Rik Biesmans – The Magna Carta of the Salesian Educational System, vol. 1

The text now available offers the English translation of the first volume of a Dutch study consisting of two volumes. It is entitled: The Magna Carta of the Salesian Educational System. This first volume contains 4 chapters:

  1. The first chapter should acquaint readers with certain circumstances in the extensive and multifaceted activities in the Valdocco Oratory in the years 1880-1884.
  2. The second chapter offers an insight into how the first section of the extended or ’combined version’ (manuscript D) may have been constructed. This section of the larger chapter, a sort of circular letter, was meant for the Salesians in Valdocco.
  3. The longer third chapter consists of the discussion of the content of the “circular letter” (manuscripts C and D).
  4. The short fourth chapter draws attention to the main pedagogical and pastoral components.

The detailed discussion of the third chapter provides indications that demonstrate that Fr G.B. Lemoyne had been working on the final manuscript D at different stages and it also reveals a quite personal emphasis. In the second volume I shall discuss the external and internal elements showing his authorship even more clearly. That is the reason why I considered it quite useful each time to show how closely Fr Lemoyne links up with earlier statements and has included convictions, pieces of advice and instructions from Don Bosco himself.

Moreover, I have tried to indicate how they also link up with statements taken from A.M. Teppa and F. Aporti. At the same time I have shown that in the first part of the extended or combined version, Fr Lemoyne has copied parts of the same letter that was sent to the boys on 10 May 1884. This is, amongst others, the case for the Introduction and the part which in Dutch is called “Tussenstuk” and in English “Insertion”.

As far as the translation itself is concerned, footnotes often refer to The Biographical Memoirs of Saint John Bosco, the American translation of the Memorie biografiche. For practical reasons the translator has not always been possible to copy the American translation. That is the reason why one will find the translator’s personal translation in more than one instance. I realize that an English translation of the Dutch synoptic view of the above-mentioned manuscripts would facilitate the reading of the third chapter of this volume. It has not been able to be provided as yet. That is why for the moment we have added an Italian synoptic presentation drawn up by Jos Biesmans, S.D.B., though the explanatory introduction to that is in English. For the English translation as a whole I very much appreciate the work of Jean-Marie Schepens, past teacher at Don Bosco College in Zwijnaarde (Ghent, Belgium). He worked on the translation with unflagging enthusiasm and indefatigable effort. My sincere thanks include also the valuable contributions of Gaston De Neve, S.D.B. and Julian Fox S.D.B, who revised the text and prepared it for publication, respectively.

Reference time period: 1880 – 1884

Rik Biesmans, The Magna Carta of the Salesian Educational System, vol. 1, pro manuscripto, Don Bosco Provincialaat, Sint-Pieters-Woluwe 2010.

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