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May is traditionally dedicated to honouring and seeking the intercession of Mary as the Mother of God and Mother of the Church. For Mary's month, click on 'Mary' in genres to see our selection of books, medallions and prayers.


Saint John Bosco has inspired thousands of people, young and old, priests, brothers, sisters and lay people, to strive for holiness in their lives. The Church has recognised many of them as outstanding in holiness and deserving the titles of Saint, Blessed, Venerable or Servant of God.


Saint John Bosco, 1815-1888

Saint John Bosco, 1815-1888

31st January

Founder of the Society of St Francis de Sales, (the Salesians of Don Bosco) and co-founder of the Salesian Sisters, Giovanni Melchior Bosco was born at Castelnuovo d'Asti on 16 August 1815 into a peasant family.

His father, Francesco Bosco, died when John was two, and his mother, Margherita Occhiena raised her three sons, Anthony, Joseph and young John, alone. She was a wise educator, who made her family home a domestic church by exercising a gentle firmness and love, combined with boundless faith.

Through a series of events in his youth, not least a very powerful dream he had as a young boy, he learned to become a leader for the young people he grew up with, many of whom were very badly behaved. In order to relate to them he needed to develop certain skills. He learned that by combining entertainment with teaching and praying he could achieve positive results. Entertained by his magic tricks and balancing acts, the young people would gladly listen to a lesson or pray with John Bosco.

John began to feel the desire to become a priest from an early age, and as a seminarian, he began to apply the approach he had developed to educating and evangelising boys in the area. When he moved to the city of Turin, he found large numbers of young people who were abandoned and without hope in the midst of the industrial revolution. He was shocked at the conditions they endured and the things they did to enable them to eat, and to survive. This was the human cost of the industrial revolution, and the young priest found it unbearable.

The situation poor boys found themselves in and the lack of compassion and opportunity they faced, led many into criminal behaviour. His mentor, St Joseph Cafasso, known as 'the saint of the gallows' had taken John to visit boys in prison. He was devastated, and wrote "To see so many children, from 12 to 18 years of age, all healthy, strong, intelligent, lacking spiritual and material food, was something that horrified me." In the face of such a situation he made his decision: "I must, by any available means, prevent children ending up here."

In response, he created what was at first a wandering 'festive oratory' (held at different places on Sundays, when working boys had some free time). Eventually the oratory settled at Valdocco, a poor district of the city, where Don Bosco took in orphans, assisted by his aging mother, who left her home to support his work. Here, boys could learn a trade, get an education, have enjoy good company and healthy games, and become closer to God through religious instruction.

His approach became known as the Preventive System, using 'reason, religion and loving kindness', rather than threats and violence. He believed that education was at the heart of the solution, and that by accompanying boys at risk and making them realise they were loved, he could steer them clear of trouble and equip them to live a far better life.

As his work grew, assisted by many of the first boys he educated, and by some very wealthy local people who saw the value in his work, Don Bosco, with the support and guidance of Pope Pius IX, founded his congregation of men dedicated to the salvation and education of young people. It took the title the Society of St Francis de Sales, as Don Bosco was inspired by the charity and kindness of the 'gentle saint'. Soon after, together with St Mary Mazzarello, he founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, a congregation of women who could support girls suffering from the disadvantages of poverty, and a lay association, the Salesian Cooperators, who committed themselves to supporting the work.

He had a tremendous devotion to Mary Help of Christians, and placed his work in her hands from the beginning. When others talked to him of his fantastic achievements, he would always interrupt and say 'I have done nothing by myself. It is Our Lady who has done everything.'

Don Bosco died on 31 January 1888, aged 72. By then, there were 773 Salesians, eleven missionary expeditions had been commissioned, there were almost 150 Salesian missionaries in South America, and the work of the Salesians had already expanded to France (1875), Argentina (1875), Uruguay (1876), Spain (1881), Brazil (1882), Austria (1887) and England (1887).

His feast is celebrated on 31 January.

For more biographical information and downloadable liturgy, images etc, visit sdb.org

Blessed Titus Zeman 1915-1969

Blessed Titus Zeman 1915-1969

8th January

Titus Zeman was born on 4th January 1915, in Vajnory, Slovakia. He was born into a Christian Family, and by the age of 10, he knew that he wanted to become a priest. He completed his studies at the Salesian House in Šaštín, Hronský Svätý Benedikt and Frištak near Holešova. Zeman entered the Salesian Novitiate in 1931 before making his perpetual profession on 7th March 1938 at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Rome.

Zeman studied Theology at the Gregorian University in Rome before going to Chieri. While in Chieri, he would often work in the Oratory in his free time. He was ordained a priest on 23rd June 1940 by Cardinal Maurilio Fossati at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians. He then returned home to say his first Mass on 4th August 1940. And stayed there until 1950 as both a chaplain and catechist.

During the second world war, Slovakia separated from Czechoslovakia and allied itself with Germany. After the war, Czechoslovakia re-emerged, and all Church-run schools were taken over by the state. In 1950, under the communist regime, all religious orders were banned. This led to the potential for religious to be sent to concentration camps.

Zeman took charge of organizing trips to Turin so that those in formation could complete their studies. This was very risky, as had they been found then they would be arrested. But for 2 expeditions, they were successful. However, on the third expedition, Zeman was captured along with 16 others. While he was interrogated, he was often tortured and beaten to the point where his collarbone was broken, and he permanently lost his hearing.

He was described as a traitor and a Vatican spy, and during his trial, it was suggested that he receive the death penalty. However, on 22nd February 1952, due to extenuating circumstances, he was instead sentenced to 25 years in prison.

After 12 years, Zeman was released on probation and went back to Vajnory. In 1967, he was given permission to celebrate Mass alone, and a year later was allowed to celebrate Mass publicly. However, Soviet forces started to invade Czechoslovakia, which caused Zeman to worry about being imprisoned again and led to his first heart attack. His health worsened with the worry about the communist regime and on 9th January 1969, Zeman died as a result from the torture he received in prison.

Zeman was beatified on 30th September 2017 by Pope Francis

You can read more about the life and work of Blessed Titus Zeman here

Blessed Laura Vicuna 1891-1904

Blessed Laura Vicuna 1891-1904

22nd January

Laura Vicuna was born in Santiago, Chile on 5th April 1891. Vicuna's parents José and Mercedes were Chilean aristocrats but were forced into exile due to the revolution. The family found refuge in Temuco, but Vicuna's father died suddenly leaving Vicuna's mother to look after Laura and her sister.

The family eventually ended up in Junin de los Andes. Mercedes needed a way to finance her daughter's education so took a job in a local hotel. The owner the hotel, said that he would pay for the education of Laura in exchange for the work that Mercedes did for him. Soon Laura Vicuna found herself in a school run by the "Daughters of Mary Help of Christians". It was during her time here that she took a deep interest in the Catholic faith.

