- Visit to Albania (IME)
- Don Bosco Boys Town, Rome
- Retreat at Fatima
In the years from 1853 to 1862, Valdocco was transformed from a festive Oratory—an open institution—into a complex work: hospice and boarding, college with boarding section, trade workshops, internal classes and publishing centre, amongst the most important sections.
In his 1877 booklet on pedagogy, Don Bosco highlights the advantages of the Preventive System and other reasons for which it should be preferred. At the same time he recognises that the “practical application” of the educational approach he is proposing implies “certain difficulties” for educators.
The financial contributions asked for and obtained from public authorities and institutions were certainly not enough to help him confront the huge expenses of the Salesian Work. It was necessary to appeal to private charity. Logically, Don Bosco turned especially to families and individuals who had financial possibilities, meaning those belonging to the nobility, mostly large property owners, and the upper and middle class of the time who were notably ready to dispense charity. Some of these, albeit modest in their private savings, could actually find an outlet in educational and charitable works such as those of Don Bosco.
As we have just said, for the financial resources needed to supply the everincreasing costs of his work, Don Bosco appealed to institutions: the Royal family, Government authorities, public officials (local council, provincial, state …), existing charitable organisations locally, the National Bank, parishes, dioceses, the Holy See itself through his best supporters, including the Pope.
Relationships between Don Bosco and Archbishop Gastaldi went through two different stages, one of great understanding and cooperation, and another of notable difficulties and conflicts. The watershed could be considered to be Gastaldi’s transferral from the Episcopal See of Saluzzo to being Archbishop of Turin in 1871.
Don Bosco, at the advice of his spiritual director, St Joseph Cafasso from autumn 1844 to summer 1846 lived at the Barolo Refuge as chaplain of the Little Hospital of St Philomena, opened in August 1845. In the same place and in other temporary places not far from Valdocco, he carried out his early priestly ministry on behalf of boys, mostly immigrant lads who had no parish of reference. On the vigil of his move to the Pinardi house, he drew up for the civil authorities of the city of Turin, who were responsible for and concerned about public order, a very brief account of his three years of catechetical activity, indicating the aims and results he had achieved that were positive both for civil society and the Church (no. 1).
Perhaps of all the leading political personages of the Italian Risorgimento with whom Don Bosco enjoyed some measure of friendship, Urbano Rattazzi’s name, like Abou Ben Adam’s, led the rest.
But if Marseilles was so close, why did “Paolino” Albera not come to Turin during those final days of January 1888? Why was he not at Don Bosco’s bedside? How did the death of his spiritual father and mentor impact on him?
The present study aims, not at any new interpretation, but simply at describing some aspects of the actual circumstances of the origins on the basis of fresh documentation now available. In particular, restricting the field of inquiry, I will focus on the young people who were protagonists in Don Bosco’s work at its origin.