August 14

1850: Don Bosco friend of the poor

An irreligious mob wanted to march on the Oratory. Thcy were planning to do it after the noisy demonstration against the Oblates of Mary. One of them, who knew Don Bosco and had been befriended by him, stood on a wayside stone and shouted at the top of his voice, “Listen to me, friends!… Don’t go! It’s a weekday, and you won’t find anybody there but Don Bosco and his old mother and a few poor boys he cares for. Rather than heckle him, we should shout Long live Don Bosco! because he cares for and helps the sons of the people.” Another member of the mob rallied to Don Bosco’s support, shouting, “Don Bosco is not a friend of Austria! He does a great deal of good. He’s a man of the people! Let’s leave him in peace. No need to shout for or against him. Let’s go somewhere else!” These words had the effort of calming the mob. They changed their plans and decided to demonstrate against the Dominicans and the Barnabites. (BM iv, 68)

1854: Alasonatti at the Oratory

Don Bosco asked Father Alasonatti to come and share his work at the Oratory as prefect. The only things the saint could offer him in return were much work and little rest, many inconveniences, few comforts, a life of poverty, self-denial, and sacrifice, food and clothing, and, in the name of God, a rich crown of glory in heaven. On August 14, 1854, Father Alasonatti generously forsook the comforts provided by his well-to-do family and the sizeable salary he was receiving as an experienced and appreciated teacher. He brushed aside the more or less worldly objections which acquaintances and even some distinguished fellow priests had put forward and entered the Oratory, breviary under his arm,to ask Don Bosco: “Where do you want me to say my breviary?” (BM V, 47)

1861: Zeal for souls

On August 14, Don Bosco was travelling by train to Asti. After a talk with the saint a businessman expressed the desire to go to confession. At that moment the train was pulling into the Asti station. Don Bosco got off and was greeted by the station master… asked for a private room to transact some business with a friend. The station master readily obliged…his confession, which lasted longer than anticipated caused Don Bosco to miss his stage coach… On noticing Don Bosco’s disappointment… (a group of young men said) “Why not read a book…or chat with us…or give us a sermon…” “A sermon” Don Bosco echoed. “This is no place for sermons, but I know what I could do.” “For example?” “Hear Confessions!” “Whose” “Well, yours to start with!”… Going to the nearby inn, quite deserted at that hour, Don Bosco rented a room, prepared the young men with a short talk, heard their confessions, and dismissed them happy and content. By that time the carriage was ready. (BM VI, 599-600)

1876: Hard work

Speaking to a few confreres, Don Bosco made an eulogy of work: For each of us who might die of overwork – Don Bosco explained – a hundred others would be drawn to the congregation. Yes, it is true, and I rejoice and am even proud to say: we work hard… Our Congregation will never diminish or decline in numbers; indeed, it will keep growing as long as we work hard and are ruled by temperance. I believe that within fifty years we will have ten thousand members. But… I also see a marked tendency toward comfort which frightens me… There are three things which undermine a religious congregation. The first I have already mentioned: idleness, too little work. We must indeed set more work for ourselves than we can actually do, and then, who knows, we may manage to do all we can. The second cause is being fastidious about food and drink…The third cause of decline is egoism or a spirit of reform, or call it grumbling… (BM XII, 274-276) Somebody told me, “Don’t make your priests work so hard!” Well, a priest will die either of overwork or of bad living.” (BM XIII, 65)

1878: Foundation stone for St. John the Evangelist Church

The ceremony was performed by Archbishop Gastaldi. The Church was built in memory of Pope Pius IX (+ 7 February 1878). (cfr. BM XIII, 463)

1885: Divine Providence

Father Lazzaro, Director of the Turin Oratory, had a big debt to pay, but had no money. Not knowing where to turn to, he had recourse to Don Bosco. The saint opened the first letter he received and found and pulled out a note of 1000 lire! (Vita II, 59) 

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