Italy – Rector Major at Feast of Mary Help of Christians: "Mary Help of Christians is the mother of each of you"

25 May 2023

(ANS - Turin) - A popular feast, in all senses: popular, because it was participated by all the people; because it was felt and lived with true transport; because it expressed a simple and genuine faith. This was the Feast of Mary Help of Christians 2023 in Valdocco, the epicenter of the Salesian charism and forge of devotion to Mary under the title of Help of Christians.

The entire day of May 24 passed in an atmosphere of visible fervor: groups of pilgrims, religious, devotees of all nationalities, ages, and skin colors... crowded the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, as well as the various courtyards and environments of Valdocco, to take part in the many planned celebrations and activities.

The most globally anticipated celebrations were concentrated in the afternoon and evening.

The Rector Major, Father Ángel Fernández Artime, presided over the solemn concelebration of the Eucharist at 6:30 p.m. (UTC+2) "in the house that Our Lady herself built," as he said in the opening of his homily, quoting Don Bosco.

In front of an assembly representing all the geographical and religious nuances of the great Salesian Family, and a great many young people, the Rector Major retraced the historical origins of the title Mary Help of Christians and then centered his reflection on what Mary Help of Christians meant to Don Bosco.

 He recalled again Don Bosco's words, "Our Lady wants us to honor Her under the title of Mary Help of Christians," addressed in 1862 to the first group of Salesians who had started the Congregation just three years before; and he emphasized the infinite trust in the intercession of Mary Help of Christians that the Saint of Youth had when just the following year he began work on the church dedicated to Her, while he already had enormous difficulties in feeding the 536 boys who attended the first Oratory.

"This is the impressive and beautiful reality that one has when God is behind the heart of a man and when then Our Lady continues to inspire him," commented the Rector Major. He, in fact, "in Mary Help of Christians Don Bosco could recognize the lady he saw in his 9-year-old dream, and She will always be his inspiration and teacher," he added further.

Fr. Á.F. Artime also highlighted how Don Bosco's devotion to Mary Help of Christians was also interwoven with his desire that each young person in the oratory - many of whom were orphans or grew up in difficult conditions - could experience the embrace and warmth of a mother. Therefore, he made current Don Bosco's confidence to the times and people who share Don Bosco's mission today, stating, "Mary Help of Christians is the mother for each of you."

In conclusion, he exhorted everyone to "open their hearts" to profoundly perceive the maternal accompaniment of Mary Help of Christians in the challenges of everyday life, and to have the zeal of Don Bosco in witnessing her love to the world.

At the end of the Mass, despite the rain, a multitude of the faithful took part in a procession to accompany the statue of Our Lady - duly protected from the water - through the streets of the city. Parading along with Her were the countless banners and banners of student groups, youth movements, and associations, alumni unions... eager to manifest their presence.

Cadenced by the recitation of the Rosary and songs offered by the choir, the procession then returned to the basilica's parvis, where the Archbishop of Turin, Msgr. Roberto Repole, concluded the day of Marian celebration with a brief but meaningful message to the citizenry: "It is very beautiful, this feast of Mary Help of Christians, who through Don Bosco and the Salesian Family has become the patroness of this city: because it says something about who we are: not self-made women and men, but people who need care, always, at all times... It would be nice to return to our homes this evening and see more, in a more intense, authentic, true and profound way, the need for care of those close to us."

Broadcasts of the Mass presided over by the Rector Major and the Procession remain available on the ANS Facebook page.


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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