ROME- President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON of Ghana was the main celebrant at the Solemn Eucharistic celebration which marked the Feast of Mary Help of Christians, 24 May, at the Salesian University Rome.
On behalf of staff and students hailing from 97 countries, the Vice Chancellor Dr Carlo Nanni welcomed the Cardinal to the celebrations. There are about 250 students from Africa studying at the Salesian University Rome.
Four students of the University made their promise as Salesian Cooperators. Cultural events and lunch for about a thousand faculty and students followed the Eucharistic celebration.
His Excellency Dr Bogdan Tataru-Cazaban, Romanian ambassador to the Holy See and Director of Romanian Tourism promotion in Italy were special guests at the feast.
This is the last feast celebrated solemnly marking the end of the academic year at the end of June.
This huge annual event has student participation in major sports tournaments (football, basket ball, volleyball) during the entire month of May. The sports events are held simultaneously in different venues. In the cultural events front, the best of the 13-day People’s Festival items were show cased again, today.
Significance of the Feast
Don Bosco’s advice to the first group of Salesian Missionaries leaving for Patagonia (South America) in 1875 rings ever fresh in Salesian memory. “Trust in Mary Help of Christian,” Don Bosco said, “and you will know what miracles are!”
The words “Mary was always my guide,” were always present on the lips of St John Bosco in his joys and sorrows, consolations and difficulties, agonies and ecstasies.
He worked hand in glove with the Madonna. Even on his deathbed, Don Bosco insisted, “The help of God and of Mary will not fail you… I recommend devotion to Mary Help of Christians and frequent Holy Communion… If only you knew how many souls Mary Help of Christians wished to save through the Salesians!”
At a time of socio-political unrest and with an anti-Christian movement on the rise, Don Bosco promoted devotion to Mary Help of Christians. He proclaimed her as the bulwark against enemies of the Church and of the Pope in the 19th century.
Mary never abandoned her faithful son. In gratitude for Mary’s motherly protection and predilection, Don Bosco erected the magnificent and miraculous Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in the heart of Turin, at Valdocco.
The basilica was solemnly consecrated on the 9th of June 1868 and would become the spiritual sanctuary of the Salesian Congregation. He also erected three living monuments to the name of Mary Help of Christians: the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA), the Work of Mary Help of Christians for vocations to the ecclesiastical state and the Association of Mary Help of Christians (ADMA).