Italy – Sacred Heart Feast Day in Sacred Heart Basilica built by Don Bosco

14 June 2021

(ANS - Rome) - The basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Rome is an oasis of peace to pray, enjoy the sacrament of forgiveness and the Eucharist for many people, also due to its location, adjacent to the city's central train station. The church has always been entrusted to the Salesians, as it was built by Don Bosco himself on the mandate of Pope Leo XIII. On the sidelines of last Friday's patronal feast, with the Mass presided by the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, we asked Fr Javier Ortiz, from the community that animates the parish, and Fr Guido Novella, parish priest, to comment on the celebrations and on the meaning of this Salesian presence in the heart of the city.

Fr Javier, what activities were carried out for the Feast this year?

To motivate people to come together, meet the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the days preceding the feast we provided for prayer to the Sacred Heart at the end of each Mass; then there was the novena led by the members of the Association of Mary Help of Christians (ADMA) and the preparation of people who wanted to consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart.

What struck you most about the Rector Major's homily?

The memory of all the efforts of Don Bosco to build this beautiful basilica, out of love and devotion to the Sacred Heart, to fulfill the Pope's wish, and to establish a home for the poorest children in Rome.

Was this year's celebration different from previous years?

Last year there were fewer people due to the lockdown. This year the feelings and religious convictions of our people have re-awakened. People still crave the procession through the streets of the parish as they did before the pandemic. We hope to be able to do it, God willing, next year.

Fr Guido, what does the feast of the Sacred Heart mean for a Salesian?

It means rediscovering the sources of God's love above all by rediscovering the riches of God's love in St. Francis de Sales. It invites us to be an image of welcoming, cordial, smiling tenderness, of the presence of Jesus, friend and merciful.

And what does it mean to be parish priest of a basilica built by Don Bosco himself?

It takes on a particular meaning. This is one of the most significant places in the Salesian “Holy Land”: Colle Don Bosco, where Don Bosco was born; Valdocco, in Turin, where Don Bosco began his Work; and here in Rome, the seat of Peter, where Don Bosco ideally concluded and understood his entire vocation and mission in favor of the young: “In due time you will understand everything,” Our Lady told him in his dream as a nine-year-old.

Let's not forget that Don Bosco accepted the commission to build the Basilica asking the Pope for some land for his children. For this, let us invoke the Lord so that the parish takes on an ever more youthful and joyful character and let us pray for the young people of the world, a true "Salesian Holy Land", so that they can taste and live the love of Jesus who wants a joyful and full life for all.

Photos of the ceremony available on ANSFlickr


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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