Don Bosco's mentality and its global operational project work of capital importance, dating back to the early seventies; together it is re-enactment, reflection and projection into the future. Critical edition edited by Antonio Da Silva Ferreira ISS, Sources, First Series, 4. Rome - LAS 1991. Disseminative edition ... Sources, Serie Prima, 5, LAS 1992.
Having taken the decision to embrace the ecclesiastical state and undergo the prescribed examination, you were preparing me for that day of utmost importance, because you were convinced that the eternal salvation or eternal perdition depends on the choice of the state. I have asked various friends to pray for me; I made a novena, and on St. Michael's Day (October 1834) I approached the holy sacraments, then the Theologian Cinzano Prevosto and Vicar Foraneo of my homeland, he blessed the habit and dressed me as a cheric before the solemn mass . When I command myself to take off my secular clothes with those words: Exuat te Dominus veterem hominem cum actibus suis, I said in my heart: Oh how much old stuff is there to take away! My God, destroy all my bad habits in me. When then in giving me the collar he added: Induat te Dominus novum hominem, qui secundum Deum creatus est in iustitia et sanctitate veritatis! I felt all moved and added to myself: Yes, oh my God, do that at this moment I dress a new man, that is that from this moment I begin a new life, all according to the divine will, and that justice and holiness let them be the constant object of my thoughts, of my words and of my works. So be it. O Mary, be you my salvation.
Having fulfilled the function of church, my provost wanted to make another all profane: lead me to the feast of St. Michael, which was celebrated in Bardella Borgata di Castelnuovo. With that feast he intended to use an act of benevolence, but it was not appropriate for me. I was a puppet dressed again, who presented himself to the public to be seen. Moreover, after several weeks of preparation for that longed-for day, finding myself afterwards at a lunch in the midst of people of every condition, of every sex, gathered there to laugh, chat, eat, drink and have fun; people who mostly went in search of games, dances and games of all kinds; those people which society could ever form with one, who in the morning of the same day had dressed the habit of sanctity, to give himself completely to the Lord?
My provost noticed it, and when he returned home he asked me why on that day of public joy I had shown myself so thoughtful and thoughtful. It was with all sincerity that I replied that the function done in the morning in the church generally disagreed, number and case with that of the evening. Indeed, I added, to have seen priests playing fools in the midst of the banquets with those who are shining with wine has almost made me dislike my vocation. If I ever knew I was coming a priest like that, I'd like better to put down this dress and live as a poor secular, but as a good Christian.
- The world is like that, the provost answered me, and we must take it as it is. We must see evil to know it and to vitiate it. No one became a valiant warrior without learning the handling of weapons. So we must do that we have a continuous fight against the enemy of souls.
I was silent then, but in my heart I said: I will never go to public feasts again, outside being obliged to do religious services.
After that day I had to take care of myself. Life held until then had to be radically reformed. In the past years he had not been a villain, but dissipated, boastful, occupied in games, games, jumps, playthings and other similar things, which cheered momentarily, but which did not satisfy the heart.
To make me a stable standard of living not to forget, I wrote the following resolutions:
1º 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 intervene at lunches, which I would give on such occasions.
2º I will never again play the games of small cups, 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.
3rd I will love and practice retirement, temperance in eating and drinking; and of rest I will not take if not the hours strictly necessary for health.
4th 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 Besides the ordinary practices of piety, I will never omit to do a little meditation every day and a little spiritual reading.
6º Oltre alle pratiche ordinarie di pietà, non ometterò mai di fare ogni giorno un poco di meditazione ed un po' di lettura spirituale.
7. Every day I will tell some examples or some advantageous maxims to 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.These are the things that were deliberated when I dressed in the cherical habit, and so that they remained well impressed I went on to an image of the Blessed Virgin, I read them, and after a prayer I made a formal promise to that Celestial Benefactor, to observe them at cost of any sacrifice.
On the 30th of October of that year 1835 he had to be in the seminary. The little kit was prepared. My relatives were all happy; me more than them. My mother alone was worried and still kept her eyes on me as if she wanted to tell me something. On the evening before she left, she called me to herself and gave me this memorable speech: Gioanni mio, you have dressed the priestly habit, I feel all the consolation, that a mother can experience for her son's fortune. 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 started 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 Mary's devotion.
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.
In the morning I went to Chieri and in the evening of the same day I entered the seminary. Having greeted the superiors, and having adjusted my bed, with my friend Garigliano I began to walk around the dormitories, for the corridors, and finally for the courtyard. Looking up over a sundial, I read this verse:
Afflictis lentae, celeres gaudentibus horae.
Here, I said to my friend, here is our program: we are always happy and time will pass soon.
The next day a triduum of exercises began and I tried to do them as well as I could. At the end of those I went to the philosophy professor, who was then T. Ternavasio of Bra, and I asked him for some norms of life with which to satisfy my duties and acquire the benevolence of my superiors. A single thing, the worthy priest answered, with the exact fulfillment of your duties.
I took this advice as a basis and gave myself wholeheartedly to the observance of the rules of the seminar. He made no distinction between when the bell called the study, in church, or in the Refettorio, in recreation, at rest. This accuracy earned me the affection of the companions and the esteem of the superiors, a sign that six years of seminary were for me a very pleasant home.
The days of the seminar are almost always the same; therefore I will generally refer to things by reserving me to describe some particular facts separately. I'll start with superiors.
I loved my superiors very much, and they always used me very kindly; but my heart was not satisfied. The Rector and the other superiors used to visit each other on arrival from the holidays and when they left for the same. No one went to talk to them except in cases of receiving some shouting. One of the superiors came by turn to lend assistance each week in the Refettorio and in the walks and then it was all over. How many times I wanted to talk, ask for advice or dissolve doubts, and this could not; indeed it happened that some superior passed among the seminarians without knowing the cause, each one fled precipitously to the right and to the left as from a black beast. This increased my heart more and more to be soon a priest to keep me in the midst of the youngsters, to assist them, and to satisfy them at every occurrence.
