Sisters on the Wandering Oratory Trail

L to R: Sisters coming out of Maria Ausiliatrice, 35 and Maria Ausiliatrice basilica is across the road.

TURIN – Wednesday, 9 June – Day-long trip code named Wandering Oratory Part 1 & 2, took the Project Mornese group to the various places Don Bosco took his boys on Sundays to play and teach catechism. From each place the local people chased the boys out as they were too noisy or they “destroyed” the grass / field by their wild stampede. Don Bosco used to tell the boys each Sunday before the boys left for home where they would gather for the coming Sunday.
Finally, one Sunday evening, Don Bosco had no place where to gather his boys for the coming Sunday. As he prayed in utter frustration, a gentle man by the name Pancratio Suave taps on Don Bosco’s shoulder … and then it all began, the Pinardi chapel, St Francis de Sales church, the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians all in a matter of 20 years at Valdocco, the cradle of Salesian society.
The pilgrims also visited the places of other charitable institutions of Don Bosco’s time: the Marchese di Barolo institution which cared for “street” girls, St Joseph Cottlengo’s “The little House of divine Providence” which took the abandoned sick and handicapped.

Pinardi shed, where DB said first Mass with boys on Eatser Sunday 1846, after 4 years of wandering!

The day concluded with Eucharist in the Pinardi shed/Chapel dedicated to the Risen Lord, where Don Bosco celebrated his first Eucharist with his boys in a permanent place on Easter Sunday 1846.
As the chapel was too small to contain his boys, in 1852 Don Bosco inaugurated St Francis de Sales Church, adjacent to Pinardi Chapel. In 1868, the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians was built adjacent to St Francis Sales church. That is, three churches in 100 meter radius!
Thursday, 10 June –  Entire day was spent at Valdocco. The group had a Mass, just before noon, in the basilica, Sisters seated around the altar. In the afernoon, the group had a historic walk through the grounds recalling the hand pump (watering hole and word in the ear), spots where Don Bosco multiplied loaves and chestnuts (on different days), and finally reaching DonBosco’s rooms where he worked and died on 31 January 1888.
The well arranged exhibition panels as wells as the three wooden models depicting the growth of the oratory at Don Bosco’s time was self explanatory. The touch screen video displays in seven languages were a treat.
After dinner, the Sisters had a special prayer vigil on the third floor of the basilica close to the picture of Mary Help of Christians on the main altar. Everyone was given a golden key symbol of their hearts to be offered to the Virgin!

29 Sisters from 10 countries (America, Asia & Europe, Australia & Oceania) with two animators.

Friday, 11 June – Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus! The group had a last visit to the basilica before they gathered in DB’s rooms for the Eucharist. After lunch, they left for Mornese, an hour and forty minutes drive…  On sighting Mornese House in the distance, the Sisters burst into ‘Mornese song’ and had a warm welcome… In the evening, group gathered for prayer in front of Mother Mazzarello’s room.

Saturday, 12 June – First day in Mornese. After 2 hour morning session, the group celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the Mary Help of Christians Chapel. After lunch, the group set out for a walk in the Mornese “village”  still pristine with its rolling hills covered with standing crops and vineyards and bundles of hay ready to be stored in the barns, winter fodder for cows grazing on the hillsides in the summer sun.

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