The two altars of the Mary Help of Christians basilica

Foto di archivio

At the same time as the consecration of the shrine of Mary Help of Christians there was also that of the high altar, of which the most remarkable detail was to be the altarpiece, painted by the painter Tommaso Lorenzone in 1865. Don Bosco had no financial means available; he also had to think about the maintenance of the Oratory and all his incipient initiatives, so the decoration of the church walls and the making of the liturgical apparatuses were postponed to more propitious times.

It would have to wait a few decades for his successor, Fr Michele Rua, to initiate a renovation of the exterior and interior appearance of the church.

In 1890, Fr Rua entrusted the architect Crescentino Caselli with the design of the new altar; several artists also collaborated in building it.

Then, in 1911, the sanctuary was elevated to the dignity of Basilica Minor, and the Rector Major at the time, Fr Filippo Rinaldi, expressed a desire to enlarge it. However, the idea was abandoned and resumed only in 1934.

Salesian architect Giulio Valotti was commissioned to design the project. He was also asked to design the new high altar that was to enhance the ancient Lorenzone altarpiece.

The most precious colored marbles, supplied by the Remuzzi company of Bergamo, were used.

Some details of the altar

  • The altar is flanked by two pairs of alabaster balusters while the “table” is supported by two Carrara white angels, the work of sculptor Luisoni;
  • Completing the central mirroring is a Last Supper, in bronze;
  • The salients enclosing the altarpiece are adorned with statues of eight saints and four saints who most venerated Our Lady;
  • The two side bands have the monogram of the Virgin in gilded bronze below;
  • Above the two false choruses, the coats of arms of the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians are carved.

Source: The Salesian Bulletin 


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".