As for the companions, I kept to the suggestion of my beloved Genitrice; that is to say, to associate myself with Mary's devout companions, lovers of study and piety. I must say by rule of those who frequent the seminary, that in that there are many mirrored virtues, but there are also dangerous ones. Not a few young people, regardless of their vocation, go to the seminary without having the spirit or the will of the good seminarian. Indeed, I remember hearing very bad speeches from comrades. And once, when some students were searched, impious and obscene books of every kind were found. It is true that similar companions either voluntarily laid down the kerical habit, or were expelled from the seminary as soon as they were known for what they were. But while they resided in the seminary there were plagues for the good and the bad.
To avoid the danger of such fellow disciples, I chose some that were notoriously known for virtue models. They were Garigliano Guglielmo, Giacomelli Gioanni of Avigliana and later Comollo Luigi. These three companions were a treasure for me.
The practices of piety were very well fulfilled. Every morning Mass, meditation, the third part of the Rosary; at the table, edifying reading. At that time the eccl [esiasti] ca story by Bercastel was read. The confession was obligatory every fifteen days, but who wanted could also approach every Saturday. However, holy communion could only be done on Sundays or in another special solemnity. Sometimes it was done over the week, but for that to do it was necessary to commit disobedience. It was therefore necessary to choose the time for breakfast, to sneak into the adjoining church of S. Filippo, take communion, and then come to join his companions when they returned to the study or school. This time offense was forbidden, but the superiors gave tacit consent, because they knew and sometimes saw it, and said nothing against it. By this means I was able to attend holy communion much more, which I can rightly call the most effective nourishment of my vocation. This defect of piety has now been provided, when, by order of the Archbishop Gastaldi, things were ordered to be able to approach the communion every morning, provided that one is prepared.
The most common game in free time was the well-known broken Bara game. In the beginning we took part with much 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 by that. 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 with bitter. Although I was not a worthy player, he was nevertheless so lucky, that he almost always earned. At the end of the games I had my hands full of money, but when I saw my distressed companions because they had lost them, I became more afflicted than them. It is added that in the game I was so fixated on the mind that afterwards he could no longer pray or study, always having the imagination troubled by the King from Cope and the Fante da Spada, from 13 or fifteen from Tarot. I have therefore taken the resolution to no longer take part in this game as it had already renounced to others. I did this in the middle of the second year of Philosophy 1836.
Recreation, when it was longer than the ordinary, was enlivened by some promenade that the seminarians often made in the most beautiful places, surrounding the city of Chieri. Those walks were also useful for the study, because each tried to practice in school things, questioning his companion, or answering the necessary questions. Out of the time of public walk, everyone could also recreate walking with friends for the seminar, talking about pleasant, uplifting, and scientific things.
In the long recreations we often gathered in the Refettorio 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 for study, piety and health. Famous was the question of Comollo, who had come to the seminary a year after me. A certain Peretti Domenico, now parish priest of Buttigliera, was very talkative and always answered; Garigliano was an excellent auditor. It was just some reflection. I was also the president and the final judge.
Since in our family discourses we set certain questions in the field, certain scientific points, which sometimes none of us could give an exact answer, so we shared the difficulties. Each within a given time had to prepare the resolution of what he had been charged with.
My recreation was often interrupted by Comollo. He took me for a piece of the dress and, telling me to accompany him, led 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 purgatorio.
This wonderful companion was my luck. In his time he knew how to warn me, correct me, console me, but with good grace and so much charity, that in a certain way he was happy to give him reason to taste the pleasure of being corrected. He dealt familiarly with him, I felt naturally inclined to imitate him, and although I was a thousand miles from him back in virtue, yet if I was not ruined by the dissipated, and if I could progress in my vocation I am truly indebted to him. In one thing I have not even tried to imitate him: in mortification. Seeing a young man of about nineteen years strictly fastens the entire Lent and other time from the Church commanded; fast every Saturday in honor of B.V .; often renounce the morning breakfast; sometimes have lunch with bread and water; to endure any contempt, injury without ever giving the slightest sign of resentment; seeing him very exact to every little duty of study, and of pity; these things astonished me, and made me see in that companion an idol as a friend, an excitement for good, a model of virtue for those who live in the seminary.
A great danger for us is the vacation that lasted four and a half months. I took the time to read, to write, but not knowing yet to depart from my days, I lost many without fruit. He tried to kill them with some mechanical work. He made spindles, anklets, spinning tops, bowls or bullets around; he sewed clothes, 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 grass in the fields, harvesting the 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 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 also gave myself to teaching some of them in reading and writing very successfully, for the desire, indeed, the desire 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 people refused to submit to these conditions. Which returned to good example and encouragement to others.
I have also begun to make sermons and speeches with the permission and assistance of my provost. I preached over the SS. Rosary in the town of Alfiano, during a physical holiday; 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 went by driving me until I was deceived as follows. One day after the said sermon on the Birth of Mary I questioned one, who seemed to be the most intelligent, above the sermon, of which he made exultant praises, and he replied: His sermon was on the poor souls in Purgatory and I had preached over the glories of Mary. To Alfiano I also wanted to request the opinion of the parish, a person of great piety and doctrine, named Pelato Giuseppe, and asked him to tell me his opinion about my sermon.
- Your sermon, he answered, was very beautiful, orderly, exposed with a good language, with scriptural thoughts; and that by continuing this you can succeed in preaching.
- Will the people understand?
- Not much. They will have understood my brother priest, me, and very few others.
- Why were not such easy things understood?
- They seem easy to you, but they are very high for the people. Touching sacred history, flying over a fabric of facts from ecclesiastical history, are all things that the people do not understand.
