August 15

1860: In defence of priests

Once during a train journey, Don Bosco struck up a conversation with a charlatan on the subject of priests. The latter stated that half of the priests he knew were bad. Then Don Bosco challenged hirn: “Could you tell me their names?”…Don Bosco pulled out his notebook and pencil… Perhaps the poor fellow had never talked to a priest and all he knew was what he had read in anticlerical papers. Not knowing what else to say and annoyed by Don Bosco’s prodding, he brusquely concluded, “Let’s talk about something else.” (t3M vl, 413)

1862: Power of the hail Mary

In a dream Don Bosco was struggling against a serpent. A stranger offered him a rope to kill the poisonous beast. …We stretched the rope and then snapped it across the snake’s hack. The monster immediately sprang up and struck at the rope, but, as it did so, it ensnared itself as in a noose. “Hold on,” the stranger shouted. “Don’t let go!” He ran to a nearby pear tree and tied his end of the rope to it. Then he came to me and tied my end to the iron grating of a window in the house. The snake kept furiously struggling to free itself, writhing, thrashing, and flailing about. In its fury it tore itself to pieces, scattering its flesh over the area, till it was slashed to a mere skeleton.
‘the stranger then untied the rope and coiled it up. “Now watch very carefully!”, he said as he put it into a box and closed it. But this time the boys had swarmed about me. Within a few moments he opened the box. We looked in and were astounded to see the rope shaped into the words Ave Maria…. “The snake,” the man replied, “is a symbol of the devil, whereas the rope stands for Ave Maria, or rather, the rosary, a succession of Hail Marys with which we can strike, conquer, and destroy all of hell ‘s demons”…
Let us devoutly say a Hail Mary whenever we are tempted, and we’ll be sure to win. Good Night. (BM VII, 144)

1862: Substitute for a dying boy

Don Bosco had foretold that an Oratory pupil would die within three months. During that period David Quadrelli of Novara fell seriously ill. Don Bosco visited him to offer him comfort and the last Sacraments. “I don’t want to die!” Quadrelli exclaimed as soon as he saw him. “In that case” Don Bosco replied, looking at him kindly, “You’ll recover. Another boy will take your place…- Then he blessed him. Quadrelli fully recovered. (BM VII, 144)

1864: Condition for rain

At Montemagno a three-month-long drought threatened to wipe out the entire crop. Public and private prayers seemed futile. In his first sermon of the triduum. Don Bosco promised rain in the name of the Madonna. -Come to the services during this triduum, make your peace with God by a good confession, prepare yourselves for a general Communion on the feast of the Assumption, and I promise you a plentiful rain in the Madonna’s name”…everyone resolutely set about putting his conscience in order. There were long lines at the confessionals from early morning to late evening… There were comments and laughter over the prediction in the neighbouring villages, especially at Grana where a public dance had been scheduled to celebrate Don Bosco’s forthcoming fiasco… (On the feast day) The Church was jammed, and all eyes were riveted on him (Don Bosco)…Then, as he began his talk, a prolonged roll of thunder sent a ripple of joy through the congregation. For a moment he stood silent, most deeply moved. The thunder rolled on, and then a violent downpour beat steadily against the windows…. At Grana, instead, a frightening hailstorm completely destroyed the crops. Remarkably, not a single hailstone fell in any other area in the vicinity. (BM VII, 433-435)

1875: Santo’s Visit to the Oratory

Canon Sarto was preaching a retreat to the clergy of Casal Monferrato. Bishop Ferre prevailed on him to go to Turin and call on Don Bosco: On that day and for the first time there was a little extra cheer to keep Don Bosco’s birthday. (He always believed that he had been born on August 15 …) Leaving the dining roon after a modest repast, the Canon politely took leave of Don Bosco and then, to put it plainly, took his companion straight to the nearest restaurant in town. Even as Pope (Pius X) he still recalled with admiration how frugal Don Bosco’s table had seemed to him on that occasion. Pius X also recalled another incident that revealed how responsive the boys at the Oratory were to Don Bosco. At his word they would spring into action. It was a case of “no sooner said than done.” Don Bosco said to him, “Would you like to see how obedient my boys are?” He called a boy and handed him a bottle. “Now open your hand,” he said. The boy obeyed instantly and the bottle fell to the ground. The Canon laughed and so did the others, but the boy looked quietly at Don Bosco waiting for further instructions. (BM XI, 301)

1884: Divine providence

While he was the guest of Bishop Chiesa of Pinerolo, Don Bosco received two letters. In the first one, Consul Gazzolo of Argentina was requesting fora loan of 30,000 lire. In the second one, a Belgian lady was asking Don Bosco how 30,000 lire could he utilized fora go(xl purpose. (cfr. MB XVII, 221)

1887: The saddest experience

In a letter from the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Don Bosco was asked in the name of the Supreme Pontiff, to recall Father Dalmazzo, Procurator General and Parish Priest of Sacred Heart church, Rome. Calumnies were the cause of it. Seeing Don Bosco more merry than usual, Brother Henry said during the evening walk: “Today Don Bosco is morecheerful than usual!” To this the saint replied: “And yet today I had the saddest experience of my life.” (cfr. MB XVIII, 376)

1898: Biographical Memoirs

On this day the first volume saw the light of day. In the preface the author, Father Lemoyne wrote: With brotherly affection I offer my dear Salesian confreres this biography of Don Bosco, our venerated Father in Christ…I have not omitted any significant detail about Don Bosco that came to my attention…The narrative adheres strictly to the truth. Few people in this world, I believe, have had their love and affection requited by his spiritual sons as much as Don Bosco. They have provided me with innumerable recollections of things…. From 1864 to 1888, I myself kept a record of everthing… These pages have been prompted not by the imagination, but by a heart guided by calm reason; they are the result of lengthy investigation, correspondence and comparison of sources…I have also dwelt on Margaret Bosco, mother of the venerated founder of the Society of St. Francis de Sales… My narrative has a family tone. My sole desire is to present Don Bosco as he really was and to paint as vivid a portrait as possibl e….We shall find in them a powerful stimulus both for our own sanctification and that of the young people entrusted to our care… (BM 1, xi-xiii) The Magnum Opus consists of 19 volumes and an Index, the 20th. Father Lemoyne died after completing the first 9 volumes, on 14 September 1916. Father Amadei completed the 10th volume begun by Lemoyne. Father Eugene Ceria authored volume 11 to 19.

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