Joseph Boenzi – “Reconstructing Don Albera’s Reading List” in “Ricerche storiche salesiane”

As Spiritual Director General between 1892 and 1910, Fr Paolo Albera had to guide the initial and ongoing formation of the Salesians. He also did this by preaching retreats and spiritual exercises.

In this ministry he valued the notes he used to take during his readings of a theological and spiritual nature. In the early years of his ministry, Albera read works by classical Italian and French preachers. After a canonical visit to Salesian works in America, he realised that a more solid formation of the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians was needed. So he also tackled contemporary ascetic authors. He read Italian, French and English works that greatly enriched his spiritual and pastoral vision. J. Boenzi, through careful research, reconstructs the vast panorama of authors and titles read and annotated by Albera. He groups them into eight categories:

  • 1) Doctrinal and catechetical studies and lectures;
  • 2) Practical and applied theology;
  • 3) Devotional literature;
  • 4) Retreat literature;
  • 5) Treatises and meditations on the consecrated life;
  • 6) Treatises and lectures on the priesthood;
  • 7) Commentaries and Bible studies;
  • 8) Salesianism. The research highlights the positive influence of this vast literature on Fr Albera’s thought.


  1. One Who Was Well Read
  2. Presentation of the “Fondo” and Documentation
  3. Panorama of “Authors” and “Titles” in D. Albera’s Reading
  4. Doctrinal Studies, Catechisms, Conferences
  5. Practical and Applied Theology
  6. Devotional Literature
  7. Retreat Literature
  8. Treatises and Meditations on Consecrated Life
  9. Treatises and Conferences on Priesthood
  10. Biblical Resources
  11. Salesianity
  12. Conclusion

Reference time period: 1892 – 1910

J. Boenzi, “Reconstructing Don Albera’s Reading List” in «Ricerche storiche salesiane», 33 (2014), 63, 203-272.

Reference institution:
Istituto Storico Salesiano
Istituto Storico Salesiano

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