The Feast of Don Bosco in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Valdocco, the cradle and spiritual center of the Salesian charism worldwide, began in truth as early as the evening of Monday, January 30, with Mass presided over by the newly appointed auxiliary bishop of Turin, Bishop Alessandro Giraudo, the recitation of Vespers led by the Rector Major, and a prayer vigil on the theme of the Strenna for 2023. On the occasion, in addition to the opportunity to receive spiritual counsel from the many Salesians present, or to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a liturgy of the Word centered on biblical passages in which leaven is mentioned, followed by the reading of excerpts from the Strenna message, in turn interspersed with the Rector Major's video of the Strenna.
The feast day, then, saw the Church of Mary Help of Christians always filled with the faithful, who came from everywhere to pay their respects to the Father and Teacher of Youth and to participate in the many Eucharists scheduled for the day - as many as seven, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. - or in the other spiritual moments planned. The choice of who presided at the Masses was also careful and calculated, aimed at strengthening relationships with the local city community and those involved in youth service.
That's why behind the altar of the Basilica were the Rector of Turin's Principal Marian Shrine, that of the Consolata, Fr. Giacomo Maria Martinacci; the Father General of Cottolonego, Fr. Carmine Arige; then the Superior of the Special Circumscription of Piedmont and the Aosta Valley (ICP), Fr. Leonardo Mancini; and, at the end of the morning, the city's archbishop, Archbishop Roberto Repole, who on the occasion recalled the "Torinese" character of Don Bosco.
The climax of the celebration was obviously reached with the Mass presided by the Rector Major: "In these two years I had never seen the church so full of people: an overflowing presence ofSYM youth, but also of so many faithful," commented Fr. Michele Viviano, since 2021 Rector of the Basilica-Sanctuary of Valdocco.
The celebrations - which had also included in the afternoon the blessing of the boys at the altar of Don Bosco, and a time for adoration and vespers - finally ended with the Eucharist celebrated together with members of the so-called "arsenal of peace" of "Sermig" - the Youth Missionary Service - founded in Turin by Ernesto Olivero, who was also present at the celebration.
It is also worth mentioning that the activities for this year's Feast of Don Bosco had actually already started with a triduum dedicated to getting to know today's Salesian reality, as an expression of Don Bosco's dream that from Turin has become a reality throughout the world. Thus, from Wednesday, January 25, to Friday, January 27, treasuring the presence of the General Council of the Congregation in Turin, Fr. Héctor Gabriel Romero, Regional Councillor for South Cone America, Fr. Alphonse Owoudou, Regional Councillor for Africa-Madagascar, and Fr. Biju Michael, Regional Councillor for South Asia, had the opportunity to represent with words, images and videos the great development of the Salesian Family at the service of the young and needy of all latitudes.
In addition, another highlight of the program carried out for the feast of Don Bosco had taken place in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians on the evening of Saturday, Jan. 28, with the tribute to Don Bosco performed in music by the young people of the "Cavour" High School of Music in Turin. "When he built the Basilica, Don Bosco wanted it very large so that it could hold as many young people as possible. And we tried to honor his will also through this event that filled the church with hundreds of young people, not all of whom were Christians, not all of whom attended... To have brought them to the Basilica was certainly a beautiful gift," Fr. Viviano said in this regard.