- So what do you suggest I do?
- Abandon the language and the warping of the classics, speak in the vernacular where it is possible, or even in Italian, but popularly, popularly, popularly. Instead of reasoning, keep to the examples, the similarities, to simple and practical apologists. But you always believe that the people understand little, and that the truths of faith are never sufficiently explained to them.
I normally serve this paternal advice throughout my life. I still dislike these discourses, in which at present I no longer perceive anything other than vainglory and refinement. Merciful God arranged for me to have that lesson, a fruitful lesson in sermons, catechisms, instructions and writing, to which I had applied since that time.
While he said earlier that the holidays are dangerous he intended to speak for me. A poor kerico without his realizing it often happens to find himself in serious danger. I was tested. One year I was invited to a party at the home of some of my relatives. He did not want to go, but assuming that there was no one who served in the church, to the repeated invitations of an uncle of mine, I thought it best to comply and I went there. After completing the sacred functions, which I took part in serving and singing, we left for lunch. Up to a part of the dinner went well, but when they began to be a little drunk of wine they put on certain talks, which they could no longer tolerate from a cherico. I tried to make some observations, but my voice was muffled. Not knowing which party to hold on to anymore, I wanted to escape. I got up from the table, took my hat to leave; but the uncle objected; another began to speak worse, and to insult all the guests. From words we passed to facts; noises, threats, glasses, bottles, plates, spoons, forks, and then knives, joined together to make a horrible din. At that moment I had no other escape than to give it to me. When I got home, I wholeheartedly renewed the intention I had made many times before, to be withdrawn if we didn't want to fall into sin.
Fact of another kind, but even sorry I succeeded to Croveglia Fraction of Buttigliera. Wishing 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 even to play the violin, which had been a favorite instrument for me, to which he had renounced. Everything went very well in the church. The lunch was at the home of my uncle, who was prior of the party, and until then nothing was to blame. After dinner, 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 and I started to play and I played for a while when a whisper was heard and a trampling that marked 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 said to the guests, I who always cry against public spectacles, have I become a promoter? I will never be that again. I played the violin in a thousand pieces, and I never wanted to use it again, although opportunities and convenience were presented in the sacred functions.
Another episode occurred during the hunt. He used to go to the broods during the summer, he killed with the mistletoe, the trapoletta, the passerine and sometimes also with the rifle. One morning I started chasing a hare and walking from field to field, from vineyard to vineyard, I passed through valleys and hills for several hours. At last I came at the sight of that animal, who with a rifle broke his coasts, so that the poor little beast fell, leaving me in great despondency to see her extinct. At that stroke my companions ran, and while they rejoiced for that prey I took a look over myself and realized that it was in the sleeve of a shirt, without a skirt, with a straw hat, for which it made the appearance of a freak, and this on site far beyond two miles from my home.
I was so mortified, I apologized to the comrades of the scandal given with that style of dress, I soon went home, and I gave up all sorts of hunting again and again. With the help of the Lord this time I kept my promise. God forgive me that scandal.
These three facts have given me a terrible lesson, and from then on I have given myself with greater purpose to retreat, and I was really persuaded that those who want to be openly at the service of the Lord must leave the worldly entertainment at all. It is true that often these are not sinful, but it is certain that for the speeches that are made, for the style of clothing, of speaking and of operating always contain some risk of ruin for virtue, especially for the very delicate virtue of chastity.
As long as God kept this incomparable companion alive, I was always in intimate relationship. In the holidays I went to him several times, several times he came to me. Frequent letters were sent to us. I saw in him a holy young man; he loved him for his rare virtues; he loved me because he helped her in school studies, and then when he was with him he tried to imitate him in something.
A vacation came to spend a day with me when my relatives were in the countryside for harvest. He made me read a speech of his that he was to recite at the next feast of the Assumption of Mary; then recited it by accompanying the words with the gesture. After a few hours of pleasant entertainment we realized it was lunch time. We were alone at home. What to do? - High there, said Comollo, I'll light the fire, you'll prepare the pot and something we'll cook.
"Very well," I replied, "but first let us pick a little bird in the yard and this will serve us as a dish and a broth, such is my mother's intention."
Soon we managed to get our hands on a pollin, but then who did we feel killing him? Neither one. To come to an advantageous conclusion it was decided that the Comollo kept the animal with its neck on a log of smoothed wood, while with a sickle without tip I would have cut it. The blow was made, the head detached from the bust. Of what both frightened we gave ourselves to a hasty escape and crying.
Fools that we are, Comollo said shortly thereafter, the Lord said to use the beasts of the earth for our good, so why so much repugnance in this fact? With no other difficulty we collected that animal, and spnatolo and cottolo, served us for lunch.
I had to go to Cinzano to listen to Comollo's speech on the Assumption, but since I was also in charge of doing elsewhere the same speech I went the next day. It was a marvel to hear the voices of praise, which resounded on all sides of Comollo's sermon. That day (16th of August) there was a feast of St. Rocco, which is often called the feast of the pignatta or of the kitchen, because relatives and friends usually take advantage of it to invite their loved ones to lunch and enjoy some public entertainment. On that occasion an episode occurred that showed how far my audacity reached.
He expected the preacher of that solemnity almost to the time of mounting in the pulpit and did not come. To remove the provost of Cinzano from the clutches I now went from one hour to the other of the many parish priests there, praying and insisting that someone should address a sermon to the numerous people gathered in the church. No one wanted to consent. Annoyed by my repeated invitations, they answered me sharply: Minchione that you are; making a speech about S. Rocco suddenly is not drinking a glass of wine; and instead of drying others do it yourself. At those words everyone clapped their hands. Mortified and wounded in my pride I replied: He certainly did not dare offer me so much business, but since everyone refuses, I accept.
