Argentina – Found: drafts of lost volume of "Biographical Memories of Don Giovanni Bosco", work by Fr Ceria

05 December 2018

(ANS - Fortin Mercedes) - "Narrating Don Bosco's life and giving an account of his genius is not an easy task," wrote Fr Arthur Lenti, SDB. "The Biographical Memories remain an inexhaustible mine of information." For the Salesians the Biographical Memories (MB) are almost relics, but the drafts of the XVII volume were no longer present in the Salesian Central Archives. For many years it was thought that they had been lost, but these days they have returned intact to the Salesian Central Archives.

The MB are for Salesians a fundamental source of Don Bosco: in those manuscripts it is possible to find his words, his writings, his documents. Undoubtedly the drafts elaborated by great writers like Fr Eugenio Ceria, SDB, assume the authoritativeness of the master works, to be studied still today.

And how were these original documents found? This is what Fr Natale Vitali, Councilor for the South America South Cone Region, tells us: "During the Extraordinary Visitation of the Southern Province of Argentina I reached the house of Fortín Mercedes, where Fr Juan Vecchi, VIII Successor of Don Bosco, worked for many years. The house has a Sanctuary dedicated to Mary Help of Christians where the remains of Blessed Ceferino Namuncurá rested for many years. This house had a school, a retreat house and a museum. Today it is a Salesian house without the presence of a religious community."

And during the visit to the house's library, the find: the hidden treasure, i.e., volume XVII of Biographical Memories, edited by Fr Ceria. These are two notebooks that the author had donated to Fr Giuseppe Parolini, SDB, born in Lanzada, province of Sondrio, Italy, in 1905 and an Italian missionary in Patagonia. On the first page it is still possible to read a handwritten dedication of the same Fr Ceria: "To Fr Parolini: when I die, pray for me."

"After consulting Fr Francesco Motto, of the Salesian Historical Institute," continues Fr Vitali, "I learned that these were the originals missing from the Salesian Central Archives in Rome. The Bahia Blanca archive made a copy of it and I brought the two notebooks with me when I returned to Rome."

On the death of the author of the first ten volumes of the MB, Fr Giovanni Battista Lemoyne, SDB, the Rector Major of the time, the Blessed Filippo Rinaldi, decided to continue the historical-chronological work to Fr Ceria; a writer "with a fresh and readable style" comments Fr Lenti.


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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