of time. So Antonio can make his way; Giuseppe, just 18, takes the co-sharecropping of Sussambrino; Giovanni is free to devote himself more calmly to his studies. For Mamma Margherita, however, the work between Becchi and Sussambrino is doubled, as are the concerns of an economic nature.

By attending the schools of Castelnuovo (1830-1831) the young Bosco has the opportunity to acquire new experiences also outside the school environment. She treasures free time, learning from her landlord the art of cutting and sewing clothes; become familiar with the tools of a forge at the blacksmith Evasio Savio; he engages in singing and in the sound of the harpsichord and violin. His spirit of observation and the greater critical awareness achieved also allow him to record elements of didactic-pedagogical methodology, both in the successful setting of the teacher Don Emanuele Virano and in the inexperience of the successor don Mo-glia. Thus the first elements of that treasure of experience, values ​​and method that will constitute the educational system of the holy Piedmontese priest are accumulating.


The family, social and religious environment in which Giovannino grows and builds his personality, the significant people who guide his first steps and his positive and receptive attitude, propose us a series of pedagogical and spiritual cues that can still today stimulate our reflection and inspire our action.

We list, as an example, some values ​​and attitudes that emerge in the visit of the places and in the evocation of the facts.

- Educational task experienced by mamma Margherita as a primary commitment, despite serious economic problems.

- Attention and respect for the personal originality of each child, but also clarity in identifying deficient or negative aspects and determination in correcting them.

- Ability to develop a correct moral conscience in children, a sense of responsibility and honesty.

- Ability to create a climate of confidence, frankness, clarity in the parent-child relationship, through dialogue, sweetness, patience, attention.

- Training in industriousness, in the need to make oneself useful at home since the early years, with jobs suitable for children.

- Start with the constancy in one's duties, the progressive methodology; instill the habit of completing commitments.

- Accustom to the sobriety of life, to a certain austerity, without indulging too much in the comfortable, laziness, whims.

- Enhance the educational contribution of the school and culture, encouraging, helping.

- Give the right space to play, cheerfulness, movement and childish interests, accustoming them to harmonize with their duties.

- Encourage group life and friendships, with careful, well-considered choices.

- Form the heart to welcome, to hospitality, to generosity; to make children aware of the needs and needs of others, the suffering of the poorest, making them carry out concrete acts of charity.

- Educating to the sense of God and his Providence; take care of growth in faith and hope.

- Formation for personal and community prayer with the example and participation of the whole family.

- Start a methodical celebration of the sacrament of Penance, forming a moral conscience in the frequent revision of life or in the daily examination of conscience.

- Parents' personal commitment in catechesis, in preparation for the sacraments and in the Christian formation of children, in collaboration with pastors and educators.

- In early adolescence to facilitate friendly and confident contact with a priest; valuing youth spiritual direction.

2. Historical-geographical and biographical notes


Giovanni Bosco was born on 16 August 1815. A little more than two months (9 June), the Congress concluded in Vienna from which a different arrangement of Europe emerged after the revolutionary and Napoleonic experience. We are at the dawn of the historical period called Restoration, due to the will of the rulers to exhume the political and social institutions of the ancient regime. Also King Vittorio Emanuele I, returned from Sardinia to his mainland states (Piedmont, Savoy, Nice, to which the Congress of Vienila also annexes Liguria), with the edict of May 21st 1814, abrogates all laws, decrees and dispositions of the French government , giving legal force to the Constitutions issued in 1770 by Charles Emmanuel III and to the particular laws formulated until June 23, 1800. The attempt,

The social climate is political is aggravated by a great economic crisis, caused also by the wars of the last few years, which reaches its peak in 1816-1817 following a dreadful famine that hit the Piedmont. The rural populations of Monferrato have to face sacrifices and suffering, especially due to the agricultural crisis. They suffer less from political and social change; indeed, they have some advantages with the abolition of the compulsory lever for all and with small tax reliefs. The life of the peasant family continues marked by the seasons, in the hard work of agricultural work, linked to the traditional crops necessary for the sustenance of its members.

The phenomenon of the migration of popular masses for now does not yet manifest itself in the macroscopic forms that it will assume in the following decades. The rural Piedmontese populations prove to be firmly anchored to traditional family, social and Christian values. They continue to be a reservoir of healthy human resources for the State and the Church.

In the capital and in the provincial cities, meanwhile, the bourgeoisie, intellectuals, young officers and offspring of the most open nobility plan the future with a keen eye for ideas, longings and experiences from other European countries. Circles, cultural magazines and secret societies, with a new national conscience, prepare the ground for a substantial change that, in the span of thirty years, leads to the Albertine Statute and the wars of independence, through the Risorgimento.

In the ecclesiastical field it is worth noting the appointment (1818) of the Camaldolese monk Colombano Chiaveroti (1754-1831) as archbishop of Turin. A culturally qualified man of high spiritual standing, he dedicates himself to the pastoral task with commitment, despite his age and his ill health. With a lucid and methodical action, it reorganizes the diocese, initiates a widespread work of "re-Christianization" of the people, giving impetus to catechesis, preaching and, in particular, favoring missions for the moral renewal of the people. The greatest effort concentrates him in the disciplinary reorganization of the clergy and in his pastoral, cultural and spiritual qualification, through a careful selection of the young levers and a more demanding seminarian training. We owe him a new approach to the Turin seminar, the reopening of the one in Bra and the foundation of the seminary of Chieri (1829). In a short time the vocational crisis that afflicts the diocese is overcome. In the last years of the Napoleonic government, in fact, priestly ordinations had fallen to a few units; at the end of the episcopate of Msgr. Chiaveroti exceed the fifty annual orders. In particular, the Archbishop supports and encourages the work of the theologian Luigi Guala (1775-1848) who founded the Ecclesiastical Boarding School for the pastoral qualification of young priests. Chiaveroti exceed the fifty annual orders. In particular, the Archbishop supports and encourages the work of the theologian Luigi Guala (1775-1848) who founded the Ecclesiastical Boarding School for the pastoral qualification of young priests. Chiaveroti exceed the fifty annual orders. In particular, the Archbishop supports and encourages the work of the theologian Luigi Guala (1775-1848) who founded the Ecclesiastical Boarding School for the pastoral qualification of young priests.

Among the popular classes, in this period the thirst for education is growing and the will to overcome the barriers of illiteracy, in the awareness of the new needs and the opportunities for economic and social growth that are opening up. The return to the obsolete pre-Napoleonic school rules had thrown elementary education into confusion and abandonment. The situation is remedied with the school reform initiated by Carlo Felice in 1822, which obliges every municipality to open one or more free primary schools. Each municipal school is divided into two classes in which children are to be instructed in literature, writing, Christian doctrine (first year) and in the elements of Italian language and arithmetic (second year). Lessons start on November 3rd and end in September, but in the agricultural areas, in fact, most of the students attend school only in the winter period, when the rural works do not urgently need. The imposition of teaching - which is entrusted, for ideal and economic reasons, almost exclusively to the clerics - undergoes adjustments and changes over the years until more organic legislation is reached in 1848 (the Boncompagni law), the premise of the reform definitively implemented with the Casati law (1859), which will determine the appearance of the Italian school up to the first decades of our century.

Giovannino Bosco grows in this context and participates in the yearnings, hopes and efforts of his people, in a period of rapid political-social, cultural and scientific changes that lay the foundations of modern Europe. In maturity he too will contribute greatly to giving a Christian soul, a spirituality imbued with ancient and new values, to the generations of young people who - above all at the popular and middle level - will constitute their most lively strength.



The visit of the environment in which St. John Bosco spent his childhood and preadolescence has as its central point the Colle Don Bosco, to which it is necessary to dedicate particular time and attention. The other places may be of interest in relation to the type of group, the motivations or modalities of the pilgrimage and the time available. Among all, it seems to us that Mondonio is the most significant and also the most convenient for those traveling by bus. The Moglia farm has a remarkable symbolic value and is very suggestive, but it is advisable to bring only small homogeneous groups, after agreement with the Rector of the Tempio dei Becchi and telephone agreement with the owners.

We limit ourselves to suggesting a standard visit and some hypotheses of particular visits.

 db places º Standard visit (from one to half a day).

For any type of group; emphasizing this or that aspect, depending on the people and interests.

A. Visit to the historical core: start from the home of Cavallo and «Casetta» (pp. 24-29), taking advantage of the illustrated and possibly audiovisual illustrative material - go to the Museum of peasant life (p. 32s) - and to the house of his brother Joseph, with a short prayer in the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary (pp. 29-32) - visit the farmyard with stable, portico and barn, the monuments to Giovannino juggler (p. 34), to Don Bosco educator (p. 35 ) and the pillar of the dream (p. 35) - going back to the shrine of Mary Help of Christians (p. 33) which is suitable for a moment of reflection and prayer - conclude with the ancient fountain of Mamma Margaret (p. 36).

B. Visit to the Temple and its surroundings: begin in the lower church with a brief historical mention of the Biglione farmhouse (pp. 22-24), the reasons for the construction of the Temple and the message that derives from it (p. 37) - visit the same later lower and upper church (pp. 37-40): educational and audiovisual materials available in adjacent rooms or in the same Temple are useful in this regard - ending with a reference to the Salesian Institute (p. 40) and with a visit to the Missionary Museum (pp. 40-41).

C. Having time available and an interested group, it can be concluded with an episode or at Morialdo (pp. 41-48; there is no space to park the bus), or at Mondonio (pp. 59-63) or at Castelnuovo (pp . 53-59).

n Special visits (time is determined by the program). For homogeneous groups, which have certain spiritual, vocational and pedagogical objectives.

We present two hypotheses: 1) Starting from Turin and calculating a day: S. Giovanni di Riva (pp. 69-70) - Buttigliera (pp. 63-66; only the parish church) - Sussambrino (pp. 48-51; seen from the street) and Renenta (p. 50) - Colle (pp. 22-41) - Morialdo (pp. 41-48) - Mondonio (pp. 59-63) - Castelnuovo (pp. 53-59) - Cascina Moglia ( pp. 67-69).

2) Starting from the Hill you can plan "walks" on the type of the autumn ones of Don Bosco, possibly on foot or by bicycle, in the surrounding towns: Capriglio (pp. 51-52); Morialdo (pp. 41-48); Mondonio (pp. 59-63); Castelnuovo (pp. 53-59); Buttigliera (pp. 63-66).


Dates Places People Events
16.8.1815 Becchi: Biglione farmhouse Giovanni Bosco Birth
17.8.1815 Castelnuovo: Giovanni Bosco parish Baptism
8.2.1817 Becchi: «Casetta» Francesco Bosco Purchase
deed 11.5.1817 Becchi: Biglione farmhouse Francesco Bosco Death
13.11.1817 Becchi : «Casetta» Margherita and children Moving from the
Biglione Castle
1823 Becchi: «Casetta» Giovanni Bosco Dream of the nine
between 1824 Capriglio Giovanni Bosco He attended for
and 1827 and don Giuseppe Lacqua the
municipal school a few months
Easter 1826 Castelnuovo: parish Giovanni Bosco First communion
since febb. 1828 Moncucco: Giovanni Bosco Garzone
to nov. 1829 cascina Moglia di campagna
5 / 9.11.1829 Buttigliera Giovanni Bosco and
Don Giovanni Calosso meet after the sermon
of the "missions"
between nov. 1829 Morialdo Giovanni Bosco and School of Latin
and Nov. 1830 don Giovanni Calosso and formation
21.11.1830 Morialdo don Giovanni Calosso Death
between clicks. 1830 Castelnuovo Giovanni Bosco He attends school
and August 1831 the public
tailor Roberto
Don Virano and don Moglia
entertains his teachers 1831 Sussambrino Giuseppe, Margherita move there
and Giovanni Bosco as sharecroppers
4.8.1833 Buttigliera Giovanni Bosco Confirmation
25.10.1835 Castelnuovo: Giovanni Bosco Vestizione
10/06/1841 Castelnuovo: John Bosco parish Before putting
the country
04/02/1842 Riva S. Giovanni Domenico Savio Birth
1843-1853 Morialdo Dominic Savio lives there
with his family
08/04/1849 Castelnuovo: Dominic Savio Parish First Communion
febb. 1853 Mondonio Domenico Savio moves there
with his family
13.4.1853 Castelnuovo: Domenico Savio Cresima parish
2.10.1854 Becchi Domenico Savio Meet Don Bosco
9.3.1857 Mondonio Domenico Savio Morte

3. Visit to the places


Giovanni Bosco was born on 16 August 1815 in the hamlet of Becchi, which is part of the hamlet of Morialdo, a municipality of Castelnuovo (today Castelnuovo Don Bosco), province of Asti, diocese of Turin. The group of houses stands on a hill, universally known as Colle Don Bosco, at 259 meters above sea level, which is wedged between the municipalities of Castelnuovo, Buttigliera and Capriglio.

We are in the heart of Piedmont, in the vast hilly area known as Monferrato which extends between the provinces of Turin, Asti and Alessandria. The inhabited centers, generally of small dimensions, almost always rise on the top of the various hills, grouped around the parochial church and, often, to the vestiges of ancient castles.

The territory, essentially agricultural, is cultivated with vineyards, wheat, maize and forage, covered with green groves of acacias and poplar plantations. Along the moats and rural paths you can still see hundred-year-old mulberries, which testify to the ancient and flourishing breeding of silkworms, now completely disappeared. Among the typical products of the area we must mention famous wines such as Frèisa, Malvasìa, Grignolino and Moscato, in addition to the more common Barbera.

Four large hamlets are part of the municipality of Castelnuovo: Bar-della, Nevissano, Ranello (home of the Savio) and Morialdo. The latter, among its residential areas, includes the Becchi, a name derived from the Bechis family who once lived there.

3.1.1. Cascina Biglione (Don Bosco's native house)

Precisely to the Becchi Don Bosco's paternal grandfather, Filippo Antonio (1735-1802), a native of Chieri, had moved in 1793, as a sharecropper of the Biglione farmhouse. Today this building no longer exists: it was demolished between 1957 and 1958. In its place stands the grandiose Temple.

Only in 1972 the archival research conducted by Secondo Caselle revealed that Giovannino was born in that farmhouse.

The three-storey building in the shape of an "L" in the civil section was occupied above all in the summer by the owners, noble Chieri. The shorter arm, to the south-east, was intended for sharecroppers. Few poor rooms: on the ground floor there is a kitchen with a pantry, a "living room" and a staircase leading to the two bedrooms on the upper floor. Filippo Antonio and his sons lived here, including Francesco Luigi (1784-1817). They cultivated the manor fund extended for more than 12 hectares.

Francesco Luigi Bosco married at the age of twenty-one (1805) with Margherita Cagliero and had two children: Antonio Giuseppe (1808-1849) and Teresa Maria (16.2.-18.2.1810). A widower in 1811, he remarried on 6 June 1812 with Margherita Occhiena (1788-1856); this is how Giuseppe Luigi (1813-1862) and Giovanni Melchiorre, the future Don Bosco (1815-1888) are born.

In this house, Giovannino's father, suffering from acute pneumonia for having drunk sweat in the cellar, died on 11 May 1817, at almost 34 years of age.

It is the first indelible memory of Giovannino: «I did not touch the two years yet, when God the merciful struck us with grave misfortune. The beloved parent, full of strength, on the flower of his age, very animated to give Christian education to the child, one day, coming from work at home, all soft with sweat, recklessly went to the cold underground cellar. Due to the transpiration suppressed, a violent fever appeared in the evening, a harbinger of not slight constipation. Every cure was useless and in a few days he found himself at the extreme of life. Armed with all the comforts of religion, recommending to my mother the confidence in God, he ceased to live in the good age of 34, on 12 May 1817 (ed: this is actually the 11th, as shown in the archival documents) .

I don't know what happened to me in that mournful occurrence; I just remember, and it is the first fact of life that I keep in mind, that everyone came out of the room of the deceased, and I absolutely wanted to stay there. "Come, Giovanni, come with me," repeated the sorrowful mother. "If Daddy doesn't come, I don't want to go," I replied. "Poor son, my mother resumed, come with me, you no longer have a father." - That said, he broke into strong tears, took me by the hand and drew me elsewhere, while I was crying because she was crying »(MO 18-19).

To the grave mourning are added the difficulties of a particularly critical moment for the Piedmontese economy since 1816-1817 are years of famine and hunger: "This fact put the whole family in consternation. There were five people to keep (ed: mother Margherita, the mother-in-law and the three children); the vintage harvests, our only resource, went bankrupt because of a terrible drought; the edibles arrived at fabulous prices (...). Several contemporary witnesses assure me that the beggars solicited with a little bit of bran to put in the boiling of the chickpeas or of the beans to be fed. People were found dead in the meadows with their mouth full of grass, with which they had tried to appease the angry hunger.

My mother counted me several times, which gave food to the family, until she had it; then he handed a sum of money to a neighbor, named Bernardo Cavallo, to go looking for what to eat. That friend went to various markets and could do nothing, even at exorbitant prices (...). My mother, without dismay, went to the neighbors to borrow some foodstuffs and did not find anyone able to come to her aid. - My husband, began to talk, I say to have confidence in God. Come then, let's kneel down and pray. - After a short prayer he got up and said: In extreme cases extreme means must be used. - Then with the help of the named Horse he went to the stable, killed a calf and cooked a part of it in a hurry, he could feed the exhausted family with it.

3.1.2. The cottage"

On the same hill as the Becchi, about 200 meters lower than the Biglione farmhouse, a small group of houses, occupied by four families (Graglia, Cavallo, Bechis and Ronco), formed the Canton of Horse. Francesco Luigi Bosco from 8 February 1817, three months before his death, buys you for 100 liras (the price of an ox) a miserable house facing north and "composed of stable and trot, upper fenéra from top to bottom", "Covered in tiles, in a bad state with the grain forward site of about ten tables", as is written respectively in the purchase deed (February 8, 1817) and in the inventory of assets attached to the will of Francesco Bosco (May 18, 1817) . The building measures 12 meters in length, 3 in width and 4.5 in height. The partition wall to which it rests separates it from the house of the Cavallo family. Next,

The purchase is motivated by the fact that Francesco learns of a probable transfer of ownership of the Biglione farmstead to the Damevino family and, even more, of the desire to build his own heritage in real estate. We are in fact in a period of severe economic crisis, accompanied by a severe famine affecting the years 1816-1817.

Her husband died, her mother Margherita continues to live with her children, the old mother-in-law and two country boys on the Biglione farm until mid-November, the sharecropping contract expires. In the meantime he had the modest building purchased by Francesco arranged and his family moved there on 13 November 1817.

How the house looked After this renovation the small building was composed of the following rooms (from left to right looking at the façade): shed for storage use, stable, kitchen and porch, on the ground floor; bedroom, which Margherita Occhiena shared with her mother-in-law Margherita Zucca, the children's room (the "dream" room which was accessed from the kitchen by means of a ladder) and barn, upstairs. On the facade a wooden staircase led to the room of mother Margaret. At the base of the ramp a brick cubicle was used as a chicken coop.

In these places they all lived together until 1831, the year in which his brother Antonio married. Mamma Margaret gave her room to the bride and groom, moving into that of their children. Giuseppe, meanwhile, after the division of the family assets that took place the previous year (1830), had taken a sharecropping of the Sussambrino farm, on the hill between the Becchi and Castelnuovo towards Buttigliera and moved there. Mama Margherita and her brother Giovanni followed him, while he was attending the schools of Castelnuovo; you will remain nine years. On the reasons that determined the mother Margherita to the division of the family patrimony Don Bosco writes: "My mother, still seeing me afflicted by the difficulties, which stood in the way of my studies, and despairing of obtaining the consent of Antonio, who already exceeded twenty years , decided to come to the division of paternal property. It was a grave difficulty for me, since Giuseppe and I, being minors of age, had to carry out many duties and undergo serious expenses. Nothing less came to that deliberation. So our family was reduced to my mother, my brother Giuseppe, who wanted to live with me undivided. My grandmother had died some years before "(MO 44).

His brother Antonio a few years later, in the camp opposite the "Casetta", he built a more suitable home to accommodate the growing family. It will be destroyed in 1915 to raise the shrine of Mary Help of Christians. Giuseppe also built his house next door in 1839. The old paternal "Casetta" was thus used as a stable and storage of agricultural tools.

Don Bosco's grandchildren will, on several occasions, sell the "Casetta", some surrounding land and the houses of brothers Antonio and Giuseppe to the Salesians. In 1901 Don Michele Rua, Don Bosco's first successor, ordered a first restoration operation consisting of dividing the portico next to the kitchen into two superimposed rooms and closing the barn, to give consistency to the building. After the purchase of the Cavallo house (1919) and of the Graglia house (1920), on the occasion of the beatification of Don Bosco (1929), there will be a second radical restoration of the "Casetta" which will be opened to the visits of the pilgrims.

Scenes from family life These poor rooms have witnessed the wise education imparted by Margherita Occhiena to her children. The scarce economic resources and his young age would have justified a second marriage. The occasion presented itself, in fact, and most convenient; but the woman absolutely did not want to detach herself from her children (who would have been entrusted to a good guardian), generously prepared to provide sacrifices and privations, trusting in Divine Providence (cf MO 21).

On the basis of all this she placed religious formation, as Don Bosco testifies to us: "His greatest care was to instruct his children in religion, to lead them to obedience and to occupy them with things compatible with that age. As long as he was small, he taught me prayers; as soon as he became able to associate with my brothers, he had me put on their knees morning and evening, and together we recited the prayers together, with the third part of the Rosary. I remember that she herself prepared me for the first confession, she recommended me to the confessor, then she helped me to give thanks "(MO 21-22).

In his sons he instilled the living sense of the presence of God, the provident Creator and Lord: "Remember that God sees you and also sees your innermost thoughts" - he often repeated to them -. «It is God who created the world and has put so many stars up there. If the firmament is so beautiful, what will it be of heaven? "; and again: "We owe so much gratitude to the Lord, who provides us with everything necessary. God is truly a father. Our Father, who art in heaven "(cf. MB 1,43-44).

From the earliest years he accustomed them to work.

"She did not suffer that her children were idle and trained for some time to deal with them. Giovanni, having just passed the age of four, was already busy dealing with fraying the hemp rods, of which the mother gave him a numbered quantity. And the little boy, having fulfilled his task, set about preparing his entertainment "(MB 1.48).

He formed them to obedience, motivated and made out of love; to the sense of responsibility and reflection before acting or speaking. Dosing sweetness and fortitude, he was constant in correction. He did not, if necessary, refuse to resort to punishment and the symbol of this "was a rod placed in a corner of the room. But he never used it, as he never gave his sons even a scapellotto "(MB 1,57-58); made up for by special means, used with prudence, which were effective. And the children learned to realize their actions.

Let us remember, as an example: «Giovanni was only four years old. Returning one day from walking with his brother Giuseppe, both of whom had been thirsty for being the summer season, his mother went to draw water and gave Giuseppe a drink first. Giovanni, having observed that sort of preference, when his mother was to him with water, a little pennalose, made a sign that he did not want to drink. Mama, without saying a word, took the water away and put it away. Giovanni stayed like that for a moment, and then timidly: "Mom!" - Well? - Do you give water to me too? - I thought you didn't feel thirsty! - Mom, forgive me! - Ah, that's fine! - and went to fetch the water and smilingly handed it to him »(MB 1.58).

«Giovanni was eight years old, and one day, while his mother had gone to a neighboring town for his chores, he had the idea of ​​having some up there. Not reaching it, he took the chair and climbed on it, bumping into a vase full of oil. The vase fell to the ground and broke. Confused the little one, he tried to make up for that misfortune by wiping away the spilled oil; but knowing that he would not be able to remove the stain and the widespread smell, he thought of making sure that his mother had no sorrow. When a rod was removed from a hedge, he adjusted it well, and drawing the bark green in various places, he adorned it with friezes the best he knew. When the time came, when she knew that her mother would be back, she ran to meet her at the bottom of the valley and as soon as she was close: - Well, mother, How are you? did you have a good walk? - Yes, my dear Giovanni! and are you okay? are you cheerful? - Yup; and I really deserve this time to chastise me.

- And what happened to you? - I went up like this and so, and unfortunately I broke the oil jar. Knowing that I deserve the punishment, I brought you the rod, so you can use it on my shoulders, without bothering to go and find it.

In the meantime Giovanni held out the whole fringe and aimed his mother in the face with a clever, skilful, joking look. Margherita watched her son and the rod, and laughing at that childish cunning, she finally said to him: "I am very sorry for the misfortune that occurred to you, but since your work makes me know your innocence, I forgive you." However he always remembers my advice. Before doing something, think about its consequences "(MB 1.73-74).

The poverty of the Bosco family did not prevent Margherita from exercising charity towards the poorest: «The neighbors came to her now by fire, now by water, now for wood. To the sick who needed wine, he gave generously, refusing any compensation. He loaned oil, bread and flour "(MB 1,149-150). In this house courteous beggars, lost travelers, shopkeepers, but also fugitives, hunted bandits and the same carabinieri who followed them were courteously hosted and refreshed: the mother's concrete, jovial and immediate charity was the largest school for the future priest of the young poor and abandoned.

Giovannino began to imitate her: "A certain (...) Secondo Matta, servant in one of the surrounding farms, and of his same age, every morning he descended from the hill, taking the cow of the master behind him. He had a piece of black bread for breakfast. Giovanni instead held in his hands, nibbling, a very white bread that his mother Margherita never let his dear sons miss. One day Giovanni said to Matta: "Are you doing me a favor?" "Very willingly," answered his companion.

- Do you want us to exchange bread? - And why? - Because your bread must be better than mine, and I like it better.

Matta, in his infantile simplicity, believed that Giovanni actually considered his black bread to be tastier, and making him the friend's white bread, he willingly agreed to that exchange. From that day, for two springs in a row, they exchanged bread. But Matta, having become a man and reflecting on this fact, often recounted it to his nephew Don Secondo Marchisio "(MB 1.89).

The visit of the "Casetta" On the occasion of the centenary of the death of Don Bosco, the "Casetta" has been restored and consolidated. It was brought back to the original volumetric structure, evidenced by the photographs of the late nineteenth century. The "upper fenera top down", where in 1929 the access stairway to the rooms on the first floor was built, is now reopened; the old barn, on which Giovannino entertained his friends, recovered. The rooms on the ground floor (stable and kitchen) and upstairs (room of mamma Margherita and bedroom of the dream) have remained unchanged.

The adjoining house (Casa Cavallo) has been transformed into a didactic-logistic support for the visit to the "Casetta", with information panels and audiovisual aids on the life of Giovannino Bosco and his family. The vision of the "Casetta" rooms is made possible through glass windows open in the west wall of the Cavallo house, since direct access is no longer permitted for reasons of building stability.

3.1.3. The house of his brother Giuseppe

His brother Giuseppe Luigi married at the age of twenty (1833) with Maria Calosso from whom he had ten children, most of whom died at an early age. During the nine years (1830-1839) of work as a sharecropper at Sussambrino he managed to scrape together the necessary means for the purchase of some land on the Becchi hill and the construction of a house, poor but dignified and sufficiently large for the large family . He moved there in 1839 and remained there until his death (1862).

The building, located almost opposite the "Casetta", next to the house of Antonio, where the sanctuary of Maria Ausiliatrice currently stands, has two floors.

Room of Don Bosco Giuseppe reserved a room for Don Bosco, who used it every time he went to the Becchi, particularly during the autumn holidays. The restaurant is located on the upper floor, in the south-west corner, and preserves the furnishings used by the Saint.

Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary On the ground floor, in the western corner, Giuseppe had adapted a small chapel-use space, and Don Bosco dedicated it to the Madonna del Rosario. The church was inaugurated by him on 8 October 1848. The saint, until 1869, celebrated the feast of the Madonna del Rosario there every year, solemnizing it with the presence of the band and the choir of the Valdocco boys. The restaurant is the first center of Marian worship commissioned by Don Bosco and a privileged witness of the beginnings of the Salesian Congregation. Here, in fact, on 3 October 1852, Michele Rua and Giuseppe Rocchietti received the clerical habit. In this chapel he certainly also prayed Dominic Savio on 2 October 1854, on the occasion of his first meeting with Don Bosco and in the two following years during the autumn holidays at the Becchi.

Thus Don Bosco describes his first encounter with Dominic Savio: "It was the first Monday in October early in the morning, when I saw a boy accompanied by his father who was approaching to talk to me. - His cheerful face, the laughing but respectful air, brought my glances towards him.

"Who are you," I said, "where are you from?" - I am, - answered - Savio Domenico, of whom Don Cugliero, my master, spoke to her and we come from Mondonio.

Then I called him aside and Mexico to reason about the study done, about the standard of living practiced up until then, we soon entered into full confidence with him, I with him.

I knew in that young man a whole soul according to the spirit of the Lord and I was not a little astonished considering the works that divine grace had already worked at such a tender age.

After a rather prolonged argument, before I called his father, he told me these precise words: "Well, what do you think?" will you take me to Turin to study? - Eh! it seems to me that there is good stuff.

- What use is this fabric? - To make a beautiful dress to give to the Lord.

- So I'm the fabric; she is the tailor; therefore take me with her and make a beautiful dress for the Lord.

- I fear your weakness does not hold up for study.

- Don't be afraid of this; that Lord who has given me health and grace so far will also help me in the future.

- But when you finish the study of Latin, what will you do? - If the Lord will grant me so much grace, I ardently desire to embrace the ecclesiastical state.

- Well: now I want to try if you have enough capacity for study: take this booklet (it was a book of Catholic Readings), from today you are studying this page, tomorrow you will return to recite it to me.

Having said this, I left him free to go and play with the other young men, then I started talking to his father. Not more than eight minutes went by, when Domenico came forward laughing and said to me: if he wanted to, I now recited my page. I took the book and to my surprise I knew that not only had it literally studied the assigned page, but that it understood very well the meaning of the things it contained.

- Bravo - I told him - you anticipated the study of your lesson and I anticipate the answer. Yes, I will lead you to Turin and from now on you are numbered among my dear children "(OS 4,18-19).

Currently the chapel is presented according to the restoration commissioned by Don Rua.

Stable and barn On the east side of the house there were the stable and the barn (now rebuilt), where, during autumn walks, the boys from Turin slept. They also found hospitality in the barn (room at the top of the staircase) and on the attic of the house, large and well ventilated by the two dormers made with Don Bosco's contribution.

Michele Magone was also a guest at the Becchi (1858). Don Bosco tells us about a gracious episode that took place in this corner of the courtyard: «One evening while our young people were all going to rest, I hear one crying. I put myself slowly to the window and I see Magone in a corner of the courtyard that the moon was aiming for and sighing with a sigh.

- What's the matter, Magone, do you feel bad? - I told him.

He who thought he was alone, nor to be seen by anyone, was troubled by it, and did not know what to answer; but answering the question, he replied with these precise words: - I am crying in gazing at the moon which for many centuries has been appearing regularly to illuminate the darkness of the night, without ever disobeying the Creator's orders, while I, who am so young, myself who I am reasonable, that I should have been very faithful to the laws of my God, I have disobeyed him so many times, and I have offended him in a thousand ways.

That said, he started crying again. I consoled him with a few words, so that he gave calm to the emotion and went again to continue his rest "(OS 5,228-229).

Furniture The building contains furniture and objects of the time, some of which are useful by the Saint himself. The most precious piece of furniture is a table built by the cleric Giovanni Bosco while he was on vacation at Sussambrino during the period of seminar studies. You can also see: a rough desk with lamp and books; the sideboard used by mamma Margherita to knead the bread and her chest in which she kept the kit (in Piedmontese: còfu); some objects from the Moglia farmstead (where Giovannino was a boy), such as the stool for milking and the painting of the Madonna in front of which he prayed every day with the owners of the house. Also on display are some benches and the liturgical furnishings of the chapel (chalice, missal and vestments served to Don Bosco).

3.1.4. Museum of rural life of the nineteenth century

Between the Graglia house and the house of Giuseppe, below the level of the courtyard, a hall was built with large arches open towards the valley, which follows the agricultural cellars in the forms.

Here is the Peasant Museum which illustrates the life of the nineteenth-century peasant family on the Piedmontese hills. About six hundred antiques are on display: furniture, work tools, everyday objects, collected with patience and care by the lay Salesian Teresio Chiesa. They bear witness to customs, life and working techniques (of the vine and of wine, of wheat and bread, of milk and cheese, of wood ...) used in Asti families of the last century.

The rooms of a rural house have been faithfully reconstructed, with original furniture and equipment: kitchen, bedroom, pantry, cellar (the authentic one of Giuseppe's house) and, upstairs, barn and porch. The connection with the house of Joseph accentuates the evocative effectiveness of the reconstruction.

The visit to the Museum is of extreme historical and cultural interest. Helped by illustrative panels and ancient photographs, we can realize the real environment, the lifestyle and work that the families, like the Bosco family, led to the old Piedmont.

During the earthworks for the construction of the museum, the ancient dome-shaped oven that was used to bake bread came to light. It was built by Giuseppe; in fact that of the township, located on the Biglione land, was no longer sufficient when Don Bosco came to the Colle with his boys. It was located lower than the house, on the eastern side of the hill and was covered during the refurbishment work carried out in the 1920s.

3.1.5. Shrine of Mary Help of Christians

Suggested to Don Paolo Albera, second successor of Don Bosco, by Senator Filippo Crispolti, a Salesian cooperator, it was started on August 16, 1915, demolishing the house of his brother Antonio. The consecration is August 2, 1918. The reason for the construction is threefold: to celebrate the centenary of the Saint's birth; commemorate the centenary of the institution of the liturgical feast of Mary Help of Christians, set for May 24 by Pope Pius VII who returned from Napoleonic captivity; finally, invoke peace for a war-torn world. For this third purpose the children of each nation were invited to offer their symbolic offer. The flags, which run beneath the sloping roof and join behind the statue of the Madonna, recall this gesture of youthful hope.

The neo-Gothic style project is by the architect Giulio Valotti, a lay Salesian. The church has a Greek cross shape measuring 10 by 15 meters. Large lateral pentafore allowed the many pilgrims to participate in the functions even outside the building. Inside, on the left, a painting by the painter Paolo Giovanni Crida (1886-1967) portrays Don Bosco in cotta and stoles with some ragais. The statue of Mary Help of Christians comes from the sculpture workshop of the Salesian School of Barcelona.

The current arrangement of the presbytery is the work of the architect Graziano Romaldi. Instead of the previous altar, a brick wall in the form of a tent surrounds the large crucifix and the tabernacle.

From 1918 a small Salesian community lived in adjacent rooms to ensure religious service and the reception of pilgrims.

3.1.6. The monument to Giovannino juggler

In the south-east corner of the link between the ancient Graglia house and the peasant museum, there was the «games pylon», built in 1929, the year of the beatification, and frescoed by Crida. Now a bronze monument replaces it: it recalls Giovannino Bosco who performed in games of skill in front of the boys of the township, after a moment of prayer and catechesis.

"In good weather, especially on holidays, those from the neighborhood gathered, and not a few strangers. Here the matter looked much more serious. I gave everyone a detention with some gamblers, which I myself had learned from others. Often on the markets and fairs there were charlatans and acrobats, which I went to see. Looking closely at each and every of their small feats, I would then go home and practice until I learned how to do the same (...). At eleven I played the games of the bussolotti, the somersault, the swallow, walked on my hands; he walked, jumped and danced on the rope, like a professional acrobat.

From what was done on a public holiday you will understand what was done in others.

To the Becchi there is a meadow, where then there were different plants, of which still exists a martinello pear tree, which at that time was very helpful to me. To this tree attached a rope, which was going to bind itself to another, at some distance; then a table with saddlebag; then a carpet on the ground to make the jumps on it. When everything was prepared and everyone was anxious to admire novelty, then he invited them all to recite the third part of the Rosary, after which a sacred praise was sung. When this was over, he climbed onto the chair, preached, or rather repeated what he reminded me of the explanation of the gospel heard in the morning in the church; or he would recount facts or examples heard or read in some book. At the end of the sermon, there was a short prayer, and soon the principle of detention began. At that moment you would have seen, as I told you, the speaker became a professional charlatan. Make the swallow, the somersault, walk on the hands with the body up; then gird up the saddlebag, eat the shields to go and pick them up again on the tip of the nose of one or the other; then multiplying the balls, the eggs, changing the water into wine, killing and tearing a chicken and then having it resurrect and singing better than before, were the orders for you. On the rope he then walked like a path; jumped, danced, hung me now for one foot, now for two; sometimes with both hands, sometimes with one. After a few hours of this recreation, when I was well tired, every amusement ceased, a short prayer took place and everyone went away for their own business "(MO 29-30). the somersault, walking on the hands with the body up; then gird up the saddlebag, eat the shields to go and pick them up again on the tip of the nose of one or the other; then multiplying the balls, the eggs, changing the water into wine, killing and tearing a chicken and then having it resurrect and singing better than before, were the orders for you. On the rope he then walked like a path; jumped, danced, hung me now for one foot, now for two; sometimes with both hands, sometimes with one. After a few hours of this recreation, when I was well tired, every amusement ceased, a short prayer took place and everyone went away for their own business "(MO 29-30). the somersault, walking on the hands with the body up; then gird up the saddlebag, eat the shields to go and pick them up again on the tip of the nose of one or the other; then multiplying the balls, the eggs, changing the water into wine, killing and tearing a chicken and then having it resurrect and singing better than before, were the orders for you. On the rope he then walked like a path; jumped, danced, hung me now for one foot, now for two; sometimes with both hands, sometimes with one. After a few hours of this recreation, when I was well tired, every amusement ceased, a short prayer took place and everyone went away for their own business "(MO 29-30). other; then multiplying the balls, the eggs, changing the water into wine, killing and tearing a chicken and then having it resurrect and singing better than before, were the orders for you. On the rope he then walked like a path; jumped, danced, hung me now for one foot, now for two; sometimes with both hands, sometimes with one. After a few hours of this recreation, when I was well tired, every amusement ceased, a short prayer took place and everyone went away for their own business "(MO 29-30). other; then multiplying the balls, the eggs, changing the water into wine, killing and tearing a chicken and then having it resurrect and singing better than before, were the orders for you. On the rope he then walked like a path; jumped, danced, hung me now for one foot, now for two; sometimes with both hands, sometimes with one. After a few hours of this recreation, when I was well tired, every amusement ceased, a short prayer took place and everyone went away for their own business "(MO 29-30). sometimes with only one. After a few hours of this recreation, when I was well tired, every amusement ceased, a short prayer took place and everyone went away for their own business "(MO 29-30). sometimes with only one. After a few hours of this recreation, when I was well tired, every amusement ceased, a short prayer took place and everyone went away for their own business "(MO 29-30).

3.1.7. The monument to Don Bosco educator

The bronze statue of Don Bosco, inaugurated on May 23, 1920, is a gift from the Italian Catholic Teachers Association, in homage to the great Educator of children and young people. Until 1986 it was located between Giuseppe's house and Graglia's house. On the occasion of the reorganization of the historic core, it was transported to the part facing the Temple square.

3.1.8. The pillar of the dream

Built in 1929, it rises on the western side of the hill, about twenty meters from the «Casetta». There was represented the famous dream of nine years, in a depiction of the Crida. Today there is a stylized drawing of prof. Luigi Zonta.

Thus Don Bosco describes the dream: «At that age I had a dream, which remained deeply imprinted in my mind throughout my life. In sleep it seemed to me that I was close to home, in a very spacious courtyard, where a multitude of children were gathering. Some laughed, others played, not a few swore. Upon hearing those blasphemies, I immediately threw myself into their midst, using fists and words to silence them. At that moment a man appeared, venerable, in manly age, nobly dressed. A white coat covered the whole person; but his face was so bright that I could not look at it. He called me by name and ordered me to put myself at the head of these children by adding these words: "You must not win these friends of yours with beatings, but with meekness and with charity."

Confused and frightened, I added that I was a poor and ignorant child, incapable of speaking about religion to those young men. At that moment those children ceased from fights, from shouting and from blasphemies, all gathered around the one who spoke.

Almost without knowing that you were telling me: "Who are you?" - Precisely because such things seem impossible to you, you must make them possible with the obedience and the purchase of science.

- Where, by what means will I be able to buy science? - I will give you the teacher, under whose discipline you can become wise, and without which all wisdom becomes foolishness.

- But who are you, that you talk like this? - I am the son of her whom your mother taught you to greet three times a day.

- My mother tells me not to associate with those I don't know, without her permission; so tell me your name.

- My name asks my mother.

At that moment I saw beside him a woman of majestic appearance, dressed in a cloak, who shone on all sides, as if every point of it were a very bright star. Seeing me more and more confused in my questions and answers, he made a point of approaching her, whom I presumed with kindness by the hand: "Look," he said to me. Looking at them, I realized that these children had all fled, and in their place I saw a multitude of kids, dogs, cats, bears and many other animals. - Here's your field, that's where you need to work. Make yourself humble, strong, robust; and what you now see happening to these animals, you will have to do it for my children.

Then I looked, and here instead of ferocious animals appeared as many meek lambs, which all hopping about ran around bleating, as if to celebrate that man and that lady.

At that point, still in sleep, I started crying, and I prayed to want to talk in order to understand, because I didn't know what it meant. Then she put her hand on my head and said to me: "In time you will understand everything.

That said, a noise woke me up; and everything disappeared "(MO 22-23).

3.1.9. Ancient fountain of Becchi

Opposite the Cavallo house, not far from the pylon of the dream, was the fountain of the township. In the works for the extension of the square in front of the large temple, in the early sixties, it was covered. Now it has been restored. Here mother Margherita drew water for domestic use. Precisely in this attitude Don Bosco saw her in a dream of May 1, 1886 (cf MB 18, 27-28). This dream can also be considered a prefiguration of the future "Bernardi Semeria" Institute.

3.1.10. The Temple in honor of Don Bosco

During the Second World War the Salesian superiors vowed to build a large church in honor of the Saint of young people at the "Casetta natia" to obtain divine protection on Salesian works scattered throughout the world. Only at the end of the fifties did the project take shape, under the rector of Don Renato Ziggiotti, fifth successor of Don Bosco. To prepare the land, the Biglione-Damevino farmhouse is demolished, without knowing its historical value.

The building, designed by the engineer Enea Ronca and reinterpreted by Giovanni Rubano, a lay Salesian, was built between June 1961 and March 1966.

It is presented on two overlapping levels: the lower church and the upper temple. The complex measures 70 meters long and 37 meters wide. Externally it reaches 110 meters, including the steps; it is dominated by a dome 16 meters in diameter that reaches up to 80 meters in height.

Lower Church It was solemnly inaugurated by Don Luigi Ricceri, sixth successor of Don Bosco, on 15 August 1965, on the eve of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Saint.

The interior, 7 meters high, has a rhomboid coffered ceiling and is adorned with marble and glass windows that create a cozy atmosphere. Behind the main altar until 1988 there was a panel by PG Crida depicting Don Bosco in the act of receiving from Pope Pius IX the decree approving the Rules of the Salesian Society, in the presence of Blessed Michael Rua. Now it has been replaced by a large altarpiece (9 by 3.40 meters) created by the painter Mario Càffaro Rore on the theme: Don Bosco and the autumn walks.

Built before the liturgical reform, the environment includes ten side chapels, with stained glass windows depicting some saints dear to the Salesian tradition.

On the right side, beginning with the presbytery: Saint Luigi Gonzaga (presented by Don Bosco as a model for his young people) with Saint Ignatius and the Virgin Mary; altar of the SS. Sacramento, with a painting by Càffaro Rore depicting Saint Francis de Sales (patron of the Salesian Family); Saint Joseph Cafasso (friend and spiritual guide of our Saint); St. John the Baptist (celebrated at Valdocco as Don Bosco's name day); Saint Mary. Domenica Mazzarello (co-founder of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians); Saint Cecilia (patroness of music, an important element in the Salesian educational system).

On the left side: St. Joseph B. Cottolengo (Turin saint of charity, near whose work the first Salesian Oratory stands); chapel of the choir, with the organ built by the firm Tamburini di Crema (2500 canes); Saint Dominic Savio (the best fruit of Salesian pedagogy); Saint John the Evangelist (particularly dear to Don Bosco because young and beloved by the Lord); Don Bosco himself with the young; Jesus crucified with the Patrons of Italy, Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena.

The back wall is occupied by a color photographic reproduction of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, according to the natural size of the painting found in Santa Maria delle Grazie (Milan). It is a gift from the ILFORD company of Saronno (Varese).

Upper Church It was completed, in the inner part, only in 1984, almost twenty years after the lower one. In the meantime the initial project has been touched up by the engineer Augusto Algostino, who also directed the final works.

The consecration took place on May 1, 1984, by card. Anastasio Ballestrero, archbishop of Turin.

The whole, which has a capacity of around 1500 people, is sober and dignified. The floor is in serizzo marble, the walls are in simple grating, with brick tiles up to 4 meters high.

Apse, altar and tabernacle. The apsidal wall is dominated by the statue of Christ the Redeemer in the glory of the Resurrection, a giant sculpture 8 meters high, with an opening of 6 arms (only the head is 1.10 meters high and the whole weighs 30 quintals). It was carved in linden wood by the Demetz company from Ortisei (Val Gardena). It means the irreplaceable centrality of Christ, not only in the life of Saint John Bosco, but in every Christian experience.

Below, the white marble altar measures 5 meters. On the left the golden tabernacle, supported by two stylized concrete hands.

The paintings. The side walls have large frescoes due to prof. Luigi Zonta.

Starting from the entrance, on the right side looking at the altar, the famous dream of the nine years is depicted, in which Giovannino senses his future mission. The warm and luminous shade of the colors and the rays of the rising sun signify the promising dawn of an experience rich in fruit.

The opposite wall is occupied by a painting that summarizes the characteristic elements of Salesian spirituality and pedagogy. At the center are depicted the Eucharist, the sacrament of Reconciliation and Marian devotion, supporting pillars of Don Bosco's educational method, lived with an ecclesial sense (dome of Saint Peter). The picture is then crowded with young figures caught in the most specific moments of their day: on the left, sport, music, cultural and professional training; right, associationism and catechetical training. Around Don Bosco the two religious families he founded for the service of the young.

In the right transept stands the imposing figure of Mary Help of Christians, the Madonna of Don Bosco, represented as Mother and guide. Around her gather the young people led by the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Under his protection, holiness flourishes like that of Dominic Savio (summarized by the words: "Death, but not sins") and the apostolic commitment of the young, represented by the coat of arms of the Companies, that is, the religious youth associations desired by Don Bosco. The halberds and swords at the feet of the Madonna recall the victories of Lepanto (1571) and of Vienna (1683) on the invading Turks of Europe, obtained with the prayer of the Rosary. In the background the Basilica of Valdocco, propelling center of the devotion to the Help of Christians.

In the left transept the artist wanted to visualize the relevance of Don Bosco's educational mission. Past and present (the humble «Casetta» and the great Temple, the Dora with the green lawns of the Turin suburbs of the 1800s and the chimneys looming over the modern city) are unified by the figure of the Saint, around whom the young people of all times find their answer to their request for salvation.

The stained glass windows. The rose window on the entrance door represents the Salesian coat of arms with the motto Don Bosco wanted as an apostolic program: "From mini animas, coetera tolle", translated into our expression: "(O Lord,) give me souls and take the rest ». Red is the symbol of charity.

The transept windows are by Alesso Bravo, designed by Luigi Zonta. The ornamental pattern of the acacia leaves returns in all of them, which abound in the woods around the Colle. But each has its own particular meaning.

The mystery of the Eucharist is recalled to the right of the picture of the Help of Christians (cluster, ears and wafers); on the left devotion to Mary, Immaculate and Help of Christians (lily, crown, sun, moon and stars).

Looking at the picture of Don Bosco, on the right are stylized young people, recipients of the Salesian mission. On the left the dream of nine years expressed in the symbols of the sun (intervention of God) and of the hand (the guide of Mary) that transform wolves into lambs.

Meeting rooms. In the large rooms on either side of the nave two meeting rooms have been created. One is equipped for the service of catechesis, in memory of the catechetical commitment that has characterized Don Bosco's activity from the beginning; the other is reserved for young people and contains a library and documentation on youth issues. Behind the apse a third room, decorated with scenes of Giovannino's childhood life by prof. L. Zonta, is destined for meetings, conferences, retreats.

3.1.11. Bernardi Semeria Salesian Institute

On the eve of the beatification of Don Bosco (June 2, 1929) Fr. Filippo Rinaldi, the Saint's third successor, decided to build a center for the education and professional training of young people on the Hill. To this end, also in anticipation of future pilgrimages, he bought (January 24, 1929) the Biglione-Damevino farmstead and a large space around it, not having obtained land in the area north of the "Casetta", as one would have liked. In this place, in the years 1938-1943, by the impulse of Don Pietro Ricaldone, fourth successor of Don Bosco, the great Institute was offered by the lawyer Pietro Bemardi, uncle of the father Semeria, Barnabite, famous writer and sacred orator.

For decades it welcomed boys, many of them orphans or the poor, eager to consecrate themselves to the Lord in Salesian life. After having learned a profession (in the agricultural, mechanical, graphic and carpentry sectors) hundreds of youth missionaries and apostles left from this center.

Currently the work hosts young people from the Middle School and the Graphic Arts Professional Center. Next to school laboratories, the graphic company carries out an intense editorial activity, particularly at the service of the Salesian Catechetical Center and of the Elle Di Ci publishing house of Leumann (Turin).

3.1.12. The Missionary Museum

The Missionary Museum is located at the Salesian Institute. The ethnological material preserved there was collected by Salesian missionaries and originally exhibited in Rome in 1925, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the first Salesian missionary expedition. After the exhibition in Rome, most of the objects were used in partial exhibitions held in Turin (1926), Barcelona (1930), Naples (1934), Bari (1935) and then Bologna, Padua and Milan. Unfortunately, in these movements various pieces were lost.

In 1941 the surviving material (perhaps only half of that exhibited in Rome in 1925) was transported to the Colle for a permanent exhibition. For the centenary of Don Bosco's death the premises of the old museum have been replaced by a modern and more suitable building.

The materials on display The pieces preserved in the Museum amount to 6810, but the objects on display are around 2,500.

A first nucleus of ethnographic materials, from Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and Paraguay, dates back to 1901-1910 and was donated to the Salesian Institute of Valsalice (Turin) where a Salesian seminar for Foreign Missions was held from 1887 to 1930.

The most substantial fund was collected between 1923 and 1924 by the various missionary regions. Far Eastern objects were added in 1930.

The succession of shop windows respects the historical development of the Salesian missions, especially in the part relating to Latin America. Later on, there are exhibit structures dedicated to: Argentina (Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, with the Onas, Alakaluffi, Yanages ethnic groups); Paraguay (in particular the Moros tribe); Ecuador (the Shuar); Brazil (ethnic groups of Bororo, Chavantes and Karaja); Venezuela (Rio Negro and Yanomami).

There are also showcases for Australia, Africa, China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Assam and India.

Two particular exhibition areas are located along the route: in the middle, the one dedicated to the great fauna of various nations and continents; at the exit the one reserved for small fauna: beetles, lepidoptera and various insects.

The visit is introduced and guided by texts, graphic and photographic elements that help missionary and Salesian reading.


To the north of the sanctuary of Maria Ausiliatrice and of the house of Giuseppe a road, which winds along the ridge of the hill, reaches, after about 2 kilometers, the group of dwellings that gives its name to the hamlet of Morialdo.

3.2.1. House of Saint Dominic Savio

Arriving from the Colle, first of all, on the right, you come across a building on which a plaque from 1910 commemorates the Savio family's stay. In this house, then owned by the Viale, from November 1843 to February 1853 (note that the dates of the tombstone are not exact) he lived in Domenico Savio (1842-1857). His father Carlo, a blacksmith by profession, and his mother Brigida, a seamstress, had moved there from San Giovanni di Riva near Chieri, when Domenico was just one year old. Then they will definitely move to Mondonio. These removals were imposed by the need to find work, since the family did not own real estate.

The walls we see testify to Domenico's serene childhood and the careful and solid education imparted to him by his parents and chaplain.

Don Bosco, describing the life of his pupil, presents a series of episodes that took place precisely in this house. We remember, in particular, the gestures of affection towards the father who returns home after work and the refusal to sit down with the guest who has sat without praying. But the most significant page is certainly the one in which the first communion of Dominic is described, which took place in the parish church of Castelnuovo (8 April 1849), when the young saint still lived in this house: «That day was always memorable for him and yes it can call true principle or rather continuation of a life, which can serve as a model for any Christian faithful. Several years later, making him talk about his first communion, he could still see the most vivid joy on his face. Oh! that, he used to say, it was the best day for me and a great day. Some memories were written which he jealously kept in a devotional book and which he often read. I have been able to have them in my hands and I insert them here in their original simplicity. They were of this tenor: "Memories made by me, Savio Domenico, the year 1849 when I made my first communion being 7 years old.

1. I will often confess to myself and take communion whenever the confessor gives me permission.

2. I want to sanctify the holidays.

3. My friends will be Jesus and Mary.

4. Death, but not sins ".

These memories, which were often repeated, were like the guide to his actions until the end of life "(OS 4,11-12).

Other memories, related to Domenico's stay in Morialdo, are preserved in a letter written by the chaplain and teacher Don Giovanni Zucca to Don Bosco: Murialdo, 5 May 1857 Dear Don Bosco, you want some hint about the late Savio just referring to the fact that near me lived and attended the school and the country church of San Pietro.

I am happy to write to you. In the first days that I was in Murialdo, he often saw a son of perhaps five years coming in the company of his mother to pray on the edge of the chapel, with a truly rare recollection at his age. In the outward and return journey he often greeted me respectfully, so that he was astonished to understand who he was, and told me that he was the son of Savio, called Minot.

In the following year, he began to come to school, showing diligence, docility and diligence; and since it was equipped with sufficient capacity, it made considerable progress in a short time. Piety, already demonstrated on the edge of the church by praying with his mother, grew in him over the years; he helped his ability to learn early to serve Holy Mass, and I could bring it to you daily. His love for religious services led him to serve the Blessing of the Blessed with composure. Sacrament and sing praises and hymns with a school friend alternately with the father, who also practiced at home and in the stables_ He confessed himself several times in the year and, as soon as he was able to distinguish the heavenly bread from the ground, he was admitted to the S. Communion, which he received with a devotion in that tender, admirable age. Forced to converse with the disciples, I am not aware that he has had any serious contention with them and much less then that he has let himself be drawn by their example to take excessive or dangerous or indecent entertainment; nor to plunder, as is often the case with such rabble, the fruits of others, or break down or make fun of the old and the poor.

On seeing him I have repeatedly said: here is a son of good hopes, as long as he goes out of the house, because in it very few boys, both of the one and of the other sex, are successful, for indolence, etc. etc. of relatives. The examples are gracelessly many, and the daily teacher of things, experience, made me feel first-hand how right the Marquis of Breme was when he said: the love of parents, like that other love, also has the bandage on eyes and well often, unintentionally, instead of helping harms (...).

Your dear and popular friend Don Zucca ».

(From M. MOLINERIS, New life of Domenico Savio, Colle Don Bosco 1974, pp. 63-64).

3.2.2. Church of San Pietro and house of the chaplain

Continuing the journey we reach the chapel of the hamlet, dedicated to St. Peter.

It was the church ordinarily visited by the Becchi families, too far from the Castelnuovo parish. In the house leaning against the eastern wall lived a chaplain appointed by the parish priest of the pastoral care of the area.

Here Giovannino, during the eleven or twelve years, during the patronal feast, is concerned with persuading people to interrupt entertainment and participate in the vespertine functions (cf MB 1, 144-146). But, in a particular way, the place is linked to the memory of two people who played a decisive role in the life of the Saint: Don Giovanni Calosso and San Giuseppe Cafasso.

Don Calosso and Giovannino Bosco In the summer of 1829 Don Giovanni Melchiorre Calosso (Chieri 1760 - Morialdo 1830) arrived in Morialdo and took the pastoral care of the area, as chaplain dependent on the parish priest of Castelnuovo. He had been parish priest to Bruino (1791-1813), then he had helped his brother Carlo Vincenzo, pastor of Berzano, in the ministry. He lived in the small rectory that we still see today.

He plays a decisive role in the formation of Giovanni as an adolescent, fresh from the Moglia farm and in difficult relations with his brother Antonio.

The first meeting between the two takes place along the descent from Buttigliera to Morialdo, between 5 and 9 November 1829, while they return home after having participated in the preaching of the missions carried out in the area for the extraordinary Jubilee proclaimed by Pius VIII. In dialogue Don Calosso discovers Giovanni's intelligence and goodness of heart and offers to help him in his studies. Thus begins a deep and constructive friendship, through which the elderly priest, even more than the rudiments of the Latin language, teaches the fourteen-year-old peasant the first steps of an authentic spiritual life.

Don Bosco remembers him with particular emotion: "I immediately put myself in the hands of D. Calosso, who had only come to that chaplaincy for a few months. I made him know all about myself. Every word, every thought, every action made readily manifested. This pleased him greatly, because in such a way with foundation I could regulate myself in the spiritual and temporal.

I knew then that it means having a stable guide, a faithful friend of the soul, of which he had been without until then. Among other things he soon forbade me a penance, which I used to do, not suited to my age and condition. Encourage me to go to confession and communion, and he taught me how to do a short meditation every day or rather a little spiritual reading. All the time he could, on holidays, he passed by him. On weekdays, as far as he could, he would serve the holy mass. From that time I began to taste what spiritual life is, since first it acted rather materially and as a machine that does a thing without knowing the reason.

In mid-September I started regularly studying Italian grammar, which I was able to complete and practice with appropriate compositions. At Christmas I gave a hand to the Donato (editor's note: the Latin grammar), at Easter I gave principle to translations from Latin into Italian and to each other. In all that time I have never ceased from the usual festive restings in the meadow, or in the winter stable. Every fact, every saying, and I can say every word of the master was used to keep my listeners "(MO 36-37).

Giovanni, after having shuttled between home and rectory for a while, dividing his time in the fieldworks and in the study, settled down at the chaplain, offering his services in exchange. Thus he lived a few months of serene peace and intense study, while continuing to help his family (cf MO 40).

Unfortunately, on November 21, 1830, a heart attack heart-breaking Don Calosso. Giovanni gives the priest's relatives the key to the small safe, which was also given to him by the dying man. The casket contained 6,000 lire (cf. MB 1, 217), a considerable figure if we consider that at the time the annual salary of a public school professor was around 600-700 lire.

He finds himself having to face again the difficulties of study and of vocational maturation, even if now the ideas are clearer and his spirit more mature and strong: "The death of D. Calosso was for me an irreparable disaster. The deceased benefactor was crying inconsolably. If he was awake, he thought of him; if he slept he dreamed of him; things went so far, that my mother, fearing my health, sent me some time with my grandfather in Capriglio.

At that time I had another dream, according to which I was bitterly blamed, because he had placed my hope in men and not in the goodness of the heavenly Father "(MO 43-44).

Meeting between the cleric Cafasso and Giovannino Bosco In Morialdo, during a religious feast, in front of the church door, Giovanni met the cleric Giuseppe Cafasso, premise of another very fruitful friendship: «It was the second Sunday of October and by the inhabitants of Murialdo was celebrated the Maternity of Maria SS, which was the main solemnity among those inhabitants. Everyone was in business for things at home or church, while others were spectators or took part in various games or games.

Only one I saw far from every show, and he was a cleric, small in the person, sparkling eyes, affable air, angelic face. He was leaning against the church door. I was as enraptured by his countenance, and although I only touched the age of twelve, however, moved by the desire to talk to him, I approached him and addressed these words: - Signor Abbot, would you like to see some spectacle of our party? I will gladly lead you where you wish. He gave me a gracious nod to approach me, and began to question me about my age, about the study, if I was already promoted to Holy Communion, how often he went to confession, where he went to catechism and the like. I remained as enchanted with those edifying ways of speaking; I gladly answered every question; then, almost to thank him for his kindness,

- My dear friend, he resumed, the performances of the priests are the functions of the church; the more they are divinely celebrated, the more grateful are our shows. Our novelties are the practices of religion, which are always new and therefore to be frequented with assiduity; I just wait for the church to open to enter.

I made up my mind to continue the conversation, and added: "It is true what you say to me; but there is time for everything: time to go to church, and time to recreate ourselves. He began to laugh, and concluded with these memorable words, which were like the program of all his life's actions: - The one who embraces the ecclesiastical state sells himself to the Lord, and of what he has in the world, nothing must stand to him heart, if not what can return to greater glory of God and for the benefit of souls. - »(MO 41-43).

San Giuseppe Cafasso (1811-1860) will be a master of pastoral theology, confessor and spiritual director of Don Bosco during the first twenty years of his priesthood. When in 1841, after his priestly ordination, Giovanni Bosco found himself deciding on some proposals for pastoral employment - including that of chaplain in Morialdo - Cafasso will convince him to attend the Ecclesiastical Convitto of Turin for a cultural and apostolic improvement . He in fact sensed the particular mission that the Lord reserved for the young priest of the Becchi.

"At the end of those holidays I was offered three jobs, of which one had to choose: the master's office in the home of a Genoese gentleman with a salary of one thousand francs a year; of chaplain of Murialdo, where the good commoners, for the keen desire to have me, doubled the salary of the previous chaplains; of vice-curate in my homeland. Before taking any final deliberation, I wanted to take a trip to Turin to ask for advice from Fr. Caffasso (note: Don Bosco always uses this spelling in place of "Cafasso"), which for many years had become my guide in spiritual and temporal things . That holy priest listened to everything, the offers of good salaries, the insistence of relatives and friends, my good will to work. Without hesitating for a moment he addressed these words to me: - You need to study morality and preaching. Forget about every proposal for now and come to the boarding school. I gladly followed the wise counsel, and on November 3, 1841, I entered the mentioned Convitto "(MO 120-121).

