Pietro Stella – Don Bosco: life and work

If one peruses the literature that has grown up around the figure of St. John Bosco, one will quickly notice that it rose to a peak, both in enthusiasm and number of publications, around the years of his beatification and canonization. This volume is not, properly speaking, a biography. It seeks only to shed light on the religious motivations of Don Bosco as priest, educator and founder of movements and institutions. It focuses particularly on various critical moments when those motivations took solid shape, moments wich can be ascertained by a panoramic sweep over the all life of the saint.

Se si sfoglia la letteratura che è cresciuta intorno alla figura di san Giovanni Bosco, si nota subito che è salita al culmine, sia per entusiasmo che per numero di pubblicazioni, intorno agli anni della sua beatificazione e canonizzazione. Questo volume non è propriamente una biografia. Cerca solo di mettere in luce le motivazioni religiose di Don Bosco sacerdote, educatore e fondatore di movimenti e istituzioni. Si sofferma in particolare su vari momenti critici in cui tali motivazioni hanno preso forma concreta, momenti che possono essere accertati da uno sguardo panoramico su tutta la vita del santo.


  • General introduction
  • I. From Becchi to Chieri (1815-1835)
    • 1. God in the religious outlook of the local area
    • 2. God in the early childhood of Don Bosco
    • 3. First confessions
    • 4. John’s dream at the age of nine (1825)
    • 5. First Communion
    • 6. The little acrobat and showman
    • 7. At the Moglia farm (February 1827-November 1829)
    • 8. With Father John Calosso (November 1829-November 21, 1830)
    • 9. At school in Castelnuovo (December 1830-June 1831?)
    • 10. Student in Chieri (November 1831-August 1835)
    • 11. Anxieties about choosing a specific state in life
    • 12. Friendships
    • Bibliography
  •  II. In the seminary of Chieri (1835-1841)
    • 1. Founding of the seminary amid conflicting views and new hopes: 1829
    • 2. Entrance into the seminar
    • 3. Seminarians and their superiors
    • 4. Seminary subjects and their religious implications
    • 5. Seminary reading
    • 6. The spirituality of John Bosco as a seminarian: overview
    • 7. Comollo the seminarian and John Bosco
    • Bibliography
  •  III. The Turin Convitto and first catechetical experiences (1841-1844)
    • 1. Pastoral tendencies in post-Restoration Piedmont
    • 2. Moving beyond intransigent systems
    • 3. Moving beyond rigorism
    • 4. Catechism lessons
    • 5. Don Bosco’s sermons
    • 6. The years at the Convitto: a time of inner healing and religious maturation
    • Bibliography
  •  IV. From the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales to the hospice addition (1845-1863)
    • 1. Problems posed by Turin’s population growth
    • 2. Municipal efforts to train students and workers
    • 3. The various oratories for abandoned youth
    • 4. Don Bosco’s Oratory
    • 5. His Oratory comes to the fore
    • 6. The hospice addition to the Oratory (1853-1863)
    • 7. Growth of the Oratory and Don Bosco’s own spirituality
    • Bibliography
  • V. The Salesian high schools (Collegi)
    • 1. Schools in Italy in the latter half of the nineteenth century
    • 2. The Salesian schools and their historical role
    • 3. The focus on boarding schools and its impact on the Salesians
    • Bibliography
  •  VI. The Salesian Society
    • 1. The political and religious situation in Piedmont between 1848 and 1855
    • 2. Urban Rattazzi’s view of the law of suppression
    • 3. Questions confronting Don Bosco
    • 4. Political and religious developments from 1855 to 1875
    • 5. The Salesians and the State
    • 6. The Salesians and the Church
    • 7. A divine and human work: the view of Don Bosco and others
    • Bibliography
  •  VII. South american missions
    • 1. The missionary atmosphere after 1870
    • 2. The savages of Patagonia
    • 3. Salesian missionary strategy
    • 4. Schools, parishes, and care of immigrants
    • 5. The missionary epic: impact on Salesians in Europe Bibliography
  •  VIII. Daughters of Mary help of christians
    • 1. Don Bosco and Sister Clarac
    • 2. Father Pestarino and the Pious Union of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate
    • 3. Their transformation into a religious congregation of nuns
    • 4. Don Bosco’s use of intermediaries in running the congregation
    • 5. Regulating relations between male Salesians and the nuns
    • 6. Don Bosco and the religious formation of the nuns
    • 7. Don Bosco’s nuns vis-a-vis the Holy See Bibliography
  •  IX. The Salesian Cooperators
    • 1. United action: the main objective of Italian Catholics after 1870
    • 2. From the proposal for a Christian Union and Salesian externs to the Union of Salesian Cooperators
    • 3. The ideas in action
    • 4. Later spiritual outlook and approach of Don Bosco
    • Bibliography
  • X. Don Bosco as author and publisher
    • 1. School books
    • 2. Droll tales and dramatic scenarios
    • 3. Hagiographical writings
    • 4. Biographical writings and historically based narratives
    • 5. Works of religious instruction and prayer
    • 6. Writings about the Oratory and Salesian activities
    • 7. Choice of sources
    • 8. Use of sources
    • 9. More personal writings by Don Bosco
    • 10. Borrowed passages or expressions that he made his own
    • 11. His labors as publisher and publicist
    • 12. Motives and incentives behind his writing and publishin
    • Bibliography
    • 1. Don Bosco’s death
    • 2. Don Bosco: a first appraisal
  • Index

Reference time period: 1815 – 1912

P. Stella, Don Bosco: life and work, Tradotto by John Drury from “Don Bosco nella storia della religiosità cattolica” (Vol. I), Salesiana Publishers, New Rochelle, New York 2005. 

Reference institution:
Institute of Salesian Studies
Institute of Salesian Studies

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