Rome (Italy). October 29, 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the beatification of Fr. Michele Rua. Famous are the words of the homily of San Paul VI, on 29 October 1972:

“Who is Fr. Rua? He is the first successor of Don Bosco, the Holy Founder of the Salesians. And why is Fr. Rua now beatified, that is, glorified? He is beatified and glorified precisely because he is his successor, that is, continuator: son, disciple, imitator. It is well known that he accomplished others, but first of all, he was a school of the example of the Saint, of his personal work an institution extended, it can be said, over the whole earth; of his life a story, of his rule a spirit, of his holiness a type, a model; he made of the source a current, a river.”

Also, part of that river are the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who in Fr. Rua found a ‘Father’, as illustrated by Sr. Grazia Loparco, Professor of Church History and History of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians at the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences “Auxilium”:

Fr. Michele Rua (1837-1910) was perhaps the most trusted son and then the successor of Don Bosco who had shared his father’s mission from the beginning and the entire project matured over time for the salvation of souls, through the education of young men and young women of the working classes. It is precisely his fidelity to the founder that kept him always attentive to the Institute, its development, the formation of the FMA as educators, open to new works and collaborations with various institutions, in order to consolidate their presence in many countries. To his discretion and sincere affection corresponded the total trust of Mother Caterina Daghero and of the others, who truly recognized him as ‘Father’, a prolongation of Don Bosco. His wise advice was invaluable in nourishing ‘the spirit of the Institute’.

Among his letters to the FMA published in 2010, we read: “The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, wherever they are, deserve and have all my solicitude. How great a part they always have in the inspired works of Don Bosco! […] Love one another and love deeply all of the dear girls entrusted to you” (letter to the FMA of Barcelona, Turin, 11 April 1890).

Especially encouraging the festive oratory in every house as a distinctive Salesian characteristic (often the houses were in agreement but not all the owners accepted that the rooms be used for other works), he recalled that in times of moral disorientation already present, the girls “Instead will be happy if they meet a Sister who consecrates herself with patient, prudent, and I would say, maternal charity for their good. Then they feel they have the desired guide, and a faithful councilor” (Introduction to the General Directory of the FMA Institute, 1895).

On the occasion of the centenary of his death, the studies carried out by the ACSSA (Association of Curators of Salesian History) and by the Salesian Historical Institute, provided the opportunity to study various aspects of his collaboration with the FMA through governing actions, visits to various places, letters, meetings. The documentation found in the archives corrected the traditional image of Fr. Rua, painted as faithful to the Rule to the point of being rather rigid. Charity, on the other hand, was his dominant characteristic also with the FMA.

Among the crucial moments of his government was the juridical separation of the Institute from the Salesian Society, imposed by the Holy See in application of the new canonical Norms of 1901. Fidelity to Don Bosco was the motivation given to the two religious families since fidelity to the Church was the distinctive trait of the common Founding Father.

Even if he was no longer the official Superior, by keeping to the essentials he remained a Father, ready to give advice and help, prudent in asking for the collaboration of the FMA in the schools and houses of formation for men. In this way, he managed to preserve, together with Mother Daghero, one Salesian face at the service of education. The canonical erection of the Provinces, with the start of the regular functioning of the councils, novitiates, and of the bursar, he accompanied the development of the FMA as an International Institute with an autonomous government.

50 years after the beatification of Fr. Rua, and in the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the FMA Institute, one still feels vital his contribution to consolidating the roots of a tree that had to preserve its identity, adapting to the change of seasons and environments.


  1. Grazie per questa commemorazione del Beato don Michele Tua. A lui affido la mia fedeltà al carisma del Santo Fondatore e quella di ogni FMA del mondo. In particolare lo prego perché in ogni nostra comunità cresca e si irrobustisca lo Spirito di famiglia con una più viva carità fraterna e la comunione


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