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Remembering Saint John Bosco on the bicentenary of his birth

2015-08-16

Saint John Bosco, who is best known as Don Bosco, was born 200 years ago. The Italian saint's influence on education and charity is still felt throughout the world.

Don Bosco was born in Turin on August 16, 1815. At 25, he was ordained a priest. He immediately devoted himself to helping young people who hadn't benefited from the Industrial Revolution.

Education was the key to alleviating their poverty and hopelessness, he believed. The saint spent his days visiting prisons and on the streets with young people, working with them to better their lives. In 1864, he founded the Salesian Order.

Although he died in 1888, the Salesians of Don Bosco have grown since. Today, they have a presence in 132 countries, where they continue to turn despair into hope and ignorance into knowledge.

Don Bosco was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929 and was canonized by the same pontiff just under five years later.

The saint's legacy is prevalent in other ways too. One of the most unique pavilions at this year's Expo Milan is "Casa Don Bosco.” It's the only pavilion dedicated to a religious order.

FR. CLAUDIO BELFIORE
Delegate of the Rector Major to Expo 2015
"It is a very simple experience. The person enters, feels welcome, delves into something, learns something about Don Bosco and then can continue visiting the Expo.”

And in his hometown of Turin, the Holy Shroud was displayed from April to June to honor his bicentenary. Even Pope Francis prayed before it to mark the anniversary.

FR. ROBERTO GOTTARDO
Diocesan Commission of the Holy Shroud
"So many people have asked themselves, how is it that the Holy Shroud of Turin, will be on display again so soon, just five years after the first public exhibit? Well, we could say Don Bosco was able to make it happen.”

The celebrations of Don Bosco's life and legacy aren't limited to Italy. Salesians all over the world are holding special events to honor and remember the founder of their order.


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