When the sacraments were being explained and taught, Laura fainted because she understood her mothers' sinfulness. She took Saint Dominic Savio as her model and confided with her best friend that she wanted to become a nun.

When the owner of the hotel where her mum was working found out, he was greatly unhappy. The owner said that he would no longer fund her education. However, when Vicuna returned to the school, the sisters said that Laura and her sister wouldn't have to pay for their tuition.

When Bishop Cagliero visited, Vicuna told him of her intention to want to be a Salesian Sister but because of her age, Don Cagliero said that she would have to wait until she was a bit older before she could become a sister.

But Laura Vicuna knew that it would be difficult to become a sister, because of the actions of her mother. So, she began offering her life up to Jesus for her mother, so that she would be able to go to heaven. On hearing this news from Laura, her mother agreed to go to Confession and Confirmation.

Laura Vicuna died on 22nd January 1904.

Laura was beatified on 3rd June 1988 by Pope John Paul II.

You can read more about the life of Laura Vicuna here

Blessed Louis Variara 1875-1923

Blessed Louis Variara 1875-1923

15th January

Louis Variara was born in Asti on 15th January 1875. His parents were Pietro Variara and Livia Bussa. Louis' father had heard Don Bosco speak in 1856, when he arrived in the village to preach a mission. Louis' father then decided to send Louis to Valdocco to continue his studies. Louis briefly met Don Bosco before Don Bosco passed away a few months after Louis' arrival. But this brief encounter left a massive impression on Louis, and this led to Louis to want to join the Salesian Congregation.

On 17th August 1891, Variara joined the Salesians and started his novitiate. Variara studied Philosophy at Valsalice. After Variara finished his novitiate, Fr Michele Unia SDB visited Valsalice. Don Unia was looking for a cleric to join him with the work in Colombia. Don Unia picked Variara out of the 188 candidates.

Variara arrived in Agua de Dios, Colombia on 6th August 1894. The mission there had 2000 inhabitants of which 800 were lepers. Shortly after Variara's arrival, Don Unia died, leaving Variara and three others to continue the mission. Variara would do so, and in 1898 was ordained to the priesthood.

In 1905, Variara opened the "Father Michele Unia Youth Hostel" in memory of Don Unia. The kindergarten was able to hold 150 orphans and lepers in it, allowing them to learn a trade and giving them a path of insertion into society. With encouragement from Don Rua, and with permission of the local bishop, Variara founded the "Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary". This order would provide care for those in the youth hostel. There were many, though, that opposed this order as it gave women lepers the opportunity to enter the religious life. However, Variara remained firm in his work.

In 1921, he was moved to Tariba in Venezuela, after being moved from place to place. His health started to worsen, and he was eventually moved back to Colombia in Cucuta, where on 1st February 1923, he died. He was laid to rest in Agua de Dios.

Louis Variara was beatified on 14th April 2002 by Pope John Paul II.

Blessed Bronislaus Markiewicz 1842-1912

Blessed Bronislaus Markiewicz 1842-1912

30th January

Bronislaus Markiewicz was born on 13 July 1842 in Pruchnik in Galicia (southern Poland), sixth of eleven children, to a religious lower middle class family. He knew what it was to face hunger, poverty and persecution, and when we became a priest in 1867, he strongly felt called to help the poor, espesially the youngest, which led him to Don Bosco in Italy.

He asked to be a member of the Salesian Congregation and in 1887 he made his perpetual vows before Don Bosco himself. He therefore had the good fortune to listen to the saint's recommendations and to assimilate his spirit directly.

In 1892 he returned to Poland as a Salesian, where he devoted himself to poor and abandoned youth. To respond in the best possible way to the concrete needs of the poor in Galicia, Bronislaus felt the need to live Don Bosco's principles more radically and, advised by his collaborators, he founded the Work and Temperance Society. Nine years after his death, the society, in its male and female branches, was recognized by the Church giving rise to two Congregations placed under the protection of St Michael the Archangel. Its members took the name of Michaelites.

He died in Miejsce Piestowe, Poland, on 29 January 1912, and was beatified on 19 June 2005 under the pontificate of Benedict XVI.

His memorial is celebrated on 30 January.

For more biographical information and downloadable resources, visit sdb.org


Saint Callistus Caravario 1903-1930

Saint Callistus Caravario 1903-1930

25th February

Callistus Caravario was born at Cuorgné, in the province of Turin, on June 18, 1903. He entered the novitiate and became a Salesian. In 1922, Bishop Versiglia was in Turin and spoke of the missions to the Brothers. Callistus told him: "Bishop, you will see me in China."

After travelling as a missionary for a few years, in May 18, 1929, Callistus returned to Shiuchow, where bishop Versiglia ordained him priest and entrusted him with the mission at Linchow.

On February 13, 1930, Fr Caravario was in Shiuchow to accompany the bishop on his pastoral visit to the Linchow mission. Some young boys and girls who had been studying in Shiuchow went with them. On February 25, a group of Bolshevik pirates stopped the bishop's boat, wanting to take the girls. Bishop Versiglia and Fr Callistus stopped them. They were taken by force and ultimately shot, but before they were killed they heard one another's confessions. Their last breath was spent for their beloved China.

Pope Paul VI declared them martyrs in 1976, John Paul II declared them Blessed in 1983 and canonized them on October 1, 2000.

Their feast is celebrated on 25 February.

Source: Salesian Missions

Find more information at sdb.org

Blessed Eusebia Palermino Yenes 1899-1935

Blessed Eusebia Palermino Yenes 1899-1935

9th February

Eusebia Palermino Yenes was born on 15th December 1899 in Cantalpino. Spain. Her family were quite poor, and when her father wasn't working during the winter months, she would often accompany him to neighbouring towns to beg for food. It was during these moments that her father would teach Eusebia about catechism.

Eusebia first went to an all-girls school but left to look after her parents. She then would work in a wealthy household before working as a nanny then as an assistant in a hospice. She would regularly find herself in the Sancti Spiritus school chapel that the Salesian Sisters managed. Eusebia felt called to become a religious, and she joined the novitiate in 1924. She was sent to Valverde del Camino and was assigned to be a cook and domestic helper.

She was a very faithful person, and people would often come to her for advice, and in 1930 made her solemn profession. She predicted the Spanish Civil war and offered herself as a victim for Spain. Not too soon after that, she began to feel ill. She died on 10th February 1935.

She was declared venerable on 17th December 1996 and beatified by Pope John Paul II on 25th April 2004.

Her feast day is celebrated on the 9th February.

