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Finally on 9th June, 1868, the solemn consecration took place. These were intensely moving moments for everybody, especially for Don Bosco.
The dream had come true. The "marvellous high church" stood before the eyes of all, risen as if by a miracle.
Don Bosco took no credit, saying:
"I am not responsible for the great things that you can see, It is the Lord and the Most Holy Mary who have deigned to help a poor priest carry out this work. I have contributed nothing.
With the sanctuary built, Don Bosco increased his work in spreading devotion to the Madonna Ausiliatrice throughout the world, with the title of Help of Christians.
The painting was conceived by Don Bosco who spoke of it to the painter Lorenzone as a spectacle already seen.
"The Most Holy Mary in high among the choruses of angels. Then the choruses of prophets, virgins and confessors.
On the ground, the emblems of Mary's great victories and the peoples of the world raising their hands towards her asking for help".
The painter made him see that painting such a picture would need a square and a church as large as Piazza Castello to house it. Don Bosco resigned himself to reducing the scale of his project.
Lorenzone hired the highest hall in Palazzo Madama and started work. After three years, the great painting was hung in its place. Don Bosco described it thus:
"The Virgin standing out in a sea of light and majesty, surrounded by a horde of angels paying homage as if to their queen. With her right hand, she holds the sceptre, the symbol of her power, and with the left, the child with its arms open wide, offering its grace and mercy to those appealing to the majesty of his mother.
Around and below them are the Apostles and the Evangelists in a state of sweet ecstasy, almost exclaiming: 'Regina Apostolorum, ora pro nobis', they contemplate the Holy Virgin in amazement.
At the bottom of the picture, there is the city of Turin with the sanctuary of Valdocco in close up and with Superga in the background. The picture's greatest value is the religious ideal that makes a pious impression on whoever admires it".
According to Don Bosco's description, the painting is an effective portrayal of the title: "Mary, Mother of the Church", and a great page in Marian catechesis.
Mary, being Mother of the Son of God, is the Queen of Heaven and earth - the whole Church, represented by the Apostles and saints, acclaims her Mother and powerful Help of Christians.
In 1862, Don Bosco said to Fr. Cagliero:
"Our Lady wants us to honour her with the title of Mary Help of Christians. The times are so sad that we need the Holy Virgin to help us preserve and defend the Christian faith".
The title itself was not new to the Church. Since 1500 it was present among the Loreto litanies; devotion to Mary Help of Christians was already known during the period of St Pius V.
Since 1684, there was a sort of archconfraternity of Mary Help of Christians in Munich in Bavaria. Pope Pius VII, initiated the celebration of Mary Help of Christians, fixing the date as 24th May, the day of his return to Rome after liberation from Napoleonic imprisonment in 1814. In 1868, Don Bosco wrote:
In 1934 (the same year as Don Bosco's canonisation) work began on enlarging and embellishing the Shrine.
** This was needed on account of the increased population in the Valdocco area of Turin (pastoral and civic needs),
** the lack of sufficient exits from the Church when many of the faithful took part in major celebrations (safety reasons),
** and there was a desire to provide a worthy altar to Don Bosco, who had been declared a Saint by Pope Pious XI (the spiritual and Salesian reason).
of the Shrine was designed and executed by the architects Mario
Ceradini and the Salesian Brother Giulio Valotti.
* * The new high and beautiful altar to St John Bosco
The two galleries are linked by a corridor with some small altars dedicated to the Crucified Christ and various saints (St Joseph Cottolengo, St Joseph Cafasso, who was Don Bosco's spiritual director, St Pius V ). Decoration of the whole Church was entrusted to the artist Cussetti.
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