Mangalore, Aug 20, 2011: Come August 25, 2011, and the people of coastal region, especially Christians, will have a very rare opportunity to see the sacred relic of St John Bosco, popularly known as ‘Don Bosco’ all over the world. In fact, it is part of a worldwide pilgrimage of the relic that began in Italy on April 25, 2009, to mark the 150th anniversary of a religious order founded by him, namely, the Society of St Francis De Sales, popularly called as the Salesians of Don Bosco.
In Christianity, a relic is of immense reverence, and helps to remind individuals of the holiness of a saint, and the fulfillment of God’s work through the saint.
A relic can consist of anything from the bones of a saint to an object that the saint came in contact with during his or her life time.
The relic comprising the bones and tissues of Don Bosco’s right hand have been placed within a wax replica of Don Bosco’s body, which in turn is enclosed in a large urn. The sculptured face of the statue is made with Don Bosco’s own death mask – the mould made on his face right after his death and designed by Architect Gianpero Zoncu.
Giving details about the urn, Don Bosco Youth Centre (Shirva) Rector Rev Fr Maxim D’Souza said the urn, constructed specially for this pilgrimage is composed of a large glass box in which the wax replica is placed, and easily viewed.
The box is mounted atop a large wood and metal cart. Among the urn’s decorations are the words: ‘Da mihi animas, caetera tolle,’ which translates to, “Give me souls, take away the rest,” one of Don Bosco’s many quotes that guided his ministry.
Images of young faces also surround the urn, as well as maps showing where the Salesian Family is present today.
Finally, the years 1815 and 2015 are engraved near the base, serving as a reminder of the purpose of this Relic Pilgrimage: In 2015, the Salesian Family, and the Church as a whole, will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Don Bosco’s birth in 1815.
The urn weighs 850 kilograms and is transported via two specially designed and built trucks, to its host country driven by Italian chauffeurs who have vowed never to leave the wheel and remain near the sacred relic on the entire worldwide journey, according to Fr Francis Xavier, a Salesian priest based in Hubli.
Relic in Shirva
The relic that began its journey in 2009, arrived in India in April 2011 at Dimapur in North East India.
It is being taken through the major cities and centres of the 10 provinces in India where Salesians of Don Bosco have their centres.
The relic would arrive from Goa via Sirsi in Uttara Kannada, at Our Lady of Health Church in Shirva in Udupi district on August 25 at 9 am. From Shirva, it will travel to Bangalore via Hassan.
As per the schedule, the relic would complete its India journey on November 30, 2011 and leave for Sri Lanka and consequently to the rest of the world. The relic will tour about 129 countries of the world before concluding its 7 year journey in 2015 to celebrate the bicentenary of his birth.
Fr Maxim said that hectic preparations are on at Shirva to receive the famous relic of Don Bosco.
Mangalore Diocesan Bishop Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza will welcome and receive the relic, followed by a holy mass for the youth at 11 am.
Another mass for the people will be celebrated by the Vicar General Rev Msgr Denis Moras Prabhu at 4 pm. Besides, sessions on Don Bosco’s life will be held for youth and parish leaders from 1.30 onwards in the church hall. The devotees will have the opportunity to venerate the relic till 6 pm, he informed.
26 centres in Karnataka
Interestingly, there are nearly 400 Don Bosco centres in 10 provinces in India and 26 centres in Karnataka including six in Konkan province spread in three dioceses - Mangalore diocese (Shirva, Thrasi near Kundapur and Bola near Karkal), Karwar diocese (Sirsi) and Belgaum diocese (Belgaum town and Hubli).
The Salesians have also adopted a village at Pavoor near Manjeshwar in Kasargod and are working for the upliftment of the primitive tribe (the only church where mass is offered in Tulu).
On the other hand, perhaps there is no field concerning the underprivileged is left untouched by the Salesians. Be it street children, rehabilitation centres, rural development centres, orphanages, youth centres, communication centres, hostels, colleges, the Salesian priests have been a ray of hope in the lives of millions of people across the world.
It is a matter of pride for Salesians as Don Bosco’s name is synonymous with some of the finesh educational institutions in India and Don Bosco University in Assam is one among them.
Apostle of the young
St John Bosco (Don Bosco), popularly called the ‘Apostle of the Young,’ was truly a revolutionary priest of his times.
Due to the local problems of the youth at his home town at Turin in Italy, Don Bosco took up his dedicated service to the youth after his ordination on June 5, 1841. He began to meet the poor street boys and young prisoners in prison and began to develop a soft corner to youngsters. When many parents disowned their sons after a short duration of imprisonment (due to petty thefts like stealing bread), the youngsters took shelter under Don Bosco.
The talk of the town in Turin spread far and wide as Don Bosco opened the doors of his residence to the prisoners, thieves and problematic youngsters. Through his efforts, Don Bosco began to teach faith and morals to the illiterate youngsters and began to build self confidence in them by allowing them to play football.
Don Bosco became a ray of hope in the lives of many youth. He then slowly began to teach them various types of trades so that the youngsters could stand on their own feet in society. When the local Italian government was finding it difficult to house 200 prisoners, Don Bosco was feeding and training 300 youngsters in skilled trades like carpentry, cobbler, tailoring, book-binding, printing press etc.
Soon, the government started taking tips, methodology and techniques used by Don Bosco in handling and guiding the youngsters. As a result, the general public developed a deep sense of respect towards Don Bosco and the Church for not only rendering selfless service to the youngsters but teaching the youngsters various types of trades to earn their livelihood in the society.
Towards the end of his life Don Bosco acknowledged that the ultimate aim of his education was to assist the most needy youth, to empty the prisons by preventing boys from entering there; and finally to form good citizens who, far from turning into being a nuisance to public authorities would in fact help them in maintaining the social order, tranquility and peace. In fact, during the last years of Don Bosco, he was feeding, educating and teaching various types of trades to 1,000 youngsters. The work started by Don Bosco in 1859 today is 150 years old and faithfully carried out in 132 countries all over the world by the Salesians of Don Bosco, a religious society of over 16,000 members and having an extended family of 23 societies and organisations that form the Salesian Family.
Courtesy: Deccan Herald