Saint Louis Versiglia 1873-1930

Saint Louis Versiglia 1873-1930

25th February

Louis Versiglia was born in Oliva Gessi on 5th June 1873. In 1885, at the age of 12, he joined the Salesian Oratory in Valdocco. Initially, Louis said that he did not want to become a priest. However, through his time there, his mind began to change, and Don Bosco was able to convince him that priesthood would be good for him. One day in passing, Don Bosco told Louis "Come and see me, I have something to tell you", however soon after this, Don Bosco became ill and would soon succumb to the illness.

Louis remained loyal to Don Bosco and felt the call that Don Bosco had issued, and at the end of his studies, he made the request to "remain with Don Bosco". His wish was that one day he would be able to be a missionary, so at the age of 16, he made his first religious vows to the Salesian Congregation.

Louis earned a degree in Philosophy which led him to his priestly ordination in 1895. His desire to become a missionary grew over his time studying but felt that he lacked certain qualities that would allow him to do that. After he was ordained a priest, Don Rua (the then Rector Major), made him rector and novice master in the Salesian house in Genzano near Rome. And for the next 10 years he led the house in formation and was adored not only by the Salesians, but the residents of Genzano. However, he still felt his calling was as a missionary, and in 1905, he took the first group of Salesian Missionaries over to China.

Upon arrival into China, Fr Versiglia, was greeted by the local bishop, and started work in and orphanage. For the next 12 years, the orphanage grew and moved to a larger property, and was transformed into a technical school for around 200 boarding students.

In 1918, the Holy See entrusted the Salesians with the new mission of Shiu-Chow. Fr Versiglia was tasked with organizing the mission here, and it was during this time that he was made a bishop in 1921. Continuing his mission, he set up 55 mission stations, built an orphanage and a formation house for female catechists as well as a school for male catechists.

In 1930, Fr Vergsiglia and Fr Callisto Caravario, were travelling by boat along a river when pirates boarded the ship and ordered them to pay 500 dollars to allow their safe passage. However, they didn't have that much money. The pirates subdued the two missionaries and knocked them unconscious. When they both regained consciousness, they heard each other's confessions, before being led down a path to a wooded area. Fr Versiglia begged the pirates to spare Fr Caravario's life, but they refused, and both missionaries were killed.

He was Beatified on 15th May 1983 by Pope John Paul II, and canonized on 1st October 2000.

His feast is celebrated with Callistus Caravario on the 25th February.


Saint Louis Orione 1872-1940

Saint Louis Orione 1872-1940

12th March

Luigi Orione was born in Pontecurone, Italy on 23rd June 1872. Luigi was keen on joining the priesthood from a very young age. At 13 he joined the Franciscan Friary of Voghera, but left not soon after, as he contracted Pneumonia.

Between 1886 and 1889, he was a pupil of St. John Bosco in the oratory in Valdocco. Don Bosco saw the qualities of Luigi and was one of his favourite pupils. Luigi was one of the people present at the death of St. John Bosco.

After leaving the oratory in 1889, Luigi joined the seminary of Tortona. When entering the seminary, he devoted his life to the care of others and became a member of the San Marziano Society for Mutual Help and the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

In 1892, he opened the first Oratory in Tortona for the Christian training of young people, before starting a boarding school for poor boys the following year, in the Saint Bernadine estate. On 13th April 1895, Luigi Orione was ordained a priest. At the same time, 6 pupils of the boarding school were given the clerical habit by the bishop.

Around this time, the first works of the Little Work of Divine Providence were realised and would later receive authorisation of the bishop as a religious congregation and called the Sons of Divine Providence.

There was an earthquake in Messina (southern Italy) in 1908. The earthquake ended up killing more than 80,000 people. Fr. Luigi went to the area to help where he could, especially helping orphaned children and promoting the religious work in the reconstruction of the buildings. He was made the Vicar General of Messina for the three years he was there. He also went to Marsica, in 1915, when the area was also hit by a similar earthquake. In the same year, 20 years after founding the Sons of Divine Providence, he founded the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity. He would continue to start other foundations through his life.

At the end of the First World War, Fr Luigi, continued to found schools, boarding houses, agricultural schools, and increase the work of charity and welfare. His work expanded across Italy and into the Americas.

He continued his work into 1940, where illness started to take over. He died on 12th March 1940 in Sanremo, Italy.

He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 26th October 1980 and Canonised on 16th May 2004.


Saint Mary Mazzarello 1837-1881

Saint Mary Mazzarello 1837-1881

13th May

Maria Domenica Mazzarello, co-founder of the Salesian Sisters, was born on 9th May 1837 at Mornese in the Alessandria region of Italy. In her family she received a grounding in solid piety, hard work and a remarkable common sense and judgement which stood her in good stead when she became a Religious Superior.

At the age of fifteen she enrolled in the Association of Daughters of Mary Immaculate and started to take part in apostolic work for the girls of the area. A serious bout of typhoid contracted when she was 23 had a profound effect on her spiritual development. This experience of being physically frail deepened her sense of abandonment to God, but also moved her to open a dressmaking workshop in order to teach girls about work, prayer and the love of God. Thanks to her devout sacramental life and the wise guidance of Don Pestarino she made great progress in spirituality.

When Don Bosco visited Mornese on 8th October 1864 she remarked "Don Bosco is a saint – I can sense it".

In 1872 Don Bosco chose her to help him found the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. As Superior she showed herself to be an able teacher and guide in the spiritual life. She had the gift of serene and comforting cheerfulness, radiating joy and drawing other young people to dedicate themselves to the education of girls.

After her death the Institute continued to develop rapidly. She left her Daughters a style of education permeated with gospel values: the search for God, known through enlightened teaching and fervent love, responsibility in work, openness and humility, austerity of life and joyful self giving.

She died at Nizza Monferrato on 14 May 14 1881, at the age of 44. At her death the Institute already had 165 sisters and 65 novices scattered across 28 houses (19 in Italy, 3 in France and 6 in America).

She was beatified by Pius XI in 1938 and canonised by Pius XII on 24 June 1951.

Her feast is celebrated on 13 May.

For more biographical information and downloadable resources, visit sdb.org

Blessed Joseph Kowalski 1911-1942

Blessed Joseph Kowalski 1911-1942

29th May

Joseph Kowalski was born in Siedliska near Rzeszów, Poland, on 13 March 1911, into a modest farming family. He attended the Salesian College at Oswiecim (Auschwitz). In 1928, he made his first vows as a Salesian, and received his priestly ordination on 29 May 1938 in Krakow.

During the Nazi occupation of Poland, the Salesians tried to continue with their education and youth work, despite the ban on non-approved programmes, but on 23 May 1941, Joseph was one of twelve Salesians arrested in Krakow by the Gestapo.

