The relics of Don Bosco arrived in Britain last Friday, fulfilling the saint’s wish to visit the country.
John Bosco, who founded the Salesian order, felt a calling early in
life to visit England, but was too busy helping children in his native
Towards the end of his life the Archbishop of Glasgow invited
him to visit but he was unable to.
But on Friday January 4 the
relics of the patron saint of young people, who was canonised by Pius XI
in 1934, arrived in Scotland at the start of a two-week tour of Britain, part of a worldwide tour that began in 2009.
Robert Gardiner of the Salesian Office of Social Media and
Communications said Don Bosco was very interested in visiting a country
that was in the full swing of industrial revolution.
He said: “He
believed that God was calling him to come to Britain. I think that one
reason is that industrial Turin was not a million miles from industrial
Britain, there were young people on the streets being abused by
employers, and he was keen on evangelisation.”
Raised in poverty
outside Turin, Don Bosco dedicated his life to helping young people,
many of whom had been left homeless, impoverished and cut off from their
faith by the rapid advance of industrialisation in northern Italy. He
established the Oratory of St Francis de Sales, helping young people to
find jobs and learn about their faith.
Fr Gardiner said: “They had
no links with their parish, by and large, so the Oratory he set up was
their parish. He believed in a down-to-earth spirituality. We would sum
it up as doing the ordinary things and doing them extraordinarily well.
For those looking for work Dom Bosco was doing the role of the trade
union. He was drafting up the work contract with employers. He took care
of young people, their education, spiritual life and employment. And he
set up employment, tailoring, book pressing, work he had learned
His relics will visit eight towns and cities across
Britain in 12 days, arriving at Glasgow and finishing their British leg
at Suffolk Cathedral on January 14 and 15.
The relics will also
visit Carfin, the national Marian shrine in Scotland, and Liverpool,
Birmingham, Cardiff, Westminster and Southwark.