A sacred laude was sung in the church to give me a few moments to think; then recalling to memory the life of the Saint, who had already read, I climbed into the pulpit, made a speech that was always said to have been the best of all I had done before and after.
On those holidays and on that same occasion (1838) I went out for a day with my friend on a hill, from which he discovered a vast expanse of meadows, fields and vineyards. See, Luigi started to tell him, what scarcity of crops we have this year! Poor peasants! Lots of work and almost everything in vain!
- the hand of the Lord, he replied, which weighs above us. Believe me, our sins are the cause.
- Next year I hope the Lord will give us more abundant fruits.
- I hope so too, it's good for those who will enjoy them.
- On the way, we leave aside the melancholy thoughts, for this year patience, but next year we will have more copious harvest and we will make better wine.
- You'll drink it.
"Perhaps you intend to continue drinking your usual water?"
- I hope to drink a much better wine.
- What do you mean by that?
- Leave, let ... the Lord knows what is being done.
- Not forgetting this, I ask what you mean by those words: I hope to drink a better wine. Do you want to go to Paradise?
- Although I am not at all certain of going to heaven after my death, nevertheless I have founded hope, and for some time I have felt a keen desire to go and taste the ambrosia of the Blessed, that it seems impossible to me that the days are still long of my life. This was what Comollo said with the utmost hilarity of face in time that enjoyed excellent health, and was preparing to return to the Seminary.
The most memorable things that preceded and accompanied the precious death of this dear friend were described separately and those who wish can read them at will. Here I do not want to omit a fact that gave cause to much talk, and of which as soon as is mentioned in the memoirs already published. is the following. Waiting for friendship, the unlimited confidence that passed between me and Comollo, we used to talk about what could happen at any moment, about our separation in the event of death. One day after reading a long passage from the life of the saints, between celia and seriousness we said that it would be a great consolation, if what of us was the first to die had brought news of his state. By renewing this thing several times we have made this contract. What of us will be the first to die, if God will allow it, will bring news of his salvation to the surviving companion. I did not know the importance of this promise, and I confess that there was much lightness, nor would I ever be to advise others to do it. However we have done it and repeatedly repeated especially in the last Comollo disease. Indeed his last words and the last look confirmed what was said to this object. Many companions were aware of this.
Died Comollo April 2, 1839 and the evening of the following day was with great pomp brought to the burial in the church of San Filippo. The aware of that promise were eager to know it verified. I was very anxious about it, because in this way he hoped a great comfort to my desolation. On the evening of that day, having already been in bed in a dormitory of about 20 seminarians, I was agitated, convinced that the promise would be verified that night. At about 11 o'clock it is a dull noise that is felt in the corridors: it seemed that a large cart pulled by many horses was approaching the dormitory door. Making himself at every moment more gloomy and like thunder makes the whole dormitory tremble. Frightened the cherici flee from their beds to gather together and give each other a soul. It was then, and in the midst of that kind of violent and grim thunder that the clear voice of the Comollo was heard saying three times: Bosco, I am safe. Everyone heard the noise, several heard the voice without understanding its meaning; some, however, understood it as me, as a sign that for a long time it was being repeated for the seminar. 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. I would never give other tips of this kind. God is almighty. God is merciful. Mostly he does not listen to these pacts, but sometimes in his infinite mercy he allows them to have their fulfillment, as in the case shown.
In the seminary I was very lucky and I always enjoyed the affection of my companions and that of all my superiors. The six-monthly exam is usually given a prize of fr. 60 in each course to the one who gives the best grades in study and moral conduct. God really blessed me, and in the six years I spent in the seminary I was always favored by this award. In the second year of Theology I was made sacristan, which was a charge of little importance, 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 the T. Gioanni Borrelli of Turin. When he then began his preaching and admired its popularity, vivacity, clarity, and the fire of charity that appeared in all words, everyone went on repeating that he was a saint.
In fact, everyone was competing 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 of preserving the spirit of vocation throughout the year and especially during the holidays, he left me with these memorable words: With retreat, and with frequent communion, vocation is perfected and preserved and a true ecclesiastic.
The spiritual exercises of T. Borrelli were the epoch in the seminary, and several years later the holy saints, whom he had publicly preached or privately recommended, were still repeating.
Around my studies I was dominated by a mistake that would have produced fatal consequences in me, if a providential fact had not taken it away from me. Accustomed to reading the classics throughout the secondary course, addicted to the emphatic figures of mythology and fairy tales of the pagans, he found no taste for ascetic things. I came to persuade myself that good language and eloquence could not be reconciled with religion. The very works of the holy Fathers seemed to me the birth of very limited geniuses, excepting the religious principles, which they expounded with force and clarity.
At the beginning of the second year of philosophy I went one day to visit the SS. Sacramento and not having the prayer book with me I made myself read de imitatione Christi of which I read some head around the SS. Sacrament. Considering carefully the sublimity of thoughts, and the clear and at the same time orderly and eloquent way in which those great truths were exposed, I began to say to myself: The author of this book was a learned man. Continuing on others and then other times to read that golden operetta, I soon became aware, that only one versicle of it contained so much doctrine and morality, how much I would not have found in the large volumes of the ancient classics: It is to this book which I owe to having ceased from profane reading. Therefore, give me the reading of Calmet, History of the Old and New Testament; to that of Josephus, of Jewish Antiquities; Of the Jewish War; then of Monsig. Marchetti, Reasoning on Religion; then Frassinous, Balmes, Zucconi, and many other religious writers. I also enjoyed reading Fleury, Ecclesiastical History, which he did not know was a book to be avoided. With even greater fruit I have read the Works of Cavalca, Passavanti, Segneri, and all the History of the Church of the Henrion.
You will perhaps say: By occupying me in so many readings, he could not attend to the treaties. It wasn't like that. My memory continued to favor me, and reading and explaining the treaties made in the school were enough for me to fulfill my duties. So all the hours set for the study, I could take them in different readings. Superiors knew everything and left me free to do so.
