1876: An year with Don Bosco
One of the priests who came to join Don Bosco in 1876 (6 November) was Joseph Vespignani of Lugo, who later became Councillor for Trade Schools. He understood the spirit from the first day at the Oratory. He came late in the evening. Don Bosco had been in the confessional until ten, since it was the eve of the Exercise for a Happy Death and of the missionaries’ departure. Fixing his eyes on the newcomer in the semi-darkness of the dining hall, Don Bosco told him smilingly: “Yes, yes! You come to stay with us for a while, perhaps a year, to see how we run our schools, and then you will return home to do the same”(Bm mi. 283) Father Vespignani was dumbfounded, for as he was leaving his native town of Lugo, his parish priest had literally suggested that he do all that Don Bosco had just told him. But he changed his mind so thoroughly that he made his perpetual profession on Christmas Day. He was sent to Argentina with the third missionary expedition to be novice master. After spending 17 years with Bishop James Costamagna. he succeeded him in 1894 as director of Pius IX school in Buenos Aires and later. as Provincial.
In 1922 he was recalled to Turin as a member of the General Council and remained in office until his saintly death on 15 January 1932. In 1948 his remains were taken back to Buenos Aires and entombed in San Carlos Church. As novice master, confessor, writer and founder of nineteen salesian houses, he earned the admiration of all. His book UnAnno alla Scuola del Beato Don Bosco (“A year in the school of Blessed Don Bosco” which was published in 1930, is well known). (cfr. BM XIII, 17)
1895: Death of Lasagna
He studied at the Oratory and went to S. America in the second missionary Expedition in 1876. He founded several salesian houses and missionary residences and the first metereological observatory in Uruguay. Then Don Bosco asked him to take charge of the salesian mission in Brazil. On the day of the farewell for the missionaries (his second trip to America) Don Bosco gave Father Lasagna a chain with this note: `for the second salesian Bishop’ (cfr. 2 December 1886). He was elected Bishop in 1892, but died three years later in a train accident. (cfr. MB XVIII. 217ff)
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