Exibition Room – Chapel
THE EXHIBITION ROOM
- The first section presents three paintings of Don Bosco and nine photos (taken between 1861 and 1888).
- The second, instead, is focused on his great writing activity. In the display case one can see copies and originals of the Saint’s books, each of them composed with the intention of spreading the Gospel to everyone.
- In the third is to be seen one of the very first labour contracts of history, dated 1852. It is signed by four people: the employer, the boy, the boy’s father and Don Bosco himself. This is an example of Don Bosco’s concern in the field of sociology.
- The fourth is centered on structures. Therefore it presents plans of the Pinardi House, Saint Francis and the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians.
- To be noted a model made by Rollini for the cupola of the Basilica: shown are the Salesian missioners in Patagonia and the intercession of the Virgin Help of Christians in two of history’s greatest battles (Lepanto 1517 and Vienna 1683). This was at Father’s Rua’s recommendation.
- The fifth section is characterized by the presence of statues of Our Lady of Consulation and St. Francis of Sales; a painting of this Saint from whom the Congregation took its name; a preliminary sketch made by Lorenzone for the Basilica’s main altar which Don Bosco requested be carried to completion.
- The sixth segment has been fashioned to preserve the dalmatic used for Don Bosco’s beatification in 1929. It testifies to the patient work of the Daughters of Mary Help of Chrstians. The gilded wood urn used both for the beatification and the canonization (1934) is now at Colle Don Bosco. Here we have, at least, a very good duplicate.
The last area acquaints us with highly symbolical objects, reminding us of cornerstones of Salesian pedagogy:
- a wardrobe altar (importance of the Eucharist),
- the pulpit of the Church of St. Francis (spreading the Good News),
- the confessional (the confession is “the key to the kingdom of Heaven”), and
- the Goodnight stand from which a message given by Don Bosco as a sort of adieu with pieces of advice for the following day, a tradition still existing nowadays in Salesian houses scattered around the world.
This is not its original collocation, as it used to be in Don Bosco’s bedroom. When he did not feel too good to go down and say mass in the Basilica, he celebrated on this small altar, which can also be closed like a wardrobe.
In the month of December 1878, he was celebrating mass at this altar helped by two boys, Evasio Garrone and Giovanni Franchini (both Salesian priests years later). At the Elevation, they saw Don Bosco’s face illuminated while his feet left the predella and he rose up into the air. While Don Bosco was having a cup of coffee after the mass, Garrone summoned all his courage and asked:
“Don Bosco, what happened to you this morning? You became taller and taller…” Don Bosco looked at him smiling and said: “Come on, you have a cup of coffee as well”. This was how great things happened in the house of Don Bosco, in the greatest simplicity.
THE CURRENT CHAPEL ATTACHED TO THE ROOMS
In the past this space was used as a dormitory for the boys who slept here at Valdocco. According to some sources Dominic Savio also would have slept here. The painting was by Giuseppe Rollini: Don Bosco kneeling in front of a statue of the Virgin Help of Christians and in the background, in black and white, Pope Pius IX granting the approved Salesian Constitutions. On the side walls are pictures of people who had contacts with Don Bosco:
- Mamma Margaret: This is the only firsthanfìd painting we have of Don Bosco’s venerable mother;
- Mother Mazzarello: cofounder of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians;
- Blessed Philip Rinaldi and * Michael Rua: the third and first successors of Don Bosco;
- Francesco Besucco: one of the first boys of the Oratory;
- Marianna Rua: Michael’s mother, who was a major help to Don Bosco after Mamma Margaret’s death;
- Father Borel: one of the first teachers top assist Don Bosco.
Giuseppe Rollini: the principal artist of the Basilica.