The church of San Pietro and Domenico Savio A few years later, the small church of the village also saw the prayers and fervor of Domenico Savio as a child, who in the ten years or so in Morialdo lends itself ordinarily to serving Mass to Don Giovanni Zucca (1818 -1878) chaplain. Don Bosco, in the biography of Domenico reports a tasty picture: «He had already learned to serve Holy Mass for five years and served her devoutly. Every day he went, and if others wanted to serve her, he would listen to her, otherwise he would lend himself with the most edifying behavior. Since he was young and small in stature, he could not carry the missal; and it was curious to see him approach the altar anxiously, stand on tiptoe, stretch his arms as much as he could, make every effort to touch the lectern. If the priest or others had wanted to do him the dearest thing in the world, he had not to carry the missal already, but to approach the lectern so that he could reach it; and then he joyfully took him to the other side of the altar "(OS 4, 10).

Don Zucca also acts as an elementary teacher for the boys of the village. The school - opened in the school year 1847-1848 following a series of legislative measures which resulted in the "Boncompagni Law" of 1848 - was located in a room on the ground floor of the rectory. Domenico attended it from 1848 to 1850. When his age and health allowed him, he continued his studies in the upper elementary schools of Castelnuovo (1852-1853).

3.2.3. The hill in the region «Sussambrino»

Along the provincial road, to the right of those who go from the Becchi to Castelnuovo, right in front of the junction for Buttigliera, on the slope of a hill planted with vineyards you can see the Sussambrino house gleaming white.

The farmhouse In 1830 Giuseppe Bosco, just eighteen, rented this farm in collaboration with Giuseppe Febbraro and moved to the farmhouse, bringing with him his mother Margherita and his brother Giovanni. This brings back the family serenity and a little more economic security, even if the work doubles. The mother and the youngest child, in fact, alternate their residence between this house and the Becchi, according to the needs of the agricultural work.

Giovanni, who after the death of Don Calosso enrolled in the municipal schools of Castelnuovo and attended them starting from the middle of December 1830, sees himself facilitated for the reduction of distances. However, the road to run on foot four times a day remains strenuous, especially in winter, due to snow and intense frost. Margherita, to help him, finds him lodging in Castelnuovo.

In this place the Bosco remain nine years. Meanwhile Joseph marries Maria Calosso (9 May 1833). From the marriage Margherita (1834, lives only two and a half months), Filomena (1835-1926) and Rosa Domenica (1838-1878) are born. Seven other children will be born in the new house I dei Becchi, between 1841 and 1856.

Giovanni, who since 1831 moved to Chieri to attend public school first and then the seminar, returns during the summer-autumn holidays at Sussambrino. Having now become a robust young man, he lends a valid help on the farm, but taking advantage of every free moment for his studies. The bronze bust placed on the rustic wall recalls these laborious and happy years.

Don Bosco describes how he spent the holiday period during his seminar studies: "A great danger for clerics is vacations, especially at that time, which lasted four and a half months. I took the time to read, to write; but, not knowing yet to depart from my days, he lost many without fruit. He tried to kill them with some mechanical work. He made spindles, anklets, bowls or bullets around; he sewed clothes; he cut, sewed shoes; he worked in iron, in wood. Still presently, in my home in Murialdo, I have a writing desk, a dining table with some chairs that remind me of the heads of my holidays. He also took care of sawing the lawn, harvesting wheat in the field; to roam, to dismantle, to harvest, to drink, to tap the wine and the like. I took care of my usual young boys, but this could only be done on public holidays. However, I found a great comfort in doing catechism to many of my companions, who found themselves at sixteen and even at the age of seventeen fasting at all of the truths of the faith. I was also given to teaching some of them in reading and writing very successfully; for the desire, indeed the lust to learn, brought me youngsters of all ages. The school was free, but the condition was assiduousness, attention and monthly confession. In the beginning some, to not undergo these conditions, ceased. Which returned good example and encouragement to others. that they found themselves at sixteen and even at the age of seventeen fasting at all of the truths of faith. I was also given to teaching some of them in reading and writing very successfully; for the desire, indeed the lust to learn, brought me youngsters of all ages. The school was free, but the condition was assiduousness, attention and monthly confession. In the beginning some, to not undergo these conditions, ceased. Which returned good example and encouragement to others. that they found themselves at sixteen and even at the age of seventeen fasting at all of the truths of faith. I was also given to teaching some of them in reading and writing very successfully; for the desire, indeed the lust to learn, brought me youngsters of all ages. The school was free, but the condition was assiduousness, attention and monthly confession. In the beginning some, to not undergo these conditions, ceased. Which returned good example and encouragement to others. attention and the monthly confession. In the beginning some, to not undergo these conditions, ceased. Which returned good example and encouragement to others. attention and the monthly confession. In the beginning some, to not undergo these conditions, ceased. Which returned good example and encouragement to others.

Ho pure cominciato a fare prediche e discorsi col permesso e coll'assistenza del mio prevosto» (MO 95-96).

Of Don Bosco's stay at Sussambrino we still want to remember the dialogue between mother Margaret and her son, on the eve of their entry into the seminary: "The evening before she left, she called me to her and made me this memorandum in disagreement: - Gioanni mio , you have dressed the priestly habit; I feel all the consolation that a mother can feel for her son's luck. But remember, that it is not the habit that honors your state, it is the practice of virtue. If ever you came to doubt your vocation, ah for goodness sake! do not dishonor this dress. Deponilo soon. I love better than having a poor farmer, a neglected priest son in his duties. When you came into the world, I consecrated you to the Blessed Virgin; when you began your studies, I recommended the devotion to this Mother of ours: now I commend you to be his own: love the devotees of Mary; and if you become a priest, always recommend and propagate the devotion of Mary. In finishing these words my mother was moved; I was crying.

- Mother, I answered her, I thank you for all that you have said and done for me; these words of yours will not be spoken in vain and I will treasure them in my whole life. - »(MO 89).

The vineyards and the Renenta fountain On the sunny slope there were - and in part still remain, lush vineyards. There was also the vineyard of his friend Giuseppe Turco, to whom Giovanni, while they kept the grapes at the time of the harvest, revealed the purpose of his commitment in the study: to become a priest for the poor and abandoned youth. He also told a dream he had made at Sussambrino. He had thought he saw the valley below turned into the city of Turin with crowds of squealing boys in the streets and squares. As in the dream of nine years, the majestic Lord and the Lady had shown him the way to turn those bad boys into good Christians.

At the foot of the hill, right on the road, there is still a brick arch that covers an ancient pool in which water from a spring pool is collected. It is the fountain called Renenta. The current street level is raised above the old one and passes at a certain distance. During the drought period the only water supply point for the farmers of the area remained. We can think that Giovannino Bosco also quenched his thirst more than once at this source and brought the cattle there.

The vineyard of Giuseppe Turco, so dear to Don Bosco, was very close to the fountain and he later said: "I made my studies in the vineyard of Giuseppe Turco, at Renenta" (MB 1, 424).

3.3.1. Birthplace of mother Margherita

About two kilometers from the Becchi we find Capriglio (230 meters above sea level), a small town made up of hamlets and hamlets scattered among the green hills. On what is called "Serra di Capriglio", the highest hill (on the right for those who go towards the town from the Becchi), there is still the house where Margaret, Don Bosco's mother, was born on April 1, 1788, the sestogenita of Melchiorre Occhiena and Domenica Bossone.

A very simple construction, of rural structure, today well restored and inhabited again. On the facade a plaque commemorates the event. In the courtyard a well, still existing, provided water for daily needs.

Here lived Margherita until her wedding day and here, probably, her brother, uncle Michele (1795-1867) continued to live, a valid help in difficult moments. It was he who led away from the Cascina Moglia Giovanni, to support him in his desire to attend schools and find him accommodation in Chieri.

It is interesting to note that Don Bosco's maternal grandfather, Melchiorre, died on 11 January 1844 at the age of 92; so he had the joy of seeing his nephew priest.

3.3.2. Parish Church and Don Giuseppe Lacqua House

About a kilometer from the Occhiena house is the Parish Church of Capriglio. Margherita, who was baptized there the day she was born, attended it assiduously for as long as she remained in the village and celebrated her marriage to Francesco Bosco on June 6, 1812.

On the square next to the church stands the house where the village master Don Giuseppe Lacqua lived. On the first floor he saw the children of the municipal primary school. Also Giovannino was his pupil for at least two winters. He, although belonging to another municipality, was received thanks to the interest of his aunt Marianna Occhiena (1785-1857), a domestic of Don Lacqua. The date of this school attendance is uncertain, to be placed between 1824 and 1827. It is the first meeting of Don Bosco with the school. During this period the boy lived with his grandparents and uncles in the house on the Serra di Capriglio.

Don Bosco writes in his Memoirs: "Meanwhile I had reached the ninth year of age; my mother wanted to send me to school, but she was very embarrassed by the distance, since from the village of Castelnuovo there was a distance of five kilometers. My brother Antonio was opposed to school. He took a temper. In winter he attended the school in the nearby village of Capriglio, where I could learn the elements of reading and writing. My teacher was a priest of great piety, in the name of Giuseppe Delacqua (sic), who used me many respects, very willingly taking care of my education and even more of my Christian education. In the summer he then satisfied my brother, working in the countryside "(MO 22).

He always remained fond of his first teacher. In 1841, a new priest, he went to visit him in Ponzano, where Don Lacqua had moved as a teacher. He died at Godio (a hamlet of Castelletto Merli in the province of Alessandria), on 3 January 1847, at 83 years of age. Aunt Marianna, invited by Don Bosco, will spend her last years at Valdocco, to help her mother Margherita, dying on 21 June 1857.

After the first year of theology (1838) the cleric Bosco was invited to Capriglio to hold the panegyric on the feast of the Nativity of Mary: «I preached over the SS. Rosary in the town of Alfiano, in the holidays of physics; above S. Bartolomeo Apostolo, after the first year of theology in Castelnuovo d'Asti; above the Nativity of Mary, in Capriglio. I don't know what the fruit was. On all sides, however, he was applauded, so that the vainglory was guiding me, until I was disillusioned as follows. One day, after the said sermon on the Birth of Mary, I questioned one, who seemed to be the most intelligent, about the sermon he praised, and he replied: - His sermon was on the poor souls in Purgatory. And I had preached over the glories of Mary "(MO 96-97).


A large village about 5 kilometers from Colle Don Bosco (267 meters above sea level), it recalls a nice anecdote from the Saint's youth. Here, in fact, in the period in which he attended the school of Castelnuovo (1830-1831), during the village festival, he was the only one among many competitors who had managed to reach the summit of the "cuccagna tree" and to earn his twenty lire bag , a sausage and a handkerchief (cf MB 1, 235-236).


A fertile agricultural center in the province of Asti, known for its wine production, it is perched on a hilly hill in the lower Monferrato, at an altitude of 240 meters, and is lapped by the Traversola stream. It is 30 kilometers from the capital, but preferentially gravitates around Turin, from which it is about 20 kilometers away. Today it has 2600 inhabitants, while at the time of Don Bosco it had 3000. It included four «villate»: Bar-della, Nevissano, Ranello (where the paternal grandparents lived. By Domenico Savio) and Morialdo. It was the capital of the district with jurisdiction over the municipalities of Albugnano, Berzano, Buttigliera, Moncucco, Mondonio, Pino and Primeglio.

In the nineteenth century there was a market every Thursday and two annual fairs, one on the first Tuesday after Easter and the other on the last Monday of November, dedicated above all to the trade in cattle, drapes and canvases.

The homeland of Don Bosco, from which it takes its name today, it also gave birth to other famous people of the Church of the nineteenth century. We remember: St. Joseph Cafasso (1811-1860), confessor and friend of Don Bosco, great spiritual director and formator of priests; Canon Giuseppe Allamano (1851-1926), nephew of Cafasso, a pupil of Don Bosco and fon. giver of the Consolata Missionaries and Missionaries; Cardinal Giovanni Cagliero (1838-1926), one of Don Bosco's first disciples and initiator of Salesian works in South America; Monsignor Giovanni Battista Bertagna (1828-1905), first clergyman at the Oratory, then professor of moral theology and rector of the Ecclesiastical Boarding School, and finally auxiliary bishop and rector of the Turin seminary.

The same Domenico Savio, during the period of his stay in Morialdo (1843-1853), attended the upper elementary school of Castelnuovo (from 21 June 1852 to February 1853, when he moved to Mondonio with his parents).

Don Bosco's grandfather, Filippo Antonio, who came from Chieri, before moving definitively to the Becchi (1793) lived for a time in Castelnuovo.

On the small square (piazza Don Bosco) at the base of the slope leading to the town hall and the parish church, you can admire a marble monument representing Don Bosco between two boys: a European and an Indian. Work of Giovanni Antonio Stuardi, it was erected by the people of Castelnuovo in 1898, ten years after the death of the Saint, the first monument in his memory to have been built.

3.5.1. The Parish Church of Sant'Andrea

The parish church is located on the upper part of the town, near the remains of the Rivalba castle and other ancient buildings. Transformed by the original Gothic structure into the Baroque one in the first part of the 1600s and restructured around 1700, it contains in its interior seventeenth-century paintings by Guglielmo Caccia known as il Moncalvo (1568-1625), while the oval icon of the high altar, representing the patron saint Andrea, is from the Rassoso.

This church reminds us of some fundamental stages of the Christian life of Don Bosco.

On 17 August 1815 he received baptism. The godfathers are the maternal grandfather Melchiorre Occhiena and the paternal aunt Maddalena Bosco. The baptismal font, in the first chapel on the right entering the church, was replaced in 1873, when the baptistery was enlarged, and is now kept in a small private museum in Castelnuovo (Villa Filippello). Saint Joseph Cafasso and the other famous Castelnovese mentioned above were also baptized here.

In the Easter of 1826, at the age of eleven, Giovanni Bosco was admitted to the first communion, after a careful preparation under the guidance of his mother Margherita.

The story remained strongly imprinted in the memory of Don Bosco: «I was at the age of eleven when I was admitted to the first communion. I knew all the little catechism; but for the most part he was admitted to communion only to the twelve years. Then, due to the distance from the church, he was unknown to the parish priest, and he had to limit himself almost exclusively to the religious education of the good parent. Wishing however not to let me go further in age without letting me practice that great act of our holy religion, she tried herself to prepare me as best she could and knew. During Lent he sent me every day to the catechism; then I was examined, promoted, and the day was set when all the children had to make Easter.

In the midst of the multitude it was impossible to avoid dissipation. My mother studied to assist me for several days; he had led me three times to confess to me during Lent.

- John my, he said repeatedly, God prepares you a great gift; but he tries to prepare you well, to confess, not to keep quiet about anything in confession. Confess everything, be sorry for everything, and promise God to make you better in the future.

All promised; if he has been faithful, God knows. At home he made me pray, read a good book, giving me those advice that an industrious mother can find suitable for her children.

That morning he did not let me talk to anybody, he accompanied me to the sacred table, and I had the preparation and thanksgiving with me, so that the Vicar forane, named Sismondi, was very zealously doing to everyone in a high and alternate voice. On this day he did not want me to take care of any material work, but all I did was to read and pray. Among many things my mother repeated these words to me several times: - O dear son, this was a great day for you. I am convinced that God has really taken possession of your heart. Now promise to do what you can to keep you good until the end of life. For the future he often goes on to communicate to you, but beware of making sacrileges. Always say everything in confession; always be obedient, willingly go to catechism and preaching;

On October 25, 1835, a few days before entering the seminary, when the Saint was twenty-one, the new parish priest, Father Antonio Cimano, imposed him a clerical dress. The function is attended by "an overwhelming number of young people who have also come from the villages and neighboring countries" (MB 1, 369).

On this occasion Giovanni Bosco writes the following rules of life: «1st For the future I will never again take part in public shows on fairs, on markets: nor will I go to see dances or theaters: and as far as I can, I will not I will speak at lunches, which I would give on such occasions.

2 ° I will never again play bowls, magician, acrobat, dexterity, rope; I won't play the violin anymore, I won't go hunting anymore. I think these things are all contrary to gravity and to the ecclesiastical spirit.

3 ° I will love and practice retirement, temperance in eating and drinking: and of rest I will take only the hours strictly necessary for health.

4 As I have served the world with profane readings in the past, so for the future I will try to serve God by giving me readings of religious things.

5. I will fight everything, every reading, thought, speeches, words and deeds contrary to the virtue of chastity with all my strength. On the contrary, I will practice all those very small things, which can contribute to preserving this virtue.

6th In addition to the ordinary practices of piety, I will never omit to do a little meditation every day and a little spiritual reading.

7th Every day I will tell you some examples or some advantageous maxim for the souls of others. I will do this with my companions, with friends, with relatives, and when I cannot with others, I will do it with my mother "(MO 87-88).

On Thursday 10 June 1841, the feast of Corpus Domini, Don Bosco sang the mass in his parish for the first time. It is the fifth Eucharistic celebration after ordination on June 5th.

In this church the new priest served as deputy for five months, until he entered the Ecclesiastical College of Turin in the following November: "He felt the greatest pleasure in working. He preached every Sunday, visited the sick, administered the holy sacraments to them, except penance, because he had not yet undergone the confession exam. He attended burials, kept parish books in order, made certificates of poverty or other kinds. But my delight was to teach catechism to children, to stay with them. From Murialdo I often came to visit; when he went home he was always around them. In the village they also began to make friends and friends. On leaving the parish house he was always accompanied by a host of children and wherever I went,

Also Domenico Savio in this church approaches the first communion on 8 April 1849; on 13 April 1853, when the family had already moved to Mondonio, together with more than 800 (!) confirmations from neighboring countries, it received the Confirmation from the hands of Msgr. Luigi Moreno, bishop of Ivrea.

The baroque pulpit, carved in walnut wood, reminds us of the first experiences of preaching of the young Don Bosco. The organ tribune saw him as a little singer under the guidance of tailor Giovanni Roberto (cf MO 45).

3.5.2. The canonical house

It is on the left, as soon as you take the road that goes down from the square to the town. Giovanni attended it in the holidays of 1832, after the first year of public school in Chieri, because the parish priest Don Bartolomeo Dassano - saw him study while grazing the cattle - full of ammo ration, offered him and some repetitions of Latin helped also by the vice-deputy co. The young student repays him by taking care of his horse; thus it has the possibility of acquiring skill in riding (cf MB 1, 273).

The next parish priest, Don Antonio Cinzano, who is very fond of him, hosts him for five months after ordination and would like to keep him as assistant pastor. But he, following the advice of the spiritual director Don Cafasso, moved to Turin to perfect his studies. The relationship between the two remains excellent and the rectory will be considered by Don Bosco as a second home. On the occasion of the famous "autumn walks", the parish house of Castelnuovo is always the first stop. Don Lemoyne tells us that Don Cinzano, invited to preside over the Feast of the Rosary to the Becchi, "demanded that Don Bosco and his companions go to return the visit, and, having his massari come and set up a false stove at the corner of the courtyard, he prepared a colossal polenta ». In the meantime, «the singers,

In the parish archive the register of baptisms is preserved, on which is also recorded the one of Giovanni Bosco.

3.5.3. Public school

After a few meters, continuing the descent, the schools of Castelnuovo are flanked on the right, built on the very site of the ancient school building that housed Giuseppe Cafasso and Giovanni Bosco as students. The latter attended them in the school year 1830-1831.

At the time, due to the scarce financial resources of the municipal administration, there were only two teachers: the teacher of the municipal schools (ie the two-year primary school) and the professor of the public schools (in Castelnuovo only the schools called "inferior latinity" existed: Sixth, Fifth and Fourth). The latter had to take care of a class of over seventy students who carried out different programs, depending on the course attended.

Giovanni's professor is Don Emanuele Virano, a young priest, very energetic and able to teach, who becomes attached to his pupil a little bigger than his companions - and encourages him. In April, however, he was promoted to parish priest of Mondonio and replaced by the over-seventy-year-old Don Nicola Moglia, uncle of that Luigi Moglia who generously welcomed Giovannino as a boy in the Moncucco farmhouse. The new master proves incapable of dominating such a numerous and, moreover, prejudiced and hostile class with regard to the young Bosco, who follows the Sixth program. The profit is very low and ends up sending "almost as much wind as he had learned in the previous months" (MO 47).

After the first days of school, the journey ahead was too burdensome, Mother Margherita resolved the situation with the help of the tailor of Castelnuovo, Giovanni Roberto. He first offered Giovannino lunch and later full board. The student can thus make better use of time and, in moments free from study, learns cutting and sewing. The tailor is also an organist and choirmaster. Our Giovanni, who is endowed with a beautiful voice and has good dispositions for music, learns to play the harpsichord and the violin and becomes a singer in the parish functions.

Don Bosco thus describes his residence with Giovanni Roberto: "I was therefore retired with an honest man named Roberto Gioanni from the tailor profession, and a good amateur of Gregorian chant and vocal music. And since the voice favored me somewhat, I gave myself wholeheartedly to the art of music and in a few months I could mount on the orchestra and make obligatory parts with good success. More wishing to occupy recreation in something, I set myself to sew as a tailor. In a very short time I became able to make buttons, hems, simple and double stitching. I also learned to cut the underpants, the bodices, the trousers, the doublets; and it seemed to me that I had become a worthy chief tailor "(MO 45).

When free from school commitments, the young Bosco also lends his work to the blacksmith Evasio Savio (t 1868). In 1834 he will have a decisive role in avoiding the entry of John among the Franciscans, encouraging him to seek advice from Fr Cafasso and insisting at the new parish priest, Fr Cinzano, to help him enter the seminary (cf MB 1, 303-305) .

We do not know where the tailor Roberto's house and the blacksmith workshop Evasio Savio were.

3.5.4. The chapel of St. Bartholomew

In front of the school a street leads to the town hall square. In 1834 the cav. Giovanni Pescarmona who, together with Mr. Sartoris and Don Cinzano, helped Giovanni Bosco economically to complete his studies in the public schools of Chieri and the following year he collaborated for the formation of the Christian school (cf. MB 1, 304 and 367).

On the left a grassy ramp leads to the church of San Bartolomeo. It reminds us of one of the first preachings of the cleric Bosco, when on August 24, 1840, when the preacher who was supposed to keep the saint's panegyric, passed away, he replaced him at the last moment, with brilliant results (cf. MB 1, 489-490).

3.5.5. Church dedicated to the "Madonna del Castello"

In the highest part of the town, on the site of the medieval castle, stands a small sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Giovanni often went up there, particularly during Marian feasts.

3.6.1. Domenico Savio's house

About 2 kilometers from Castelnuovo, on the road to Gallareto and Montechiaro (4 kilometers from Morialdo, for those who follow the road on the hill), we come across Mondonio, a town where Domenico Savio died on 9 March 1857.

Carlo (1815-1891) and Brigida (1820-1871) Savio moved there with their children in February 1853, going to live in the first house on the left, going up the main street of the town. The house, rented by the Bertello brothers, was inhabited by the Savio family until 1879. The Salesians bought it in 1917, paying 2000 lire.

On the ground floor, from right to left, you come across the kitchen (in the wall you can see the place of the hearth) that communicates with the room where Domenico died on 9 March 1857.

Don Bosco describes Domenico's death with these words: "After reciting some prayers with him, the parish priest was about to go out, when Savio called him saying: Signor provostus before leaving leave me some memory.

- For me, he replied, I wouldn't know what to remember to leave you.

- Some memory, which comforts me.

- I could not tell you anything else except that you remember the passion of the Lord.

- Deo gratias, answered, the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ be always in my mind, in my mouth, in my heart. Jesus, Joseph and Mary, assist me in this last agony; Jesus, Joseph and Mary breathe my soul in peace with you.

After these words he fell asleep and took half an hour to rest. Then he woke up and looked at his relatives: "Dad, he said, this is it.

- Here I am, my son, what do you need? - My dear dad, it's time; take my provisioned Youth (note: this is a prayer manual written by Don Bosco for his boys) and read to me the prayers of the good death.

At these words the mother broke into tears and left the sick room. His heart burst with pain, and tears choked his voice; however he took courage and began to read that prayer. He repeated each word carefully and distinctly; but at the end of each part he wanted to say alone: ​​Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me. At the words: When at last my soul will appear before you, and will see for the first time the immortal splendor of your majesty, do not reject it from your presence, but deign to receive me in the loving bosom of your mercy, so that I may sing eternally your praises; - Well, he added, this is precisely what I desire. Oh dear dad, eternally sing the praises of the Lord! Then it seemed to take a little more of sleep as a serious reflection of what is of great importance. Shortly after he awoke and in a clear and laughing voice: "Goodbye, dear Daddy, goodbye: the provost wanted to say more to me and I can no longer remember ... Oh! what a beautiful thing I never see ...

So saying and laughing with an air of paradise, he breathed his hands joined before his chest in the form of a cross without making the slightest movement "(OS 5, 64-65).

From the room where Domenico died (which probably served as a pantry and tailor's workshop for mother Brigida), a wooden staircase led to the upper floor. Now it no longer exists, but one can guess: re the position in the light of a door that was placed on the north wall and led to another room, at the time used as a storeroom and cellar.

Today we go upstairs through a staircase, of more recent construction, which is part of the neighboring house. Even the external gallery did not exist.

On the upper floor, above the kitchen, was the parents' bedroom and, next to it, the children's bedroom. The place above the cellar space, which can also be accessed from the street at the back of the house, was used by dad Carlo as a workshop for his blacksmith activity.

Mr and Mrs Savio had ten children. Six children died or very young: Domenico Giuseppe Carlo (3-18 November 1840), St. Domenico Giuseppe (1842-1857), Carlo (15-16 February 1844), M. Teresa Adelaide (1847-1859), Giuseppe Guglielmo (1853- 1865), Maria Luigia (1863-1864).

Papa Carlo, his wife Brigida Gaiato died (1871), after having married the three daughters Maria Caterina Raimonda (1845-1912), Maria Caterina Elisabetta (1856-1915?) And Maria Firmina Teresa (1859-1933), in 1878, left his son Giovanni Pietro (1850-1894), moved with Don Bosco to Valdocco, where he died on December 16, 1891 at the age of 76.

Opposite the house is the first monument dedicated to Domenico Savio. It was inaugurated in 1920 by Cardinal Giovanni Cagliero, who had been Domenico's assistant and music teacher at the Valdocco Oratory.

3.6.2. Parish church and school

Climbing along the road that runs alongside the house of Domenico Savio, one arrives at the parish church, dedicated to St. James. Here Domenico, until his departure for Valdocco and then during the short days of vacation, takes part in mass every day. He prefers to pray in front of a statue of the Madonna del Rosario, placed in a niche at the bottom of the church, to the right of the person entering. Today that statue is no longer there: in 1863 it was moved to the little church of Rasetto, a hamlet where Domenico's grandfather lived. The patronal feast of the town was celebrated on the day of Our Lady of the Rosary, on the first Sunday of October, as the Becchi had started to do in Don Bosco since 1848. It is precisely on Monday 2 October 1854, the day after the party, that father Carlo and Domenico - by interest of Don Cugliero,

The parish priest of Mondonio, Don Domenico Grassi (1804-1860), assisted Savio during his last illness, he confessed him, brought him the holy Viaticum and on the morning of March 9th he administered the sacrament of the sick and the papal blessing. That same evening, around eight thirty, he visited Domenico for the last time and, after reciting some prayers with him, asked for a thought as a remembrance, he recommended to the dying to think of the passion of the Lord.

Just beyond the facade of the church, a small road that climbs to the left leads to a building that, from the nineteenth century until recently, was used for the primary school of the town. Domenico Savio attended it from February 1853 to June 1854, under the guidance of the master Don Giuseppe Cugliero.

Here is the fact recalled in the biography written by Don Bosco. Unjustly accused of a serious disciplinary lack, he suffers in silence the reproaches and the punishment of the master, to avoid the expulsion of the real culprits. On the door of the little school a plaque, placed in 1952, recalls the fact (however, the date of attendance of the school indicated on the tombstone is incorrect: not 1852, but 1853).

3.6.3. Cemetery chapel

Just below the Savio house, near the provincial road, there is still the chapel of the ancient cemetery of Mondonio in which Domenico, his brothers and his mother were buried. In the cemetery (which was dismantled in 1942) Domenico's remains remained until 1914, when, when the apostolic process for the cause of beatification opened, they were transferred to Turin in Maria Ausiliatrice.

Domenico had been buried in a simple pit. Two years later, a pious lord of Genoa who had read the biography written by Don Bosco (1859), admired for his virtues, had a small marble slab placed on that tomb with this inscription: "Domenico Savio model of virtue - to young boys - died - March 9 - MDCCCLVII - at the age of fifteen years ". In 1866 the body, exhumed from the pit in the ground, was composed in a new box and placed in a pillar within the back wall of the chapel, at the height of the base of the altar. The pide of the Genoese gentleman was fixed on the same external wall. Today the small slab was placed in the garden behind the chapel, on the site of the primitive burial. In 1907, the fiftieth anniversary of death, the young man's remains were reassembled into a white marble sarcophagus still visible in the chapel. The Latin inscription, dictated by the Salesian Don Giovanni Battista Francesia (1838-1930), his ancient master, sounds like this: "Hic - in pace Christi quiescit - Dominicus Savio - Joannis Bosco sac. - alumnus piissimus - year MCMVII - ad ejus excessu L "(Here in the peace of Christ rests Dominic Savio, most profound student of the sacrament Giovanni Bosco. 1907, fiftieth of his death). most profound student of the sac. Giovanni Bosco. 1907, fiftieth of his death). most profound student of the sac. Giovanni Bosco. 1907, fiftieth of his death).

The transfer of the body to Turin in 1914 was adventurous. When, on October 19, religious and civil authorities came to Mondonio for transport, they found all the inhabitants of the village lined up around the chapel to prevent it, in a threatening attitude: they did not want to lose their little protector. For the time being they proceeded to the reconnaissance, giving up the transport. Don Cesare Albisetti, future great missionary, who was on the eve of his departure for Brazil, was then appointed. He, from the Salesian house of Castelnuovo, arrived on foot in Mondonio (27 October); having found the chapel open, he removed the urn that in the first attempt had already been extracted from the sarcophagus, and transferred it to Turin with the help of a previously warned motorist.


An agricultural center located on the edge of the fertile plain of Chieri, in the first half of the nineteenth century it had around 1600 inhabitants. It is located on the road that connects Riva di Chieti to Castelnuovo, 4 kilometers from the Becchi.

3.7.1. The parish church

The parish church of San Biagio, which preserves vestiges of the previous Gothic-style building in the external side walls, dates back to 1686 in the current Baroque structure designed by Guarirli. Quarini, of which is also the splendid bell tower, completed in 1790. The façade and the decoration of the vault are recent (1960-1964).

In 1829, between 5 and 9 November, a triduum was proclaimed in Buttigliera for the purchase of indulgences linked to the extraordinary Jubilee proclaimed by Pius VIII. The people of the neighboring countries and, among others, Don Calosso, the new chaplain of Morialdo, and Giovanni Bosco, who have just returned home from the Moglia farm, participate in it. On the way back, the priest was able to verify the boy's qualities and offered his help. An encounter between wisdom and spiritual experience of the elderly and fresh receptivity of the adolescent, which will prove providential and fruitful.

Don Bosco describes the fortunate event with vivid detail: "In that year a solemn mission that took place in the town of Buttigliera gave me opportunities to hear several sermons. Preachers' renown drew people from all sides. I also went with many others. With an education and a meditation on the evening, let the auditors free to go to their homes.

One of those April evenings (ed: we know it was actually November) was going home to me in the midst of the multitude, and between us there was a certain D. Calosso of Chieri, a very pious man; who, though bent over the years, did that long stretch of road to go and listen to the missionaries. Desso was chaplain of Murialdo. Seeing a child of small stature, with his head uncovered, hair bristling and ringed, walking in great silence among the others, drew his gaze upon me and began to speak to me like this: "My son, where are you from?" did you also go to the mission? - Yes, sir, I went to the preaching of the missionaries.

- What could you ever understand! Maybe your mom would have made you some more appropriate sermons, wouldn't you? - It is true, my mother often gives me good sermons; but I also very willingly listen to those of the missionaries and it seems to me that I understand them.

- If you can tell me four words of the sermons of this day I give you money.

- Just tell me if you want me to tell you about the first or second sermon.

- As much as you like, as long as you tell me four words. Do you remember what it was in the first sermon? - In the first sermon there was talk of the need to give oneself to God in time and not delay the conversion.

- And what was said in that sermon? - added the venerable old man, rather astounded.

- I remember it very well and if you want it, I recite it all. - And without further waiting I began to expose the debut, then the three points (...). He let me continue for over half an hour in the midst of the multitude; then he began to question me like this: - How is your name, your relatives, have you done many schools? - 11 my name is Gioanni Bosco, my father died when I was still a child. My mother is a widow with five creatures to keep. I learned to read and to write a little.

- Have you not studied the Donato (editor's note: Latin grammar), or grammar? - I don't know what they are.

- Would you love to study? - Very, very, very.

- What prevents you? - My brother Antonio.

- Why doesn't Antonio want to let you study? - Because not having been able to go to school, he says he doesn't want others to waste time studying how he lost it (ed: going some time to school); but if I could go there, I would study and not waste time.

- Why would you want to study? - To embrace the ecclesiastical state.

- And why would you want to embrace this state? - To approach, to speak, to instruct many of my companions in religion, who are not bad, but become such, because he does not care for them. This outspoken man of mine and, I would say, daring to speak, made a great impression on that holy priest, who while I was speaking never took his eyes off me. Meanwhile they came to a point on the street, where it was a profession to separate us, he left me with these words: - Be of good cheer; I will think of you and your study. Sunday come with your mother to see me and we will conclude everything "(MO 33-35).

The parish church also sees another milestone in John's Christian life. At the age of eighteen he received the sacrament of Confirmation (4 August 1833), along with 71 other young people, at the hands of Msgr. Giovanni Antonio Gianotti (1784-1863), archbishop of Sassari, then of Saluzzo. The mayors of all the candidates are the mayor Giuseppe Marzano and the noblewoman Giuseppina Melyna countess of Capriglio.

In Buttigliera and its inhabitants, Don Bosco remained attached, for friendship with the theologian Giuseppe Vaccarino (1808-1891), parish priest of Buttigliera for 59 years (1832-1891), and with the godmother Countess Melyna, who became his benefactor. When he walks along the road between Turin and the Becchi he visits them. Upon returning from autumn walks, every year the countess and the parish priest host the young people of Valdocco and offer them refreshments.

Buttigliera also reminds us of one of the first Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the servant of God, Sister Maddalena Morano (Chieri 1847 - Catania 1908). His family had moved here when Maddalena was two years old. Having lost her father in 1855, working and studying, she graduated as a teacher. The parish priest, teol. Vaccarino, having opened a nursery school, had hired her as an educator at the age of fourteen. After graduating, she was in charge of the Montaldo Torinese girls' schools until, on the advice of the Jesuit father Francesco Pellico, brother of Silvio, she joined the sisters of Don Bosco. In Sicily, first as director and then from 1886, as provincial she founded numerous works for the feminine youth.

3.7.2. The Càmpora farmhouse

About 2 kilometers from the center, on the back of the hill, is the Càmpora farmhouse, which is part of the hamlet of Serra. Mamma Margaret knows the owner, a certain Turco from Castelnuovo. In the autumn of 1827, a period of severe economic hardship aggravated by tension with his brother Antonio, Giovanni was sent by his mother to the farmhouse as a boy. Only a few weeks remain because, given the season, work and bread are scarce even for the owners.

3.7.3. Croveglia hamlet

Not far from Buttigliera is the hamlet of Croveglia. Here lived a maternal uncle of Giovanni. One year, during the summer holidays, the cleric Bosco was invited to a party. During lunch the famous episode of the violin took place: «Wanting to celebrate the feast of St. Bartholomew, I was invited by another uncle of mine to intervene to help in the sacred functions, to sing and also to play the violin, which had been for me a favorite instrument of he had given up. Everything went very well in the church. Lunch was at the home of my uncle, who was prior of the party, and until then nothing was to blame. When the dinner was over, the guests invited me to play something in a recreational way. I refused.

"At least," said a musician, "I will be accompanied." I will do the first, she will do the second part.

Miserable! I could not refuse myself and I started to play and I played for a while, when a whisper and a trampling is heard that marks a multitude of people. I then go to the window and look at a crowd of people who happily danced in the nearby courtyard to the sound of my violin. The anger from which I was invaded at that moment cannot be expressed in words.

- How - I told the guests - I who always shout against public spectacles, have I become a promoter? This will never be again.

I played the violin in a thousand pieces and never wanted to use it again, although opportunities and convenience were presented in the sacred functions "(MO 99-100).


Along the road that from Castelnuovo leads to Chieri, shortly after Moriondo, on the right you will find the detour to Moncucco and Cimano. About a kilometer before the town, turn left towards the village of Perugia, which takes its name from the family who lived there.

3.8.1. The Moglia farmhouse

In February 1828, in one of the most critical periods due to serious economic problems and tensions with her brother Antonio (who, being the eldest, feels responsible for the family management), Mamma Margherita considers it opportune to temporarily remove Giovannino from home. When the attempt to place it at the Càmpora farmhouse in Buttigliera failed, he sent it again in search of a job towards Mondonio and Moncucco. Perhaps the Moglia, his acquaintances, who cultivate fertile lands and live in a well-exposed hamlet on the borders between Moncucco and Mombello, will welcome him. Luigi, the head of the family, married Dorotea Filippello from Castelnuovo and already has two children: Caterina, aged five and Giorgio of three. His uncles Giovanni and Giuseppe and his sisters Anna and Teresa live with him, eighteen and fifteen respectively.

When towards evening the boy, who in that day in vain has already knocked on more farmhouses, introduces himself to Luigi Moglia, he answers him that in the winter months the job is scarce also for his relatives and he wants to postpone it. They are the good offices of his wife Dorotea and the insistence of his sister Teresa, who prefers to leave the care of the cattle, to convince the owner to accept him on trial. Giovannino immediately won everyone's respect. After a few days Dorotea entrusted him with the direction of the Rosary and evening prayers (which were recited in front of an image of Mary Most Holy, preserved today at the Becchi in the house of her brother Giuseppe). The following week Luigi contacts his mother Margherita to establish the salary, fixed in food plus fifteen lire a year. When a couple of years later Giovanni will return home,

In the fall at the Moglia also comes uncle don Nicola, municipal master. In his free moments he gives Giovanni a little repetition to complete the knowledge he acquired at the Capriglio school. Three years later he will find him a pupil at the schools of Castelnuovo, but he will have an attitude far from encouraging him.

Giorgio, the son of the master, becomes attached to him and follows him everywhere. Don Bosco will keep this friendship over the years; he will invite him several times for lunch at the Oratory and, in the fall, he will bring his naughty boys to cheer him up. It will be he - who died in Turin in almost a hundred years in 1923 - to report on many details of that period and the friendship of the Maglia for Don Bosco.

Maria, Giorgio's daughter, will be married to Ottavio Casalegno. Carlo, their son, is the father of Giovanni Casalegno, the current owner of the farmhouse.

After one hundred and sixty years the inhabitants of the farm tell anecdotes and relate words, handed down from generation to generation, of that dear little boy, who will then become a priest and return several times to find his benefactors. They remember his commitment to work, his cordiality and obedience, his spirit of prayer, his love for the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist.

In the farmhouse you can visit the ancient stable, the barn and the vineyard behind the house, where Giovannino poured his sweats. The large kitchen of the past is now halved, but the room in which he slept with little Giorgio has remained intact, as then. In the courtyard there is a centennial mulberry tree: it is perhaps the same in the shadow of which the young apprentice gathered the children of the hamlet for the catechism and his fantastic stories. Also the well and the cellar are the same.

In the early days of November 1829, uncle Michele Occhiena passed through the Moglia, who from Capriglio was going to Chieri for the fair of San Leonardo (6 November). He sees his nephew and having noticed his persistent desire to study, encourages him to return to the Becchi, taking on the commitment to settle tensions with Antonio and to help him. Giovanni leaves the Moglia house. It will be precisely this providential invitation of his uncle to allow the meeting, in a few days, with Don Calosso on the road to Buttigliera.

3.8.2. The church of Moncncco

A good half-hour walk from the hamlet of Maglia, for country paths, you reach Moncucco.

Every Saturday night Giovannino asks the owners permission to go to the parish church in the early morning, for the first mass. They do not understand the reason for this advance, since he also participates in the "great mass" and in all the afternoon functions. So one Sunday Mrs. Dorotea precedes him and lurks in a friend's house. He sees him enter the Church and follows him: Giovanni approaches the confessional of the parish priest, theologian Francesco Cottino, and then receives the Holy Communion, which at the time was distributed even before mass. From that day he was granted full freedom of movement.

Seeing his commitment and his ability to attract and animate children, Don Cottino encourages him. He also gets the hall of the municipal school for the cold and rainy days: in this way a first sketch of a festive oratory is born.

3.9.1. Native house of Saint Dominic Savio

Two kilometers from Riva di Chieri, in a hamlet that belongs to the hamlet of San Giovanni, is the house where Domenico Savio was born (2 April 1842).

It has been carefully restored in recent years by the Young Salesian Cooperators and Young Past Pupils of Turin who - by adapting and partly rebuilding completely other environments - have transformed it into a center of welcome and spirituality for youth communities.

In ancient times the house, which Carlo Savio rented from Gaetano Gastaldi, looked like this: on the ground floor, the kitchen and, on the back, a cellar or storage room where, through a door that still exists, one passed through a porch, now torn down ; on the upper floor, above the kitchen, the parents' bedroom (where Domenico was born on 2 April 1842) and the children's room behind it. The upper floor was accessed by means of a wooden staircase leaning against the façade of the house, just like the "Casetta" of the Becchi.

His father's blacksmith's workshop was presumably located in the porch behind the house, or in the room located between the kitchen and the porch. The staircase that from this place leads us to the first floor today, was built in 1930, by the owner Giuseppe Gastaldi (1891-1964), grandson of that Gaetano who had rented the house to Carlo Savio. On that occasion a general restoration was carried out and the roof, which previously had only one slope resting on that of the neighboring house, was transformed into four slopes with the replacement of crude and weathered beams. It was Giuseppe Gastaldi himself who in 1954 ceded the land on which the monument to Domenico Savio arose.

The Savio lived here only a couple of years, until November 1843, then moved to Morialdo.

3.9.2. The youth reception center

The small house and the adjacent farmhouse, purchased in 1978 by the heirs of Giuseppe Gastaldi due to the interest of the Central Salesian Province, have been entrusted since 1981 to the group of Young Cooperators and Young Past Pupils of the Province so that they take care of their conservation and destination for youthful uses.

The work took place in two successive phases. In 1983 the part inhabited by the Gastaldi family was refurbished, making it a kitchen, a canteen, some rooms, toilets and thermal rooms suitable for 22 people. In 1985 work began on rehabilitating the cottage and renovating the surrounding buildings. Thus three large rooms are obtained for the night, three meeting rooms, rooms and rooms for various services. The reception capacity thus rises to 50 beds. The complex was inaugurated in May 1987.

There are three aims of the work: 1) to preserve with dignity the house of Don Bosco's young pupil; 2) make his memory effective with a structure at the service of young people; 3) offer lay members of the Salesian Family an opportunity to directly manage a structure for educational and pastoral purposes.

In the restored house of Domenico Savio, the ancient kitchen was used as a chapel. The two rooms on the upper floor contain testimonies of the life of the young saint and objects of family use of the time.


1. Meaning and testimony


In the city of Chieri Giovanni Bosco lived from November 1831 to May 1841: the decisive years of adolescence and youth, during which he was structuring and consolidating his personality.

He arrived at the age of sixteen, a country boy, full of good will and a twenty-six year old priest, spiritually solid, culturally prepared, with a great desire to plunge into pastoral ministry, particularly for young people.

An itinerary covered in two major stages: public schools (1831-1835) and the seminary (1835-1841).

The years of public school are the most troubled and at the same time lively period. Troubled because it is more marked by economic deprivation, intense and sacrificed work, long nights of study and reading and, even more, by spiritual tension in the pursuit of one's vocation. But also lively time, because it is rich in interests, in which Giovanni's intense charge of human and spiritual gifts, of exuberant energies, of joy and cordiality explodes. The serene environment of the town turns out to be ideal for its maturation. Students are followed and cu-. performed in every moment of their day by the demanding presence, but always human and often cordially friendly, of the professors, the Prefect of studies (responsible for the disciplinary aspects) and the spiritual Director. The formative influence of the

During the period of the seminar, gradually abandoned the lively and playful rhythm of life of previous years, the cleric Bosco concentrated his efforts on cultural qualification and spiritual commitment to shape himself according to the priestly model proposed to him, without ever losing his cordial humanity.

As a starting program it assumes the commitment of constant fidelity to the daily duties marked by the strict seminarian regulation. To school commitments, required by the programs, he adds a voracious reading of works of a historical, biblical, theological and ascetic nature, taking advantage of every bit of free time. At the same time it refines its human and spiritual growth. Docile and affectionate towards superiors, he makes himself available to the multiple needs of community life and makes spiritually fruitful friendships with the best of his companions. Together with them he shares recreations, study, prayer and ascetic ideals. Over the years it grows in spiritual tension and broadens cultural interests. He immerses himself in reading increasingly demanding works, also using the months of the autumn holidays.

The effort, the intense work, the ascetic tenor of life weaken his health and more than once he is on the point of succumbing; but John's sturdy fiber is not broken. His friend Luigi Comollo, on the other hand, is cut off and dies at twenty-two years old.

When Don Bosco was ordained priest in Turin on 5 June 1841, his cultural and spiritual formation was well established. Don Cafasso will invite him to the Ecclesiastical Boarding School for a greater pastoral qualification, but the solid foundations laid in the Chierese decade and the riches accumulated in these hidden and intense years will reveal their fruitfulness in all its existence as an educator and pastor of young people.


The years of adolescence and youth of Don Bosco in Chieri suggest precious pedagogical and spiritual indications. Schematically, we present some of them: - Study and culture as an indispensable ascetic itinerary of building one's own personality, pursued with constancy and daily fidelity.

- Manual work and personal initiative to actively cooperate with parents' concerns.

- Sport, play, active life - wisely dosed with one's duties - for a harmonious physical, mental and spiritual development.

- Friendships between companions, well chosen and enriching; associations, shared interests; mutual help, putting your talents at your disposal.

- Relationships of friendship and confrontation even with significant adults, who can become masters and models of life and value.

- Choice of a stable confessor, with whom to have frequent and confident meetings.

- Humility to confront and seek advice on decisive questions for one's future.

- Solid prayer life, with fixed moments of prayer and personal meditation every day.

- Weekly and daily Eucharistic liturgy.

- Devotion to Our Lady, mother, help and model of life.

- Vocation vocation to discern the will of God for his life and the mission he entrusts to us.

2. Historical-geographical and biographical notes


With the separation of paternal property (1830), the move to Sussambrino and Antonio's marriage (1831), the family situation of the Bosco improves. Mamma Margaret, supported by her brother Michele, takes the courageous resolution to register. Giovanni at the public schools of Chieri.

This choice involves new problems, above all of an economic nature. The expenses, in fact, even if moderate, constitute a significant burden for the small family budget. We must think about food and lodging, school fees, books, stationery and clothing expenses.

Margherita is not discouraged: "With the usual smile he gave him the happy news, and he began to prepare the necessary kit for him. But Giovanni, realizing that the family squeezes put her in some embarrassment, undoubtedly told her: "If you are happy, I take two bags and I introduce myself to every family of our township to make a collection". Margherita agreed. This was for Giovanni a very hard sacrifice of self-love, having to ask for charity for himself; but he won the repugnance and submitted to humiliation "(MB 1, 245).

The sense of peasant solidarity and Christian charity of the borghigiani, of the parish priest don Dassano and of some lords of Castelnuovo, allow to put together what is needed for the clothing and the first necessary expenses. Giovanni Bechis, having nothing to donate, is in charge of transporting with the cart the trunk of the kit and the bags containing eleven emine (= 253 liters) of wheat and a half of a mile (= 11.5 liters) which must be used to pay a part of the retirement. On 3 November 1831 the young student went to Chieri and took up residence in Piazza San Guglielmo at the Marchisio house.


Year school Teacher Class Housing Event
1831/32 Sixth V. Pugnetti Casa Marchisio Company of
Allegria Fifth P. Valimberti with Lucia Matta Death of P. Braja
Fourth V. Summit
1832/33 Grammar G.
Giusiana 1833/34 Humanity P. Banaudi (house Horse) Friendship with Jonah
Coffee Plant Race with the saltimbanco
Admission among the Franciscans
1834/35 Rectoric GF Bosco Sarto Cumino Meet L. Comollo
Solves the vocational problem Wearing
1835/36 1st philosophy I. Arduino Seminar Holidays: repetition
of Greek at Montaldo
1836 / 37 2nd philosophy »» L. Comollo enters
1837/38 1st theology L. Prialis
I. Arduino
1838/39 2nd theology L. Prialis Sacrestano
GB Appendini 2.4.1839:
L. Comollo
1839/40 dies 3rd theology »25.4.1840: tonsure
and minor orders Autumn: 4th theology
exams 1840/41 5th theology» » Prefect of
comrades 19.9.40: subdiaconate 29.3.41: diaconate 5.6.41: presbyterate


We recommend, for practical reasons, to visit the places that saw Giovanni Bosco as a student and seminarian in Chieri, starting the journey from the Salesian Institute of San Luigi.

• Long path (about 3 hours) Small group, well prepared, of adults and young adults.

Saint Louis Salesian Institute and Church of Saint Margaret (pp. 80-81) - Native home of M. Maddalena Morano (p. 81) - Church and convent of Saint Dominic (p. 81s) - Via della Pace (pp. 82- 84: shop of the bookseller Elias; house of Jonah; convent of Peace) - Seminary and church of St. Philip (pp. 84-91) - Church of St. William (p. 92) - House of theologian Maloria (p. 93) - Casa Marchisio, home of Lucia Matta (pp. 93-95) - Ancient town hall (p. 95) - Workshop of the carpenter Barzochino (p. 95) - Public schools of the college of Chieri (pp. 96-101) - Piazza Cavour and adjacencies (pp. 102-105: church of Sant'Antonio; Hotel of the Muletto; caffè Pianta; Casa del sarto Cumino; stable of the baker M. Cavallo) - Il duomo (pp. 105-107) - Casa Bertinetti and Istituto santa Teresa (p. 107s) - Ancient avenue of Porta Torino (p. 108: just passing through,arriving or departing from Chieri).

Places suitable for a moment of reflection and prayer or for mass: Salesian Institute - Saint Dominic - Saint Philip - Cathedral - Institute of Saint Teresa.

• Medium path (about 2 hours) Medium-small group, prepared, of adults or young people.

Saint Louis Salesian Institute and Church of Saint Margaret (pp. 80-81) - Church and Convent of Saint Dominic (p. 81) - Seminary and Church of Saint Philip (pp. 84-91) - Church of Saint William (p. 92) - House of theologian Maloria (p. 93) - Casa Marchisio, home of Lucia Matta (pp. 93-95) - Public schools of the college of Chieri (pp. 96-101) - Piazza Cavour and adjacencies (pp. 102 -105: church of sant'Antonio; Hotel del Muletto; Caffè Pianta; Casa del sarto Cumino).

Suitable places for a moment of reflection and prayer or for mass: Salesian Institute - Saint Dominic - Saint Philip.

n Short route (about 1 hour) Large, medium or small, informed group of adults, young people and children.

St. Louis Salesian Institute and Church of St. Margaret (pp. 80-81) - Seminary and Church of St. Philip (pp. 84-91) - Public Schools of the College of Chieri (pp. 96-101) - Caffè Pianta (p. 103: exterior) - Casa del sarro Cumino (p. 104: external).

Places suitable for a moment of reflection and prayer or for mass: Salesian Institute - St. Philip.

3. Visit of the places

3.1.1. School

Salesian work began in 1898, when Don Michele Rua, Don Bosco's first successor, wanted to open an Oratory for young people in Chieri, dedicating it to Saint Luigi Gonzaga. Church, buildings, rustic and agricultural land were part of a former convent of Dominican nuns, suppressed by the Napoleonic government in 1801, property of Count Balbiano. Don Rua, in 1891, having received in inheritance from the canon Angelo Giuseppe Caselle (companion of Don Bosco in the public schools of Chieri) the Gamennone farmhouse, on the border between Chieri and Andezeno, exchanged it with these possessions of Count Balbiano. Here he established a high school boarding school and a festive oratory. Thus a wish was fulfilled that Don Bosco had not been able to achieve previously due to the opposition of the parish priest of the cathedral Don Oddenino.

Later, the Salesian theological studentate (1926-1938) joined the Oratory and, when he was transferred, an aspirantate that today became a Middle School for external children.

3.1.2. The church of Santa Margherita

It is a beautiful Baroque building, completed in 1671 on designs by Pellegrino Tibaldi (1527-1596), then restored in 1851, the only surviving part of the ancient Dominican convent.

The interior, in the form of a Greek cross, is decorated with fine stuccos by Giovanni Battista Barberini (1666), also author of the four angular statues representing Davide, Salomone, Ester and Giuditta. The affieschi of the dome are due to Gianpaolo Recchi (1670), while the altarpiece, representing the coronation of Mary among the saints, is by Guglielmo Caccia known as il Moncalvo (1568-1625).

On the side altars two paintings by Mario Càffaro Rore depict the Sacred Heart with St. Francis de Sales and St. Luigi Gonzaga the first, Maria Ausiliatrice, Don Bosco, Domenico Savio and Don Rua the second.

3.1.3. Salesian Oratory

The recent building of the Oratory is located between the church of Santa Margherita and some buildings dating back to the century. XIII. These include the remains of the chapel of St. Leonard and the chapel of the Hospital of Santa Croce annexed to the Preceptory of the Templars, with early 15th century records.

3.2. NATIVE HOUSE OF MOTHER MADDALENA MORANO (via Vittorio Emanuele, n. 101)

On the main road, just in front of the Oratory, there is the house where on 15 November 1847 Sister Maddalena Morano was born, one of the first Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, who founded many Salesian works in Sicily. His father was a linen shopkeeper and, in 1849, he moved with his family to Buttigliera. Magdalene studied as a teacher and obtained teaching at Montaldo. Eager to consecrate himself to God in religious life, he did not find congregations willing to welcome her, because he was no longer young. On the advice of Fr. Francesco Pellico sj, brother of Silvio, entrusted himself to Don Bosco who welcomed him to the beginner Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. In 1886 she was appointed inspector of Sicily. He died in Catania on March 26, 1908. Because of his virtues,

3.3. CHURCH AND CONVENT OF SAN DOMENICO (at the corner of Via Vittorio Emanuele and Via San Domenico)

This church, completed perhaps around 1317 and consecrated in 1388, underwent various alterations. The spired bell tower, with single and double lancet windows, was finished in 1381, while the current façade was built in the 13th century. XV, as well as the wooden shutters of the great Gothic portal. The interior is divided into three large naves with cruciform pillars whose stone capitals bear the date 1317.

The presbytery and the choir were restored at the beginning of the 17th century by Archbishop Carlo Broglia (t 1617), of the powerful Chierese family who, having moved to France in the second half of the century, took on the surname "de Broglie". The side paintings and frescoes on the vault, representing scenes from the Gospel and the life of Saint Dominic, are the work of Moncalvo (1606). The great crucifix, carved by Martino da Casale, is dated 1522; the choir stalls, elegantly carved, are from 1613.

On the left of the one looking at the presbytery is the chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas where, in a Gothic reliquary, the girdle is preserved which, according to tradition, the angels would have delivered to the Saint after a victoriously overcome tough temptation.

On the right, towards the center of the building, there is the chapel of the Madonna del Rosario, where the SS. Sacrament. The splendid wooden Baroque altar comes from a brotherhood of Riva di Chieri. The central painting is the work of Moncalvo (1606-1608).

At this altar Don Bosco, on 8 June 1841, celebrated his third Mass after ordination, invited by his father Giacinto Giusiana 0.P., who had been his professor in the course of Grammar (1832-1833). "During that Mass - Don Bosco wrote - he always cried out of emotion. I spent that whole day with him, which I can call paradise day "(MO 116).


Leaving San Domenico turn left onto Via Vittorio Emanuele. After a few steps on the right is Via della Pace. The buildings that overlook it formed the Jewish Ghetto.

3.4.1. Workshop of the bookseller Elias

Towards the middle of the alley, to the right (at no. 12), there was the house and shop of the bookseller Foa Elia that Giovanni Bosco, a student of Humanity and Rhetoric, had made friends with. From him he obtained the small volumes of the Popular Library Pomba, on a single penny, which he voraciously read at the rate of one a day. «The year of the fourth year - he will write later - I used it in reading Italian authors. The year of rhetoric I set myself to study Latin classics, and I began to read Cornelius Nephew, Cicero, Sallustius, Quintus Curtius, Titus Livius, Cornelius Tacitus, Ovid, Virgil, Horace Fiacco and others. I read those books for fun and enjoyed them as if I had understood them entirely "(MO 77-78).

3.4.2. Jonah's house

On the same side, in the building at the end of the street, at the corner of Via di Albussano (with entrance from Via della Pace n. 14), lived Giacobbe Levi. Said Jonah who, through friendship with Giovanni, embraced Christianity and he was baptized in 1834.

3.4.3. Franciscan convent and Church of Peace

The road leads to the convent of Peace where, at the time of Giovanni Bosco in Chieri, a Franciscan community lived with a large novitiate.

During the year of Humanity, at the age of nineteen, he found himself in the most critical moment for the vocational choice. He felt called by the Lord to the priesthood, but the family economic situation offered him no hope of continuing his studies: he still faced a year of public school, a two-year philosophy and another five years of theology. He wondered, then, where God really called him. Contact with the Franciscans suggested to him the idea of ​​embracing religious life in that Order. He applied in March 1834 and positively supported the admission exam to the novitiate at the convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Turin, on the 18th of the same month.

Together with him, a school friend, Eugenio Nicco da Poirino, also took the exam, who actually entered the convent.

Two events led him to suspend entry into the Franciscan novitiate: a strange dream that left him perplexed and an encounter with Evasio Savio. "A few days before the time set for my entry - Don Bosco says - I had a dream of the strangest. It seemed to me that I saw a multitude of those clerics wearing loose-fitting clothes and running in the opposite direction from one another. One of them vennemi to say: - You seek peace, and here you will not find peace. See the attitude of your brothers. Another place, another harvest God prepares you.

He wanted to ask some question of that religious; but a noise woke me up and I saw nothing more "(MO 80-81).

Having gone to Castelnuovo to ask the pastor for the required certificates and not having found him, he came across the blacksmith Evasio Savio who was his friend and appreciated him. Having learned of the reason for his visit, he advised him to postpone and worked hard to obtain the aid necessary to continue Giovanni's studies.

It will then be the advice of Don Giuseppe Comollo, uncle of his friend Luigi, together with that of Don Cafasso, who decidedly directed him towards the seminar.

Currently the pp. Live in the convent of Peace Lazarists of Saint Vincent de Paul, also called Mission Priests.

3.5. SEMINAR AND CHURCH OF SAN FILIPPO NERI (via Vittorio Emanuele, n. 63)
3.5.1. The seminary building

In this building, already a convent of the pp. Filippini, in 1829 the third major seminary of the archdiocese of Turin was opened (the other two were in Turin and Bra). The Archbishop, Mgr. Colombano Chiaveroti to welcome and train with greater care the students of philosophy and theology, who were increasing more and more. St. Joseph Cafasso finished his theological studies here; Don Bosco lived there for six years (1835-1841) and, later, Giuseppe Allamano, canon and founder of the Consolata Missionaries, will also study there.

The building dates largely from the 17th century. It was owned by the Broglia family who donated it to the pp. Filippini, who expanded and established a community there, building the beautiful church of San Filippo (1664-1673) beside it. The work was encouraged and supported by the blessed Sebastiano Valfré, one of the founders of the Philippine Oratory of Turin and model, together with Saint Francis of Sales, of the Piedmontese priests.

The Oratory Fathers lived in this convent until the Napoleonic suppression of 1801. In the Restoration they tried in vain to reconstitute a community. The rooms were used until 1828 by the city administration as the seat of the schools, the civic archives and the Carabinieri barracks.

In 1949 the seminar was transferred to Rivoli and the building was entrusted to the pp. Salvatorians who opened a college there. Later it was purchased by the municipality of Chieri which restored it and turned it into a school.

The "U" shaped building is gathered around a vast inner courtyard, where a beautiful sundial attracted the attention of the cleric Bosco and his friend Garigliano at their first entrance. It is written: "Afflictis lentae - celeres gaudentibus horae", that is "The hours pass slowly for those who are sad, quickly for those in joy". The motto was immediately chosen by the two as a life program.

On the ground floor there were the porter's lodge and the parlor, the kitchen, the refectory, the internal chapel and some classrooms. On the upper floor there were the study rooms, two dormitories, the rector's quarters and the library. The rooms of the superiors, the infirmary and other dormitories were located on the top floor.

The large room in which Don Bosco slept with his companions, at the time of the death of the cleric Luigi Comollo, is on the first floor on the side of the sundial. A plaque in the corridor recalls the fact of the noisy "demonstration" at night.

Organization of the Seminar When the cleric Bosco entered the seminary in November 1835, the canonical Sebastiano Mottura (1795-1876), a capable and good administrator, a strict but balanced superior, was its rector; he directs the seminary for 31 years, from the foundation (1829-1830) until the summer of 1860. He is assisted by four other superiors: the spiritual director, the professor of philosophy and that of theology, the rector of the church of St. Philip. In 1835 the superiors were Fr Giuseppe Mottura (26 years, spiritual director), the teol. Lorenzo Prialis (32 years, professor of theology), theol. Innocenzo Arduino (30 years old, professor of philosophy, who replaced Teol. Ternavasio in the early days of the school year) and Don Matteo Testa (48 years old, rector of San Filippo). In 1837-1838 the theol. Arduino assumes the office of Superior Prefect and Repeater in theology and the teaching of philosophy is entrusted to the theol. Giovanni Battista Appendini (30 years).

