CHIERI, Turin – The Project Mornese group set out to Chieri town by bus for a half day tour. John Bosco spent ten years of his life in Chieri (1831 – 1841), ie., from age 16 to 26.
The first five years he spent in public schools struggling to make ends meet, staying and doing part time jobs as table boy, tailor, carpenter, stable boy and sacristan.
It was during his years at the public school that John founded the Societa’ dell’Allegria (Glee Club). It was also in Chieri that John challenged an acrobat who kept away boys from catechism class. John Bosco won the bet which included running and some acrobatic feats… the defeated acrobat treated him and friends at Muletto Hotel, and parted ways never again to return.
It was also in Chieri in the Jewish ghetto that John made friends with Elia Foa the bookstore man and bought Latin classics at discounted rates as well as bought them back in lieu of other books. He also made friends with Jewish companion Jonah (Giacobbe Levi) who later became Catholic.
For the Salesian Sisters, Chieri is very historic because it was here that Don Bosco sent a statute of Mary Help of Christians in 1876 to pacify the local people who insisted that Sisters set up a convent. And rightly, in 1878 the Sisters came to Chieri. Also Chieri is the birth place of Blessed Maddalena Caterina Morano whom Don Bosco encouraged to become a Salesian Sister. The FMA community offered cool drinks and snacks.
It is in the Church of St Philip Neri in Chieri that John Bosco frequented as a seminarian and helped as sacristan, as well as attended daily mass and received daily communion foregoing his breakfast.
In the sanctuary of the church one can find the skeletons of Don Bosco’s seminary friend Louis Comollo who died as a seminarian.
John Bosco had special devotion to Our Lady of Graces in the cathedral where he went to sing for High Mass on Sunday.
In the afternoon, the Sisters were divided into two groups and had a guided tour of Valdocco with animators Srs. Maire O’Byrne and Edna Mary Macdonald. They visited Basilica of Maria Ausiliatrice, Pinardi shed, St Francis de Sales church, all three in Valdocco built by Don Bosco to accommodate the ever increasing number of young people. Also they made a brief visit to Don Bosco’s rooms.
The day concluded with a meaningful liturgy in St Francis de Sales church where the Sisters prayed for priests gathered in Rome for the conclusion of the Year for Priests, 8-10 June.
Wednesday, the group will have a walking tour of Don Bosco’s Wandering Oratory part 1 & 2. Also, the group will visit leading charitable institutions near Valdocco dating back to Don Bosco’s time especially the Marchesa di Barolo’s work for street girls and St Joseph Cottolengo’s Little House of the Providence for the abandoned sick and handicapped.