Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Don Bosco Relics Visit DC and National Shrine

The following comes from 9 News Now:

During his life, St. John Bosco pushed to change the idea that young people did not matter. He founded the Salesians of Don Bosco, the international organization of priests and men devoted to helping youth.

Monday, Sept. 27, 2010, St. Bosco's wax figure and urn traveled safely to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The public will be able to view the relic Tuesday starting at 8:30 a.m. A special Mass will be held at 6:30 p.m.

St. Bosco (aka Don Bosco) was born near Turin, Italy in 1815. He made it his business to look out for young people suffering during the cholera-rampant age of the Industrial Revolution.

Father Steve Shafran coordinated the arrival of the relic's stop in Washington. The relic has been on a world-wide tour since April, 2009 for St. Bosco's upcoming 200th birthday in 2015.

"Young people were treated like trash and abused and also really repressed. And so he wanted to come up with a system where young people can be respected," says Shafran, president of the Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, Md. The school was founded to provide high school education for youth facing financial hardship.

"This Saint's message was powerful when he was alive and it's even more powerful today," says Shafran.

"Despite the world around them, despite war, despite difficulty and a lot of addictions, that [young people] are respected and loved and we want them to have a successful future no matter what religion, no matter who they are, no matter their background," he says.

The saint is also known as Don Bosco. He is buried in Italy, and his relic contains actual bones and tissue from his body.

"To have St. John Bosco's remains travel around the world is very exciting, because many people don't have the opportunity to go to Italy," says Shafran.

"To welcome the founder which is my hero, an inspiration for young people which I've dedicated my life to...is a blessing for me and my own vocation," says Shafran.

The wax figure rests inside a glass urn and surrounded by a cart made of wood and metal. The urn weighs over 1800 pounds.

The hired construction workers built special scaffolding to prepare for the transportation of the relic inside the Basilica. The workers had previous experience moving pieces of marble and artwork at the National Shrine.

"So they have the unique expertise in bringing very large, very heavy, very fragile works of art, and in this case an actual saint into the Basilica," says Jacquelyn Hayes, Director of Communications at the Basilica of the National Shrine.

St. Bosco's relic will prepare for travel to New York City at the end of Mass Tuesday.

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