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Turin, Italy: Basilica of Maria Ausiliatrice (Our Lady Help of Christians)


The Basilica of Our Lady Help of Christians in Turin houses the tombs of three major Saints:


1. Tomb of Saint John Bosco:

John Bosco founded the Salesian Congregation at Turin in 1864 on the basis of the evangelizing principles of Saint Francis de Sales and his followers, who were were called the Salesians.

Born in 1815, he lived at a time when many families left their farms in hopes of a better life in the cities, only to find out that work conditions were terrible and life expectancy short.  Often children were either orphaned or abandoned and left to roam the streets, stealing and otherwise causing harm not only to others but more importantly to their own souls.  Don Bosco, son of a single mother, sympathized with these children and tried his best to help them. And, in fact, his mother “Mama Margherita Occhiena” would herself be declared venerable by the Church in 2006.

Despite opposition from secular and religious authorities, he persevered and in a few years time, his tireless activity created a network of homes, colleges, lodging-houses, schools, laboratories and recreation homes in Italy and abroad, that have acquired world renown. The reason for the success reached by the Apostle of Youth mainly lies in the fact that Don Bosco wanted his oratories or recreational centers to prepare good Christians and citizens.

He later added the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Our Lady Help of Christians to the male congregation.

Don Bosco was beatified July 24, 1907 by Pope Pius X and canonized June 2, 1929 by Pope Pius XI. He is known as the patron saint of apprentices, boys, editors, Mexican young people, laborers, schoolchildren, and young people.

His body, partially incorrupt but covered in wax, is kept in a glass reliquary here in Turin at the Basilica of Maria Ausiliatrice (Photo courtesy of the Basilica).


Room of St. John Bosco

His home has now been turned in to a museum….you can find the website here (in Italian only at this time).  You can see his room, where he died on January 31, 1888.

We celebrate the Feast Day of Saint John Bosco on January 31.


2.  Tomb of Saint Mary Mazzarello

Body of St. Mary Mazzarello in Turin
Body of St. Mary Mazzarello in Turin

Saint John Bosco chose Mary Mazzarello to found the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in 1872.

She died at Nizza Monferrato on 14th May 1881.

Her body is also venerated in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, near that of Saint John Bosco. She was canonized on 24th June 1951 and her feast is celebrated on 13th May.


3.  Tomb of Saint Dominic Savio:

One of our youngest saints, Dominic Savio.  Born on April 2, 1842 to a devout Catholic family in the village of Riva in northern Italy, he had 9 brothers and sisters.    Even as a small child, Dominic loved Our Lord and His church.  For example, he refused to eat with anyone who did not say grace before every meal and was often seen kneeling before the tabernacle in church.  He received his first Holy Communion at seven (the normal age at that time was twelve),  became an altar server, and attended daily Mass as well as frequent confession.

Dominic studied directly under Fr. Bosco at the Oratory. He was an excellent student. He expressed his desire to become a Saint

His health began to fail him, and although everyone thought he would recover (he predicted he would not and prepared to die a happy death), he died at the age of 17.

Fr. Bosco was powerfully touched by Dominic and he wrote a biography, “The Life of Dominic Savio.” The biography quickly became popular and would eventually be read in schools across Italy.

As people learned about Dominic, they called for his canonization.  Many considered him too young for Sainthood, but he was declared Venerable in 1933 by Pope Pius XI, Beatified in 1950, and then Canonized as Saint in 1954 by Pope Pius XII.

Saint Dominic Savio is the patron saint of choirboys, the falsely accused, and juvenile delinquents.  Many schools and institutions for boys are dedicated to him.

His liturgical feast day is May 6 (originally it was March 9…the day that he died).


Traveling to Our Lady Help of Christians in Turin:

Address: Via Maria Ausiliatrice, 32, 10152 Torino, Italy

GPS coordinates: 45° 4′ 50.4228” N, 7° 40′ 33.2508” E

Tel: +39 (011)5224.253

e-mail: m.ausiliatrice@tiscali.it

Click here for the official website of Mary Help of Christians in Turin

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