A study I was very fond of was Greek. He had already learned the first elements of it in the classical course, had studied grammar and performed the first versions with the use of the Lexicon. A very good occasion was very advantageous to me. The year 1836, being in Turin threatened with cholera, the Jesuits anticipated the departure of the boarders from the college of Carmine for Montaldo. That anticipation required double teaching staff because they still had to cover the external classes, which intervened at the college. I1 Sac. D. Caffasso, who had been asked for it, proposed me for a Greek class. This led me to take this language seriously to make myself fit to teach it. Moreover, being in the same Company a priest named Bini, a profound connoisseur of the Greek, I benefited from him with much advantage. In just four months he had me translate almost the entire New Testament; the first two books of Homer with several odes of Pindar and Anacreon. That worthy priest, admiring my good will, continued to assist me, and for four years each week he read a Greek composition or some version I sent, and which he punctually corrected and then sent back with appropriate observations. In this way I was able to translate the Greek almost as one would of the Latin.
It was also at this time that I studied the French language, and the Hebrew language principles. These three languages, Hebrew, Greek and French, were always my favorite after Latin and Italian.
The year of the death of Comollo (1839) received the tonsure with the four minors in the third year of Theology. After that year I was born with the thought of trying something that was rarely obtained at that time: taking a course in the holidays. To this purpose without making any motto to anyone I presented myself only by Archbishop Fransoni asking him to be able to investigate the 4th year treaties in 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 welcomed me with great kindness, and after verifying the results of my exams, which he had previously taken in the seminary, he granted me the favor implored on condition that I bring all the treatises corresponding to the course, which I wished to earn. The T. Cinzano my Vicar Foraneo was in charge of executing the will of the superior. In two months I was able to study the prescribed treaties and I was admitted to the South Deaconate for the ordination of the four autumn tempora. 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 D. 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 appropriate advice. He wanted to do my studies, but he was trembling at the thought of binding me for life, so I didn't want to make a final resolution until I had the full consent of the confessor.
From then on I have given myself the utmost commitment to put into practice the advice of the Theologian Borrelli; the vocation is preserved and perfected with retreat and frequent communion. Then returning to the seminary, I was numbered among those of the fifth year and was appointed prefect, which is the highest position to which a seminarian can be raised.
At the 1841 Sitientes I received the Diaconate, at the summer tempora he had to be ordained a priest. But a day of real consternation was that in which he had to leave the seminary definitively. 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 have his beard or kerica shaved used Bosco. Whoever needed a priest's hat, to sew, to patch up some clothes was headed by Bosco. Therefore, that separation comes back to me painfully, separation from a place where he had lived for six years; where I had education, science, ecclesiastical spirit and all the signs of goodness and affection that could be desired.
The day of my ordination was the eve of the SS. Trinity, and I celebrated my first mass in the church of St. Francis of Assisi where D. Caffasso was head of conference. He was anxiously awaited in my homeland, where a new mass had not been celebrated for many years; but I preferred to celebrate it in Turin without noise, and that I can call it the best day of my life. In the Memento of that memorial Mass, I tried to make a mere mention of all my professors, spiritual and temporal benefactors, and especially of the late D. Calosso whom I have always remembered as a great and distinguished benefactor. On Monday I went to celebrate at the Chiesa della SS. Consolata, to thank the great Virgin Mary for the innumerable favors she had obtained from her Divine Son Jesus.
On Tuesday I went to Chieri and celebrated Mass in the church of S. Domenico, where my ancient professor Fr. Giusiana, who with paternal affection was waiting for me, still lived.
During that Mass he always cried out of emotion. I spent that whole day with him that I can call paradise day.
On Thursday, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, I satisfied my patriots, sang Mass and did the procession of that Solemnity there. The provost wanted to invite my relatives, clergy and principals to lunch. Everyone took part in that joy, because I was very loved by my citizens and everyone enjoyed everything, that he could return to my own good. In the evening of that day I returned to my family. But when I was near my home and looked at the place of the dream I had at the age of about nine I could not stop the tears and say: How wonderful the designs of Divine Providence are! God really took a poor child off the ground to place him with the primaries of his people.
In that year (1841) lacking my provost from Vicecurato, I completed the office for five months. 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 parochial books in order, made certificates of poverty or other kinds. But my delight was to teach catechism to children, to stay with them, to talk to 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. Coming out of the parochial house he was always accompanied by a host of children and wherever I went, he was always surrounded by my little friends, who celebrated me.
Having much ease in exposing the word of God was often sought to preach [,] of doing panegyrics in neighboring countries. I was invited to dictate that of S. Benigno in Lavriano at the end of October of that year. I willingly complied, being that homeland of my friend and colleague D. Grassino Gioanni now pastor of Scalenghe. He wished to honor that solemnity and therefore I prepared and wrote my speech in a popular but clean language; I studied him well persuaded to acquire glory. But God wanted to give a terrible lesson to my vainglory. Being a public holiday, and before leaving, having to celebrate Mass at the convenience of the population, it was jobs to use a horse to preach in time. Having traveled halfway trotting and galloping, he had arrived in the Casalborgone valley between Cinzano and Bersano, when a multitude of sparrows suddenly rises from a field sown with miles, to whose flight and noise my frightened horse starts to run away , fields and meadows. I kept quite in the saddle, but realizing that it bent under the animal's belly, I tried a riding maneuver, but the saddle pushed me out of place and I fell upside down on a pile of broken stones.
A man from the nearby hill could observe the compassionate accident and with his servant ran to my aid and found me unconscious, took me to his house and laid me down in the best bed he had. Give me the most charitable care, after an hour I regained my self and I knew I was in someone else's home. Don't worry, my host said, don't worry because you're in another's house. You won't miss anything here. I have already sent for the doctor; and another person went on the horse's trail. I am a farmer, but I have provided what I need. Do you feel very bad?
