Amongst the more original practices put in place as part of the educational praxis at Valdocco, and maintained in the Salesian tradition that then followed from it, we would have to highlight the “Goodnights”: brief “talks” or “short speeches” after night prayers. Don Bosco addressed the pupils in the presence of their educators (superiors of the house, teachers assistants), in a familiar way using simple and attractive language.
Thus far we have not found handwritten originals of these kinds of interventions. But the Central Salesian Archives in Rome have a considerable number of relevant texts with either all or at least summaries of their contents. They are interesting testimonies handed down by careful listeners; in particular, members of a kind of “society” or “commission” of young collaborators who in 1860-1861 proposed “preventing anything belonging to Don Bosco being forgotten”, doing everything possible to “preserve their memory.” This was precisely the purpose of the diaries, brief chronicle notes compiled by some members of this commission. Amongst the better known ones are: Giulio (Jules) Barberis, Dominic Ruffino. Michael Rua,
John B. Francesia.
The “summary” of seven “goodnights” given to the students at Valdocco in November and December 1864 offer practical guidelines, with a view to helping their listeners “benefit from their study”. Speaking on this topic, Don Bosco gave strong emphasis to the good religious and moral conduct of the student as an essential prior condition.
Included here are two “goodnights” from 1877—the most complete and probably closest to the original—which take up the topic of study and reading but also other topics characteristic of Don Bosco’s educational approach: holidays, fleeing idleness, recreations and play.
Reference time period: 1864 – 1877
Salesian Historical Institute, Salesian Sources 1: Don Bosco and his work. Collected Works, LAS – Kristu Jyoti, Rome – Bangalore, 2017, 550-557.
Istituto Storico Salesiano