May 25

1845: An angry woman

Marchioness Barolo was not happy to have the gathering of Don Bosco’s boys at the Refuge. On Sunday, May 25, after Mass at St. Philomena Hospital he took the boys to St. Peter-in-Chains Church. The boys were wild with enthusiasm. The chaplain’s old housekeeper began to upbraid them in a flow of language typical of an infuriated female. A girl also joined in the scolding, a dog began to bark, a cat to mew, the hens to cackle, until it finally sounded as though a grand war had broken out in Europe…Far from calming her, poor Don Bosco found himself the target of a torrent of abuse and vitupera-tion. Like a mad shrew, clenching her fists, she screamed first at the boys and then at Don Bosco… “And you, Don Bosco, why do you let these regamuffins run wild instead of keeping them under control, these dolts, noisemakers, loafers, and young ruffians? Don’t you dare set foot here, again next Sunday, or there’ll be trouble!”… he (Don Bosco) remarked (to the boys): “Don’t worry. That woman won’t be around to scold anyone next Sunday.” (BM II, 224)

1877: Souls alone matter

Father Taroni recalled: “This morning Don Bosco told me he wouldn’t mind tipping his hat to the devil if the devil would let him by to save a soul.” A similar concept – bold at first hearing – was expressed by Pope Pius XI to secondary school students at Mondragone on May 24, 1929: “We would dare to bargain with the devil himself when come to saving a soul or sparing greater harm to souls.” (BM XIII, 325)

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