On Oct. 5, St. John Bosco will be closer to Canadians than ever before — his relics will be on display at St. Benedict parish in Toronto.
It’s the first stop in Canada for the Don Bosco Among Us Relic Tour through 130 countries that kicked off on Jan. 31, 2009, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The tour will make its way on to Montreal Oct. 6-8 and then to Surrey, B.C., Oct. 8-10, before continuing elsewhere until 2015, the 200th anniversary of his birth in Turin, Italy.
“In this case, there are two relics travelling the world,” said Fr. George Harkins, director of the Salesians, the order he founded, of Toronto and Hamilton. “The hand is coming to the Americas... and the arm is going to Asia.”
Displayed in a glass box mounted on a large wood and metal cart, the bones and tissues of the right hand and arm have been placed within a wax replica of the Italian saint. They have been recomposed from the urn that contained his remains since 1929 when his body was exhumed for his beatification and canonization.
But Harkins said it must be remembered that a relic is an object for religious veneration, not adoration.
“We don’t honour a body part or clothing. We don’t venerate that in itself but what it represents.”
In this case, Canadians will be able to see the special meaning behind St. John Bosco’s hand, he said.
“We have his hand and it’s to remind us that it’s the hand with which he blessed everything and everyone,” said Harkins. “It’s the hand of baptizing, the hand of absolution, the sacrament of Reconciliation, the hand of giving communion, the hand that he wrote with, that he taught with, tailored, did carpentry work, shoe making and bricklaying with. It signifies something important in his life since he is the apostle of young people.”
Harkins quotes the new Catechism of the Catholic Church to show that relics do not break any commandments, through the example of images.
“Christian veneration of images is still not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, the honour rendered to an image passes to its prototype and whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.”
He likens it to having pictures of our grandparents we respect very greatly.
St. John Bosco’s whole body is to be found in the Basilica of Our Lady Help of Christians in Turin, Italy.
Harkins said that this relics’ tour is important because instead of people having to travel to see relics, the relics are coming to the people.
“He’s coming to all his young people and especially the young and the poor whom he has devoted his whole life to. It’s a great honour that he’s coming to us. People can’t all go to him so he’s coming to them.”
Students at Toronto’s St. John Bosco Catholic School will be some of the young people in attendance.
Principal Waldo Aristizabal said that the school will be sending both a primary and a junior class to St. Benedict parish on Oct. 5.
“The relics are important to our school given the fact that our school has the name of St. John Bosco… Because of that, we want to be as close as possible to these relics by visiting them and sending a couple of classes representing us.”
Welcome to the Blog! I am a Salesian of Don Bosco and was ordained to the priesthood on August 26, 2000. I hope this site is a place of interest for you where you will find ideas and information on the Catholic faith and on Salesianity.