Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pilgrimage to Turin, Rome and Assisi: Days 1 and 2

Greetings from Turin, Italy!  I am currently finishing day 2 of my pilgrimage to Turin, Rome and Assisi and have had a full day.  Fr. Steve Shafran and I arrived yesterday morning to Rome and flew to Turin in the afternoon.  After arriving here in Valdocco we found our rooms inside the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians!  I literally slept in a room in Don Bosco's great Basilica to Our Lady!  I know this is a great blessing.  We spent some time around the Basilica, and were able to have mass in the Pinardi Chapel.  I was able to celebrate mass in that humble first home for Don Bosco's Oratory.  After dinner with the community we walked in to town for an excellent gelato!  On the way home we were hit with a storm.  This storm felt more like a deluge and was accompanied by golfball sized hail!  We arrived back to the Basilica soaking wet!  Needless to say it was a great but tiring first day!

Today was another day filled with blessings!  We began the day with a visit to Don Bosco's rooms and were able to have mass at one of the altars that Don Bosco used for many years in his mission to the young in Valdocco.  It was the exact spot where some of the oratory boys witnessed Don Bosco levitate during his daily mass!  What great devotion to the Holy Eucharist!  After mass and lunch with the community we had an opportunity to join the director of the house on a walk to the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.  This Church is of great importance to us Salesians!  It is the sight of Don Bosco's first mass as a newly ordained priest!  Also the site of the Convitto Ecclesiastico where Don Bosco studied pastoral ministry for 3 years as a student of St. Joseph Cafasso.  Don Cafasso was Don Bosco's confessor and spiritual guide for almost 30 years!  Don Cafasso spent almost all of his priesthood in this holy place and where he heard countless confessions.  Don Cafasso literally taught Don Bosco how to be a priest in the Convitto located next to this church.

It was in the Sacristy of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi that Don Bosco met young Bartholomew Garelli and invited him to learn his catechism.  He said one Hail Mary with him and from there Don Bosco began his work for poor youth and the Salesian Oratory!  30 days after the death of Don Cafasso, Don Bosco delivered the sermon reminding everyone of the great virtues of Don Cafasso.

After our visit to St. Francis of Assisi we visited the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Consolation (Consolata).  This is the church where Don Bosco went to pray after the death of Mamma Margaret.  He invited Our Lady to be his mother and assist him with the work of the oratory!  St. Joseph Cafasso is buried here in this beautiful church.

Then we walked down to the Church of Divine Providence and the tomb of St. Joseph Cottolengo.  St. Joseph founded 5 institutes to care for the needs of the poor and the sick.  So many saints lived and worked in such close proximity to one another!

Fr. Steve and I  joined the community again for prayers and dinner and made another pilgrimage for gelato!  Needless to say we had a full and blessed day.  I will try to keep you posted on the days events every day of the coming week!  Thank God for the internet!  Please continue to pray for us and know of my prayers for all of you!  God is blessing us in this year of mercy!

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