Don Bosco

Earthquake on the Ligurian Riviera Ponente

Don Bosco Circulars



My dear sons in J.C.,

The terrible calamity of the earthquake that occurred on 23 February last in the Ligurian Riviera at Ponente, and and the terrifying catastrophe which you are all by now aware of, obliges me to write this letter in order to suggest some matters I consider to be of greatest importance.

In the first instance I invite you to thank God and the Help of Christians who spared us the sorrow of having victims amongst our own people despite there being various Houses of ours in that area where the disaster was worst. In view of this let each Director set aside a day, as he sees fit, to encourage the Confreres and the boys to make a good Confession and go to Communion and say a Rosary in suffrage for the souls who lost their lives in the ruins of their houses. In the evening, then, have a Te Deum sung and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Meanwhile, since we incurred considerable material damage, and in fact the House at Bordighera was so badly damaged that we will have to rebuild it, we should all agree to reduce expenditure in each of our Houses so we are in a position to manage any unexpected needs.

And then the disaster has been so serious generally that public charity must come to people's aid to help them rebuild their homes, take in the poor, look after orphaned children, but our benefactors no longer find they can provide us with the aid that we really need.

That is why I suggest that for this year we not attempt any building, repairs, works or purchases that are not absolutely necessary. Let each individual confrere see for his part what sacrifices and going without something is possible, and try to avoid expenses for trips, books, clothes and whatever else is possible, at home or beyond. With measures like this we can at least make up for some of the damage caused, rebuild the House that was destroyed, and take up works of religion and charity which will give greater glory to God and be for the good of souls.

You can also profit from this sad situation by letting benefactors you are in contact with know of the difficulties we face and this way encourage them to give. Just simply talking about the details can help inspire them to the right kind of thinking.

Do not fail to encourage our young students to be good, be devoted to Our Lady and live in God's grace, so they will deserve their protection anywhere and at any time, especially amidst sudden dangers and unexpected dangers as was the case with this earthquake which instantly resulted in thousands of victims.

While on the one hand you will get people to understand that calamities like this happen when God is angry, and cease through his mercy, as the Church puts it: Ut mortalium corda cognoscant et, te indignante, talia flagella prodire, et, te miserante, cessare, do not forget to encourage everyone, on the other hand, to ahve great confidence in God. He holds the whole world in his all-powerful hands, and he has assured us that not even a hair falls from our head without his permission: et capillus de capite vestro non peribit.

I also take this occasion to thank you for your prayers for me and I kindly ask you to keep them up, adding to them your great commitment to saving your soul and continuing to act as good religious should; because knowing that my dear sons are living in a holy way, saving souls, giving honour to the Church will console me more than anything else. It helps me forget my own pains and and sorrows and regain energy for life.

Finally, I pray that God may bless you and Mary Help of Christians protect you and all the boys in your House.

I am yours affectionately in J.C.
Fr John Bosco

Turin, 1 March 1887.