A series of minor tasks, such as assistance in the dormitories and study rooms, the direction of prayers in the chapel, the Gregorian chant school, assistance to the sick and the duties of the sacristy are entrusted to older clerics. In exchange for these services, a portion of the pension comes to them, which amounts to 30 liras a month. Giovanni Bosco, for a certain period, was in charge of the sacristy and, in the school year 1840-1841 he was appointed Prefect of comrade, that is assistant.

Important stages of the seminar year are the triduum of the beginning of the year (a kind of spiritual retreat to enter the formative climate of the seminary), the autumn exams, the conferment of minor and major orders that takes place at the Tempora of spring (Saturday before the Palm Sunday) and summer (Saturday after Pentecost), spiritual exercises from Passion Wednesday to Holy Wednesday and final exams.

The rhythm of life and work of the seminar is marked by a very detailed and demanding regulation. Study, prayer, obedience and discipline are the pillars of seminar formation.

The students' day is regulated in every detail. - In the morning the rising is fixed at 5.30 am in the winter period (from November 1st to March 15th), then anticipated by a quarter of an hour every fifteen days and brought to 4.30 am in the summer period (from May 1st to June 30th) . Then the seminarians go down to the chapel where they recite the prayers, do half an hour of meditation and attend mass. An hour of study follows. Breakfast (a simple loaf) is made around 8.15am; then, after a brief recreation, three hours of school (8.45-11.45). Lunch (12.00) is preceded by the recital of the Angelus in the chapel and followed by a quarter of an hour of community visit to the SS. Sacramento before the afternoon recreation, which lasts for about an hour.

In the afternoon a similar pattern is repeated: half an hour of personal study and half an hour of study in a group, called the circle (13.45-14.45), two hours of school followed immediately by the Rosary in the chapel; another two hours of study plus an hour of repetition (17.00-20.00); dinner; recreation of three quarters of an hour and evening prayers. At 21.30 we retire for rest and by 22.00 all lights must be turned off.

During lunch and dinner, most of the time, the clerics are silent listening to a reading made by a companion. In the period from the first week of Advent to the end of Lent, reading on Saturday evening is replaced by a twenty-minute speech on the Gospel of Sunday, which the sub-deacons and deacons must present in turn to train themselves in preaching.

On Thursday the school of philosophy and theology is replaced by an hour of Gregorian chant, an hour of sacred ceremonies and an hour of moral instruction; instead of afternoon lessons there is a group walk around the town and visits by relatives or friends to seminarians are permitted.

During the study on Saturday evening six or seven priests of the city put themselves in the chapel for the confessions of the seminarians, who are required by the regulation to confess at least every fortnight. During the weekday masses, according to the custom of the time, communion is not distributed. Those who, with the permission of the confessor, wish to receive it, can go to the church of St. Philip between 8.15 am and 8.45 am, that is during breakfast time.

During the two summer months the timetable undergoes some changes; in particular, since the rise was anticipated at 4.30, three quarters of an hour of rest are allowed in the afternoon.

The time of holidays is less demanding, but still dense: half an hour delayed rising; morning office and praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary and communion mass. An hour and a half of study follows at breakfast, then everyone goes to the cathedral for the sung mass. The afternoon study is dedicated to the New Testament and to the Rome Catechism no; in the meantime, last year's seminarians go to the cathedral for the children's catechesis. Then the community celebrates the vespers sung, listens to a religious instruction and recites the Rosary. An hour and a half of study, an hour of repetition, dinner, recreation, prayers and rest follow.

The ordering of the studies It foresees a two-year philosophy and a five-year theology. The school is run by the professor who is helped by a repeater. There are no textbooks: the treaties, in Latin, are "dictated" and explained by the professor while the students take notes; in the repetition of the evening the Repeater summarizes the morning lessons so that the clerics can verify the pinned contents and present questions or clarifications.

The school year begins on the first of November with an introduction triduum and ends at the end of June.

The cleric Giovanni Bosco in the seminary For Giovanni Bosco, accustomed to a hard but extremely lively life, the years of seminary so regulated and withdrawn cost not a little. He accepts them with good will, all intent on the priestly goal, in study, in ascetic and spiritual commitment. He, who wants to make the most of the study and reading opportunities offered by the seminar, uses the crumbs of time recovered during the rising or at other times. Even in recreations he renounces what could distract him too much in his formative tension: «The most common amusement in free time was the well-known game of Barra rotta. In the beginning we took part with great taste; but since this game was very close to those of the charlatans, to whom he had absolutely renounced, so I also wanted to stop. On certain days the tarot game was allowed, and I took part in it for some time. But even here he found the mixed cake coll'amaro (...). In the game I stared so much at the mind, that afterwards he could no longer pray or study, always having the imagination troubled by the king from cope and the sword infantryman, from the 13th or the 15th from tarot cards. I therefore took the decision to no longer take part in this game, as he had already renounced to others. This I did in the middle of the second year of philosophy 1836. from 13 or from fifteen by tarot cards. I therefore took the decision to no longer take part in this game, as he had already renounced to others. This I did in the middle of the second year of philosophy 1836. from 13 or from fifteen by tarot cards. I therefore took the decision to no longer take part in this game, as he had already renounced to others. This I did in the middle of the second year of philosophy 1836.

Recreation, when it was longer than the ordinary, was accompanied by a few walks, which the seminarians often made in the most beautiful places, surrounding the city of Chieri. Those walks were also useful for the study, because each one was concerned with practicing school things, questioning his companion, or responding to the demands made (...).

In the long recreations we often gathered in the refectory to do the so-called school circle. Each one asked questions about things he did not know, or that he did not understand well in the treaties or in the school. I liked that a lot, and it came back to me very useful to study, to piety and to health (...).

My recreation was often interrupted by Comollo. He took me for a piece of the dress and telling me to accompany him, take me to the chapel to visit the Blessed Sacrament. Sacramento for the agonizing, to recite the rosary or the office of the Madonna in suffrage of the souls of the purgatory "(MO 93-94).

The fruits of this continuous commitment are good, but the health of the cleric Bosco remains compromised and a couple of times he is in serious danger. The friend Luigi Comollo, much more delicate, during the first theological course, became seriously ill and died.

If the discipline of the seminary and the commitments of the clerical life are dealt with with good will and spirit of adaptation, nevertheless some aspects of the seminarist environment do not leave him completely satisfied: first of all a certain emotional detachment between superiors and students, which makes him desire "always more - as he writes - of being soon a priest to keep me in the midst of the youngsters, to assist them, and satisfy them every time »(MO 91); secondly, the superficiality and the lack of vocational signs in some fellow seminarians. From the earliest days he identifies the best clerics and makes friends with them (among them Garigliano, Giacomelli and Comollo), keeping a polite but reserved behavior towards others (cf MO 92). However his conciliatory attitude, good-natured and helpful he attracts the sympathy of comrades and superiors. "In the seminary I was very lucky and I always enjoyed the affection of my companions and that of all my superiors" (MO 107-108).

Among the events of those years we remember some of them, which have particular importance in the life of Don Bosco.

During the holidays of the first year of the seminar (1835-1836) the young cleric spent three months in the castle of Montaldo Torinese, where the Jesuit fathers had transferred the internal students of the Real Collegio del Carmine from Turin, due to the impending danger of cholera. On the recommendation of Don Cafasso, Giovanni was invited as a repeater of Greek and assistant of comrade (cf MO 111-112). In this way he has the opportunity to meet several young people belonging to distinguished and noble Piedmontese families, with whom he maintains relationships that will prove to be precious in his future ministry.

At the beginning of the second course of philosophy (1836-1837), Giovanni discovers the value of the Imitation of Christ, which marks the beginning of a fruitful reading of ascetic, religious and historical works which enrich his cultural baggage and shape his mentality.

The second year of theology (1838-1839) is marked dramatically by the death of his friend Luigi Comollo (2 April 1839, Easter Tuesday), which is only 22 years old. The night after the funeral, the well-known episode of the "manifestation" of the deceased appears to be saved. The modalities of the event frighten the entire comrade and leave Don Bosco himself upset: "It was the first time that in my memory I was afraid: fear and fright such that when I fell into a serious illness, I was taken to the grave" (MO 107 ).

In this same year Giovanni is in charge of the sacristy and, on the occasion of the spiritual exercises, he meets for the first time with the theologian Giovanni Borel (1801-1873), the one who will launch it and support it in the first steps of the Oratory: «In the second year of theology I was made sacristan, which was a charge of little entity, but a precious sign of benevolence of the superiors, to which other sixty francs were attached. So that already enjoyed half pension, while the charitable D. Caffasso provided the rest. The sacristan must take care of the cleanliness of the church, of the sacristy, of the altar, and keep in order lamps, candles, other furnishings and objects necessary for the divine worship.

It was this year that I had the good fortune to meet one of the most zealous ministers of the sanctuary, who came to lay down the spiritual exercises in the seminary. He appeared in the sacristy with a hilarious air, with celestial words, but always seasoned with moral thoughts. When I observed the preparation and thanks of the Mass, the demeanor, the fervor in the celebration of it, I immediately realized that he was a worthy priest, which was precisely T. Gioanni Borrelli (note: Don Bosco always writes the surname like this of this great collaborator and friend of his from Turin. When he then began his preaching and admired its popularity, liveliness, clarity and the fire of charity that appeared in all words, everyone went on repeating that he was a saint.

In fact we all competed to go and confess to him, to talk to him about his vocation and to have some special memories. I also wanted to confer things of the soul with the same. Finally, having asked him for some sure means to preserve the spirit of vocation throughout the year and especially during the holidays, he left me with these memorable words: - With retreat and frequent communion the vocation is perfected and preserved and formed a true ecclesiastic "(MO 108-109).

After the third year of theology (1839-1840) the cleric Bosco obtained to pass directly to the fifth course, taking the exams of the fourth year at the end of the summer: «... without making any motto to anyone, I introduced myself only to the Archbishop Fransoni, asking him to be able to investigate the 4th year treaties on those holidays and thus make the five-year term in the following school year 1840-1. He was the reason for my advanced age of 24 years. That holy Prelate (...) granted me the favor implored, on the condition that I carry all the treaties corresponding to the course, which I wished to earn. 11 T. Cimano, my vicar forane, was in charge of carrying out the will of the superior. In two months I was able to study the prescribed treaties and for the

The overall judgment given by Don Bosco on his stay in the seminary - despite the remarks on the detachment of superiors and the lack of exemplariness of some comrades - is not negative. Those six years were pleasant for him. He will write later: "But a day of real consternation was when he had to leave the seminary for good. The superiors loved me, and gave me continuous signs of benevolence. The companions were very fond of me. It can be said that I lived for them, they lived for me. Whoever needed to shave his beard or crown, he used Bosco. Whoever needed a priest's hat, to sew, to patch up some clothes, went to Bosco. Therefore that separation came back to me very painful, separation from a place where he had lived for six years, where I had education, science,

In this environment he assimilates the supporting elements of the spirituality proposed to the seminarians: profound and substantial piety, the acquisition of a priestly mentality through discipline and asceticism, the hard commitment in study and duty in view of the future ministry, the correspondence to the call of the Lord in the desire to consume one's life for the salvation and sanctification of one's neighbor.

3.5.2. The church of San Filippo

It is a large and harmonious Baroque building begun in 1664 and finished in 1673. The interior is by the Ticino architect Antonio Bettini (who worked in Turin in the second half of the 1600s), while the external façade, on Via Vittorio Emanuele, was built later on a design by the architect and engraver Mario Ludovico Quarini (1736-1800).

On the first altar on the right a beautiful painting by Claudio Francesco Beaumont (1694-1766), representing St. Francis de Sales in front of the Virgin and Child, recalls the existence of a brotherhood dedicated to the holy bishop, very active between the centuries. XVIII and XIX, which gathered in this church-for piety exercises. The second altar is dedicated to St. Philip Neri, with a painting by the Milanese Stefano Maria Legnani known as il Legnanino (1660-1715). The high altar is dominated by a splendid altarpiece depicting Mary Immaculate, by the Viennese Daniel Seyter (1649-1705). The sacristy is furnished with valuable eighteenth-century furniture carved by the Riva brothers, chieresi.

Under the presbytery, on the left at the balustrade, in the funerary crypt, the cleric Luigi Comollo was buried. In the fall of 1986, due to the interest of the cav. According to Caselle and the parish priest of the don Gianni Cardi cathedral, the place of burial was brought to light. Now, through a crystal plate, one can see the remains of the seminarian.

In the nineteenth century a corridor connected church and seminary. From there, every morning during breakfast time, the cleric Bosco passed with other companions, to receive the communion from the rector of St. Philip. In fact, only with the permission of the confessor could one enter the Eucharist, and continued the custom of distributing communion to seminarians only at the first Sunday Mass (cf MO 92).

The seminarians waited for prayer and liturgical celebrations in an internal chapel, located behind the apse of the church of San Filippo. Here the cleric Bosco carried out the task of sacristan. The environment still exists, but expanded in the apse towards the end of the last century. Since the closure of the Salvatorian boarding school, it has been used for other uses and is defaced.

The chapel of the seminary was dedicated to Mary Immaculate. In front of his beautiful wooden statue, by Ignazio Perrucca (1750), placed above the altar, Don Bosco and Luigi Comollo prayed every day. The statue was entrusted to the Salesians of Chieri by the current pastor of the cathedral.


Going up via San Filippo, on the left side of the church, the beautiful seventeenth-century brick façade (modified in 1780) of the former Philippine convent is flanked and you reach Piazza Mazzini, formerly Piazza San Guglielmo.

This place was the heart of the town in the early part of the nineteenth century. There was the town hall and it was animated by a lively weekly market and by the two annual fairs of Saint Barbara and Saint Leonardo.

On the square there are some buildings linked to the memory of Giovanni Bosco's stay in Chieri: the church of San Guglielmo, the house of theologian Maloria, the house where he lived in Lucia Matta, the city palace, the workshop of the carpenter Barzochino.

3.6.1. Church of St. William

The church that gave the square its name is a building of remote origins, rebuilt several times; the current arrangement dates back to 1837. In ancient times it was the seat of the Confraternity of the Disciplined of the Holy Spirit, which also had the purpose of assisting Jews converted to Christianity.

In 1833-1834 Giovanni Bosco, who was a guest at the Pianta coffee house, befriended the young Jew "Giona", pseudonym of Giacobbe Levi, and helped him along the path of conversion. The preparation for Baptism was taken care of by the Jesuit fathers of Saint Anthony. 11 10 August 1834 Giona, accompanied by the members of the Brotherhood and a large population in procession, was baptized and took the name of Luigi and the surname Bolmida, in honor of the banker godfather Giacinto Bolmida. Godmother was Mrs Ottavia Maria Bertinetti. According to the custom and the statutes, the Confraternity of the Holy Spirit ascribed among its members the new convert and gave him a grant of 400 lire, since he was expelled from the Jewish community.

Rector of the church of San Guglielmo was don Placido Valimberti, the first priest Giovanni met when he arrived in Chieri. «He writes Don Bosco - he gave me many good warnings on how to keep me away from dangers; he invited me to serve him Mass, and this gave him the opportunity to always give me some good suggestions. He himself led me to the prefect of the schools, he introduced me to my other professors "(MO 48). He lived in the house next to the church, at no. 4.

Don Valimberti was also a teacher of the Quinta. And Giovanni found him as a professor when, two months after the start of the school year, he was promoted to that class. Two years later the priest entrusted him with the repetitions to his brother Luigi, a student of "Latinity". In this, as in other similar cases, the results were so gratifying that the grateful Valimberti family considered Giovanni as one of the family, inviting him to dinner every Sunday (cf MB 1, 358-360).

3.6.2. House of the theologian Maloria ( Mazzini, n.8)

In front of the church, in the Golzio house, lived the theologian Giuseppe Maria Maloria (1802-1857), an ecclesiastical scholar, canon of the cathedral. He was only twenty-nine years old when, in 1831, he was chosen by Giovanni Bosco as a confessor. The young student will continue to regularly confess to the teol. Maloria for the whole time of his residence in Chieri, even during the years of the seminar.

Giovanni esteemed him greatly. We read in the Memoirs of the Oratory: «The most fortunate adventure of mine was the choice of a stable confessor in the person of the theologian Maloria, canon of the Collegiate Church of Chieri. He always welcomed me with great kindness whenever he came to him. On the contrary, he encouraged me to confess and to communicate to me with the greatest frequency. It was very rare to find anyone who encouraged the frequency of the sacraments. I do not remember that any of my teachers recommended me this thing. Those who went to confession and to communicate more than once a month were judged to be the most virtuous; and many confessors did not allow it. However, I believe I owe this confessor to my debtor, if I was not dragged by the comrades to certain disorders, which the inexperienced youngsters have unfortunately complained about in the great colleges »(MO 55).

However, for reasons beyond Don Bosco's and us, Don Maloria did not help him when it came to deciding on his own vocation (cf MO 80).

3.6.3. Casa Marchisio, home of Lucia Matta ( Mazzini, n. 1, but the entrance was from the ancient via Mercanti, today via Carlo Alberto)

Here a friend of Mama Margherita's, Lucia Pianta widow Matta, originally from Morialdo, resided during the school year. She, married to her eldest daughter, had moved to Chieri to follow her son Giovanni Battista (1809-1878) as a student, renting Giacomo Marchisio's house. She also hosted a couple of students in order to supplement her family budget. In the years 1831-1832 and 1832-1833 he also received Giovanni for 21 lire a month. The sum, payable also in kind, was however considerable for the economic situation of the Bosco. Giovanni then tried to contribute to the expenses by committing himself in every way in the small housework.

For his exemplary and judicious conduct he immediately earned Lucia's esteem, who asked him to give scholastic repetitions to his son, who was already twenty-one but rather rambling (note that there were frequent cases of those who began their studies at advanced youth). The results were satisfactory, so much so that Giovanni obtained the pension bonus.

Giovanni Battista Matta, who became apothecary and, for many years, mayor of Castelnuovo, will always have great respect for Don Bosco and in 1867 he will send his son Edoardo Enrico to school at Valdocco.

Probably already in his first year of residence in Chieri Giovanni founded the Società dell'Allegria: I had made three categories of companions: good, indifferent, bad. These last ones to avoid absolutely and always, hardly known; catch the indifferent hold me by courtesy and by need; with the good ones to become familiar, when they met that they were really such. Since in this city I didn't know anyone, so I made myself a law to get acquainted with someone. However I had to struggle not a little with those, whom I did not know well. Some wanted to guide me to a theater, others to play a game, the other to go swimming. Some also steal fruit in the gardens or in the countryside (...).

Since then the companions, who wanted to get me into trouble, were the most neglected in duties, so they began to appeal to me, so that I could do school charity by lending or dictating to them the subject of school. He was sorry for the professor, because that false benevolence fomented their laziness, and I was strictly forbidden. Then I became attached to a less ruinous path, that is to say to explain the difficulties, and also to help those whose trades it was. By this means it pleased everyone, and prepared the benevolence and affection of my companions. Those began to come for recreation, then to listen to stories, and to make the school theme, and finally they came without even looking for the reason, like those of Murialdo and Castelnuovo.

To give a name to those meetings we used to call them the Società dell'Allegria: a name that was quite appropriate, because it was a strict obligation for everyone to look for these books, to introduce those speeches and games that could have contributed to being happy; on the contrary, anything that caused melancholy, especially things contrary to the law of the Lord, was forbidden. Whoever had blasphemed or named the name of God in vain, or made bad speeches, was immediately removed from society.

Thus found myself at the head of a multitude of comrades, by common agreement was placed on the basis of: 1 ° Every member of the Society of cheerfulness must avoid all discourse, every action that cancels a good Christian; 2nd Accuracy in fulfilling school duties and religious duties (...).

During the week, then, the Società dell'Allegria gathered in the house of one of the members to talk about religion. Anyone who wanted to intervene freely at this gathering. Garigliano and Braje were more punctual. We stayed for a while in pleasant recreation, in pious conferences, in religious readings, in prayers, in giving us good advice and in noticing those personal defects, that some had observed, or had heard from others to speak "(MO 50-51; 54) .

3.6.4. Ancient Town Hall (via Giacomo Nel, n. 2)

To the left of the church of San Guglielmo, in the building that flanks the square - with the classical facade of the architect Mario Ludovico Quarini on Via G. Nel - was the town hall. He remained there until 1842, when he was transferred to the former convent of San Francesco, the current headquarters.

Probably in this building the two poetic-literary academies in honor of the mayor and the city of Chieri were held, mentioned by Don Lemoyne, to which Giovanni Bosco also took part with the declamation of classical poetic passages (cf MB 1, 311).

3.6.5. Workshop of the carpenter Barzochino (via san Giorgio, n. 2)

From Piazza Mazzini, continuing past the former civic building, take Via San Giorgio. The first building on the right, with traces of Gothic architecture, is the Valfré building, formerly Palazzo Mercandillo. On the ground floor, in the rooms closed by large wooden doors, was the workshop of the carpenter Bernardo Barzochino. These belonged to a family of craftsmen and artists of the highly esteemed wood in Chieri.

Probably it is here that Giovanni Bosco came in his free moments to provide his services and learn the art of making furniture. In fact Don Lemoyne, who learned it directly from the Saint, writes: "In a laboratory of his acquaintances carpenters, near his home, he learned with great ease to planer, square, saw the wood, to use the hammer, the chisel, the verrines , so he was able to build furniture ... "(MB 1, 259).

3.7. PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF THE COLLEGIO DI CHIERI (via Vittorio Emanuele, n. 45 / inside)

From Piazza Mazzini descend through vicolo Romano and arrive in via Vittorio Emanuele. Right after a few steps, at no. 45, there is a passage that leads to the buildings in which the public schools of Chieri were located. The passage leads straight into a courtyard that was called a civil courtyard; on the left, beyond an entrance hall with coffered entablature, another said rustic courtyard opens.

The municipality of Chieri had purchased these buildings - indeed not very suitable for a scholastic institution - in 1829, following the destination of the former convent of San Filippo for seminary use. The adaptation works lasted until the autumn of 1831. In the meantime, the municipal administration could still use some of the seminar rooms for schools, separated from the rest of the building and with entrance from Via San Filippo.

Just at the arrival of Giovanni Bosco in Chieri, in November 1831, new premises were inaugurated which hosted public schools until the school year 1838-1839; with November 1839 they were transferred to Palazzo Tana.

Room distribution In the civil courtyard, the two rooms on the ground floor were used for the Sixth and the Fifth, while the rooms on the upper floor housed the Fourth and the Grammar. In the rustic courtyard, the room on the ground floor was used as the school's chapel (called the Congregation of the students), where every morning, even on holidays, the students recited the prayers and attended mass. On the first floor, in a single environment, were the classes of Humanity and Rhetoric, under the guidance of a single professor.

Setting up the schools The secondary schools of the Savoy states, up to the Boncompagni reform (1848), were divided into six classes of Latin (Sesta, Quinta, Quarta, Grammar, Humanity and Rhetoric) plus a two-year philosophy. They were called royal schools (those that were in the most important cities and were paid by the royal finances), or public schools (those that were in the smaller cities and were paid by the municipal finances). Each class had only one professor. The maximum number of students per class was seventy. When this number was not exceeded, two different classes could be brought together under the guidance of a single professor.

The school year began on 3 November and ended at the end of June for philosophy, 15 August for the Rhetoric class and at the end of August for the other classes.

Timetable: every morning school began with obligatory assistance at Mass, celebrated by the spiritual director, followed by three hours of school, plus another two and a half hours in the afternoon. In the two-year period of philosophy the school was limited to an hour and a half in the morning and equally in the afternoon.

Exams: they were entrusted to a professor other than that of the class. The first examination was that of catechism, indispensable in order to gain access to others. Subjects of the exam were: In the classes of Sixth, Fifth and Fourth: 1. an Italian composition to be translated into Latin; 2. a Latin composition to be translated into Italian; 3. the oral examination.

In the Grammar class 1. and 2. as above; 3. a Latin poetic prose to be reduced to a given Latin meter; 4. the composition of an easy letter in Italian; 5. the oral exam on the lessons learned by heart during the year.

In the Humanity class: 1. and 2. as above; 3. the composition of a letter or narration on an assigned topic; 4. a Latin poetic prose to be reduced to a given Latin meter; 5. an Italian poetic prose to be reduced to loose verses; 6. the oral exam on the lessons learned by heart during the year.

In the Rhetoric class: Everything as above, except for the third point which consisted of "a prayer to be written at the will of the examinees, either in Latin or in Italian" on an assigned topic, respecting rules and figures of speech.

The votes were expressed with the following judgments in Latin: bad, nescit, medium, fine, optime, optime, egregious.

Students who had failed twice were finally expelled from school.

Disciplinary aspects Discipline was particularly accurate, both in school and outside school hours. Responsible for the disciplinary aspects was the Prefect of Studies, a position held at the time of the school attendance of Giovanni Bosco, by the Dominican father Pio Eusebio Sibilla. The prefect of studies was referred to any incorrect behavior of the students. Disobedience or lack of respect for teachers was punished with a three-day suspension and with a public apology in front of the whole class. In the Regulation students were strictly forbidden swimming, entering theaters and participating in «make-up games», wearing masks, going to dances, attending coffee shops or eating and drinking in hotels and trattorias, such as also any game in the districts. An absence of more than fifteen days, not motivated by illness, automatically excluded from the school structure. Even the books were subject to the control of the Prefect: the students could not read and keep if not the texts seen and allowed by the same.

The Prefect of Studies also gave approval for the accommodation of students in private families.

Religious formation It was entrusted in particular to the spiritual director. In addition to the daily mass, the students were required to approach the confession once a month and at least once a year, delivering the relative certificates ("confession and communion tickets") to the Prefect of the Studies, under penalty of not being admitted to the exams.

Every professor on Saturday asked his students also about the catechism lesson, assigned by the spiritual director the previous Sunday. During Lent, then, there was a catechism lesson every day, before the usual school time.

On Sundays and holidays students intervened morning and afternoon, with their prayer book, at the Congregation, that is, at the meeting in the school chapel. The Congregation had this development: Morning: - spiritual reading in the quarter of an hour of entry; - singing of the Veni Creator; - "nocturnal" with readings and "Ambrosian hymn" (ie the Te Deum) of the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary; - mass; - chant of the litanies of the Madonna; - religious education; - chant of the psalm Laudate Dominum omnes gentes, with the verse and "the prayer for His Holy Real Majesty".

Afternoon: - spiritual reading in the quarter of an hour of entry; - "chant of the usual prayers with the recitation of the acts of faith, hope, charity and contrition"; - catechism for three quarters of an hour.

In preparation for Christmas there was a triduum, with two sermons a day.

Spiritual exercises were also held every school year, from the evening of the Friday before the Palms to the morning of Holy Wednesday, according to this structure: - introduction (Friday evening); - four sermons a day (two "meditations" and two "instructions"); - daily office of the BV Maria; - conclusion on Wednesday with the Easter communion.

In the light of this approach we understand how Don Bosco was able to write: "This severe discipline produced wonderful effects. More years were passed without a blasphemy or bad speech heard. The students were docile and respectful both in school time and in their families. And often it happened that in very numerous classes at the end of the year they were all promoted to a higher class. In the third, humanity and rhetoric, my fellow disciples were always promoted (...).

Here I want to note something that certainly makes you understand how the spirit of piety was cultivated in the college of Chieri. In the space of four years I attended those schools, I don't remember hearing a speech or a single word that was against good morals or against religion. Having completed the course of the rhetoric of 25 students, of which that school was composed, 21 embraced the ecclesiastical state; three doctors, a merchant "(MO 55; 82).

Giovanni Bosco student In the school year 1831-1832 Giovanni was placed in the Sesta class (with professor teol. Valeriano Pugnetti), since the preparation received in Castelnuovo was rather incomplete. After two months, however, he was promoted to the Fifth (with his friend Prof. Don Placido Valimberti) and again in the same year he moved to the Quarta class (Prof. Vincenzo Cima). It was in fact customary that when a student showed he possessed the subject and the contents of the program of a particular class he could be admitted to the higher one even during the school year. Precisely in the class of prof. The famous episode takes place in which Giovanni, holding the grammar in his hand, perfectly repeats a passage by a newly heard Latin author, as if he were reading it from the book which, in reality,

In the following three years he attended Grammar (1832-1833; prof. Giacinto Giusiana, Dominican) with fairly good success; Humanity (1833-1834; prof. don Pietro Banaudi); the Rectorate (1834-1835; prof. teol. Giovanni Francesco Bosco).

With the teachers he establishes excellent relations, in particular with his father Giusiana, who has a beneficial influence on him even at the formative level; Don Bosco, grateful, will celebrate one of his first Masses in the convent of his former professor. We can remember, among other things, that the intervention of the Giusiana is decisive in the final exams of that year (1833), when Giovanni risks being rejected for having passed the task to some comrades (cf MO 57).

Don Pietro Banaudi will be remembered as "a true model of teachers. Without ever inflicting any punishment - Don Bosco testifies that he had managed to make himself feared and loved by all his students. He loved them all, children, and they loved him as a tender father "(MO 63). The conclusion of the year with Don Banaudi is underlined by a cheerful trip to the whole school in the country. Unfortunately towards evening one of the companions, Filippo Camandona, who had hiddenly wanted to bathe at the Fontana Rossa, remains a victim of his disobedience (cf MO 63-64). The following year (1834-1835) Don Banaudi was transferred to Barge (Cuneo) and in the Easter holidays Giovanni - as proof of the bond of affection that unites him to this professor - went to him for two days;

Relations of mutual esteem also link Giovanni and his homonymous teacher of Rhetoric. Theol. Giovanni Francesco Bosco, "as soon as the course ended, he wanted Giovanni to keep him as a friend and to give him the tu" (MB 1, 365). He himself will tell the Salesians that he was admired for having seen "the young Bosco hoeing the vineyard of the Cumin, his landlord; while holding an open book, supported by a branch, he studied the lesson "(MB 1, 358).

The four years of public school, then, are full of intense friendships with his companions. Probably already in the year 1831-1832 the Società dell'Allegria was organized, born on the wave of the enthusiasm for similar institutions that in all those years swarmed in every field: think of the secret societies of patriotic inspiration, but also of societies of literary character and religious.

Among the friends of his first school year, Don Bosco lists Guglielmo Garigliano (1818-1902), who will be his companion in the seminary and in the Convitto Ecclesiastico, and Paolo Vittorio Braja (1819-1832), who died in July of that same year, "a true model of piety, of resignation, of living faith" (MO 57).

The most characteristic friendship, however, is that with Luigi Comollo, who has been attending the public schools of Chieri since the school year 1834-1835. Physically frail, but of great spiritual richness, he has an important role in the maturation of the young Bosco, who affirms: "I always had him as a close friend, and I can say that I began to learn to live as a Christian" (MO 60 ). Giovanni, for his part, made himself a defender against the abuses of his comrades, resorting once even to strong manners (cf MO 60-61). Thanks also to this friendship he goes on to clarify his vocational orientation and adopts a way of life more in keeping with it. In fact, he writes: «In the years before he had not been a villain, but dissipated, boastful, occupied in games, games, jumps, toys and other similar things,

The taste of personal contacts and friendship leads Giovanni to make himself available to everyone. In particular, it is required to have school repetitions also by classmates of higher classes (cf MB 1, 276-277). His patience, his innate teaching "instinct" and his cordial character are successful, not only in the scholastic field. Let us once again remember, in this regard, the influence of the Becchi student on Giovanni Battista Matta, son of the landlady, and on Luigi, brother of his professor Don Valimberti. Giovanni paid particular attention to Carlo Palazzolo, a thirty-five-year-old sacristan of the cathedral, who was preparing privately for the rhetorical examinations to receive the clerical habit (cf. MB 1, 293).


Continuing on Via Vittorio Emanuele in the direction of Turin, we arrive at the rectangular Piazza Cavour, called Piazza d'Arme in the 19th century. On the right, in the upper part, is the beautiful church of San Bernardino, built in the early seventeenth century. The architect Bernardo Antonio Vittone later made some changes and completely rebuilt the original dome (1740-1744). The facade with the two low bell towers surmounted by statues, completed in 1792, is by Mario Ludovico Quarini. Inside, two beautiful paintings by Moncalvo adorn the high altar and the right side altar.

3.8.1. Church of Saint Anthony Abbot

It flanks the square and has a façade on Via Vittorio Emanuele. It is a baroque adaptation operated by the Biella Giuseppe Giacinto Bays (1767) on a previous Gothic construction of which the bell tower remains (1445). In the interior it is worth mentioning: a carved wooden pulpit, from 1470; the fresco on the vault, by Vittorio Blanseri (1735-1775), depicting the apotheosis of Saint Anthony; the bas-relief Via Crucis, in scagliola, by Giovanni Battista Bernero (1736-1796). To the left of the façade rises the ancient (but several times retouched) house of Saint Anthony, formerly the seat of the Jesuit Scholasticate.

This church also reminds us of the presence of Giovanni Bosco in Chieri: "All the festivities, after the congregation of the college (ed: religious instruction in the school chapel, compulsory for all students), we went to the church of S. Antonio, where the Jesuits did a wonderful catechism, in which they recounted several examples that I still remember "(MO 53).

A plaque on the side of the church, towards the square, recalls the presence of these catechisms of Giovanni with the friends of the Società dell'Allegria.

3.8.2. Albergo del Muletto

On the south side of Piazza Cavour, at the corner of Via Vittorio Emanuele and Via Palazzo di Città, where today is the Caffè Nazionale, a hotel called the Muletto was opened. It reminds us of the happy conclusion of an epic challenge between the young Bosco and a saltimbanco. The competition, wanted by the insistence of the student friends, takes place along the Porta Torinese avenue in four moments: running, jumping, magic wand and climbing on the tree. Giovanni exceeds the professional in all the tests and earns the remarkable sum of 240 lire. In order not to ruin the poor man, who sees all his savings fade, he returns the money to him as long as he offers him a lunch together with the friends of the Società dell'Allegria. The saltimbanco willingly accepts and invites Giovanni and his companions (twenty-two people in all) to the

3.8.3. Caffè Pianta (via Palazzo di Città, n. 3)

A few steps from Piazza Cavour, in the Vergnano house, was the caffè Pianta. Giovanni Pianta, brother of Lucia ved. Matta, a native of Morialdo, came to Chieri in the autumn of 1833 and opened a café with an attached billiard room. He, having to start his exercise, insists with his mother Margherita so that Giovanni comes to live with him and helps him in the many needs of a public place.

Coffee is opened sometime after the start of the school year. The young student in the meantime, having left Casa Marchisio, temporarily finds hospitality at the baker Michele Cavallo, in the Ricci house, which is adjacent to the tailor's house Cumin.

The plant coffee consists of two rooms, one open to the public street and the other, used as a billiard room and the piano, located towards the inner courtyard. The two rooms are connected by a passageway (about 3.50 meters long), leaning against a staircase, in which there is also a small brick oven for preparing coffee and sweets. In this kind of corridor, a small basement is opened, where Giovanni's camp bed is placed.

In moments free from school he helps Mr. Pianta in his work and learns how to make coffee, cakes and liqueurs. His presence in the billiard room as a waiter and counting device is an effective brake for the curses and foul speeches of certain patrons.

It is in this place that John Bosco strengthens his friendship with the Jew Jonah, already known in the shop of the bookseller Elias. The two often entertain themselves singing, playing the piano and conversing: from here begins the journey of maturation towards the Christian faith on the part of the young Israelite.

In the coffee plant Pianta Giovanni receives no salary, but only hospitality, a plate of soup and gets the time necessary to study. The mother, as is customary at that time, provides him with bread and food at home, but economic hardships do not allow her to send money. To get dressed, get some of the nourishment and what is necessary for the school, the student of Becchi must be satisfied with the little money he has earned by doing some repetition. The year of Humanity (1833-1834) is thus one of the most suffered.

In the same house, on the top floor, the Blanchard family lives. The accommodation is on the courtyard side, where an ancient balcony with wooden railing is still visible today. Giuseppe, one of his sons, a friend of Giovanni's, often brings him fruit to feed him, encouraged also by his mother. Don Bosco will never forget this gesture of charity and friendship (cf MB 1, 298-300).

To these hardships we must add the fact that in this year the problem of vocational choice reaches the most critical and tormented moments: in March Giovanni decides to enter the Franciscan Order and is admitted, then suspends the decision waiting for a more clear discernment.

Despite the difficulties, he leads a serene, active and helpful life, as evidenced by Joseph Blanchard and Clotilde Vergnano, daughter of the owner of the house. In addition to the study and work commitments in coffee, his generosity pushes him to make himself useful to everyone: he brings water drawn from the well every day (now walled up, but still visible under the porch that leads from the street into the courtyard) to old don Arnaud who lives on the upper floors of the house; he also holds in recreation or helps with homework a group of six or seven little boys who retire at the veterinarian Torta in a house next door.

Coffee, however, is certainly not a place of the most suitable for studying with fruit. Domenico Pogliano, bell-ringer of the cathedral, who admires Giovanni for his fervent devotion and his apostolate among his peers, invites him to take advantage of his home to be able to study with more fruit. However, there is a need to find a different arrangement for the following year.

3.8.4. House of tailor Tommaso Cumino (via Vittorio Emanuele, n. 24)

In the following school year (1834-1835) Giovanni attended the class of Rhetoric. The decision to join the Franciscans was suspended due to the intervention of the parish priest of Castelnuovo don Cinzano, who is committed to helping the young man financially, and on the advice of Don Cafasso. The latter gets him a place in the house of tailor Tommaso Cumino, where he himself was a boarder; Don Cinzano, for his part, pays the pension of 8 lire a month.

For a few months Giovanni stayed in a basement, which had previously been used as a stable, which is accessed by a small door directly from the Cumino backyard. Then, again thanks to the good offices of Don Cafasso, he was offered a healthier accommodation.

In this Rectorate year he has as professor the young theologian Gio vanni Francesco Bosco, with whom he becomes familiar, and meets Luigi Comollo di Cinzano for the first time. These attend the lower course (Humanity), but are in the same class. In fact in Chieri the students of Humanity and Rhetoric are gathered in a single environment, under the guidance of a single professor.

The cumin tailor (who will die in 1840 at the age of 74) is a cheerful man who loves the joke, but a little naive and Giovanni often likes to amaze him with his games of prestige and skill. "Good Thomas no longer knew what to say," tells Don Bosco. Men, he said to himself, cannot do these things; God does not waste time in these uselessness; therefore it is the devil who does all this ». Taken from scruples, he reports this to a certain Don Bertinetti, who denounces it all to the archpriest Canon Burzio, Prefect of the schools. He questions Giovanni, who gives him a taste of his ability. "He laughed the good canon (...), and how he could know the way things made him appear and disappear, he was very cheerful, he gave me a small present, and finally concluded: - Go

3.8.5. Michele Cavallo baker's stall (vicolo B. Valimberti)

Coming out of the courtyard of the Cumino tailor's house, returning to Piazza Cavour, turn right onto Vicolo B. Valimberti and, after a houseware shop, at the end of the building you come across an old brick wall enclosing a small courtyard. This led to the stable of baker Michele Cavallo. Giovanni lives there for a few days, waiting to be transferred to the Pianta coffee (autumn 1833). He returns hospitality by working his master's vineyard and taking care of his horse.

Today a farrier works in this environment.


From Via Palazzo di Città you turn into the first street on the left, in Via Cottolengo, and you come to the house where St. Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo (30 April 1842) died, with his brother Don Luigi, canon of the cathedral of Chieri. Continuing, we reach the square where the cathedral stands, one of the most illustrious examples of Piedmontese Gothic architecture.

The sacred building was built between 1405 and 1435, in place of a previous church built in the century. XI on the ruins of a pagan temple. On the right side protrude the bell tower with single and double lancet windows (erected between 1329 and 1492) and the baptistery, remodeled in the sec. XV, but built on an early Christian baptistery. The interior is rich in artistic testimonies of every century. We only mention - for the purpose of Don Bosco's youthful history - the fourth chapel on the left, dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie.

The chapel was built by vote, made by the city council on 2 August 1630 on the occasion of the famous "Manzonian" plague. The current architectural structure is the work of Bernardo Antonio Vittone (1757-1759), embellished in 1780, the third fiftieth anniversary of the vote. The wooden statue (1636) is by Pietro Botto da Savigliano (1603-1662); the side paintings depicting plague scenes are by Giuseppe Sariga from Ticino (t 1782). Even today, every year since the time of the vote, the municipal authorities pay homage to the Virgin, on the day of her feast, with the singing of the Salve Regina.

John Bosco, a public school student, comes to pray in front of this statue every day, morning and evening, mindful of his mother's recommendation: "Be divot of Our Lady" (MB 1, 268). Praying in this chapel with his friend Comollo he obtains light to discern his vocation. In fact, the Saint tells us: «Since the obstacles were many and lasting, so I decided to expose everything to my friend Comollo. He gave me advice to do a novena during which he would write to his uncle provost. On the last day of the novena in the company of the incomparable friend I made the confession and the communion of then I heard a mass, and I served another one in the cathedral at the altar of the Madonna delle Grazie. After going home, we actually found a letter from D. Comollo conceived in these terms: - Consider carefully the things exposed, I would advise your partner to postpone entering a convent. He shall dress the kirical habit, and as he does his studies, he will know better what God wants of him ... "(MO 81).

In the rooms annexed to the sacristy Giovanni prepares the sacristan Carlo Palazzolo for the Rhetoric exam. Also in this church he knows the bell-ringer Domenico Pogliano, who invites him to the quiet of his home to study.

As a seminarian cleric, he comes to the cathedral every Sunday to sing the "great" Mass with his companions and, during the last year of theology (1840-1841), lends his work as a catechist for boys and young people.

On 9 June 1841, at the altar of the Madonna delle Grazie, a new priest, he celebrated his fourth mass.

We also remember that in this church, on September 18, 1735, Filippo Antonio Bosco, Giovanni's paternal grandfather, was baptized.


The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians work in this building, with an Oratory and a school for girls, since 1878, sent by Don Bosco and by Santa Maria Domenica Mazzarello. The spouses Carlo and Ottavia Bertinetti, the godmother of Baptism of Jonah, in 1868 had left their home to Don Bosco, with the surrounding land, so that they could open a work for the young Chieresi. But a series of difficulties, in particular the opposition of don Oddenino, pastor of the cathedral, prevented the foundation for the time being.

The male Oratory, then, was organized in the premises of the parish of St. George, under the direction of Don Sona and Don Cumino, Chierese priests. Later, in the Bertinetti house, Carlotta Braja, sister of the old school friend Paolo Braja (died 10 July 1832) with the help of her friends Ciceri and Margherita Sona, on the last Sunday of October 1876 started a small Oratory female. Don Bosco himself inaugurated the institution the following December 8th, and blessed a statue of Mary Help of Christians, still venerated in the St. Teresa Institute. The statue is a gift from the saint, who, presenting it, said: "For now I send you the Mother, then the Daughters will come". Two years later, in fact, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians took possession of the house taking over the direction of Oratory and opening a college there. Over the years the Institute became a house of formation and was, at different times, an aspirantate, postulate, novitiate and juniorate of the FMA. Many sisters of the first generations received their formation here, who contributed to spreading the Salesian work in the world.

Several times Don Bosco was in this building: the desk, the chair and the lamp used by him are preserved.

But already during his youth, in 1835, Giovanni had entered this same house twice. A first time he was summoned by can. Burzio (who lived in some rooms rented by the Bertinetti) to clarify the "secrets" of his sleight of hand. Later, after having successfully passed the Rectorate year, he took the exam prescribed here to be admitted to the clerical dress. Normally this examination had to be done in Turin in the archiepiscopal curia. That year, however, the danger of cholera advised against gathering young people from all over the diocese to the city, and the canonical archpriest Burzio was commissioned to examine the candidates in the area of ​​Chieri, including our Giovanni.

Today the original Bertinetti house no longer exists. Of the ancient buildings only a vast room of the century remains. XV, from the coffered ceiling decorated with the crests (perhaps) of the Crusader Chieresi.

In ancient times it was connected to the nearby Palazzo dei Tana, a family to which the mother of Saint Luigi Gonzaga belonged. The noble saint lived for a time in Chieri, a guest of his grandparents. In the Tana palace the room in which he slept is kept and where, according to biographers, he would have scourged himself. St. Louis has always been venerated in Chieri with particular devotion: in the nineteenth century it was presented to students as a model of Christian life and youthful virtue. In public schools his party was underlined by a novena of preparation, solemn religious services and a literary and musical academy. Don Bosco will maintain this devotion, re-proposing it to his young people.

Palazzo Tana, which was owned by the brothers Gustavo and Camillo Cavour, hosted the public school boarding school and a student boarding school from November 1839.


Continuing on Via Vittorio Emanuele in the direction of Turin, exiting from the old part of the city, a tree-lined linden and plane tree is flanked on the right: it is all that remains of the ancient avenue of Porta Torino, shaded at the time of Don Bosco by majestic elms . Here, during the school year 1833-1834, the fourfold competition took place between the acrobat and the Becchi student, a student of the Humanity class (cf MO 74-77).

PART II DON BOSCO IN TURIN (1841-1849) The years of the first pastoral experiences

1. Meaning and testimony


After the ordination and the five months of priestly experience in Castelnuovo, Don Giovanni Bosco entered the Ecclesiastical College of Saint Francis of Assisi to carry out the moral theology studies required to be admitted to the confession exam.

The theologian Luigi Guala and don Giuseppe Cafasso gave the Convitto a serious approach with regard to the study, discipline and spiritual care of young priests, and at the same time very open as regards pastoral policies. The Alphonsian school, the authors adopted and suggested, the community and personal readings, the spiritual direction and the same daily rhythm of life, aim at the consolidation of a figure of priest of solid interiority, zealous and tireless in the apostolic work, open to both religious needs and the material needs of the people.

The instructions and meditations drawn up by Cafasso for the spiritual exercises for the clergy illuminate us abundantly on the ascetic and priestly model from which the students are trained: the spiritual and pastoral aspects are so blended in this school that it does not seem to exist for the priest is another way to holiness if not the tireless care, inflamed with charity and affection, for the souls entrusted to him.

Don Bosco, during his three-year stay at the Ecclesiastical Boarding School, is shaped on this model that focuses on the frequent celebration of confession, devout worship of the Eucharist, intense prayer, spread throughout the day through simple and fervent practices (as well as daily, weekly, monthly and annual), with a strong Marian accentuation.

From the very first days of his stay in the city, the Saint can realize the complex socio-religious reality in Turin, very different from the quiet and traditional one of the environments in which he had lived up until then. The boarding school helps him to read and interpret this reality. In fact, it is also an excellent training ground for apostolic activities, including frontiers, and a privileged observatory of pastoral problems, experiences and attempts at solutions that are fermenting in the city. Even the traditional duties of the priest, such as confessions, catechisms and preaching, are dressed in new methods and methodologies, in a different ecclesial situation for the new social categories that are formed in the Christian people.

Don Bosco is led by Cafasso and theologian Borel, through which he is also introduced to the very lively world of Turin "charity".

The many welfare and charitable initiatives - among which those of the Marchioness Barolo stand out - are developing an idea of ​​"Christian charity" already begun in the previous century, in which religious assistance merges with the effort of orderly social action. It is a question of giving an immediate response to material and spiritual urgencies and at the same time laying the foundations for overcoming luck answers and reaching stable solutions. The aim is therefore to get the poorest, most disadvantaged or even deviant, categories from social-religious marginalization to an integration achieved independently by people, illuminated on values ​​and objectives and provided with sufficient tools to achieve them.

"Good Christians and honest, hardworking citizens" is the expression that Don Bosco will forge to summarize the purpose of his work. In these first nine years of priestly life he progressively starts to clarify this objective and the consequent method. Facing orphans, abandoned, marginalized children with primary needs to be met and religious and moral shortcomings to be filled, Don Bosco immediately offers those answers that his human sensitivity, his priestly role, his culture and the means available suggest to him and allow. Gradually, with imagination and happy intuition, he articulates his action, develops initiatives, invents and creates.

But from the very beginning, in the sacristy of St. Francis of Assisi, he sets in motion the most characteristic and his component: the affection felt and demonstrated that, meeting the thirst for love and consideration of abandoned youth, immediately arouses life, the will to recover, participation and empowerment.

It is not only a question of finding the means for the survival of poor young people, but of bringing forth in them energy and potential, making them independent and making them protagonists. This objective - Don Bosco intends - will be achieved only if all the dimensions of the person are taken care of: civil and professional, cultural and relational, moral and spiritual. This is why, alongside confession, catechesis, religious instruction and prayer, schools of first literacy, craft preparation, singing, music and festivities are put in place; this is why a lively youth community is created, in which everyone is involved in participation and management.

The preferential choice of the unsafe and marginalized young people, shared by the whole group of priests of the Oratories (Don Cocchi, the Teol. Borel, Don Bosco, the Teol. Càrpano, Don Trivero, the Teol. Fly, Don Ponte, the Murialdo cousins ​​and many others) does not always find them in agreement in the method. Don Bosco, who in these first years of ministry is forming precise ideas, soon realizes this and immediately aims both at the formation of collaborators imbued with his spirit, and at the administrative and organizational independence of his three speakers: Valdocco, San Luigi a Porta Nuova (1847) and Angelo Custode, taken over by Don Cocchi in 1849.

The archbishop, Msgr. Luigi Fransoni understands and supports it. The political crisis of 1848-1849 will definitely contribute to the definition of the different positions. Don Bosco - and with him some others - makes the exclusive choice of the educational and pastoral areas and subtracts his work from the fluctuation of enthusiasms and temporary interests for politics; dedicates itself to the definition of objectives, contents and the development of a method that will give its Oratory stability and flexibility together. This will give rise to that vivacity, that ability to adapt and that effectiveness in facing the youth problems of then and then that characterize the Salesian Work.


These early years of Don Bosco's priestly activity are characteristic because in them we find the young priest who is further refining his formation and, together, the pastor and the educator already engaged in putting to use and elaborating intuitions and acquired pedagogical and spiritual experiences.

The values ​​that emerge from the reading of these years stimulate both those who are attentive to their human and Christian growth, and those who dedicate themselves to the pastoral and educational mission.

The list we present is only an essay on the fruitfulness of suggestions and teachings that can be grasped in the comparison between the historical experience of Don Bosco and the current variegated existential context.

- Continuous research and careful discernment of God's will for his life and the mission he entrusts to us.

- Unceasing care of personal growth on a human-relational, cultural, spiritual and professional level.

- Frequent confession and spiritual direction as precious moments of confrontation and an opportunity to restore spiritual energies.

- Awareness of the radical nature of the choice made and consequent unconditional dedication.

- Grounding and loyalty to one's time; ability to read the "signs of the times" and attention to appeals coming from events and people.

- Timeliness and concreteness in responding to the urgencies of the moment, and at the same time intelligent search for long-term objectives and strategies.

- Centrality of the child's person in the entirety of his various dimensions and attention to the individual personality in formation.

- Approach with "preventive" concern to the youth world.

- "Love": willingness to weave relationships of friendship, familiarity and sympathetic understanding between educator and students.

- Importance of religious value in the formation of the personality: a simple religiosity, rationally motivated, freely accepted and progressively internalized.

- Ability to involve young people and adults in educational and pastoral work, in the belief that education and training are the work of "community".

- Conviction of the decisive role played by culture and ideas in the maturation of the person, in view of its operational inclusion in society and in the Church.

- Joy, play, party as essential elements for the construction of the personality and of an educational environment.

2. Historical-geographical and biographical notes


The decade 1840-1850 is marked in Turin by two main series of problems: one of a political nature, the other of a socio-economic nature, both with significant pastoral implications.

The liberal movements towards a new conception of the State and the yearning for national unity evolve a situation that ideally diversifies the positions of the parties. The advocates of new political addresses are opposed by conservatives and reactionaries linked to the world of ancien régime.

With the events of 1848 the Neo-Guelph myth collapsed and with it the hopes of those who longed for a statutory and confederal solution to the Italian problem that would harmonize patriotic yearnings and the desired political and social reform with Christian ideal values. Even among the Turin priests the ideas and choices are conflicting.

Due to the different conception of State and society promoted by the emerging political class, of liberal inspiration, the rift between the two opposing sides (the liberal and the Catholic, in turn internally diversified) is deepened and the head-on collision between State and Church. This clash - manifested initially in the opposition of some laymen and ecclesiastics, as for example. Msgr. Fransoni, on problems of a contingent nature or on the crucial point of the freedoms sanctioned by the Albertine Statute - will soon reach irreversible positions with laws in ecclesiastical matters (1850 and 1855).

The great economic crisis that had hit the whole of Europe since 1815 is slowly overcome at the end of the 1930s and with 1840 the first signs of recovery appear. Even in Turin, the bourgeoisie and the more open aristocratic classes engage in entrepreneurial, commercial and financial activities based on new bases, from which the future industrial development of the city will spring.

Consequently, the urban and social aspect is also changing with the economic structure. The urbanization of the rural masses, already manifested due to the agricultural crisis, acquires ever-increasing dimensions. First it is a less predominantly seasonal phenomenon, then, towards the end of the decade, it becomes a definitive migration and leads to a rapid demographic development. The traditional civil and parish structures of the city are unprepared and fail to integrate the first migratory waves into their fabric. We note with concern the drop in the percentage of those who meet the festive and Easter precept, the desertion of parish catechisms, the spread of blasphemy, the spread of alcoholism, the increase in illegitimacy.

The city in these years sees the rise of popular suburbs, the establishment of small artisan businesses and the first industrial factories, the development of commercial enterprises of various kinds.

The poor and lower class of the population is growing, made up of unskilled and unskilled laborers, most of them daily, relegated to the poorest areas of Borgo Vanchiglia and Borgo Dora, in unhealthy homes, forced to live in painful conditions.

Working time, depending on the season and the type of manufacturing activity, lasts 12 to 14 hours a day and even more, at peak times; retribution is poor and obliges the premature employment of children in often brutal jobs, with disastrous physical and moral consequences.

The diet is poor and insufficient; no hygiene, with fatal outcomes: recurrent epidemics and high infant mortality rate. The only means of relief are the frequentation of taverns and taverns, wine, games and sexual release.

Bands of boys and young people, unskilled workers or apprentices, on holidays they pour onto the squares, streets and outskirts of the suburbs, dirty, totally abandoned, illiterate, prematurely initiated into alcoholism, theft and immorality, destined for a sad future.

The situation is perceived dramatically by men of government, ecclesiastics and members of the upper middle classes who are more attentive to popular problems. Some are concerned with the social consequences, others with political ones, others with religious and moral ones. It reflects, makes proposals and engages in the search for immediate and long-term solutions. Private and public charity, literacy, popular education, professional qualification, religious care, social initiatives and first cooperative experiences characterize the interventions of those who, mainly but not exclusively in the Catholic sphere, attempt operational responses, while at the legislative level nothing moves yet.

In this context, the problem of popular education takes on a singular importance. Two elements converge: on the one hand the conviction of many that schooling is the most effective remedy for the social ills mentioned above, on the other the popular yearning to emerge socially through education. Hence the intensification of initiatives, both private and public, which have their roots already in the Enlightenment and in the revolutionary era and which some fruits have already given in previous decades. From 1835 to 1847 there is eg. to the proliferation of copious publications in favor of popular education; associations are born for the diffusion of kindergartens and the literacy of rural classes; in 1844 the abbot Aporti held the University its famous lessons in teaching method; in 1845 the publication of the Primary Educator begins, an expression of a lively group of Turin educators; in the same years Sunday and evening schools for workers are started.

Faced with this turmoil, the state authority is also more directly interested in the problem. The various presidents who succeed the Magistrate of the Reform (that is, the body responsible for public education), order a series of surveys and censuses to get an exact picture of the school situation. They then issue frequent instructions and instructions for especially elementary teachers. Finally, on 30 November 1847, the State Secretariat for Education was established, whose Minister, Carlo Boncompagni, obtained the approval of a considerable reform of the state school organization (4 October 1848).

Don Bosco arrived in Turin in 1841, just as the first symptoms of the aforementioned political, social and religious problems were emerging. He interprets them with his practical mentality, the sensitivity of the born educator, the pastoral concern and the great emotional charge that characterize him. He immediately feels impelled to act, to give concrete answers and to invent means of redemption and prevention that his boys offer the possibility - as it already happened for himself ado lescent - of emerging, of building a dignified future in accordance with their aspirations.


Dates Places People and events 26.5.1841 Church of the Visitation Don Bosco begins the exercises spir.

for the ordination
5.6.1841 Church of the Archbishopric Mons. Fransoni orders
Don Bosco priest
6.6.1841 Church of St. Franc. of Assisi Don Bosco celebrates the 1st Mass
7.6.1841 Shrine of the Consolata Don Bosco celebrates the 2nd Mass
3.11.1841 Convitto di S. Francesco Il teol. Guala and Fr Cafasso
of Assisi welcome Don Bosco for
the moral study (1841-1844)
12/08/1841 sacristy of St. Francis meets Don Bosco
of Assisi Bartholomew Garelli
December '41 - oct. '44 St. Francis of Assisi Don Bosco brings together the first
boys of the Oratory for catechism, mass and confessions
10.20.1844 Refuge of the Marchioness Barolo Don Bosco lives
there and the Oratory moves there
8.12.1844 Ospedaletto di S. Filomena The Borel and Don Bosco bless
the chapel of the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales
dic. '44 - major '45 Ospedaletto of S. Filomena Festive Oratory at the Ospedaletto
25.5.1845 S. Pietro in Vincoli Don Bosco, the boys of
the Oratory and the servant of Don Tesio: an agitated Sunday
1.6 - 6.7.1845 Ospedaletto and various churches Itinerant Oratory
from 13.7.1845 S. Martino ai Molassi Don Bosco and Borel gather
at December '45 the boys in the afternoon
Various churches in the city and outside Mass and confessions on Sunday
Nov. '45 - feb. '46 Casa Moretta Don Bosco gathers young people
for festive, evening and catechism schools
Various churches in the city and outside Mass and confessions on Sunday
I mar. - April 5 '46 Prato Filippi Don Bosco and Borel gather
the boys of the Oratory
Various churches in the city and outside Mass on Sunday morning
1.4.1846 Tettoia Pinardi n Borel and Don Bosco rent
the shed from Pinardi
12.4.1846 Chapel Pinardi Beginning of the Oratory
and land circ. in the Pinardi chapel
5.6.1846 Casa Pinardi Borel and Don Bosco rent
three rooms at the
end of May '46 Palazzo Barolo La march. Barolo dismisses
Don Bosco for the end of August
July '46 Ospedaletto Grave illness of Don Bosco
beginning August '46 Casa Pinardi Renting another room
August-October Becchi Convalescence of Don Bosco
3 Nov. 1846 Casa Pinardi Don Bosco and mother Margherita
settle there
1.12.1846 Casa Pinardi Rent of the whole house
May 1847 Casa Pinardi A Valsesia orphan
is hosted by Don Bosco
20.6.1847 Pinardi Chapel Mons. Fransoni administers
the confirmations
8.12.1847 Oratorio S Luigi Inauguration
at Porta Nuova
19.2.1851 Casa Pinardi Don Bosco buys
the Pinardi house and the land


 db places
In addition to the reconstructed Pinardi Chapel, the most significant place among those presented in this third part is undoubtedly the church of St. Francis of Assisi, to which it is convenient to devote particular time and attention.

The three suggested itineraries (the first one starting from the church of the Visitation) are particularly suggestive if walked.

n Long path (3 to 4 hours) Small group, prepared, of adults or young people.

Church of the Visitation (pp. 123-126) - v. Archbishopric - a des. v. Arsenale - Church of the Archbishopric (pp. 126-129) - v. Arsenale - left v. S. Teresa - at des. v. S. Francesco - Church of S. Francesco d'Assisi and Convitto Ecclesiastico (pp. 130-139) - a des. v. St. Francis - v. Milan - left v. Court of Appeal - at des. v. delle Orfane - Palazzo Barolo (pp. 139-143) - v. delle Orfane - left alley d. Consolata - Sanctuary of the Consolata (pp. 183-185) - v. delle Orfane - at des. v. Giulio - piazza della Repubblica (Porta Palazzo) - cross it in dir. north-east - piazza Albera (place where the Molini Dora and the chapel of S. Martino stood: pp. 150-151) - left v. Noah - see Borgo Dora to the left v. Andreis - a des. v. S. Pietro in Vincoli - Cemetery of San Pietro in Vincoli (pp. 147-149) - a sin. v. Robassomero - left v. Cigna to sin. v. Cottolengo - Rifugio (pp. 143-145) and Ospedaletto (pp. 145-146) - a des. v. Cottolengo - v. Maria Ausiliatrice - place of Filippi dish (pp. 153-155) and Moretta house (pp. 151-153) - v. Maria Ausiliatrice - Maria Ausiliatrice - Cappella Pinardi (pp. 156-163).

Places suitable for a moment of reflection and prayer or for mass: Church of the Visitation - St. Francis of Assisi - Consolata Cappella Pinardi.

n Average route (2 to 3 hours) Medium group, prepared, of adults, young people or even children.

Pinardi Chapel (pp. 156-163) - a sin. v. Mary Help of Christians - place of the Moretta house (pp. 151-153) and Filippi meadow (pp. 153-155) - v. Cottolengo - Works of Barolo (external: pp. 143-145) - a des. v. Ariosto - cross c. Regina - v. Consolata - Consolata Sanctuary (pp. 183-185) - left then to des. v. delle Orfane - Palazzo Barolo (external: pp. 139-143) - a sin. v. Court of Appeal - at des. v. Milan - v. St. Francis - Church of St. Francis of Assisi (pp. 130-139).

