Italy - "Salesian pantheon" in Mary Help of Christians Basilica open to public

19 December 2017

(ANS - Turin) – Of late, the crypt of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin has become the shrine and burial site of the most important figures of the Congregation's history. Starting Sunday, December 17, the "Salesian pantheon" has opened to the public to foster the memory and prayer for the past Rector Majors who continued the dream of Don Bosco with fidelity and commitment.

For months the Chapel of Relics had remained closed to the public and to the faithful due to, according to a simple sign, a generic "restoration work." Now, with the transport of the last missing Rector Major, at the end of a long and complex series of bureaucratic practices, the much-wanted operation of the 28th Salesian General Chapter of the Congregation, has come to its conclusion.

"For the Salesians, the Rector Major is the center of unity of and for the entire Salesian Family," adds Fr Cristian Besso, Director of the Basilica. "His is a charismatic function of communion; with this new environment, we do not want to create a cult towards any one single person. This site is a dear place, much sought for a desire of unity of the great Salesian Family present throughout the world."

Two of the Rector Majors, Michele Rua and Filippo Rinaldi, are buried on each side of the altar. Their special position is due to their both being blessed, unlike the three saints - John Bosco, Dominic Savio and Maria Mazzarello - who are buried in the basilica, upstairs.

The new tomb complex is a bright and warm space where three types of marble were used: the predominantly white Carrara marble; the gray Carnico for the entrance and the perimeter; the decorative inserts are in Levanto red marble. All the material was carefully chosen in relation with that used in the upper part of the basilica. At the center is a niche where there is a crucifix, "a work of the early twentieth century that comes from the sacristy of the basilica," explains Fr Besso.
The inscriptions on marble are very simple. To commemorate the six gathered Rector Majors, there are, on the side, as many medallions by the Turin artist Gabriele Garbolino Rù. These are bronze bas-reliefs that closely resemble the faces of the six Rector Majors.

The Chapel of the Relics and the new tomb complex of the Rectors Majors are open to the public every day from 3 PM to 6 PM.



ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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