Arthur Lenti – Don Bosco his pope and his bishop. The trials of a founder

This passage discusses three chapters that focus on critical moments in the life of St. John Bosco (also known as “Don Bosco”). The chapters, originally published in the «Journal of Salesians Studies», cover specific periods in Don Bosco’s life and shed light on his interactions with the broader historical and ecclesiastical context.

The first chapter explores “prophetic” letters written by Don Bosco in the early 1870s. These letters reveal his concerns about the political situation in Italy, the plunder of the Church by the secular state, and the challenges faced by Pope Pius IX. The subsequent two chapters delve into the conflict between Don Bosco and his bishop, Archbishop Lorenzo Castaldi of Turin. Castaldi, appointed through Don Bosco’s influence, saw himself as a pastor-reformer bishop, aiming to unite various forces in the diocese for restoration and reform. However, conflicts arose between the two due to differing concepts and methods of apostolate, as well as contrasting views on the bishop’s role and ecclesiology. The Chapter 2 narrates the clash between Archbishop Castaldi and Don Bosco over the approval of the Salesian constitutions and privileges of exemption from episcopal authority. Despite initial disagreements and objections from the Archbishop, the Salesian constitutions were eventually approved in 1874, but tensions persisted. The Chapter 3 details the aftermath of the constitutions’ approval, as the conflict between Don Bosco and Archbishop Castaldi escalated. Unfortunate incidents and defamatory pamphlets further strained their relationship, leading to canonical penalties and legal action. The intervention of Pope Leo XIII in 1882 finally forced a reconciliation between the two figures.


  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Chapter One: Don Bosco’s Political and Religious Concerns in the Times of the Liberal Revolution in Italy. Some significant letters (1858- 1871)
  • Chapter Two: The Bosco-Castaldi conflict – Part I: (1872-1882)
  • Chapter Three: The Bosco-Castaldi conflict – Part II: From the Approval of the Salesian Constitutions in 1874 to the Enforced Reconciliation [Concordia] in 1882
  • Index

Reference time period: 1815 – 1888

A. Lenti, Don Bosco his pope and his bishop. The trials of a founder, LAS, Roma 2006.

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