Zeal, creativity, far-sightedness and many other qualities mark the apostolic courage of Don Bosco. Courage that was able to transform itself into business-mindedness. But here we are dealing with a particular and original business-mindedness put at the service of God and young people.
The Salesians are sons of a saint who, amongst other things, was also a bookbinder, typographer, printer, journalist, writer, publisher etc.
Every publishing initiative of his was characterised not by profitable aims but by the effective and modern service of the young and the Church. To achieve this purpose Don Bosco was never concerned about spending too much in order to be in the vanguard. The ‘business’ he wished to deal with was the business of souls. ‘Da mihi animas caetera tolle’. The ‘caetera’, the ‘what is left’ was in function of his objective of the evangelisation and education of youth. He dreamed about this: “You will see, we will have a printing press, two, 10 printing presses! You will see!”
At that time, nobody took him seriously. It was another of his extravagances that indicated his precise plan, his already well-clarified and spelt out objective, a reality to be completed in the space of so little time. In 1884, at the World Fair in Turin, he presented a well-equipped stand showing the complete cycle of publication: from paper to final printing. It was amongst the most visited and appreciated of stands.
But what are Don Bosco’s thoughts on publishing?
Herewith a summary still valid for our own times:
Before becoming a publisher, Don Bosco was an author. He wrote about the themes of hagiography, sacred and church history, education, religion, general formation. Writings printed by Don Bosco number 1174. But he was also a journalist. He founded the Salesian Bulletin in 1877 and wrote for it until his death. The Salesian Bulletin was understood by Don Bosco, and continues to be so understood, as an instrument to unite and encourage people of good will in the promotion and spreading of what is good.
The greatness of Don Bosco as writer and publisher can be appreciated more deeply in the short study by Don Giovanni Rainere that is provided here.
“Therefore, after having heard our Venerable Brother Carlo Salotti, Bishop of Palestrina and Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Rites, from certain knowledge and after Our mature deliberation, with the fullness of Our apostolic authority, by means of this Letter, we establish in perpetuity and we proclaim Saint John Bosco, confessor, the principal heavenly Patron before God of the Society of Catholic Publishers of Italy, with all the honours and liturgical privileges that belong by right to the principal Patrons of Associations”.
Given at Rome, St. Peter’s, under the seal of the Fisherman, 24th May, Feast of Mary Help fo Christians, 1946, VIII of my Pontificate.