December 8

1841: Beginning of salesian work

Don Bosco gave the first catechism lesson to Bartholomew Garelli in the sacristy of the church of St. Francis of Assisi at Turin. The salesian work began on this day. (cfr. BM II, 56ff)

1844: First Oratory chapel

…the charitable lady agreed to convert two large rooms of the priest’s house adjacent to that building into a chapel…. this was the site chosen by Divine Providence for our festive oratory’s first church. The archbishop, in a decree dated December 6th (1844) granted Don Bosco the faculty to bless it, say Mass, give Benediction and hold triduums and novenas. The furnishings were assembled on short notice…. (BM II, 194)

1847: Second Oratory

The Oratory of Valdocco was too small to accommodate 800 boys. On this day a second Oratory was opened at Porta Nuova. It was placed under the patronage of St. Aloysius. There were many difficulties to obtain a suitable piece of land. Mrs. Vaglienti’s property was good, but they could not agree on the yearly rent, but: The sky darkened and suddenly there came a terrifying clap of thunder. The landlady turned to Don Bosco in utter fear and cried. “God save me from lightning, and I’ll rent you the place at your price!”…In a few minutes the skies cleared, and all was quiet again.They settled on a rent of 450 lire. (BM III, 187) The washerwomen who lived and worked there objected to Don Bosco’s plans and even threatened him. The intervention of the landlady qu1ttent4 them and they even apologized and left him in peace! (cfr. NM III, twist)

1855: Daughters of the Immaculate

In 1850, when only eighteen, Angela Maccagno, a lady teacher, under Father Pestarino’s spiritual direction, decided to devote herself entirely to God, while remaining in the world. She found some other girls who shared her ideals and on December 8, 1855, formed the Sodality of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate – a secular institute in which the members, though staying with their families or living in the world, would have the means of attaining Christian perfection and zealously assisting in their neighbour’s eternal salvation. (ElM VII, 174) One of the active members was Mary Mazzarello, the Superior and Co-foundress of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

1861: “Lightning Conductor”

On May 15,1861 lightning struck the Oratory and some suggested that a lightning conductor be installed over the building. Don Bosco replied: “Yes,” we shall place a statue of Our Lady there. She protected us so well that we would be very ungrateful if we now sought recourse to other means!” (BM VI, 564) This took place in May 1861. On 8 December of the same year Don Bosco fulfilled his promise. Before Vespers that day (December 8), Don Bosco formally fulfilled the promise he had made in May. At the top of the pediment fronting the St. Aloysius dormitory, near the spot hit by lightning, there now stood a lovely cement statue of Mary Immaculate. Vested in surplice and stole, Don Bosco ascended the solid scaffold set city by the Contractor, Charles Buzzeti, and surrounded by a circle of clerics, solemnly blessed it. (um v1.629) 

1877: Perpet nal Profession of Count Cays

Count Cays made the perpetual profession at the end of his his novitiate which was shorter than usual. In allowing such a step Don Bosco based himself on noted canoeists. However• the prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Bishops and Regulars ordered Don Bosco to extend the novitiate and re-do the profession. Archbishop Gastaldi reported to the Holy See that Count Cays had been admitted to perpetual vows before completing his novitiate. Naturally, the new prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, Cardinal Ferrieri, sought an explanation from Don Bosco. He replied (on June 18, 1878), citing the canonical reasons which he thought fully justified his action. Don Bosco concluded his letter as follows: However, I dutifully declare that 1 am always ready to observe any law or prescription which the Sacred Congregation… may enjoin for my guidance and the proper government of the Salesian Congregation. (BM mil, 171)

1878: Constitutions of FMA

“That same year, 1878, Don Bosco gave the sisters a handsome present on the feast of the Immaculate Conception – a printed copy of their rule which had been approved by the bishop of Aqui two years before. A poster with Father Costamagna’s words, ‘Every Sister Should Be a Living Copy of the Holy Rule’, was already hanging in the porticoes…” (BM XIII, 151)

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