Fri 31st Oct 2014 | Last updated: Fri 31st Oct 2014 at 14:03pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo

Latest News

Relics of Don Bosco to begin tour of Britain

By on Friday, 4 January 2013

The wax figure of Don Bosco contains the saint’s relics and is carried in a glass casket

The wax figure of Don Bosco contains the saint’s relics and is carried in a glass casket

The relics of Don Bosco arrive in Britain today, fulfilling the saint’s wish to visit the country.

St John Bosco, who founded the Salesian order, felt a calling early in life to visit England, but was too busy helping children in his native Piedmont. Towards the end of his life the Archbishop of Glasgow invited him to visit but he was unable to.

But the relics of the patron saint of young people, who was canonised by Pius XI in 1934, are arriving in Scotland at the start of a two-week tour of Britain, part of a worldwide tour that began in 2009.

Fr Robert Gardiner of the Salesian Office of Social Media and Communications said Don Bosco was very interested in visiting a country that was in the full swing of industrial revolution. He said: “He believed that God was calling him to come to Britain. I think that one reason is that industrial Turin was not a million miles from industrial Britain, there were young people on the streets being abused by employers, and he was keen on evangelisation.”

Raised in poverty outside Turin, Don Bosco dedicated his life to helping young people, many of whom had been left homeless, impoverished and cut off from their faith by the rapid advance of industrialisation in northern Italy. He established the Oratory of St Francis de Sales, helping young people to find jobs and learn about their faith.

Fr Gardiner said: “They had no links with their parish, by and large, so the Oratory he set up was their parish. He believed in a down-to-earth spirituality. We would sum it up as doing the ordinary things and doing them extraordinarily well. For those looking for work Dom Bosco was doing the role of the trade union. He was drafting up the work contract with employers. He took care of young people, their education, spiritual life and employment. And he set up employment, tailoring, book pressing, work he had learned himself.”

His relics will visit eight towns and cities across Britain in 12 days, finishing their British part of the tour at Suffolk Cathedral on January 14 and 15.

The relics will also visit Carfin, the national Marian shrine in Scotland, and Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff, Westminster and Southwark.

The full story is published in this week’s edition of The Catholic Herald.

  • Savonarola

    I don’t suppose this is what he meant by visiting Britain. After the relics of St Therese and John Vianney another non-event, creating a lot of ballyhoo, leaving most people quite untouched and forgotten as soon as it’s over. The parading of relics, like other items of Catholic devotion, is best consigned to the dustbin of history.

  • James

     “After the relics of St Therese and John Vianney another non-event,
    creating a lot of ballyhoo, leaving most people quite untouched and
    forgotten as soon as it’s over. The parading of relics, like other items
    of Catholic devotion, is best consigned to the dustbin of history….
    I take it that you know nothing about Catholicism, then?  I suggest you go and spew your anti-catholic bile onto a vacuous protestant website, not here thank you very much…

  • Danny

    wow so much for Christian love.

  • JabbaPapa

    Will Dom Eccles be accompanying this tour, I wonder ?

  • whytheworldisending

    You have asked “most people” who went along (and could get in – it was not always possible because even very large venues filled up completely) how they felt have you? Amazing! Particularly since you say they’d “forgotten” where they had been? “Ballyhoo” is better than hot air. If everyone was atheist and homosexual it would be such a bore wouldn’t it?Remember we should ALL be valuing diversity.

  • Rick Childress

    Oh, please, Danny – spare us your emotional scandal on behalf of innocent Savonarola; I think s/he is quite satisfied with the intended result of the grenade-of-a-comment. If your definition of Christian love is the Victorian portraiture of ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild’, I suggest you reread (or, I suspect, read for the first time) the Gospels, St. Paul’s advice regarding belligerent rabble-rousers, and the Epistle of St. Jude. Jesus was patient, loving, and merciful, but sometimes that meant (and means) verbally thrashing cowardly malcontents and ne’er-do-wells for their own good. But, while I don’t want to jump to conclusions, I’ve seen your own ploy several times, I also suspect you’re essentially of Savonarola’s ilk, milking flame. 