He was sent to Auschwitz on 26 June, receiving the number 17,350. In the camp, he did all he could to encourage his fellow prisoners in Block 25, bringing them spiritual comfort and urging their will to survive; secretly administering the sacraments, talking to them about Don Bosco; and at least once, publicly giving absolution to all of the condemned at a mass execution.

He suffered beatings and humiliation for being a Catholic priest, and on 3 July 1942, he was severely beaten and then drowned. He was 31 years old.

In his last letter to his parents, he wrote: 'Do not worry about me; I am in God's hands. I want to assure you that I feel His help at every step. Despite the present situation, I am happy and completely at peace.'

Blessed Joseph was one of the 108 Polish martyrs who died at the hands of the Nazis, beatified on 13th June 1999 by St John Paul II, and we celebrate him on 29th May.

For more biographical information and downloadable resources, visit sdb.org

Saint Dominic Savio 1842 - 1857

Saint Dominic Savio 1842 - 1857

6th May

This young saint who was taught and guided by Don Bosco himself, reminds us that we are all called to be saints.

Born on 2 April 1842 in a small village near Chieri, not far from Turin, Dominic showed great devotion to the sacraments from a very early age. After meeting Don Bosco, he became a student at the Oratory, and famously asked Don Bosco how he could become a saint: 'It is easy,' Don Bosco replied, "The way to be a saint, Dominic, is to be always cheerful, do your duties to the best of your ability, and give your classmates good example. Keep in mind that the Lord Jesus is always with you and wants your happiness."

Dominic followed his advice, doing the ordinary, everyday things in an extraordinary way, and encouraging others with his cheerfulness and devotion. He showed great courage in standing up to those whose behaviour conflicted with Catholic teaching, gently correcting them and persuading them to change their ways. Many of Don Bosco's boys were tough street kids who had often been on the wrong side of the law, but this slight, quiet, pious boy was able to influence and inspire them. On one occasion, Dominic silently accepted the blame for the actions of another boy, because he knew the bad reputation of the real offender would have led to a more severe punishment than the one he himself was given. He was popular among the boys, and was a great support to those who were going through difficult times.

In his biography of Dominic, Don Bosco tells us that he would often enter a deeply spiritual state in prayer, which he referred to as his 'distractions'. He told his mentor, "I get a distraction and lose the thread of my prayers and then I see such wonderful things that the hours pass by like minutes." In one of his spiritual experiences, he told Don Bosco he had a vision of England, lit up anew by the Catholic faith.

Dominic did not live to see the Salesian mission arriving in England in 1887. With his delicate health failing, he was sent home to recover, but on 8 March 1857, aged 14, he died, after receiving the Sacrament of the Sick and the Papal Blessing, and surrounded by his family. His last words were "Oh, what wonderful things I see."

Dominic's exemplary life of holiness led to him becoming the first young person to be made a saint, who had not been martyred for their faith. He was canonised by Pope Pius XII on 12 June 1954.

Dominic is the patron saint of altar servers, the wrongly accused, and juvenile offenders. His feast day is 6 May.

I can't do big things. But I want all that I do, even the smallest thing, to be for the greater glory of God.

St Dominic Savio

For more information about Dominic's life, visit sdb.org

Image by Mario Caffaro-Rore via sdb.org

Saint Leonardo Murialdo 1828-1900

Saint Leonardo Murialdo 1828-1900

18th May

Leonardo Murialdo was born in Turin on 26th October 1828. Leonardo was part of a large family and was the sixth of 9 children, but his father died early in Leonardo's childhood. His mother sent Leonardo to a boarding school in Savona and was there from 1836 to 1843.

When he returned to Turin, he attended Theology courses at the university, before becoming a priest in 1851. Don Murialdo wanted to help with the issues that were affecting the young people in Turin. So, he collaborated with Don Bosco and Don Cafasso. Don Murialdo was firstly helping at the Guardian angel oratory, before accepting Don Bosco's invitation of becoming director of the Oratory of St Aloysius at Port Nuova.

After a short time in Paris, to further his theological studies, he once again returned to Turin, and took charge of the Artigianelli Boarding School. It was during his time here that he established the Congregation of Saint Joseph, now known as the Congregation of St. Joseph/Josephites of Murialdo. The aim of this congregation was to support apprentices and people in trades.

In 1885, Don Murialdo suffered from serious bronchitis for about 6 weeks. Don Bosco visited and blessed him during this time. Don Murialdo lived through it and lived until the 30th March 1900 due to pneumonia.

Leonardo Murialdo was beautified by Pope Paul VI on 3rd November 1963, and then canonised him on 3rd May 1970.


Blessed Stephen Sándor 1914-1953

Blessed Stephen Sándor 1914-1953

8th June

Stephen Sándor was born on 26th November 1914, in Szolnok in Hungary. He was the eldest of three children, his father worked on the railways, and his mother stayed at home. Stephen's parents were very religious and passed that spirit down to their children.

Stephen's friends admired him as he was often happy, but serious and gentle, in equal measures. He was also an example for his younger brothers, and often helped lead them in prayer and studying.

Every day, he would serve Mass with the Franciscans. He would often read the Salesian Bulletin, and this is how he got to know Don Bosco. After speaking with his spiritual director and having to convince his parents, he was accepted at the Clarisseum in Budapest. He was an aspirant there for two years, completing a course on printing at the Don Bosco printery. He then began his novitiate; however, this was disrupted by being called by military service.

He restarted his novitiate upon his return and made his first vows in 1940. He then began teaching technical courses. He also fostered Young Catholic Workers and assisted in the Oratory. However, in 1942, he was called back to the military front line and acted as a correspondent and telegrapher. Upon the end of the war, he was held in captivity by the American army and was released in 1945.

When he returned, he went back to work in the press at the Clarisseum. He helped to rebuild society, both materially and morally, especially poor young people. During this time, he made his perpetual profession on 24th July 1946. He gained the title of Master Printer after passing his exam in 1948.

In 1950, the state made the operation of religious orders illegal, which affected the Salesians in Hungary. He worked as a vestryman, but also worked with young people in secret. Some of those young people were conscripted and some stayed in touch with Stephen. But the state heard of the work that Stephen was doing with the Young People, causing Stephen to have to change his name, and arrangements being made for him to leave Hungary. However, Stephen felt that he could not leave the young people and decided to return to Budapest.

Eventually, Stephen was arrested, and while in prison, he was beaten several times with the aim of confessing to his crimes. Eventually he was put on trial, in secret, and sentenced to death. Stephen as well as three others were killed on 8th June 1953. Stephen is recognised as a martyr by the Catholic Church and was beatified on 19th October 2013 by Cardinal Angelo Amato.

