RMG – The Strenne of the Salesian Rectors Major: a journey through time

12 December 2023

(ANS – Rome) – The tradition of the Strenne (strenna in the plural) of the Rectors Major of the Salesian Congregation are a particular aspect of Don Bosco’s legacy. This long-standing gesture of care and attention of a Father towards his spiritual sons and daughters has evolved over the decades, being enriched with tools and means to better spread the meaning of its message, but it has kept intact its original value: that of an annual ritual that unites the entire Salesian Family and projects  its priorities for the evangelisation and education of the young into the future.

The term “strenna” immediately refers to the element of gift, and in the Italian linguistic tradition from which it came, it is properly associated with Christmas gifts. In the Piedmontese context in which Don Bosco grew up, it was more the case of a tradition of the New Year's gift that the head of the family gave to his children and the proprietor to his employees. January 1st was known precisely as “the day of the strenna”. Thus, in the Salesian context, the Strenna has become a symbolic and significant gift offered by the Rector Major to all the members of the Congregation – and more generally, to those who share the Salesian mission in the world – which is offered at Christmas time, between Christmas and New Year, to inspire the pastoral care for the following year.

From the early days of the Congregation, Don Bosco understood the importance of encouraging and motivating his collaborators through gestures of affection and attention; but it was never just a way of expressing gratitude, but rather a means of renewing commitment to the mission.

Over time, the Strenne have undergone significant evolution. From the first thoughts communicated orally by Don Bosco, we have moved on to the written media, then to graphically presented ones through posters, and more recently also to audiovisual ones, with complex and developed scripts that serve to transmit the same message elaborated in full and detailed form in the evergreen form of the text in an immediate and captivating format.

In recent decades, the Rectors Major have chosen specific themes for their Strenne, transforming them into real declarations of intent for the Salesian community and for the whole world. These themes address topical spiritual, Salesian, church, and social issues, offering a valuable guide to address the challenges of the present and the future.

In this way, the Strenna tradition continues to be a beacon of hope and guidance for all who identify with Don Bosco’s vision.

In view of the presentation and delivery of the Rector Major's Strenna for 2024, the last of Fr Ángel Fernández Artime’s term of office, we would like to retrace the path of the Strenna messages through the years, starting with Don Bosco and then continuing with his other Successors at the head of the Congregation.

We will use the valuable book by Salesian Fr Santo Russo La strenna di Don Bosco e dei suoi Successori (Messina, 2015, Nicolò Edizioni) to develop a way of listing the messages of the Rectors Major over time and trying to identify their sensitivity and particular attention.

It will be a way to rediscover the value, merit and effectiveness of the Strenne and to celebrate Don Bosco and all his Successors.


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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