- God compensate you for so much charity, my good friend. I believe there is no serious evil; maybe a break in the shoulder, which I can no longer move. Where am I here?
- She is on the hill of Bersano in the house of Gioanni Calosso nicknamed Brina his humble servant. I also shot around the world and I needed the others too. Oh how many have happened to me going to fairs and markets!
- While waiting for the doctor tell me something.
- Oh how many I would have to tell; you hear one. Several years ago I had gone to Asti with my somarella to make provisions for the winter. On the way back, when I arrived in the Murialdo valleys, my poor beast was heavily loaded and fell into a quagmire and remained motionless in the middle of the street. Every effort to raise it was useless. It was midnight, very dark and rainy. Not knowing what to do anymore, I started shouting for help. After a few minutes, he came to me from the nearby farmhouse. One of his siblings came with two other men carrying lighted torches. They helped me unload the mare, pulled it out of the mud, and led me and all my things into their home. I was half dead; everything smeared with slime. They cleaned me, refreshed me with a wonderful dinner, then gave me a very soft bed. In the morning before leaving I wanted to give compensation as I should; the cheric refused all saying: Can't it be that we need you ?!
At those words I felt moved and the other became aware of my tears. He feels bad, I tell him.
- No, I replied; I really like this story, which moves me.
- If you knew what to do for that good family! ... What good people!
- What was his name?
- Bosco Family, commonly called Boschetti. But why does he look so touched? Maybe he knows that family ... Does that cherico live?
- That cherico, my good friend, is that priest to whom you reward a thousand times for what he has done for you. It is the same one that you brought into your home, placed in this bed. Divine providence has made us know by this fact that those who make it, expect it.
Everyone can imagine the wonder, the pleasure of that good Christian and of me, who in misfortune God had made me happen in the hands of that friend. His wife, a sister, other relatives and friends were in great celebration in knowing that he had happened in the house, of which they had often heard to speak. There was no question that I was not used. When he arrived there, the doctor found that there were no breaks, and therefore in a few days I could set out again on my way to my homeland. Gioanni Brina accompanied me as far as home, and as long as he lived we always kept the dearest memories of friendship.
After this warning, I made a firm resolution to want to prepare my speeches for the greater glory of God for the future, and not to appear learned or literate.
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 definitive deliberation, I wanted to take a trip to Turin to ask for advice from Fr Caffasso, who for many years had become my guide in spiritual and temporal matters. 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. For now give up any proposal and come to the boarding school". I gladly followed the wise advice and on November 3, 1841, I entered the mentioned Convitto.
The ecclesiastical boarding school can be called a complement to the theological study, because in our seminaries we only study the dogmatic, the speculative. Only controversial propositions are studied of morality. Here you learn to be priests. Meditation, reading, two conferences a day, preaching lessons, a retired life, every convenience to study, reading good authors, were the things around which everyone must apply his solicitude. At that time two celebrities were at the head of this very useful Institute: the Theologian Luigi Guala and D. Giuseppe Caffasso. T. Guala was the founder of the work. A disinterested man, rich in science, prudence and courage, he had done everything for everyone in the time of the government of Napoleon I. So that the young Levites, having finished their seminary courses, could learn the practical life of the sacred ministry, he founded that marvelous seed-bed, from which the Church came very well especially to shave some roots of Jansenism that still existed between us.
Among others, the question of probabilism and probabilisticism was very agitated. At the head of the first was the Alasia, the Antoine with other rigid authors whose practice can lead to Jansenism. The probabilists followed the doctrine of St. Alphonsus, who has now been proclaimed a doctor of the Church and whose authority can be said the Pope's theology, because the Church proclaimed his works to be able to teach, preach, practice or be a thing that merit censorship. I1 T. Guala stood in the middle of the two parties, and by the center of every opinion putting the charity of N. S. G. C. succeeded in approximating those extremes. Things came to such a point that T. Guala S. Alfonso became the master of our schools with that advantage which was long desired, and which today proves its salutary effects.
Guala's strong arm was D. Caffasso. With his virtue that resisted all trials, with his prodigious calm, with his shrewdness, prudence, he was able to remove that acrimony which some still remained probabilisticists towards the liguorists.
A gold mine was hidden in the Turin priest T. Golzio Felice, also a boarder. In his modest life he made little noise; but with his tireless work, with his humility, and with his science was a true support, or rather a strong arm of the Guala and the Caffasso. Prisons, hospitals, pulpits, charitable institutions, the sick at home; the cities, the towns and we can say the palaces of the great and the hovels of the poor proved the salutary effects of the first zeal of these three luminaries of the Turin clergy.
These were the three models that Divine Providence gave me, and it depended solely on me to follow its traces, its doctrine, its virtues. Fr Caffasso, who had been my guide for six years, was also my spiritual Director, and if I have done something good I owe it to this worthy clergyman in whose hands I put all my deliberations, every study, every action of my life. First he took me to prisons, where I soon learned how great the malice and misery of men is. See troubles of youngsters, about the age of 12 to 18; all healthy, robust, witty wit; but seeing them there inactive, gnawed by insects, struggling with spiritual and temporal bread, was something that horrified me. The reproach of the country, the dishonor of families, the infamy of himself were personified in those unfortunates. 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 these youngsters had a friend out, who took care of them, assisted them and instructed them in religion on holidays, who knows that they cannot stay away from ruin or at least reduce the number of those, who return to prison? I communicated this thought to Fr Caffasso, and with his counsel 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.
As soon as I entered the Convitto di S. Francesco, I immediately found a group of young men who followed me along the streets, through the squares and in the same sacristy as the church of the Institute. But he couldn't take direct care of them for lack of a place. A clever incident offered an opportunity to attempt the implementation of the project in favor of young people wandering through the streets of the city, especially those coming out of prisons.