  • Inquisator

    Thank you. I was beginning to think that I was the only Catholic to share similar sentiments. This endless parading of relics makes us look like fools and only feeds the anti Catholic lobby who still believe us to be idol worshippers.

  • Droosie

    To be honest as a newly received Catholic I am very interested in those who have lived their lives in a very simple but heartfelt way. I take the point about relic worship appearing foolish to non Catholics but I am interested and will be going to London with my Parish on the 12th January.
    I don’t see myself as “an idol worshipper” and my visit to London will encompass a Mass too….which for me will be far more meaningful than viewing the wax figure.

  • GratefulCatholic

    Dear Editor, Please block cretins like this from our Catholic site – pearls before swine & etc – it would not be censorship, rather just plain decency, for him and us. As it is you’re just providing him a platform to damn himself.
    Regards, GC 

  • Sweetjae

    Your opinion of the Tradition of others should be thrown in the dustbin instead where it rightly belongs.

  • Sweetjae

    Why do you think God is an idiot? Without Divine Justice?

  • Sweetjae

    Let them think whatever they want, these anti-catholic lobby. This practice of venerating relics is A Catholic Tradition taugh by St. Paul found in the Scripture. So would you like to side with?

  • Sweetjae

    Its veneration or giving honor to the relic for the Glory of God but we catholics dont worship it.

  • AdamThomson1560

    “Taught by St. Paul” ?

  • Parasum

     “The relics of Don Bosco arrive in Britain tomorrow, fulfilling the saint’s wish to visit the country.”

    ## Well, sort of.

    It’s nice to have so many relics visiting this country all of a sudden. I hope it keeps up.

  • Parasum

     Why “best consigned to the dustbin of history” ? Relics are important – and valuable.  These are something more, and something better, than the remains of the dead.

  • Parasum

    If “anti-catholic bile” worthy of the name is wanted, there are plenty of sites where it can be found. Mild criticism of a practice that is highly worthwhile, but not central to Catholicism, surely doesn’t count as “bile” ?

  • Simon Davies

    Worship is due honour given to a person or object due to its status. In English, as in Hebrew, funnily enough, a distinction is not made between worship attributed to God, and worship attributed to created things. The Greek language, of course, does, and its two words for worship: latria (worship of the deity), and dulia (worship of a created thing), have entered – rightly – the western understanding of what worship is. It has become trendy to say that Catholics worship God and venerate the saints; this isn’t false, neither is it completely accurate, as worship and veneration are two different things. Both latria and dulia can translate into English to mean ‘worship’. Let’s not condemn people’s correct use of language, based on a false linguistic premise.

  • Sweetjae

    Rather taught by Scripture, both OT and NT. There are several scriptural passages that support the veneration of relics. For example, the Israelites took Joseph’s bones when they departed Egypt (Ex. 13:19). The bones of Elisha came in contact with a dead person who then was raised to life (2 Kings 13:21). The same Elisha took the mantle of Elijah and fashioned a miracle with it (2 Kings 2:13). The Christians of Ephesus, by using handkerchiefs and cloths touched to St. Paul’s skin, effected the healing of the sick (Acts 19:12).

  • dontforgettoproofread

    Suffolk cathedral eh? I think you’d better check your facts…

  • Marcie

    If you are not a Catholic, and not clairvoyant, Savvy old chum, you aren’t really in a position to decide how the many thousands of people who visited St Therese’s relics, and who will visit those of St John Bosco, actually feel about their experience. How do you know how soon their experience will be forgotten? How do you know that it’s a non-event? And if Catholicism is best consigned to the dustbin of history, how come you find it so compelling that you feel we all need to know your opinion?

