Where each stone speaks about Don Bosco
Valdocco, Turin, 17 March 2020 — Inspired by the deliberation of Salesian General Chapter 27 (2014), the Don Bosco holy places in Piedmont (Turin, Valdocco, Chieri and Becchi-Colle Don Bosco) have witnessed many developments over the past 5 years. In order to facilitate the experience of our charismatic origins the numerous pilgrims benefit from the adequate logistics but especially from the improved ‘pedagogy’ of these places.
‘Don Bosco House’ (Casa Don Bosco) within the Valdocco complex (‘Citadel’) is the most visible example. After hard work started some 18 months under the guidance of the Rector Major with a large advisory team and many consultants, the heart of Valdocco is almost ready to welcome its first visitors next September. In the carefully restored original settings starting from ‘Casa Pinardi’ (1846) until the familiar structure in the 1888 when Don Bosco passed away, in the 4000 square meters ‘free museum-like space’ the pilgrims – visitors may experience Don Bosco and his charism – the ‘Valdocco experience’. From his first collaborators, Valdocco educated saints and the main charismatic expressions (mission for the poor young people, social communication – printing, Salesianity library, devotion to Mary and to the Eucharistic Jesus up to the missionary expansion).
Some of the delegates to the General Chapter 28 were lucky enough to get the 90 minutes guided tour by Br. Giampietro Pettenon (Director of the Don Bosco Mission Office, Turin) who supervises the whole operation of ‘Casa Don Bosco’. There is a quite breathtaking and exciting tour from the underground spaces below the Church of Saint Francis de Sales (refectory of Don Bosco that served also for drama performances) through to the kitchen and Mamma Margaret’s room up to the ‘Camerette’ (Rooms of Don Bosco).
What are the most striking ‘discoveries’? We realize that during Don Bosco’s life time his Valdocco was really a continuous construction site in never-ending development, always according to the needs of the young people: from 50 boys squeezed into the original Pinardi house to the two hundred boarders in the extended Oratory house. Even through the material used in the underground part of the building you may discover the harsh poverty of Valdocco – little stones of all kinds mixed with the bricks gathered by the Oratory boys.
The videos published during the construction work show really many interesting details. The sketches of the 42 years development help us to understand the context. Our hope is that each member of the Salesian Family will be able to taste, discover and pray in this house one day! Welcome to Valdocco!