Rik Biesmans – Aesthetics in Don Bosco’s educational system

The word “Aesthetics” sounds somewhat abstract in English, but it represents a theme that has been explored in European formation and educational circles. Fr. Biesmans uses the term to include education in music, drama and fine arts, as well as physical education through recreation, gymnastics and sport.

In his essay, he surveys the efforts of the first Salesians to inculcate a sense of beauty and an appreciation for the arts and culture among even the poorest boys in Don Bosco’ s first Oratory in Valdocco. He zeroes in on the artistic and cultural side of feast days and religious celebrations, thereby tracing the efforts made by the early Salesians to link cultural and religious education.



  • Continuity in the care for the appropriate celebration of feast days
    • A large number of feast days
    • The strong religious character of the preparation and celebration of such feast days
  • The aesthetic element in education: the meaning of aesthetic formation in the mind of Don Bosco
    • The ‘teatrino’ should offer young people entertainment and amusement
    • The ‘teatrino’ should also educate
    • Theoretical practices (substructure) which support the use of recitation, theater and music in the formation of young educators
  • Conclusion

Reference time period: 1876 – 1884

R. Biesmans, Aesthetics in Don Bosco’s educational system, in «Journal of Salesian Sudies» 10 (1999) 1, 145-168.

Reference institution:
Institute of Salesian Studies
Institute of Salesian Studies

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