  • Rick Childress

    You’re right, especially since Savonarola’s comment could be that of a Catholic who is embarrassed in a weak-hearted sort of way. Many of us have moments not unlike that about other things, so we can sympathise. It’s not necessarily bile or anti-catholic, however silly the comment was.

  • Marcie

    One of the things that I value about Catholicism is that people like you can think and say as you do, and remain part of the fold. However, do you really want to remain? You sound so very bitter and angry.  If you think so little of fellow Catholics, perhaps you belong elsewhere.

  • Marcie

    Agree, Mr Davies, and I would also like to welcome Droosie to the Church. May God be with you as you journey on.

  • sorojena

    We had them in Zimbabwe last year in July! Don Bosco, Ora Pro Nobis!!

  • Savonarola

    Why shouldn’t I spew my bile onto a vacuous catholic website, like this one? Bilious attacks are brought on by nausea and if the ridiculous nonsense of relics is not nausea-inducing I don’t know what is. Being Catholic I know a lot about Catholicism. This is why I love the Church and want to see it freed from all the idiocy it has perpetrated through the ages.  

  • Finfleday

     I doubt you followed those relics assiduously to every venue to be able to give an unbaised opinion on the matter, just an assumption.
    Unless you interviewed everyperson present you cannot presume that they were untouched.
    The word pompous comes to mind as the original Savanorola was excommunicated for disobedience; one wonders if the dustbin of history has room for one more…

  • e.murray

    went to see the relics in carfin and it was so moving at the time but what l found was how rude some of the salesian sisters were the organisers of the event were so friendly but one sister from easterhouse thought it was ok to talk about others behind there back not very friendly for a salesian to do but hey never mind to all the other sisters kay elizabeth isabelle breda it was nice to see yous all again

  • Marcie

    Calm down, dear Savvy. So much negative energy! What good is all of this doing you, or doing anyone else? You won’t change people’s minds. If you love the Church, there are plenty of ways you can support it positively, rather than letting yourself get bogged down with all the things you don’t like about it. Which things DO you like about it? Concentrate on those.

  • Patrick Gray

    A Catholic, abusing the relics of the holy Saints! A nice thing for any Catholic to say! The blackest Protestant would not say such things as that.

  • Deborah

    Visits of relics do nothing to encourage wavering Anglo Catholics to join the Ordinariate.

    “The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping, and Adoration, as well as Images as of Reliques, and also invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.”

    From The Book of Common Prayer

  • Marcie

    With respect, Deborah, the Catholic Church stands where it stands. It is not in the business of rebranding in order to attract converts. If Anglo-Catholics want to join Ordinariates, it is because they accept the Catholic Church as it is, and not because the Catholic Church has compromised its beliefs in order to attract them. There are no circumstances under which the Catholic Church will bow down to the Book of Common Prayer, for well-known historical reasons.

  • Savonarola

    Thank you very much, excellent advice. I am going to try to take it to heart and will hope to be able to follow it.
    Rick Childress was spot on in saying my comment was intended to be a bit of a grenade lobbed in to see what the effect would be. I do find it telling, though, that traditionalist Catholics often respond with even bitterer vitriol. Maybe we could all do with less concern about religion and more concern about God and prayer.

  • Marcie

    That is a gentlemanly response, Savvers, and you make a valid point that some traditionalist Catholics (like some liberal Catholics, and like some…er…people) get hot under the collar about their ’cause’. I suppose that is in the nature of causes. They inspire passion. That’s not to say that the cause is not worth the passion, of course. I suppose if we dish it out, we must be prepared to take it, and you dished it out and took it. Many of the saints got hot under the collar (especially those who went to the stake) for their beliefs. I think the trick is to balance the passion with the love. Sometimes the balance swings too far in the passion direction and the love gets forgotten. We are all frail humans who sin. I’m a bit of a ‘wordsmith’ and I love to write, but I think that my silence, my prayerful silence before God, is of far greater use to him.

