August 16

1815: Birth of John Bosco

John Bosco was born on the evening of August 16, in the octave of the Assumption of Our Lady. He was baptized in the church of St. Andrew on the evening of August 17 by Father Joseph Festa and then given the name of John Melchior. His godparents were Melchior Occhiena and Magdalen Bosco, widow of the late Secondo. (BM 1, 26)

1838: Extempore panegyric

At Cinzano for the feast of St. Rock the preacher failed to turn up. None of the priests present was willing to improvise the sermon. Hence John. the young student of theology. agreed to take the place of the preacher. While a hymn was being sung, in those few minutes I organized my thoughts. I reviewed mentally what I had read about St. Rocco and then climbed into the pulpit. According to the common consensus, that was the best sermon 1 ever gave! (BM 1, 334)

1879: Foundation Stone of the Church of Sacred Heart

On December 8, 1870 Pius IX had proclaimed St. Joseph patron of the universal Church and shortly afterward purchased at his own expense a piece of land on the Esquiline Hill, intending to erect there a church dedicated to St. Joseph. The Italian bishops consecrated their dioceses to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and they wanted a church in Rome in honour of the Divine Heart. And so Pius IX decided that the land should be used
not fora church to St. Joseph but fora temple to the Sacred Heart diem But death claimed the great Pontiff. The new Pope, Leo Xi i I. sent a letter to all the bishops of the Catholic world asking them to start fund-raising drives in their dioceses. The project moved rapidly once it got started. Cardinal Monaco La Valletta. Vicar of the Pope. blessed the first stone which was lowered in place on August 17.1879. feast of St. Joachim and name-day of the reigning Pontiff. Lack of funds forced the suspension of all work no sooner than construction reached ground level. One day. Leo XIII voiced his deep grief over the enforced suspension of this work. it hindered God’s glory,” he said, it hurt the Holy See’s honour. and it imperilled the spiritual welfare of a huge multitude.” Finally the work was entrusted to Don Bosco who brought it to a successful conclusion despite untold difficulties. on May 14. 1887. (cfr. BM XIV, 458ff)

1881: Don Bosco God’s instrument

On his 60th birth day. Don Bosco thanked his children for the felicitations and greetings and concluded his talk as follows: You say that Don Bosco has done as many nice things, but it is your love that makes you see things differently from what tho really are. Everything that was done and is being done is due to God’s help and the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin. If the Lord had not given us the strength and taken us by the hand, what could we have done? And what about the help given us by our many benefactors? Don Bosco is no more than a blind instrument in God’s hands, who thus shows us that when He wills, He can achieve mighty things by using even the lowliest of tools. (13M XV, 141)

1910: Election of Father Albera

Father Paul Alhera was elected Superior General of the Salesian Congregation to succeed Blessed Michael Rua (+ April 1910). The event was foretold by Don Bosco on November 22, 1877. …Bishop Ferre listened attentively to Don Bosco and asked whether Father Albera had won out. “Certainly!” Don Bosco replied, “He is my second….” (BM mil, 350)

1936: Father Jaime Bonet, Martyr (Spanish)

– aged 52, a salesian for 27 years and a priest for 19 – martyred at Jarrega, cause introduced on December 15, 1953. (cfr. CDB, 316)

1936: Father Francis Miguez, Martyr (Spanish)

– aged 49, a salesian for 29 years and a priest for 10 – martyred at Malaga, cause introduced on January 16, 1956. (cfr. CDB, 317)

1936: Father Anthony Rodriguez, Martyr (Spanish)

– aged 59, and a priest for 35 years – past-pupil and co-operator – martyred at Pozoblanco, cause introduced January 16, 1956. (cfr. CDB, 317)

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