September 14

1861: Ill-informed

Don Bosco was travelling from Turin to Vercelli by train. Two priests, his co-passengers, remarked that the clerics of the Oratory could not do justice to the study of theology because of supervision of the boys. Not knowing that they were speaking to Don Bosco, they asked him for his opinion: Don Bosco replied that he thought otherwise, adding, “Do you know Don Bosco? Have you ever been at the Oratory? His clerics do justice to their studies. If you want proof of this, ask about their grades at the seminary.” Just then the train pulled in at the Vercelli station, where a small crowd was waiting for the archbishop and for Don Bosco. As the latter looked out of the window some people spotted him and called out: “Don Bosco! Don Bosco!” Both priests were highly embarrassed and bowed to him as he got off the train. Don Bosco excused them by saying that they had been ill-informed. Later, they came to the Oratory to apologize and recommend pupils to Don Bosco. (BM VI, 606-607)

1867: Scandal-giver not to stay

After the night prayer, Don Bosco spoke as follows: “During novenas, triduum, or spiritual retreats, the Lord always exposes some boy who does not deserve to stay in this house because he gives scandal to his companions or for other reasons. A few such boys have just been discovered. Without mentioning names, I assure you they will be sent away. Let us now go on to something else…” (UM viii,408)

1916: Death of Father Lemoyne (1839-1916)

Father John Baptist Lemoyne was the first great chronicler of the life of St. John Bosco and of the first decades of the Salesian Congregation. From their first providential meeting in 1864, Father Lemoyne esteemed Don Bosco as a person of outstanding character and holiness. He not only strove to understand and acquire his spirit, but also took upon himself the task of committing to writing anything of significance that Don Bosco did or said. Information concerning earlier events he painstakingly gathered from eye-witnesses and other sources.
In 1883 he came to the motherhouse as editor of the Bolletino Sale.slano and secretary of the superior chapter. The five years that followed he spent in cordial intimacy with Don Bosco and heard from the saint himself the story of the arduous road he had to climb in his youth to arrive at the priesthood, and of the wonderful manner in which Providence guided the Salesian work. After Don Bosco’s death 1888, he was formally charged with the compilation of available materials for the life of the saint. Forty-five large volumes of galley proofs bear witness to his dedicated research and provided the material for the nineteen volumes of the Biographical Memoirs of St. John Bosco, the first nine of which he authored. Noteworthy among his other works are the Life of Don Bosco in two volumes and the Life of Mamma Margaret , Don Bosco’s mother. He died in Turin on September 14, 1916 at the age of 77. (BM XIV, 575)

1934: Crypt under the Basilica

The crypt under the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians was inaugurated on the feast day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Salesian Bishop Coppo was delegated to perform the ceremony and consecrate the altars. The crypt contains more than 3000 relics of saints and martyrs, a precious gift of Mr. Michael Bert of Turin (+ 2 March 1926), a salesian cooperator. The main altar has one of the biggest relics of the Holy Cross (17 X 10 cm) and an urn with precious blood. The latter is the gift of Bishop Sarto of Mantova, the future St. Pius X. (cfr. L’Oratorio, p.197; Sam. di M. Ausiliatrice, p.150)

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