Blessed Francis Kęsy & Companions

Blessed Francis Kęsy & Companions

12th June

The five young Polish Salesian martyrs, Blesseds Francis Kęsy, Edward Klinik, Jarog Wojciechowski, Czesław Jóźwiak and Edward Kazmierski, attended the Salesian oratory in Poznan, Poland, and were involved in the youth work there. Following the Nazi occupation, Francis took a job in a factory, spending his free time at the oratory, and after the house was taken over by the Nazis as a barracks, the young people gathered in the woods, to continue their prayer and the work of the youth groups. In September 1940, these five young men were arrested, accused of belonging to an illegal organisation - the fear was that Catholic groups like these could form the basis of a resistance movement.

Following torture they were sentenced to hard labour, split up in different prisons for some of the time. They prayed the office daily, said the rosary and made novenas to Don Bosco and Mary Help of Christians. and remained strong and courageous in their faith, cheerfully supporting other prisoners and reassuring their families in notes smuggled out to them.

In 1942, they were returned to their home town, found guilty of high treason, and sentenced to death. They faced this with exemplary faith and courage. In his final letter, Francis wrote: 'My dearest parents, brothers and sisters, the time has come to say goodbye to you on August 24, the day of Mary Help of Christians ... May the Good Lord take me to himself. Don't have regrets that I am leaving this world so young. I am now in a state of grace. ... I am going to heaven. There I shall pray to God ... Pray sometimes for me ... I'm going now.'

They were guillotined in a prison in Dresden on 24th August 1942. At the time of their deaths, they were aged 19 - 23.

Their memorial is celebrated on 12th June.

Franciszek Kęsy 1920-1942
Czesław Jóźwiak 1919-1942
Edward Kazmierski 1919-1942
Edward Klinik 1919-1942
Jarogniew Wojciechowski 1922-1942

For more biographical information and downloadable resources, visit sdb.org

Saint Joseph Cafasso 1811-1860

Saint Joseph Cafasso 1811-1860

23rd June

Joseph Cafasso was born in Castelnuovo d'Asti in 1811. Son of small land owners, he was the third of four children, of whom the last, Marianna, would be the mother of Blessed Fr Joseph Allamano. From when he was very young the family and the entire village regarded him as a young saint. He completed his theological studies at the seminary in Chieri and in 1833 was ordained priest. Four months later he went to the Convitto Ecclesiastico, a residential pastoral institute for putting the finishing touches to his priestly and pastoral formation. He would remain involved there for the rest of his life, eventually becoming its Rector.

Joseph studied and gained a deeper understanding of the spirituality of St Francis de Sales, which he then passed on to one student in particular: John Bosco. Cafasso, his spiritual director from 1841 to 1860, contributed to forming and guiding Don Bosco's spirituality.

Typical of his teaching was his appreciation of daily duty as a way to holiness. As the Founder of the Salesians also testified: "the extraordinary virtue of Cafasso was his marvellously faithful and consistent practice of ordinary virtues".

Always attentive to the needs of the poor, he visited and also financially supported those who were poorest, bringing them the consolation that came from his priestly ministry. His apostolate also consisted in spiritual accompaniment of prisoners and those condemned to death, and he became known as 'the priest of the gallows', as he stood alongside prsoners to their very last moments.

After a short illness he died at just 49 years of age on 23 June 1860. He was beatified in 1925 and canonised by Pius XII in 1947, who later proposed him as a model for priests.

His feast day is 23 June.

For more biographical information and downloadable resources, visit sdb.org


Blessed Maria Romero Meneses 1902-1977

Blessed Maria Romero Meneses 1902-1977

7th July

Maria Romero Meneses was born in Granada, Nicaragua on 13th January 1902. Maria was one of eight children, and she was the daughter of a government minister. When she was 12, she went to the college that was run by the "Daughters of Mary Help of Christians".

However, she soon contracted rheumatic fever, which paralyzed her for 6 months and gave her heart damage which stayed with her for the remainder of her life. Her recovery from illness was a miracle, and this led to her complete and total faith in the Madonna and on 8th December 1915, she joined the Marian association "Daughters of Mary" and in 1920 she joined the "Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians" and started her novitiate on mission in El Salvador.

On 6th January 1929, Maria made her final profession back in Nicaragua. In 1931, she went to San José in Costa Rica where she would teach music, drawing and typing to the rich girls in the school. But she was also very keen to help the poorer girls, just like Don Bosco did with the boys in Turin.

In 1945 Maria began setting up recreational centres then food distribution centres in 1953. Maria wanted to get the richer girls to help with the work for those that were poorer. In 1961, she opened a cottage as a school for poor girls, and then planned to build a village for poor families so they were able to have good homes. Just outside of San José, 7 homes were built, along with farmland, a market, a school and a church.

After this construction, Maria was sent to Leon in Nicaragua for a rest. It was there where she died from a heart attack on 7th July 1977. Maria's remains were sent back to San José, Costa Rica where Maria was declared an honorary citizen of the nation.

Maria was beatified on 14th April 2002 by Pope John Paul II.


Blessed Ceferino Namuncurá 1886-1905

Blessed Ceferino Namuncurá 1886-1905

26th August

Ceferino Namuncurá was born on 26 August 1886 in Chimpay, on the banks of the Rio Negro. His father Manuel, the last great cacique (leader) of the Indigenous Araucan tribes, had surrendered three years earlier to the troops of the Argentine Republic. After eleven years of life in the open countryside, Manuel Namuncurá sent Ceferino to study in Buenos
Aires, so that tomorrow he could defend his race. The family atmosphere in the Salesian college made him fall in love with Don Bosco.

The spiritual dimension grew in him and he began to desire to become a Salesian priest to evangelise his people. He chose Dominic Savio as a model, and during five years, through the extraordinary effort to enter a totally new culture, he himself became another Dominic Savio. His commitment to piety, charity, daily duties and ascetic exercise was exemplary.

This boy, who found it difficult to "get in line" or "obey the bell", gradually became a true model. As Don Bosco would have wanted, he was exact in fulfilling his duties of study and prayer. He was the referee at recreation: his word was acccpted by any schoolmates who were in disagreement. The care with which he made the sign of the cross, as if he were meditating on every word, impressed people; by his example he corrected his companions by teaching them to do it slowly and with devotion. In l903 (sixteen and a half years old, and his father was baptised at the age of eighty), Bishop Cagliero accepted him among the group of aspirants in Viedma, capital of the Apostolic Vicariate, to begin the study of Latin.

Because of his poor health, the Salesian bishop decided to take Ceferino to Italy so he could continue his studies in a more serious way and in a climate that seemed more suitable. In Italy he met Fr Rua and Pope Pius X, who blessed him with emotion. He attended school in Turin and later in the Salesian Villa Sora College in Frascati. He studied so hard to be
the second of the class.

