Giovanni Bosco – “Sodalities and spiritual friendships” in “Salesian Sources 1. Don Bosco and his work. Collected works”

Christian education of youth in popular works with a markedly missionary character like the Oratories on the outskirts of Turin, frequented by boys who were mostly abandoned and uneducated, required processes that were gradual and geared to each one’s possibilities. The Companion of Youth offered a complete but essential proposal adapted to everyone. Starting with this, Don Bosco used the sacrament of penance, personal chats, suggestions of optional and practical devotions and offered books to read and meditate on. He set up personalised processes which were more adapted to youngsters who were more capable of greater moral and ascetic effort.

Mindful of his fruitful experiences as a boy, like the Society for a Good Time, which he had led while he was attending school in Chieri, he was concerned with promoting amongst the boys at the Oratory and house an organised set of sodalities and free friendly societies with a clear spiritual and apostolic purpose, to encourage amongst the more sensitive and well-disposed boys to develop a holistic and virtuous Christian lifestyle, guiding them to act as a leaven in their youthful community. The founding of the St Aloysius Sodality (April 12, 1847) was the result of a process of consolidation of the festive Oratory and testifies to a shift towards a more systematic formation aimed at “encouraging piety through stable and uniform practice”, and encouraging members “to give good example in and outside of church; avoid improper conversations and frequent the sacraments.” The Immaculate Conception Sodality, which came into being through Dominic Savio’s initiative with some of his friends in June 1856, is a further development of Don Bosco’s spiritual proposal. It was made up of a choice group of young students in view of a vocation to priesthood and decidedly leaning towards Christian perfection and apostolic activity amongst their companions. This Sodality’s regulations contain “an entire programme of spiritual pedagogy perfectly in tune with the Regulations for the students of the house.”


Reference time period: 1847 – 1857

G. Bosco, “Sodalities and spiritual friendships” in “Section one. Guidelines on spiritual life for the young” in “Part three. Writings and testimonies of Don Bosco on spiritual life” by Aldo Giraudo in “Salesian Sources 1. Don Bosco and his work. Collected works”, LAS – Kristu Jyoti, Rome – Bangalore 2017, 792-800.

Reference institution:
Istituto Storico Salesiano
Istituto Storico Salesiano

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