On the solemn day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (December 8, 1841), at the appointed time, he was in the act of wearing vestments to celebrate Mass. The son of sacristy, Giuseppe Comotti, seeing a young man in a song invites him to come and serve me mass. I don't know, he answered 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 are a beast," said the priest of the sacristy, all furious, if you do not know how to serve Mass, what are you in the sacristy?
That by saying to look at the pole of the dust, and already blows on the shoulders or on the head of that poor thing. While the other gave it to him: What are you doing, I shouted aloud, 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, and a friend of mine, call him on the spot, I need to talk to him.
- Tuder, tuder, started calling; 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 already heard the mass? I told him with kindness to me as possible.
'No, answered the other.
- Come then to listen to it; then I like to talk to you about a deal, which 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 the 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. Is your mother?" My mother is also dead.
- How old are you? 'I'm sixteen.
- Can you read and write? 'I know nothing.
- You have been promoted to the s. Communion?' 'on yet.
- Have you already confessed?
- Yes, but when he 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." THE
"Don't worry, nobody will treat you badly." 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 you like it. 'Tonight? 'Yes.
- Do you want even now?
- Yes, even with great pleasure.
I got up and made the sign of the Holy Cross to begin with, but my pupil didn't do it because he didn't 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. Although of late memory, however with assiduity and attention in a few parties he was able to learn the things necessary to make a good confession and shortly after his holy communion.
To this first student some others were added and during that winter I limited myself to some adults who needed special catechism and above all for those who came out of prisons.
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 going there a few aimed at visiting along the week, these young men gave themselves to an honored life, they forgot the past, they became good Christians and honest citizens. This is the primordium of our Oratory, which blessed by the Lord took that increase, which I certainly could not have imagined then.
In the course of that winter I worked to consolidate the small Oratory. Although my purpose was to collect only the most dangerous children, and preferably those who came out of prisons; however, to have some foundation on which to base discipline and morality, I invited some others of good conduct and already educated. They helped me to maintain order and also to read and sing sacred praises; because since then I realized that without the diffusion of singing books and pleasant reading the festive gatherings would have been like a body without spirit. At the Purification festival (February 2, 1842), which was then a feast of obligation, he already had about twenty children with whom we could for the first time sing Lodate Maria, or faithful languages.
At the feast of the Virgin Annunciation we were already 30 in number. On that day we had a little party. In the morning the students approached the holy sacraments; in the evening a praise was sung and after the catechism an example was told in a way of preaching. The choir in which we had gathered up until then, having become restricted, moved to the nearby chapel of the sacristy.
Here the Oratory became like this: Every holiday was given comfort; 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 certain hour, a praise was sung, a catechism was made, then an example with the distribution of something now all drawn to lots by now.
Among the young people who attended the beginnings of the Oratory, he wanted to note Buzzetti Giuseppe, who was constant in intervening in an exemplary way. He became so fond of Don Bosco and of that festive gathering, that he had to give up going home to his family (to Caronno Ghiringhello) as his other brothers and friends used to do. His brothers, Carlo, Angelo, Giosuè, excelled; Gariboldi Gioanni and his brother, then simple laborers and now master builders.
In general 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.
The good Theologian Guala and D. Caffasso enjoyed that collection of children and 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 give bread to others for several weeks, so long as they could earn it for themselves by work. 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 they approached the holy sacraments the same T. Guala or D. Caffasso always used to come and visit us and tell us about some uplifting episode.
The T. Guala, wishing that a feast was held in honor of St. Anne, the Feast of Masons, after the morning duties, invited them all to take his collection with him. Almost a hundred of them gathered in the great hall called the conference. There they were all served abundantly with coffee, milk, chocolate, Ghiffer, briossi, semolina and other similar sweet breads, which are very delicious things for children. Everyone can imagine how much noise excited that party, and how many would have come if the venue had this allowed!
The party was all dedicated to assisting my youngsters; during the week 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 was pleasing to the bosses, who willingly kept under their discipline young assisted children during the week and more in the holidays that are days of greater 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 run down; assist them, make them friends, and so excited to come to the Oratory when they had the good fortune to leave the place of punishment.
At that time I began to preach publicly in some churches of Turin, in the Hospital of Charity, in the Albergo di Virtù, in prisons, in the College of S. Francesco di Paola, dictating triduums, novenas or spiritual exercises. After two years of morality, I underwent the confession exam; and so I could more successfully cultivate the discipline, morality and good of the soul of my youngsters in prisons, in the Oratory and wherever they were trades.
It was a comforting thing for me during the week, and especially on holidays I saw my confessional surrounded by forty or fifty youngsters wait hours and hours for their return to be able to confess.
This was the ordinary course of the Oratory for almost three years, that is until October 1844.
Meanwhile new things, mutations, and even tribulations went to the divine Providence by preparing.
At the end of the three-year moral course he had to apply me to some specific part of the sacred Ministry. The old and crumbling uncle of the Comollo, Fr Giuseppe Comollo, Rector of Cinzano, with the opinion of the Archbishop had asked me to be a bursar administrator of the parish, whose age and illness could no longer hold. The T. Guala himself dictated to me the letter of thanks to Archbishop Fransoni, while he was preparing me for something else. One day Fr. Caffasso called me to himself and said to 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 that you are pleased to tell me.
- There are three uses: Vicecurato in Buttigliera d'Asti; Morality repeater here at the Convitto; Director of the small Ospedaletto next to the refuge. Which would you choose?
- What you will judge.
- Do you not feel inclined to one thing more than to 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.
- At this moment what does your heart occupy, which is wrapped 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.
- Make the bundle and go with T. Borrelli; 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 you in the hands of what you have to do for youth.