  • Joe Zammit

    Till two years ago I have had a tiny piece of Don Bosco’s bone: ex ossibus. I have given it to our parish priest. I received it in 1966 from the Salesians of Turin.

  • nytor

    Shame about the disgraceful liturgical “dancing” the Salesian youth wing perpetrated at Liverpool Cathedral during the visit there. This tour of the relics is being marred and brought into scandal by this improper practice and they should NOT be permitted to continue in other venues such as Birmingham Cathedral where they are going tomorrow. It’s a shame. I’m sure Don Bosco would be appalled. They dishonour him by their behaviour.

  • nytor

    For those with strong stomachs who want to see the outrage in question, it’s in the link above. It features an “offertory dance”  and post communion reflection from the Salesian youth team (see 42mins and 1.18mins)) with scantily clad young women  dancing and gyrating across the sanctuary. More Satanic than Salesian.

  • Kevin Jones

     That being in your opinion?

  • UMS

    I would hardly call the visit of the relics of the Cure and St Therese “non-events”. Having been to both, everything was well attended and hopefully some possible vocations resulted from their veneration.

    The “Mass” in Liverpool for St John Bosco was a disgrace – he deserves much more solemnity than the Salesians give him.

  • Inquisator

    Marcie, your comment is so full of assumptions; particularly two – Firstly, I am far from being bitter or angry and I suggest that this is more a case of transference on your part. Secondy, my comments were against the practice of relic chasing and not against those who derive some benefit from this practice which incidentally the Church states is a matter of personal choice. 

  • Inquisator

    Why, did he complain?!!

  • Andrew Gray

    I would disagree. I think that half of the ‘amazement’ is learning about what they dedicated their life to, and that should be a source of inspiration. Venerating a Saints relic is paying respect.

  • Guest

    I was at St Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham yesterday. While hardly musically uplifting in any profound, liturgical sense sense of the word, there was not, as far as I could see, any form of dancing. Flags and slogans were paraded onto the sanctuary; it was difficult to discern what purpose it was meant to serve, but that was it – no dancing. Unlike Liverpool, St Chad’s was packed, mostly with schoolchildren, and that was hearteniong to witness.

  • Marcie

    Now it is you who are making assumptions, Inquy. No matter. God Bless you x

  • Isaac

    And does the Book of Common Prayer also find repugnant to the Word of God the vain doctrine that the English monarch is the supreme governor of the church of Emgland? What authority does the Book of Common Prayer have?

  • Isaac Secret

    I say this gently, though you can’t “hear” my tone:

    Lobbing grenades to see what the effect would be is a waste of time. Your vitriolic post attracted the responses it deserved – can you honestly say that you needed to “see” what the effect would be, given all the experience you claim to have with “traditionalist Catholics”? Do you find this telling about yourself?

    Next time you should just pray – and that would be true concern with religion.

  • Joe Zammit


    You bear the name or pen name of a disobedient priest. So, what do you expect to say? Just nonsense which will impress no one.

    Savonarola is not a saint but a stubborn priest. Stubbornness is the fruit of pride. God RESISTS the proud and gives his grace to the humble.

    Don Bosco was humble and God worked even miracles through him.

  • Minimus

     “Dustbin of history”—what a great and truly original cliche.

    If you are not a Catholic and despise our religion, why bother to write a rude comment here? You are hardly going to shake anyone’s faith, though I suppose you might lure them into sinful bad temper and spite. But then that would not be an issue for your.

    As far as I know, these tours by relics have excited a good deal of interest. I wish I could get to see St John Bosco but alas I can’t. (I would be interested to know who in the Church had the idea for these tours.)

  • Minimus

     Oh, another self-appointed reformer!

    As things currently stand, you are not a Catholic but a primitive Protestant.

    Try giving your heart to the Lord and place yourself under the protection of his mother. It does not involve any kind of intellectual derogation.

  • Minimus

     The earliest example I know is St. Polycarp, c.155, but it is also the earliest detailed account of a martyrdom