When he had built the church of Mary Help of Christians at Valdocco in Turin in 1868, Don Bosco had it consecrated with an entire cycle of celebrations made available for the public domain through an appropriate booklet. Then he set out to make it an attractive centre for prayers, thanks and donations through a second larger book. Still not satisfied he sought to give stability to general devotion to Mary under the title of Mary Help of Christians through a lay association which bore that name.
He himself sketched out the beginnings of it in a third booklet where he drew on the history of the title of Help of Christians through the ages, presenting devotion under that title in Munich and Turin and adding a long series of prayers and practices with their indulgences. He did not fail to include documents relating to the approval of the Association, the ones you find here: the papal brief granting indulgences over a ten year period to the new association (no. 41), the request for and canonical approval from the Archdiocese of the Statutes (no. 42), the Regulations (no. 43).
Afterwards (1870) he gained permission from Pius IX to erect the association as an Archconfraternity with the faculty of aggregating similar associations that already existed or would be set up in the archdiocese of Turin; this faculty was then extended by the same Pope in 1877 to all dioceses in Piedmont (and in 1896, in Fr Rua’s time as Rector Major, to all dioceses in the world, by Pope Leo XIII).
For a rapid overview of the association, its history and how it is today, including interventions by some Rectors Major, see no. 3 of the Quaderni di Maria Ausiliatrice and the already cited extensive bibliographies of Don Bosco.
Reference time period: 1869
Salesian Historical Institute, Salesian Sources 1: Don Bosco and his work. Collected Works, LAS – Kristu Jyoti, Rome – Bangalore, 2017, 158-170.
Istituto Storico Salesiano