This site houses my creative summary on the second of the 19-volume Biographical Memoirs.

Biographical Memoirs is the biography of St. John Bosco.

Thanks for dropping by.

-Novice Donnie

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

First Christmas at Valdocco

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Don Bosco had taught his choir members among the Oratory boys several hymns which he himself had composed in honor of the Child Jesus.

To make the atmosphere of Christmas felt, he decorated the small chapel as best as he could and even invited several hundred people.

After a few hours of sleep, he was back in the church, waiting for the larger crowd of boys that failed to attend the midnight Mass.

The Christmas season was celebrated this way for many years until Don Bosco had other priests to help him.

The Mulberry Tree

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A huge mulberry tree stood in front of the entrance of the Pinardi property. It stood exactly on the place where the apse of the Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians now stands.

He used to call this tree "a tree of life," because of an incident in the past which could be read below.

There was a boy who used t attend the Oratory of Don Bosco. However, his exacting father disliked the idea of his son going to the church. He forbade him. However, the boy defied the order of his father because the Oratory became his refuge. He could play there, he could see his friends there and the Oratory taught him valuable catechism lessons.

One night, the boy was supposed to go to Don Bosco's house. His parents followed him. And since the doors of the Oratory were closed, the boy seeing his parents behind, thought of climbing the mulberry tree to get rid of them.

His parents knocked at the Oratory and demanded to surrender to them their son. Don Bosco gently but firmly told them that their kid was not there.

When they left, Don Bosco immediately climbed up the tree and found the boy shivering because of the freezing weather.

Enriching Mind and Heart

Don Bosco himself taught catechism in various schools in town on weekdays. Soon, he had an idea to tap older boys to teach catechism on Sundays and holy days.
Don Bosco started to organize classes whose progress so far had been hampered by the nomadic life of the oratory. And his own long illness. Because of lack of space, one class was taught in the kitchen and another in Don Bosco's own room. Another was held in the sacristy while still another met behind the main altar and several in the chapel itself.
When space became more suitable (Pancrazio Soave vacated some of the rooms at the ground floor as per their agreement) Don Bosco grouped the students according to their intellectual ability.
The Sunday classes were helpful to all, but insufficient, because during the week, many slow learners forgot what they had learned the past Sunday. To avoid this, Don Bosco encouraged them to attend the weekday evening class.

A Noble Gesture

Since ordination, Don Bosco had helped to introduce into several religious institutions in Turin the practice of reciting certain prayers in honor of God's mercy.

As before, Don Bosco published a booklet on Divine Mercy. This was to supplement the devotion being propagated by Marchioness Barolo on God's mercy.

He did shoulder the cost without even asking the marchioness for reimbursement. This was despite the insistence of Barolo to not ask for Don Bosco's help due to her insistence that he should let go of his ministry to his boys and concentrate only on her orphanage.

Out of respect to the sensibilities of the marchioness, Don Bosco did not put his name on it. She read and praised the book, but never did she permit anyone to say in her presence that it had been written by Don Bosco.

The Pinardi House

What follows is the topographical description of the Oratory of St. Francis of Sales in its early days.

The front of the house faced south and was the only side to have doors or windows. The living quarters comprised an are on the second floor, which had a very low ceiling. The total height of the house was slightly over twenty feet.

In the front, approximately in the center, where the stairway was located, there was a narrow entrance and to its right, if one were facing the building, a pump which provided plenty of pure ice cold water.

Behind this building, forming one with it of the same length and breadth, on the spot where the superiors' dining room now stands, was the shed which had been converted into a chapel.

Behind the single altar adorned with a picture of the Blessed Mother, was a fair-sized room which did duty at first as sacristy.

To complete our picture, we must add that the greater part of the property was located in front of the house. Don Bosco had the whole area from the building, where the pump was, to the west wall cleared and leveled to provide a playground for the boys.

Stark Poverty and Unbounded Trust

Don Bosco and Mama Margaret left Becchi on foot since they did not have the money for transportation. Along the way, they met Fr. John Vola, also a kind priest from Turin.

Fr. Vola was obviously glad because of his quick recovery. He remarked that the two looked tired and both covered with dust. Don Bosco told him that they did not have money.

Fr. Vola’s compassion was awaken upon hearing this. He got something from his pocket and found a wrist watch which he gave to Don Bosco. He told them to sell it and buy whatever they need.

Don Bosco thanked him and turned to his mother “What better proof could we have that Divine Providence is looking after us! So, let us confidently continue our way.”

An Immeasurable Sacrifice

The prolonged rest and the affection of his loved ones had completely restored his health.

Don Bosco realized the need of getting somebody to do the housekeeping. And because of the nearby tavern, the Albereo Della Giardiniera, the housekeeper may be exposed to some moral dangers. This thought perplexed him. But it did not take long before he found the right person: Margaret Bosco, his very own mother.

Mamma Margaret was an excellent housewife, skilled in running a household, she was strong enough to assume the domestic responsibilities for which don Bosco did not have time.

She was rather surprised when her son offered her the post. But she remarked "My dear son, you have no idea how sorry I am to leave this house, your brother, and everyone else whom I hold so dear, but if you think that this would please the Lord, then I am ready to go."

Convalescence at Becchi

The illness which nearly brought Don Bosco to his grave took place at beginning of July. His doctor had not permitted him to leave his room until the end of the month, Don Bosco decided to go to Becchi to spend some time for a respite.

The Oratory was not left without a director, however, for as soon as Don Bosco first became ill. Fr. Borel took charge.