At first glance it seemed that this advice was contrary to my inclinations, because the management of a hospital; preaching and confessing in an institution of more than four hundred young women would have taken the time out of any other occupation. These were also the wishes of heaven, as I was later assured.
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 Convitto 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 somewhat familiar.
We talked at length about the rules to follow to help each other in attending prisons, and perform the duties entrusted to us, and at the same time assist the youngsters, whose morality and abandonment increasingly attracted the attention of priests. But how to do it? Where do you gather these youngsters?
The room, said T. Borrelli, which is destined for you, may for some time serve to gather the young men who took part in St. Francis of Assisi. Then how much we can go to the building prepared for the priests next to the Ospedaletto, then we will study better location.
On the second Sunday of October of that year (1844) he had to participate in my young boys, that the Oratory would be transferred to Valdocco. But the uncertainty of the place, of the means, of the people really left me above thought. Last night I went to bed with a troubled heart. On that night I had a new dream, which seems to be an appendix to the one made to the Becchi when he was nine years old. I judge well to expose it literally.
I dreamed of seeing myself in the midst of a multitude of wolves, goats, and kids, lambs, sheep, rams, dogs, and birds. All together they made a noise, a shout or, better, a devil to frighten the bravest. I wanted to flee, when a Lady, very well put in the shape of a shepherdess, gestured me to follow and accompany that strange flock, while She went ahead. We went wandering around various sites; we made three stations or stops. At each stop many of those animals were changed into lambs, the number of which was growing more and more. After walking a lot I found myself in a meadow, where those animals hopped and ate together without one trying to harm others.
Overwhelmed by fatigue, he wanted to sit next to a nearby road, but the shepherdess invited me to continue the journey. Having made a short stretch of the road, I found myself in a vast courtyard with a portico around which was a church at its end. Then I realized that four-fifths of those animals had become lambs. Their number then became very great. At that moment several shepherds came to look after them. But they remained little, and soon departed. Then a marvel occurred: Many lambs turned into shepherds, who grew up taking care of others. Growing up the shepherds in large numbers, they divided and went elsewhere to gather other strange animals and guide them into other sheepfolds.
I wanted to leave because it seemed time to go and celebrate Mass, but the shepherdess invited me to look at noon. Looking I saw a field in which corn had been sown, potatoes, cabbage, beets, lettuces and many other herbs. "Look again," he said, and I looked again. Then I saw a beautiful and tall church. An orchestra, instrumental and vocal music invited me to sing Mass. Inside that church was a white band, in which in large letters it was written: Hic domus mea, inde gloria mea.
Continuing in the dream I wanted to ask the shepherdess where I was; what did you want to indicate with that walk, with the stops, with that house, church, then another church. You will understand everything when you see your materials in fact you will see what you now see with the eyes of the mind. But as I seemed to be awakened, I said: I see clearly and see with material eyes; I know where I go and what I do. At that moment the bell of the Ave Maria rang in the church of S. Francesco and I woke up.
This took me almost all night; many particularities accompanied it; then I understood little of its meaning because little faith lent us, but I understood the things from hand to hand had their effect. Indeed later [,] together with another dream, I used the program in my deliberations.
On the second Sunday of October, sacred to the Maternity of Mary, I participated in transferring the Oratory to the Refuge to my boys. At the first announcement they experienced some disturbance, but when they said that a large room was waiting for us there, everything for us, to sing, run, jump and recreate we had pleasure, and everyone waited impatiently the following Sunday to see the innovations that were imagining. The third Sunday of that October, sacred day to the purity of M. V., a little after noon, here is a crowd of youngsters of various ages and different conditions, already running in Valdocco in search of the new Oratory.
Where is the Oratory, where was Don Bosco? you went everywhere asking. No one 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 noises, left the house. At our appearance all noise, every altercation ceased. They ran in crowds around us; asking 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 us very well. In fact, things went pretty well for that Sunday. But the following Sunday, to the old students, adding several of the neighborhood, he no longer knew where to place them. 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, that other water, bucket, springs, shovels, jug, bowl, chairs, shoes, books, and every other object was put upside down, while they wanted to order and adjust things. It is no longer possible to go on, said the dear Theologian, it is necessary to provide some more appropriate premises. However, six holidays were spent in the narrow local one, which was the upper chamber to the vestibule of the first entrance door to the Refuge.
Meanwhile, we went to treat Archbishop Fransoni, who understood the importance of our project. Go, he said to us, do what you judge well for souls, I give you all the faculties that can occur to you, speak with the Marquise Barolo; perhaps it will be able to provide you with some suitable premises. But tell me: couldn't these guys go to their respective parishes?
--- They are mostly foreign youngsters, 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 children in class.
- Then, the Archbishop resumed, a separate place adapted for them is needed. So go for it. I bless you and your project. In what will benefit you, come and do what I can!
We actually went to talk to the Marquise Barolo, and since the Ospedaletto was not open until August of the following year, the charitable lady was satisfied that we reduced to a chapel two spacious rooms destined for the recreation of the priests of the Refuge, when they had transferred their home there. To go therefore to the new Oratorio passed where now is the door of the hospital, and for the small avenue that separates the Cottolengo Opera from the aforementioned building, we went up to the present house of the priests, and for the internal staircase rose to the 3rd plan.
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: the Why Marquis Barolo had in mind to found a Congregation of priests under this title, and with this intention he had had the painting of this Saint executed that he still admires entrance to the same room; 2a 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, which began to insidiously creep into our countries and especially in the city of Turin.
Therefore the year 1844 on December 8, sacred to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, with the authorization of the Archbishop, for a very cold time, amid high snow, which still fell thick from the sky, the longed-for chapel was blessed, yes I celebrate Holy Mass, 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 me stable, the Oratorio Opera with the purpose of retaining the youth more