Places suitable for a moment of reflection and prayer or for mass: Pinardi Chapel - Consolata - St. Francis of Assisi.

n Short route (from 1 hour to one and a half hours) Large, medium or small, informed group of adults, young people and children.

Pinardi Chapel (pp. 156-163) - c. Regina - at des. v. Consolata - Sanctuary of the Consolata (pp. 183-185) - v. Consolata - Savoia Square - left v. Court of Appeal - at des. v. Milan - v. St. Francis - Church of St. Francis of Assisi (pp. 130-139).

Places suitable for a moment of reflection and prayer or for mass: Pinardi Chapel - Consolata - St. Francis of Assisi.

 db places

3. Visit to the places

3.1. CHURCH OF THE VISITATION (corner of Via XX Settembre - via Arcivescovado)

The cleric Giovanni Bosco did the spiritual exercises before the sacred ordinations, in Turin. The task of preparing clerics for orders through the preaching of the exercises was entrusted to the Lazarists, religious founded by St. Vincent de Paul, also called Preti or Lords of the Mission (or, more simply, Missionaries).

3.1.1. House of the Priests of the Mission (via XX Settembre, n. 23)

The house we see today was rebuilt after the war, on the ruins of the ancient monastery of the Visitation (Sisters of Saint Francis of Sales), founded in 1638 by Saint Giovanna Francesca of Chantal, who for the occasion stayed for seven months in Turin.

The Visitandine nuns lived here until the suppression of the religious orders carried out by the French government in 1801. Their presence in Turin favored the spread of the cult and the spirituality of Saint Francis of Sales, one of the most loved saints in the States of Savoy. During the Restoration the Salesian nuns were transferred to the monastery of Santa Chiara and this building was entrusted to the Missionaries of St. Vincent de Paul (1830).

The Priests of the Mission, under the guidance of their father Marcantonio Durando, immediately built a new wing of the building (right on the current Via XX Settembre) in order to welcome ecclesiastics and lay people for spiritual exercises. The work ended in 1832. Monsignor Colombano Chiave-roti, archbishop of Turin (1818-1831), in fact, for some years already had entrusted to these religious the formation of the clerics of the city who did not live in the seminary and the preaching of spiritual exercises to all those who were preparing to receive orders. It was a happy choice, as the Lazarists greatly and positively influenced the Turin clergy, conveying the most vital elements of Italian and French priestly spirituality (especially that derived from the

Saint John Bosco also did the spiritual exercises three times in this house: in preparation for the subdiaconate (September 1840), the diaconate (March 1841) and the presbyterate (from May 26 to June 5, 1841).

He writes about the spiritual retreat on the occasion of the subdiaconate: "For the ordination of the four autumn tempora (ed .: 19 September 1840) I was admitted to the subdiaconate. Now that I know the virtues that are sought for that very important step, I remain convinced that I was not sufficiently prepared; but not having anyone to take direct care of my vocation, I advised myself with Fr Caffasso, who told me to go ahead and rest above his word. In the ten days of spiritual exercises done in the house of the Mission in Turin I made the general confession, so that the confessor could have a clear idea of ​​my conscience and give me the opportune advice "(MO 113).

The resolutions made during the spiritual exercises for the presbyterate reflect themes dear to spirituality and to the priestly model advocated by the Lazarists and also disseminated by Don Cafasso, with a significant reference to the pastoral method of Saint Francis of Sales: «I began the spiritual exercises in the house of the Mission on May 26th, the feast of St. Philip Neri 1841 (...).

Conclusion of the exercises done in preparation for the celebration of the first Holy Mass, was: The priest does not go alone to heaven, he does not go alone to hell. If he does well, he will go to heaven with the souls he saved with his good example; if it hurts, if it gives scandal it will go to perdition with the damned souls for its scandal.

Resolutions: 1 ° Never take walks if not for grave necessity: visits to the sick, etc.

2 ° Strictly occupy time well.

3rd Suffer, do, humble oneself in everything and always, when it comes to saving souls.

4 ° The charity and the sweetness of St. Francis de Sales guide me in everything.

5 ° I will always show myself happy with the food that will be prepared for me, as long as it is not harmful to health.

6 ° I will drink water and only as a remedy: that is to say only when and how much will be required by health.

7th Work is a powerful weapon against the enemies of the soul, so I will not give the body more than five hours of sleep each night. During the day, especially after lunch, I will not take any rest. I will make a few exceptions in cases of illness.

8th Every day I will give some time to meditation, to spiritual reading. During the day I will make a brief visit or at least a prayer to the Blessed Sacrament. I will make at least a quarter of an hour of preparation, and another quarter of an hour of thanksgiving to the Holy Mass.

9th I will never have conversations with women outside the case to hear them in confession or some other spiritual necessity "(" Memories from 1841 ", in RSS 4 [1985] 88-90).

In the current home of the Mission, in a chapel on the first floor, many memories of St. Vincent de Paul are preserved: relics, writings, clothes and personal objects. Of particular importance are some letters sent by Saint Vincent to the first Missionaries sent to Turin in 1655.

The Lazarist father Marcantonio Durando (1801-1880) - superior of this house since 1831 and a visitor to the Vincentian Province of Upper Italy since 1837 - was one of the most significant and influential figures of the Church of Turin in the nineteenth century. He belonged to a family of the Piedmontese bourgeoisie. Two of his brothers were known as liberals and took an active part in the Italian unification: Giovanni (1804-1869) was first general of the pontifical army (1847-1848), then of the Piedmontese one, then senator of the new Kingdom of Italy (1860) ; Giacomo (1807-1894) was general, deputy, Minister of War and Foreign Minister (1862), finally President of the Senate (1884).

Father Durando actively engaged on several fronts: formation of the young clergy; preaching of spiritual exercises and popular missions; direction and organization of the Daughters of Charity (the famous Capellone Sisters; by his interest and under his guidance their houses passed from two to forty between 1831 and 1848); foundation of the Ladies of Charity (1836); great impulse to the Foreign Missions in North America, Ethiopia, Middle East and China; dissemination of the Propaganda Fide Work in Piedmont and Italy; collaboration with the Marchesa Barolo in the foundation of the Maddalene Sisters (1839); support in the foundation of the Clarisse-Capuchin nuns (1856); foundation of the Nazarene nuns, with the help of sr. Luisa Borgiotti (1865); impulse and collaboration with many charitable works, including the Mercies and Conferences of St. Vincent. He was also councilor of Msgr. Fransoni, intervening actively, with balance and prudence, in defense of the archbishop and the rights of the Church in moments of tension with the civil authority; moreover, on the occasion of the laws of suppression (1855 and 1866), he undertook to reopen the dialogue between bishops and liberal government.

Father Durando had very cordial relations also with Don Bosco and in 1864 he examined, on behalf of the diocesan authority, the first drafts of the Constitutions of the Salesian Society, giving a decisive contribution in clarifying problems of a juridical nature and the approach to religious life ( cf MB 6, 723-725). Later he also examined the Constitutions of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

3.1.2. Church of the Visitation

Small but graceful Greek cross baroque construction, which opens at the corner of Via XX Settembre and Via Arcivescovado. According to the Librario, it would have been raised in 1661 to a design by F. Lanfranchi; others date it to 1667 and attribute it to the architect Count Amedeo di Castellamonte. Originally the dome had been frescoed by the painter Luigi Vannier, of Chambéry. The valuable pulpit is by the sculptor Giovanni Valle (1688). The central icon depicting the visitation of Mary to Saint Elizabeth is by Ignatius Nepos; the painting on the altar to the right, with St. Francis de Sales offering the Constitutions to the Chantal, is the work of Alessandro Trono; the one on the altar to the left, with St. Vincent de Paul, is due to the novarese Andrea Miglio.

Between 1860 and 1861 his father Durando had the whole church restored. On that occasion the paintings of the dome were remade by Morgari; the ancient choir of the Visitandines - removed the large grille - was transformed into a chapel dedicated to the passion of the Lord, with decorations by Morgari himself (1866); already before, however, this choir served as a chapel for the exercises.

This is the environment in which Don Bosco spent the fervent hours of prayer and adoration in the days immediately preceding his priestly consecration.

3.2. CHURCH OF THE ARCIVESCOVADO (via Arsenale, n. 16; Palace: via Arcivescovado, n. 12)

In this church, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, John Bosco received the tonsure and minor orders (March 29, 1840), the subdiaconate (September 19, 1840), the diaconate (March 21, 1841) and the pre-barked (June 5, 1841 ) from the hands of Msgr. Luigi Fransoni, archbishop of Turin. With the priestly ordination the first great stage of the journey ends, long and suffered, followed by Don Bosco in the search for God's will and in the preparation for the mission that will be entrusted to him.

The church (now closed for worship and awaiting restoration), with the adjoining archbishop's palace, was built by the Lazzarist fathers, sent to Turin by Saint Vincent de Paul himself on 10 November 1655. The house was built between 1663 and 1667; the church, begun in 1673 perhaps on a design by the architect Guarino Guarini, was completed in 1697.

The sacred building preserves valuable paintings. On the right: on the first altar, St. Peter released from prison, of the Caravaggio school; on the second altar, death of Saint Joseph, by Alessandro Mari (1650-1707). On the left: on the first altar Saint Vincent de Paul preaching, by Alessandro Trono and, on the vault, remarkable frescoes by the Venetian Giovanni Battista Crosato (1685-1758); on the second altar, Ananias and St. Paul, by Sebastiano Taricco (1641-1710).

The Missionaries of St. Vincent were invited to leave this their first residence in 1776, to replace the Jesuits, suppressed by Pope Clement XIV, in the ministry at the church of the Saints. Martyrs in Via Garibaldi. The house, which remained free, was assigned to the Archbishop of Turin (1777), who had been without a permanent home for over two hundred years.

Don Bosco and his archbishops Mons. Luigi Fransoni lived in the palace from 1832 to 1850, the year of his expulsion into exile (he died in Lyon in 1861). Don Bosco had great esteem and veneration for him, always seeking his advice and approval in the most important decisions.

Still a cleric, in the summer of 1840, Giovanni came to visit the archbishop, "asking him to be able to investigate the 4th year treaties on those holidays and thus complete the five-year term in the following school year 1840-1". The reception received remains indelibly impressed in his memory: "That holy Prelate welcomed me with great kindness, and after examining the results of my exams so far sustained in the seminary, he granted me the favor implored, on condition that I brought all the treaties corresponding to the course, which I wished to earn "(MO 113).

In the following years he will return several times to the archbishop's palace, or to advise and recommend to Msgr. Fransoni his projects and the nascent Oratory, or to console the superior opposed and persecuted.

Even during the years of the Lyon exile he will maintain close correspondence with him. The archbishop from the beginning encouraged and favored the work of Don Bosco, who knew a balanced man and a zealous priest, even in the most difficult moments, when he was criticized on many sides, hampered by the authorities and abandoned by his collaborators. In the Memoirs of the Oratory several favorable interventions are reported, some of which turned out to be decisive for the continuation of the Oratory. His support was decisive especially when the Marquis Cavour (father of Count Camillo), Vicar of the City, who was also a friend of the theologian Borel and Don Bosco, had decided to end the experiment of the Oratory. Times were difficult, he frequented the popular movements and he saw with fear the noisy Sunday meetings of so many poor young people. Don Bosco tells us of a discussion that took place precisely in the archbishopric: "When he heard (note: the Marquis Cavour) that I had always proceeded with the consent of the Archbishop, he summoned the so-called Accounting Office in the bishop's palace, being that prelate then somewhat sick (. ..).

- When I saw all those magnates, the Archbishop said then, to gather in this room, I seemed to have to hold the universal judgment. A great deal was argued for and against; but in the end it was concluded that it was absolutely necessary to prevent and disperse these gatherings, because they compromised public tranquility (...).

Count Collegno, who had silently witnessed all this lively discussion, when he observed that the order for dispersal and final dissolution was being proposed, got up, asked to speak and communicated the sovereign intention, and the protection the King intended to take of that microscopic institution.

At those words the Vicar was silent and the Accounting Office was silent "(MO 179-180).

During the exile of Fransoni, his vicar general, the canon Giuseppe Zappata, continued to show himself benevolent towards Don Bosco. These, moreover, rendered a precious service to the diocese both because, having closed the seminary, it hosted several clerics in Valdocco and took care of its formation, and because many diocesan vocations came out of its school every year.

However the relations between Don Bosco and his archbishops were not always so good. Particularly painful were the tensions that occurred during the period of the episcopate of Msgr. Lorenzo Gastaldi (1873-1883). The two, who had also been great friends, due to a series of misunderstandings and misunderstandings, amplified by men of their circle, had unmistakably blown. This situation was resolved thanks to the direct intervention of Leo XIII and the great humility of Don Bosco.

In the last years of Don Bosco's life, Card. Gaetano Alimonda (1883-1891) with whom relations became excellent again. The cardinal, who had immense veneration for the Saint, will visit him several times, particularly in his last illness.

3.3. SAN FRANCESCO D'ASSISI (via san Francesco d'Assisi, n. 11)

6 June 1841, Sunday of the SS. Trinity, Don Bosco a new priest celebrates his first Mass in this church, at the altar of the Guardian Angel. He is assisted by his spiritual director Fr Giuseppe Cafasso who, in the rooms annexed to the church, collaborates with the theologian Luigi Guala in the direction of the Ecclesiastical Boarding School. From the following November, until the summer of 1844, Don Bosco will live in these environments.

3.3.1. The church and convent of St. Francis

The original construction dates back to the century. XIII and is said to have been founded by St. Francis himself, on the occasion of his trip to France (1215), or his first companions. The convent was inhabited by conventual minors and soon acquired great importance in the city, so much so that - among the secs. XIII and XIV - it was the seat of the archive and the municipal treasury. Then in the vast refectory, the City Council often gathered and the public graduation exams were held for law students.

Over the centuries the church and convent underwent restoration and retouching. Between 1602 and 1610 a general renovation of the buildings took place, which completely lost the primitive Gothic architectural lines. A second remarkable restoration was carried out in 1761: on that occasion the façade and the dome were rebuilt, based on a design by the architect Bernardo Vittone. The last significant interventions date back to the years 1863-1865.

Among the works of art we highlight: in the presbytery, the marble altar dating to 1673, the ancient baits of the vault (seventeenth century) just retouched by Morgari, and the stained glass window depicting St. Francis receiving the stigmata, by the Bertini brothers of Milan (19th century); in the first chapel on the right, two paintings (Annunciation and Visitation) by Giovanni Antonio Molineri (1577-1645); in the second chapel on the right, the beautiful crucifix attributed to the Lugano-born Carlo Giuseppe Plura (1655-1737); in the last chapel on the left, the painting of the Guardian Angel by Pietro Ayres (1794-1878).

The first confessional in the left aisle is the one in which St. Joseph Cafasso spent many hours of his day. Through the sacrament of Penance he was the spiritual guide of many priests, influential people of city life, but also of many commoners. He had the gift of sensing consciences and converting even the hardest hearts. He used it in desperate cases; in particular, those most condemned to death were entrusted with death.

3.3.2. The Ecclesiastical Boarding School

The Franciscans were removed from the convent attached to the church during the French occupation and the building was sold mostly to private individuals. The part adjacent to the church was destined to military housing and to dwelling for the rector of the same church.

Theologian Guala and the origins of the boarding school In 1808 the theologian Luigi Guala (1775-1848) was appointed to this task. He was a member of the Catholic friendships, an association founded by the former Jesuit Nicolao de Diessbach in the last decades of the eighteenth century and reorganized by his father Pio Brunone Lanteri (1759-1830; founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary), which had among his purposes the formation of the young clergy and the spread of good books among the people.

The Guala, noting the void foimative in which, also due to the difficulties of the historical moment, the new priests were left, as soon as he was appointed rector he began to teach moral theology lessons to some of them. With the Restoration the initiative was consolidated and he obtained the use of the unsold rooms of the ancient convent. At the suggestion of Lanteri, we opened an Ecclesiastical Boarding School (1817) in order to perfect the cultural, pastoral and spiritual formation of those who finished seminarian studies.

Setting up the boarding school The courses lasted two years and offered lessons in speculative and practical moral theology, dealing with moral problems and a way to confess and spiritually direct the various categories of people. Homiletics lessons were also offered.

The theological line adopted by Lanteri and Guala was the Ignatian and Alphonsian one, more benign and positive than the rigorist traditionally taught at the University Theological Faculty and pursued by most of the Piedmontese clergy.

The students were also sent to the pastoral life with different experiences in the parishes of the city. Their spiritual life and prayer were especially cared for. To this end, each year they were required to attend spiritual exercises at the shrine of Saint Ignatius of Lanzo, purposely restored by the Guala who was also its rector.

The day of the student priests took place according to the following schedule: Morning: 5.30 am, raising, vocal prayer and meditation in common; from 6.45 am to 9.00 am, time dedicated to study during which everyone celebrates Holy Mass and the office privately; at 9.00 am all of them attend a mass; from 9.30 to 11.00 again a period of study, followed by an "essay" of the study done and the lesson of the Repeater; at 12.00, after the Angelus and the average hour of the breviary, lunch with reading, followed by a moment of recreation.

Afternoon: 2.00 pm short visit to the SS. Sacramento and walking; 14.45 "public" moral conference, that is open also to the priests of the city; 16.15 walk; 17.00 Rosary in common and study; 19.00 conference on moral and practical confession; 20.00 community spiritual reading on ascetic texts; 20.30 dinner and recreation; 21.45 silence, common prayers, examination of conscience and rest.

Don Cafasso at the Convitto Don Giuseppe Cafasso, who entered the Convitto as a student in 1834, and then remained as a collaborator of the Guala, succeeded him first as professor Repeater (1836), then as principal professor (1843), finally, at his death (1848) , as rector of the church and director of the boarding school. Mons. Fransoni had such confidence in the two priests that he entrusted them with the choice of vice parish priests.

Under the direction of Cafasso (1848-1860) the Convitto lived its golden age. An extremely balanced and wise man, a sought-after spiritual director, he was a teacher of spiritual life for the clergy and contributed decisively to the flourishing of priestly sanctity that is characteristic of the Turin nineteenth century.

Notes on subsequent events After the disappearance of Cafasso, the boarding school continued in the wake traced by the saint. In 1877, however, Archbishop Gastaldi - who did not share the overly benign doctrines advocated by the director, theologian Giovanni Battista Bertagna - intervened heavily by first imposing another director, then, for the students' reaction, closing Convitto (1878).

The institution was reopened in 1882 by the Archbishop himself, by the canon Giuseppe Allamano (nephew of Cafasso and founder of the Consolata Missionaries), in the rooms adjacent to the Consolata sanctuary.

Don Bosco student of the boarding school On November 3, 1841 Don Bosco, following the advice of Cafasso who had told him: "You need to study morality and preaching. Forgoing all proposals for now and coming to the Convitto »- he moved to Turin.

Of the Ecclesiastical Boarding School Don Bosco will give this synthetic description: «The Ecclesiastical Boarding School can be called a complement of theological study, because in our seminaries we only study the dogmatic, the speculative; of morality only the controversial propositions are studied. Here you learn to be priests. Meditation, reading, two lectures a day, lessons in preaching, life withdrawn, every convenience to study, reading good authors, were the things around which everyone must apply his solicitude "(MO 121).

He was welcomed free by the theologian Guala, of whom he had an excellent impression: "A disinterested man, rich in science, prudence and courage, he had done everything for everyone in time of the government of Napoleon I (...). The question of probabilism and probabilisticism was very agitated (ed: two schools of moral interpretation, one less and the other more rigorous).

(- -) The T. Guala stood in the middle of the two parties, and by center of every opinion putting the charity of NSGC, succeeded in bringing those extremes closer together. Things came to such a point that, thanks to the theologian Guala, St. Alphonsus became the master of our schools with that advantage, which was long desired, and today the healthy effects are proven "(MO 121-122).

Don Cafasso master of Don Bosco For the young priest, however, the true teacher is Cafasso, in whose hands he surrenders himself with confidence.

At the school of this formator Don Bosco increases his ecclesiastical and pastoral culture; he began a robust priestly spirituality; it is progressively introduced to know, analyze and deal with pastoral situations completely different from those of the provincial environments from which it comes.

Don Cafasso teaches him to combine personal holiness, apostolic zeal and pastoral art. He particularly initiates it to care for those categories of people who remain on the margins of ordinary parish action. Having known his marked propensity to work among young people, he puts him in contact with the poorest and most abandoned youth groups in the city. It involves him in the catechisms to small masons and chimney sweeps; engages him in spiritual assistance in the new institutes of charity and education that are springing up in the capital (Cottolengo, Opera Pia Barolo, schools of the Royal Opera della Mendicità Istruita directed by the Brothers of the Christian Schools); he takes it with him to the prisons; it facilitates his knowledge with Don Cocchi and the other priests who, in those years, are beginning the experience of the Oratories.

Don Bosco testifies of this exceptional master: "Fr Caffasso, who had been my guide for six years, was also my spiritual director, and if I did something good, I owe it to this worthy clergyman, in whose hands my every resolution rests, every study, every action of my life "(MO 123).

Thanks to the school of Cafasso and the pastoral experiences in which he involves him, our Saint already perceives the importance of a "preventive" educational and pastoral method, especially for certain categories of young people most exposed to danger: "First he began to lead me to prisons, where I soon learned to know how great the malice and misery of men is. Seeing the troubles of youngsters, about the age of 12 to 18, all healthy, robust, of waking genius, but seeing them there idle, gnawed by insects, struggling with spiritual and temporal bread, was something that horrified me (... ). But what was not my surprise and surprise when I realized that many of them came out with a firm purpose of a better life and meanwhile they were soon brought back to the place of punishment, from which they had come out a few days ago.

It was on those occasions that I realized how many were brought back to that site, because they were left to themselves. - Who knows, he said to me, if those boys had a friend out, who took care of them, assisted them and instructed them in religion on holidays, who knows that they can't keep away from ruin or at least the number of those , who return to prison? - I communicated this thought to Fr Caffasso, and with his advice and his enlightenment I began to study how to carry it out, abandoning the fruit to the grace of the Lord, without which all the efforts of men are vain "(MO 123).

Birth of the Oratory The fascination exerted by the young priest on children manifests itself from the first days of his stay in Turin: he interprets it as a call from the Lord to do something concrete for them: "As soon as he entered the Convict of St. Francis, I immediately found a group of young men, who followed me through the streets, into the squares and into the very sacristy of the church of the Institute. But he could not take direct care of them for lack of a room "(MO 124).

The opportunity to start is offered by the providential meeting with Bartolomeo Garelli in the sacristy of St. Francis, just over a month after his arrival at the Convitto, on December 8th 1841, the feast of the Immaculate Conception: «The solemn day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (December 8, 1841) at the appointed time she was in the act of dressing up for the sacred parables to celebrate Holy Mass. The cleric of sacristy, Giuseppe Comotti, seeing a young man in a song, invites him to come and serve me mass.

- I do not know, he replied all mortified.

"Come," replied the other, "I want you to serve Mass."

"I don't know," replied the young man, "I've never served her."

"You beast," said the cleric of sacristy, all furious; if you don't know how to serve Mass, what are you in sacristy? - Saying this, he grabs the pole of the duster, and down blows on the shoulders or on the head of that poor thing. While the other looked after him: - What are you doing? I shouted to another voice. - Why beat him in this guise? What did he do? - Why does he come to the sacristy, if he does not know how to serve the mass? - But you did wrong.

- What does it matter to you? - It matters a lot, is my friend; call him instantly, I need to talk to him.

"Tuder, tuder," he called; and running after him, and assuring him of better treatment, he brought him back to me. The other approached trembling and weeping with the received envelopes.

- Have you heard the Mass yet? - I told him with kindness to me as possible.

"No," answered the other.

- Come then to listen to it; after I like to talk to you about a deal that will please you.

He promised me. It was my desire to mitigate the affliction of that poor man and not leave him with that sinister impression towards the directors of that sacristy. After celebrating Holy Mass and giving due thanks, I led my candidate into a choir. With a cheerful face and assuring him that he no longer feared beatings, I began to question him like this: "My good friend, what's your name?" - My name is Bartolomeo Garelli.

- What country are you from? - D'Asti.

- Does your father live? - No, my father is dead.

- And your mother? - My mother is also dead.

- How old are you? - I'm sixteen.

- Can you read and write? - I know nothing.

- Have you been promoted to Holy Communion? - Not yet.

- Have you already confessed? - Yes, but when I was little.

- Now go to the catechism? - I do not dare.

- Why? - Because my younger companions know the catechism; and I know nothing so great. So I blush to go to those classes.

- If you did a separate catechism, would you come to listen to it? - I would very gladly go there.

- Would you like to come to this little room? "I will come very willingly, as long as they don't give me a beating."

"Don't worry, I'll never treat you." Indeed you will be my friend, and you will have to do with me and with another one. When do you want us to start our catechism? - When she likes it.

- Tonight? - Yup.

- Do you want even now? - Yes, even now, with great pleasure.

I stood up and made the sign of the Holy Cross to begin with; but my pupil did not, because he did not know how to do it. In that first catechism I stopped him from making him learn how to make the sign of the Cross and to let him know God the Creator and the purpose for which he created us "(MO 124-127).

A detail, not mentioned here by Don Bosco, will be referred by him in 1885 to his Salesians. After the sign of the cross they had said together a Hail Mary: "All the blessings rained us from heaven are the fruit of that first Hail Mary said with fervor and with right intention together with the young Bartolomeo Garelli there in the church of S. Francesco of Assisi" (MB 17, 510).

After that first meeting, every Sunday a group of young people is gathering at the Convitto which is growing: in the following February they are about twenty; thirty at the end of March; almost a hundred for St. Anne (26 July), patronal feast of the masons.

The boys who in these early days attend the nascent Oratory are mainly workers and unskilled workers who spend only part of the year in Turin, the part free of agricultural activities (from late autumn to the end of June). These are "Savoiardi, Swiss, Valdostan, Biellesi, Novaresi, Lombardi" (MO 152). «In general - Don Bosco informs us - the Oratory was composed of stonemasons, masons, plasterers, pavers, quadratori and others who came from distant countries. Not being practical neither of churches nor of comrades, they were exposed to the dangers of perversion, especially on holidays "(MO 129).

This type of young, seasonal migrants, will continue to be prevalent in the Don Bosco Oratory until the mid-1950s, when immigration to Turin will become stable.

It is still Don Bosco who describes the conduct of those Sunday meetings at the Convitto: «Here the Oratory was like this. Every feast day it was easy to approach the holy sacraments of confession and communion; but one Saturday and one Sunday a month was established to accomplish this religious duty. In the evening, at a specific hour, a praise was sung, a catechism was made, then an example with the distribution of something, now to everyone, now drawn (...).

The good theologian Guala and D. Caffasso enjoyed that collection of children, and they gladly gave me pictures, leaflets, booklets, medals, little crosses to give away. Sometimes they gave me the means to dress some who were in greater need, and to give bread to others for several weeks, until such time as they could earn it for themselves. Indeed, having grown their numbers a great deal, they allowed me to sometimes gather my little army in the adjoining courtyard for recreation. If the locality had allowed it, we would soon have reached more than a hundred; but we had to limit ourselves to about eighty.

When the T.- Guala and D. Caffasso approached the holy sacraments they always used to come and visit us and tell us about some uplifting episode »(MO 128-130).

During the week, in moments of recreation, Don Bosco kept in touch with the boys: «He went to visit them in the midst of their work in the workshops, in the factories. This produced great consolation for the youngsters, who saw a friend take care of them; it pleased the masters, who gladly kept assisted youngsters throughout their week, and even more in the holidays, which are days of greatest danger.

Every Saturday he brought me to the prisons with bags now full of tobacco, now of fruit, now of loaves, always in the object of cultivating the youngsters who had the misfortune of being there led, assist them, make them friends, and so excited to come to oratory, when they had the good fortune to leave the place of punishment "(MO 130).

Friendship, assistance and personal attention achieve unexpected results even for the most difficult children and convince Don Bosco of the importance of developing a preventive pedagogical and pastoral method, based on "kindness, religion and reason": "It was then that I touched with my hands that the young men who came out of the place of punishment, if they find a benevolent hand, that they take care of them, assist them on holidays, study to place them to work with some honest master, and sometimes going to visit during the week, these young men gave themselves to an honored life, they forgot the past, they became good Christians and honest citizens "(MO 127).

At the end of the three-year term spent at the Convitto (two years as a student, a year as a Repeater), Don Bosco, who feels ever more strongly the inclination to be a pastor of young people, still remains uncertain about the concrete choices to which the Lord calls him: "One day Fr Caffasso called me to him and told me; - Now you have completed the course of your studies; You need to go to work. In these times the harvest is very abundant. What do you feel especially inclined about? - To the one she is pleased to tell me.

- There are three jobs: deputized to Buttigliera d'Asti, repeater of morale here at the Convitto, director of the small Ospedaletto next to the Refuge. Which would you choose? - What she will judge.

- Do you not feel inclined to one thing more than another? - My propensity is to look after the youth. Then do what you want with me. I know the will of the Lord in his council.

- Right now, what does your heart occupy? that wraps up in your mind? - At this moment it seems to me to be in the midst of a multitude of children, who are asking me for help.

- So go for a few weeks of vacation. Upon your return I will tell you your destination.

After those holidays, D. Caffasso let a few weeks go by without telling me anything; I asked him nothing at all.

- Why don't you ask what your destination is? he told me one day.

- Because I want to recognize the will of God in his deliberation and I want to put nothing of my will.

- Get yourself the bundle, and go with T. Borrelli (editor's note: the theologian Borel); there you will be the director of the small hospital of S. Filomena; you will also work in the Opera del Rifugio. Meanwhile, God will put in your hands what you have to do for youth "(MO 132-133).


After the three years of Convitto Ecclesiastico, Don Bosco was hired by the Marquise Barolo as chaplain of the nascent Ospedaletto of St. Filomena and as an aid to theologian Giovanni Borel in spiritual assistance to the various works founded by the noblewoman.

Don Bosco knew Borel: he had first met him in the seminary, on the occasion of a preaching and, at the Convitto, he had the opportunity to know him much better. The theologian John Borel was a priest totally dedicated to pastoral activities, tireless and self-forgetful. He had been court chaplain and had made a wide circle of knowledge among the Piedmontese nobility. After some time he had renounced his assignment and generous salary to devote himself exclusively to pastoral activities among young people, especially the most needy: he was the spiritual director of public schools first, chaplain of the Refuge and engaged in various educational institutions and then prisons.

As Cafasso was a master of spiritual life for Don Bosco, so the theologian Borel was his guide and valid support in practical pastoral life and in laying the foundations of a more stable and organized Oratory: «From the first moment I met T. Borrelli I have always observed in him a holy priest, a model worthy of admiration and of being imitated. Whenever he could hold me with him, he always had lessons in priestly zeal, always good advice, excitement about good. In the three years I spent at the boarding school I was invited by him to serve in the sacred functions, to confess, to preach to him, so that the field of my work was already known and in a certain way familiar. We talked long and many times about the rules to follow to help each other in attending prisons,

It should be noted, indeed, that from this moment on, for the next four years, it will be the theologian Borel who will assume responsibility for the Oratory in front of religious and civil authorities. The requests for help, the rent and purchase contracts that will be drawn up always bear his signature and then also, but not always, that of Don Bosco.

Don Cafasso, who knew our Saint well and was convinced of his vocation to accomplish something special and new, considered it essential to support him with Borel and include him in the many activities of the Marchesa Barolo: an original pastoral and welfare «laboratory» that could offer possibilities unique to the youth apostle. He therefore asked Borel to present Don Bosco to the Marquise. This accepted him as spiritual director of the Ospedaletto that was still being built, and he immediately assumed it, by the advice of Borel, in order not to miss such a valid element (cf MB 2, 225-226).

3.4.1. Palazzo Barolo (via delle Orfane, n. 7)

In this palace Don Bosco, accompanied by the theologian Borel, met in the autumn of 1944 with the Marchioness Giulia di Barolo.

The building, with its splendid Baroque façade, was begun around 1635, completed in 1692 by the Guarini from Gian Francesco Baroncelli and decorated in 1743 under the direction of Benedetto Alferi (1700-1767).

The poor priest of the Becchi entered the elegant atrium of the building at other times and climbed the solemn double flight of stairs to reach the sumptuous rooms on the first floor where the Marquise had the study and reception rooms.

In these circles, Don Bosco was able to make friends with Silvio Pellico, who since 1834, who had been imprisoned at Spielberg for 10 years, was a librarian and personal secretary of the Marquise. The famous patriot and writer will compose for the boys of the Oratory the text of some sacred songs, of which Angioletto of my God will be the best known. He died in this palace on January 31, 1854.

Giulia Vittorina Colbert of Maulévrier, widow Barolo (1785-1864), born in the Vendee and descendant of the great Colbert, minister of Louis XIV, in 1807 he married the Marquis Tancredi Falletti of Barolo, known in Paris at the court of Emperor Napoleon I.

The two spouses were very rich, more than the Savoy themselves, and prominent figures of the Turin nobility. Their living room was frequented by the most important figures of the time: nobles, politicians (including Cavour), diplomats, senior officers and artists.

Very religious, having no children, they decided to allocate their substantial substances to the benefit of social and charitable works. To this end they founded an institution, the Opera Pia Barolo, which still exists.

The Marquise had found Turin in disastrous conditions. Misery was rampant among the people; there were no hospitalizations for the sick, institutions for old age, kindergartens and schools for the poor.

Since 1832, together with her husband, she set up a free school and a soup kitchen for her in her palace: 250 soups a day were served; on Sunday a plate of meat and pulses was added and, on Mondays, twelve poor were served at the table by the same Marquise; in winter, then, everyone was given enough wood for the whole week. The noblewoman also personally took care of the sick by distributing their medicines, treating them as a nurse and visiting the most serious in their poor homes.

When her husband died in 1838, she spent much of her time founding and maintaining institutions for the benefit of poor, sick, orphan girls, prostitutes and prisoners. Her interest in these categories of people began in 1819 after an occasional visit to the city prisons that had left her upset. From that day on he became directly interested in prisoners, spending long hours in the cells, teaching them the principles of hygiene and civil life, sewing and embroidery, catechism. Due to his interest in Turin, a women's prison was built for the first time, a global prison reform was started and prison chaplains were introduced.

This first experience gave rise to a long series of new charitable and charitable initiatives in the Turin environment.

In 1821 he called from Chambery the Sisters of Saint Joseph for the education of the girls of the people, thus starting up the first popular women's schools in Turin.

In the same year he built the Refuge at Valdocco, a center that welcomed 250 misguided girls and offered them, in a suitably equipped environment, education, job placement, religious support and the possibility of rehabilitation and honorable insertion into society.

In 1825, in agreement with King Carlo Felice, he invited the Ladies of the Sacred Heart to Turin to train the daughters of high society.

In 1832, in order to favor those young women of the Refuge who wished to consecrate themselves to God with their religious profession and to strive for Christian perfection in prayer, penance and work, he founded the Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene next to them, hence the name of Sisters Maddalene. This convent was flanked by an institute for abandoned girls under twelve years of age, entrusting them to the education of the Maddalena themselves. These girls were commonly called the Maddalenines.

Also in 1832 he laid the foundations for a new institute of nuns: the Education of Saint Anna for the training and education of girls in the low-income middle class (via Consolata, corner of Corso Regina Margherita). Next to the Sisters of Saint Anne he built a house to house thirty orphans, the Giuliette, who, having completed their education, obtained a dowry of 500 francs.

She also took care of the young women who wanted to dedicate themselves to the contemplative life: she contributed to the construction of the monastery of the Adorers of the Most Holy. Sacramento granting them a substantial annual income. It also introduced in Turin, city of the SS. Sacramento, the Association for Perpetual Adoration.

For those young people of the Refuge who distinguished themselves in commitment and piety, but were not called to religious life, he founded the Tertiaries of Saint Mary Magdalene (1844). They had to, by example, be a stimulus for the good for the other guests of the Refuge and engaged in various services of charity.

In 1845 he built the Ospedaletto of Santa Filomena, with 160 places for crippled or sick children between the ages of three and twelve, directed by the Sisters of St. Joseph assisted by the Tertiaries of St. Mary Magdalene.

Another brilliant intuition of the Marquise was the institution of the Families of Mary, of Saint Joseph and of Saint Anne, an advance of the "housing communities". Each of these families was placed under the direction of a Mother, who was given shelter and a monthly allowance to receive a group of girls eager to learn a profession (generally they were seamstresses, crests and glovers). In the morning the girls went to the various shops to experienced artisans. The Mother of the Family had the task of exercising the Daughters in the study of catechism, in reading, in writing, in counting or in housework. They all attended Sunday and even daily masses, if they could. Having reached the age of twenty-one, having learned a profession and set aside a sufficient dowry,

For religious assistance and pastoral care in one of the most popular and poor neighborhoods of the time, Borgo Vanchiglia planned and supported the construction of the parish of Santa Giulia. The works, begun in 1862, ended in 1875, after the death of the Marchesa. The burials of the two spouses Barolos are preserved in this church.

Finally, among other social initiatives, we remember the special schools opened at his own expense, for the Catholic girls of the Waldensian valleys and the Barolo College for poor children, established in the ancient castle of Barolo (Cuneo).

The Opera Pia Barolo continued to administer the various foundations, many of which still exist today.

3.4.2. The Don Bosco Oratory at the Refuge (via Cottolengo, n. 26)

When Don Bosco was presented by Borel to the Marchioness Barolo, this was immediately made aware of the qualities the young priest was given. To induce him to accept the post of spiritual director of the Ospedaletto, he not only granted him to be freely visited by all the young people who would come to him to learn the catechism, but he agreed that he should gather his festive Oratory in the new building not yet finished of the Hospital of Saint Filomena.

In the days immediately preceding 20 October 1844, Don Bosco transferred his home to the Refuge. The room dedicated to him was located above the vestibule of the first entrance door to the Refuge, next to those of the theologian Borel and don Sebastiano Pacchiotti (1806-1884), another chaplain of the Barolo works, who also helped him in religious assistance of the Oratorians.

"The chamber that is destined for her - the theologian Borel had told him - can for some time serve to gather the young men who intervened in St. Francis of Assisi. When we can go to the building prepared for the priests next to the Ospedaletto, then we will study the best location "(MO 134). Thus on Sunday 20 October the Oratory was transferred to the Refuge. Don Bosco describes it in his Memoirs, also telling us about the discomforts of the following Sundays: "A little after noon here is a crowd of young men of different ages and different conditions running down to Valdocco in search of the new Oratory.

- Where is the Oratory? where is D. Bosco? - you went everywhere asking. Nissuno could say a word, because no one in that neighborhood had heard to speak either of Don Bosco or of the Oratory. The postulants, believing themselves mocked, raised their voices and claims. The others, believing themselves insulted, opposed threats and beatings. Things began to look harsh when I and T. Borrelli, hearing the noise, left the house. At our appearance all noise, every altercation ceased. They ran around in crowds, telling where the Oratory was.

It was said that the real Oratory was not yet finished, that in the meantime they came to my room, which, being spacious, would have served very well. In fact, things went pretty well for that Sunday. But the following Sunday, to the ancient students adding to them several of the neighborhood, he didn't know where to place them anymore. Room, corridor, staircase, everything was cluttered with children. On the day of the Saints, with T. Borrelli having started to confess, everyone wanted to confess; but what to do? We were two confessors, there were over two hundred children. One wanted to light the fire, the other tried to put it out. He carried wood, the other water; bucket, springs, shovels, jug, bowl, chairs, shoes, books and every other object was put on top of the table, while they wanted to order and fix things.

"It is no longer possible to go on," said the dear Theologian; We need to provide some more appropriate premises. However, six holidays were spent in that narrow local, which was the upper chamber to the vestibule of the first entrance door to the Refuge "(MO 139-140).

In this situation, in fact, they remained for all Sundays in November: in the morning the boys attended mass in St. Francis of Assisi and in the afternoon they gathered in Don Bosco's room for catechism, confessions and other possible activities.

However, more space was needed if the activity was to continue. Archbishop Fransoni, asked about it, asked first of all if those boys could not go to their parishes. "They are mostly foreign youngsters," said Don Bosco and Borel, "who spend only part of the year in Turin." They don't even know which parish they belong to. Many of them are badly put, they speak little intelligible dialects, so they mean little and little are from other understandings. Some are already grown up and dare not associate with the little ones in class ». The prelate decided then that it was "necessary to have a separate place, suitable for them," he approved, encouraged to continue and blessed the initiative, saying he was willing to support it. We know that this promise was kept.

The Marchesa Barolo, including the urgency, allowed two spacious rooms of the Ospedaletto, which was being built near the Refuge, to be temporarily transformed into a chapel (cf MO 140).

3.4.3. The Oratory of Don Bosco at the Ospedaletto of S. Filomena (via Cottolengo, n. 24)

The rooms granted by the Marquise were located in the already completed part of the Hospedaletto of Santa Filomena, on the third floor, where she intended to gather in the community the priests who spiritually assisted her various works. The building is located in the middle of the alley that from via Cottolengo n. 22 leads to the monastery of the Maddalene, with independent access by means of a small door open on the alley itself.

«There was the site chosen by Divine Providence for the first church of the Oratory. It began to be called St. Francis de Sales for two reasons: 1) Because the Marquise Barolo had in mind to found a Congregation of priests under this title, and with this intention had made to execute the painting of this Saint who still admires at the entrance of the same room; 2 ° because the part of that ministry of ours demanding great calm and meekness, we had placed ourselves under the protection of this Saint, so that he could obtain for us from God the grace of being able to imitate him in his extraordinary meekness and in the gain of souls. Another reason was to put ourselves under the protection of this saint, so that he could help us from heaven to imitate him in fighting errors against religion, especially Protestantism,

The chapel was blessed on the day of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th 1844. It was a very cold day, it was snowing abundantly and, as Don Bosco recalls, "several young men made their confession and communion, and I performed that sacred function with a tribute of tears of consolation , because he saw in a way, that seemed to be stable, the work of the Oratory with the aim of retaining the most abandoned and unsafe youth after having fulfilled the religious duties in the church "(MO 141-142).

At the Ospedaletto, which meanwhile was about to be finished, the Sunday Oratory, between winter and spring, took a great start. The scheme followed was that already experienced at the Convitto, with some improvements: confessions and communion in the early morning; followed the mass with a brief explanation of the gospel adapted to the understanding and language of the boys; in the afternoon, catechism, singing of sacred praises, brief instruction, litanies of Our Lady and blessing. In the rest of the time young people were engaged in different games in the small avenue below. In these activities Don Bosco and Borel worked together, helped also by Don Pacchiotti.

This continued for seven months. Towards the end of May 1845 the Marquise Barolo, "although she favorably saw every work of charity", began to put pressure on her to look for another arrangement, having to soon open her Ospedaletto (cf MO 142). The inauguration took place on August 10th and probably at that time the Barolo chaplains moved to the rooms prepared for them on the third floor, in the temporary chapel of the Oratory.

Today the Ospedaletto works as a medical clinic and a retirement home for elderly ladies. In the inner chapel, on the first floor, the chalice used by Don Bosco for the daily celebration of the Mass and the kneeler on which he was preparing and giving thanks are preserved with veneration.

The rooms on the third floor where the primitive chapel of St. Francis de Sales was located and where Don Bosco lived, are today transformed into bedrooms for the nuns of the Ospedaletto.

3.5. THE ITINERANT ORATORY (25 May 1845 - 12 April 1846)

Borel and Don Bosco were determined to continue the Sunday activity undertaken. They therefore set about, under pressure from the Marquise, to locate another environment nearby, possibly a chapel, in which to transfer the festive Oratory. "It is true that the place intended as a chapel, school or recreation for the young (note: in the Ospedaletto) had no communication within the establishment; the same shutters were fixed and upturned; nothing less had to obey "(MO 142). On the other hand, the number of Oratorians increased more and more. Most of them were street children, or at least unsafe, and it seemed inappropriate for the Marquise to continue to gather at the refuge for the traviate girls, the Ospedaletto and the Maddalene monastery.

 db places
3.5.1. The Oratory in San Pietro in Vincoli (via S. Pietro in Vincoli)

Not far from the refuge is the small cemetery of San Pietro in Vincoli, built in 1777 by the architect Count Francesco Dellala di Beinasco (1731-1803). It is a quadrangular construction, with vast porticoes on the three inner sides and a chapel on the fourth; in front of the entrance, then like today, a square extended. He was in the outskirts of the city and, for reasons of hygiene, as early as 1829 he had ceased to bury the corpses on the ground; however, until around 1860-1870 some family tombs continued to be used in the basement. The cemetery was the property of the town hall, which paid a chaplain for the religious service of the chapel and of the few families in the area.

The place seemed appropriate for the meetings of the Oratory: in the chapel religious functions could be celebrated and catechisms performed; there was enough space on the square for games. Following a verbal agreement with the municipal authorities and with the approval of the chaplain don Tesio, on Sunday 25 May 1845 Don Bosco and Borel bring the boys from the Oratory to them.

"By simple request, and with the Archbishop's recommendation, it was possible to gather in the courtyard and in the church of the Cenotaffio del Crocifisso, commonly called S. Pietro in Vincoli (...).

The long portico, the spacious courtyard, the church adapted for the sacred functions, all served to excite enthusiasm in the youngsters, so they seemed frantic for joy.

But on that site there was a terrible rival, ignored by us. These were not a deceased, who in great numbers rested in the nearby sepulchres; but a living person, the chaplain's servant. As soon as she began to hear the chants and the voices and, let us say, the shouting of the students, she went out of the house all on the fury, and with the cap on her head and her hands on her hips began to address the multitude of the entertainers. With her, she was shouting a little girl, a dog, a cat, all the chickens, so a European war seemed to be imminent. I tried to get closer to quiet her, making her notice that those boys had no ill will, that they were playing around, or doing no sin. Then he turned against me and gave me my business.

At that moment I judged to stop the recreation, to do some catechism, and, having recited the Rosary in the church, we left with the hope of finding ourselves with greater stillness the following Sunday. Quite the opposite. Then, when the chaplain arrived in the evening, the good maid put him around and calling Don Bosco and his revolutionary sons, profaners of the holy places and all the rags, pushed the good master to write a letter to the Town Hall. He wrote under the dictates of the maid, but with this acrimony, that an arrest warrant was immediately sent for any of us who had returned there.

It hurts to say it, but that was the last letter from the chaplain D. Tesio, who wrote on Monday, and a few hours later, he was taken with the apoplectic that made him corpse almost instantly. Two days later, this sort of fate touched the maid "(MO 147-149).

Don Lemoyne, for a misinterpretation of a document he found in the municipal archive, adds to this version the news that already during the previous Lent some classes of catechism would have been gathered in the chapel of the cemetery.

Current research has made it possible to clarify the real course of the whole affair (cf RSS 5 [1986] 199-220).

In reality there were some catechist meetings at St. Peter in Vincoli, but it was not the catechists of the Oratory but those of the association of St. Pelagia; these meetings then took place in May and not in Lent. However, on 23 May the Municipal Accounting Office prohibited those meetings for unspecified reasons. The prohibition had not yet been announced on the 25th, when Don Bosco and his boys went to the cemetery. The following Sunday, on the other hand, the notice was posted at the entrance to the cemetery, and the civic guards were ordered to have it executed. Don Bosco, not knowing the course of events, thought that the provision had been issued for his boys following the accident of the previous Sunday.

Don Tesio obviously could not clarify the misunderstanding, having died precisely on Wednesday 28, as appears from the documents. It is established that the chaplain's maid, Margherita Sussolino, stayed a few days to collect her and the deceased's belongings; then there is no news from him: he probably died in his country of origin.

Immediately after the death of the chaplain, as can be seen from the documents, Fr Borel, Fr Pacchiotti and Don Bosco also presented a joint request to be assigned the vacant chaplaincy. Their request, however, was not accepted and the task entrusted to another (June 18). At the end of that month, the three submitted a written request to be able to at least gather the children on Sunday in San Pietro in Vincoli. This question was also rejected (3 July).

Then, driven by the urgency to find a home for the Oratory, they returned to the office between 4 and 9 July with a new petition: to be able to use the chapel of the Dora Mills every Sunday for several hours. This time the application was accepted (10 July).

Until this date, Sunday meetings continued at the Ospedaletto and some churches outside the city: Sassi, Madonna del Pilone, Madonna di Campagna, Monte dei Cappuccini and Superga.

3.5.2. Cappella di San Martino ai Molassi (area where the town extends currently Albera)

Having obtained permission to use the small church of the Mulini Dora, on Sunday 13 July 1845 the Oratory moved the curtains.

The Dora or Molassi mills no longer exist today. It was a remarkable complex of buildings used for grinding wheat, but also for pressing olives and for hemp shredding. In the same place there were also the communal ovens for baking bread. The wheels of the mills were driven by the water of a capable canal (Canale dei Mulini) which drew from the river Dora, a few kilometers away. The water of this canal also served the various small industries that in those years were being built in the lower suburbs of Valdocco and Borgo Dora.

The chapel of San Martino was used for the religious assistance of Mulini employees, all municipal employees, and their families. The municipality granted Borel and Don Bosco the use of the church only from 12 to 15 for catechisms; however, he forbade the boys "to enter the enclosure of the houses of the Mills" and to disturb the sacred functions celebrated "for the benefit of all the employees of the Mulini".

The transfer and the memorial speech held by the theologian Borel on this occasion have been handed down to us with a wealth of details: "And here we are on a Sunday in July 1845, taking benches, kneeling stalls, candlesticks, some chairs, crosses, paintings and pictures; and each bringing that object, of which he was able, in the guise of popular migration among the shouting, laughter and regret, we went to establish our headquarters in the place indicated above.

The T. Borrelli made a speech of opportunities both before the departure and in the arrival to the new church.

That worthy minister of the sanctuary with a popularity, which can be called rather unique than rare, expressed these thoughts: - The cabbages, or beloved young ones, if they are not transplanted they do not make beautiful and big head. Let's say the same about our Oratory. So far he was often transferred from place to place, but in the various sites where he made some stops he always had a notable increase with no slight advantage of the young people who intervened (...).

Will we spend a lot of time here? we don't know; let's hope so; but whatever it is, we believe that, like the transplanted cabbages, our Oratory will grow in the number of young lovers of virtue, the desire for singing, music, evening and even daytime schools will grow (...).

An immense crowd of young men was present at that solemn function; and with the greatest emotion a Te Deum of thanks was sung.

The religious practices here were fulfilled as at the Refuge. But mass could not be celebrated, nor blessed in the evening; therefore communion could not take place, which is the fundamental element of our institution. The same recreation was not a little disturbed, stranded because the boys had to stay in the street and in the little square in front of the church where people often walked, carts, horses and carts. Not being able to have better, we thanked the sky for what he had given us, waiting for a better location "(MO 143-145).

Here Don Bosco and his people gathered every Sunday until the end of December, but only for the afternoon catechisms. For Mass and confessions, we had to move to different churches inside and outside the city.

The first meeting between Don Bosco and Michelino Rua, who was eight years old, dates back to this era. It happened in September, at the portico that today connects Piazza della Repubblica and Piazza Albera.

Following the protests of the Mulini employees, who could not "tolerate the jumps, the chants and sometimes the shouting" of the boys, the Accounting Office, in the session of 18 November 1845, fixed the term of the concession on 1 January 1846.

3.5.3. Casa Moretta (area of ​​the present church "branch"; p. M. Ausiliatrice, n. 15 / A)

Although he still has two months to spare, Borel and Don Bosco move immediately in search of a new home. The church of San Martino is insufficient for the catechisms and besides it is already thinking to start evening and Sunday schools for the small artisans; it is therefore necessary to find suitable and heated rooms.

In the Valdocco area (roughly where the church "succursale" is today, in piazza M. Ausiliatrice, n. 15 / A; see fig. 8) the priest Giovanni Battista Antonio Moretta owned a two-storey house, which he partly rented . He willingly met the needs of the two confreres by renting them three rooms in November 1845.

Casa Moretta had a cellar and a stable, nine habitable rooms on the ground floor and another nine on the upper floor, which were accessed by a long balcony.

"Meanwhile, we were in November (1845), a season no longer appropriate for walking or walking outside the city. In agreement with T. Borrelli we have taken three rooms in the house of D. Moretta, who is the neighboring one, almost opposite the present church of Maria Ausil. (...). There we spent four months in distress at the restaurant, but happy to be able to gather our students in those little rooms, to instruct them and to give them comfort especially of confessions. Indeed in the same winter we started the evening schools. It was the first time that in our countries such schools had been spoken of; therefore he made a great noise, some in favor, others in adversity "(MO 150-151).

Evening schools are a development of Sunday schools already started at the Refuge; they will then continue on a regular basis the following year, when the Oratory will finally find its permanent home. Meanwhile, in the three small rooms of the Moretta house about two hundred students are gathered for the school, and they are very colorful (cf MO 195, note 1).

Don Bosco and the theologian Borel are assisted in this task by the theologians Chiaves and Càrpano and by Don Musso. But, by increasing the classes, Don Bosco finds a way to get help from a group of young students from the city to whom he repeats himself in exchange for the help he has given: "These are my little teachers," writes Don Bosco, "eight or ten at the time , continued to increase in number, and from here began the category of students "(MO 184). He also makes use of willing adult people, usually artisans and small city traders, whom we can consider as his first "cooperators".

The method used in Sunday schools and then developed in the evening "provided for only one branch of teaching at a time. For example, it was a Sunday or two to pass and review the alphabet and its hyphenation; then he immediately took the small catechism around which he had himself read and spelled until they were able to read one or two of the first demands of the catechism; and this served as a lesson throughout the week. The following Sunday the same subject was repeated, adding other questions and answers. In this way in eight holidays I was able to get some people to read and study for themselves the entire pages of catechism "(MO 183).

The results are positive: «Evening schools produced two good effects: they animated the youngsters to intervene to educate themselves in literature, of which they felt they seriously needed; at the same time they gave great opportunity to instruct them in religion, which formed the purpose of our concerns "(MO 183).

However, these consoling developments of the Oratorian activity are embittered by a series of accusations and misunderstandings: "Some called Revolutionary Bosco, others wanted him mad or heretic. They reasoned in this way: - This Oratory removes the youngsters from the parishes (...). Don Bosco sent the children to their parishes and stopped collecting them in other places "(MO 152). This last accusation is soon clarified with the parish priests of the city: it is pointed out to them how the youth of the Oratory are "seasonal" and do not fit into any parish structure; the parish priests then understand and encourage Don Bosco to continue. But the other rumors and misunderstandings continue.

In the three rooms of the Moretta house one stops for about four months, until, at the end of February, Don Moretta is forced to dismiss the Oratory for the protests of the other tenants of the house.

A few years later (9 March 1848) Don Bosco will buy the Moretta house and the adjoining land at the auction, with the intention of adapting it and transporting part of the Oratory and the nascent Hospice to it. He will have to renounce in this regard the bad state of the building structure and then resell it (spring 1849). In 1875, however, it will buy back the old Moretta house and the land, where the following year it will found the first women's Oratory, entrusting it to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

3.5.4. Prato Filippi (via Cigna, corner of via Maria Ausiliatrice)

At the beginning of March 1846, having left Moretta's house, Don Bosco and the Borel rented a lawn nearby, owned by the Filippi brothers, to collect the growing mass of young people and avoid a further eviction for occupation of public land or private disturbance.

The lawn was located to the east of the Moretta house, it was surrounded by a hedge and furnished with an old shack in which they could put away the tools of the games (see fig. 8).

Thanks to the beautiful spring weather the grassy space could be used both for games and gymnastics and for music school, singing, prayer, confessions and preaching.

«At best, catechism was done here, praises were sung, vespers were sung; then the T. Borrelli or I mounted on a shore or on a chair and we directed our sermon to the young, who anxiously came to listen to us.

The confessions then became like this. In the holidays, early in the morning, I found myself in the meadow, where several were already waiting. Put me to sit on a bank listening to the confessions of some, while others were preparing it or giving thanks, after which not a few resumed their recreation.

At a certain point in the morning a trumpet sound was given, which gathered all the youngsters; another trumpet sound indicated the silence, which gave me the field to speak and mark where we went to listen to the holy mass and to take communion.

Sometimes, as we said, we went to the Madonna di Campagna, to the church of the Consolata, to Stupinigi or to the places mentioned above "(MO 155).

The noisy youth gatherings, however, began to worry the Marquis Michele Cavour, Vicar of the City, fearful of possible disorders and tumults. He summoned Don Bosco, to know directly the reason and the exact course of the Sunday meetings. Not satisfied, he talked about it with the Archbishop and for a time he had the meetings of the Oratory checked by the civic guards. The checks will continue also in the following months.

To compound the situation, the eviction also came unexpectedly from the Filippi brothers, because, they said, the boys "repeatedly trampling our lawn, they will lose the root of the grass"; the owners were even willing to remit the rent as long as the lawn was vacated within fifteen days (MO 160).

Faced with these continuous difficulties, several friends and collaborators of the Saint became discouraged and invited him to "abandon the useless enterprise"; some, seeing him worried and always surrounded by boys, began to suspect his mental balance. Even Borel had a moment of doubt and suggested that all activity be temporarily reduced to a catechism for about twenty children.

This is probably the period in which two priest friends of Don Bosco, worried about his health, tried in vain to have him admitted to a nursing home (cf. MO 164).

It was in this desperate situation that, on one of the last Sundays spent on the Filippi meadow, perhaps on March 15, 1846, an unsuspected and decisive opening opened up: "On the evening of that day I saw the multitude of children, who were playing, and considered the copious harvest, which was being prepared for the sacred ministry, for which, alone of laborers, exhausted of strength, of ill health gone, without knowing where I could in the future gather my boys, I felt strongly moved.

Therefore retiring on the sidelines, I began to walk alone and perhaps for the first time I felt moved to tears. Walking and looking up at Heaven: - My God, I exclaimed, why don't you show me the place where you want me to welcome these children? Either let me know or tell me what to do. He finished those expressions when such a person arrived, named Pancrazio Soave, who stammering tells me: - Is it true that he is looking for a site to make a laboratory? - Not a laboratory, but an oratory.

- I don't know if it's the same oratory or laboratory; but there is a site, come and see it. It is owned by Mr. Giuseppe Pinardi, (editor's note: correct in Francesco) honest person. Come and make a good contract. - »(MO 165-166).

The dating of these events in the Memoirs of the Oratory and in the texts they depend on is a bit uncertain. On the basis of recently rediscovered documents it is possible to indicate this succession of facts: - Filippi lawn rental from the first days of March (perhaps Sunday 1 March 1846); - the Filippi brothers cancel the rent in the middle of the month, with the term of fifteen days; - meeting with Pancrazio Soave on Sunday 15 March (just as Don Bosco had written in the original minute of the MOs); - contract for the rental of a shed between the teol. Borel and Francesco Pinardi in the days immediately following (dated, however, 1 April 1846); - between the drafting of the contract and Sunday 12 April the adaptation works of the shed to use the chapel are carried out; - in the meantime, continue to use the Filippi lawn, probably until Sunday 5 April; - 12 April, Easter Sunday, official transfer of the Oratory to the "Pinardi Chapel".

3.6. THE ORATORY AT CASA PINARDI (from 12 April 1846)

When Don Bosco, accompanied by Pancrazio Soave and Francesco Pinardi for the first time visits the wharf supported on the north side of the Pinardi house, he remains dumbfounded and at first rejects the proposal: "I don't need it, because it's too low." But, due to Pinardi's insistence that he is willing to adapt the environment and lower the floor by half a meter to make it accessible, Don Bosco yields. A rent of 320 lire per year is set for the use of the shed and of the strip of land in front of and beside it (cf MO 167-168).

The adaptation works are carried out between the end of March and the first decade of April, so that for Easter (12 April 1846) the shed, transformed into a chapel, welcomes the boys of the Oratory. It is blessed by the theologian Borel the next day.

It is worth noting that throughout this period Don Bosco continues to live with the theologian Borel in the works of Barolo and to carry out his ministry as chaplain.

3.6.1. The "Pinardi Chapel"

The shed rented for the Oratory was of recent construction. In fact when Francesco Pinardi, on July 14, 1845, had stipulated the contract for the purchase of the house and the land (for 14,000 lire) with the three brothers Giovanni, Antonio and Carlo Filippi, it did not exist. He had built it the following November, with the intention of turning it into a warehouse or craft workshop.

When, six months later, the Borel, in the name of Don Bosco, signed the lease, it probably had not yet been used by anyone.

The environment After the adaptation works carried out by Pinardi, the shed was divided into three rooms: the chapel proper, which was a narrow room fifteen meters long; two other small rooms used one as a sacristy and the other as a choir and deposit (see fig. 5).

You entered the chapel from the west, going down two steps, so "in winter - writes Don Bosco - and in the rainy weather, we were flooded, while in summer we were suffocated by the heat and by the excessive stench" (MO 226). The room was lit by seven small windows open in the wall towards the courtyard, while he had no communication with the Pinardi house to which he was leaning. Next to the poor altar a flying door led to the sacristy.

 db places
The beams supporting the sloping roof had been covered by a horizontal wooden false ceiling; so the height of the room was just over two meters. Thus, on the small pulpit, located halfway up the chapel against the north wall, only the Borel and Don Bosco, which were low in stature, could climb. And when, on June 29, 1847, Msgr. Fransoni came to the chapel for the first time to administer the confirmations, he had to do without the miter to avoid hitting the ceiling (cf MO 198).

Progressively Don Bosco furnished the chapel with poor and few sacred effigies, expression of that spirituality and of those devotions that will become traditional at the Oratory.

