The relics of St. John Bosco more popularly known as Don Bosco, currently in Goa is part of the programme of the Salesian Congregation to prepare for the 200th anniversary of his birth at Turin in Italy on 16th August 1815. The journey of the relics began on 31st January 2009 which was the 150th anniversary of the formation of the Salesian Congregation and is scheduled to pass through 130 nations.
The relics have been reconstructed by using his mortal remains which were exhumed in 1929 after his remains were exhumed in connection with his beatification and canonization. The bones and tissues of the right hand and arm have been placed in an urn which is placed within a wax replica of Don Bosco’s body which is placed in a large glass box specially designed. The urn containing the remains of Don Bosco is placed in the wax replica where the heart is situated in a human being.
The urn has some very significant images and motifs on it including the words Da mini animas, ceatera tolle, meaning “give me souls, take away the rest”, a quote used frequently by Don Bosco to guide his congregation.
Besides, there are images of young faces and maps showing the various places where the Salesians are active in present times. The years 1815 and 2015 – the birth year and the 200th anniversary of the birth – are also prominently inscribed.
The glass box containing the wax replica of Don Bosco is 253 cms long, 108.3 cms wide and 132 cms tall and it is transported in two specially designed trucks.
From his childhood Don Bosco had imbibed love for children particularly the orphans thanks to his father impressing upon him their sorrow. At the age of nine Don Bosco had a dream that proved to be prophetic. In his dream, he was in the midst of children playing and some of them cursing. The young John began hitting and beating the children, when suddenly a man appeared before him and told him that instead of hitting the children, he could make them his friends with love and kindness and also offered to provide a teacher who will help him become wise.
The man in the dream was Jesus and the teacher offered was Mother Mary whom he called ‘Mary, Help of Christians’.
Even in his childhood he learnt all kinds of antics like acrobatics to keep the children close to him as when they were with him, they behaved very well.
At the age of 20 he jointed a seminary in Chieri and was ordained a priest in the year 1841 at Turin when he was 26 years old. At that time, there were many children in Turin who were either orphaned or abandoned and Don Bosco began collecting them on Sunday at different places to play with them and at the same time teach them catechism.
After five years, he established his first Oratory at Valdocco where young boys were not only provided boarding and lodging, but were also taught a trade besides of course, the love of God. St. Domnic Savio was one of the young boys picked up by Don Bosco.
He then founded the Salesian Congregation comprising of priests and even lay people who wished to continue his work and in a bid to extend his apostolate to young girls, he founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians with St. Maria Domenica Mazzarelo.
Don Bosco fell seriously ill and one of the last things he said was to tell the boys that he waiting for them in heaven. He died on 31st January 1988 at the age of 72 years.
It was indeed an auspicious occasion when on 1st April 1934 the then Pope Pius XI, who personally knew Don Bosco, proclaimed him a saint.
The Salesian Congregation that was started with 18 young men, has now grown in leaps and bounds and along with Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, they are found all over the world, necessitating a world pilgrimage of the relics of Don Bosco so that even in death, he can connect to those he touched during their lifetime.