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Finally the biography of their Founder - Past Pupils

By our own correspondent

       Sacro Cuore, Rome, 4 July 2021 -- Who is the founder of the Past Pupils of Don Bosco? Of course, Don Bosco himself! - the answer we often hear from the Salesians The figure of the humble 'poet of Valdocco' Carlo Gastini has not been well known until very recent times. Thanks to the 150th anniversary project of the DB Past Pupils World Confederation we are able for the first time to read the results of research in a biography of their Founder - Mr Carlo Gastini (1833-1902).

       With the recently published book 'Carlo Gastini - Il poeta di Valdocco' (Poet of Valdocco, ed. CCS - Madrid 2020) the largest group of the Salesian Family finally receives a long awaited biography of their own founder. Carlo Gastini (1833-1902) was among the first Oratory boys at Valdocco since 1847 until the end of his life. This 150 page publication is the result of lengthy research by Mr Sergio Rodriguez Lopez-Roy (Barcelona, * 1970) - a current Councilor of the World Confederation of Don Bosco Past Pupils.

       Some 50 million people have received or were impacted in different ways by Don Bosco's style of education around the world in thousands of Salesian settings and the World Confederation numbers more than 100,000 active members. This biography of their Founder willstrengthen their identity and deepen their Salesian or 'Bosconian' roots. We expect that this 150 page book will be translated into all major languages of the Past Pupils spread around more than 130 countries.

       Carlo Gastini is really an attractive, interesting figure from the first Don Bosco Oratory - showing the contribution of thousands of ordinary laymen to Don Bosco's charism and mission for youth in need. Thanks to this research Gastini can be known as the father of a family, workshop master, professional bookbinder, actor and poet. His passion for art and literature are the main striking points. His personal history unfolds on the background of the young Salesian Congregation and the united Italian state.

       We are very grateful to Mr Sergio Rodriguez Lopez-Roy for his research and passion to bring the DB Past Pupils Association Founder to the spotlight through this biography of Carlo Gastini. His 47 minute talk during the 12th Asia-Oceania Congress (online) of the Past Pupils and this short interview are for all Past Pupils around the world. May this great charismatic gift in our hands reach all Past Pupils of Don Bosco around our countries and provinces!

       Carlo Gastini's life chronology:

  • 1833 - Carlo is born on January 23 in Turin, baptized in St Dalmazzo parish
  • 1847 - Carlo's father Antonio dies (first semester)
  • 1847 - June, apprentice in the barber shop meets Don Bosco - joins the festive Oratory
  • 1847 - Carlo's mother Maria dies (second semester)
  • 1847 - Carlo becomes a boarding Oratorian at Valdocco (50 years with Don Bosco started)
  • 1848 - experience personally one Don Bosco's miracle
  • 1849 - together with Felice Reviglio offers to Don Bosco 2 small silver hearts to his birthday
  • 1851 - receives the cassock in Pinardi chapel from Don Bosco
  • 1851 - entrusted by Don Bosco with theatre animation
  • 1852 - leaves the novitiate (canonical obstacle: stuttering)
  • 1854 - starts to work in the book-binding workshop at Valdocco
  • 1856 - leaves for external workplace, marriage with Giuseppa Lora (officiated by Don Bosco)
  • 1861 - returns to Oratory, become the book-binding workshop master
  • 1870 - gathers the Past Pupils (Old Boys) to celebrate Don Bosco's Feastday (June 24)
  • 1874 - Don Bosco sets up another annual gathering for the Past Pupils (Mass and meal)
  • 1876 - Carlo's wife dies at 36 years (remains with 13 years old daughter)
  • 1876 - First record that Gastini is called a 'President of Past Pupils'
  • 1877 - Declares his famous saying 'Here we are all of Don Bosco'
  • 1877 - First record about a Commission of Past Pupils that guides the Association
  • 1878 - Don Bosco indicates a mission for this Association
  • 1879 - First time the 'Past Pupils of the Oratory' are mentioned in the Salesian Bulletin
  • 1888 - His nephew Vincenzo Gastini makes the first tomb of DB in Valsalice
  • 1891 - The Association includes also former 'external students' (Union of Past Pupils of Valdocco)
  • 1897 - Gastini retires at 64 years
  • 1902 - Gastini dies on January 28

       Talk by Mr Sergio Rodriguez Lopez-Ros - 12th Asia-Oceania Congress of Don Bosco Past Pupils:

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    Gastini - in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians - Turin (altar of St Domenic Savio - left side, with St Francis de Sales... (by his friend - famous artist Rollini)gastini1.jpeg


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