Arthur Lenti – Don Bosco’s Oratories in 1849-1852. Conflict, Crisis and Resolution

Don Bosco’s Oratory of St. Francis de Sales after much “wandering” found its permanent home at last in 1846, in an isolated house and property located in the district of Valdocco, on the northern fringe of the city of Turin. Once settled in that little house, Don Bosco established there a home to shelter the most destitute among the lads attending the oratory (1847). He called it “the Home attached to the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales.” That same year he opened a second oratory on the opposite side of the city, which was gradually expanding to the south – the Oratory of St. Aloysius. Two years later (1849), Don Bosco opened a third oratory, of the Guardian Angel. It was located in the ill-famed district of Vanchiglia, on the northeastern fringe of the city.

L’Oratorio di S. Francesco di Sales di Don Bosco, dopo tanto “peregrinare”, trovò finalmente la sua sede fissa nel 1846, in una casa isolata e proprietà situata nel quartiere di Valdocco, alla periferia nord della città di Torino. Insediatosi in quella casetta, Don Bosco vi stabilì una casa per ospitare i più indigenti tra i ragazzi che frequentavano l’oratorio (1847). La chiamò “la Casa annessa all’Oratorio di S. Francesco di Sales”. Nello stesso anno aprì un secondo oratorio sul lato opposto della città, che si andava via via ampliando verso sud: l’Oratorio di S. Luigi. Due anni dopo (1849), Don Bosco aprì un terzo oratorio, dell’Angelo Custode. Si trovava nel famigerato quartiere di Vanchiglia, al confine nord-orientale della città.


  • Introduction: Historical Context
  • 1. The Situation of the Oratories in Turin in 1849-1852
  • 2. Don Bosco’s Early Associates and Collaborators in Oratory Work
  • 2.1. Don Bosco’s Letter, February 20, 1850 to the Mendicità Istruita
  • 2.2. Fr. Borel’s “Memoriale dell’Oratorio”
  • 2.3. Don Bosco’s Cenni Storici (Historical Outlines) of 1862
  • 2.4. Don Bosco’s Article in the Bolletino Salesiano, September 1877, on the Early Salesian Cooperators
  • 2.5. Comment
  • 3. Critical Phase in the Oratory Movement in Turin and Don Bosco’s Emergence (1849-1852)
  • 3.1. Issues and Ideological Diversity among Oratory Workers
  • 4. Crisis at the Oratory of St. Aloysius with Fr. Pietro Ponte
  • 4.1. Directors at the Oratory of Saint Aloysius: Fr. Carpano and Successors
  • 4.2. Crisis at the Oratory of St. Aloysius
  • 4.3. Comment
  • 5. Crisis at the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales and the Challenge to Don Bosco
    5.1. Introduction: Archival Source and Nature of the Crisis
  • 5.2. Brosio’s First Report: Efforts to Entice Personnel away from the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales
  • 5.3 Brosio’s Second Report: The “Outrage” of Don Bosco’s Lottery Circular
  • (5.3.1) The Lottery and the Circular
  • (5.3.2) Meeting Called to Accuse Don Bosco
  • (5.3.3) A Confrontation at the Oratory
  • (5.3.4) Dénouement
  • 6. Don Bosco and His Oratories Gain Preeminence
  • 7. Closing Comment: Characteristics of Don Bosco’s Oratories

Reference time period: 1849 – 1852

A. Lenti, Don Bosco’s Oratories in 1849-1852. Conflict, Crisis and Resolution, in «Journal of Salesian Studies» 14 (2006), 1-48.

Reference institution:
Institute of Salesian Studies
Institute of Salesian Studies

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