January 21

1859: Death of Michael Magone

One day in 1857 Don Bosco was waiting at the station of Carmagnola. The noise of some boys playing nearby attracted his attention, but the voice of one little fellow stood out very clearly. When the saint approached them he defiantly asked him: ‘Who are you to disturb our game and what do you want?’ Don Bosco learnt that he was Michael Magone, the 13-year old leader of the band of urchins. He gave the boy a medal asking him to request Fr. Ariccio, his parish priest, to send more information about him. The good priest wrote to Don Bosco: “Magone is the despair of his mother and teachers. It is difficult to make him keep quiet, he is a universal trouble-maker. But his poverty, his age and his intelligence deserve a kind approach!” Michael came to the Oratory and was very happy for a month. One day he approached Don Bosco and said, “My conscience is in trouble!” He made a good confession and took 7 resolutions: 1) to approach the sacrament of confession and communion often; 2) to have a tender love for Mary; 3) to pray much; 4) to invoke Jesus and Mary often; 5) not to have too much delicacy for the body; 6) to be busy always; 7) to avoid bad company. During the last moments of his life, little Michael told Don Bosco: “Tell them (companions) always to make good confessions!…The little I’ve done in Mary’s honour! Yes, This is my greatest joy 0 Mary! 0 Mary! How happy in their last moments are they who have honoured You! ” (BM VI, 64)

1877: Pius IX’s simple bedroom

Don Bosco was received in audience by Pius IX in his bedroom. The poverty and simplicity of the room impressed the saint. He wrote: “The Holy Father is in bed, a bed as low and poor as those of our boys. He has no rug on the floor on which to place his feet when taking off his shoes. The floor is of brick, so worn and uneven that one has to be very careful not to stumble. In fact, as I approached, the Holy Father, knowing that I am near-sighted, warned me, `Walk slowly and come around this way; otherwise you will trip’.” (BM XIII, 6)

1877: The congregation will flourish

The Conceptionists, an Order founded by Pius IX twenty years earlier, was now unable to carry on without outside help. Hence the pope asked Don Bosco to amalgamate it with the salesian congregation, but the latter said that he was able to assume only their spiritual direction. “No, take on everything,” the Holy Father replied. The audience came to a close with very encouraging words: I predict – and you can tell your sons – that your Congregation will flourish, will spread miraculously, will last through the ages, and will always find co-workers and cooperators, as long as it shall strive to promote genuine filial piety and especially unblemished chastity. (BM XIII, 62)

1957: Death of Father Ceria

He was born at Biella in 1870 and died at Turin on January 21, 1957, at the age of 86. He was the author of 9 volumes (XI-XIX) of the Memorie Biografiche, Four volumes of the Annals of the Society and four volumes of Letters of Don Bosco a work which he started when he was 80 years old. He wrote many other works on Salesian topics; biographies, life-sketches, studies, etc. Only his scrupulous use of time and his self-discipline made this immense work possible. His time-table: 3.30 am Rising 4.30 Holy Mass in the Basilica Meditation, confessions, breakfast, followed by 12-13 hours of work. He was never a pupil at the Oratory, but met Don Bosco several times.
Speaking to the students of theology at Crocetta, he said ; “People think that salesians have to be noisy! When the question of moderate recreation during retreats was discussed, six votes were in favour and one was for complete silence…All thought that Father Rua had voted in favour of complete silence. But I found in the archives, a note written by Father Cartier which read: “Don Rua told me that the vote in favour of complete silence was that of Don Bosco!”
In another “Good Night” Father Ceria remarked: I read this in a notebook of Father Barberis: “Today Don Bosco told me that he too had to be careful about his feelings when boys showed certain signs of affection and gratitude. This he said in reference to Paolo Ubaldi, a very lively and affectionate lad, who, one day threw himself spontaneously on Don Bosco’s neck. The saint kept serious, pushed him aside and said, ‘what do you thinkyou are?’ The lad was embarrassed, but soon forgot all about it.” (cfr. “Boll. Sal.” 1957. p.110; Lett. mortuaria)

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