The altar, in wood, was that of the primitive chapel of the Ospedaletto and was placed towards the east. On it was hung a picture of St. Francis de Sales, carried by the Refuge. The Oratory as well as the chapel continued to be dedicated to the holy bishop.

In a niche to the right of the entrance door there was a statuette of Saint Luigi Gonzaga. To arouse in the Oratorians the devotion to this model of youthful holiness, Don Bosco introduced the devotional practice of the six Sundays and the novena in his honor, printing his prayers in a special booklet. On May 11, 1847 the Compagnia di San Luigi was founded (whose regulation was approved in April by Bishop Fransoni), to which the best boys belonged. Moreover, starting from the autumn of '47 until almost the end of 1948, a small procession was held on the first Sunday of the month in the enclosure of the Oratory, carrying the statuette of the Saint.

For the feasts and processions of the Madonna a statue of Maria Consolatrice was used, purchased on 2 September 1847 at the price of 27 liras and placed in a niche almost in front of the small pulpit. Today this artisan statue is the only memory of the primitive chapel.

On the walls there were then fourteen small squares of the Via Crucis, bought for 12 lire and blessed on 1 April 1847, Holy Thursday. On that occasion the brief devotional practice of the Via Crucis was performed for the first time, in the version adapted by Don Bosco for the boys and published in the Provided Youth, that is in the prayer book he published a few months earlier for his young people.

Since the first Sunday meetings in St. Francis of Assisi sacred song had acquired a characterizing role in the activities of the Oratory. Therefore Don Bosco, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, made him purchase a tiny organ to support the boys' voices; he paid 35 lire on 5 November 1847.

Poor furnishings completed the decoration of the church: 24 small benches and two kneelers, red curtains on the windows, some flower vases and a crystal lamp near the altar (cf ODB 67-75).

To indicate the presence of the chapel and to mark the rhythms of the Oratorian life, on the top of the roof, in a rudimentary bell tower, a small bell of about 22 kg was placed, offered by the theologian Vola in November 1946 (ODB 96).

The two small rooms behind the chapel each had a window, an open door to the courtyard and a fireplace with a wooden hood. After some time Don Bosco, to lengthen the now inadequate chapel, eliminated the first of these rooms, moving the sacristy into the second.

The Pinardi shed was used as a chapel for six years, that is until June 20, 1852, the date of inauguration of the church of St. Francis of Sales. It was then used as a study and recreation room and even as a dormitory until 1856, when it was demolished together with the Pinardi family.

The events The Oratory has finally found a stable environment, even if poor: the number of boys, attracted by solemn functions, music and games, increases considerably: several collaborating priests, who had retired in the previous months, return to help Don Bosco. Oratorian life takes on a more regular rhythm around the chapel, which immediately reveals itself to be the heart of the Oratory: "The functions were like this. In the early morning, the church was opened and the confessions began, which lasted until the time of the mass. It was set at eight o'clock; but to satisfy the multitude of those who wished to confess, it was not infrequently delayed until nine o'clock and even longer. Some of the priests, when there were, attended, and with alternating voice recited the orations. Between the mass they did the s. communion those who were prepared. When the Mass was over and the parameters removed, I mounted on a low chair to explain the Gospel, which then changed to give the regular story of Sacred History. These stories, reduced to a simple and regular form, dressed in the costumes of the times, places, geographical names with their comparisons, were very popular with little ones, adults and the same ecclesiastics they found present. At the sermon he kept the school behind, which lasted up to half a day. reduced to a simple and regular form, dressed in the costumes of the times, places, geographical names with their comparisons, they liked very much the little ones, the adults and the ecclesiastics themselves who were present. At the sermon he kept the school behind, which lasted up to half a day. reduced to a simple and regular form, dressed in the costumes of the times, places, geographical names with their comparisons, they liked very much the little ones, the adults and the ecclesiastics themselves who were present. At the sermon he kept the school behind, which lasted up to half a day.

One hour pom. recreation began, with bowls, crutches, with guns, with wooden swords, and with the first gymnastic tools. At two-thirty, the catechism began. Ignorance in general was very great. Several times it happened to me to begin the song of the Ave Maria, and of about four hundred young men, who were present, not one was able to answer, or even to continue, if my voice ceased.

After the catechism, since it was not possible to sing vespers at the time, the Rosary was recited. Later we began to sing the Ave Maris Stella, then the Magnificat, then the Dixit (ed: samo 109), then the other psalms, and finally an antiphon; and in the space of a year we were able to sing the whole evening of the Madonna. He kept a brief sermon behind these practices, which for the most part was an example, in which a vice or some virtue was personified. Everything ended with the chanting of the Litany and with the blessing of the Most Holy. Sacrament.

Once out of the church, free time began, in which everyone could take care of themselves at will. Who continued the class of catechism, others of singing, or reading, but most of them would pass by jumping, running and enjoying it in games and games.

(- • -) - At nightfall, with a bell sign they were all gathered in the church, where they prayed a little or recited the Rosary with the Angelus, and everything came with the song of Lodato always being etc .

When I left the church, put me in the middle of them, accompanied them while they sang or cackled. Having made the ascent of the Rondò, a few verses of sacred laude were still sung, from then on they were invited for the following Sunday, and wishing each other aloud the good evening, everyone went away for his business »(MO 174-178).

The experience that is growing around the chapel-roof attracts attention from many sides. Several people in the early days visit the work. The Marchesa Barolo, who follows Don Bosco and her activity with sympathy but also with growing apprehension, is among the first to go there, in the summer of 1846: given the misery and discomforts of the environment, she tries once again to convince the Saint to dedicate himself totally to the Refuge and to the Ospedaletto.

During 1848-1849, when Don Bosco found himself again abandoned by most of the collaborators (this time for political reasons), he received the visit of two priests unknown to him, one of whom was the famous Antonio Rosmini. The modalities of the encounter are curious: "In beginning the catechism it was all in motion to order my classes, then that two ecclesiastics appear, who in humble and respectful behavior came to rejoice with me and asked for information on the origin and system of that institution. For one answer I said: - We have the goodness to help me. She comes in chorus, and will have the older ones; to her, I told the other of greater height, I entrust this class which is the most dissipated.

As I realized that they were doing the catechism as a marvel, I asked one to give a sermon to our young people, and the other to share the blessing with the Venerable. Both agreed graciously.

The priest of lesser stature was the Abbot Antonio Rosmini, founder of the Istituto della Carità; the other was Can. Archpriest De Guadenzi, now Bishop of Vigevano, who from then on had shown themselves always benevolent, indeed benefactors of the House "(MO 221-222).

But there were visits that were certainly not courtesy: those for a certain period of time - of the guards sent by the Marquis Cavour.

"Every Sunday he sent some archers or civic guards to spend the whole day with us, keeping watch over everything that was said or done in church or out of church.

"Well," said the Marquis Cavour to one of those guards, "what have you seen, heard in the midst of that rabble?" - Mr. Marchese, we have seen an immense multitude of boys to have fun in a thousand ways: we have heard sermons in church that are scary. Many things were told about hell and demons, which made me want to go and confess.

- What about politics? - We didn't talk about politics because those kids wouldn't understand anything "(MO 181-182).

"The suspicious order of the Marquis - commented Don Lemoyne - produced a great spiritual good for almost all the guards. They (...), who had never heard these truths preached and who for years had not confessed, moved and full of fear, as soon as Don Bosco finished the sermon, they approached him asking that he would hear them in the confessional "( MB 2, 447).

The religious assistance and catechetical instruction offered in the Pinardi chapel soon produced positive effects. Don Bosco can begin to select some of his own young people in view of a possible sharing of the apostolic commitment. To this end, in 1848, the tradition of spiritual exercises begins: "I used all the means to achieve my own particular purpose, which was to study, to know, to choose some individuals who had an aptitude and propensity to the common life and to receive them merely at home .

With this same purpose in this year (1848) I experimented with a small pack of spiritual exercises "(MO 207).

From this early years the blessing of the Lord on the work of the Oratory is manifested also through particular prodigious signs, such as the multiplication of the hosts during a feast of the Madonna in 1848 (cf MB 3, 441-442) or that of the chestnuts in November 1849, on the door of the chapel Pinardi (cf MB 3, 575-578).

The present chapel In 1856 Pinardi house and chapel were demolished for the construction of a more solid and spacious building. An area used as a refectory for Don Bosco and the first Salesians was created on the area occupied by the ancient church. Many friends and benefactors sat at the poor table, including Giuseppe Sarto and Achille Ratti, who became Pio X and Pio XI respectively (cf ODB 80). The major superiors of the Congregation used this refectory until 1927. In that year Don Filippo Rinaldi, third successor of Don Bosco, wanted the environment to be transformed into a chapel, in memory of the primitive church of the Oratory.

The chapel, inaugurated on 31 January 1928, is still called, even if improperly, "Cappella Pinardi". It is dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ, in memory of Easter 1846.

On the wall behind the altar, a tempera by the painter Paolo Giovanni Crida represents the Resurrection of Christ.

The altar, designed by the architect Valotti, is supported by four onyx columns; the mosaic below represents the divine Lamb and the symbols of the martyrdom of the Apostles, with the words: "Euntes docete omnes gentes, praedicate evangelium universo mundo" ("Go and teach all nations, preach the Gospel to the whole world"). The tabernacle, in embossed and enamelled copper, is the work of the "Beato Angelico" High School of Christian Art in Milan.

The words are read in the vault above the altar. "Haec dies quam fecit Dominus: exultemus et laetemur in ea" ("This is the day that the Lord has done: let us exult and rejoice in it"), who remember the joy of the Resurrection and the joy of the memorial Easter of 1846.

The sequence "Victimae paschali" can be read in the arch in front of the altar, while the allegories of the seven sacraments are engraved under the arch. The arch that is near the entrance, instead, shows the Paschal antiphon «Regina coeli» with the symbols of Mary's virginity.

At the altar, to the right, the statue of the Consolata is venerated, bought by Don Bosco in 1847: the only remaining relic of the primitive Pinardi chapel. In 1856, when the Pinardi house was demolished, Don Francesco Giacomelli, an old seminary companion, got Don Bosco to present the statue. He kept it with him at the Ospedaletto, where he was chaplain; then, in 1882 he placed it in a votive pillar in Avigliana, his native town. There he remained for 46 years until, in 1929, it was returned to the Salesians.

On the back wall, where in ancient times was the entrance to the chapel-roof, an artistic gravestone summarizes the itinerant phase of the Oratory. Another plaque on the left wall recalls the hospitality given by Don Bo sco to Achille Ratti, the Pope destined by Providence to proclaim his holiness (1 April 1934). Finally, a third plaque commemorates the presence of Don Bosco, who "prayed and celebrated - dispensing his divine mysteries - and then for about thirty years - among these walls - shared with his children - the bread of Providence - while he gave them to taste - even the sweetness of his paternity ».

3.6.2. Don Bosco at home Pinardi

On June 5, 1846, Don Bosco was subleased by Pancrazio Soave three adjoining rooms, on the upper floor of the Pinardi house, to the east. In the contract, the fee was set at 5 lire a month for each room, starting from 1 July 1846 until 1 January 1849. The saint had reached this decision in anticipation of a definitive separation from the works of Barolo. In fact, the incompatibility of the two commitments was manifesting, given that the Oratory became something much more complex and demanding than a simple Sunday meeting.

Events of spring-summer 1846 With the inauguration of the Don Bosco chapel dedicates the maximum energy to the consolidation of the Oratory, without however neglecting the commitments made at the Ospedaletto and the many pastoral activities that are offered to it almost everywhere. His health suffers greatly and the Marquise Barolo, sincerely worried, intervenes decisively. He meets with Don Bosco to invite him to moderate his frenetic activity and writes to Borel a long letter (18 May 1846) to clarify his thought: he does not want the end of the Oratory, but fears for the very life of Don Bosco. Among other things he writes: "A few weeks after he was established with you, Mr. Theologian, both the Superior of the Refuge as I, we saw that his health did not allow him any effort. You will remember how many times I wrote to you about it and let it rest, etc., etc. He didn't listen to me; he said that priests have to work, etc.

Don Bosco's health deteriorated until I left for Rome; meanwhile he worked, he spat blood. It was then that I received a letter from you, Mr. Theologian, where he told me that Don Bosco was no longer in the case of covering the job confided to him. I immediately replied that I was ready to continue my salary to Don Bosco, with the agreement that he would do nothing more: and I am ready to keep my word. Do you, Mr Theologian, believe that it is not doing anything to confess, to exhort hundreds of boys? I believe that this is detrimental to Don Bosco and I think it is necessary that he get away from Turin enough, so as not to be so tired of his lungs (...).

You have so much charity, Mr. Theologian, that I certainly deserved the unfavorable opinion that you have of me by making me clearly know that I want to prevent the doctrine that is made on Sunday from the boys and the care they take during the week. I believe that the work is excellent in itself and worthy of the people who have undertaken it; but I believe on the one hand that Don Bosco's health does not allow him to continue, and on the other hand I believe that the gathering of these boys, who were first waiting for their Director at the door of the Refuge and are now waiting for him at the door of the Ospedaletto , it's not convenient.

(- -) - To summarize: 1st I approve and praise the work of education to children, but I find the gathering at the doors of my establishments subject to danger due to the nature of the people therein. 2. Since I believe in conscience that Don Bosco's chest needs complete rest, I will not continue to pay him a small salary, which he would like well to accept from me, except on condition that he leaves quite far from Turin, in order not to be on the occasion of seriously harm your health; which presses me so much the more I respect it.

I know, Very Rev. Mr. Theologian, that we are not of the same feeling on these points: if I did not hear the voice of my conscience, I would be ready as usual to submit to his judgment (...) "(MB 2, 464 -466).

Towards the end of May, the Marquise, given the previous efforts useless, puts Don Bosco in front of a choice: if he wants to continue to receive his salary he must cut off that pace, in his opinion excessive, of an oratorian commitment. The young priest, who is now certain of his mission, replies: "I have already thought about it, Signora Marchesa. My life is dedicated to the good of youth. I thank you for the advances you make to me, but I cannot walk away from the path that divine Providence has traced for me "(MO 163).

The term of his employment as Director of the Hospital with the end of August 1846 is thus established.

In the meantime, as the Marquise predicted, Don Bosco's health reaches a worrying state: "The many commitments I had in the prisons, in the Cottolengo Hospital, in the Refuge, in the Oratory and in schools, meant that I had to take care of myself at night to fill in the booklets I absolutely needed. For this reason, my health, which was already very poor in itself, deteriorated to the point that doctors advised me to desist from any occupation. The Theologian Borrelli, who loved me very much, for my own good sent me to spend some time with the curate of Sassi. He rested along the week; on Sunday he would go to work at the Oratory. But this was not enough. The young men came to visit me; those of the town were added to them. So he was more disturbed than in Turin,

One day, at the beginning of July, a crowd (about 400!) Of pupils of the Brothers of the Christian Schools arrives in Sassi, to confess. Don Bosco, along with other local priests, lends himself to the ministry, but the effort is such as to cause the collapse: «Having come home, I was seized with exhaustion, taken to bed. The disease manifested itself as a bronchitis, to which was added very violent cough and inflammation. In eight days I was judged at the extreme of life. He had received the SS. Viatico, the holy oil. It seems to me that at that moment I was prepared to die; I was sorry to abandon my boys, but he was happy that he ended my days after giving a stable form to my Oratory "(MO 190).

The youth of the Oratory, knowing that Don Bosco was dying, driven by the great affection that bound them to his friend, clung desperately to prayer: "They spontaneously prayed, fasted, listened to masses, made communions. They alternated passing the night in prayer and the day before the image of Mary Consoler. In the morning special lights were lit, and until late evening they were always in notable numbers to pray and avert the august Mother of God to want to keep their poor Don Bosco.

Many vowed to pray the whole rosary for a month, others for a year, some for life. Nor did those who promised to fast on bread and water for months, years and even all life miss. It is clear to me that several mason-boy salespersons fasted on bread and water for the whole weeks, a point which did not slow down their heavy work from morning to evening. Indeed, while remaining a few short stretches of time, they hurried to pass him in front of the SS. Sacrament.

God listened to them. It was a Saturday evening and it was believed that night was the last of my life: so the doctors said, who came to consult; so I was persuaded, seeing myself as powerless, with continuous blood loss. Late at night I felt a tendency to sleep. I fell asleep, I woke up out of danger "(MO 190-191).

To recover his strength, he was advised to retreat to the Becchi for at least three months, and he did so. Before leaving, in the beginning of August, a fourth room of the Pinardi house, also on the upper floor (cf MB 2, 500), was installed by Pietro Clapiè, a tenant of Soave. The theologian Borel took charge of following the repair and cleaning of the rooms, so that Don Bosco could move there.

Meanwhile the Sunday meetings of the Oratory and the schools continued under the direction of Borel, assisted by theologians Vola and Càrpano, by Fr Trivero and by Don Pacchiotti.

Transfer to the Pinardi house On 3 November 1846, after the convalescence of the Becchi, Don Bosco moved to the four small rooms of the Pinardi house. He is accompanied by his mother Margherita, determined to follow his son, who is now without a job and without any income, to help him and support him in his apostolic work. Its presence in Valdocco, also dictated by reasons of prudence, given the type of people who lived in the area, is crucial when the child decides to welcome the first orphans into the house.

In the four small rooms one lived in poverty and precariousness. The only rent of the chapel and of the rooms reached 600 lire per year; to this were added subsistence expenses and those for parties, lotteries, snacks and relief for the poorest children of the Oratory. They relied on Providence and aid came from many quarters. From a notebook of the theologian Borel we know that Don Cafasso paid the rent and that various alms came from ecclesiastics and lay people of every condition; even the Marchesa Barolo continued her help, albeit anonymously, through Don Cafasso.

The economic difficulties do not frighten Don Bosco, who continues to expand his activities. For this purpose, on December 1, 1846, it sublimated all of Pinardi's house, with the surrounding land. But Pancrazio Soave still uses the ground floor for his work, fmo until 1 March 1847.

Once the contract with Soave was terminated, the theologian Borel contracted a new lease directly with the owner Pinardi, from April 1, 1849 until March 31, 1852. In the contract, Pinardi declares that he will lease only 1150 lire to favor the charity work undertaken in his home. However, on 19 February 1851, a year before the expiry of the rental terms, Francesco Pinardi will sell for 28,500 lire "in common with the priests G. Bosco, teol. Jn. Borel, teol. Roberto Murialdo, Giuseppe Cafasso, the lands and buildings that the Filippi brothers had as their coherent east and night, the Strada della Giardiniera to day, and Signora Bellezza a ponente "(ODB 99).

How the house looked "The facade was facing south, and only on this side did it have doors and windows. The part used for habitation was composed of a very low ground floor and an upper floor, and occupied the space of the current arcades near the church of San Francesco di Sales for a length of just over 20 meters and 6 in width. The height of the house did not exceed seven meters.

About halfway up, in the face of the staircase, a narrow entrance door opened, near which a stone basin with a pump that threw abundant and fresh water was fixed to the wall on the east side. The house had a dozen rooms. Inside the ground floor, behind the pump, a small door placed in an oblong room with a single window, which later served also as a dining room for Don Bosco and his first collaborators.

For the wooden stairway of a single ramp, built by Pinardi and then rebuilt in stone by Don Bosco, upwind on the upper floor, and there for a landing entered on the left a little room corresponding to the underlying dining room; in front of it we came out on a gallery of wood that ran along the entire length of the facade, and on which the doors of four rooms opened, each of which also had a window. In the same order there were four other rooms on the ground floor. A dormer gave light and air to the attics, and almost in the middle of the house was the small cellar.

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Behind this house was supported, as already said, the chapel-roof with the same dimensions of the house in length and width.

Next to the Pinardi house, on the place where the hallway now stands, which puts from the first into the second courtyard, there was another very poor, lower room, and which occupied almost the entire side of the entire building.

Composed of two equal rooms, the one at noon with door and window, first served as a stable, then changed into a room; the one at midnight was used for woodshed.

Above it was the space for the barn (...).

In the rent contract that Don Bosco renewed from April 1849 to March 1852, there is also a mention of a shed that joins the house with the walls at night. It was the first and only extension (if we can call it that) of the Oratory, before the construction of the church of San Francesco di Sales, and it was mainly used for indoor recreation.

In the summer of 1849 Don Bosco had the shabby building resting on the eastern side of the house restored, forming a single, rather large room of wood shed, stable and new shed, to be used for the academies and for theater plays, especially in the bad season, when it could not serve the stage that was placed outdoors, in the connetto next to the chapel "(ODB 100-102).

The surrounding land The land around the Pinardi house measured 3697 square meters and was almost entirely lawned with trees.

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The northern strip (see fig. 7, n. 1), behind the chapel, is about sixty meters long, but only 8 meters wide, was the first courtyard of the Oratory.

To the west, where the entrance to the chapel was, on the area where the church of San Francesco di Sales stands today, an irregular lawn (see fig. 7, n. 2) of about 31 by 20 was destined by Don Forest at the center of the recreation of young people, also planting the swing with other gym equipment.

The western part of the land, between the stable and the property of the Filippi brothers (see fig. 7, no. 3), was reserved for forage of rabbits. Finally, on the front of Pinardi house (see fig. 7, n. 4), most of the land was cultivated as a vegetable garden (cf ODB 102-104). This was called the garden of Mamma Margaret: a providential resource for the good dlinna, who cared for him with care. Later it will be eliminated to give more space to the recreations of the boys, who, in the heat of the game, often invaded him. The "devastation" operated by the boys during the fake battles organized by Brosio "the Bersagliere" in the period of popular patriotic infatuation between 1848 and 1849 (cf. MB 3, 439-440) is particularly remembered.

Don Bosco's room in the Pinardi house We do not know which of the four rooms rented on the first floor was the one occupied by Don Bosco in November 1846. However, we know with certainty that, after some time, to escape from nocturnal noises produced in the attic by mysterious causes , he moved to the first room to levan te, and here he remained until the demolition of the Pinardi house (1852). The disturbances that did not make him donaire continued even in the new arrangement, until Don Bosco placed a picture of the Madonna in the attic. The environment also served as a study and reception room. On the external lintel of the door he had written the short phrase "Praised be Jesus Christ".

In this room the famous dream of the arbor of roses takes place. Don Bosco sees his mission and that of his collaborators in favor of young people as a long journey, only apparently easy, in reality fraught with difficulties (the thorns hidden under the roses of the path). However, with the guidance of the Virgin and driven by great pastoral charity (symbolized by the rose), Don Bosco and those who have the courage to follow him will succeed in fulfilling the mission entrusted to them (cf MB 3, 32-37).

Mamma Margaret lived in the room next to that of her son (MB 3, 228-230).

Organization and development of the Oratory in the Pinardi house The fact of having found a stable and definitive base at the Oratory, allows Don Bosco to reflect on the experience so far conducted and to establish the organic bases of the organizational, disciplinary, formative and administrative aspects of the work: «Having established such a regular residence in Valdocco, I have wholeheartedly set out to promote the things that could contribute to preserving the unity of spirit, discipline and administration. First, I compiled a Regulation, in which I simply explained what was practiced in the Oratory, and the uniform way in which things had to be done (...). The advantage of this small regulation was very noticeable: everyone knew what he had to do, and since I used to leave each one alone (note:

At the beginning of 1847 Don Bosco began drafting the Regulations of the Oratory to which he would work, perfecting it, for a few years and which he would publish in 1877 (OE 29, 31-94). To compile it he documents himself: he obtains the regulations of ancient Oratories, such as those of St. Philip Neri and St. Charles Borromeo, and of similar contemporary experiences. Above all he studied the Rules of the Oratory of St. Luigi erected in Milan in 1842 and the Rules for the children of the Oratory under the patronage of the Holy Family. The setting of those Oratories, however, does not satisfy him: something new is needed for the category of boys and young people he welcomes. It eliminates outdated provisions and everything that smacks of coercion in the religious commitment, for example, the confession ticket, the communion made by banks,

The document is divided into three parts. The first presents the purpose of the Oratory and the role of the various figures who collaborate with the Director. The second part is concerned with the religious practices that young people must do and the attitude they must keep in and out of church. The third part, written later, contains indications on day and evening schools and a series of general warnings.

A more particular regulation, developed in those same months, concerns a specific group of young people. These are the Rules of the Company of St. Louis, already mentioned, approved by Msgr. Fransoni on 12 April 1847 and subsequently entered into the general regulation of the Oratory (can be read in MB 3, 216-220).

Don Bosco dedicò particolare cura alla organizzazione della vita di preghiera, per la quale ideò un nuovo e facile manuale adatto ai ragazzi del suo tempo: Il giovane provveduto (Paravia 1847), che soltanto durante la vita del Santo raggiunse le 122 edizioni.

Tra le pratiche religiose più valorizzate già dai primi mesi del '47, l'Esercizio della buona morte merita un accenno particolare, perché caratterizzò il ritmo di preghiera giovanile delle opere salesiane fino a tempi recenti. Veniva svolto la prima domenica di ogni mese e consisteva nell'accostarsi alla confessione e alla comunione come se fossero le ultime della vita e nella recita comunitaria di una preghiera per implorare la grazia di non morire improvvisamente. Per distinguere questa domenica dalle altre, dopo la messa veniva distribuita a tutti i partecipanti una buona colazione. (cf MB 3, 19).

Anche le feste che ritmavano l'anno oratoriano, all'aspetto religioso (novena di preparazione, confessione e comunione ben fatte, buoni propositi) univano sempre attività ricreative: giochi speciali al pomeriggio, illuminazioni, globi aerostatici, fuochi artificiali, musica strumentale e teatro, visita di ospiti illustri, lotterie. Il tutto per sottolineare come dalla grazia di Dio scaturisce la pienezza della gioia. Oltre alle tradizionali solennità cristiane, quasi ogni mese si celebravano festività particolari: quelle di san Francesco di Sales, di san Luigi Gonzaga, dell'Angelo Custode e della Madonna (Annunciazione, Assunzione, Nascita di Maria, Madonna del Rosario, Immacolata).

Beside the prayers recited communally, a series of religious practices were suggested to the children, left to the freedom of each one, to stimulate personal growth in the spiritual life. We remember, for example, the visit to the SS. Sacramento, some chaplets, consecrations and various prayers. Don Bosco proposed to the best boys to participate in spiritual exercises: the first time they were preached by the young theologian Federico Albert (1847), the future parish priest of Lanzo Turin, today blessed.

In the rooms of the Pinardi house the experiment of festive schools and evening schools progresses and consolidates. Don Bosco also combines traditional subjects with arithmetic, drawing, declamation, singing and music.

The method used in these schools is new. Many of the authorities, educationalists and people interested in raising the popular classes, come to study it and verify its effectiveness. Don Bosco, for his part, tries to make these schools known and spread in every way, convinced of their importance for the good of young workers. Thus already in the first months of '47 he offered an essay on the results obtained by his students, inviting distinguished pedagogists and schoolmen of the city: the abbot Aporti, Boncompagni, prof. Giuseppe Rayneri, the theologian Pietro Baricco, Brother Michele, superior of the Christian Schools and others. The initiative is in luck and the following year (1848) both the town hall and the Royal Opera of the Istruity Beggars open several evening schools adopting the Valdocco method.

Don Bosco's care for these schools is also due to the compilation of some specially studied texts that had a good fortune: Ecclesiastical history for use by schools (1845), The decimal metric system reduced to simplicity ... for use by artisans and country people (1846), Sacred history for use of schools (1847) and, later, The history of Italy told to the youth (1855).

Singing school is an initiative that is part of this trend and is also very successful. After having started with the simple teaching of sacred praises, Don Bosco soon passed on to teach music reading, filling out special educational posters: "Being the first time that public music schools took place, the first time music was taught in class to many students at the same time, there was an overwhelming competition. The famous Red Masters Luigi, Bianchi Giuseppe, Cerutti, Luigi Nasi, were eager to attend my lessons every night (...). They also came to observe how the new method was executed, which is the same one that is now practiced in our homes "(MO 201).

In the festive and evening school activities Don Bosco also makes use of the collaboration of young students, as has already been mentioned. For them, on the Thursday afternoon opens the Oratory, is available for repetitions, offers opportunities for recreation and training. The number of students attending Pinardi's house on that day increases more and more, so that a new category of Oratorians is formed. Many students are also catechists or play support roles. Towards evening Don Bosco brings these first "animators" together and prepares catechisms and Sunday activities with them (cf MB 3, 175-176).

The new guests of the Pinardi family The social situation in Turin was so dramatic that many of the young seasonal workers and orphans did not even have an environment in which to shelter at night. The stables of the hotels and inns, the shacks and the depots of the yards, the squalid attics, were sought in the evening as a makeshift refuge by many of them. The consequences from the hygienic and moral point of view are easily imaginable.

Don Bosco, while studying how to meet these emergency situations, had placed some clean straw beds on the barn and had obtained sheets and blankets. But he had been badly repaid by his guests: "some repeatedly took away the sheets, others the blankets; finally the straw itself was wrapped and sold »(MO 199).

It was necessary to think of a less precarious solution. Also this time, as in the case of Bartolomeo Garelli, it was an apparently casual event to start an initiative that will become stable and characterizing the Salesian work: «Now it happened that a rainy evening in May a young man of about fifteen appeared late soaked with water. He asked for bread and shelter. My mother welcomed her into the kitchen, brought her to the fire, and as she warmed and dried her clothes, she gave her soup and bread for refreshment. At the same time I questioned him if he had gone to school, had relatives, and what profession he practiced. He replied: "I am a poor orphan who came from Valle di Sesia to look for work." I had three francs with me, all of which I consumed before I could earn more, and now I have nothing left,

- You are already promoted to the s. Communion? - I'm not promoted yet.

- And confirmation? - I haven't received it yet.

- And to confess? - I went there sometimes.

- Now where do you want to go? - I don't know: I ask for charity to be able to spend the night in some corner of this house.

That said, he began to cry. My mother cried with him, I was moved.

- If you knew you weren't a thief, I'd try to fix you; but others took part of the blankets away from me, and you will take the other away from me.

- Not sir. Rest assured; I'm poor, but I've never stolen anything.

"If you wish, my mother said again, I will take her for this night, and God will provide."

- Where is it? - Here in the kitchen.

- It will take your pots away.

- I will ensure that this does not happen.

- Go ahead.

The good woman, helped by the orphan, went out, picked up some pieces of bricks, and with them she made four small pillars in the kitchen, on which she laid some boards, and put a bag over them, thus preparing the first bed of the Oratory. My good mother then did a little sermon on the need for work, loyalty and religion. Finally he invited him to recite the prayers.

"I don't know," he replied.

"You will recite them with us," he said to him; And so it was.

So that everything was secured, the kitchen was locked, and it never opened until morning.

This was the first young man in our hospice (...). The year was 1847 "(MO 199-201).

In the same year a second boy was also welcomed: the two remained in the Pinardi house until the farm work season. From the end of that year, when Don Bosco was able to dispose of all the rooms in the house, the number of small guests gradually increased. But the Saint also received some paid boarders: the son of Cav. Pescarmona from Castelnuovo, a student at prof. Bonzanino, and two priests his friends, Don Carlo Palazzolo (the ex-sacristan helped by Don Bosco a student in Chieri) and don Pietro Ponte. During the week the two priests carried out their pastoral duties and on Sunday helped him in the Oratory, but they did not resist more than a year to the ascetic rhythm of life of the Pinardi family (cf MB 3, 252-253).

With the closing of the seminar (1848) some clerics were added to these guests. Thus the three typical categories of the ancient Valdocco community were being configured from the beginning: artisans, mostly orphans, students and clerics.

Among the first boys received in these beginnings we also remember Felice Reviglio and Carlo Gastini (cf MB 3, 338-345).

Don Bosco, given the usefulness and effectiveness of this initiative, will decide to develop it with ever-increasing building extensions. Thus the Hospice or House annexed to the Oratory will be born.

Pastoral strategy The number of children attending the Pinardi house increases more and more, both for spontaneous attraction and for Don Bosco's personal initiative. His main concern is to look for the poorest and most abandoned to remove them from the street and prevent greater dangers. To this end, he implements different techniques, all based however on personal contact and the friendship that conquers hearts.

Sometimes he passes in front of the workshops and construction sites at lunchtime, he enters the apprenticeship crags and converses with them, taking an interest in their problems; other times, when he runs into groups of teenagers who play cards and dice, he sits with them pointing his share too; to smaller children it offers fruit and sweets; enter the inns, cafes and barber shops, weave friendships with masters and apprentices, inviting them to the Oratory.

The privileged place for these meetings is Piazza Emanuele Filiberto (now Piazza della Repubblica), already called Porta Palazzo. Being a market place, it was invaded daily by crowds of kids, teenagers and young people belonging to the poorest categories: street hawkers, sellers of sulfur mines, shoe-shiners, chimney sweeps, stable hubs, bellhops, porters and many other poor boys who lived for the day. Almost all of them were linked to the Cocche di Borgo Vanchiglia, real bands of petty criminals. Up until around 1856 Don Bosco crosses this square every morning and with the most varied pretexts he approaches those he meets. Little by little he knows them all by name and binds them to the Oratory.

3.6.3. The surroundings of the Pinardi house

The Pinardi property is located at the foot of the descent that from the Rondò della forca degrades, first rapidly and then gently, towards the Dora river. Area of ​​meadows, vegetable gardens and rare cottages, until the early seventies immersed in the countryside that surrounds it, between east, north and west. In this extreme suburb, rich in spaces, bathed by canals and irrigated canals, where in the following decades the first mechanical factories will rise, the hens are still scratching and can be heard not far from the surviving farmsteads on this side of the river.

The small piece of land on which the Pinardi house stands is bordered to the south by Via della Giardiniera, which separates it from a vast field owned by the seminary; to the west with the Beauty property; to the north and east, with the Filippi property (see fig. 8).

Via della Giardiniera and Casa Bellezza Access to the Pinardi house is via Via della Giardiniera, an alley that diagonally connects the country road, later called Via Cottolengo and now Via M. Ausiliatrice, with the house of Bellezza.

This house, owned by Signora Teresa Caterina Novo, widow of the Beauty, is located to the west of the Oratory, about twenty meters from the door of the Pinardi chapel, right where the building stands today with its mechanical and electromechanical laboratories. In the house there is a small category tavern, called La Giardiniera, in which in the evening and particularly on holidays unhappy people are gathered: blasphemies, shouts and even fights greatly disturb Oratorian activities.

Don Bosco immediately made an effort to stop that disorder and remove the moral danger he poses to his young people. His efforts are useless for a few years; in fact neither the mistress wants to sell the house, nor the innkeeper lose the profits. Only in January 1854 did the saint manage to take over the tavern from the person who managed it, but he bought all the furnishings at a high price (MO 225).

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Later you can rent the whole building, clean it up and place new trusted tenants in it.

La signora Teresa Caterina Novo, proprietaria dell'edificio, pur essendo amica e benefattrict_dell'Oratorio, declina costantemente l'invito a vendere la casa. Alla sua morte (1883) i figli decidono la cessione del fabbricato e del vasto terreno antistante, necessario a Don Bosco per l'ampliamento dell'Oratorio festivo; il contratto viene stipulato 1'8 marzo 1884. La somma richiesta, in verità esorbitante (oltre 100 mila lire!), è donata dal conte Colle di Tolone.

La costruzione verrà abbattuta soltanto nel 1922 (cf ODB 234-236).

Proprietà dei fratelli Filippi Il vasto terreno che a nord e ad est circonda la proprietà Pinardi appartiene ai fratelli Giovanni, Antonio e Carlo Filippi. A levante, quasi in linea retta con casa Pinardi, si innalza un edificio a due piani lungo 35 metri, a forma di U, utilizzato come setificio. Di fronte, lungo via della Giardiniera, ad angolo col terreno Pinardi, si estende una vasta tettoia. L'appaltatore Visca l'ha presa in affitto dai Filippi e vi tiene i cavalli e i carriaggi del municipio. Qui, oltre ai carrettieri, si rifugiano alla sera una quantità di poveri di ogni specie, ubriaconi e bestemmiatori (cf MB 3, 79).

Il prato del seminario Di fronte a casa Pinardi, al di là di via della Giardiniera, proprio dove ora si estende la Basilica di Maria Ausiliatrice, un vasto terreno coltivato a prato apparteneva al seminario arcivescovile. Nella tradizione salesiana viene designato come il campo dei sogni, perché la Vergine lo ha indicato in sogno a Don Bosco come sede della sua chiesa e luogo del martirio dei santi Solutore, Avventore e Ottavio.

Il 20 giugno 1850 il Santo, che aspira ad ampi spazi per i suoi giovani, compera il terreno. Pochi anni dopo però, in un momento di gravi ristrettezze economiche, lo rivende all'abate Antonio Rosmini (10 aprile 1854). Quest'ultimo ha intenzione di costruirvi un istituto per i suoi religiosi, allo scopo anche di aiutare Don Bosco nel ministero degli Oratori. Il progetto non può essere realizzato, così Don Bosco, che ha già in mente la costruzione della chiesa di Maria Ausiliatrice, l' 11 febbraio 1863 ricompra l'appezzamento.


La situazione sociale creatasi in Torino negli anni Quaranta con il fluire di masse popolari e giovanili provoca anche problemi di indole religiosa e pastorale. Le esperienze che, come quelle di don Cocchi e di Don Bosco, si sono rivelate efficaci, ottengono l'appoggio e la simpatia delle persone più attente al bene sociale e religioso del popolo. Superate ormai le prevenzioni e i timori messi in campo dai parroci, si avverte la necessità di impiantare altri Oratori nelle zone periferiche a maggior espansione popolare.

Don Bosco, che nel poco spazio di casa Pinardi deve accogliere centinaia di ragazzi provenienti da ogni parte della città, ritiene indispensabile decongestionare Valdocco per una maggiore efficienza pastorale.

3.7.1. L'Oratorio di san Luigi (corso Vittorio Emanuele II, n. 13)

In una domenica dell'agosto 1847, constatando il numero eccessivo dei ragazzi convenuti a Valdocco, Don Bosco prospetta al Borel l'ipotesi dell'apertura di un secondo Oratorio. Un numero notevole di giovani proviene dalle zone di piazza Castello, piazza san Carlo, Borgo Nuovo e san Salvario, percorrendo a piedi una distanza notevole: sembrerebbe opportuno scegliere una di quelle zone per realizzare il progetto.

L'Arcivescovo, interpellato, approva e suggerisce come luogo ideale la periferia sud della città. Anche il curato della locale parrocchia di santa Maria degli Angeli accoglie la proposta con entusiasmo.

Un giorno Don Bosco e il Borel si recano a perlustrare la zona di Porta Nuova, lungo il cosiddetto Viale del Re, oggi corso Vittorio Emanuele IL in direzione del Po. È una zona libera, fuori città, frequentatissima da bande di ragazzi alla ricerca di spazi per giocare. Trovano una casetta con una misera tettoia e un cortile, appartenenti ad una certa signora Vaglienti la quale si dice disposta ad affittare il locale per 450 lire annue. Il povero edificio e il cortiletto erano ubicati sul luogo ove ora sorge la chiesa di san Giovanni Evangelista.

«Per avere quella casa si dovette .sostenere una battaglia assai accanita cogli abitanti. Era occupata da parecchie lavandaie, le quali credevano dover succedere la fine del mondo, qualora avessero dovuto abbandonare l'antica loro dimora. Ma, prese alle buone e mediante qualche indennità, si poterono comporre le cose senza che le parti belligeranti venissero alle ostilità (...)» (MO 202).

L'Oratorio viene inaugurato 1'8 dicembre 1847 e intitolato a san Luigi. La direzione è affidata al teologo Giacinto Càrpano (1821-1894) il quale utilizza lo stesso regolamento compilato per Valdocco. Collaboratori sono i cugini Roberto (1815-1883) e (san) Leonardo Murialdo (1828-1900). Al Càrpano che dirige l'Oratorio per alcuni anni, succedono don Pietro Ponte (1821-1892), giovane cappellano della marchesa Barolo e, in seguito, il teologo Paolo Francesco Rossi (1828-1856), uomo zelante, amato e venerato dai ragazzi, consumato all'età di 28 anni da un tumore maligno.

Il san Luigi rimane così senza un sacerdote che lo diriga a tempo pieno; la direzione viene allora affidata da Don Bosco all'avvocato Gaetano Belingeri che, per un anno intero (1856-1857), dedicherà ogni tempo libero all'opera. Ci sono diversi ecclesiastici che si prestano per il ministero, ma nessuno di essi è in grado di assumersi la responsabilità di reggere l'Oratorio anche per gli oneri di tempo e di denaro che questo comporta. Don Bosco, dopo alcuni tentativi e lunga riflessione, propone la cosa al giovane teologo Leonardo Murialdo che, fin dagli studi seminaristici si è prestato nella catechesi in questo Oratorio, in quello dell'Angelo Custode come in quello di Valdocco. In effetti la scelta si rivelerà fortunata perché il Murialdo, lavorando a fianco di Don Bosco, ne aveva assimilato il metodo e lo spirito. Egli assume la direzione del san Luigi nel 1857 e il santo di Valdocco gli affianca come assistenti e catechisti i suoi primi e più cari chierici: Michele Rua, Celestino Durando, Giuseppe Lazzèro, Francesco Cerutti, Francesco Dalmazzo, Giovanni Cagliero, Angelo Savio e altri grandi Salesiani. Nella conduzione dell'Oratorio vengono coinvolti anche molti laici qualificati, come l'avv. Belingeri, già citato, il conte Francesco Viancino, il marchese Scarampi di Pruney, il conte Pensa, l'avv. Ernesto Murialdo, fratello di Leonardo, il prof. Mosca e l'ing. Giovanni Battista Ferrante.

L'Oratorio di Porta Nuova, come quello di Valdocco, è assai povero: la cappella è misera, i locali attigui angusti e poco solidi. Il teologo Murialdo si sobbarca a spese anche ingenti di propria tasca: fa costruire in marmo il tabernacolo e i gradini dell'altare; paga tutti i premi delle feste e lotterie e i capi di vestiario necessari ai più poveri. Come Don Bosco, egli fonda una scuola serale di canto nella quale viene adottato e sperimentato il metodo del meloplasto del maestro Rossi. Più tardi la direzione di tale scuola sarà assunta dal maestro Elzeario Scala. Costituisce anche la banda musicale, ma deve presto discioglierla per motivi disciplinari. Erige un piccolo edificio diviso in due da un tramezzo di legno (asportabile quando si fa il teatro) allo scopo di impiantare due classi elementari per un centinaio dei ragazzi più poveri, rifiutati dalle altre scuole.

The Oratory soon finds itself having to face the massive propaganda work carried out by the Waldensians who, with the Albertine Statute of 1848, obtained full emancipation. They, a short distance from St. Louis, set up the headquarters and, later, they will build their temple, hospital and other social works.

11 Murialdo directs the Oratory until 1865 when, to satisfy a need for greater pastoral and spiritual qualification, he moved for a year to the seminary of Saint Sulpice in Paris. The direction is then assumed for a long time by the learned and zealous abbot Teodoro Scolari of Maggiate. Later the Oratory will be directed exclusively by Salesians.

Today, as already mentioned, on the site of the ancient Oratory stands the church of San Giovanni Evangelista, built by Don Bosco between 1878 and 1882, based on a design by the architect Edoardo Arborio Mella (1808-1884).

The San Luigi Oratory currently continues its activity in the building with entrance from via Ormea n. 4.

3.7.2. The Oratory of the Guardian Angel (It stood at an angle between Via Santa Giulia and Via Tarino)

The first Oratory of Turin had founded it in 1840 Don Giovanni Cocchi (1813-1895), for abandoned boys who wandered through the streets and squares of the Annunziata, a parish in which he was assistant parish priest. It was located in the region of Moschino located on the left bank of the Po, near the present Piazza Vittorio Veneto: "an agglomeration of covili more than beasts than human dwellings, sheltered from bandits of the worst kind, nest of a nock (note: species of gang of young criminals) feared, dangerous by day and inaccessible at night even to the police who rarely penetrated it and only with formidable armaments. The "maestra" route had the name "Contrà d'le pules" (ed.: Flea district) "(from A. VII., Turin and Turin. Minuziae and memoirs, A. Viglongo and C. ed., Turin 19803, p. 149).

In 1841 Don Cocchi moved the Oratory towards the center of Vanchiglia under the roof of a garden in the Bronzino house, in whose rustic courtyard he built a poor chapel and a small theater. The work was named after the Guardian Angel, from the name of a society of young Turin priests who were interested in abandoned youth.

The purpose of the Oratory was to occupy the children of the catechism before and after the lessons. But soon it was also frequented by a considerable number of young workers and day laborers. Among the games and the various activities Don Cocchi also introduced gymnastics, something quite new, especially for the popular classes.

In the patriotic fervor aroused by the first war of independence, a team of youth from the Oratory of Vanchiglia decided to join the army volunteers. Don Cocchi, sincerely enthused by the national idea, did not feel like abandoning them and followed them in the march towards Novara (March 1849). They were not accepted, however, and had to return to the sly: it was a defeat for Don Cocchi.

The story caused a sensation and Msgr. Fransoni decided the temporary closure of the Oratory. But, due to the pressures of Cafasso, Borel and Don Bosco, worried about the fate of the Oratorians, in the following October the Archbishop allowed it to be reopened, entrusting it to Don Bosco's responsibility. These, in partnership with Borel, once again captured the premises and delegated the direction first to the theologian Càrpano, then to the theologian Giovanni Vola. However, they were discouraged by the difficulties and the type of boys who attended the Oratory, and soon left him. In October 1851, always under Don Bosco's command, the theologian Roberto Murialdo took on the commitment of the management, helped by his cousin Leonardo who, until 1856, will be the true soul of the work.

The Oratory of the Guardian Angel continued in that seat until 1871. In that year, Don Bosco ceded it to the parish priest of Santa Giulia, who transferred it to more suitable environments next to the recently erected parish (1866).

When Don Giovanni Cocchi, in 1849, left the Oratory of the Guardian Angel, he engaged in other social and pastoral initiatives. Among all we remember the foundation of a work to welcome the poorest children, who did not know where to live or what they had to live on. He had already temporarily housed some in the little theater of his Oratory, then he lodged them in some rooms of the Moncalvo house, in Vanchiglia, and gave them the name of Artigianelli, being all apprentices and small workers. To support the company he founded the Association of Charity for the benefit of poor, orphaned and abandoned youth, made up of lay people and ecclesiastics. The statute of this association, dated 11 March 1850, was signed in a hall of the parish of the SS. Announced by Don Cocchi and theologians Giacinto Tasca, Roberto Murialdo and Antonio Bosio. The nascent institute moved several times until 1863, when it settled in its own building, built in Corso Palestro and still exists.

Cocchi did not long direct his institute; at the end of 1852 he was already engaged in the foundation of an agricultural colony near Cavoretto. The direction of the Artigianelli passed to the Tasca and the theologian Pietro Berizzi, who gradually consolidated the work by establishing internal artisan workshops which, over the years, became real professional schools. In 1866 the direction was taken "provisionally" by St. Leonard Murialdo who, instead, kept it for 34 years. From this nucleus sprang the religious Congregation of the Josephites of Murialdo.


From the summer of 1845 to the spring of 1846 Don Bosco, not having a special and large room available for the religious functions of his Oratory, took the young people to different churches in the city and to the belt. Generally this happens only in the morning, for Mass and confessions, while in the afternoon it is spent in the temporarily obtained structures (Ospedaletto, Molassi, Moretta house, Filippi meadow). At other times, in good weather, Don Bosco transforms necessity into a festive walk from morning to evening, offering children a good snack too.

Among the churches reached by Don Bosco, we recall some of the most famous in the Salesian tradition.

3.8.1. La Consolata

It is the most precious Marian shrine to the Turinese and more frequented by Don Bosco and his boys in the early days of the Oratory.

It has origins dating back to the end of the 4th century and linked to the veneration of an ancient effigy of the Madonna. The current building consists of three intercommunicating churches: the church of Sant'Andrea, the Sanctuary proper and the underground chapel of NS delle Grazie. The baroque structure that we see was built in 1679 to a design by Guarino Guarirli, in place of a previous Romanesque building of the X-XI centuries of which the majestic bell tower can still be admired.

The dome of the Sanctuary, erected in 1703, was frescoed by GB Crosato in 1740. The current covering in marble and stucco was designed by C. Ceppi in 1904.

In the chapel of Saint Andrew the remains of Saint Joseph Cafasso are conserved on the right, here transported from the general cemetery by the nephew can. Giuseppe Allamano, rector of the Sanctuary. Next to it, a staircase leads to the crypt or chapel of the Madonna delle Grazie, which was perhaps the primitive fourth-century oratory.

From the church of Sant'Andrea, a majestic staircase and a rich wrought-iron gate, a gift from the Marquis Tancredi Falletti of Barolo, enter the Sanctuary of the Consolata. On the central altar, by Filippo Juvarra (1729), the image of the Virgin and Child is venerated. From tradition it is identified with the primitive 4th century icon; in reality it is a painting on wood executed at the end of the century. XV, copy of the effigy found in Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome (14th century).

Don Bosco già da seminarista aveva pregato in questo Santuario in occasione delle sue venute in Torino. Nell'attiguo convento, appartenuto ai Cistercensi prima della Rivoluzione francese, abitavano in quel tempo gli Oblati di Maria Vergine del padre Lanteri, tra i quali era entrato anche il suo compagno di scuola e amico Giuseppe Burzio. Il convento, dopo la legge di soppressione, passò alla diocesi e, dal 1882, divenne sede del Convitto Ecclesiastico, nella nuova impostazione data dal can. Giuseppe Allamano.

Nella chiesa il Santo celebrò la sua seconda Messa (lunedì dopo la SS. Trinità, 7 giugno 1841), «per ringraziare la gran Vergine Maria come egli ci attesta — degli innumerevoli favori, che mi aveva ottenuto dal suo Divin Figliuolo Gesù» (MO 115).

Durante la gravissima malattia del luglio 1846, che portò Don Bosco sull'orlo della tomba, i suoi poveri raga4zi accorsero numerosi ai piedi della Consolata e con le loro preghiere e lacrime ottennero l'insperata grazia della guarigione.

Durante il periodo del Convitto e per lunghi anni in seguito, finché la salute e gli impegni glielo permisero, Don Bosco prestò regolarmente il suo ministero di confessore in questa chiesa.

Nei primi anni dell'Oratorio il coro dei ragazzi di Valdocco fu invitato più volte a solennizzare con il canto le funzioni del Santuario. Specialmente il 20 giugno, festa della Consolata, gli oratoriani non mancavano mai di prendere parte alla processione.

Ai piedi di Maria Consolatrice Don Bosco ricorse spesso nelle situazioni più difficili della sua vita. Ricordiamo che in un momento per lui particolarmente doloroso, il 25 novembre 1856, quando alle tre del mattino mamma Margherita cessò di vivere, egli, accompagnato da Giuseppe Buzzetti, si portò immediatamente al Santuario. Celebrò affranto la santa messa nella cappella sotterranea, poi si soffermò a lungo in lacrime davanti all'effige della Madonna: «Io e i miei figliuoli siamo ora senza madre quaggiù; deh! siate voi per lo innanzi in particolar modo la Madre mia e la Madre loro!» (MB 5, 566).

Archbishop Lorenzo Gastaldi of Turin, on the evening of March 24, 1883, took her to the Consolata: "Let's go and find our dear mother, to put us under her mantle. Under the mantle of Mary it is comforting to live and die ». These expressions are witnessed by the canon Tommaso Chiuso, his secretary. Next morning, March 25, Easter of Resurrection, the Archbishop died suddenly.

3.8.2. Basilica of Superga

The Basilica of Superga was a fascinating destination, particularly suitable for day walks, which dominates the city from the top of a hill (669 m), about ten kilometers from the center of Turin.

The majestic Basilica, dedicated to the Nativity of Mary, was built between 1717 and 1731 to a design by Filippo Juvarra, in fulfillment of a vow made by Vittorio Amedeo II during the Franco-Spanish siege of Turin (1706).

The circular plan building, which anticipates neoclassical elements, is flanked by two elegant baroque bell towers among the most remarkable in Piedmont. The dome, bright and slender, reaches a height of 65 meters.

Three staircases lead to a tall and spacious pronaos supported by eight monumental columns, which it introduces into the building.

Inside we see: in the first chapel on the right St. Maurice by Sebastiano Ricci da Belluno (1659-1734); in the second the Nativity of Mary, high-relief by Agostino Cornacchini from Pescia (1685-1740); in the third, Beata Margherita di Savoia by Claudio F. Beaumont from Turin (16941766).

The high altar is dominated by a large marble high-relief by Bernardino Cametti da Gattinara (1682-1736) representing the Virgin, Blessed Amedeo di Savoia and the Battle of Turin in 1706.

From the presbytery a door on the left leads into the chapel of the Madonna delle Grazie, or chapel of the Vow, similar in size to a small church existing on the site before 1715. There is a statue of the Madonna in front of which Vittorio Amedeo II formulated the vote of erect the Basilica.

Returning to the church, in the third chapel on the left there is a good picture of Beaumont representing St. Charles; in the second the Annunciation, high relief by Cametti; in the first Saint Louis of France by S. Ricci.

The vast building behind the church was built by Juvarra for the Congregation of Regular Priests wanted by Vittorio Amedeo II (1730) for the formation of the high clergy. Here, from 1835 to 1855, an Ecclesiastical Academy was set up, supported by King Carlo Alberto for the scientific research and further cultural qualification of the best graduate students in theology at the University of Turin. The rich library of the Academy is now in the Royal Library of Turin. In a room on the ground floor there are portraits of the popes, from Saint Peter to John Paul II.

By means of a grand staircase one descends into the basements built in 1777 to house the tombs of the Savoys. The Savoy kings are buried here from Vittorio Amedeo II to Carlo Alberto.

Today the building and church are guarded and officiated by the Servants of Mary.

On the back side of the hill a plaque commemorates the tragic plane crash that occurred on May 4, 1949, in which 31 people perished including the players of the Turin soccer team.

The first walk to Superga made by Don Bosco with the youth of the Oratory is mentioned by him with a wealth of details: «Shortly after 9 we left for Superga. Who brought baskets of bread, who made cheese or salami or fruit or other things necessary for that day. Silence was observed outside the houses of the city; then the shouting began, singing and shouting, but always in line and orderly.

Giunti ai piedi della salita, che conduce a quella basilica, trovai uno supendo cavallino che, bardato a dovere, il Sac. Anselmetti, curato di quella chiesa, mi aveva mandato. Là pure riceveva una letterina del T. Borrelli, che ci aveva preceduti, nella quale diceva: "Venga tranquillo coi cari nostri giovani; la minestra, la pietanza, il vino sono preparati". Io montai sopra quel cavallo e poi lessi ad alta voce quella lettera. Tutti si raccolsero intorno al cavallo, e, udita quella lettura, unanimi si posero a fare applausi (...). In mezzo a que' trambusti avevamo la nostra musica, che consisteva in un tamburo, in una tromba ed in una chitarra. Era tutto disaccordo; ma servendo a fare rumore, colle voci dei giovani bastava per fare una meravigliosa armonia.

Stanchi dal ridere, scherzare, cantare e, direi, di urlare, giungemmo al luogo stabilito. I giovanetti, perché sudati, si raccolsero nel cortile del santuario e furono tosto provveduti di quanto era necessario pel vorace loro appetito. Dopo alquanto riposo li radunai tutti e loro raccontai minutamente la storia meravigliosa di quella basilica, delle tombe reali che esistono sotto alla medesima, e dell'Accademia Ecclesiastica ivi eretta da Carlo Alberto e promossa dai Vescovi degli Stati Sardi.

Il T. Guglielmo Audisio, che ne era preside, fece la graziosa spesa di una minestra colla pietanza a tutti gli ospitati. Il parroco donò vino e frutta. Si concedette lo spazio di un paio d'ore per visitare i locali; di poi ci siamo radunati in chiesa, dove era pure intervenuto molto popolo. Alle 3 pomeridiane ho fatto un breve discorso dal pulpito, dopo cui alcuni più favoriti dalla voce cantarono un Tantum ergo in musica, che per la novità delle voci bianche trasse tutti in ammirazione. Alle sei si fecero salire alcuni globi areostatici; di poi tra vivi ringraziamenti a chi ci aveva beneficiati partimmo alla volta di Torino. Il medesimo cantare, ridere, correre, e talvolta pregare occupò la nostra via.

Giunti in città, di mano in mano che alcuno giungeva al sito più vicino alla propria casa, cessava dalle file e si ritirava in famiglia. Quand'io giunsi al Rifugio, aveva ancora con me 7 o 8 giovani dei più robusti, che portavano gli attrezzi usati nella giornata» (MO 155-157).

3.8.3. Monte dei Cappuccini

Su un rilievo boscoso, proteso dalla collina verso il Po, detto Monte dei Cappuccini, si eleva una bella chiesa dedicata a santa Maria del Monte, costruita a partire dal 1583 da Ascanio Vittozzi da Orvieto (1539-1615). L'edificio, a forma di croce greca sormontata da cupola su alto tamburo ottagonale, venne aperto al culto nel 1611. Nell'interno sono notevoli i quattro altarini angolari disegnati da Benedetto Alfieri nel 1746, con statue lignee di Stefano Maria Clemente (1719-1794) rappresentanti quattro santi Cappuccini. Il san Francesco con Madonna e Bambino sull'altare destro è copia di una tela di G. B. Crespi detto Cerano (1575-1632), esposta nella Galleria Sabauda; il san Maurizio sull'altare sinistro è del Moncalvo.

Accanto alla chiesa c'è il convento dei Cappuccini, edificato dal Vittozzi ma più volte rimaneggiato. In una parte del convento è collocato il Museo Nazionale della Montagna.

Dalla balconata antistante la chiesa si gode uno splendido panorama della città. Per la sua posizione strategica, sul monte, fin dal sec. XIII furono edificate fortificazioni legate alle battaglie più importanti nella storia di Torino.

Don Bosco più volte, per la vicinanza alla città e la bellezza del luogo, vi condusse i suoi birichini, sempre ben accolto dai buoni padri Cappuccini.

Una di quelle gite, fatta nel periodo in cui l'Oratorio si raccoglieva sul prato Filippi (marzo 1846), ci viene raccontata da un ragazzo del tempo: «Avevamo terminato la partita, quando il suono di una tromba impose silenzio a tutti. Ognuno lasciando i trastulli, si raccolse intorno al prete, che poi seppi essere D. Bosco: — Giovani cari, disse questi ad alta voce, è ora della santa Messa: questa mattina andremo ad ascoltarla al Monte dei Cappuccini; dopo la Messa avremo una piccola colezione. Quelli a cui mancò tempo di confessarsi oggi, potranno confessarsi altra domenica; non dimenticate che ogni domenica vi è comodità di confessarvi.

Detto questo, suonò di nuovo la tromba e tutti si posero ordinatamente in cammino. Uno dei più adulti cominciò la recita del Rosario, a cui tutti gli altri rispondevano. La camminata era quasi di tre chilometri (...). Quando eravamo per intraprendere la salita che conduce a quel Convento, si cominciarono le litanie della B. V. Questo mi ricreò assai, perciocché le piante, gli stradali, il boschetto che coprono le falde del monte risuonavano del nostro canto e rendevano veramente romantica la nostra passeggiata.

Venne celebrata la Messa, in cui parecchi giovani si accostarono alla santa Comunione. Dopo breve predica e sufficiente ringràziamento, andarono tutti nel cortile del Convento per fare la colazione» (MB 2, 386-387).

3.8.4. Madonna del Pilone (corso Casale, n. 195)

This church, dedicated to the Annunciation of Mary, was built in the century. XVII on the site of an ancient pylon with the image of the Annunziata (1587), now incorporated in the high altar. The sanctuary was erected in the parish in 1807 for the religious service of the surrounding village.

At the time of the primitive Oratory, to reach the place it was necessary to ferry the river on boats. The unusual walk was spectacular when it was animated by Don Bosco's findings, as happened in 1843, at the time when the Oratory was still gathering at the Convitto: «One day D. Bosco led his youth to the Madonna del Pilone. On three boats they crossed the Po, and when they were in the middle of the river they sang a beautiful praise. The commoners, who were on the banks, heard that song when they stopped listening; then, in love with harmony, they began to follow the course of the boats, walking along the main road. Since there were some trumpeters among them, they breathed their trumpets and began to accompany that easy motive, producing a magical effect.

All the inhabitants of the Madonna del Pilone went out of the houses, and when the boats landed, about a thousand people had gathered to wait and surround the young singers "(MB 2, 134-135).

3.8.5. Madonna of Campagna (Via Massaia, n. 98).

This church, also dedicated to the Annunciation of Mary, dates back to the century. XIV. It was rebuilt several times in the 1950s and was rebuilt several times during the aerial bombardments of the Second World War. Inside is the tomb of Marshal Ferdinando de Marsin, who led the French army in the memorial siege of Turin in 1706.

In the nineteenth century the church was officiated by the Capuchins, who lived in the nearby convent since 1567.

Several times Don Bosco brought the young Oratorians to this place, surrounded by green countryside in his time, and connected to the Lanzo road by a majestic avenue with three rows of centenary elms.

When the Filippi brothers canceled the contract for their lawn in March 1846, Don Bosco led his youth on pilgrimage to the Madonna di Campagna, about two kilometers from Valdocco, to obtain from the Mother of God the grace to find a stable place for the Oratory. It was probably Sunday, March 15th. As in other similar circumstances, along the way they recited the Rosary and sang sacred praises.

«When they were on the shady avenue, which from the main road leads to the Convent, with great wonder of all the church bells began to ring out. I said to everyone with great amazement, because although several other times had already gone there, their arrival had never been celebrated with the sound of the sacred bronzes. This demonstration seemed so unusual and out of place, that rumors spread, that the bells were set to ring by themselves. It is certain that Father Fulgenzio, Guardian of the Convent and then Confessor of King Carlo Alberto, assured that neither he nor others in the family had ordered the bells to ring on that occasion, and however briganded to know who had played them, he was never made to find out.

