Francis Desramaut – “Contemporary spirituality of the salesian family” in “Journal of Salesian Studies”

A noted Salesian scholar and author, Fr. Desramaut has recently undertaken a work of major proportions, a dictionary of Salesian spirituality. The title of the work is: Les cent mots-clefs de la spiritualite salesienne (One Hundred Keywords in Salesian Spirituality). It is being published in installments in Cahiers Salesiens, the journal of the Center of Salesian Studies in Lyons (France), over which Fr. Desramaut presides. The first installment of the work (containing entries from A to C) is prefaced by an introductory essay on Salesian spirituality. This is the essay which is given here in English as meticulously translated by Fr. Arthur J. Lenti.

The burden of Fr. Desramaut’ s essay is to show that the contemporary spirituality of the Salesian Family, though rooted in Don Bosco’ s own spirituality and though standing firmly in the school of St. Francis de Sales, has been shaped over more than a century (much like contemporary culture and contemporary theology) in accord with historic paradigms of change.

The essay therefore, after offering a definition of basic terms and an initial proposal (I), examines Don Bosco’ s religious experience and spirituality as the root of any subsequent development in Salesian spirituality (II). It goes on to discuss the impact of St. Francis de Sales’ school of spirituality on the spirituality of the Salesian Family in the perception of three rectors major of the Salesian Society (III). Looking more closely at the historic paradigms of change at work through the twentieth century, the essay presents in summary the cultural developments that have shaped contemporary attitudes in all fields. To this end, Rector Major Egidio Vigano’ s perception and understanding of the “signs of the times” are discussed (IV). There follows an exposition of the principles and features of contemporary Catholic spirituality within the paradigms of change just mentioned (V). Finally, in the san1e context, a description is given of the contemporary spirituality of the Salesian Family, as Rector Major Egidio Vigano propounds it in an important circular letter to the Salesians (VI).



  • Introduction: Don Bosco’s “Simple” Spirituality and the Spirituality of the Salesian Family
  • I. Starting Points
    • What Is Spirituality?
    • Salesian Spirituality-A Fluid Reality
  • II. Bosconian Roots of the Spirituality of the Salesian Family
    • Don Bosco’s Religious Experience at the Root of Salesian Spirituality
    • Don Bosco’s Spirituality
  • III. Salesian Roots of the Spirituality of the Salesian Family
    • St. Francis de Sales in Don Bosco’s “School of Spirituality”
    • St. Francis de Sales’ Influence on Don Bosco’s Spirituality in the View of Three Rectors Major
  • IV. Developments in Cultural and Intellectual History through the Twentieth-Century in the View of Two Rectors Major
    • Father Paolo Albera in Two Modes
    • Father Egidio Vigano and the “Signs of the Times”
  • V. Contemporary Catholic Spirituality-Characteristic Features
    • The New Face of Catholic Spirituality
    • What Contemporary Catholic Spirituality Repudiates
    • Positive Features of Contemporary Catholic Spirituality
    • Spirituality of Liberation and Community-Building
    • Critical Assessment of Contemporary Catholic Spirituality
  • VI. The Spirituality of the Salesian Family in the Teaching of Don Bosco’s Seventh Successor, Father Egidio Vigano
    • Vigano’s Utterances before 1990
    • Letter of August 15, 1990
    • Vigano’s Later Utterances
  • Conclusion

Reference time period: 1950 – 1998

F. Desramaut, Contemporary spirituality of the salesian family, translated by A. J. Lenti, in «Journal of Salesian Studies» 10 (1999) 1, 19-63.

Reference institution:
Institute of Salesian Studies
Institute of Salesian Studies

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