5826(III)_Carlo Gastini - The Poet of Valdocco and Feast of the Rector Major

by ceteratolle posted Jun 24, 2022


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By Past Pupils of Don Bosco World Confederation

       Turin, Italy, 24 June 2022 -- You may recall that already in June 2021 the Spanish biography (original) of 'Carlo Gastini, A Poet of Valdocco' was presented to the Rector Major on his feast day at Sacro Cuore in Rome. It took place after the online presentation for the Asia - Oceania Congress of DB Past Pupils in June 2021 by the author of this book, Mr Sergio Rodriguez Lopez-Roy, at that time a member of the World Presidency of the Past Pupils of DB Confederation.

       We are happy to get his publication in English (can be downloaded from Boscolink) for 24 June 2022 as a precious gift to the Rector Major for this year's feast day , while still waiting for the hard copy publication in Malta. Mr Bryan Magro, President of the Past Pupils of Don Bosco World Confederation took personal care of this translation to English, that will also benefit many EAO region national federations of Past Pupils thanks to their translator from English to Chinese, Japanese, Tetun, Thai and other languages.

       While the General house community celebrates the annual feast of gratitude to the Rector Major this year at Valdocco  with the anniversaries of various members on 24 June, for the Past Pupils of Don Bosco world-wide this is their 'Birthday' due to the first group's expression of gratitude on June 24, 1870. The leader of the Past Pupils group was precisely Carlo Gastini, 37 years old at that time.

       The reading of this short biography is really exciting and depicts the charismatic roots of the Past Pupils movement:

       "...Gastini was younger than Reviglio (1831) and Buzzetti (1832), but the same age as Giacomo Bellia (1833), however, older than Michael Rua (1837), John Francesia (1838), John Cagliero (1838), Dominic Savio (1842), Michael Magone (1845) and Francis Besucco (1850). Reviglio, Buzzetti, Bellia and Francesia, together with Carlo Tomatis, became his greatest friends all through his life. Gastini was an orphan, Reviglio was a maltreated child and the leader of a gang, and Buzzetti, born in Caronno Ghiringhello, was an unskilled labourer; their unfortunate lives changed in the Oratory. "When I arrived, I was impressed with the joy of the young people," Francesia said. They grew up as normal children, eating, having fun, and studying. To achieve this aim, Don Bosco transformed two rooms into a dormitory with eight beds, a crucifix, an image of the Virgin Mary and a sign: "God watches over you". After Mass and the reciting of the rosary in the morning, they went out to work in the city with a loaf in their pocket; they came back for lunch and for dinner. Their food was mainly soup and vegetables from Don Bosco's mother’s garden: despite the food being scarce it was much better than they had before."

       Indeed, Gastini who met Don Bosco as an orphan at the age of 14, spent 50 years at his side as an apprentice, then as a novice (he left the novitiate), then working in the bookbinding shop, and animating the Oratory drama and poetry, later on also animating the first group of past pupils of Don Bosco until his death in 1902.

       We hope and pray we will soon find some dedicated translators not only to French (wanted!) but also to all major Salesian languages around the EAO region, for the benefit of DB Past Pupils and the whole Salesian Family!

       Happy Feast day!