St. John Bosco's Fiftieth Anniversary
Fifty years ago St. John 13oscro, founder of the Salesians, lay dying. The physical fatigues, the mental strain, the moral obligations which he had borne throughout his life, left him at the end, when he was seventy-three, exhausted and almost inert. The great protagonist of social reform, whose work was to endure and marvellously to increase after his death, had come within the shadow. When he breathed his last, Giovanni Bosco left as his monument some 250 houses of the Salesian Society, scattered in many parts of the world. Upwards of six thousand priests had gone forth from his institutions, of whom twelve hundred remained in the society. During the past fifty years the Salesians have continued their religious and educational epostolate, so that today there cannot be very many countries in which they would be strangers.
The Beginning of the End
It was on December 20, 1887, that Don Bosco's illness gave sign of being his last. After having received Holy Communion on that day, he got up and did some work, and hope ran high that perhaps he would be spared for a few more years. A brief recovery proved to be merely the last rally of the sick man's strength, and foretold that the end was near. God was calling and Don Bosco was ready.
On January 30, 1888, disease made rapid inroads on the patient's exhausted body. In these last days the saint's thoughts were ever with the boys and others among whom his life had been spent. On the 29th, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of his Congregation, he had received Holy Communion for the last time. Thereafter, during the day, he lay in a kind of stupor. Now and again he murmured a few words, scarcely audible even to those watching by the death-bed.
The Boys' Visit Slowly his right arm became paralysed, but he lifted his left arm to Heaven, saying, "Thy will be done." These were his last words. January 30 dawned, and the doctors declared that there was no longer any hope. Members of the house, and some of the boys, were allowed, in small groups, to enter the sick-chamber. Brokenhearted, they knelt by the bed and kissed the hand which had wrought so much for them and for theirs. Towards evening there came a telegram announcing the safe arrival of the Salesian missionaries in Ecuador. The news was whispered by Don Rua into the ear of the dying man, whose face lit up in mute thanksgiving. From Rome another message brought the Apostolic Benediction, St. John Bosco entered into his agony on the last day of January. The remaining Superiors are called into the room. Don Rua is reciting the prayers for the dying; he raises Don flosco's paralysed arm and pronounces the blessing on all the members of the foundations.
The End Half-past four. The Angelus sounds from the basilica nearby. The dying founder sighs several times—and expires. It is the earthly end of a great saint. On June 2, 1929, the Church declared him Blessed, and on April 1, 1934, St. John Bosco was raised to the altars.
A " Talkie " of St. John Bosco
The Salesian Fathers showed their new " talkie " film of the Life of their Founder on Sunday last in Bollington. This was the first time the film had been seen in England. In the afternoon the 150 students of the Missionary College at Shrigley Park enjoyed a private performance; while in the evening Bollington's Catholics and friends arrived to fill the " Empire " Cinema to overflowing.
The performance was a great success, and this vivid portrayal of the life of St. John Bosco should be destined to do much good.