But an illness undiagnosed at the time, perhaps because he never complained, undid him: tuberculosis. On 28 March 1905 he was taken to the Fatebenefratelli hospital on the Tiber Island in Rome. Too late. He died peacefully on 11 May. Since 1924 his mortal remains have been in his homeland, at Fortín Mercedes, where crowds of pilgrims come to
venerate him.

Declared Venerable 22 June 1972; beatified on 11 November 2007 during the pontificate of Benedict XVI

Blessed Maria Troncatti 1883-1969

Blessed Maria Troncatti 1883-1969

25th August

Maria Troncatti was born in Corteno Golgi, in the province of Brescia, on 16 February 1883 to a large family of mountain farmers. She grew up happy and hard-working among the fields and the care of her siblings, in a warm atmosphere of parental affection. The Salesian Bulletin came to Corteno and Mary, rich in Christian values, began thinking of a religious vocation. Initially her father disagreed but as soon as his daughter was of legal age, 21, he gave his consent. Mary asked to be admitted to the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and made her first profession in 1908 at Nizza Monferrato.

During the First World War she attended health care courses in Varazze and worked as a Red Cross nurse in the military hospital. Following a violent storm, Maria promised Our Lady that if he saved her life, she would leave for the missions. Our Lady saved her and Sister Maria asked Mother General if she could go among the lepers. Seven years later, Mother Caterina Daghero sent her to Ecuador.

In 1925 she landed in the Bay of Guayaquil and reached Chunchi where she was a nurse and pharmacist for a short time. Accompanied by the missionary Bishop Comin and a small expedition group, Sister Mary and two other sisters entered the Amazon forest.

Their mission field was the land of the Shuar Indians in the south-eastern part of Ecuador. As soon as they arrived in Mendez, Sister Maria earned the esteem of the Shuar tribe by working with a penknife to save the daughter of a chief. She had been wounded by a bullet. They settled permanently in Macas, a village of settlers surrounded by the collective housing of the Shuar, in a small house on a hill. Just as Don Bosco was a father and teacher Sister Mary became a mother, and for 44 years she would be known as "Madrecita" by everyone.

A difficult work of evangelisation began in the midst of all kinds of risks. She was a nurse, surgeon, orthopedist, dentist and anesthesiologist, but above all a catechist rich in wonderful resources of faith, patience and Salesian kindness. Her work for the promotion of the Shuar woman flourished in hundreds of new Christian families, who for the first time could make a free personal choice as young spouses. She worked mainly in the field of education and health at the Pius XII hospital in Sucúa and in numerous clinics. She is the mother of the missions of the Apostolic Vicariate of Méndez: Mácas, Méndez, Sevilla don Bosco and Sucúa, making endless visits into the Amazon jungle.

On 25 August 1969, Sister Maria was about to fly to Sucúa for a retreat. The plane crashed shortly after take-off. The Shuar Federation radio gave the sad announcement: "Our Mother, Sister Maria Troncatti is dead". Her body lies in Macas.

Blessed Augustus Czartoryski 1858-1893

Blessed Augustus Czartoryski 1858-1893

2nd August

Augustus Czartoryski was born a prince in Paris on 2 August 1858, where his family lived in exile from Poland. He felt God's call to a simpler life, and against the wishes of his family, became a Salesian priest.

'Gucio', as he was called by his family, suffered from poor health from his childhood, and contracted TB from his mother, who died when he was six years old. Despite his fragility, as the only son, the family's hopes of restoration and unity for their land were focused on him.

When he met Don Bosco at his family's home in Paris when he was 25, Augustus realised his vocation was to the Salesians, and he travelled to Turin on retreat as often as he could. Despite his father's opposition to his vocation, Augustus was sure God would show him the way: 'If God wants this, all will be well, since he can remove every obstacle. If he does not want this, then neither do I.'

Although his father did not attend the ordination, he and the family reconciled themselves to his decision shortly afterwards.

Augustus died of tuberculosis in the Salesian house in Alassio on 8th April 1893, a year after he was ordained a priest. A gift he made on entering the Society helped establish the Salesians in Battersea.

At his beatification in 2004, St John Paul II held him up as an example of discernment for young people: 'My dear young friends, learn from Blessed Augustus to ask ardently in prayer for the light of the Holy Spirit and wise guides, so that you may understand the divine plan in your lives'.

His memorial is celebrated on 2 August, the date of his birth.

For more biographical information and downloadable resources, visit sdb.org


Blessed Joseph Calasanz Marquès 1872-1936

Blessed Joseph Calasanz Marquès 1872-1936

22nd September

Fr Joseph Calasanz (1872-1936) was born in Azanuy. In 1886 in Sarrià, he saw Don Bosco, by this time tired and suffering. He became a Salesian in 1890, and a priest five years later. He was secretary to Fr Rinaldi and following that superior of the Province of Perù-Bolivia.

After returning to Spain he became Provincial of Terraconense (Barcelona – Valencia). He was a man of great heart and a hard worker, interested in the salvation of his confreres from the outset.

Between 1936 and 1939 Spain erupted into a bloody and dramatic civil war: It was a conflict which ignited ideological enmities, resulting in a battle between democracy and fascism, between republicans and rebels led by General Franco. The Spanish Church also paid the price, subjected as it was to anarchic militias, and violent persecution.

Blessed Joseph was captured together with other Salesians while he was running a Retreat in Valencia. He was killed while being taken away, with a single shot to the head.

He was beatified together with 31 companions from the Salesian Family from Valencia who were martyred during the Spanish Civil War, between 1936 and 1939: 15 priests; 7 brothers; 6 clerics (priests in training); 2 Salesian Sisters; and a lay co-worker.

Their memorial is celebrated on 22 September.

For more information on all 32 members of this group of Beati, and downloadable resources, visit sdb.org

Enrique Said Aparicio 1889-1936

Enrique Said Aparicio 1889-1936

22nd September

Enrique Said Aparicio was born in Ubierna in Spain on 1st December 1889.

At 16, Aparicio joined the novitiate at the Salesian House in Gerona. On 5th September 1909, he made his profession as a Salesian, and was ordained a priest on 28th July 1918. His main work after being ordained was working in Schools in Barcelona, Madrid, and Salamanca. He was in the provincial house of Madrid-Atocha and then was rector of the college in Carabanchel.

In July 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, the college was attacked by militiamen. These men wanted to make the college a militia barracks. Overwhelmed, the Salesian aspirants left the college and moved to Santa Barbara College near the Salesian Seminary. While the priests and brothers were kept prisoner. After 4 days, they were released.

However, in October 1936, Aparicio was arrested again, this time he would not be released. On the 2nd October 1936, along with 62 companions, were killed by the militia.

