Servant of God Charles (Carlo) Braga, Priest (1889-1971)
Opening of Diocesan Inquiry: 30-01-2014
Fr Charles Braga was born in Tirano on May 23, 1889. He lost his loved ones while he was still in the prime of life. His father (Domenico Braga) had emigrated to Argentina when he was just two years old and never returned. His mother (Maddalena Mazza) died after a long illness when Carlino was only six years old. In these circumstances Fr Braga had as a providential substitute the Salesians. First of all in Tirano the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who followed him from kindergarten to elementary school. It was here that he met the woman he later called "his second mother" (Sister Giuditta Torelli). Later on it was the Salesians of Don Bosco who welcomed him to their school in S. Rocco in Sondrio. During the stay of the young Charles Braga to the Salesians of Sondrio Providence offered him the extraordinary opportunity to meet the successor of St. John Bosco, Blessed Michael Rua. It was his turn to be chosen as the little secretary of the Rector Major on a visit to the house of Sondrio. At the end of this unforgettable experience Blessed Michael Rua told him: - "We will always be friends" (27 June 1904) ". Thus began his journey in the Salesian Family. In 1904, he was sent to the novitiate of the Central Province (Foglizzo, August 1904). Finally he made his profession (30 July 1906), then his first experience as a Salesian (1908-1911) at Trino Vercellese, during which he made his perpetual profession (1909) and attended studies at the University (1911); while studying theology (1911-1914) he also took care of the Oratory of San Luigi (1912) where the superior of the Community was the Venerable Vincenzo Cimatti. On 11 April 1914 he was ordained a priest not without some delay.
Almost a year after ordination (May 1915) Fr Charles was drafted into the Italian army. This made him experience the rigors of war until April 1919. Struck by a serious illness, he decided that if he had been cured he would have gone on a mission. On 29 November 1918 he participated in the second missionary expedition to China. He received the missionary crucifix (April 1919) from the Rector Major, Fr Paul Albera at Valdocco. He arrived in China on 29 September 1919.
Fr Charles Braga divided his missionary life into two phases, spent with the Salesian bishop and martyr Luigi Versiglia: the first, from 1919-1924, when he was assigned as superior of the "Saint Joseph" orphanage in Ho Sai; the second, from 1925-1929, when he was rector of the "Don Bosco College" of Shiu Chow. In 1930, he was appointed inspector. For twenty-two years (1930-1952), Fr Braga led the "Chinese Salesians" on a difficult path.
Between 1952 and 1953 Fr Charles was granted a break after the long term as superior of China, when he was sent to the Philippines as director of the Salesian technical school Victorias, Negros, Occidental, founded two years earlier. In 1955 he was appointed delegate of the Provincial of China, from which the Salesians of the Philippines depended. Three years later (1958), he was named "visitor" of the Philippines, when they were separated from the Chinese province. In 1963, Fr Braga was raised from the office of superior he had practiced for almost thirty-three years (1930-1963) and assigned as confessor and spiritual director of the Salesians and aspirants to Salesian life.
During the 65 years of his religious profession as a Salesian and 57 years as a priest, Fr Braga was director for 14 years, inspector for 23 years and "visitor" for 5 years. He died in the early morning of January 3, 1971, the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, in the Don Bosco College of San Fernando, Pampanga.
Almighty and merciful Father,
You called Fr Charles Braga to follow Christ
on the way outlined by Saint John Bosco,
to follow his example, he inherited his spirit
and multiplied his work in China and the Philippines,
in favor of the poorest children and young people.
Grant that, welcomed by You in eternal joy as your faithful servant,
He nay be a generous intercessor.
Grant us the gift of his glorification,
so that it can become a joyful example of holiness
for the Salesian Family and for all those
who dedicate their lives to needy youth
We ask this through the intercession of Mary Help of Christians,
that he loved and honored with a son's heart,
and through the mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Address to the Postulation
Via Marsala 42