France - In Nice, about 100 young people rediscover the footsteps of Don Bosco

07 March 2018

(ANS - Nizza) - It was in Nice that Don Bosco inaugurated his first center outside Italy and where he spoke about the Preventive System for the first time. 140 years later, it is in Nice that children and young people representing eight French Salesian houses have rediscovered the Salesian history of the city and experienced Salesian pedagogy firsthand. Through a great game.

A cross-town treasure hunt. With a tablet at their disposal plus map, clues, a list of people to meet and interview, the participants moved throughout the city on foot or by public transport, with stops at especially symbolic locations.

First they gathered at the Marble Cross on Rue de France where in May 1874 the first union of apprentices was established; then at the Episcopal House, at Palais Sarde (or Palais de la Prefecture), then in Place Garibaldi, to finally reach Place Don Bosco (formerly Place des Armes) where Don Bosco founded his center by buying Villa Gauthier in 1876. What was the building at the time, initially called "Patronage Saint Pierre"? At the time it had only 9 students - 6 Algerians and 3 locals from Nice; today it has become the "Don Bosco" Institute of Nice and forms 1603 students.

The participants in the treasure hunt were guided in their journey by four “characters” that Don Bosco himself met in Nice: Ernest Michel, a prominent city figure and President of the Conference of St. Vincent de Paul; Msgr. Sola, bishop of Nice; Albert Decrais, Prefect of the Maritime Alps; and Fr Louis Cartier, Director of the center from 1887 to 1919.

These illustrious personalities told students about their special relationship with Don Bosco and took turns asking young people how they lived the Preventive System today in modern times. At that time, these historical figures encouraged Don Bosco to create a center for young people in Nice, especially for apprentices, and to replace the then existing re-education houses into a home led by his Salesians.

After the game, the children were invited to offer a summary of the Preventive System for the 21st century, thanks to what they live and experience in their own institutes and thanks, also, to the answers of the characters on the issues of trust, hope, reason, and education.

"And now, let's walk with confidence, towards tomorrow." This is how Fr Jean-Marie Petitclerc, SDB, concluded this meeting for the 140th anniversary of the Preventive System.


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.

This site also uses third-party cookies to improve user experience and for statistical purposes. By scrolling through this page or by clicking on any of its elements, you consent to the use of cookies. To learn more or to opt out, click "Further Information".