DON BOSCO’S ROOM AND OFFICE (1853-1861) –
This room built in 1853, initially was ti be used as a bedroom and simultaneously as an office for Don Bosco. We would like to recall the most important events that took place here.
January 26, 1854 –
Don Bosco gathered in this room four young boys Rua, Cagliero, Rocchietti and Artiglia and told them: “ With God’s help, I ask you to form a society with me. We will call ourselves SALESIANS “. Here, was the first time the word “Salesian” was heard (MB 5,9).
October 29, 1854 – Saint Dominic Savio
Into this room, passing from the door that led to the balcony (it was the only entrance door!) came Dominic Savio with his father.
The first thing he saw was the notice: “Da mihi animas coetera tolle”. Don Bosco helped him u understanding that this was the theme of his first mass: “Give me souls, take away the rest”.
Dominic commented seriously: “I understand. Here there is not a trade in money, but in souls. I hope that my soul too, will be part of this trade”.
March 25, 1855 : MICHAEL RUA, the first Salesian
Michael Rua (who had been clergyman for the last three years) kneeled on this floor and, in front of Don Bosco, pronounced the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
He was the first Salesian. Some old tiles of that first floor are preserved in the left hand corner for those entering the room. Here Don Bosco wrote the first rules of the Salesians Family and the lighting that came down the chimney, slamming into his bed and overturning the small table, scorched all of the first manuscript.
In 1861, the building was doubled in size towards the east and Don Bosco’s room was moved in this new part. The first room became the office of his secretary and a waiting room for all those wishing to talk to Don Bosco.
This is the small chapel in which Don Bosco celebrated Mass during the last years of his life. On the altar, is a miniature image of the Virgin Help of Christians, done by Giuseppe Rollini. Don Bosco celebrated his last Mass here on December 11, 1887.
Thereafter, his Salesians were the celebrants, while he remained in bed with the door opened, and he received the Eucharist. In the two display cases there are liturgical vestments, chalices, and the Missal opened to the day of Easter (to remember the first oratory Mass held on April 12, 1846.)
Built for Don Bosco, it was here he walked and heard his boys’confessions. From the big windows he could see the two most important things for him: the boys playing downstairs and the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians.
In the display cases one can see some of the Saint’s clothig: cassocks, overcoat, gloves, a coat. In the interior part of the corridor, there is also a small room with a table used for the reunions of the Superior Chapter.
Still preserved is the chair on which Don Bosco was seated in his liturgical attire, for his boys’ “last respect”.
DON BOSCO’S LAST ROOM
On the bed that can bee seen here below, Don Bosco spent his final days. He was not ill. He died slowly, just like a candle burning till the end. During his last journey to France, made with the aim of finding money for all his works, a famous doctor from Marseilles, Dr Combai, visited him and said:
“You are like a worn-out suit that has been worn during the week and at week-ends. To still keep it, it has to be put away in the wardrobe. You understand that I am advising you to rest completely.” “Thank you doctor” he replied, “but that is the only medicine I cannot take.“ He died at dawn on January 31, 1888. To the Salesians watching over him at his bedside, he murmured his last words: “Love each other as brothers . Do good to everyone, harm no-one… Tell my children that I await them all in heaven”.
The body of Don Bosco was visited by thousands of people, Salesians, nuns, assistants, friends and many faithful living both within Turin and outside. The general sensation was, ‘A saint who loved both God and young people has died”. His funeral was a triumph with an enormous procession of people. In this room, on a small wooden table, Don Bosco wrote his last words on December 19, 1887. He wrote them on the white back of some small pictures – short thoughts to send to benefactors as a mark of recognition. The last five sentences that he wrote, in an almost illegible handwriting were:
“Whoever saves his soul, saves all.” “Whoever loses his soul, loses everything “. “Whoever protects the poor, will be amply rewarded at the divine court “. “What great reward we will have for all the good that we do in our lives!”. “Whoever does good during life, will find goodness in death “. “In heaven you can enjoy eternal happiness”.
DON BOSCO’S SECOND ROOM (1861-1887)
This was Don Bosco’s room between 1861 and 1887. At the desk he wrote more than 20,000 letters and many books, focused on the education of the youth. This was done above all during the night, by the light of just one candle. After the Saint’s death, for the next 22 years, this room was the office and bedroom of Michael Rua, Don Bosco’s first successor.
The glass cupboard displays some of Don Bosco’s belongings: cups, glasses, cutlery, water bottle (perfectly sealed) that was on Don Bosco’s night desk the day he passed away. At the bottom, there is a hazelnut box containing the remaining hazelnuts of the “multiplication” miracle: more than 100 boys were fed from one small bag.