Entering the church, they attended the Mass (...). D. Bosco gave a nice speech of opportunity. Comparing his children to birds, to which the nest was thrown to the ground, he animated them to pray to Our Lady, that he wanted to prepare another, more stable and safer; and they prayed to her with his heart indeed, full of confidence that he would hear them. Restored, they returned to the city, to gather in the afternoon for the last time in the meadow "(MB 2, 419-420).

That very day, late in the afternoon, Pancrazio Soave approached Don Bosco to offer him the rent for the Pinardi shed.

IV PART DON BOSCO DEVELOPS THE ORATORY (1850-1888) The years of maturity

1. Meaning and testimony


Questa quarta parte del sussidio abbraccia gli ultimi 38 anni della vita di Don Bosco: il periodo più fecondo. Sono gli anni della maturità, densi di avvenimenti, di iniziative, di frutti.

Il giovane prete, noto a Torino per le attività in favore dei ragazzi poveri e abbandonati e per il suo efficace e personale metodo educativo fatto di «religione, ragione e amorevolezza», diventa progressivamente un personaggio che si impone all'attenzione di una cerchia sempre più vasta di persone. Le preoccupazioni educative che lo animano, gli obiettivi a cui tende, i valori religiosi e civili che propone assumono dimensioni universali grazie a un suo atteggiamento di fondo che è di carattere religioso e, insieme, frutto di intelligenza e sensibilità socio-culturale.

L'attenzione e la totale disponibilità alla volontà di Dio e alle ispirazioni dello Spirito, nella consapevoleiza della missione pastorale ricevuta, gli danno anche flessibilità e capacità di discernimento degli eventi storici. Egli riesce così a coniugare l'efficace azione religiosa e formativa con una riuscita formula pedagogica e con scelte operative lucide e indovinate.

Così l'Oratorio iniziale si evolve in forme e attività sempre più articolate e rispondenti ad attese e bisogni giovanili e sociali nuovi. All'assistenza religiosa e alla catechesi si aggiungono le scuole serali e festive di prima alfabetizzazione; un convitto per i più abbandonati impostato sul modello della convivenza familiare; i contratti di formazione professionale prima, e i laboratori artigianali interni poi; il pensionato per studenti delle scuole ginnasiali, allo scopo di favorire i figli del popolo dotati ma assolutamente impossibilitati a frequentare le pubbliche scuole, ecc.: è tutto un crescendo determinato da fede, fantasia e affetto per i giovani.

In una formula felice Don Bosco sinteti77a l'obiettivo di ogni suo sforzo: formare buoni cristiani e onesti, utili cittadini. Questa meta da raggiungere — e con urgenza, per prevenire e arginare mali irreparabili — gli permette di superare una mentalità di impronta conservatrice nella quale egli è cresciuto, che avrebbe potuto chiuderlo e paralizzarlo in schemi rigidi e immobili. Don Bosco si ispira invece, a livello operativo, a un modello di società e di uomo impregnato di valori cristiani e di solide virtù civili, ma contemporaneamente aperto agli sviluppi storici: un insieme armonico di antico e di nuovo o, come dice lui, «l'uomo antico rinnovato secondo i bisogni dei tempi».

Mentre è attento alle esigenze native dei giovani (affetto, amicizia, allegria, vita attiva, comunità, associazionismo, protagonismo, partecipazione, forti motivazioni ideali, crescita professionale e culturale...), non si lascia sfuggire le opportunità offerte dall'incalzare degli eventi sociali e politici. Varie sue iniziative ce lo dimostrano: — le leggi di soppressione di ordini e corporazioni religiose lo indirizzano verso un modello più malleabile di società e congregazione religiosa; — le leggi di riforma della scuola lo stimolano a ricercare soluzioni che rispondano ai suoi progetti educativi e insieme si inseriscano nella concezione liberale della società; — il crescere e l'articolarsi progressivo del cooperativismo nelle sue varie forme gli offre spunti per l'ideazione di un vasto movimento di cooperatori a servizio della Chiesa e della società civile; — la diffusione dell'interesse missionario da una parte, e il massiccio flusso migratorio verso il Nuovo Mondo dall'altra, gli ispirano un progetto missionario che è insieme evangelizzazione, civilizzazione, opera educativa, in cui si affiancano iniziative missionarie classiche e attività socio-religiose tra gli emigrati italiani simili a quelle di Valdocco; — la crescente sete di cultura presso il popolo, la voglia di leggere e di informarsi, come pure il dilagare di idee contrastanti con quelle cattoliche, lo spingono a inventare e collaudare forme di comunicazione estremamente agili ed economiche per la diffusione dei valori e dei modelli cristiani; i suoi libretti sono diffusi capillarmente con la cooperazione di una vasta rete di simpatizzanti e ottengono un successo notevole per il linguaggio facile, per lo stile che privilegia narrazioni e fatti esemplari, per l'anima e i sentimenti, che sono popolari; — la mancanza di intesa e le tensioni gravi tra autorità statale e gerarchia cattolica, che hanno determinato una situazione per cui moltissime sedi vescovili rimangono sprovviste di pastori, con danno delle popolazioni, lo rendono — lui, prudente conservatore, ma preoccupato innanzitutto della cura pastorale — mediatore convinto della necessità di una conciliazione basata su un rinnovato concetto del rapporto Chiesa-Stato; — anche l'urgenza di reperire fondi per costruire le sue opere e la Basilica del Sacro Cuore, che lo obbliga ai grandi viaggi in Italia, Fran cia e Spagna, diventa occasione di ministero pastorale, di predicazione, di invito alla conversione e all'impegno nel bene e nel servizio dei più poveri; si trasforma in momento di coagulo e di incontro tra cattolici, in stimolo all'azione e all'unione; risulta mezzo efficace di trasmissione del suo metodo educativo, delle sue ansie di salvezza e salvaguardia della gioventù, di una caratteristica devozione alla Madonna che unifica la tensione verso la perfezione cristiana con il massimo impegno storico e sociale.

Fatiche e sofferenze, fede e donazione incondizionata, disponibilità al servizio della Chiesa e del Papa fanno sì che negli ultimi anni di vita la sua figura raggiunga vertici e dimensioni imponenti: diventa un punto di riferimento per i cattolici contemporanei, ma nello stesso tempo rimane il prete dei giovani; è visto come un profeta dei tempi nuovi, la meraviglia del secolo XIX, ma il suo messaggio resta semplicissimo: — darsi a Dio totalmente, fin dalla giovinezza; — operare incessantemente e in ogni modo per compiere il bene ed evitare il male; — vivere la carità, trattare con amorevolezza il prossimo; — i sacramenti dell'Eucaristia e della Penitenza sono il segreto della santità; — venerare la Vergine Maria come modello e aiuto nella vita cristiana; — amare e servire la Chiesa e il Papa; — «Se facciamo bene, troveremo bene in questa vita e nell'altra»; — «Un pezzo di paradiso aggiusta tutto!».


In trentott'anni di vita, tanto densi e fecondi, i valori da evidenziare sono molti. Noi ci limitiamo a suggerirne alcuni in riferimento agli ambienti visitati, e particolarmente quelli che interessano i giovani e coloro che si impegnano al loro servizio nell'opera educativa e pastorale.

Naturalmente, anche per Valdocco, rimangono validi molti dei valori suggeriti nelle parti precedenti, alle quali rimandiamo, soprattutto per ciò che si riferisce al clima di famiglia tra giovani ed educatori creato da Don Bosco, alla qualificazine professionale e culturale, al cammino di vita cristiana e di crescita spirituale. Don Bosco ripropone ai suoi ragazzi quei valori che sono stati significativi per lui giovane ed hanno fondato la sua personalità umana e cristiana.

La chiesa di san Francesco di Sales ci rammenta che: — i giovani hanno una nativa connaturalità con i valori assoluti, desiderano ricevere forti proposte spirituali e sanno rispondere con totalità, se aiutati, stimolati e seguiti; — la preghiera giovanile non deve fermarsi alla forma e alle emozioni o a momenti isolati: deve animare la vita, ispirare e sostenere le scelte, diffondersi nella giornata; — la grazia, il rapporto sacramentale con Cristo, operano meraviglie nei cuori giovanili e possono portarli alle vette della contemplazione; — il sacramento della Penitenza è uno strumento indispensabile nel cammino cristiano, come medicina, prevenzione, forza, verifica, confronto; — i modelli concreti di vita cristiana, vicini alla condizione e alla mentalità giovanile, sono potenti ed efficaci veicoli di valori; — le verità cristiane, la liturgia e i sacramenti, la devozione mariana, la Sacra Scrittura... debbono essere presentati e fatti sperimentare nella loro totalità, ma in forme percepibili dai giovani e dai ragazzi: la pastorale giovanile non è una pastorale minore o parziale, anche se privilegia linguaggi e forme giovanili.

La Casa annessa all'Oratorio di San Francesco di Sales, con la sua vita comunitaria, con le sue attività e i suoi ritmi ci insegna che: — il giovane ha un prepotente bisogno di comprensione, di amicizia, di essere amato per se stesso, di confidenza; ma anche di modelli adulti riusciti, di paternità spirituale (non paternalismo!); — la comunità giovanile positiva e serena, ricca di valori e di impegno, è uno dei più efficaci fattori di formazione; — i migliori apostoli dei giovani sono i giovani stessi; — per educare come Don Bosco bisogna essere in tanti e ben affiatati, animati da carità, generosità e abnegazione, ispirati da motivazioni religiose, perennemente ottimisti sull'uomo e sulla storia (che è storia di salvezza!); — il ragazzo di oggi è l'uomo di domani: ogni scelta, ogni attività, anche quelle di carattere ludico, contribuiscono alla formazione dell'uomo; l'educatore deve essere previdente, rispettoso, intuitivo, qualificato; la sua è una missione storica; — la pastorale giovanile e l'azione educativa sono monche e inutili, se non sfociano nella formazione vocazionale e professionale; — è indispensabile un progetto, condiviso e attuato da una comunità educativa, in cui vengano coordinate e finalizzate attività e scelte, orari e impegni, doveri e svaghi, catechesi e formazione, preghiera e cultura...

— la prevenzione è costruzione di valori e atteggiamenti positivi, prima che argine al male.

— la formazione delle idee e delle convinzioni, che passa attraverso l'esercizio critico della ragione, non determina plagi e fanatismi, ma crea persone libere, malleabili ed equilibrate; — compito dell'educatore è anche quello di scoprire e suscitare talenti, di offrire occasioni di espressione e di crescita; — la qualificazione culturale e professionale non può essere delegata acriticamente: infatti non si tratta solo di comunicare competenze tecniche, ma di formare mentalità e visioni del mondo e dei valori.

2. Note storico-geografiche e biografiche


Dopo il crollo del neo-guelfismo con i fatti del 1848-1849, si approfondisce il solco tra le classi liberali, che assumono le leve del governo, e il mondo cattolico che non approva la posizione antiromana del movimento di unificazione nazionale e si arrocca su posizioni conservatrici. Le tensioni vanno crescendo con le leggi in materia ecclesiastica, con quelle di soppressione delle congregazioni religiose e di riforma della scuola, aggravate da ondate di anticlericalismo da una parte e di rigida intransigenza dall'altra. Si giunge alla rottura totale del dialogo con l'occupazione dei territori pontifici e la presa di Roma (1870). Una delle conseguenze più dolorose ed evidenti è che molte sedi vescovili, con la morte degli Ordinari, restano vacanti. Anche la situazione economica delle chiese locali, poi, si aggrava per i nuovi oneri fiscali e per l'incameramento dei benefici ecclesiastici. Di riflesso si manifesta una forte crisi vocazionale che potrà essere superata soltanto verso gli anni Ottanta.

For the time being, there are now attempts at conciliation by the most open representatives of the two parties.

In 1861 the theologian Giacomo Margotti in the Turin newspaper L'Armonia had launched the motto: "neither elected, nor voters", inviting Catholics to exempt themselves from any form of participation in political life, as a protest against liberal positions. In 1868 the Sacred Penitentiary theorized this position in the principle of "non expedit", taken up and confirmed in 1874 by Pope Pius IX. On the more or less intransigent interpretation of the "non expedit", Catholics take different positions, until the Holy Office in 1886 interprets it officially as "prohibition" to Catholics of any direct commitment in political life.

In fact, however, since the 1950s, Catholics, having withdrawn from any compromise with power, commit their forces in the most purely religious, educational, welfare and, later, social field. Ecclesiastics and laity initiate a series of activities ranging from the popular missions, from the renewal of the ancient confraternities and from the constitution of new religious associations, to the foundation of colleges and schools, kindergartens, nursing homes, hospitals, rural banks, societies workers and mutual aid. In this way, the dense network of initiatives and agreements is formed that will coalesce in the Opera dei Congressi (1874-1904) and in a mass Catholic movement with strong social connotations.

Hierarchy and clergy concentrate their attention and care on the more properly religious and pastoral aspects of ecclesial life. We are thus witnessing a general recovery in the Catholic world in Europe and in Italy that leads, for example, to a renewal in the field of theological (neotomism), biblical and liturgical studies (biblical and liturgical movement), of catechesis (birth of the various catechetical movements ), of missionary commitment, etc.

In the Catholic circles of the last decades of the century we are also witnessing a renewal of the spiritual life and the development of an accentuated interest in the supernatural and the thaumaturgical, favored by extraordinary apparitions (eg Lourdes, La Salette) and by the force of attraction exercised by charismatic figures like Don Bosco himself.

One area that undergoes a showy development is that of consecrated life. The crisis of the great religious orders on the one hand and, on the other hand, the urgent need for operators in the field of pastoral care, assistance and education, lead to a flourishing of small and medium congregations, female and male, from the characters mainly local, which effectively respond to these needs.

All these choices in fact determine a new bond between the Catholic hierarchy and popular circles, between clergy and laity, a prelude to a model of the Church that will find its full expression in the following century.

Don Bosco's action, together with that of other workers of "Christian charity" who are driven by the urgent needs and the grave needs of the young and the people, in some way opens the way to social Christianity at the end of the century. Our Saint is fundamentally a pragmatist who tries to face the situation by bypassing the obstacles and moving in the spaces of maneuver allowed. In fact, it adapts to the approach and laws of liberal society, which presents the characteristics of free competition, pluralism, and the secular conception of the State.

In this way his works acquire dynamism and adaptability, and even the privileged recipients of his action, "poor and abandoned young people, unsafe", are articulated in more complex categories: from the seasonal boys of the forties to the fifties, to the children of the workers of the popular districts, to the young students who will form the middle class of the new Italian State and the future levers of the clergy, up to the emigrants in the Americas and to the "savages" of Tierra del Fuego immersed in the darkness of paganism.

Thus Don Bosco, starting from the experience of Valdocco, manifests himself for what is the true saint: the man faithful to God, but also the privileged witness of his time, capable of giving concrete answers to the expectations of the future.

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE 1 (of buildings: 1851-1888)

Date Acquisti e costruzioni 1851-1852 Chiesa di san Francesco di Sales 1852-1853 Casa Don Bosco e prima parte dell'ala Camerette 1856 Abbattimento e ricostruzione di casa Pinardi Due aule per scuole elementari diurne su via Giardiniera e stanzino del portinaio 1859 Capannone con tre aule ginnasiali nel cortile a nord 1859-1860 Portineria più ampia 1860 Acquisto di casa e terreno Filippi Nuova sacrestia per san Francesco di Sales 1861 Sistemazione e ampliamento di casa Filippi Primo ampliamento dell'ala Camerette 1862 Portico e terrazzo sul fronte delle Camerette Costruzione a due piani lungo via Giardiniera per tipografia, dormitori e nuova portineria 1863-1864 Costruzione di un edificio a tre piani per le scuole, appoggiato al muro di levante (casa Audisio) 1863 Ricompera il «campo dei sogni» venduto ai Rosminiani 1863-1868 Santuario di Maria Ausiliatrice 1870 Ricompera da Modesto Rua il grande orto a settentrione, già proprietà Filippi 1873 Compera e demolisce casa Coriasco 1874-1875 Costruzione dell'edificio dell'attuale portineria 1876-1877 Ultimo ampliamento dell'ala Camerette 1880 Acquisto di casa Nelva e terreno per l'Oratorio festivo 1881 Ampliamento dell'orto a settentrione 1881-1883 Costruzione di nuovi locali per la tipografia 1883-1884 Costruzione del laboratorio per fabbri-meccanici 1884 Acquisto di terreno e casa Bellezza (Cf F. GIRAUDI, L'Oratorio di Don Bosco. Inizio e progressivo sviluppo edilizio della Casa Madre dei Salesiani in Torino, SEI, Torino 1935').

TAVOLA CRONOLOGICA 2 (degli avvenimenti: 1850-1888)

Date Avvenimenti 1850 Don Bosco fonda la Società degli operai o di mutuo soccorso 1852 Mons. Fransoni nomina Don Bosco direttore degli Oratori 1853 Inizia la pubblicazione delle Letture Cattoliche Laboratori interni per calzolai e sarti 1854 Primo nucleo della futura Società Salesiana: si chiamano «Salesiani» Laboratorio dei legatori di libri Arrivo di Domenico Savio a Valdocco 1855 Prima classe interna (3' ginnasio) affidata al ch. Francesia 1856 Laboratorio di falegnameria Altre due classi interne (la e 2a ginnasiale) Istituzione della Compagnia dell'Immacolata 1857 Istituzione della Compagnia del SS. Sacramento e di una Conferenza giovanile di san Vincenzo de' Paoli 1858 Don Bosco fa il primo viaggio a Roma e presenta a Pio IX il suo progetto di società religiosa e il primo abbozzo di Costituzioni Fondazione del Piccolo Clero 1859 Viene completato il ginnasio interno (5 classi) Istituzione della Compagnia di san Giuseppe • Nascita ufficiale della Società Salesiana 1860 Ingresso dei primi soci laici (= coadiutori) nella Società Salesiana 1861 Fondazione della tipografia 1862 Laboratorio dei fabbri-ferrai 1863 Primo istituto fuori Torino, a Mirabello Monferrato, sotto la direzione di don Mi chele Rua 1864 Fondazione del collegio di Lanzo Torinese Decretum laudis per la Società Salesiana Primo incontro con la Mazzarello 1865 Progetto di Biblioteca degli scrittori latini 1867 Secondo viaggio a Roma 1868 Consacrazione della Basilica di Maria Ausiliatrice 1869 Approvazione pontificia della Società Salesiana Apertura dell'istituto di Cherasco Inizia la Biblioteca della gioventù italiana Terzo viaggio a Roma 1870 Fondazione del Collegio-Convitto municipale di Alassio Quarto viaggio a Roma Trasferimento dell'istituto di Mirabello a Borgo S. Martino 1871 Fondazione della scuola artigianale a Marassi (GE) trasferita l'anno successivo a Sampierdarena Fondazione delle Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice Due viaggi a Roma (in giugno e in settembre) Mons. Gastaldi vescovo di Torino Apertura della casa di Varazze 1872 Accettazione del collegio di Valsalice 1873 Prime tensioni col Gastaldi Settimo e ottavo viaggio a Roma 1874 Approvazione definitiva delle Costituzioni della Società Salesiana Primo Capitolo Generale delle Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice, con l'elezione della Mazzarello a superiora generale 1875 Nono viaggio a Roma Prima spedizione missionaria in Argentina 1876 Decimo e undicesimo viaggio a Roma Approvazione pontificia dei Cooperatori salesiani Contatti in Francia per eventuali fondazioni 1877 Tre viaggi a Roma Apertura del Patronato di san Pietro a Nizza (Francia) Primo Capitolo Generale della Società Salesiana • Fondazione del Bollettino Salesiano 1878 Morte di Pio IX ed elezione di Leone XIII, mentre Don Bosco è a Roma nel corso del suo quattordicesimo viaggio Prima udienza con Leone XIII Benedizione della pietra angolare della chiesa di san Giovanni Evangelista 1879 Quindicesimo viaggio a Roma Inaugurazione del noviziato di san Benigno Canavese 1880 Sedicesimo viaggio a Roma Don Bosco accetta di completare la costruzione della basilica del Sacro Cuore in Roma 1881 Prima fondazione in Spagna: Utrera (Siviglia) Diciassettesimo viaggio a Roma Morte della Mazzarello 1882 Viaggio in Francia e nuovo viaggio a Roma Consacrazione della chiesa di san Giovanni Evangelista 1883 Il card. Alimonda vescovo di Torino Visita l'Oratorio don Achille Ratti, il futuro Pio XI Nomina di don Cagliero a vicario apostolico della Patagonia 1884 Importante viaggio in Francia, nonostante la malferma salute Diciannovesimo viaggio a Roma Lettera da Roma sullo stato dell'Oratorio Partecipazione delle scuole di Don Bosco alla Esposizione Nazionale dell'Industria di Torino, con apposito padiglione Consacrazione episcopale di mons. Cagliero 1885 Nonostante la salute malferma, Don Bosco fa un nuovo viaggio in Francia Nomina di don Rua a suo vicario, con diritto di successione 1886 Viaggio in Spagna 1887 Ultimo viaggio a Roma per la consacrazione della basilica del Sacro Cuore 11 dicembre: Don Bosco celebra l'ultima Messa 1888 31 gennaio: morte di Don Bosco


The visit to Valdocco is very simple and can be organized according to the needs of the various groups and the time available.

We recommend starting with the current Pinardi chapel (pp. 158-159), then moving on to the church of St. Francis de Sales (pp. 205-213), then going up to the Camerette (pp. 224-236) and concluding with the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians (pp. 237-264).

A visit to the Historical and Popular Marian Documentation Center (pp. 258-259), located under the Basilica, is also recommended, especially for the most qualified groups.

As a useful complement to the pilgrimage to Valdocco, it is to be hoped that those who have a chance will visit the church of San Giovanni Evangelista, built by Don Bosco (pp. 275-278), and above all that which was, until 1929, his tomb, a Valsalice (pp. 278-282).

Places suitable for a moment of reflection and prayer or for Mass: Pinardi Chapel - Church of St. Francis de Sales - Chapel of the Camerette - Basilica, after agreement with the Rector.

Then there are some rooms of various sizes in Valdocco, which can be used in agreement with the Rector of the Basilica or the Director of the Salesian Community.

3. Visit to the places

We illustrate the buildings that make up the Salesian citadel of Valdocco following a predominantly chronological criterion: 1) the historical nucleus constituted by the buildings erected between 1851 and 1856 (including the adaptations and additions of the following years): church of San Francesco di Sales and annexed building with the wing of the Camerette; 2) sanctuary of Mary Help of Christians (built between 1863 and 1868, with extensions carried out in 1935-1938); 3) other buildings built by Don Bosco, still existing: house of the porter's lodge and adjacencies (1874-1875) and house of typography (1881-1883); 4) buildings dating back to Don Bosco, but then rebuilt: former Filippi house (adapted and enlarged in 1861, totally rebuilt in 1952), former Audisio house (built between 1863 and 1864, demolished and rebuilt in 1954); 5) buildings erected after the death of Don Bosco: house of the Superior Chapter; building complex of the Professional Schools; buildings of the Middle School-Gymnasium and theater; sector of kitchen, laundry and refectory services; the buildings of the Oratory; 6) buildings overlooking Piazza Maria Ausiliatrice.

Finally, we add, for the reasons mentioned above, the presentation of the church of St. John the Evangelist and the house of Valsalice.

3.1. THE HISTORIC CORE (buildings erected between 1851 and 1856)

The consolidation and progressive development of the activities arising in the bed of the primitive Oratory, together with the overflowing number of festive and daily visitors, convinced Don Bosco of the absolute necessity of moving to a second phase: that of the construction of new environments so far only dreamed of. Faith in Divine Providence combined with witty and courageous initiative, gave the poor priest the courage to put his hand to a prohibitive undertaking for those who, like him, had no economic resources: recourse to private and public charity and the organization of lotteries will be the main sources of his income.

The first need was to build a more spacious and dignified church than the poor chapel-roof; the premises of the house annexed to the Oratory had to be expanded with the erection of a building designed to accommodate the young apprentices and students, mostly orphans and totally abandoned, that Don Bosco was welcoming.

3.1.1. Church of St. Francis de Sales (1851-1852)

Don Bosco had been forced to lengthen the Pinardi chapel by eliminating the primitive sacristy, adapting a room in the Pinardi house to this use, but the environment was uncomfortable, as Don Bosco writes, "for the capacity, and for the baseness. Since in order to enter it we had to descend two steps, so in winter and in rainy weather we were flooded, while in summer we were suffocated by the heat and by the excessive smell. Pel who spent a few holidays without some pupil being taken by exhaustion and taken out as asphyxiated. It was therefore necessary to give hand to a building more proportionate to the number of youngsters, more ventilated and healthy "(MO 226).

The design of the new church, with a façade on Via della Giardiniera, was entrusted to the architect Federico Blachier and its construction by the impresario Federico Bocca, who since 1847 helped the Oratory with offers. The Municipal Building Council approved the project on June 24th 1851, but the works had been started for about a month with the demolition of the partition wall between the two courtyards (the one in front of the Pinardi house and the one on the east side, where the church) and the excavation for the foundations.

On July 20, when the bases were already laid, the cornerstone laying ceremony took place. In place of Msgr. Fransoni, exile in Lyon, the blessing was imparted by can. Ottavio Moreno, Royal Treasurer General; the stone was placed by the banker Giuseppe Cotta, a generous benefactor of Don Bosco and of many charitable works in the city. In the presence of 600 oratorians and many guests, the doctrinaire father Barrera, enthusiastic, improvised a splendid speech in which he compared the cornerstone of the future church to the mustard grain and added: "It still means that the Work of the Oratories, based on the faith and on the charity of Jesus Christ, it will be as a motionless mass against which the enemies of Religion and the spirits of darkness will fight in vain "(MB 4, 277).

The work proceeded rapidly and in August the walls rose a few meters from the ground. To meet the expenses, Don Bosco had sold portions of the land, purchased from the seminary in 1850, to Giovanni Bat tista Coriasco and Giovanni Emanuel, but the 4000 liras obtained served him just to pay part of the excavations. He then issued public circulars and petitions, thanks to which he was able to collect 35,000 lire between large and small benefactors; another 1000 were offered by King Vittorio Emanuele and the same number by Msgr. Losana, bishop of Biella; the Royal Apostolic Economate awarded him 10,000 lire, payable on completion of the work. All this was not yet sufficient and in December 1851 Don Bosco organized a large lottery - the first of many that he will do later - from which he unexpectedly obtained 26,000 lire,

These economic necessities that led him to raise funds from public bodies and people of every social class also greatly contributed to spreading knowledge and esteem for his work.

The church was completed quickly and on June 20, 1852, while in Turin the celebration of the Consolata was celebrated, the curate of Borgo Dora, theologian Agostino Gattino, proceeded to the solemn blessing of the sacred building dedicated to Saint Francis of Sales. The ceremony, prolonged in the afternoon, witnessed a crowd of young people, people and distinguished characters and benefactors (cf. MB 4, 432-439).

Come nelle spese di costruzione, così per gli arredi concorsero tanti benefattori dei quali Don Bosco, riconoscente, volle tenere nota: «Terminata la chiesa, occorrevano arredi di tutti i generi. La carità cittadina non mancò. Il Com. Giuseppe Dupré fece abbellire una cappella che fu dedicata a S. Luigi, e comperò un altare di marmo, che tuttora adorna quella chiesa. Altro benefattore fece fare l'orchestra, sopra cui fu collocato il piccolo organo destinato a favore dei giovani esterni. Il sig. Michele Scannagatti comperò una compiuta muta di candelieri, il marchese Fassati fece fare l'altare della Madonna, provvide una muta di candelieri di bronzo e più tardi la statua della Madonna. D. Caffasso pagò tutte le spese occorse pel pulpito. L'altare magg. venne provveduto dal dottore Francesco Vallauri e completato dal suo figlio D. Pietro sacerdote» (MO 234-235).

Il campanile di san Francesco di Sales fu portato a termine tra il dicembre 1852 e il febbraio 1853. Su di esso, accanto alla campanella della primitiva chiesetta, il 22 maggio 1853 ne venne collocata una più grande, regalo del conte Carlo Cays (1813-1882), amico di Don Bosco, cattolico fra i più attivi di Torino, che nel 1876, rimasto vedovo, entrerà nella Società Salesiana e sarà consacrato sacerdote. Le due campane fu rono completamente rifuse nel 1929, in occasione della beatificazione di Don Bosco, perché avevano perso la loro primitiva sonorità.

Visita alla chiesa La visita a quella che viene chiamata la «Porziuncola salesiana» offre spunti per una riflessione sugli elementi essenziali della spiritualità vissuta e proposta da Don Bosco ai suoi giovani: nel piccolo coro dietro l'altare egli confessava per ore ogni giorno, attuando una forma di direzione spirituale essenziale e sostanziosa; l'Eucaristia celebrata, ricevuta e adorata costituiva il centro propulsore di tutta la proposta formativa; la Vergine Maria vi era venerata e amata come madre, invocata come aiuto, imitata come modello di perfezione; san Francesco di Sales, san Luigi Gonzaga, san Giuseppe costituivano altrettanti esempi di virtù da interiorizzare e riattualizzare. C'erano poi le numerose feste ben distribuite durante l'anno, le pratiche di pietà personali e comunitarie proposte sul Giovane provveduto, il canto sempre ben curato e adatto ai giovani, l'esempio quotidiano di Don Bosco, di mamma Margherita, dei primi salesiani e di tanti ragazzi eccezionali che qui alimentarono la loro vita interiore.

La chiesa, a croce latina, misura 28 metri di lunghezza e 11 di larghezza. Don Bosco la volle funzionale e dignitosa, ma essenziale nella decorazione.

A conclusione dei grandi lavori di sistemazione e ampiamento di Valdocco, decisi dai superiori maggiori e attuati progressivamente dall'economo generale don Fedele Giraudi, nel 1959 anche san Francesco di Sales venne restaurata e arricchita con la sostituzione del pavimento, il rivestimento in marmo e i quadri che oggi vediamo.

Sulla parete laterale destra, per chi entra dalla porta centrale, si incontra immediatamente una grande tela del Crida (1960) che rappresenta la prima Messa di don Michele Rua celebrata proprio in questa chiesa (30 luglio 1860); lo assiste Don Bosco e lo servono don Giovanni Cagliero e don Giovanni Battista Francesia: essi pure celebreranno qui la loro prima Messa il 15 giugno 1862.

Sulla porticina laterale sono raffigurati i conti Federico e Carlotta Cal-lori di Vignale (Crida, 1960), che furono tra i primi e più munifici benefattori e amici di Don Bosco.

Questa porta metteva in comunicazione chiesa e cortile interno. Di qui passavano Don Bosco, i ragazzi dell'Oratorio e tutti quelli di casa ogni volta che si recavano in cappella. Una piccola lapide posta all'esterno ricorda un fatto prodigioso verificatosi sul limitare della soglia e dovuto alla grande fede di Don Bosco e all'amore per i suoi giovani. Era usanza che la colazione, costituita da una semplice pagnottella, venisse distribuita ai giovani interni all'uscita dalla Messa. Un mattino del novembre 1860 il panettiere, sig. Magra, non aveva voluto portare il pane, perché da troppo tempo non era stato pagato. Don Bosco fece cercare tutto il pane che restava in dispensa: una ventina di pagnotte. Cominciò personalmente la distribuzione: «I giovani gli sfilavano d'innanzi — racconta Francesco Dal-mazzo, testimone della scena — contenti di riceverlo da lui e gli baciavano la mano, mentre a ciascheduno egli diceva una parola e dispensava un sorriso.

Tutti gli alunni, circa quattrocento, ricevettero il loro pane. Finita quella distribuzione io volli di bel nuovo esaminare la cesta del pane e con mia grande ammirazione, constatai essere rimasta nel canestro la stessa quantità di pane, quanta ve ne era prima, senza che fosse stato recato altro pane o mutato il cesto» (MB 6, 779) L'altare della cappella dedicata alla Madonna fu donato dai marchesi Domenico e Maria Fassati ed è rimasto pressoché identico: sono state ricostruite in marmo sia le due colonne di gesso che reggono il timpano, sia l'antica balaustrata in legno. Anche la statua dell'Immacolata che oggi vediamo nella nicchia non è originale. 11 marchese aveva regalato una Madonna del Rosario con Bambino, proveniente dal santuario della Consolata che, sostituita nei lavori del 1959, è andata dispersa.

I dite quadri sulla parete della cappella sono del Càffaro Rore e ritraggono fatti della vita di Domenico Savio avvenuti in questa chiesa: la visione di Pio IX che s'avanza con fiaccola verso gli anglicani inglesi e Domenico con alcuni amici che legge il regolamento della Compagnia dell'Immacolata. Infatti, proprio di fronte a questo altare, dove il Savio più volte al giorno veniva a pregare da solo o con qualche amico, l'8 giugno 1856 prese avvio la seconda compagnia dell'Oratorio, i cui membri si prefiggevàno un particolare impegno nei propri doveri, la tensione verso la santità e l'apostolato tra i compagni (cf OS 4, 42-45).

Già due anni prima, 1'8 dicembre 1854, giorno in cui Pio IX aveva proclamato il dogma della Immacolata Concezione, Domenico di fronte a questa statua si era consacrato alla Vergine: «La sera di quel giorno, 8 dicembre, compiute le sacre funzioni di chiesa, col consiglio del confessore, Domenico andò davanti all'altare di Maria, rinnovò le promesse fatte nella prima comunione, di poi disse più e più volte queste precise parole: Maria, vi dono il mio cuore; fate che sia sempre vostro. Gesù e Maria, siate voi sempre gli amici miei! ma per pietà, fatemi morir piuttosto che mi accada la disgrazia di commettere un solo peccato» (OS 4, 21).

Sul pilastro che sta tra la cappella della Madonna e il presbiterio era collocato il pulpito, pagato dal Cafasso, al quale si accedeva con scaletta dal presbiterio stesso. Oggi è conservato nel Museo annesso alle Camerette di Don Bosco. Su quel pulpito Don Bosco ebbe a pronunciare la predica che determinò un nuovo e più decisivo impegno spirituale del giovanissimo Domenico: «Erano sei mesi da che il Savio dimorava all'Oratorio, quando fu ivi fatta una predica sul modo facile di farsi santo. Il predicatore si fermò specialmente a sviluppare tre pensieri che fecero profonda impressione sull'animo di Domenico, vale a dire: è volontà di Dio che ci facciamo tutti santi: è assai facile di riuscirvi: è un gran premio preparato in cielo a chi si fa santo. Quella predica per Domenico fu come una scintilla che gli infiammò il cuore d'amore di Dio. Per qualche giorno disse nulla, ma era meno allegro del solito, sicché se ne accorsero i compagni e me ne accorsi anch'io. Giudicando che ciò provenisse da novello incomodo di sanità, gli chiesi se pativa qualche male. Anzi, mi rispose, patisco qualche bene. — Che vorresti dire? Voglio dire che mi sento un desiderio ed un bisogno di farmi santo: io non pensava di potermi far santo con tanta facilità; ma ora che ho capito potersi ciò effettuare anche stando allegro, io voglio assolutamente ed ho assolutamente bisogno di farmi santo. Mi dica adunque come debbo regolarmi per incominciare tale impresa.

Io lodai il proposito, ma lo esortai a non inquietarsi, perché nelle commozioni dell'animo non si conosce la voce del Signore; che anzi io voleva per prima cosa una costante e moderata allegria: e consigliandolo di essere perseverante nell'adempimento dei suoi doveri di pietà e di studio, gli raccomandai che non mancasse di prendere sempre parte alla ricreazione coi suoi compagni» (OS 4, 25).

Dell'altare maggiore, donato dalla famiglia del dott. Vallauri, si conservano ancora il tabernacolo e le «scaffe», cioè i ripiani per i candelieri. ridotti però da tre a due. È stato modificato anche il supporto della mensa perché don Giraudi aveva intenzione di collocarvi l'urna di don Rua appena questi fosse stato proclamato beato.

Ricordiamo che questo tabernacolo è stato benedetto da Don Bosco il 7 aprile 1852. Era il centro ideale della chiesa e di tutta la vita dell'Ora torio. Don Bosco ripeteva spesso ai suoi giovani che le colonne della vita spirituale sono i sacramenti dell'Eucaristia e della Penitenza, celebrati con impegno e con frequenza regolare. Con questi due mezzi egli trasformò tanti poveri ragazzi in giganti dello spirito.

L'originale balaustra in legno dell'altar maggiore, testimone delle ferventi comunioni di mamma Margherita, di Domenico Savio, di tutti i giovani e i salesiani della prima generazione, è oggi esposta nel Museo delle Camerette.

Sulla parete destra del presbiterio è raffigurata la famosa estasi di Domenico dopo la comunione (Càffaro Rore); su quella sinistra, sopra la porta della sacrestia, è ritratto san Giuseppe Cafasso in preghiera (Favaro, 1960).

On the wall of the apse at first Don Bosco had placed a picture of St. Francis de Sales, probably the one that was in the Pinardi chapel and came from the Ospedaletto. Later he replaced it with a beautiful statue of the saint, now preserved in the Museum of the Historical and Popular Marian Documentation Center located under the Basilica of the Help of Christians. In the 1959 restorations the two apse windows were moved more to the side and in the greater space the Crida (1959) frescoed St. Francis de Sales on his knees while he composed his spiritual treatises: it is a copy of the beautiful canvas by Enrico Reffo (1890) , commissioned by Fr Rua for the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians and now kept in the Museum mentioned above.

The choir behind the high altar, in which there were some benches, was the place preferred by Domenico Savio for the prayer of thanksgiving after the communion. One day, during thanksgiving, one of the ecstasies described by Don Bosco in the life of the young saint took place: "Going to church several times, especially on the day when Dominic made holy communion or the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, he remained as enraptured by the senses ; so much so that he let too long time pass, if he was not called to perform his ordinary duties.

It happened one day that he missed from breakfast, from school, and from the same lunch, and he didn't know where it was; he wasn't in the study, not even in bed. Referring to the Director this, he was suspected of what he really was, that he was in church, as it had happened before. Enter the church, go into the choir and see it there as a stone. He held one foot on the other, one hand resting on the lectern of the antiphonary, the other on his chest with his face fixed and facing the tabernacle. He didn't move his eyelid. He calls it, nothing answers. He shakes him, and then looks at him and says: Oh is the mass already over? You see, the Director added, showing him the clock, it's two o'clock. He humbly asked forgiveness for the transgression of the house rules, and the Director sent him to lunch, saying: If someone tells you: do you come? you will answer, come from executing a command of mine "(OS 4, 53-54).

With the construction of this church Don Bosco could better treat Eucharistic celebrations and religious services. Every day and especially in the holidays, he wanted devotion, precision, decorum and solemnity. The cleric Giuseppe Bongiovanni (1836-1868), who in 1857 had founded the Compagnia del SS. Sacrament, «with the end of the regular attendance of the Sacraments and of the cult of the Holy One Eucharist "(MB 5, 759), the following year he organized the group of the Little Clergy among the best young people:" Beyond the decorum of the house of God, its primary purpose was to cultivate the vocation to the ecclesiastical state in the most virtuous young students. and especially among the pupils of the upper classes. Eglino, after having conveniently trained in ecclesiastical ceremonies, had to, dressed in cassock and cooked, to serve the holy mass on holidays, and to witness the sacred functions in the presbytery in body during the main solemnities of the year. If necessary they were also prepared for the office of ceriferous, acolytes, turiferarians, crucifixers, masters of ceremonies, etc., for the solemn mass, vespers, for the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament Sacrament, for processions, for all the functions of Holy Week and offices and funeral accompaniment "(MB 5, 788).

On the left side of the presbytery opens the sacristy built in 1860 (see fig. 12, n. 3) by the impresario Carlo Buzzetti who, together with his brother Giuseppe, Salesian brother, had been one of the first boys gathered in December 1841 after the meeting with Bartolomeo Garelli. Until 1860 a sacristy of the Pinardi house was used as a sacristy first, then, from 1856, the bottom part of the current Pinardi chapel.

Leaning against the pillar that borders the presbytery on the left (opposite to the one where the pulpit was), Don Bosco had placed a statue of Saint Joseph, preserved today in the Museum of the Mariana Documentation Center.

LT Saint had been chosen among the protectors of the Oratory, special patron saint of young artisans, among whom in 1859 the cleric Giovanni Bonetti (1838-1891) would have established the Society of Saint Joseph in order "to promote the glory of God and the practice of Christian virtues "(MB 6, 194).

The chapel of St. Louis - with the exception of replacing the balustrade - is the part of the church that was less reworked: the altars, donated by the banker Giuseppe Duprè, the tabernacle, the niche and the statue of St. Louis are original. This simple plaster effigy, bought by Don Bosco perhaps even at the time of the chapel-shed, was carried in procession on the day of the feast and reminded the young of that model of evangelical charity and youthful chastity in which some of the fundamental values ​​of spirituality were effectively concretized their proposal. On the side walls two canvases by Favaro depict, the first (1961) Domenico Savio, Francesco Besucco and Michele Magone (the three perfect imitators of Saint Louis of whom Don Bosco wrote life), the second (1959), Pancrazio Soave which indicates to Santo di Valdocco Pinardi house.

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On the left wall of the church, returning to the front door, we still encounter two large paintings by Dalle Ceste (1960): one represents the dream of 1846 in which the Virgin Mary had indicated to Don Bosco the future church of St. Francis of Sales (cf MB 2, 406); the other depicts the preaching of St. Francis de Sales to the people.

The capable orchestra placed at the back was wanted by the Saint for the choir he himself began and then perfected by Giovanni Cagliero (1838-1926), one of the first Salesians, a good musician and future cardinal. The orchestra was soon equipped with a small organ, later replaced by other better instruments; the current one is from the firm Tamburini di Crema (1959).

3.1.2. The 1853 building (Don Bosco house)

At the end of the work for the church of San Francesco di Sales, Don Bosco, who has not yet finished paying his debts, decides to go immediately to the second phase of the project: the construction of a building that offers him a dignified environment and space to develop activities of the Oratory and to host, in a less precarious way, the many totally abandoned boys who meet or are recommended to them. The growing group of young interns, welcomed in the poor little rooms of the Pinardi house, at the beginning of 1852 exceeded the age of thirty and needed larger dormitories, a study room and a refectory. Until now, in fact, except for the small group of paying guests, everyone ate in his mess-tin dispersing in the courtyard or in the rooms of the house.

Giovanni Cagliero who, left fatherless, arrives at the Valdocco at the age of 13 in 1851, he describes the poverty of those early beginnings and the familiar welcome of Don Bosco and mother Margherita: «I always remember with pleasure the moment of my entry into the Oratory the evening of November 2nd. Don Bosco introduced me to good mother Margherita, saying: "Here, mother, a boy from Castelnuovo, who has a firm will to make himself good and to study."

His mother replied: "Oh yes, all you do is look for boys, while you know we are lacking places."

Don Bosco, smiling, added: "Oh, you'll find some nooks!" "Putting it in your room," answered my mother.

- Oh, it's not necessary. This young man, as you can see, is not large, and we will put him to sleep in the breadstick basket; and with a rope we will attach it upward to a beam; and here is the beautiful place found in the manner of the canary cage. - He laughed his mother and in the meantime searched for a site, and it was necessary for that night that I slept with a friend of mine at the foot of his bed.

The next day I saw that everything was poor in that little house. The room of D. Bosco is low and cramped, our dormitories on the ground floor, narrow and paved with street stones, and with no furnishings, except our straw mattresses, sheets and blankets. The kitchen was very mean and devoid of dishes, except for a few bowls of tin with the respective spoon. Then we saw forks and knives and wipes many years later, bought or given as gifts by some pious and charitable person. Our refectory was a shed, and that of D. Bosco was a small room, near the well, which served as a school and place of recreation. And all this cooperated to keep us in the low and poor condition in which we were born and in which we found ourselves educated by the example of the servant of God, who very much enjoyed,

His common life, which he did with us, persuaded us that more than in hospice or boarding school, we found ourselves as in family, under the direction of a very amorous father and of nothing else but our spiritual and temporal good »(MB 4 , 291-292).

The outbreak of the nearby powder keg, which occurred on April 26, 1852, had damaged the fragile pine house: it was therefore necessary not to delay.

Construction In the summer of 1852 excavations were carried out for the new building that was to rise on the extension of the Pinardi house, eastwards, up to the dividing wall with the Filippi property, along which a wing of the building would have stretched forward, parallel to the church of St. Francis de Sales (see fig. 9 and 10). In November the walls had reached the height of the second floor. On the 20th, due to the breaking of a scaffolding in the east arm, that of the Camerette, a wall from the top floor collapsed, seriously injuring three workers (cf. MB 4, 506). Don Bosco was very sad about it, but the work resumed intensely due to the urgency of arranging the dormitories and evening schools for artisans. In about ten days we reached the roof.

"The factory was on the lid. Already the beams placed in place, the nailed strips, the tiles stacked on the top to be neatly laid there; when a violent and prolonged downpour caused all work to stop. Nor was it all here; for the rain thinned more days and nights, and the water, flowing and dripping from the beams and strips, rose and drew with it the fresh and perhaps even mortar, leaving the walls like a pile of bricks and stones without cement and binding "(MB 4, 507).

La notte del 1° dicembre 1852, verso le undici, la nuova costruzione crollò. Don Bosco e i giovani interni che stavano dormendo non subirono danni. 11 giorno successivo si vide un grosso pilastro in bilico sul lato di casa Pinardi in cui si trovavano la stanza di Don Bosco e i dormitori dei giovani, miracolosamente rimasto al suo posto. Fu un disastro economico, ma il Santo non si scoraggiò.

In attesa di riprendere i lavori nella primavera, fece sistemare la vecchia cappella-tettoia trasformandola in dormitorio e trasferì le scuole nella nuova chiesa, la quale al mattino e nei giorni festivi serviva per il culto e la preghiera e lungo la settimana, dopo pranzo e alla sera, si trasformava in grande aula. Le classi erano distribuite in coro, in presbiterio, nelle due cappelle laterali, in orchestra e nel corpo della chiesa. Si può facilmente immaginare l'effetto sonoro che ne derivava, ma tutti vi si adattarono facilmente (cf MB 4, 517).

Con la bella stagione i lavori ripresero e anche le fatiche di Don Bo sco per reperire i fondi necessari. Nell'ottobre 1853 la casa era tel mina ta, con un bel porticato, tanto necessario nei giorni del maltempo. Alla fine di quel mese vi furono trasferite le scuole, il refettorio e i dormitori, mentre la cappella-tettoia venne destinata a sala di studio. Si poterono accogliere altri giovani, così il loro numero salì a 65; verso la fine dell'estate 1854 erano già 76.

Anche Don Bosco trasferì la sua stanza nella nuova costruzione, al secondo piano del braccio parallelo alla chiesa, che era composto di tre stanze allineate: «Quella che faceva angolo colla parte principale dell'edilizio fu occupata da due o tre giovani, che ivi abitarono e dormirono, pronti ad ogni bisogno di Don Bosco; la seconda doveva servire quasi di biblioteca, e quivi era lo scrittoio pel Ch. Rua; l'ultima, che aveva una finestra a mezzogiorno, D. Bosco la scelse per suo alloggio (...).

In que' giorni però, essendo l'edifizio finito di fresco, quella stanza era umidissima e tutte le mattine ogni oggetto era bagnato da gocciolarne; un paio di scarpe lasciato per due giorni sotto il letto si copriva di muffa. D. Bosco ne aveva fatto coprire le mura con grosse tappezzerie di carta, perché non avvertissero l'inconveniente coloro che venivano a visitarlo; e in poco tempo quella tappezzeria divenne tutta nera muffita, e finì con cadere a brandelli. Ma non era possibile fare altrimenti» (MB 4, 657-658).

Nuove attività Con l'aumento dello spazio disponibile si inaugurarono anche altre attività. La preoccupazione di collocare dignitosamente i suoi giovani ar tigiani, affinché potessero ricevere una buona formazione professionale e umana insieme, aveva occupato Don Bosco fin dai primi tempi dell'Oratorio. Egli cercava padroni onesti, andava a visitare i ragazzi sul lavoro e, dal novembre 1851, cominciò a stipulare veri contratti di apprendistato, che ben presto stilò a norma di legge su carta bollata. Nonostante la vigilanza e la cura, continuavano a verificarsi inconvenienti a volte gravi. Decise allora di costituire laboratori interni, con l'idea di trasformarli in vere scuole artigianali.

Così alla fine del 1853 avviò i primi due piccoli laboratori: quello dei calzolai e quello dei sarti. Il primo, affidato a Domenico Goffi, lo collocò in un piccolo corridoio di casa Pinardi presso il campanile, il secondo, sotto la guida del sarto Papino, ebbe sede nell'antica cucina.

He compiled a Regulation for the Masters of Art to determine their duties and professional and training responsibilities towards apprentices (cf. MB 4, 659-662). With the experience of the following years this first sketch will mature in a more complete and organic Regulation of the Laboratories (1862) (cf MB 7, 116-118). The first laboratories had the purpose of guaranteeing a solid professional training to the young apprentices and at the same time that of removing them from the danger represented by anticlerical and obscene speeches or by scandals that easily occurred in the external shops. At the same time, however, they came to meet the primary needs of a house where so many poor young people were welcomed to dress and put on and that was expanding with continuous small and large buildings.

The abbot Antonio Rosmini, with whom Don Bosco was on friendly terms, suggested that he also set up a printing house. The Saint, who was starting the popular series of Catholic Readings, appreciated the suggestion, but, waiting to find the space and the huge capital needed for the enterprise (he will succeed only in 1861), he was content to start the bookbinding workshop in 1854. He assigned to this activity the second room on the ground floor of the new building, near the staircase, with a small attached commercial library. In this case, the master binder was Don Bosco himself, and the first student was called Bedino (cf MB 5, 34-37).

Once the building was finished, Don Bosco wanted to complete it immediately with the demolition of the Pinardi house, so as to join it with the church. But, between the end of 1853 and the beginning of 1854, there was a general economic crisis of the State with the consequent swirling increase in the prices of foodstuffs and building in particular. The project was shelved for the moment, as it was more urgent to raise funds to feed the boys.

3.1.3. The 1856 building (formerly the Pinardi house)

At the beginning of 1856, despite the fact that one of his loan applications to the Ministry of the Interior received a negative response due to the continuing economic crisis, Don Bosco set about completing the new building.

"He therefore called a certain Mr. Giovenale Delponte, who worked as an engineer and contractor, and asked him if he had money for the first expenses.

- No, he answered.

- And neither did I, Don Bosco added.

- And how do we do that? - Let us begin equally, concluded Don Bosco, and before it is time to pay the workers, the Lord will send us some money.

This was the usual phrase that Don Bosco repeated to the builders every time one of his many factories began. - This new building is needed; I have no money; but in the meantime let's start and do soon. - It was estimated that 40,000 lire was needed for those jobs, and Villa Giovanni heard several times Don Bosco exclaim: - Don Bosco is poor, but we can do everything in God; Providence will do everything "(MB 5, 455-456).

With this trust he sent out letters and appeals to friends, benefactors and public bodies and work began in March. When the Pinardi house was demolished, the foundations were dug. In five months the house was finished and covered. Even in this case, however, an accident made the costs worse.

Already windows, doors and glazed windows were put in place when on August 22 at around 10 am, while a worker disarmed the top floor, a joist fell to the vault and punctured it. This collapsed breaking down the lower floors all the way to the cellars. Only the perimeter walls remained standing.

Faith in God and enthusiasm for his mission made Don Bosco overcome all discouragement and he wanted the work to be resumed immediately. Thus at the beginning of October (1856) everything was finished.

The two buildings, that of 1853 and the new, formed a single body, with a characteristic appearance, with elements borrowed from Turin's popular building of the time, which exploited all the spaces: the dormers to make attics and long external balconies habitable access the rooms without the need for interior corridors (see fig. 11).

"He managed which he wanted, of the utmost simplicity. He did not admit to shaving clubs, he disapproved of too wide corridors and staircases; and the builders made such passages that they would not allow more than one person to enter at a time (...).

 db places And Don Bosco had the whole house given sixth, and each room assigned the destination "(MB 5, 539).

Distribution of the environments (cf MB 5, 539-540) In the basements there were kitchen and refectories; they will remain there until 1927.

On the ground floor the environment of the current chapel Pinardi was divided into two parts: the one towards the church of San Francesco, occupying the space of two windows, was intended as a sacristy; the rest, on winter evenings, welcomed the boys for prayers and the Good Night; later, it will serve as a refectory for Don Bosco and his collaborators.

On the right of the staircase in the building of 1853 (= Don Bosco house) three adjacent large rooms housed the shoemaking, bookbinding and carpentry workshops, next to which a large room under Don Bosco's library and room was used to store the timber.

On the first floor, starting from the church, in the two rows of rooms, there were the tailors' workshop, some classrooms, the Prefect Don Alasonatti's office, the reception room for foreigners, a large study room (addressed to noon, on the porch) and a dormitory for the artisans, just below Don Bosco's room.

On the second floor, in a room carved above the chapel of the Madonna, was the vocal music school, entrusted to Cagliero. The instrumental music school, the pantry, the infirmary, the home of mother Margaret and her helpers and a community laundry room were located on the south side of the house. Some dormitories were located on the northern front.

Anche nelle soffitte, illuminate e arieggiate con gli abbaini che ancora vediamo, si erano ricavati dei dormitori sul lato nord, e una fila di cellette per gli insegnanti e i chierici più anziani, sul lato sud.

Sotto il lungo porticato che collega la chiesa con il braccio delle «Camerette» Don Bosco fece dipingere da Pietro Enria una serie di scritte bibliche latine con traduzione italiana. Sono le stesse che ancor oggi leggiamo incise su lastre di marmo. Le nove frasi riportate nelle lunette degli archi costituiscono quasi un piccolo trattato sul sacramento della penitenza; quelle stilate su ciascun pilastro si riferiscono ai dieci comandamenti.

Su uno dei pilastri una piccola lapide ci ricorda anche il posto esatto in cui stava la cattedra dalla quale Don Bosco al termine delle preghiere dava la Buona Notte.

Sulla parete verso la chiesa, in una nicchia, venne collocata la statua della Madonna, di fronte alla quale, nella bella stagione, gli studenti si raccoglievano per le preghiere della sera. In occasione del mese di maggio e delle principali feste mariane la statuetta, diversa da quella che vediamo oggi, era ornata di drappi e di lumi. Su di un quadretto appeso lì accanto si esponevano i fioretti e le giaculatorie proposte giorno per giorno in simili circostanze.

Accanto alla nicchia vediamo oggi un affresco del Crida che riproduce il disegno della primitiva casa Pinardi lasciatoci dal pittore Bartolomeo Bellisio (1832-1904) da Cherasco, che vi era stato ospite da ragazzo. L'antica casa occupava appunto lo spazio degli attuali portici. Di essa si conserva ancora la vasca della pompa per l'acqua, collocata all'esterno sul secondo pilastro da sinistra. Ad essa bevevano i ragazzi e si attingeva per gli usi domestici e igienici. L'acqua in quei primi tempi era fornita da un pozzo scavato sotto la vasca. L'acquedotto pubblico arriverà a Valdocco soltanto dopo il settembre 1863 (cf MB 7, 743).

The student section With the availability of the new premises, the Hospice for young inmates took greater development. Already in 1851 Don Bosco had drawn up some disciplinary rules which, with the passing of years and with experience, were articulated in a Regulation for the House annexed to the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales, concluded in 1854 (cf MB 4, 437 -438; reported in full on pp. 735-755).

In the school year 1851-1852 the number of student interiors had exceeded the dozen and Don Bosco, who until then had instructed them personally or with the help of Don Merla, began to send them regularly to the private schools of prof. Giuseppe Bonzanino (lower gymnasium) and prof. don Matte () Picco (Humanity and Rhetoric).

The two excellent teachers welcomed Don Bosco's poor children for free and for years, putting them, as an example of commitment and good conduct, alongside the students, all from distinguished and noble families.

When Domenico Savio came to the Oratory in the autumn of 1854, the interiors were already eighty, half students and half artisans. Domenico attended prof. Bonzanino.

In the school year 1855-1856, Don Bosco began the first internal school, entrusting the third gymnasium to seventeen-year-old cleric Giovanni Battista Francesia, attended among others by Domenico Savio. The school was held in the old chapel-shed. The students of first and second high school and of Humanity and Rhetoric continued to attend the professors Bonzanino and Picco (cf MB 5, 360-361).

The following year (1856-1857), since the student interiors were 85 (the artisans about seventy), prof. Blanchi di Foglizzo, to whom the combined classes of first and second were assigned (cf MB 5, 548). In this year, in the few months before his death, Domenico Savio attended Humanity at Don Picco's house.

In 1857-1858, with 121 students and 78 artigiani, the classi interno were from ginnastial prima (ch. Francesia), second gymnasium (ch. Turchi), third gymnasium (don Ramello).

On November 7, 1857, the conditions of acceptance for the Oratory students were published in the Turin Catholic newspaper L'Armonia: «1) That the young man is twelve years old and does not exceed eighteen.

2) Orphan of father and mother, or have brothers or sisters, or other relatives who can care for them.

3) Totally poor and abandoned. If the other conditions are fulfilled, the young man has something, he will have to take it to the House and will be employed in his favor, because it is not right that he should enjoy the charity of others who can live on his own.

4) That it is healthy and robust; he has no deformity in the person, nor is he affected by disgust or stickiness. - 5) Those who attend the festive Oratory of St. Louis, of the holy Custodian Angel and of St. Francis of Sales will preferably be welcomed; because this house is especially destined to gather those absolutely poor and abandoned young people who are taking part in some of the sumerovati Oratorios "(MB 5, 754-755).

Finally, at the beginning of the school year 1859-1860, Don Bosco succeeded in implementing the long-awaited project to open all the gymnasium schools within the Oratory, with young teachers all his own: ch. Celestino Durando (the class, with 96 students!), Ch. According to Pettiva a classe), ch. Giovanni Turchi (3rd class), ch. Giovanni B. Francesia (4th and 5th gymnasium). From this moment the student section became increasingly important, outnumbering that of artisans. The purpose of Don Bosco was mainly to help the poorest, but good and well-endowed young people to upgrade their higher studies to provide the Chie with saints and zealous priests and to society honest citizens, animated by solid civil and Christian values.

From a statistic sent by Don Bosco to the Provveditore to the studies concerning the year 1861-1862, we learn that the school students in classrooms were 318 plus 14 external, divided as follows: 96 students in the first class, 68 in the second, 87 in the third , 38 in the fourth and 39 in the fifth.

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Other constructions (between 1856 and 1859) While moving and furnishing the new spaces, Don Bosco decided to make separate rooms to open a day and day elementary school totally free for the children of the area who could not go to the city schools or were not welcomed.

So between October and November 1856, leaning against the wall on Via della Giardiniera, near the entrance door, he built a triangular room with only a ground floor, in which he obtained two classrooms (one larger for elementary schools, the other smaller for an evening class) and a small room for the doorkeeper (see fig. 9, n. 4).

The external elementary schools began in the beginning of 1857, entrusted to the young maestro Rossi Giacomo da Foglizzo, who was also a talented singer and trombone player (cf MB 5, 553). In 1861 these schools were transferred to the Filippi house, and in the two rooms at Via della Giardiniera the first printing press was temporarily placed, entrusted to the master-typographer Andrea Giardino, then (from 1862 to 1869) the blacksmiths' workshop.

Next to this place, beyond the main door, between 1859 and 1860 Don Bosco built, with the financial help of Don Cafasso, a more dignified porter's lodge, with a porter's room, a parlor for the relatives of the young and a canopy over the entrance hall of entry (cf ODB 131; see fig. 12, n. 2). But after the acquisition and adaptation works of the Filippi house, a new porter's lodge was built in 1863, in the south corner of the land bought by the Filippi brothers. In the rooms of the old porter the laboratories of shoemakers and tailors were arranged (cf MB 7, 543).

In order to be able to welcome all the school classes to Valdocco, when he had his own teachers, Don Bosco had to procure new classrooms. In the summer of 1859 he entrusted the impresario Giovenale Delponte with the task of building a shed leaning against the boundary wall in the courtyard to the north and had it divided into three spacious classrooms (see fig. 12, n. 1). At the same time next to the new shed, more to the right, the shed of the wash-house was demolished and a large room was built for the laundry with adjoining woodshed (cf MB 6, 266). These two buildings will be demolished in 1873.

3.1.4. The "Camerette" of Don Bosco (1853 with extensions of 1861, 1862 and 1876)

The east arm of the building with the room of Don Bosco, built in 1853 parallel to the church of San Francesco di Sales, underwent progressive enlargements during the life of the Saint. The building we see today is doubled in width and elongated compared to the original construction.

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We visit it following an itinerary that allows us to understand its progressive developments.

Building of 1853 The large room on the ground floor was used as a warehouse for timber for the joinery. In recent years it had housed the religious objects shop and since 1988 it has been reserved for use by pilgrims.

Going up the staircase under the portico, built in 1929 to facilitate visitor access, we find on the first floor some presentation rooms of the figure of Don Bosco and the Salesian Opera. Here the Saint had initially placed a dormitory for young artisans and later a study room. The offices of the Salesian Bulletin were located in these areas before 1988.

On the walls of the ramp that leads to the second floor there are two paintings by Crida. The first, from 1954, depicts Don Bosco, mother Margaret and the Gray, the dog of unknown origin who many times providentially accompanied and defended Don Bosco when he, having to leave the Oratory, ran the risk of remaining a victim of enemies and yet intended . The other painting (1929) represents Don Bosco in the act of delivering the Constitutions of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians to St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello.

