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Don Bosco: History and Spirit

LAS, Rome - 2007

edited by Aldo Giraudo


Volume 1-7 for download:



Don Bosco: History and Spirit 

I call this survey, Don Bosco, History and Spirit—“History,” because Don Bosco’s life and work were played out in the context of the fateful events that created a new religious and political world, and thereby also shaped his thinking and action; “Spirit,” because through discernment, interpretation and acceptance he discovered the meaning of this new world and courageously responded to its challenges: his vocation.

These chapters were born, so to speak, in the classroom. For the present purpose the material had to undergo considerable revision and re-writing for greater readability, and a number of chapters had to be expanded with Appendices.



This series consists of seven volumes. The first three volumes survey the life and times of John Melchior Bosco (“Don Bosco,” 1815-1888) up to 1864, with particular attention to nineteenth-century political, social and religious history. This survey looks at Don Bosco’s own education, at his spiritual and theological formation leading to his priestly ordination (1841). It discusses his vocational choices and his work on behalf of poor young people at risk, as well as his subsequent expanded apostolic commitments, especially in the field of education. It examines the growth of the work, and the founding and initial development of the Society of St. Francis de Sales created to continue that work, in the context of the liberal revolution and the unification of Italy (1848-1861).

The next four volumes describes Don Bosco’s life and work in the period following the unification of Italy, a period marked by epochal changes in Italian society. In this setting Don Bosco, History and Spirit discusses the institutional developments and organization of the Salesian Society through the stages of the approval of the institute and of the constitutions by the Holy See. It describes Don Bosco’s further ministerial choices, especially in the field of education, and his further founding work. It surveys the expansion of the Salesian work to parts of Italy and to European and South American countries. At the same time it examines the development of permanent structures to guarantee the continuance of the Salesian work, and discusses some of the founder’s insights and ideas, especially as they emerge from the reflective writings of his maturity.


Vol. 1: Don Bosco’s Formative Years in Historical Context

Vol. 2: Birth and Early Development of Don Bosco’s Oratory

Vol. 3: Don Bosco Educator, Spiritual Master, Writer and Founder of the Salesian Society

Vol. 4: Beginnings of the Salesian Society and Its Constitution

Vol. 5: Institutional Expansion

Vol. 6: Expansion of the Salesians in the New World - Ecclesiological Confrontation at Home

Vol. 7: Don Bosco’s Golden Years




Arthur J. Lenti, who has published many articles on Don Bosco and Salesian topics in the Journal of Salesian Studies and in the Ricerche Storiche Salesiane, has degrees in Scripture, Systematic and Spiritual Theology. After over 20 years of teaching Scripture in Aptos, Alma, and Josephinum, Fr Lenti came to Don Bosco Hall in Berkeley in 1975. Since 1984, he has been the lead instructor at the Institute of Salesian Spirituality in Berkeley (an affliate of the DominicanSchool of Philosophy and Theology, member school of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley). His most recent book is Don Bosco his Pope and his Bishop.



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