Valdocco (Turin). On 3 October 2020, in Turin-Valdocco (Italy), the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, officially inaugurated Don Bosco House Museum, the renovated museum layout of the places of the origins of Don Bosco’s work.
At the inauguration, moderated by the journalist Antonio Labanca, civil and religious authorities were present, including the Mayor of Turin, Chiara Appendino; the Undersecretary of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and for Tourism, Dr. Anna Laura Orrico; Msgr. Cesare Nosiglia, Archbishop of Turin; the Rector Major Emeritus, Fr. Pascual Chávez Villanueva; the Mother General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sister Yvonne Reungoat; and some General Councilors, including the Councilor for the Salesian Family, Sister Maria Luisa Miranda; the Provincial of the Piedmontese Province Mary Help of Christians (IPI), Sr. Emma Bergandi; SDB, FMA, and representatives of the Salesian Family Groups.
Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime welcomed those present and recalled the particulars of the Museum: “This reality of Don Bosco House is first of all a home and then a museum. We offer the beauty of a building that has returned to its origins and is not just a museum, but a living reality, which tells a story that never ends. It is a patrimony for the whole world, an educational and spiritual patrimony which is alive today, as it was with Don Bosco, in the continuity of the Salesian Family in 134 nations of the world. It is like a lung that breathes today and offers the best that Don Bosco left us, for this we try to be faithful to the tradition we have received.”
The museum in the space dedicated to the Salesian Family and Salesian Holiness will be enriched with finds that will come from the different realities of the Salesian Family Groups.
The museologist Fr. Cristian Besso, SDB, and Stefania De Vita, Director of the museum; the sculptor Massimo Chiappetta, Head of the museum museographic project and Arch; Sergio Sabbadini, Head of the architectural project, who told the public about the choices made to bring to light the beauty of this heritage.
Don Bosco House Museum, compared to the installation in 2000, has an area of about 4,000 square meters and includes 27 exhibition spaces that involve the entire Pinardi area. The underground space in correspondence with the courtyard was added to with the refectories and the kitchen of Mamma Margherita, where the life of the first young community of the original Oratory took place. Here it was decided to exhibit the collection of objects related to Marian devotion, which was once located in an exhibition space under the Basilica. The small rooms, which have been a pilgrimage destination since 1914, offer a better view of the spaces and objects of Don Bosco’s life, including two original minutes of the Foundation of the Salesian Congregation. The first floor of the Don Bosco House Museum is also completely renovated, with the rooms dedicated to the paintings of the Basilica, the original clothes of Don Bosco – including all the vestments in gold thread prepared for his beatification – and many objects related to the main collaborators of Don Bosco (cf. Bollettino Salesiano).
Next to the large canvas by the Piedmontese painter Enrico Reffo, depicting Saint Francis de Sales, there will be exhibited until January 31st 2021 the painting of the “Madonna”, traditionally located in the Marian chapel at “Our Lady of Grace” Institute of the FMA in Nizza Monferrato (AT). It was commissioned from Reffo in 1905 by Mother Elisa Roncallo for the girls who attended the Institute. The canvas represents the Madonna sitting on the throne wrapped in a large blue mantle, and in her arms is the sleeping Baby Jesus.
The event ended on 4 October with the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians and the official opening of the House-museum to the public, which Fr. Ángel in his homily defined as “a school of holiness and Christian life, the legacy that Don Bosco left to his family saying: ‘do the same today’.”