On the second floor, on entering, we meet on the right the room (today reduced compared to the old one for the construction of the staircase) where the shelves of the primitive library and the desk of the ch. Michele Rua (fig. 13, n. 2). Later it was used as an office for Don Gioachino Berto, secretary of Don Bosco. Later, from 1865 to 1888, he became Don Rua's bedroom when he was elected Prefect General, that is, Vicar of Don Bosco, and of those who succeeded him in this position: Don Domenico Belmonte (from 1888 to 1901) and Don Filippo Rinaldi (from 1901 to 1914).

From this room we pass to what was for eight years the first chamber of Don Bosco (1853-1861; fig. 13, n. 1). To access it, in the building of 1853, one had to pass on the external gallery. It was illuminated by the glass door of the balcony and a window at noon, where today there is the door that leads into the chapel.

The furniture was very simple and essential: "The furnishings of this one, which did not change until he lived, were a small iron bed and furniture, partly donated by benefactors; some chairs more than ordinary, for a writing desk a narrow and rough table without a carpet and shelves, an old and old canapé, a round burò for storing papers, a very simple poplar kneeler, which was used for confessions, a crucifix and some paintings with sacred images. For a long time that single room served as bedroom, reception room, appearance and office "(MB 4, 657-658).

This environment - that of the primitive preserves a fragment of the ancient terracotta floor and the reproduction of the sign "Da mihi animas coetera tolle" - has witnessed vigils, prayers, readings, interviews, correspondences. Among the main events we recall the meeting with Domenico Savio and the foundation of the Salesian Society.

In the last weeks of October 1854, approaching the beginning of the school year, the new young people accepted at Valdocco arrived with their bundles. Dominic Savio was among the first to present himself, as Don Bosco tells us: "Coming to the house of the Oratory, he went to my room to give himself, as he said, entirely in the hands of his superiors. His gaze immediately settled on a sign, on which the following words used to be repeated in large letters: St. Francis de Sales: Da mihi animas, coetera tolle. Fecesi read carefully and I wanted him to understand its meaning. Therefore I invited her, indeed I helped her to translate them and get this sense: O Lord, give me souls, and take all the other things. He thought for a moment and then added: I understood: here you have no money shop, but soul shop, I understand; I hope that my soul will also be part of this trade "(OS 4, 19-20).

The official act of beginning of the Salesian Congregation is dated December 18, 1859, but for five years Don Bosco had been patiently preparing those who would form the supporting nucleus. He used to gather young collaborators periodically, to guide them in personal formation and in their educational task. On January 26, 1854 he called in his room those he considered most in tune with his spirit and made a special proposal to them: "On the evening of January 26, 1854 - recalled Don Rua in the report drawn up at the end of that meeting - we gathered in D's room . Bosco: it D. Bosco, Rocchietti, Artiglia, Cagliero and Rua; and we were offered to do with the help of the Lord and St. Francis de Sales a proof of practical exercise of charity towards our neighbor, to then come to a promise; and therefore, if it will be possible and convenient to make a vow to the Lord. From that evening the name of Salesians was given to those who proposed themselves and proposed such an exercise "(MB 5, 9).

«Erasi celebrata solennemente nell'Oratorio la festa dell'Immacolata Concezione di Maria SS. (ndr: siamo nel 1859) e D. Bosco in quella sera annunciava in pubblico come il domani, venerdì, avrebbe tenuta una conferenza speciale in sua camera dopo che i giovani si fossero ritirati a riposare. Quelli che dovevano intervenire intesero l'invito. I preti, i chierici, i laici che cooperavano alle fatiche di D. Bosco nell'Oratorio e ammessi entro le segrete cose, presentivano che quella radunanza doveva essere importante.

Il 9 dicembre adunque 1859 si radunarono.

Invocato colle solite preghiere il lume dello Spirito Santo e l'assistenza di Maria SS., fatto cenno di ciò che aveva esposto nelle precedenti conferenze, D. Bosco descrisse che cosa fosse una congregazione religiosa, la bellezza di questa, l'onore immortale di chi si consacra tutto a Dio, la facilità di salvare l'anima propria, il cumulo inestimabile di meriti che si può acquistare coll'obbedienza, la gloria immarcescibile e la doppia corona che attende il religioso in paradiso.

Quindi con visibile commozione annunziò essere venuto il tempo di dare forma a quella Congregazione, che da tanto tempo egli meditava di erigere e che era stato l'oggetto principale di tutte le sue cure (...).

Concluse essere giunto per tutti quelli che frequentavano le sue conferenze, il momento per dichiarare se volevano o non volevano ascriversi alla Pia Società che avrebbe preso, anzi conservato, il nome da S. Francesco di Sales. Coloro che non avessero intenzione di appartenervi essere pregati a non venir più alle conferenze, che egli terrebbe in avvenire. Il non presentarsi sarebbe segno senz'altro di non avere essi aderito. Dava a tutti una settimana di tempo per riflettere e trattare quell'importante affare con Dio.

(- -).

Il Ch. Cagliero Giovanni era indeciso se dovesse o no prendere parte alla nuova Congregazione. Passeggiò per lunga ora sotto i portici agitato da vani pensieri: finalmente esclamò volgendosi ad un amico: — O frate o non frate, intanto è lo stesso. Son deciso, come lo fui sempre, di non staccarmi mai da Don Bosco! — Quindi scriveva un biglietto a D. Bosco col quale dicevagli rimettersi pienamente ai consigli e alla decisione del suo superiore. E D. Bosco incontrandolo guardollo sorridendo e poi: — Vieni, vieni, gli disse: questa è la tua via! La conferenza di adesione alla Pia Società fu tenuta il 18 dicembre 1859. Due soli non si presentarono» (MB 6, 333-335).

Già qualche anno prima, in questa stanza, Michele Rua, mentre frequentava il secondo corso filosofico, il 25 marzo 1855, aveva emesso privatamente i voti nelle mani di Don Bosco, primo fra i Salesiani, imitato poco dopo da don Alasonatti e dal ch. Giovanni B. Francesia (cf MB 5, 213 e 438).

Su questa stessa stanza si abbatté un fulmine la notte del 15 maggio 1861, dopo aver creato scompiglio nella sovrastante camerata. I danni furono molti e grande lo spavento, ma tutti rimasero illesi. Quando si terminò l'allargamento dell'edificio, 1'8 dicembre 1861, Don Bosco volle collocare al centro del timpano una statuetta della Madonna come «parafulmine» contro ogni male dell'Oratorio. Ancora oggi, sul frontone delle Camerette, quello costruito nel 1876, si può vedere una statua dell'Ausiliatrice che ci ricorda il fatto.

Nella parte di raccordo tra l'ala delle Camerette e l'edificio del 1853, dove si trovavano due stanze abitate inizialmente da alcuni giovani, è stata allestita una cappella per i gruppi. Vi sono conservati tanti ricordi. Il più prezioso è il piccolo altare-armadio che si trovava nella primitiva stanza del Santo trasformata in anticamera. Su di esso Don Bosco celebrò spesso la messa fino al 1886. Viene chiamato l'altare dell'estasi perché, nel dicembre 1878, durante la celebrazione dell'Eucaristia, il Santo ebbe un rapimento mistico, di cui fu testimone don Evasio Garrone, che — allora ragazzo — gli faceva da chierichetto: «Con un suo compagno per nome Franchini serviva la Messa a Don Bosco nella cappelletta presso la sua camera, quando all'elevazione videro il celebrante estatico e con un'aria di paradiso sul volto: sembrava che rischiarasse tutta la cappellina. Quindi a poco a poco i suoi piedi si staccarono dalla predella ed egli rimase sospeso in aria per ben dieci minuti. I due servienti non arrivavano ad alzargli la pianeta. Garrone, fuor di sé dallo stupore, corse a chiamare Don Berto, ma non lo trovò; ritornando arrivò mentre Don Bosco discendeva: ma nel luogo aleggiava un non so che di paradisiaco» (MB 13,897).

Sulle pareti laterali di fondo sono allineati i ritratti di alcuni personaggi cari alla tradizione salesiana: mamma Margherita, la zia Marianna, don Rua, don Rinaldi, Francesco Besucco, Domenico Savio, Maria Domenica Mazzarello. Da segnalare, in questa serie, l'autoritratto del pittore Giuseppe Rollini (1842-1904), allievo dell'Oratorio e artista di discreta levatura, il primo ad averci lasciato un ritratto pregevole di Don Bosco. Altri quadri esposti sono riproduzioni dei più noti ritratti del Santo.

Nella stessa cappella sono esposti anche degli oggetti appartenuti ad alcuni grandi salesiani: mons. Cagliero, mons. Lasagna, i beati Michele Rua, Luigi Versiglia e Callisto Caravario.

Allargamento del 1861 Il 16 luglio 1860 Don Bosco compiva il primo consistente ampliamento dell'Oratorio in terreni e fabbricati, con la compera della proprietà Filippi al prezzo di 65.000 lire. L'anno successivo, terminati gli impegni di locazione con gli inquilini, procedeva all'adattamento dei locali per le attività dell'Oratorio e dell'Ospizio. Tra le altre cose si progettò il collegamento di casa Don Bosco con casa Filippi tramite il raddoppio in larghezza dell'ala in cui si trovava la camera del Santo.

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The new rooms created towards the east were so used: on the ground floor a porch, which we see even today, where for decades the students (from the Eighties onwards) would have gathered in the evening for the recitation of the prayers; a dormitory on the first floor; a larger room for the library (the one where today the Museo delle Camerette is located; see fig. 14, n. 4) on the second floor and, next to it, around noon, a room for Don Bosco. Even the attics in this new house were adapted to a dormitory.

Don Bosco's new room, with windows to the east and south, communicates with the room he inhabited since 1853 (see fig. 14, n. 3). The latter was transformed into a waiting room for increasingly numerous visitors to meet the Saint.

In this anteroom in the seventies, when the first serious health ailments occurred, "an altar dissimulated by a case made like a wardrobe" was placed, on which Don Bosco celebrated Mass whenever he could not go to church ( cf MB 18, 23). The altar remained in the anteroom until 1886; he was then transferred to the sacristy of Mary Help of Christians and in 1887 he was taken to the home of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians at Moncrivello, where he was the director of Don Bosco's niece, Sister Eulalia. He remained in that institute until 1930, when he was taken to the chapel adjacent to the Museo delle Camerette, where he is still today (cf ODB 145). On one of the walls you can see a painting by Crida (1935), depicting Don Bosco among the young, against the background of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians.

In his second room Don Bosco lived for 27 years. "It was the office and it was also a bedroom until the last years, when he went to sleep in the adjoining room, built later" (ODB 141). The serious health reasons of the last few years of his life will be to recommend the separation of the bedroom from the office.

This room is witness to many of Don Bosco's great achievements, to the flourishing of his charisms, of great dreams and projects, of the deepest joys and the most painful sufferings. On the desk that we see he wrote thousands of letters to the Pope, the powerful, the Salesians, the boys and benefactors. He composed most of his works for the young and the people; he gathered and organized inspirational ideas and educational and pastoral experiences in pedagogical and spiritual writings; he developed the Constitutions of the Salesian Society, the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Association of Cooperators; he designed the first missionary expeditions in South America.

The room also served him as an office where he welcomed the numerous visitors of every social category who flocked to him every day. The lawyer Carlo Bianchetti recalls: «In that room, there was a peace of paradise. (...) He sat before a modest gate with drawers and small drawers. Bundles of letters and papers were piled up before him, and sometimes the postman entered to increase the pile. Of all this, however, Don Bosco did not think much of it. He put the papers there; he was of the opinion that even the small things must be done slowly and well and that for this reason no distractions are needed. (...) He treated everyone as if he had not had others to hear and content with that morning. He, with St. Francis de Sales, held that the haste usually spoils all the works; and he was never the first to finish the interview; he never seemed to want to shorten it; indeed sometimes his interlocutor wanted to go away, fearing to be intrusive, D. Bosco lovingly invited him to stay a little longer. (...) His conversation was very pleasant. He gladly intertwined the joke and the little story. And the wit always came by the way; and, in order to produce its effect, he used to say that those little affairs had occurred to him or that he had learned them from D. Cafasso, or from the Theologian Guala or from the Theologian Borel or from these or those. The little thing and the example was the way you used it to make a more vivid and profound impression, but what was more important was that they fit perfectly. He knew how to treat with grace, so that no one could ever reproach him for having been less than delicate and prudent. (...

Of the many writings written in this room, we report some passages from what seems to us to be the most significant, his spiritual testament, written between September 1884 and May 1886: "My dear and beloved children in GC

Before leaving for my eternity I must fulfill some duties towards you and thus satisfy a keen desire of my heart. First of all, I thank you with the most heartfelt affection for the obedience you have given me and for what you have worked to support and propagate our congregation.

I leave you here on earth, but only for a while. I hope that the infinite mercy of God will make that we can all find ourselves one day in the blessed eternity. I await you there.

I recommend you not to cry my death. This is a debt that we all have to pay, but afterwards every effort sustained for the sake of our master our good Jesus will be largely rewarded.

Instead of crying, make firm and effective resolutions to remain firm in the vocation until death.

Watch and make that neither the love of the world, nor the affection for relatives, nor the desire for a more comfortable life move you to the great inappropriateness of profaning the sacred vows and thus betraying the religious profession with which we have consecrated ourselves to the Lord. No one takes up what we have given to God.

If you have loved me in the past, continue to love me in the future with the exact observance of our constitutions.

Il vostro primo Rettore è morto. Ma il nostro vero Superiore Cristo Gesù, non morrà. Egli sarà sempre nostro maestro, nostra guida, nostro modello; ma ritenete che a suo tempo egli stesso sarà nostro giudice e rimuneratore della nostra fedeltà al suo servizio.

Il vostro Rettore è morto, ma ne sarà eletto un altro che avrà cura di voi e della vostra eterna salvezza. Ascoltatelo, amatelo, ubbiditelo, pregate per lui, come avete fatto per me.

Addio, o cari figliuoli, addio. Io vi attendo al cielo. Là parleremo di Dio, di Maria Madre e sostegno della nostra congregazione; là benediremo in eterno questa nostra congregazione, la cui osservanza delle regole contribuì potentemente ed efficacemente a salvarci.

Sit nomen Domini benedictum ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum. In te Domine speravi, non confundar in aeternum (...)» (RSS 4 [1985] 98-100).

Dopo la morte di Don Bosco questa stanza servì per 22 anni (1888-1910) da ufficio e camera da letto per il suo successore, il beato Michele Rua. Questi, abituato a una vita sobria e ascetica, per riposare la notte si accontentava di uno scomodo divano che possiamo vedere ancora oggi. Ac cettò che fosse sostituito da un letto solo nell'ultima malattia, per obbedire al medico.

Nella stanza sono conservati anche l'armadio a vetri per i libri e lo scrittoio con scaffale utilizzati da Don Bosco e dal suo successore.

Il piccolo Museo annesso alle Camerette mostra preziosi cimeli che ricordano la persona e l'attività di Don Bosco.

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In a series of showcases on the walls various books are exhibited (those he used, an essay of those he composed and some classic writings concerning his person and his work); many everyday objects (crockery, pen and inkwell, paperweight, etc.); some precious manuscripts from his school years and the copy of letters and documents. In the area towards the Camerette we can see the reproduction of photographs and original portraits. On the opposite side, instead, there are: the original balustrade, the confessional and the pulpit of the church of San Francesco di Sales; the chest in which Don Bosco was buried in Valsalice; the artistic carved urn that served for the transfer of the body from Valsalice to Valdocco in 1929, the year of the beatification; some travel sticks and hats he used. In the center of the room, the old Good Night pulpit, personal linen, clothes and liturgical vestments are preserved in large glass cases. An original find is the small-scale model of the dome of Mary Help of Christians, prepared by Rollini. put in place a vast portico sometimes, 14 meters long (as the front of the house), 6.75 wide and 4 high (see fig. 15, n. 5).

The spaces between pillar and pillar were closed and provided with windows: a large room resulted in which the typography was temporarily placed; then, after a few months, when it was moved to the purpose-built premises along Via della Giardiniera, here the foundry of typographical characters found place (cf MB 7, 116).

Above the portico a beautiful terrace was obtained, with small brick pillars and iron railing, on which Don Bosco had placed large containers of earth in which he planted some muscatel vines brought from Castelnuovo. The vines climbed up the pediment of the house up to the windows of Don Bosco's rooms.

Extension of 1876 After the consecration of the church of Maria Ausiliatrice (1868) and the construction of a beautiful building for the porter's lodge on Via Cottolengo (between 1874 and 1875), a final enlargement of the building in which the Bedrooms: the porch of 1862 was raised by two floors plus the attic. The house took on the appearance that we still see today. On the new tympanum, advanced by about 7 meters with respect to the previous one, the statue of the Madonna was placed as a "lightning rod" on December 8th 1861.

The extension added three rooms to the Camerette.

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Towards the south courtyard, on the front of the house, a gallery was obtained illuminated by large windows (see fig. 16, n. 7), to offer Don Bosco a space in which to walk, since the state of his legs procured him. of 1862 Under the Camerette, leaning against the southern front of the house, there was a shed used as a storage area for materials. In 1862 Don Bosco experienced serious difficulties in descending and ascending the stairs (cf. MB 7, 375). On January 31, 1888, the day of his death, his body dressed with priestly clothes was placed on an armchair and displayed in this gallery for the last farewell of his sons and the crowds.

Le viti che si trovavano nei cassettoni sulla terrazza, con la nuova costruzione erano state piantate direttamente in cortile, e si arrampicavano sino alle finestre della galleria. Don Bosco amava vendemmiare personalmente l'uva di queste viti e inviarla in omaggio ai benefattori più cari. Le Memorie Biografiche riportano un grazioso aneddoto a proposito di quell'uva: «Alcune rigogliose viti dal cortile montavano su per il muro a ombreggiare le ampie finestre di detta loggia. Un sabato sera, quando il Santo confessava colà gli alunni delle classi superiori (ndr: siamo probabilmente nell'autunno 1884), un giovanetto della quarta ginnasiale per nome Paolo Falla, aspettando il suo turno inginocchiato dinanzi a quei pampini frondosi, adocchiò tra le foglie un grappolo che cominciava ad annerire, lo spiccò dal tralcio e si pose tranquillamente a piluccarne i saracini. Distratto da tale occupazione, non pensava più ad altro, né si accorse che il penitente il quale lo separava dal confessore, si era già ritirato. Don Bosco, assolto quello che si stava dal lato opposto, si volse a lui per confessarlo. Il ragazzo col grappolo in mano arrossì, balbettò una scusa; ma Don Bosco soavemente gli disse: — Sta' tranquillo, finisci pure la tua uva e poi ti confesserai —. Così dicendo, si rivolse dall'altra parte continuando a confessare» (MB 17, 167).

Ancor oggi, in omaggio a Don Bosco, alcune viti di uva americana si arrampicano sul frontone delle Camerette.

IL secondo vano è la stanza che si trova di fianco alla sala di aspetto, adibita a cappella privata (vedi fig. 16, n. 5). Sull'altare che vediamo, benedetto dal cardinale Alimonda il 29 gennaio 1886, il Santo celebrò la messa, fino all' 11 dicembre 1887, ultima volta in cui poté offrire il santo sacrificio. Nei giorni successivi la messa veniva celebrata da qualcuno dei suoi Salesiani ed egli la seguiva stando a letto, attraverso la porta aperta, poi gli veniva portata la comunione.

La terza camera di Don Bosco vide le sofferenze e il martirio del suo povero corpo sfinito durante gli ultimi mesi della vita (vedi fig. 16, n. 6). Dapprima poteva spostarsi soltanto se sorretto o portato a braccia; gli venne anche procurata una sedia con ruote. Ma negli ultimi giorni non poté più alzarsi, fino alla morte, avvenuta il mattino del 31 gennaio 1888, alle quattro e mezzo.

I testimoni ci raccontano la sua ultima agonia: «Nella notte sul 30 volse un pochino il capo verso Enria, suo perpetuo assistente notturno, e gli disse: — Di'... ma... ma... ti saluto! — Poi adagio adagio recitò l'atto di contrizione. Qualche volta esclamò: Miserere nostri, Domine. Nel cuore della notte, al zando di tratto in tratto le braccia al cielo e giungendo le mani, ri peteva: — Sia fatta la vostra santa volontà! — Appresso, paralizzataglisi a poco a poco tutta la parte destra, il braccio destro posava abbandonato e immobile sul letto; ma egli non cessava di alzare il sinistro, ripetendo ancora qualche volta: — Sia fatta la vostra santa volontà! — In seguito non parlava più; ma tutto il resto del giorno 30 e la notte dopo continuò ad alzare la mano sinistra nello stesso modo, indicando con ogni probabilità la rinnovata offerta a Dio della propria esistenza.

(- -) I medici dissero che a sera o prima che sorgesse il sole del giorno seguente, Don Bosco non sarebbe stato più in vita. La notizia si diffuse in un baleno per l'Oratorio, straziando i cuori. I confra telli chiedevano di vederlo ancora una volta, Don Rua permise che tutti gli andassero a baciare la mano. Silenziosi si radunavano a pic coli gruppi nella cappella, donde sfilavano uno a uno presso l'ago nizzante. Egli era là disteso sul suo letticciuolo; aveva il capo alquanto rialzato, chino un po' sull'omero destro e appoggiato a tre guanciali. Calmo il viso non scarno; gli occhi socchiusi; la mano destra distesa sulla coltre. Aveva sul petto un crocifisso, un altro ne stringeva colla sinistra, e a pie' del letto pendeva la stola violacea, insegna del sacerdozio.

(- -).

At twelve-three quarters, being the secretary and Giuseppe Buzzetti alone for a moment alone near the bed, he opened his eyes wide, looked for a long time at Don Viglietti and raised his left hand which had gone free, put it on his head. At that act Buzzetti burst into tears and: "They are the last farewells," he exclaimed. He returned later in his former dignity. The secretary was repeating to him a few sentences. Monsignor Cagliero and Monsignor Leto then alternated in this pious office. Don Dalmazzo gave him the blessing of the agony and recited to him the attached prayers.

At about sixteen, Count Radicati, the great benefactor of the Oratory, came to see him. his father Eugenio Francesco, already a companion of Don Bosco in Chieri, was crying for an hour in a corner of the room. At eighteen Don Giacomelli appeared, put on his stole and read some of the rituals. At a late hour, not seeming near death, some of the Superiors withdrew, but Don Rua and others did not move. The dying man breathed still and with difficulty; it lasted so all night (...).

In agony he was at one and three quarters. Don Rua, when he saw that things were falling, put on the stole and resumed the prayers of the dying, which he had already begun two hours before. The other Superiors were hastily called; some thirty priests, clerics and lay people filled the room. Kneeling they prayed.

Monsignor Cagliero arrived, Don Rua gave him the stole, went to Don Bosco's right and bowed to the dear Father's ear: - Don Bosco, he said in a voice suffocated by grief, let us, his children, be mourned here. We ask you for forgiveness for all the regrets that you have had to suffer because of us, and give us your blessing once more as a sign of forgiveness and paternal benevolence. I will lead her hand and will pronounce the formula of blessing. - All fronts bent to the ground. Don Rua, giving strength to the soul, raised his paralyzed right and said the words of blessing on the Salesians present and absent and in particular on the most distant.

At three o'clock a telegram arrived from Cardinal Rampolla with the apostolic blessing. Monsignor had already read the Proficiscere.

At four-thirty the bell of Mary Help of Christians played the vemaria; all recited the Angelus quietly. Don Bonetti whispered in the ear of Don Bosco the Living Hail Mary. The rattle that had been heard for about an hour and a half, ceased.

The breath became free and peaceful; but it was a matter of a few moments: then it failed. - Don Bosco dies! Exclaimed Don Belmonte. With them, who had sat down, they leapt to their feet and stood by the bed ... He gave three breaths at short interval ... Don Bosco really died. Monsignor Cagliero, staring into his eyes, says go: - Jesus, Joseph, Mary, I give you my heart and my soul ... Jesus, Joseph, Mary, assist me in the last agony ... Jesus, Joseph, Mary, breathe my soul in peace with you.

Don Rua and the others, forming a crown around, also agonized with pain with the Father ... Don Bosco was dead! "(MB 18, 538-542).

The furniture of the room has remained as it was then: bed and ladder to climb in it, bedside table with candle, basin and jug, work table with globe, armchair and chairs. Only the Paschal candle and the palm used by Pius XI were added on the day of the canonization, 1 April 1934, Easter of Resurrection.


The idea of ​​the construction of a majestic church in honor of Maria Santissima, suitable to contain with greater convenience the large youthful population of Valdocco, came to Don Bosco one evening in December 1862, as evidenced by Don Paolo Albera: «A Saturday of the month of December, perhaps on the 6th, D. Bosco having finished confessing the young people around 11 am, went down to dinner in the refectory near the kitchen. Don Bosco was thoughtless. The cleric Albera was alone with him, when Don Bosco began to tell him. - I confessed a lot and in truth I almost don't know what he said or did, so I was worried about an idea, which distracting me irresistibly drew me out of me. I thought: Our church is too small; he does not understand all young people or even they are huddled together. So we'll make another, more beautiful one, bigger, than magnificent. We will give you the title: Church of Maria SS. Help. I don't have any money, I don't know where I'll get the money, but that doesn't matter. If God wants it, it will be done. I will try the test and if it does not do that the shame of failure is all for Don Bosco. People also say: Coepit aedificare et non potuit consummare "(MB 7, 333-334).

In truth, already in 1844, at the beginning of his Sunday youth meetings, when he had not found either a place or a clear formula for the nascent Oratory, during a prophetic dream that somehow completed that of the nine years, he had been accompanied by a Lady through the various stages of development of her work, up to "a field, in which corn had been sown, potatoes, cabbages, beets, lettuces, and many other herbs": "- Look again - she told me; and I looked again. Then I saw a beautiful and tall church. An orchestra, instrumental and vocal music invited me to sing Mass. Inside the church there was a white band, in which in large letters it was written: Hic domus mea, inde gloria mea "(MO 136).

Il sogno si era ripetuto l'anno successivo, con un particolare in più: la chiesa sarebbe sorta sul «luogo dove i gloriosi Martiri di Torino Avventore ed Ottavio soffrirono il loro martirio» (MB 2, 229). Ma questi sogni Don Bosco li avrebbe compresi soltanto in seguito, vedendo lo sviluppo della sua opera, segno tangibile dell'assistenza divina e della presenza attiva e materna di Maria. Non sarà infatti la volontà di attuare a tutti i costi un progetto sognato, quanto piuttosto la necessità concreta dei suoi giovani e del popolo, unitamente alla sua accresciuta devozione alla Vergine Santissima, a spingerlo nell'impresa di costruire «una chiesa più grande».

3.2.1. Le origini storiche del titolo «Ausiliatrice»

Il titolo di Ausiliatrice, presente fin dal sec. XVI nelle litanie lauretane, particolarmente venerato a Torino dov'era operante una confraternita sotto questo nome presso la chiesa di san Francesco da Paola, era stato riportato in primo piano da Pio VII nel 1815. Questi, tornato dalla prigionia napoleonica, aveva voluto ringraziare Maria Aiuto della Chiesa e dei cristiani, istituendo la festa del 24 maggio.

Nel 1862 un nuovo evento divulgava rapidamente la devozione all'Ausiliatrice: nel marzo, da un'antica effige di una chiesa in rovina, a Fratta presso Spoleto, la Madonna aveva parlato a un bambino di cinque anni e cominciava a concedere favori e grazie singolari. La notizia dilagò in un baleno, suscitando entusiasmo. I pellegrinaggi si moltiplicarono a dismisura nel giro di pochi giorni. L'arcivescovo di Spoleto, mons. Giovanni Battista Arnaldi, colpito dalle folle che continuamente accorrevano e dalla pietà suscitata, decretò che alla sacra immagine fosse dato il titolo di Auxilium Christianorum e si fece entusiasta diffusore dei fatti e del culto dell'Ausiliatrice.

I fatti di Spoleto accadevano in un clima di tensioni tra Stato e Chiesa, mentre il potere temporale del papa appariva irrimediabilmente giunto al tramonto, gran parte dei suoi territori era già passata al nuovo regno d'Italia e lo stesso romano pontefice era fatto bersaglio di polemiche e disprezzo dai liberali e dagli anticlericali. Spoleto era stata sede vescovile di Pio IX e le apparizioni venivano ad incoraggiare i cattolici italiani: il Signore non abbandonava la sua Chiesa e attraverso la sua SS. Madre operava portenti e meraviglie.

L'Ausiliatrice — definita da mons. Arnaldi «astro fulgido che brilla nella caligine dei tempi, protettrice della Chiesa cattolica, consolatrice del Romano Pontefice, vilipeso ed osteggiato in ogni modo dai nemici della fede, battagliera fortissima, terrore dell'inferno, salvatrice del popolo fedele, rifugio dei tribolati, speranza di sollecito trionfo della Chiesa e dell'Augusto suo Capo» — avrebbe schiacciato il capo del serpente antico segnando la vittoria di Dio sui nemici del bene.

Sulle pagine dei giornali cattolici e nelle omelie il nome dell'Ausiliatrice e i fatti di Spoleto risuonarono rapidamente in tutta Italia, suscitando fervore ed entusiasmo in ambito cattolico, ma anche polemiche e can zonature presso gli avversari. A Torino L'Armonia diede ampio risalto ai fatti fin dal maggio 1862, pubblicando le relazioni di mons. Arnaldi, che destarono molto interesse.

3.2.2. I motivi ispiratori di Don Bosco

Don Bosco, che già nell'opuscolo 11 mese di maggio (1858) aveva utilizzato il titolo Auxilium Christianorum per indicare l'azione efficace di Maria, protettrice in vita, ma soprattutto in morte (quando «sarà un capitano terribile, che a guisa di un ordinato esercito reprimerà gli assalti del nemico infernale»), il 24 maggio 1862 annunciò nella buona notte «con sua grande contentezza la prodigiosa manifestazione di un'immagine di Maria avvenuta nelle vicinanze di Spoleto» (MB 7, 166).

Il progetto di dedicare la nuova chiesa a Maria Ausiliatrice si collocava quindi in un contesto carico di speranze e attese, in cui la spiritualità mariana traeva dai fatti di Spoleto un notevole impulso in senso ecclesiale, sociale ed escatologico. Don Bosco, da parte sua, vive con piena consapevolezza questo momento e questo clima.

All'origine della sua volontà di intitolare la chiesa vagheggiata all'Ausiliatrice c'è dunque, prima di tutto, una forte motivazione ecclesiologica accentuata dall'amara constatazione della «tristezza dei tempi». Ciò appare evidente da molti interventi del Santo: dal sogno delle «due colonne», raccontato ai suoi il 30 maggio 1862 (cf MB 7, 169-172) fino all'introduzione ad un opuscolo del 1868 da titolo Maraviglie della Madre di Dio invocata sotto il titolo di Maria Ausiliatrice: «Il bisogno oggi universalmente sentito di invocare Maria non è particolare, ma generale; non sono più tiepidi da infervorare, peccatori da convertire, innocenti da conservare. Queste cose sono sempre utili in ogni luogo, presso qualsiasi persona. Ma è la stessa Chiesa Cattolica che è assalita. È assalita nelle sue funzioni, nelle sacre sue istituzioni, nel suo Capo, nella sua dottrina, nella sua disciplina; è assalita come Chiesa Cattolica, come centro della verità, come maestra di tutti i fedeli.

Ed è appunto per meritarsi una speciale protezione del Cielo che si ricorre a Maria, come Madre comune, come speciale ausiliatrice dei Re, e dei popoli cattolici, come cattolici di tutto il mondo!» (OE 20, 198-199).

Ma non sono soltanto contingenze storiche a determinare la scelta di Don Bosco. Egli sente il titolo prescelto come il più adatto ad esprimere la sua riconoscenza alla Vergine per i tanti «aiuti» ricevuti e, insieme, per invocarne la protezione sulla nascente Congregazione. Testimonia il cardinal Giovanni Cagliero: «Nel 1862 D. Bosco mi disse, che meditava l'erezione di una chiesa grandiosa e degna della Vergine SS. — Sinora, soggiungeva, abbiamo celebrato con solennità e pompa la festa dell'Immacolata, ed in questo giorno sonosi incominciate le prime nostre opere degli Oratorii festivi. Ma la Madonna vuole che la onoriamo sotto il titolo di Maria Ausiliatrice: i tempi corrono così tristi che abbiamo proprio bisogno che la Vergine SS. ci aiuti a conservare e difendere la fede cristiana. E sai tu un altro perché? — Credo, risposi io, che sarà la Chiesa Madre della nostra futura Congregazione, ed il centro dal quale emaneranno tutte le altre opere nostre a favore della gioventù.

— Hai indovinato, mi disse: Maria SS. è la fondatrice e sarà la sostenitrice delle nostre opere» (MB 7, 334).

In Don Bosco, poi, il titolo Ausiliatrice trova una risonanza immediata. L'esperienza personale e la riflessione lo hanno condotto a una devozione mariana e a una mariologia dai caratteri positivi e storici. Maria non è soltanto la Madre di Dio da venerare e amare, la suscitatrice di teneri affetti ed entusiasmi spirituali: ella è coinvolta direttamente nella storia della salvezza, a livello personale, ecclesiale e sociale; la sua è una missione storica ed escatologica; è lei che ha guidato Don Bosco fin dai suoi più teneri anni sostenendolo attraverso le tante difficoltà; a lei si devono gli sviluppi dell'Oratorio; è lei che guida i primi passi della nascente Congregazione Salesiana.

C'è inoltre in Don Bosco una forte sottolineatura pastorale e pedagogica: Maria è aiuto nel cammino della vita per vincere gli assalti del peccato, per essere liberati da ogni forma di male (spirituale, morale e fisico) e soprattutto per attuare il bene. Tra le mura dell'Oratorio, tra le folle di popolani che accorrono al santuario di Valdocco, tra i benefattori di Don Bosco la devozione all'Ausiliatrice assume un significato più intimo, meno determinato dagli avvenimenti politici e sociali. Egli sottolinea per i suoi giovani quanto può suscitare maggior fervore religioso e impegno di vita e di crescita spirituale; ai suoi Salesiani presenta Maria come ispiratrice, forza e modello nella missione educativa e nell'itinerario di santità; per i fedeli evidenzia la potente azione taumaturgica e protettiva della Madre di Dio, allo scopo di stimolare alla conversione e ad una vita cristianamente ispirata.

3.2.3. Il progetto e i lavori

Don Bosco, without any minimum economic basis, but convinced that "it is the Madonna who wants the Church; it will pay to pay »(MB 7, 372), at the beginning of 1863 it starts negotiations with the Rosminians to buy back the large lawn of the seminary that he himself had sold to Rosmini in April 1854. The deal ends on 11 February. He therefore relies on the charity of his benefactors and on the support of the authorities, expressing a large number of circulars in which he motivates the construction of the new church for exclusively pastoral purposes: to give more space to all the internal and external youths of the Oratory and to provide of church the new suburb formed in the Valdocco area, now inhabited by «a population of over twenty thousand inhabitants in whose middle there is neither Church nor Chapel, a public school, where,

The project For the Don Bosco project first entrusted itself to a commission of architects, then, seeing that everyone wanted to adopt their own design and that the discussions lasted several months without any agreement, he commissioned the whole to the engineer Antonio Spezia, the one who he had taken the Pinardi home valuation when he bought it. La Spezia prepared a construction project in the form of a Latin cross, covering an area of ​​1200 square meters: «Two low bell towers flanked the protruding façade. To enter the church we passed through an atrium that supported the orchestra. A majestic dome with sixteen large windows towered over the building. From the first base to the maximum height, seventy meters were measured (note: in reality they are 45 meters). On either side of the high altar, behind which ran a narrow ambulatory, it was a sacristy, from whose door you entered the imposing presbytery. At the ends of the transverse arm two large altars; and two others in chapels, in the middle of the lower arm.

After examining the drawing, Don Bosco was very happy and said: "Without my mentioning to the engineer any special intention that regulated the building of the new church, I saw that a chapel will succeed in the precise place that the Blessed Virgin had pointed out to me." - And in this one consecrated an altar to the Saints Martyrs of Turin "(MB 7, 466).

The project, after some difficulties raised by some on the title Church of Maria SS. Help of Christians, it was approved by the municipal building office.

The works The works were entrusted to the impresario Carlo Buzzetti, an oratorian of the first hour. By May 1863, 4000 lire had already been paid for the purchase of the land and timber for the fence. In the summer and autumn the excavation works were completed. Having to build a vast basement under the church floor, in addition to the earthworks for the foundations, it was necessary to remove an enormous amount of earth. Thus in 1863 only a part of that work was carried out which was resumed in March 1864. It was then realized that the ground was alluvial and it was necessary to go deeper and «plant a strong pile dwelling, corresponding to the periphery of the planned construction. This was the reason for greater expenses both for the increase in works and for the copying of beams.

In the winter they had procured 200 thousand miriagrams of stones, transported for free to Turin by rail for the good offices of the director general of the railways Bartolomeo Bona. On 5 April, Don Bosco issued another invitation to public charity and had it included in the Official Gazette of 12 April 1864 and in other Catholic newspapers.

The design of the church was submitted to the examination of the canonical Lorenzo Gastaldi, future archbishop, who approved it and suggested some functional modifications which, in part, were accepted. Once the design was fixed, Don Bosco sent other circular letters to the faithful, with subscription forms, spreading them throughout almost all of northern and central Italy. The answers were not lacking, because communicating the news of the church in construction, the Saint spread the devotion to the Help of Christians and with it the favors and the graces obtained through Maria's intercession multiplied everywhere. Don Bosco's confidence was confirmed that, if the holy Virgin had wanted the construction of the church, she would have thought herself to make the necessary funds reach.

At the end of April the excavation was completed and Buzzetti invited Don Bosco to place the first foundation stone. At the end of the function the Saint turned to the entrepreneur and said: «- I want to give you a deposit immediately for the big jobs. I don't know if it will be much, but it will be all I have. - So saying he took out his purse, opened it and poured it upside down in the hands of the foreman, who thought he had them filled with marenghi. What was instead his wonder and that of all those who had accompanied him when they found only eight poor money. And D.

Bosco smiled and added: "Be quiet; Our Lady will think of providing the money for her church. I will only be the instrument, the cashier. - And turning to those around him, he concluded: - You will see! "(MB 7, 652).

La crisi economica generale dello Stato italiano era grave, e soltanto un santo o un incosciente avrebbero potuto affrontare un rischio simile. Gli sterri e le fondamenta da soli costarono oltre 35 mila lire e per portare a termine l'opera Don Bosco avrebbe dovuto procurarsi circa un milione, mentre aveva previsto una spesa di 200 mila lire (cf MB 7, 652-653).

Dall'autunno del 1864 lo stato delle finanze italiane continuò ad aggravarsi sempre più. Nel paese si faceva sentire la scarsità di denaro e gli stessi benefattori di Don Bosco si trovavano in angustie. Il trasporto della capitale a Firenze (1865) diminuì alquanto il numero dei benefattori. La situazione, già grave, divenne tragica per Don Bosco: doveva affrontare spese alimentari gravose per gli oltre settecento ospiti di Valdocco, e ogni quindici giorni doveva trovare il salario per gli operai e i muratori di Buzzetti, oltre alla provvista dei materiali edilizi il cui prezzo in quegli anni stava raggiungendo quote proibitive. Ma il Santo riteneva non conveniente arrestare i lavori di costruzione e moltiplicò gli sforzi, i viaggi, le umiliazioni e le preghiere.

Il 27 aprile 1865 fu celebrata con grande solennità la posa della pietra angolare: benedetta dal vescovo di Susa mons. Odone, in luogo dell'indisposto mons. Nazari di Calabiana, vescovo di Casale, venne collocata dal duca Amedeo d'Aosta figlio di Vittorio Emanuele II, con la partecipazione del sindaco, del prefetto e di altri insigni personaggi. Don Bosco pubblicizzò il fatto con un fascicolo commemorativo e lanciò una grandiosa lotteria.

Tra 1865 e 1866 la congiuntura economica non accennava a migliorare e il Santo si vide costretto ad allargare la sua cerchia di conoscenze per reperire nuovi fondi. Nel dicembre 1865 si recò a Firenze, dove fu ospite della contessa Uguccioni e nella primavera 1866 inviò a Roma il cavaliere Federico Oreglia di Santo Stefano, salesiano laico, per stimolare la beneficienza facendo leva — questa volta — più sulla devozione mariana e i prodigi operati da Maria Ausiliatrice che non sulle esigenze del quartiere di Valdocco e su motivi filantropici.

Nel luglio 1866 si stava già lavorando attorno alla cupola, ma con lentezza per mancanza di soldi. La domenica 23 settembre si completò la costruzione della cupola con la cerimonia della posa dell'ultimo mattone, compiuta da Don Bosco e dal marchesino Emanuele Fassati.

Nel dicembre la chiesa non era ancora terminata, come invece si spe rava. Don Bosco decise allora un nuovo viaggio a Firenze e a Roma (dicembre 1866 - gennaio 1867), alla ricerca di altri aiuti.

Il soggiorno fiorentino e romano gli permise anche di offrire la propria collaborazione nei tentativi di conciliazione tra Stato italiano e Santa Sede, apprezzata da ambo le parti per l'equilibrio e la moderazione.

Nel corso di questi viaggi Don Bosco, che si presentava sempre come sacerdote preoccupato innanzitutto della salvezza spirituale delle persone incontrate, suscitava rinnovato impegno di vita cristiana e conversioni. Incominciarono in queste occasioni i fatti prodigiosi che gli meritarono una crescente fama di taumaturgo.

Tra i proventi della lotteria e le offerte spicciole più o meno consistenti degli amici e dei benefattori antichi e nuovi si poté superare anche il 1867, ma i lavori edilizi ristagnarono poiché il forte freddo invernale aveva portato alle stelle le spese alimentari. Il 21 maggio 1867 il nuovo arcivescovo di Torino, mons. Alessandro Riccardi di Netro, benedisse sulla cupola la statua della Madonna, alta circa 4 metri, opera dello scultore Boggio.

Nella primavera 1868 riprese il flusso delle grandi e piccole offerte, cosicché si poterono accelerare i lavori interni. Già nel mese di maggio di quell'anno, mentre si portavano a termine le ultime rifiniture, iniziarono pellegrinaggi spontanei alla nuova chiesa da parrocchie rurali del Monferrato e delle Langhe.

Consacrazione del santuario Il 21 maggio 1868 mons. Balma benedisse le cinque campane e finalmente, il 9 giugno, nel corso di una solennissima funzione, l'arcivescovo mons. Riccardi consacrò la nuova chiesa e gli altari. La consacrazione, iniziata alle ore 5,30 del mattino, terminava alle 10,30, dopo di che l'Arcivescovo celebrava la prima messa nella nuova chiesa. Ai vespri pomeridiani si eseguì l'antifona mariana Sancta Maria, succurre miserie, composta dal Cagliero, che riuscì di effetto singolare: era eseguita da tre cori imponenti diversamente distribuiti, come scrive Don Bosco in un opuscolo commemorativo dal titolo Rimembranza di una solennità in onore di Maria Ausiliatrice: «Uno in presbiterio di circa 150 tenori e bassi e rappresenta la Chiesa militante; l'altro sulla cupola di circa 200 soprani e contralti figura gli angeli ossia la Chiesa trionfante; il terzo coro di altri circa 100 tenori e bassi sull'orchestra e simboleggia la Chiesa purgante» (OE 21, 29).

I tre cori erano contemporaneamente diretti dal Cagliero per mezzo di un congegno elettrico.

Feste e funzioni religiose si protrassero per otto giorni presiedute da diversi prelati, con la partecipazione di migliaia di pellegrini. Nel corso dell'ottavario la grande fede della gente ottenne, per intercessione di Maria, una serie di grazie e di guarigioni anche notevoli che contribuirono a diffondere la fama del santuario e di Don Bosco.

3.2.4. Com'era il santuario costruito da Don Bosco

La chiesa, a croce latina, si presentava molto sobria e spoglia, senza mainii e decorazioni sulle pareti. Anche l'unica cupola era imbiancata a calce.

Gli altari erano cinque: — l'altar maggiore col grande quadro dell'Ausiliatrice opera del pittore Tommaso Lorenzone (1824-1902); — l'altare di san Pietro, nella crociera destra, con quadro del milanese Carcano (oggi quest'altare si trova in una cappella sotterranea della basilica e al suo posto sta l'altare di Don Bosco); — l'altare di san Giuseppe, nella crociera sinistra, con quadro del Lorenzone (l'unico rimasto intatto fino ad oggi); — l'altare di sant'Anna, nella cappella a destra della navata centrale: era il più bello e ricco di marmi, lavorato a Roma dallo scultore Luigi Medici, con quadro del pittore Fino Tornielli (ora il quadro si trova nella casa salesiana di Lombriasco e l'altare è dedicato a santa Maria Mazzarello); — l'altare dei Sacratissimi Cuori di Gesù e Maria, nella cappella a sinistra, con quadro del torinese Bonetti (che si trova oggi a Caserta nel santuario del Sacro Cuore di Maria; l'altare fu successivamente dedicato da don Rua a san Francesco di Sales; oggi è l'altare di san Domenico Savio).

Thus Don Bosco describes the church in the aforementioned commemorative booklet: "If you, O Reader, observe this Church outside, see a facade of modern style, of proportionate width and height. The main door is a work garment of the artist Ottone Torinese, with a drawing by Cav. Spice.

Two bell towers, which will soon be surmounted by an angel about two meters high in wrought copper, an exquisite work of the Brogi brothers of Milan, face the dome. Above one of them there is a concert of five bells in E flat with which you can play cantabile music pieces and even military marches (...).

After the bell towers the dome rises, covered with tinned copper and covered with white lead; this serves to protect it from oxidation, from the vigor of the winds, from the hot, cold and other bad weather of the season. Above the dome there is majestically placed a gilded copper statue of about four meters high, the work of cav. Boggio and gift of a worthy lady Torinese. The Holy Virgin is in the act of blessing her devotees who say: Nos cum prole pia benedicat Virgo Maria.

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If then from the main door you enter the interior of the church you will see two marble columns supporting the orchestra surmounted by two pedestals worked in such a way that they also serve as aquasantino. It is not to be omitted that the orchestra is a gift and work of the master carpenter Giuseppe di Locarno and living in Turin.

It is the orchestra of two floors, that is, of orchestra and counter-orchestra with echo or with double floor. He is capable of about three hundred musicians.

The floor is all Venetian. But the presbyters of the individual altars seem like so many mosaics. That of the high altar does not need any carpet to make a worthy appearance in the most beautiful solemnities. The balustrades and the altars are also made of marble worked by Cav. Gussone from Turin with the exception of the first on the right entering that was worked in Rome by the artist Luigi Medici at the expense of a Bolognese patrician. This exceeds all others for its precious marble.

Anyone who stopped walking in the center of the Church looking at the right side of the high altar would face the pulpit which is one of the most beautiful ornaments of this Church. This is a gift from a noblewoman from Turin, who, if she wanted the name to be silenced, wants everyone to know that it is an oblation by grace received, and therefore one reads in gold characters: Homage to Mary Help of Christians for grace received.

The design and execution were found worthy of praise. But what makes it especially commendable is its detachment from the walls, to which the Preacher is easily seen from any corner of the church. It is also good to note, according to the preachers, that the form of the Church, reproducing the echo of the voice several times, requires that the words be well detached from each other to avoid confusion as they are pronounced.

The two cruises have two caduna doors, so that in large competitions of the faithful one can have easy entry and exit. The cornices of the Church and the dome are equipped with iron railings to ensure the life of those who had to do some work on the top of the walls, and also to contract out singers or other people in the greatest solemnities, as was practiced in the octave of which we are to talk "(OE 21, 16-19).

3.2.5. Restoration and extension works

First intervention (Don Bosco: 1869-1870) As soon as Don Bosco had paid the residual debts of the sanctuary, he set about building a choir behind the high altar and two side sacristies, on the extension of those flanking the presbytery (see fig. 18 , No. 2). The idea had been suggested to him by can. Gastaldi already at the beginning of the works, to avoid the passage from one sacristy to the other through the presbytery (cf MB 7, 653).

In this way the space for the singers and the youth of the festive Oratory could be expanded, to whom the left-wing anti-sacristy was assigned, which opened directly onto the presbytery.

Second intervention (Don Rua: 1889-1891) Between 1889 and 1891, Blessed Michele Rua, Don Bosco's first successor, promoted the beautification and restoration of the sanctuary. In this sense he had vowed the same evening of the death of Don Bosco, when it came to obtaining permission to bury the corpse either in the church of the Help of Christians or at least in Valsalice, as had happened later.

"They worked in the restoration and decoration of the church of Mary Help of Christians, the painter Giuseppe Rollini di Intra, a former pupil of Don Bosco; the professor. Carlo Conte di Vercelli for the execution of the decorative parts that are the most valuable work; the architect engineer Crescentino Carelli di Fubine, especially in the high altar where the great picture of the Help of Christians was closed in a magnificent marble frame.

Il timpano della facciata fu rialzato alquanto e modificato il coronamento dei campanili» (ODB 283).

Terzo intervento (Don Ricaldone: 1935-1938) La chiesa dell'Ausiliatrice col passare dei decenni andava acquistando sempre maggior importanza e fama mondiale, mentre quella di Spoleto restava un santuario locale, cosicché nel luglio 1911 san Pio X le conferì il titolo di Basilica Minore.

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The church, which had also been erected as a parish, especially during the holidays, was unsuitable for the seven hundred young artisans and students, the population of the village and the continuous pilgrimages. Don Filippo Rinaldi then decided to increase the space without possibly disfiguring the work of Don Bosco and entrusted the study to the architect Mario Ceradini, president of the Academy of Fine Arts of Turin. He designed an extension obtained by transforming the Latin cross into a Greek cross and building four large chapels in the recessed corners that the aisles formed when they met. The death of Don Rinaldi (December 5, 1931) suspended the project, which was taken up by his successor Don Pietro Ricaldone.

The Ceradini drawing required the demolition of the buildings adjacent to the Basilica, and would have involved colossal expenses. It was then decided to entrust a new study to the general treasurer Don Fedele Giraudi and to the Salesian architect Giulio Valotti.

The project approved in 1934, the year of Don Bosco's canonization, and implemented between 1935-1938 (see fig. 18, n. 3), involved the following works: - lengthening of the presbytery, on which a second dome was built, and consequent displacement of the high altar and of the picture of the Help of Christians; - construction of two large chapels on the sides of the presbytery, with stands above; - long gallery with six altars behind the high altar, which connects the two large side chapels; - construction of a spacious sacristy on the back towards the former Pinardi house; - belt ambulatory with two new doors on the back of the facade.

The current dimensions of the church are: length 70 meters; width from 36 to 40 meters; height at the top of the statue on the dome 45 meters.

The works also involved the almost total reconstruction of the decorations, of the altars and the abundant addition of marbles, sculptures and furnishings. The inauguration of the restoration took place on 9 June 1938.

3.2.6. Visit of the Basilica (see fig. 19)

External façade The architect Spezia was inspired by the façade of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, designed by Palladio.

Whoever looks at the church from the entrance of the square near Corso Regina Margherita, sees the golden statues of the Madonna on the dome (4 meters high, work of the sculptor Boggio) and of the angels on the two low bell towers: the archangel Gabriel (on the right) offers a crown to Mary, the Michele cangelo (left) waves a flag with the inscription Lepanto, in memory of the victory over the Turks, 1571.

On the tympanum of the façade are the statues of the three martyrs Solutore, Avventore and Ottavlo killed, according to the tradition and vision of Don Bosco, in this place.

The two statues placed above the clocks are those of Saint Maximus, father of the Church and first bishop of Turin and of Saint Francis of Sales.

In the niches below, instead, are the statues of Saint Luigi Gonzaga and Saint Joseph.

Above, in the triangle of the tympanum, stands the coat of arms of the Salesian Society, supported by two angels, and in the lower band reads the invocation Maria Auxilium Christianorum, now pro nobis.

In the niche under the rose window is the marble group representing Jesus Master who welcomes and blesses the children.

Tra le colonne laterali sono due grandi bassorilievi rappresentanti san Pio V che annuncia la vittoria di Lepanto (quello a sinistra), e Pio VII che incorona Maria SS. nel santuario di Savona (quello a destra). Sopra i bassorilievi due angeli sorreggono un cartiglio con le date dei due avvenimenti: 1571 e 1814.

Sui basamenti delle colonne sono incise due scene evangeliche: la risurrezione del figlio della vedova di Nain e la guarigione di un sordomuto.

Facciata interna Entrando dal portale centrale e fatti pochi passi all'interno, volgendosi all'indietro si può ammirare in alto un bel rosone policromo rappresentante il monogramma di Maria con i simboli della sua regalità (Ausiliatrice, Regina della pace, Stella del mattino) sovrastanti il sole radiosò sulle acque di Lepanto.

La grande orchestra costruita da Don Bosco oggi non esiste più: è stata tolta per dare più luce alla navata centrale. Lo spazio per l'organo e i cantori è stato ricavato alla sinistra dell'altar maggiore sopra l'ampia cappella laterale.

Sulla bussola del portale una epigrafe latina ricorda i due sogni illustrati nei quadri laterali, opera del pittore Mario Barberis. Quello di sinistra riproduce il sogno delle due colonne (maggio 1862: la nave della Chiesa, pilotata dal Pontefice, nella tempesta del mondo ostile si salva ancorandosi alle colonne dell'Eucaristia e dell'Ausiliatrice; cf MB 7, 169-171); quello di destra ricorda il sogno della zattera (gennaio 1866: rappresenta la missione salvatrice tra i giovani della Società Salesiana; cf MB 8, 275-282).

Nella fascia che corre lungo tutta la chiesa, tra i capitelli dei pilastri e il cornicione sul quale poggiano le volte, è scritta a lettere capitali la grande antifona mariana: «Sancta Maria succurre miseris — iuva pusillanimes — refove fiebiles — ora pro populo — interveni pro clero — intercede pro devoto femineo sexu — sentiant omnes peccatores tuum iuvamen — quicumque tuum sanctum implorane auxilium» (Santa Maria, soccorri i miseri, aiuta i paurosi, ristora i deboli, prega per il popolo, intervieni a favore del clero, intercedi per le donne, sperimentino il tuo appoggio tutti i peccatori e quanti implorano il tuo santo aiuto).

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Chapel of Santa Maria Domenica Mazzarello (see fig. 19, n. 16) On the right, near the main entrance, a door leads to the stairway that descends into the Chapel of the relics (it will be discussed further on, on page 262). Through this door, until 1937, the singers went up to the orchestra. In the niche above is the statue of Saint Cecilia, protector of music.

Following is the chapel that preserves, in the bronze urn under the altar, the remains of St. Maria Domenica Mazzarello (1837-1881) confounder and first general mother of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. His body was transported from Nizza Monferrato to the Basilica in 1938, the year of the beatification, and deposited in the Chapel of the relics; it was placed below the altar the following year.

Mother Mazzarello was proclaimed a saint on June 24, 1951.

The altar is the work of Valotti, the picture of the Saint is by Crida. The two rear windows on the walls, also by Crida, represent, on the left, the election of Mother Mazzarello as superior (June 15, 1874); the one on the right, the audience of Pius IX with Mazzarello and the first missionaries (November 9, 1877).

Ricordiamo che Maria Mazzarello è la pietra angolare di quell'edificio vivo che Don Bosco ha voluto innalzare a Maria Ausiliatrice dopo averle consacrato questa chiesa. 115 agosto 1872 a Mornese, in occasione della prima professione religiosa della Mazzarello e delle compagne, il Santo indirizzava loro queste parole: «Fra le piante molto piccole ve n'è una assai profumata: il nardo, nominata spesso nella Sacra Scrittura. Nell'Ufficio della Beata Vergine si dice: Nardus mea dedit odorem suavitatis, il mio nardo ha esalato soave profumo! Ma sapete che cosa è necessario perché il nardo faccia sentire il suo buon odore? Deve essere ben pestato. Non vi rincresca, dunque, di avere a patire. Chi patisce per Gesù Cristo, con Lui pure regnerà in eterno.

Voi ora appartenete a una Famiglia religiosa che è tutta della Madonna; siete poche, sprovviste di mezzi e non sostenute dall'approvazione umana. Niente vi turbi. Le cose cambieranno presto (...). Sì, io vi posso assicurare che l'Istituto avrà un grande avvenire, se vi mantenete semplici, povere, mortificate.

Osservate, dunque, tutti i doveri della vostra nuova condizione di religiose, e soccorse dalla tenera nostra Madre Maria Ausiliatrice, passerete illese fra gli scogli della vita e farete del gran bene alle anime vostre e a quelle del prossimo.

Abbiate come gloria il vostro bel titolo di Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice, e pensate spesso che il vostro Istituto dovrà essere il monumento vivo della gratitudine di don Bosco alla Gran Madre di Dio, invocata sotto il titolo di Aiuto dei cristiani».

(Da G. CAPETTI [a cura di], Cronistoria. Vol. I: La preparazione e la fondazione, Ed. FMA, Roma 1974, pp. 305-306).

Le statue degli angeli nelle nicchie laterali sono opera dello scultore Mussner di Ortisei.

Questa cappella originariamente era dedicata a sant'Anna. Nel 1890 Don Rua sostituì il quadro originario con uno rappresentante i santi martiri Solutore, Avventore e Ottavio, poiché è proprio questo il luogo del loro martirio, secondo la visione di Don Bosco.

Dopo la cappella, sulla porta che dà nell'ambulacro destro, sta la statua di sant'Agnese, una delle protettrici dell'Istituto delle Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice.

Cappella di san Giovanni Bosco (vedi fig. 19, nn. 13 e 14) Nel transetto destro, dove anticamente si trovava la cappella di san Pietro, sorge ora il monumentale altare dedicato a san Giovanni Bosco, opera dell'architetto Mario Ceradini (1938).

In alto, sotto il quadro del Crida, si trova l'urna in bronzo e cristallo contenente le spoglie del Santo, disegnata dal prof. G. Casanova dell'Accademia Albertina, ben inquadrata nell'architettura marmorea dell'altare. La salma di Don Bosco, vestita di paramenti sacri donati dal papa Benedetto XV, fu qui trasferita da Valsalice nel 1929. Il volto e le mani sono maschere di cera modellate dal Cellini e dipinte dal Cussetti.

L'altare è ricco di manni policromi, di onici, malachiti e pietre orientali. Il tabernacolo, decorato con lapislazzuli e pietre dure, ha una porticina di argento cesellato ed è sovrastato da un cupolino di onice antica, con ornati in bronzo.

L'architetto Ceradini ha separato l'altare dalla parete di fondo, ricavando una cappellina riccamente ornata che permette ai pellegrini di accostare l'urna.

Due statue ai lati dell'altare, opera dello scultore Noti di Verona, rappresentano la Fede che sorregge il calice e l'ostia e la Carità, col cuore fiammante.

Nelle nicchie laterali sono collocate le statue di due santi della gioventù, ispiratori della pedagogia di Don Bosco: sulla destra san Giovanni Battista de La Salle (1651-1719), fondatore dei Fratelli delle Scuole Cristiane (opera del Cellini, 1942); sulla sinistra san Filippo Neri (1515-1595) fondatore della Congregazione dei Preti dell'Oratorio.

Due vetrate policrome ai lati dell'altare illustrano scene della vita del Santo: a destra l'incontro con Bartolomeo Garelli, nella sacrestia di san Francesco d'Assisi (8 dicembre 1841); a sinistra, l'arrivo di Don Bosco e mamma Margherita a casa Pinardi (3 novembre 1846).

Procedendo verso l'altar maggiore, si incontra il pulpito in noce disegnato dallo Spezia, dal quale Don Bosco predicò innumerevoli volte, particolarmente nelle feste. Ci sono state conservate diverse testimonianze delle sue accorate predicazioni. Riportiamo, come esempio, un brano del discorso pronunciato in occasione della prima spedizione missionaria del 1875: « l'animo mio in questo momento è commosso per la vostra partenza, il mio cuore gode di una grande consolazione nel mirare rassodata la nostra Congregazione; nel vedere che nella nostra pochezza anche noi mettiamo in questo momento il nostro sassolino nel grande edilizio della Chiesa. Sì, partite pure coraggiosi; ma ricordate che vi è una sola Chiesa che si estende in Europa ed in America e in tutto il mondo e riceve nel suo seno gli abitanti di tutte le nazioni che vogliono venire a rifugiarsi nel suo materno seno.

(...) Ma dovunque andiate ad abitare, o figli amati, voi dovete costantemente ritenere che siete preti Cattolici, e siete Salesiani. (...) Pertanto quello stesso Vangelo predicato dal Salvatore, dai suoi Apostoli, dai successori di san Pietro fin ai nostri giorni, quella stessa religione, quegli stessi Sacramenti dovete gelosamente amare, professare ed esclusivamente predicare, sia che andiate tra selvaggi, sia che tra popoli inciviliti (...).

Come Salesiani, in qualunque rimota parte del globo vi troviate, non dimenticate che qui in Italia avete un padre che vi ama nel Signore, una Congregazione che ad ogni evenienza a voi pensa, a voi provvede e sempre vi accoglierà come fratelli. Andate adunque; voi dovrete affrontare ogni genere di fatiche, di stenti, di pericoli; ma non temete, Dio è con voi, egli vi darà tale grazia, che voi direte con San Paolo: Da me solo non posso niente, ma col divino aiuto io sono onnipotente. Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat. (...) Addio! Forse tutti non potremo più vederci su questa terra. Per un poco saremo separati di corpo, ma un giorno saremo riuniti per sempre» (MB 11, 386-387).