He was beatified on 28th October 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI

Below is a list of the martyrs:

MADRID : 42 Martyrs (10 priests., 14 Brothers, 1 Subdeacon., 13 Clerics, 3 Aspirants, 1 lay person)


Enrico Saiz Aparicio,

Salvatore Fernández,

Sabino Hernández

Felice González,

Germano Martín,

Giuseppe Villanova,

Michele Lasaga,

Andrea Jiménez,

Andrea Gómez,

Pio Conde,


Matteo Garolera,

Dionisio Ullívarri,

Nicola de la Torre,

Pablo Gracia,

Valentino Gil,

Giovanni Codera,

Giovanni M. Celaya,

Francesco G. Martín,

Emilio Arce,

Raimondo Eirín,

Anastasio Garzón,

Stefano Vázquez,

Eliodoro Ramos,

Antonio Cid,


Carmelo Pérez,


Stefano Cobo,

Teodulo González,

Emmanuele Martín,

Virgilio Edreira,

Giusto Juanes,

Pietro Artolozaga,

Francesco Edreira,

Emmanuele Borrajo,

Vittoriano Fernández,

Pasquale de Castro,

Giovanni Larragueta,

Luigi Martínez,

Florenzio Rodríguez,


Federico Cobo,

Igino de Mata,

Tommaso Gil,


Juan de Mata

SEVILLE : 21 Martyrs (12 Priests., 4 Brothers, 1 Subdeacon, 3 Cooperators, 1 Cleric)


Antonio Torrero,

Antonio Mohedano,

Emmanuele Gomez,

Michele Molina,

Enrico Canut,

Felice Paco,

Francesco Míguez,

Antonio Pancorbo,

Emmanuele Fernández

Pablo Caballero,

Antonio Fernández,

Giuseppe Limón,


Stefano García,

Raffaele Rodríguez,

Giuseppe Blanco.

Tommaso Alonso Sanjuán.


Onorio Hernández


Donna Teresa Cejudo

Bartolomeo Blanco

Antonio Rodríguez.


Giovanni Luigi Hernández;


Blessed Alberto Marvelli 1918 - 1946

Blessed Alberto Marvelli 1918 - 1946

5th October

Alberto Marvelli was an inspiring young man, whose life also reminds us that we are called to be involved in the running of our communities, using our voices and skills for the common good - to create fairness and justice in our society.

Alberto Marvelli was born on 21st March 1918, and attended the Salesian Oratory at Rimini. He was a valued catechist and leader, whose strong faith and belief in caring for the poorest and weakest led to his involvement in politics.

During the second world war, he was at first conscripted into the army, but later exempted as his brothers were also serving. He studied for a degree in engineering, graduating in 1942, risked his own life helping the wounded, dying and homeless during air raids, and was part of a group that freed people being sent to the concentration camps, by breaking open sealed train carriages.

After the war, Alberto was closely involved in the reconstruction of his home town. He became a town councillor, opened and volunteered in a soup kitchen for the poor, and started a cooperative for construction workers. St John Paul II called him 'the engineer of charity'.

He was an electoral candidate for the Christian Democrats when, on 5 October 1946, he was killed by an army truck while cycling to the polling station. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II.

His memorial is celebrated on 5 October, the date of his death.

For more information, visit sdb.org

Blessed Michael Rua 1837-1910

Blessed Michael Rua 1837-1910

29th October

Michael Rua was born on 9th June 1837, the last of nine children. He entered Don Bosco's Oratory in 1852. One day Don Bosco told him: "We two will go halves in everything".

He was among the first few with whom Don Bosco shared the idea of forming the 'Salesian Society'. For 36 years he was Don Bosco's closest collaborator in the development of the Congregation, and accompanied him on his journeys. At the explicit request of Don Bosco, Pope Leo XIII designated him to succeed our Founder and confirmed him as Rector Major in 1888.

Nicknamed "The Living Rule" because of his austere fidelity, Don Rua was also known for his fatherliness and goodness. As the numbers of members and communities increased he sent Salesians all over the world, showing special care for the missionary expeditions. He visited the Salesians in Battersea several times, and supported them closely as they became established there.

In the long journeys which he undertook to visit the Salesian works in Europe and in the Middle East he was a constant source of comfort and encouragement, always referring to our Founder: "Don Bosco used to say... Don Bosco used to do it this way... Don Bosco wanted..."

When he died, on 6th April 1910 at the age of 73, the Society had grown from 773 to 4000 Salesians, from 57 to 345 communities, from 6 to 34 Provinces in 33 countries.

He was beatified in 1976 and his memorial is celebrated on 29 October.

For more biographical information and downloadable liturgy, images etc, visit sdb.org

Saint Luigi Guanella 1842-1915

Saint Luigi Guanella 1842-1915

24th October

St Luigi Guanella was born in Italy in 1842. He was a Salesian for several years, and dedicated his life to serving the poor.

As a young parish priest in the 1860s, he was especially drawn to improving the lives of the young, and his encounters with Don Bosco led him to become a Salesian in 1875. He ran the St Aloysius Oratory in Turin and took charge of adult vocations until he was recalled to the diocese by his bishop to run a hostel for the eldely poor.

He was fearless in defending the weak - young or old - against the powerful, and he founded several religious institutions including the Daughters of Saint Mary of Providence and the Servants of Charity, to work with the poor across the world. He also founded the Pious Union of St Joseph, whose first member was Pope Pius X.

Although God guided his life in another direction, he retained his devotion to Don Bosco, which can be seen in a prayer he wrote in his monthly magazine, Divine Providence, in 1908: 'May the great soul of John Bosco, who from on high protects the Congregation of his sons the Salesians, now too numerous to count, be pleased to turn his gaze on the Institutes of Divine Providence and extend the kindness of his protection on all those who belong to these works and especially on his devoted admirer and student, Fr Luigi Guanella.'

St Luigi was canonised in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI.

His feast is celebrated on 24 October, the date of his death in 1925.

For more biographical information and downloadable resources, visit sdb.org

Blessed Alexandrina da Costa 1904-1950

Blessed Alexandrina da Costa 1904-1950

13th October

Alexandrina Maria da Costa was Salesian Cooperator and mystic who lived in tremendous pain for over thirty years, finding happiness in her suffering, and managing to care about the troubles of others despite her own situation.

When she was 14, she severely injured her spine jumping from a window to escape from an attempted rape, and by the age of 21, she was totally paralysed. After praying for a cure at first, she came to see her vocation as a 'victim soul', and received the grace to bear her suffering, offering it 'for the salvation of the young' and for peace in the world.

In his homily at her beatification in 2014, St John Paul II said: 'With the example of Blessed Alexandrina, expressed in the trilogy "suffer, love, make reparation", Christians are able to discover the stimulus and motivation to make "noble" all that is painful and sad in life through the greatest evidence of love: sacrificing one's life for the beloved. Her secret to holiness was love for Christ.'

Her memorial is celebrated on 13 October, the date of her death in 1955.

