Spain – Carlo Gastini, the poet of Valdocco (1833-1902)

05 July 2021

(ANS - Madrid) - When we talk about the foundation of the Past Pupils of Don Bosco there is a figure of undoubted importance that deserves to be duly known and studied: Carlo Gastini, one of the first young people raised in Valdocco by the Saint of Youth. Due to the recent 150th anniversary of the symbolic birth of the Past Pupils (1870-2020), a biography has been produced. The text, published in Spanish, is entitled: "Carlo Gastini - El poeta de Valdocco".

With this text, published by the Salesian Central Catequística Salesiana (CCS) and produced by Sergio Rodríguez Lopez-Ros, World Councilor of the Confederation of Past Pupils of Don Bosco, the largest group of the Salesian Family receives a long-awaited biography of this central figure of its history - the one who on June 24, 1870, together with other grateful young people, gave Don Bosco a set of coffee cups, as thanks for the education they had received.

But Carlo Gastini was much more than the main actor of this episode: he was in fact among the first boys of the Valdocco Oratory, where he arrived in 1847, and where he remained until the end of his life, in 1902. He is truly an attractive and interesting figure of that period in which the Salesian Congregation was taking its first steps and bears witness to the contribution offered by thousands of lay people to Don Bosco's charism and mission for young people in difficulty. Thanks to this research, Gastini can now be known as a family man, workshop master, professional bookbinder, actor and poet with a great passion for art and literature.

Just to mention a few basic passages from his life:

-       1833 - Carlo was born on 23 January in Turin and was baptized in the parish of San Dalmazzo.

-       1847 - Carlo's father, Antonio, and later his mother, Maria, die. Carlo, an apprentice in a barber's shop, meets Don Bosco and enters the festive Oratory and, after the death of his mother, becomes an oratorian residing in Valdocco.

-       1848 – he personally experiences a miracle of Don Bosco.

-       1849 - together with Felice Reviglio, he offers Don Bosco 2 silver hearts for his birthday.

-       1851 – he receives the cassock from Don Bosco in the Pinardi chapel.

-       1851 - Don Bosco entrusted him with theater animation.

-       1852 – he leaves the novitiate (due to a canonical obstacle: stuttering).

-       1854 – he starts working in the Valdocco bookbindery.

-       1856 – he finds an external job and gets married with Giuseppa Lora. The marriage is officiated by Don Bosco.

-       1861 - he returns to the Oratory and becomes master of bookbinding.

-       1870 – he brings together the Past Pupils to celebrate the feast of Don Bosco (the name day, June 24).

-       1874 - Don Bosco organizes another annual meeting for the Past Pupils, with Mass and lunch.

-       1876 - Carlo's wife dies at 36. He remains with his 13-year-old daughter.

-       1876 - Gastini's first official attestation as "President of the Past Pupils".

-       1877 - He utters his famous saying: “Here we are all of Don Bosco”.

-       1877 - First news of a Commission of Past Pupils leading the Association.

-       1878 - Don Bosco indicates a mission for this Association.

-       1879 - For the first time, the "Past Pupils of the Oratory" are mentioned in the Salesian Bulletin.

-       1888 - His nephew Vincenzo Gastini built the first tomb of Don Bosco in Valsalice.

-       1891 - The Association also opens to "external Past Pupils" (Past Pupils Union of Valdocco).

-       1897 - Gastini retires at 64.

-       1902 - Gastini dies on January 28th.

It is estimated that around 50 million people around the world have received or been influenced in different ways by Don Bosco's educational style in thousands of Salesian environments, and the World Confederation of Don Bosco's Past Pupils has more than 100,000 active members. This 150-page biography on Carlo Gastini will certainly be able to strengthen their identity and deepen their roots and for this reason it is hoped that in the future it will be translated into all the main languages spoken by the Past Pupils scattered in more than 130 countries around the world.

Source: AustraLasia


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