Cupola maggiore Al centro della crociera s'innalza la cupola maggiore costruita da Don Bosco, ma fatta decorare dal successore don Michele Rua. Il grandioso affresco è opera del pittore Giuseppe Rollini (1890-1891) ex-allievo di Don Bosco. Il modellino, col bozzetto originale del Rollini, si trova nel Museo annesso alle Camerette.

Nella parte superiore della volta è rappresentato il trionfo e la gloria dell'Ausiliatrice in cielo: la Madonna siede in trono e tiene ritto sulle ginocchia il Bambino; su di lei la maestosa figura del Padre e la colomba simbolo dello Spirito; intorno voli di angeli e arcangeli e le schiere dei beati; accanto al trono di Maria san Giuseppe e, un po' discosto verso destra, i santi Francesco di Sales, Carlo Borromeo, Luigi Ganzaga, Filippo Neri e altri.

Nella parte inferiore della cupola è raffigurato Don Bosco in mezzo ai suoi figli: sulla destra, mons. Cagliero con un gruppo di Patàgoni, le Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice e i Salesiani missionari che catechizzano; a sinistra di Don Bosco, i Salesiani con le loro opere per studenti e artigiani.

Più a sinistra sono rappresentati gli ordini religiosi dei Trinitari e dei Mercedari.

Nella parte della cupola che è di fronte al trono dell'Ausiliatrice un gruppo di angeli sostiene un arazzo rappresentante la battaglia di Lepanto (7 ottobre 1571), accanto al quale stanno, a destra, il papa Pio V e i capitani delle armate cristiane; a sinistra il re polacco Giovanni Sobieski, liberatore di Vienna dall'assedio dei Turchi (1683). L'ultimo gruppo che completa la decorazione e chiude l'anello raffigura Pio VII con la Bolla di istituzione della festa di Maria Auxilium Christianorum (1815).

Nelle quattro vele della cupola il Rollini ha dipinto i Dottori della Chiesa sant'Ambrogio, sant'Agostino (Chiesa latina) sant'Atanasio e san Giovanni Crisostomo (Chiesa orientale).

The high altar (see fig. 19, n. 1) The ancient high altar of the sanctuary built by Don Bosco was located a little beyond the current balustrade.

On the pillars that support the great arch that divides the nave from the pre-crowbar, in the two niches above the side doors, there are the statues of St. Anne (right) and St. Joachim (left), the parents of Mary. , which look towards the great painting of the Help of Christians. The statues are the work of the sculptor Nori.

The large presbytery, built in the extension works of 1935-1938, extends beyond the limits of the ancient apse, also covering the space previously occupied by the choir, built by Don Bosco between 1869 and 1870.

The high altar, the work of the Salesian architect G. Valotti (1938), appears as a whole as a monumental frame to the large painting by Lorenzone. The architectural lines are vaguely inspired by the Renaissance, masked by abundant decorations and a wealth of marble polychromies.

Twelve niches have been obtained in the two pillars that flank the picture and support the tympanum, six on each side and juxtaposed two by two, for as many statues of saints among the most famous for devotion to the Madonna.

On the right pillar, from bottom to top, the saints: Cyril of Alexandria and Stephen of Hungary (first level); Giovanni Bosco and Bernardo di Chiaravalle (second level); Maria Domenica Mazzarello and Bernardetta Soubirous (third level).

On the left pillar, in the same order, the saints: Giovanni Damasceno and Domenico di Guzmàn (niches below); Efrem and Bonaventura (middle niches); Rosa da Lima and Caterina da Siena (niches at the top).

In the triangle of the tympanum the mosaic of the Reffo was relocated which was part of the ancient high altar, depicting the eternal Father (1891). In the triangles of the iconic arch there are two pretty little angels in mosaic, by the same author.

In the frieze of the entablature, between the triangle of the tympanum and the painting, on two scrolls in gilded bronze, the greeting of the Hail Mary is engraved.

A fascia of riad with four-stroke testes of angels in marble of Carrara, opera of Luisoni, incorrigies the altar.

The tabernacle is framed by small pilasters with hard stones and white stems on lapis lazuli. In the timpanetto the bas-relief of Jesus who holds out the bread. On it, in the elevation, there is the artistic Crucifix in gilded bronze, with two symbolic deer. Everything serves as a base for a throne for the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament surrounded by two angels holding a crown.

The picture of the Help of Christians Don Bosco commissioned this work in 1865 to the painter Tommaso Lorenzone. He wanted a grandiose scene: above the Virgin, among the choirs of angels; around the apostles and the ranks of martyrs, prophets, virgins and confessors; at the feet of the Madonna the symbols of his victories and a representation of the peoples of the world, in a suppliant attitude (cf MB 8, 4). But, faced with the concrete observations of the artist as to the impossibility of carrying out such a project, he contented himself with a more modest but always grandiose synthesis; in fact, the picture measures 7 meters by 4.

For the realization of the work a high hall of Palazzo Madama was rented and the painter worked there for about three years.

The Madonna stands high on the clouds, in a regal attitude, with the scepter in the right and the Bimbo sitting on the left. On his head, surrounded by a luminous crown of twelve stars, hovers the dove, symbol of the Spirit, dominated by the eye of the Father from which all the light that illuminates the scene emanates.

Accanto alla Vergine, un pochino più in basso, sotto le nubi e gli angioletti, stanno alcuni apostoli con gli strumenti del loro martirio. Ai piedi della Madonna gli apostoli Pietro e Paolo e i quattro evangelisti, con i loro simboli tradizionali. Sulla sinistra, presso san Pietro che regge le chiavi, si trova l'evangelista Giovanni con il calice dell'ultima cena e l'aquila simboleggiante la sublimità del suo Vangelo; accanto è Marco, assiso sul leone. A destra, dietro san Paolo, si scorgono la bianca figura di san Matteo con l'angioletto e san Luca con il bue. In basso, tra Pietro e Paolo compaiono la chiesa dell'Ausiliatrice e gli edifici dell'Oratorio; all'orizzonte il colle di Superga, col tempio della Vergine.

Don Bosco's love for the Madonna, like that for the Eucharist, was contagious. His sons, Salesians and young people, made it an important element of their spiritual life until they reached the top of contemplation. It was not only the case of Dominic Savio, but of many others, as he himself recounts: "One day I entered the church of Mary Help of Christians from the main gate, towards evening, and when I was about halfway through the church, observing the picture, I saw that the Madonna was covered by a dark cloth. I quickly said to myself: "Who knows why the sacristan covered the image of the Madonna?" -. And coming closer to the presbytery, I saw that the cloth was moving. Shortly thereafter it slowly fell down until it touched the floor, adored the Blessed Sacrament, made the sign of the cross and went out through the sacristy. That drape was a son of Don Bosco, who in an ecstasy of love had risen up close to the image of Mary Most Holy to better see her, contemplate her, love her, kiss his immaculate feet. Another time he entered the church from the sacristy and I saw a young man raised at the height of the holy Tabernacle behind the choir, in the act of worshiping the Blessed Sacrament kneeling in the air, with his head tilted and leaning against the door of the Tabernacle, in sweet ecstasy of love as a Seraph of Heaven. I called him by name and he quickly roused himself and descended to earth disturbed, asking me not to reveal him to anyone "(MB 14, 487-488). love her, kiss her immaculate feet. Another time he entered the church from the sacristy and I saw a young man raised at the height of the holy Tabernacle behind the choir, in the act of worshiping the Blessed Sacrament kneeling in the air, with his head tilted and leaning against the door of the Tabernacle, in sweet ecstasy of love as a Seraph of Heaven. I called him by name and he quickly roused himself and descended to earth disturbed, asking me not to reveal him to anyone "(MB 14, 487-488). love her, kiss her immaculate feet. Another time he entered the church from the sacristy and I saw a young man raised at the height of the holy Tabernacle behind the choir, in the act of worshiping the Blessed Sacrament kneeling in the air, with his head tilted and leaning against the door of the Tabernacle, in sweet ecstasy of love as a Seraph of Heaven. I called him by name and he quickly roused himself and descended to earth disturbed, asking me not to reveal him to anyone "(MB 14, 487-488). love like a Seraph of Heaven. I called him by name and he quickly roused himself and descended to earth disturbed, asking me not to reveal him to anyone "(MB 14, 487-488). love like a Seraph of Heaven. I called him by name and he quickly roused himself and descended to earth disturbed, asking me not to reveal him to anyone "(MB 14, 487-488).

The minor dome The presbytery is illuminated by a second dome, built between 1935 and 1938, pierced by sixteen colored glass windows with figures of angels painted by prof. Mario Barberis of Rome. The angelic figures carry the symbols of the Marian titles: Star of the sea - Mother of God - Always Virgin - Door of paradise - Full of grace - Blessed among women - Queen of heaven - Lady of the angels - Queen of the world - Excellent virgin - Rose mysticism - Help of Christians - Source of our joy - Holy Mary Protector against the enemy - Help in the moment of death.

At the center of the dome, around the symbolic dove, are the words Hic domus mea, inde gloria mea.

Angels in bas-relief, by Vignali, are placed in the four sails, with the symbols of four Laurenan litanies: Tower of David - Ivory Tower - Golden Ark - Ark of the Covenant.

The two side chapels of the presbytery (see fig. 19, nn. 3 and 4) were built to welcome young people and pilgrims on solemnities. They are dedicated to the SS. Crucifix, the one on the right, and to St. Pius V the one on the left. Pairs of green marble columns separate them from a wide corridor that surrounds them on the sides and connects them passing behind the high altar. The decoration of the chapels is by Cussetti.

The tribunes on the side chapels On the chapel of the Crucifix (the one on the right) a large tribune has been created to welcome the faithful during the moments of greatest influx. It is illuminated by a beautiful stained glass window representing Maria Assunta in the sky.

Opposite, on the chapel of St. Pius V, stands the tribune of the organ and the choir, capable of more than 200 people. The organ was built by the G. Tamburini firm of Crema (1941), and consists of 68 sound registers and 23 mechanical registers, 65 combination pistons and 20 stirrup pedals. The canes are 5100.

This large orchestra reminds us of the rich musical tradition of Valdocco liturgy and the Masters who animated it: Cagliero, Dogliani, Scarzanella, Pagella, Lasagna, Lamberto and others.

The pillars in white Carrara marble that support the central arches of the two stands each have, on the front side, three cherubs in high relief, by Nori, in the attitude of singers and musicians.

Gallery behind the high altar Six altars are located in the gallery behind the high altar. From the right to the left, the altar of St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo follows, with a painting by Dalle Ceste (1938); that of the Crucifix, with a wooden figure by Giacomo Mussner of Ortisei; that of St. Joseph Cafasso, with a painting by Dalle Ceste (1938); that of the Saints Martyrs of Turin, with a fine painting by Reffo (1896; Don Rua had placed it in place of that of Saint Anne in the current chapel of Mazzarello); that of Saint Pius V, with a painting by Barberis (1938); that of the Guardian Angel, with a painting by the painter GB Galizzi of Bergamo.

The sacristy (see fig. 19, n. 11) It is located next to the gallery which is behind the high altar. On display are six paintings by Crida (1938), with scenes from the life of Don Bosco; Don Bosco defended by the dog Grigio (on the door leading to the Basilica, on the courtyard side); the meeting with Bartolomeo Garelli; Don Bosco among the youth of the Oratory; the Saint and mother Margaret arrive at Valdocco (in the background an excellent reproduction of the Pinardi house); Don Bosco who confesses; the catechism of Giovannino on the barn of the Becchi.

The statue of the Help of Christians Returning from the chapel of Saint Pius V in the central nave, right in front of the pulpit, in a niche below, we see the statue of the Help of Christians which is carried in procession every year, on May 24th.

It is interesting to note that, on April 27, 1865, the cornerstone of the church was solemnly placed precisely in this place, resting on the great pillar of the dome that rose somewhat from the floor level. This fact explains why Don Bosco wanted here the niche of the Help of Christians, a true cornerstone of all his work.

Altar of Saint Joseph (see fig. 19, n. 15) Located in the transept on the left, facing the altar of Don Bosco, it is the only one left as the Saint wanted it.

The large painting by Lorenzone was placed here six years after the inauguration of the Basilica, on 26 April 1874, the feast of the Patronage of St. Joseph. As Don Bosco wanted, St. Joseph is represented standing, with the Child in his arms, while he takes the roses from him and drops them on the church of Mary Help of Christians; next is the Madonna in a devoted attitude. An angel supports the lily, symbol of chastity; two others the invitation "Ite to Joseph", that is "Go to Joseph". In the entablature of the tympanum the biblical verse "Constituit eum dominum domus suae" (He established him lord of his house), remembers that Don Bosco chose the Saint as one of the main patrons of his Oratory.

In the niches of the side walls there are two statues by the Veronese sculptor Noni: King David on the right and the prophet Isaiah on the left.

Altar of Saint Dominic Savio (see fig. 19, nos. 17 and 18) Continuing from the altar of Saint Joseph to the bottom of the basilica, before the altar of Domenico Savio, on the door that leads into the left ambulatory, we see the statue of St. Francis Xavier, apostle of the missions, by Cellini.

The chapel where the altar of Domenico Savio is located was dedicated by Don Bosco to the Sacred Most Hearts of Jesus and Mary. In the works carried out by Don Rua (1889-1891), the chapel was dedicated to St. Francis de Sales and the altar was rebuilt as we see it today. The central painting, by Reffo (1893), representing the Savoyard bishop saint is now in the Museum of the Salesian Center for Historical and Popular Marian Documentation.

In 1954, the year of the canonization of Domenico Savio, the chapel that had already housed its remains since 1914, was dedicated to Don Bosco's young pupil. A modest painting by Crida, placed in that year and representing Domenico on his knees in front of the Immaculate, was recently replaced by a valuable painting by Mario Caffaro Rore (1984).

Today the remains of Domenico Savio are kept in a golden urn under the altar. Previously they were kept in the small sepulchral monument that is located to the right of the altar.

The vault of the chapel, representing the triumph of the Eucharist and the struggle between the archangel Saint Michael and Lucifer, was frescoed by Rollini in 1874. The two side frescoes are by the same painter (1894) and depict facts from the life of Saint Francis di Sales: on the right, the Saint, still a priest, preaches the Catholic doctrine to the Calvinists; on the left, the Saint, already a bishop, is represented in a printing press intent on reading a draft print. The reference to his intense activity as a writer, which made him the patron saint of journalists, is evident. As a curiosity we note that the long-bearded printer next to the Saint is the portrait of Carlo Gastini. He had attended the Oratory since 1848, he had learned the trade of the bookbinder and had always remained very attached to Don Bosco. Founder of the Salesian past pupils association, he was considered Don Bosco's minstrel. He attended the Oratory until his death in 1902.

Chapel of the Sacred Heart (see fig. 19, no. 19) It is located at the bottom of the Basilica on the left, communicating with the chapel of Domenico Savio. It was wanted by Don Rua, when he transformed the nearby chapel of the Sacred Hearts into the chapel of St. Francis de Sales (1894).

The central triptych, representing the Sacred Heart of Jesus and two adoring angels, is a valuable work by the painter Carlo Morgari, who also designed the decoration of the walls and vault.

On the right we see the statue of Saint Anthony of Padua supported by two elegant bronze columns.

In the niche above the chapel door, towards the central nave, there is the statue of Vignali depicting Saint Margaret Mary Ala-coque, the Visitandine nun to whom devotion to the Sacred Heart is joined.

3.2.7. The basements of the Basilica

Negli ampi locali ricavati sotto la Basilica Don Bosco collocò ambienti ad uso dell'Oratorio, tra cui il forno nel quale ogni giorno si cuoceva il pane.

Con i lavori di ampliamento del 1935-1938 vi furono ricavate due cappelle: quella delle reliquie e quella di san Pietro, quest'ultima sotto la sacrestia. Nei vani restanti, dal 1978, ha sede il Centro Salesiano di Documentazione Storica e Popolare Mariana con museo e biblioteca.

Cappella delle reliquie Vi si accede direttamente dalla Basilica, scendendo la scaletta che si trova a destra presso il portale di ingresso (vedi fig. 19, n. 20).

Fu inaugurata nel 1934 per accogliere la notevole collezione di reliquie donata dal commendatore Michele Bert di Torino.

Si presenta con una navata unica a croce latina, con volte a vela e a botte che ricordano, anche per i motivi ornamentali, le catacombe cristiane.

Appena discesa la scala ci si trova di fronte all'altare dell'Apparizione che ricorda la visione avuta da Don Bosco nel 1845 durante la quale la Vergine gli indicò il luogo del martirio dei tre soldati romani Solutore, Avventore e Ottavio. Una croce di metallo sul pavimento, a sinistra, e un quadro di Dalle Ceste segnano il luogo preciso indicato dalla Vergine.

Don Bosco così ci racconta: «Mi sembrò di trovarmi in una gran pianura piena di una quantità sterminata di giovani (...). Erano giovani abbandonati dai parenti e corrotti. Io stava per allontanarmi di là, quando mi vidi accanto una Signora che mi disse: (...) — In questo luogo dove i gloriosi Martiri di Torino Avventore ed Ottavio soffrirono il loro martirio, su queste zolle che furono bagnate e santificate dal loro sangue, io voglio che Dio sia onorato in modo specialissimo. — Così dicendo, avanzava un piede posandolo sul luogo ove avvenne il martirio e me lo indicò con precisione. Io voleva porre qualche segno per rintracciarlo quando altra volta fossi ritornato in quel campo, ma nulla trovai intorno e me; non un palo, non un sasso: tuttavia lo tenni a memoria con precisione» (MB 2, 298-299).

Sulla sinistra del quadro si vede il monumento sepolcrale del beato Michele Rua, primo successore di Don Bosco (1837-1910).

Proseguendo, si incontrano successivamente l'altare delle sante vedove, con a fronte quello delle sante vergini e martiri; l'altare dei santi vescovi e confessori (presso il quale è sepolto il venerabile don Filippo Rinaldi, terzo successore di Don Bosco) e di fronte l'altare dei santi martiri; segue l'altare dei fondatori di ordini e congregazioni religiose che ha davanti quello dei santi dottori della Chiesa; si incontra infine l'altar maggiore, con reliquia del legno della croce.

Le decorazioni degli altari sono del prof. Mario Barberis.

Lungo le pareti, in teche e reliquiari, e sotto gli altari sono esposte centinaia di reliquie.

Cappella di san Pietro Sotto l'ampia sacrestia è collocata la cappella di san Pietro, a cui si accede attraverso la scala che si trova sul retro della Basilica.

Al posto del monumentale altare di Don Bosco si trovava originariamente quello di san Pietro, offerto dai benefattori romani. Il santo di Valdocco lo aveva voluto come segno della sua devozione al successore di Pietro.

Per questo motivo si è deciso di conservare l'antico, pregevole altare trasportandolo in questa cappella, utilizzata particolarmente nella festa dell'Ausiliatrice per le confessioni.

Centro Salesiano di Documentazione Storica e Popolare Mariana Appena varcato il cancello d'ingresso ai cortili interni, sul lato destro della Basilica, per una porta si scende al Museo del Centro Salesiano di Documentazione Storica e Popolare Mariana.

All'origine del Centro c'è il progetto del missionario salesiano don Maggiorino Borgatello, tornato dalle missioni della Terra del Fuoco nel 1913. Egli volle organizzare un «Museo del culto di Maria Ausiliatrice nel mondo». Voleva visualizzare la realizzazione della promessa fatta dalla Madonna a Don Bosco: «Hic domus mea, iride gloria mea». Questo modesto Museo fu inaugurato nel 1918, in occasione dei cinquant'anni della consacrazione del santuario di Valdocco e durò fino al 1935. Con i lavori di sottofondazione e ampliamento della Basilica, il materiale raccolto andò disperso.

Nel 1978 il salesiano don Pietro Ceresa trasportò dall'Istituto Salesiano di Bologna la sua ingente raccolta di documentazione sulla devozione popolare mariana, che venne sistemata nei locali sottostanti il santuario.

The Center collects, classifies and shows everything that concerns devotion to the Virgin Mary: - printed matter of all kinds (books, magazines, studies, monographs, unique and commemorative numbers), manuscripts and other related to shrines, cathedrals, parish churches or of religious institutes, oratories, confraternities, Marian movements; - Marian depictions of every quality and type (statues, paintings, engravings, lithographs, oleographs and anything else produced by the press in the field of Marian iconography); - various Marian collections (postcards, pictures, photographs, ceramics, medals, coins, stamps, music, slides, etc.).

The purpose of this collection is to offer everyone a panoramic view of the many expressions that devotion to Mary has assumed over the centuries. To researchers and scholars of popular Marian devotion and piety, he offers an abundant collection of work tools, useful results already on various occasions.


In the building complex of Valdocco, among the buildings dating back to Don Bosco, in addition to those presented so far, only the two that flank the façade of the Basilica remain intact: the concierge building (on the right) and the typography building ( on the left), designed by Ing. Spice crowning the church.

3.3.1. Concierge's house (1874-1875)

When Don Bosco was able to take advantage of the entire Pinardi house, he immediately took care to restore or build, where there was not, the boundary wall of the Oratory. And he provided it with a sturdy wooden door on Via della Giardiniera. When religious services and catechisms had begun, the gate was closed to avoid intrusions and disturbances.

In October 1853 Don Bosco opened the first laboratories in the Pinardi house and entrusted the master shoemaker Domenico Goffi with the job of porter. Three years later, when the Hospice for interiors took shape and regulated itself with the new constructions, the Saint chose a special porter and gave him a room built near the entrance door in the building of the daytime elementary schools (1856; cf p .222).

"The choice of a good porter is a treasure for a house of education": Don Bosco was convinced of this and wrote it also in the little treatise on the Preventive System (see chapter II, par. 5 in RSS 6 [1985] 248). He also entrusted tasks of educational responsibility to him, as can be seen already in the first Regulation Plan for the House annexed to the Oratory of St. Francis of Sales, in which he dedicates 12 articles to the porter. We mention a few: «1. It is a very strict duty of the doorkeeper to always be in porteria, to receive anyone who presents himself urban. When he has to go elsewhere to carry out his religious duties, at the time of taking food, or in the event of having to absent himself for some reasonable reason he will be replaced by a person appointed by the Rector.

2. He will never introduce people into the House without the knowledge of his superiors, addressing to the Prefect those who do business in the economy or who need to deal with matters concerning the youth of the House; to the Rector those who seek him directly.

3. He will not allow any young person of the House to go out without having the appropriate permit, without prejudice to the exceptions that the Superior will keep in a note to keep secret, noting the time of exit and return.

(- -) 9. Get the peace and the studies to prevent any disorder in the courtyard and in the House; prohibit the noises in the time of the sacred functions, of school, study and work.

(- -) 12. He will endeavor to keep himself occupied either with his own work or with others who will be entrusted to him and will notice all the commissions above a memorial; but both in receiving them and in doing them, you always use gentle and affable manners, thinking that meekness and affability are the characteristic virtues of a good doorkeeper "(MB 4, 743-744).

Between 1859 and 1860, with the help of Don Cafasso, Don Bosco built a larger gatehouse next to the previous small room, with room for the doorkeeper, parlor for the relatives of the students and cover on the driveway. Two years later he moved the concierge to the right (still on Via della Giardiniera) at an angle between the new building for the printing house and the boundary wall with the Filippi property. Here the porter's lodge remained until 1874 (see fig. 20, n. 3).

After the sanctuary of the Help of Christians, in 1873 the Saint bought back the land to the right of the Basilica from the carpenter Giovanni B. Coriasco, to whom he had sold it in 1851; he had the house and the workshop he had built (see fig. 20, n. 4) demolished, and between 1874 and 1875 he built the first of the two buildings designed by La Spezia.

The porter's lodge, some offices and guest rooms were placed in this beautiful three-story building. In the more modest one next to it (finished later) there was the bookshop, the warehouse of the "somrninistranze" and, on the first floor, the bookbinding of books.

3.3.2. House of typography (1881-1883)

Flank the facade of the Basilica to the left, symmetrically to the building of the concierge. It had been designed by La Spezia in the early 1970s, but was built only after it was possible to purchase (1880) the Nelva house with the long strip of land to the west of the sanctuary.

The Nelva house and part of the land next to the church of St. Francis of Sales were destined for the festive Oratory; in the remaining space the typography building (1881-1883) and the mechanical blacksmiths' workshop were built progressively (1883-1884; the latter, however, was demolished in 1893 for the construction of the first Oratory theater).

In this building, the small typography of the Oratory could progressively develop and become one of the most modern and efficient of the time. In 1884, the year following the inauguration of the building, Don Bosco obtained a special pavilion, 55 meters long and 20 wide, at the great National Exposition in Turin. The workshop managers and their young people worked under the eyes of the visitors who could thus follow the entire process of making a book (Fabiola and the Little Catechism were printed): paper making, typesetting, printing, binding and sales of volumes.

From the house of typography the great salesian graphic tradition arose which, thanks to the Salesian brothers trained here, spread throughout the world, contributing greatly to the technical and artistic development of the sector. Hence the Salesian Bulletin and thousands of publications of every kind made Don Bosco known, propagated the missionary spirit and the Marian spirit, served the Church particularly in the field of catechesis and the religious formation of young people.


Other buildings constructed or adapted by Don Bosco were subsequently demolished and rebuilt. We remember two: Filippi house and Audisio house.

3.4.1. Casa Filippi (1861, rebuilt in 1952)

The Filippi brothers, to the right of the Pinardi house and in front of the famous lawn that had been the last destination of the itinerant Oratory, owned land with a house and a large shed along Via della Giardiniera. The house was a two-storey upside-down U-shaped building intended for a silk factory, 35 meters long and about 8 meters wide.

The shed was rented to the contractor Visca who kept the wagons and horses of the town hall. The comings and goings of workers and especially the noises of carters, stable boys and many tramps who found shelter under the roof greatly disturbed the Oratory's rhythm of prayer, study and work.

Don Bosco, with the help of the comm. Giuseppe Cotta, bought house and land on 16 July 1860, at the price of 65 thousand lire. For over a year, however, it was not possible to dismiss the tenants, who continued to use the shed and the ground floor of the house.

Don Bosco used only the upper floor, as a large room. To access it he had a wooden bridge built that connected the building with the Camerette wing (see fig. 12, n. 4). Between the two buildings there was a distance of about seven meters, almost a sea strait, so Filippi's house was called Sicily by the boys.

In the summer of 1861, with the expiration of the leases, the entire Filippi estate was annexed to the Oratory and new constructions were completed to coordinate the two buildings: the square enclosed between the two wings of the Filippi house was incorporated into the building which was raised by a floor . The Camerette's arm was enlarged and joined to the Filippi house. In the connection between the two buildings a large staircase was built (see fig. 20, n. 1).

On the ground floor of the Filippi house, so enlarged, a warehouse and laboratories for dyers and hatters (cf. MB 7, 116) were located; on the first floor classrooms; on the second floor there was a vast study room, capable of 500 students, which was used as a theater during the carnival and festivals.

The Lemoyne, who arrived in Valdocco already a priest in 1863, describes the study room as follows: "It was considered almost as a sacred place. From the principles of the Oratory there reigned a solemn, religious silence. Even in winter when the cold was excessive, allowing D. Bosco to the young to retire to the studio to have breakfast, the silence, out of respect for the place, was never upset. We entered, we would say almost, on tiptoe and with the cap in hand took the place fixed. After a Hail Mary, Ora pro nobis replied to the prayer Sedes sapientiae, which in 1867 replaced Maria Auxilium Christianorum. Don Bosco also went from time to time to set a good example, to study with others in the common room.

It was a wonderful show. Whoever had entered and of any dignity nobody moved from the place, turned his head, or gave a sign of curiosity "(MB 7, 556).

At the sight of the Oratory students, immersed in the study in perfect silence, the two English gentlemen marveled "one of whom was Minister of Queen Victoria", who one day visited the Oratory. To their question: "How is it possible to obtain so much silence and so much discipline?" Don Bosco replied: "The frequent confession and communion and the daily mass are well listened to.

- You're right! (...). You are right! or religion, or stick; I want to tell it in London "(MB 7, 557).

Today in the former Filippi house, completely rebuilt in 1952, there are: on the ground floor, the home of the former students and the bar for pilgrims; on the first floor the offices of the Scuola Media and the Ginnasio and the library; on the upper floors rooms for confreres and guests.

Under the arcade you can see a statue of the Immaculate Conception which Don Bosco had placed in the first sacristy of the Basilica, in front of which the faith of the Saint and the pilgrims received many graces.

3.4.2. Casa Audisio (1864, rebuilt in 1954)

After the school reform advocated by the Casati law (1859) and the subsequent rules of application, Don Bosco was forced to standardize his school buildings - which were also private - to the new regulations and to obtain qualified teachers.

Between 1862 and 1863 the Oratory Gymnasium ran a serious danger of being closed, but instead of becoming discouraged, Don Bosco strengthened and expanded it.

 db places
While his young teachers were engaged in the qualifying exams, he had a new three-storey school building designed by the surveyor F. Serra; it was built between summer 1863 and spring 1864.

It was grafted onto the Filippi house and descended towards the porter's lodge. It was a long and narrow building, with a porch on the ground floor, classrooms in the two upper floors and bedrooms for the Salesians in the attic (see fig. 20, n. 2).

The building was later called Casa Audisio in homage to the good Salesian brother who for many years held an office there.

Casa Audisio was demolished and rebuilt in 1954: currently a vast hall for pilgrims opens up under the arcade; on the first floor there is an experimental center for graphic training and reprographic printing.


For the sake of completeness we give a summary of the Salesian works currently housed in the "citadel" of Valdocco.

3.5.1. Vocational Training Center (CFP)

It is located to the left of the facade of the Basilica, continually developing from the typography and the workshop of mechanical blacksmiths wanted by Don Bosco.

Between 1892 and 1904, Don Rua had new corner laboratories built between the current Via Maria Ausiliatrice and Via Salerno. In the buildings, larger and more rational, the mechanical blacksmiths, the carpenters, the binders, the tailors, the classrooms and the dormitories for the artisans were placed. Thus a rigorous division of environments and communities took place between the artisans and the students, who Don Bosco had already started and suggested.

With the development of the professional sector Don Rinaldi, between 1925 and 1927, had a new large complex built behind the former Pinardi house, destined for carpentry, tailoring and shoe repair workshops, with classrooms and infirmary on the upper floors.

After the second world war the old buildings were restored and completed by don Fedele Giraudi with the construction of a large building (1952-1955) for the mechanical and electrotechnical laboratories, the classrooms of the professional school and the School of Photographic Applications ( SAF).

Over the decades the professional sector has evolved; from the craft phase it has moved on to the technical and industrial one. Shoemaking, tailoring and carpentry workshops have disappeared.

Today the Center takes care of the following specializations: mechanics, electromechanics and graphics (composition, photography, printing, lithography, bookbinding).

3.5.2. "San Domenico Savio" Middle School and Gymnasium

Of the ancient premises, partly of fortune, built by Don Bosco for the school buildings, nothing exists anymore. In the large vegetable garden that stretched behind the Don Bosco house and the Filippi house, the building complex that today we see around the second large courtyard of Valdocco progressively developed.

Don Rua, on the extension of the Audisio house, built a first building (1908-1909) for the classrooms and a new study capable of 400 students. In this room some General Chapters of the Salesian Society took place.

Don Paolo Albera continued the construction with the addition of a hall for indoor recreation and built a second building with classrooms and dormitories along Piazza Sassari. He also built, at the corner of Via Sassari and Via Salerno, a house for the laundry and the wardrobe (1920-1921), with accommodation for the sisters involved.

Don Filippo Rinaldi completed the set with a large kitchen and new refectories (1925-1927).

During the Second World War a bombing completely destroyed the building on Piazza Sassari. Don Giraudi rebuilt it in 1951 and created a large theater hall, still in use, and dormitories.

Today the student section of Valdocco consists of the Lower Middle School and the Gymnasium and has a vocational orientation. The interiors are few: only boys from the two-year period and the three-year period, already oriented towards a specific vocational choice. The Vocation Community occupies part of the building constructed by Don Rinaldi for laboratories and the infirmary between 1925 and 1927.

3.5.3. The daily and festive Oratory

The festive Oratory, the nucleus from which all of Don Bosco's work developed, was for a certain number of years one with the annexed House. During the construction of the Basilica, both for the limited space available, congested by the large number of young people inside and for the changed socio-economic situation of the neighborhood, the young external oratories decreased considerably.

Don Bosco tried to remedy this by reserving the ground next to and behind the Basilica at the festive Oratory and assigning the sacristy to the west of the sanctuary as a chapel. The situation remained precarious for a decade, until in 1880 the house and the Nelva land were purchased for the external Oratorians.

The festive Oratory saw a new spring and a decisive revival under the rectorate of Don Rua, who reserved a large space for him in Via Sa lerno (1899; land that was already owned by Carosso), he built a small theater and built Carosso classrooms for catechism and the evening classes.

Under the direction of Don Pavia the Oratory grew and became consolidated, so much so that Don Albera, demolished the Carosso house, enlarged the courtyard and built a gym with classrooms on the upper floor along Via Salerno, on the extension of the theater. Finally, under the rectory of Don Pietro Ricaldone, the poor buildings on Via Salerno were demolished and built (1934-1935), based on a project by Valotti, the current Oratory.

 db places From Don Bosco to the present day the village of Valdocco, always rich in youth population, has assured and continues to ensure a large influx of young people who keep Don Bosco's first work still current and alive.

3.5.4. Mariano Salesiano Center

The community of the Salesian Marian Center which awaits the Basilica, pastoral works and other services, uses the environments found in the first large courtyard, on the right side of the Basilica: - the porter's house, built by Don Bosco, also houses the 'Transport and travel office serving missions; - the low building that prolongs the porter's lodge on via Maria Ausiliatrice, is occupied by the Libreria Elle Di Ci, management offices and the offices of the Salesian Bulletin; - the House of the Superior Chapter (on the side parallel to the Basilica, built by Don Albera between 1912 and 1914), occupied until 1970 by the Major Superiors of the Salesian Congregation, is currently destined for the reception of pilgrims (ground floor, with meeting rooms and self-service), to the

The purpose of the Salesian Marian Center is the liturgical animation in the Basilica, the diffusion of the worship of the Help of Christians, the welcome service for pilgrims and the custody of memories related to Don Bosco.

3.5.5. Subalpine Inspectorate

In the former Pinardi house and in the Don Bosco house, on the first floor, there is the Subalpine Salesian Inspectorate, with the Inspector's and collaborators' offices and those of the CNOS-FAP regional delegation, that is the coordination center for school activities, professional and recreational-cultural activities of the Salesian Opera in Italy.


Don Bosco, between 1868 and 1869, bought various plots of land in front of the sanctuary, completing them with the purchase of the Moretta house (1875) and the Audagnotto house (1878).

In the Moretta house the first female oratory of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (1876) was opened, directed by Sr. Elisa Roncallo, while the Audagnotto house was assigned to hospitality.

Since 1870 Don Bosco had thought of a project of new buildings that would make a worthy crown to the church of the Help of Christians. The study, entrusted to the engineer Spezia, was approved by the town hall, but due to various difficulties only the two buildings were built next to the Basilica (concierge and typography).

The buildings that currently surround the square were built between the end of the last century and 1935: on the right side, looking at the Basilica, we have the house of the parish works, with the Youth Ministry Center, the church "branch", built by Don Rua for the anti-feminine Oratory, and the buildings of the International Publishing Company (SEI); on the left side there are instead the former general house of the Daughters of Maria Ansiliatrice, their various schools and the women's Oratory.

The monument to Don Bosco It was decided to build it on 10 September 1911, during the International Congress of ex-pupils, in view of the first centenary of the birth of Don Bosco.

The sculptor Gaetano Cellini from Bologna was chosen among the 59 artists who took part in the competition announced by the organizing committee.

The outbreak of the First World War delayed the inauguration of the monument, which took place with great solemnity only on 3 May 1920.

On a porphyry base stands the bronze statue of Don Bosco embraced by a small group of boys. The veiled woman at the feet of the Saint, representing the Faith, is a cross to the veneration of a bent man, a symbol of humanity.

In the high-relief on the right there is a mother with a child who sends kisses to Don Bosco, a symbol of family education; in the one on the left a leper looks invocatively at the holy founder of the Salesian missions.

On the sides, leaning on the two stelae, the groups of figures indicate the two great devotions taught by Don Bosco; the Eucharist and the Help of Christians. On the right a sturdy worker bends his head in front of the SS. Sacramento, before which a woman prays and a mother kisses her young son. A sini stra a proud Indian, converted by the Salesian missionaries, is prostrated before the Help of Christians, to whom two virgins offer flowers.

On the back of the monument, in three bas-reliefs, the assistance to the emigrants, the Salesian professional schools and the agricultural schools are depicted.


Two other institutions in Turin testify directly to Don Bosco's tireless work for the education of young people and his ever-widening horizons: the church of St. John the Evangelist with the annexed school, known as the "St. John the Baptist", and the Valsali-ce Institute which from 1888 to 1929 had the singular fate of guarding the tomb of the Holy Educator. Therefore, at the end of this review of the environments in which Don Bosco lived and worked, he cannot fail to mention the two centers.

3.7.1. The church is the Institute of St. John the Evangelist (Corso Vittorio, No. 13 - Via Madama Cristina, No. 1)

Next to the Oratory of San Luigi, described in the previous pages and as its natural development, Don Bosco wanted to build a church and a "hospice" with a school for "poor and abandoned" youth, in order to make his educational work more effective.

Various reasons directed the Saint to this endeavor. In the area, the Borgo di san Salvario, a strong expansion of the city had begun, foreseen by the urban plans since 1847 and accelerated also by the construction of the nearby railway station of Porta Nuova. The result was a strong demographic concentration, particularly of the popular and poor class. Moreover, as early as 1853, the Waldensians, obtained in 1848 the emancipation, had begun to build the temple, a hospital and a school, also open to young Catholics for whom the other city schools were uncomfortable. The synagogue for the Jewish cult and the Jewish school would later be built in this same district. The proselytism and the lively initiatives of the Protestants offered Don Bosco more reasons to articulate and develop his work, which had already arisen in 1847.

The construction Between 1870 and 1875, through subsequent purchase deeds, the Saint succeeded in enlarging the property of the ancient Oratory of San Luigi until it had an area of ​​over 4000 square meters. Another 300-meter strip of land, belonging to a certain Moglia, a Protestant, only obtained it in 1876, following an appeal to the State Council.

The design of the new complex was entrusted to the architect from Vercelli, Count Edoardo Arborio Mella (1808-1884) who was inspired by the Roman-Lombard style of the 11th and 12th centuries.

The work for the construction of the church began quickly in the summer of 1877. On August 14th of the following year the cornerstone was laid and in December 1979 the external structure was already finished. In three years the interior decoration was completed and on 28 October 1882 the church could be solemnly consecrated.

The sacred building has a basilical plan, with three naves, with the central one double compared to the side ones. The complex measures 60 meters by 22 and can comfortably hold 2500 people.

The church, dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, was also commissioned by Don Bosco as a monument of gratitude to Pius IX for the benevolence shown to him by the pontiff. This intention caused the Saint many difficulties on the part of the Archbishop Mgr. Gastaldi, engaged in the same years to build a church in memory of Pius IX, precisely that of San Secondo. Don Bosco, however, succeeded in carrying out his project, and a large statue of the Pope, placed at the entrance of the church, still remembers today the close spiritual ties between the priest of Valdocco and Pius IX.

Visit of the church The façade is set back from the neighboring buildings, which are instead flush with the current Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. This creates a small churchyard enclosed by architectural elements that act as a link between the church and the buildings next to it.

The façade is dominated by a bell tower that reaches 45 meters in height. It is structured on three floors, surmounted by an octagonal pyramid on which rises a globe with a twelve-rayed star, of gilded copper. The first two plans, with a square plan, are lightened respectively by a three-light window and a four-light window. The upper one, octagonal in plan, is pierced by a mullioned window and made more slender by eight stone columns over six meters high. On the top of it there is a concert of five bells, inaugurated on December 8th 1881.

The inscription "lanua coeli" can be read on the entrance portal, while in the lunette above it is depicted the Redeemer seated in the chair, with the words "Ego sum via, veritas et vita".

Still higher, above the three-light window, a mosaic represents the apotheosis of St. John.

Once through the entrance portal, on the right, you come across the large statue of Pius IX, in Carrara marble, by the sculptor Francesco Confalonieri. The Pope is portrayed in a blessing act, while with his left hand he gives the decree of approval of the Salesian Congregation.

Inside, on the orchestra, was placed the imposing organ of 3600 canes, the work of cav. Giuseppe Bernasconi from Bergamo. Don Bosco inaugurated it in July 1882 with a series of concerts that lasted four days, which attracted no fewer than 50,000 people to the new church, with a special entry ticket. The instrument, on the occasion of the centenary of the church, was subjected to restoration, expanded and placed in the ambulatory behind the high altar.

In the aisles the light spreads by means of ten tall windows and six large circular eyes.

The central nave ends in a semicircular apse. The painting of the basin represents Jesus on the cross in the act of indicating to Mary the apostle John as his son. The painting, for mosaic use in the Byzantine style, is by Enrico Reffo. To the same author belong the medallions, placed between the arches of the central nave, in which the seven bishops of Asia Minor described in the Apocalypse of Saint John are portrayed. In the large circular windows below the apsidal dome are painted on glass: St. John the Evangelist, St. James, St. Andrew, St. Peter and St. Paul. The work is by the Milanese Pompeo Bertini.

The aisles extend around the apse forming a majestic ambulatory.

The high altar, of oriental style, has a double table. The presbytery is delimited by a rich balustrade in Saltrio stone. It is accessed by artistic iron gates. The magnificent floor is in Pompeian mosaic.

The side altars are dedicated to St. Dominic Savio (with a painting by Càffaro Rore, 1974), to St. Joseph (del Reffo, 1882) and to St. Francis de Sales (del Bonelli), in the right aisle; to Blessed Michael Rua, to Saint John Bosco (del Crida, 1934) and to the Sacred Heart (also of Crida), in the left aisle.

The icon of Don Bosco with the Help of Christians, which is the one displayed in St. Peter's on the day of canonization (April 1, 1934), replaced an earlier picture of the Immaculate. Likewise the paintings of Domenico Savio and Don Rua were placed in place of the icons of Saint Mary Magdalene and Saint Anthony the Abbot.

The Institute As it had already happened in Valdocco, next to the new church Don Bosco immediately wanted to build "a hospice for poor and abandoned youngsters".

In a short time, therefore, between the church and via Madama Cristina, a college capable of 350 pupils rose, in perfect architectural line with the sacred building.

Inaugurated in the autumn of 1884, it housed adults who aspired to Salesian life for the first ten years. Its director was Don Filippo Rinaldi, the future third successor of Don Bosco, who today is honored at the altar.

In 1894 the Institute was converted into a college with primary and secondary schools. In 1905 the recognition as a balanced Gymnasium gave new vigor to the work. In its long history, Saint John has hosted notable Salesian figures, such as the musicians don Giovanni Pagella and don Virgilio Bellone, the historian don Alberto Caviglia, the Latinists don Giovanni Battista Francesia and don Sisto Colombo. Among the students we remember Blessed Callisto Caravario, martyr in China.

Today the center continues its educational work as a primary school and a balanced middle school.

3.7.2. Valsalice and the tomb of Don Bosco (viale Thovez, n. 37)

The origins Between 1857 and 1862, the Brothers of the Christian Schools of Turin built a large building in the Valle dei Salici, on the slopes of the Turin hills, as a holiday resort for the noble students of their college of S. Primitivo. But in 1863, under the legislation on religious orders, this college was closed by the government. A Turin-based Society of Priests was born in the city which, among other purposes, aimed to continue the interrupted educational work. They took over the buildings of Valsalice and already in October 1863 opened a school called Collegio Valsalici, "to raise the young of the well-off and civilized classes in religion, science and civil, military and commercial careers" (P. BARICCO , Turin described, GB Paravia, Turin 1869, p. 705).

However, the difficulties were not lacking, mainly due to the scarcity of the students, the increase in debts and the disengagement of some members of the same Company. This state of affairs led the Archbishop Mgr. Gastaldi to propose to Don Bosco the direction of the college.

Valsalice and the Salesians The Saint and his first collaborators were very perplexed by the proposal, and expressed a negative opinion, convinced as they were that the Salesian Congregation was born for the education of the "poor and abandoned" youth. However, faced with the archbishop's new insistence, the college was accepted in March 1872 and leased for five years.

Under the direction of the Salesians, the situation did not improve immediately, so much so that the Valsalice problem reappeared at the end of the five-year lease. But Don Bosco, hoping that from this school even priestly vocations could emerge, bought it in 1879. In the same year he inaugurated an ornithological museum with the rich collection of the canon Giambattista Giordano of Rivalta.

The house soon assumed particular importance among the Salesian works. Because of its happy location in the green hills just outside the city, Don Bosco chose it as a place of rest and convalescence in the painful diseases of recent years, staying long. He also gathered some of the first General Chapters of the young Congregation.

In 1887, due to his explicit desire, the work underwent a radical transformation: from a high school for young students, it became a formation house for clerics, under the name of Seminar for Foreign Missions.

The burial of Don Bosco in Valsalice The following year the house received the body of Don Bosco. According to the Biographical Memoirs he would have foreseen it after a meeting of the Superior Chapter, on September 13, 1887: "It was deliberate to change destination to the college of Valsa-lice, replacing the noble boarders with students of philosophy. With the capitular session removed, Don Barberis, left alone with him, asked him with all confidence how, after having always been against that change, he had changed his mind. He replied: "From now on I'll be here in the custody of this house."

- So saying he always kept his eyes turned toward the staircase, which he places from the upper garden to the portico of the large lower courtyard. After a moment he added: "Get the drawing done."

- Since the college was not entirely built, Don Barberis believed that he wanted to finish the building; then he answered him: Well, I will prepare it; this winter I will present it to you. - But he: - Not this winter, but next spring; not to me, but at the Chapter you will present the drawing. - Meanwhile he continued to look towards the staircase. Only five months later Don Barberis began to understand the thought of the Saint, when he saw him buried in Valsalice and precisely in the central point of that staircase; he finally understood it completely when, having prepared the monument to be erected on his tomb, it was presented in the spring without he ever having said anything about the September conversation "(MB 18, 384-385).

In fact, with the death of the Saint, the problem of his worthy burial was imposed with immediate urgency. Since the Salesians did not yet have their own tombs in the city cemetery and not having obtained permission to bury the Founder in the church of Mary Help of Christians, the body seemed destined for the common camp. But at the suggestion of the same civil authority, the idea of ​​the burial in Valsalice, still considered outside the city limits, was not made, therefore not subject to the regulations of the cemetery police. After the solemn funeral on February 2nd, the coffin was transported here on the 4th, and the 6th could be placed in the tomb, built in haste. A few months later, a mausoleum-chapel was built on the niche, designed by the architect. Carlo Maurizio Vigna.

The building is set in the center of the arcade that borders two courtyards, of different levels, in front of the main building of the college. Taking advantage of the layout of the courtyards, the tomb-chapel is arranged on two floors.

A large staircase from the porch of the lower courtyard leads to a niche that encloses the tomb. A bas-relief depicts Don Bosco in priestly clothes as he was placed in the chest. On an inscription, then removed, it read: "Hic compositus est in pace Christi - Joannes Bosco Sacerdos - orphanor pater - natus Castrinovi apud Astenses XVIII kal. sept. MDCCCXV - obiit Aug. Taurin. pridie kal. febr. - MDCCCDOOXIII "(Here in the peace of Christ the priest Giovanni Bosco, father of the orphans, was born in Castelnuovo near Asti on 16 August 1815. He died in Turin on 31 January 1888).

On either side of the tomb, two flights of stairs lead to the terrace level which limits the front of the upper courtyard. Here stands a chapel of Gothic lines that exactly overlooks the burial. The apse fresco that dominates the marble altar represents a Pietà on a golden background, by Rollini.

Next to the funeral complex, on the tenth anniversary of Don Bosco's death, his spiritual sons built a grandiose chapel dedicated to St. Francis de Sales, built with the contribution of Catholic journalists and consecrated on 12 April 1901.

He returned to work around the tomb of the great educator in 1907, the date of the beginning of the cause of beatification and canonization. On that occasion they wanted to decorate the crypt and chapel with the decoration that is still visible today.

On the pediment of the chapel, a shabby fresco was replaced by a mosaic with the inscription: "Ave Crux, spes unica".

The terrace that closes the upper courtyard was also remade, enriching it with a new balustrade.

In the crypt, on gold grounds, geometric motifs, intertwining vines and other brightly colored religious symbols were engraved on the basis of a project by prof. Francesco Chiapasco.

Particularly cared was the embellishment of the portico that forms the entrance to the tomb, studied by Ing. Stefano Molli. The vaults, the arches and the walls are decorated with fine graffiti, due to the prof. Francesco Barberis.

In the eight lunettes, as many buildings are outlined that recall the most salient moments of the life of Don Boscso: the Casetta dei Becchi; the facade of the church of S. Francesco d'Assisi, where on December 8th 1841 the work of the Oratory began; the Pinardi house, the first permanent seat of the Salesian Opera; the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, consecrated in 1868; the house of Mornese which recalls the foundation of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in 1872; the college of S. Filippo Neri in Lanzo Torinese, where the Saint established the Association of Salesian Cooperators; the Institute of Viedma, founded May 24, 1879, which commemorates the beginnings of Salesian missions; finally the building of the Camerette di Valdocco where Don Bosco died on the morning of January 31, 1888.

A door and a wrought iron gate were placed to delimit respectively the staircase leading to the sepulcher and the whole porch.

The complex thus decorated became the destination of continuous pilgrimages. It received the body of Don Bosco until 1929, the year of the beatification. On that occasion, precisely on 9 June, the corpse, composed in the aspect that we still see today, was transported with a very solemn procession to the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, to the singing of the famous hymn Giu dai colli, set to music by the Salesian Don Michele Gregorio on the words of Don Secondo Rastello.

Fr Rua and Fr Albera were later buried in Valsalice.

Valsalice today The Salesians venerate what was the tomb of their Founder for over forty years. The entire mausoleum, especially in the ornamental part, was subjected to a radical restoration in the years 1986-1987.

The house, which since the school year 1925-1926 has once again become a qualified educational center for young people, includes Gymnasium, Classical and Scientific High School, and a festive Oratory. The ancient Museum, inaugurated by Don Bosco himself, enriched and organized with modern scientific criteria, offers a precious didactic aid to young students from all over the city.



Presentation pag. 5 Abbreviations »7 Bibliography» 8 Part I: BECCHI, CASTELNUOVO AND SURROUNDINGS (1815-1831) Years from infancy to early adolescence 1. Meaning and testimony »11 1.1. From infancy to early adolescence »11 1.2. Emerging pedagogical and spiritual values ​​»14 2. Historical-geographical and biographical notes» 16 2.1. The historical context »16 2.2. Itineraries and suggestions »18 2.3. Timeline »21 3. Visit to places» 22 3.1. Colle Don Bosco ei Becchi »22 3.1.1. Cascina Biglione (Don Bosco's native house) »22 3.1.2. The «Little House» »24 3.1.3. The house of his brother Giuseppe »29 3.1.4. Museum of rural life in the nineteenth century »32 3.1.5. Shrine of Mary Help of Christians "33 3.1.6. 11 monument to Giovannino juggler »34 3.1.7. The monument to Don Bosco the educator »35 3.1.8. The pillar of the dream »35 3. 1.9. Ancient fountain of the Becchi »36 3.1.10. The Temple in honor of Don Bosco »37 3.1.11. Bernardi Semeria Salesian Institute »40 3.1.12. The Missionary Museum »40 3.2. Morialdo »41 3.2.1. House of Saint Dominic Savio »42 3.2.2. Church of St. Peter and House of the Chaplain »44 3.2.3. The hill in the region «Sussambrino» »48 3.3. Capriglio »51 3.3.1. Birthplace of Mama Margaret »51 3.3.2. Parish Church and House of Don Giuseppe Lacqua »51 3.4. Montafia »53 3.5. Castelnuovo Don Bosco »53 3.5.1. The Parish Church of Sant'Andrea »54 3.5.2. The canonical house »57 3.5.3. The public school "57 3.5.4. The chapel of St. Bartholomew »59 3.5.5. Church dedicated to the "Madonna del Castello" »59 3.6. Mondonio »59 3.6.1. House of Dominic Savio »59 3.6.2. Parish Church and School »61 3.6.3. Cemetery Chapel »62 3.7. Buttigliera d ' Asti »63 3.7.1. The parish church »63 3.7.2. The Càmpora farmstead »66 3.7.3. Croveglia fraction »66 3.8. Moncucco and the Moglia district »67 3.8.1. The Moglia farmstead »67 3.8.2. The church of Moncucco »69 3.9. San Giovanni di Riva »69 3.9.1. Native home of Saint Dominic Savio »69 3.9.2. The youth reception center »70 Part II: GIOVANNI BOSCO A CIIIERI (1831-1841) The years of adolescence and youth 1. Meaning and testimony» 73 1.1. Ten years of Chieri in the life of Don Bosco »73 1.2. Emerging pedagogical and spiritual values ​​»74 2. Historical-geographical and biographical notes» 76 2.1. Arrival of Giovanni Bosco in Chieri »76 2.2. Timeline »77 2.3. Routes and suggestions »77 3. Visits to places» 80 3.1. St. Louis Salesian Institute and the Church of St. Mar Gerita »80 3.1.1. School »80 3.1.2. The church of Santa Margherita »80 3.1.3. Salesian Oratory "81 3.2. Native home of mother Maddalena Morano »81 3.3. Church and convent of San Domenico »81 3.4. Way of Peace »82 3.4.1. Workshop of the bookseller Elia »82 3.4.2. Jonah's House »83 3.4.3. Franciscan Convent and Church of Peace »83 3.5. Seminary and Church of St. Philip Neri »84 3.5.1. The seminary building »84 3.5.2. The church of St. Philip »91 3.6. Piazza Mazzini and its surroundings »92 3.6.1. Church of St. William "92 3.6.2. House of the theologian Maloria »93 3.6.3. Casa Marchisio, home of Lucia Matta »93 3.6.4. Ancient Town Hall »95 3.6.5. Workshop of the carpenter Barzochino »95 3.7. Public schools of the Chieri college »96 3.8. Piazza Cavour and surroundings »102 3.8.1. Church of St. Anthony the Abbot »102 3.8.2. Albergo del Muletto »102 3.8.3. Coffee Plant »103 3.8.4. Tailor's House Thomas Cumino »104 3.8.5. Baker's stable Michele Cavallo »105 3.9. The Duomo »105 3.10. Casa Bertinetti and Istituto Santa Teresa »107 3.11. Ancient avenue of Porta Torino »108 285 part III: DON BOSCO IN TURIN (1841-1849) The years of the first pastoral experiences 1. Meaning and testimony» 111 1.1. Qualification and pastoral choices »111 1.2. Emerging pedagogical and spiritual values ​​»113 2. Historical-geographical and biographical notes» 115 2.1. The social and pastoral problems of Turin in the 1940s »115 2.2. Timeline »117 2.3. Itineraries and suggestions »119 3. Visits to places» 123 3.1. Church of the Visitation »123 3.1.1. House of the Priests of the Mission »123 3.1.2. Church of the Visitation »126 3.2. Church of the Archbishopric »126 3.3. Saint Francis of Assisi »130 3.3. 1. The church and convent of St. Francis »130 3.3.2. The Ecclesiastical Boarding School »131 3.4. Don Bosco and the works of the Marchesa Barolo »139 3.4.1. Palazzo Barolo »140 3.4.2. The Oratory of Don Bosco at the Refuge »143 3.4.3. The Oratory of Don Bosco to the Ospedaletto of Saint Filomena »145 3.5. The traveling Oratory »146 3.5.1. The Oratory at San Pietro in Vincoli »147 3.5.2. Chapel of San Martino ai Molassi »150 3.5.3. Casa Moretta »151 3.5.4. Prato Filippi »153 3.6. The Pinardi House Oratory »156 3.6.1. The «Pinardi Chapel» »156 3.6.2. Don Bosco at the Pinardi house »163 3.6.3. The surroundings of the Pinardi house »176 3.7. The other Oratories of Don Bosco »179 3.7.1. The Oratory of San Luigi »179 3.7.2. The Oratory of the Guardian Angel »181 3.8. The churches of the itinerant phase »183 3.8.1. La Consolata »183 3.8.2. Basilica of Superga »185 3.8.3. Monte dei Cappuccini »187 3.8.4. Madonna del Pilone »188 3.8.5. Madonna di Campagna »189 IV part: DON BOSCO DEVELOPS THE ORATORY (1850-1888) The years of maturity 1. Meaning and testimony» 193 1.1. The choices of maturity »193 1.2. Emerging pedagogical and spiritual values ​​»195 2. Historical-geographical and biographical notes» 198 2.1. Social and pastoral action in the second half of the nineteenth century »198 2.2. Chronological table 1 »200 Chronological table 2» 201 2.3. Itineraries and suggestions »203 3. Visiting places» 204 3.1. The historical core (buildings raised between 1851 and 1856) »204 3.1.1. Church of St. Francis de Sales (1851-1852) "205 3.1.2. The 1853 building (Don Bosco house) »213 3.1.3. The 1856 building (formerly the Pinardi house) »217 3.1.4. The "Camerette" of Don Bosco "224 3.2. Basilica Shrine of Mary Help of Christians »237 3.2.1. The historical origins of the title "Help of Christians" 238 3.2.2. The inspirations of Don Bosco »239 3.2.3. The project and the works »241 3.2.4. As was the sanctuary built by Don Bosco »245 3.2.5. Restoration and extension works »248 3.2.6. Visit of the Basilica »250 3.2.7. The basements of the Basilica »262 3.3. Other buildings constructed by Don Bosco »265 3.3.1. Concierge's house (1874-1875) »265 3.3.2. House of typography (1881-1883) »266 3.4. Old reconstructed buildings »267 3.4.1. Casa Filippi (1861 and 1952) »267 3.4.2. Audisio House (1864 and 1954) »269 3.5. Current works at Valdocco »270 3.5.1. Professional Training Center (CFP) »270 3.5.2. Middle School and Gymnasium «S. Domenico Sa vio »» 271 3.5.3. The daily and festive Oratory »271 3.5.4. Salesian Marian Center »273 3.5.5. Subalpine Inspectorate »273 3.6. Piazza Maria Ausiliatrice »274 3.7. Other works started by Don Bosco in Turin »275 3.7.1. The Church and the Institute of St. John the Evan gelista »275 3.7.2. Valsalice and the tomb of Don Bosco »278 HERE IS VISSO DON BOSCO Historical-geographical and spiritual itineraries It is a guide to the places that have seen the unfolding of the splendid human and Christian adventure of the Saint of young people. But it is not just a simple tourist manual, but rather an aid that, starting from the historical-geographical context, seeks to help grasp that spiritual-and pedagogical message arising from the experience of Don Bosco that has a perennial and universal value. Other works started by Don Bosco in Turin »275 3.7.1. The Church and the Institute of St. John the Evan gelista »275 3.7.2. Valsalice and the tomb of Don Bosco »278 HERE IS VISSO DON BOSCO Historical-geographical and spiritual itineraries It is a guide to the places that have seen the unfolding of the splendid human and Christian adventure of the Saint of young people. But it is not just a simple tourist manual, but rather an aid that, starting from the historical-geographical context, seeks to help grasp that spiritual-and pedagogical message arising from the experience of Don Bosco that has a perennial and universal value. Other works started by Don Bosco in Turin »275 3.7.1. The Church and the Institute of St. John the Evan gelista »275 3.7.2. Valsalice and the tomb of Don Bosco »278 HERE IS VISSO DON BOSCO Historical-geographical and spiritual itineraries It is a guide to the places that have seen the unfolding of the splendid human and Christian adventure of the Saint of young people. But it is not just a simple tourist manual, but rather an aid that, starting from the historical-geographical context, seeks to help grasp that spiritual-and pedagogical message arising from the experience of Don Bosco that has a perennial and universal value. Valsalice and the tomb of Don Bosco »278 HERE IS VISSO DON BOSCO Historical-geographical and spiritual itineraries It is a guide to the places that have seen the unfolding of the splendid human and Christian adventure of the Saint of young people. But it is not just a simple tourist manual, but rather an aid that, starting from the historical-geographical context, seeks to help grasp that spiritual-and pedagogical message arising from the experience of Don Bosco that has a perennial and universal value. Valsalice and the tomb of Don Bosco »278 HERE IS VISSO DON BOSCO Historical-geographical and spiritual itineraries It is a guide to the places that have seen the unfolding of the splendid human and Christian adventure of the Saint of young people. But it is not just a simple tourist manual, but rather an aid that, starting from the historical-geographical context, seeks to help grasp that spiritual-and pedagogical message arising from the experience of Don Bosco that has a perennial and universal value.

For this reason, together with the historical and biographical information related to the different locations, there are passages that illustrate particularly significant episodes that occurred in those same environments. Don Bosco's choices, inspiring values, spiritual and educational indications and his achievements thus acquire a unique evocative power. As far as possible, it was possible to speak of Dòn Bosco in the first person.

The guide is divided into four parts, corresponding to different moments in the life of Saint John Bosco: 1. the years of infancy, childhood and early adolescence that wind around the natal Hill (1815-1831); 2. the period of studies at Chieri, during which Giovanni Bosco made the fundamental choices of his life (1831-1841); 3. the first nine years of priesthood (1841-1849); 4. the years of maturity (1850-1888).

The individual parts are structured in a uniform way: - the meaning that the various periods and specific places have had in the global picture of Don Bosco's life is presented; - then some general news of historical-geographical nature and information on the biography of Don Bosco are useful to better frame the visit to the places; - follows the guide proper for visiting places and environments.