For more biographical information and downloadable resources, visit sdb.org


Blessed Maddalena Morano 1847-1908

Blessed Maddalena Morano 1847-1908

15th November

Maddalena Morano, Salesian Sister, educator and catechist, was born in Chieri, in the province of Turin, on 15 November 1847. She overcame poverty and hardship to answer the call she felt from God to be a religious sister and a teacher.

Although she knew from an early age that she was called to both religious life and teaching, when her father died, 8-year-old Maddalena had to find work to help her mother support their large family, and it was only with the help of an uncle who was a priest, that she was able to continue her education as she worked. With her family dependent on her earnings, Madeleine could not leave them to enter a religious order, but she was able to begin training as a teacher at the age of 14, when she was employed at a new school close to home, and she gained her teaching certificate five years later.

By the time she was 30, she had supported her younger siblings into adult life, and saved enough to make sure her mother had a comfortable old age, and then she began to pursue her religious vocation. When she met Don Bosco, she was set on living a cloistered life with the Vincentians, but he persuaded her that her gifts were needed in a different life, and he accepted her into the Salesian Sisters shortly after.

In 1881, her superiors sent her to Sicily, where in addition to teaching working class girls, she trained teachers and set up new schools, workshops and hostels. She was also responsible for the formation of new sisters, and became Provincial.

Maddalena died from cancer in 1908, and was beatified by St John Paul II in 1994.

Her memorial is celebrated on her birthday, 15 November.

For more biographical information and downloadable resources, visit sdb.org

Venerable Margaret Occhiena 1788-1856

Venerable Margaret Occhiena 1788-1856

25th November

Margaret Occhiena was born on 1st April 1788 in Capriglio, Italy. Margaret didn't get the opportunity to study, instead working with her family at their farm. But she loved prayer, and this enriched her with wisdom.

In 1812, she married Francesco Bosco, who was a widow as his first wife had died after giving birth to their daughter. Francesco had a son called Anthony, and in 1813, Joseph was born and in 1815, John. They moved to the Becchi in Castelnuovo d'Asti, but shortly after they moved, in 1817, Francesco died of Pneumonia. This left her running the family alone, and looking after Francesco's ill mother, although Anthony did serve as the bread winner for the family.

Margaret was able to manage all of that while keeping a very strong faith and was able to be a great educator to all 3 of the children. When John had his dream at 9, she understood it in the way of faith. John was very interested in studying, so when hearing about the dream, she convinced Anthony that John must leave the home to continue his studies.

Margaret accompanied John through his studies, all the way through to priesthood. On the day of his ordination, Margaret spoke to John, and the words she said, John held dearly in his heart.]

In 1846, John became seriously ill, and Margaret moved to Turin to care for him. John asked her to stay to help with the work for the poor and abandoned boys that were entering the city.

Margaret would work in the oratory for the next 10 years, serving all the boys that were there. She became known affectionately as "Mamma Margaret". She was the very first Salesian Cooperator. She is known to have started the Salesian Goodnight, a short reflection that she would give the young boys before they went to sleep. And her way of teaching and living is what inspired the Preventive System.

In 1856, Margaret contracted Pneumonia, and died in Turin on 25th November at 68.

Margaret was proclaimed Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI on 23rd October 2006.

The Salesians celebrate her feast on 25th November.

Saint Artemide Zatti 1880-1951

Saint Artemide Zatti 1880-1951

13th November

Salesian lay-brother Artemide Zatti, was a child of poor Italian immigrants who settled in Argentina hoping for a better life. He had only been able to attend elementary school as he was working as a day-labourer to help support his family by the time we was 9 years old. When he acted on his call to become a Salesian, he was greatly challenged by his studies.

Another difficulty came when, as a novice, he contracted TB from a young priest he was looking after. In the hope of a cure in the pure air of the Andes, he travelled to Viedma, where he found his true vocation, working alongside Fr Evaristo Garrone, a Salesian doctor who ran a pharmacy and hospital, and never turned away those who could not pay.

Working as a pharmacist for many years, St Artemides also trained as a nurse, and devoted himself to his patients. After the death of his mentor, he took on responsibility for the entire hospital. He could be seen cycling to visit patients each morning, and worked tirelessly in the hospital for the rest of each day.

At his beatification in 2002, St John Paul II said: 'Blessed Artemide lived what St John Bosco said to the first Salesians leaving for America: "Take special care of the sick, the children, the elderly, the poor, and you will receive God's blessing and the respect of those around you".'

He died of cancer on 15 March 1951. His nephew, Fr Fr Juan Edmundo Vecchi SDB, became the 8th successor of Don Bosco as Rector Major.

He was canonised on 9th October 2022 by Pope Francis.

His memorial is celebrated on 13 November.

For more biographical information and downloadable resources, visit sdb.org


Blessed Philip Rinaldi 1856-1931

Blessed Philip Rinaldi 1856-1931

5th December

Philip Rinaldi was born on 28th May 1856 in Lu Monferrato. Rinaldi went to study at Mirabello Monferrato, where the Salesians oversaw his education, guided by Paolo Albera. But Rinaldi decided to return home, despite the persuasion of Don Bosco.

Rinaldi continued his work as a farmer, but Don Bosco was persistent in trying to get Rinaldi back, with even Don Albera sending books about religious vocations and the process of discernment. In 1874, Don Bosco visited Rinaldi and his family, to try and convince Rinaldi to restart his religious studies. But Rinaldi was very adamant in his decision to stay at home and work. Don Bosco's insistence managed to get Rinaldi's parents, as well as some people in the town, to try and convince him to go back to his studies.

In 1876, Rinaldi was getting prepared to get married, but Don Bosco visited him once again to get Rinaldi to consider religious life as a more viable vocation. And in 1877, Rinaldi agreed to go to the Salesian house in Sampierdarena, which Don Bosco referred to as a place 'for late vocations'.

After sometime in Sampierdarena, he joined the novitiate in 1879. He made his first profession in 1880 before his priestly ordination in 1882. Once he became a priest he was appointed as the director of the house for late vocations in Mathi, Italy.

When Don Rua, took over as Rector Major, he sent Rinaldi as director of the house In Sarriá, Spain, later taking over as Provincial. However, after 2 years, he was ordered back to Turin to become the Vicar General. In 1910, Don Albera took over as Rector Major, and upon Albera's death, Don Rinaldi became the third successor of Don Bosco, in 1922.

Don Rinaldi saw the importance of a new form of consecrated life that didn't involve being a priest or a sister, so he helped to form the Volunteers of Don Bosco. He helped out with Salesian missions, sending many young Salesians out to learn languages and customs to help with evangelisation.

He died on 5th December 1931.

He was beatified on 29th April 1990 by Pope John Paul II.

His feast is celebrated on the 5th December.

Saints & Blesseds