Don Bosco, His Pope and His Bishop. the Trials of a Founder

By Domenico, Roy | The Catholic Historical Review, October 2007 | Go to article overview

Don Bosco, His Pope and His Bishop. the Trials of a Founder


Domenico, Roy, The Catholic Historical Review


Don Bosco, His Pope and His Bishop. The Trials of a Founder. By Arthur J. Lenti, S.D.B. [Centro studi Don Bosco: Studi Storici-15.] (Rome: LAS [Libreria Ateneo Salesiano]. 2006. Pp. 251. euro15 paperback.)

Arthur J. Lenti teaches at the Institute of Salesian Spirituality in Berkeley, California. His impressively researched book, Don Bosco, His Pope and His Bishop is a study of Saint Giovanni Bosco (1815-1888), the founder of the Salesian Order and a key figure in Catholicism's approach to poverty and industrialization in the mid-nineteenth century. Don Bosco struggled to save impoverished boys from the streets, first in Turin, and launched his famous Oratory, which enjoyed the patronage of the King of Piedmont. He also enjoyed good relations with Turin's archbishop Luigi Fransoni, whose death in 1862 left the see vacant until Lorenzo Gastaldi replaced him in 1871. Don Bosco was also a good friend of Gastaldi and had nominated him first for the see of Saluzzo and then that of Turin. A Rosminian progressive, Gastaldi, however, distanced himself from Don Bosco, and each ultimately considered the other as an enemy. Lenti's work examines the nature of the struggle between the two antagonists. The story of the bad blood between the two occupies the bulk of the text. Much of it was a turf battle. That some young men, for example, preferred to enter the Salesian houses over life in the diocese led Gastaldi to charge that Don Bosco was stealing his seminarians. Clearly inflated egos on both sides worsened the situation, and in December of 1874 Gastaldi "issued a decree abrogating all favors, faculties and privileges granted to the Salesians by him and by his predecessors" (p. 163). While Pius IX was alive Don Bosco had an ally in Rome, and the pontiff, in turn, relied on him for advice from Piedmont, the crucial engine of Italian unification. …

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