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THE ROOMS OF DON BOSCO

Nowadays the CAMERETTE di DON BOSCO,
or Rooms of Don Bosco, are divided into two different floors.

  BRIEF HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

In 1929, the year in which Don Bosco was declared blessed, his successor, Father Rinaldi, decided to transform those rooms used by the Saint into a place of pilgrimage. Restorations were made and the indoor staircase was built. Furniture completed the rooms and the chapel; a museum with documentation and different objects was arranged. Each pilgrim could touch the bed where the Saint passed away and his private desk.
But unfortunately, some things were damaged and other things stolen.

One instance was the famous inscription "da mihi animas, caetera tolle"; therefore it was reproduced thanks to some old photos.

In the 1970's once again the appearance changed: plate glass was placed in front of the furnished rooms, an exhibition room was created with many objects, but without a direct connection. And thus it remained till the year 2000, year of the Great Jubilee.

Since the year 2000, the following is the new composition of the ROOMS OF DON BOSCO. This explanation is provided as a accurate guide which the pilgrim can make on his own or with the help of our escorts.

 
  
 FIRST FLOOR

ROOM 1 / DON BOSCO AND HIS LIFE

There are large pictures of Mamma Margaret, the dream little John had when he was nine, Saint John Bosco, Saint Dominic Savio, and the difference between Valdocco in 1864 (laying of the Basilica's foundation stone) and 2001.

The two plastic models, instead, show the existence of Valdocco in 1846 (when Don Bosco rented the shed attached to the Pinardi house and used it as a chapel) and the development of the complex in the years 1852-1859 (with the construction of other buildings and the Church of Saint Francis De Sales).

In the center of the room, there is a "touch-screen" computer, which can be operated manually with ease. After choosing the language, these will be the aspects that can be looked into:

  *  Spiritual Journey              * The Oratory
   
*  The Educative System    * Don Bosco's Spirituality
   
*  Salesian Holiness            * The Successors of Don Bosco.

ROOM 2 / DON BOSCO IN THE WORLD


Together with photos of the Saint with his boys, at his desk, and with the first Salesian missionaries, there are two plastic models showing the development of Valdocco from 1868 (when the Basilica was completed) till now.
A "touch-screen" computer has the following topics:

            *  Environments of apostolic milieurs
                 
 *  The Salesians in the World
            *  The Salesian Family
            *  Virtual tour of the Rooms,
            *  Virtual visit of the three Churches.


ROOM 3 /
7 MINUTE FILM (450 MB!)

A short film may be seen here; it's an introduction to what may be viewed on the second floor.

Ascending to the second floor, on the walls, two paintings of Crida are displayed:

 *  Don Bosco with Mamma Margaret and the Grey dog
 *  Don Bosco giving the Constitutions to Mother Domenica Mazzarello         (= DMHC Sisters /or FMA / or Salesian Sisters).      

 
 
 
 


     
SECOND FLOOR



  
 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, 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.

  THE CHAPEL




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.)

  THE GALLERY




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.

   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.

ECSTASY ALTAR



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.



         THE ROOMS OF DON BOSCO VISITING HOURS:


     EVERY DAY: 08.30 - 12.00       AFTERNOON: 14.30 - 18.00
      
TEL: 
+39.011.52.24.288  /   FAX: +39.011.52.24.262
                                                    E
-mail : camerette.donbosco@31gennaio.net


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