May 24

1814: Feast of Mary Help of Christians

Pope Pius VII was made a prisoner on 6 July 1809 by Napoleon, first at Savona and three years later at Fontainebleau (France). On this day he returned to the eternal city where he was received in triumph. In memory of this liberation he instituted the feast of Mary Help of Christians. (decree of 15 Sept. 1815)

1860: First mention of the feast

In the Year – book for 1860 (Galantuomo) Don Bosco made mention of the feast of Mary Help of Christians for the first time. (cfr. MU VI, 958)

1860: Dreamed of house search

Three days before the house search Don Bosco had a dream which proved very providential. He narrated it himself as follows: I seemed to see a pack of ruffians break into my room, seize mc and rummage everywhere… One of them kindly said, “Why. didn’t you remove such and such a document? those letters ot the archbishop were to be found, what would happen to both him and you? And how about these letters from Rome”… I put a few things in order and removed several confidential letters which really had nothing to do with politics or government, but which could be misinterpreted. (BM VI, 312)

1869: First celebration of the feast

The feast of Mary Help of Christians was celebrated for the first time in her Church at Turin, after its blessing the previous year. Countless crowds flocked to the new church despite the rain, and several thousand received Holy Communion. Bishop Lawrence Gastaldi of Saluzzo presided at second Vespers and archbishop of Turin imparted solemn Benediction. (BM IX, 306)

1871: Centenary of Lepanto (1571- 1871)

It was solemnly celebrated in the Church of Mary Help of Christians. Full of interesting details, the programme was posted in all churches. It was also published on the cover of the May issue of Letture Cattoliche and on leaflets widely spread throughout the city… At Don Bosco’s wish, the festivities were most devout in church and most joyful outdoors. The splendour of the sacred services was truly moving. Outdoors, too, everything proceeded in a most orderly way, thanks to painstaking measures adopted by the superiors under Father Rua’s chairmanship… (BM X, 97)

1871: Our Lady’s predilection for Don Bosco

On this day Mrs. Mary Rogattino with her blind little son was ushered into Don Bosco’s room. She said: “For twoyears I have seen him writhe under surgery, and the doctors have now told me openly that he has no chance… I am this world’s unhappiest woman”… (Don Bosco said) “Turn to Her then in a novena and offer some sacrifice. I assure you that God will heal your child if it will help his soul and yours.” Don Bosco was about to dismiss her, but she held her ground. “I will not leave until you have blessed my child”… “You are mistaken,” he answered. “Put not such trust in my blessing but in God through the powerful intercession of Mary, Help of Christians. I am only a feeble instrument of His hands.” But the good woman kept insisting, so much so that Don Bosco told the child to kneel, blessed him, gave him a medal of Mary, Help of Christians… when she again called on Don Bosco, her son was perfectly healed. (BM X, 98)

1873: A Prophetic dream

Don Bosco dreamed the previous night that the Pope had abandoned the Vatican in the company of many men and women, young children, monks, nuns and priests. At that moment two angels appeared, bearing a banner which they presented to the Supreme Pontiff, saying: “Take the banner of Her who battles and routs the most powerful armies on earth. Your enemies have vanished; with tears and sighs your children plead for your return.” One side of the banner bore the inscription: Queen conceived with out sin and the other side read: Help of Christians. The Pontiff ,accepted the banner gladly, but he became very distressed to see how few were his followers…(the angels said) “Priests shall he sought among those who wield the hoe, the spade, and the hammer.” (iim tx, 377-378)

1881: Bishop l’ampirio at the Oratory

To satisfy his devotion, on the morning of May 24th, he (Bishop Pampirio of Alba) went to the Church of Mary, Help of Christians, where he had once before preached, to celebrate Mass. Don Bosco of course, immediately asked him to say the community Mass. As soon as Archbishop Gastaldi got wind of this, he immediately reprimanded Bishop Pampirio by letter… he (Bishop Pampirio) notified Archbishop Gastaldi that he would not he presiding at any other function, but that he would be delivering a panegyric on Our Lady in the evening, since his talk had already been announced publicly… (BM XV, 140)

1884: Prince Czartoryski with Don Bosco

Czartoryski visited Don Bosco this day and three years later (July 1887) he became a salesian. (cfr. MB XVII, 409ff)

1885: Multiplication of Hosts

With twenty hosts Don Bosco distributed Communion to more than 200 persons, among whom were the Duke of Norfolk and his retinue. (cfr. MB XVII, 520-521)

1887: Miraculous cure

The least of Mary I lelp Of Christians was celebrated for the last time by Don Bosco. Cleric Viglietti, his secretary, saw a girl coming out of the saint’s room leaning on the crutches. He said to her, “Have you no faith in Don Bosco on the feast of Mary Help of Christians? Throw away the crutches!” At these words the girl gave the crutches away and walked with her mother to the church to thank Our Lady! (cfr. MB XVIII, 356ff)

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