St. John Bosco and Our Lady Help of Christians
St. John Bosco was born on August 16, 1815 near Turin, Italy. He founded the Salesian Order in 1859 whose mission was, in his words:
“to promote veneration of the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to Mary Help of Christians. This title seems to please the august Queen of Heaven very much.”
The Salesians were named after St. Frances de Sales, Doctor of the Church, who was known for his kindness and simple spirituality. Don Bosco (Don means Father in Italian) chose Our Lady, Help of Christians, as the patroness of the Society. St. John Bosco dedicated his life to educating poor boys and built homes and schools for them. His three teaching principles were reason, religion, and kindness.
St. John Bosco was graced with many visions from Our Lady Help of Christians, some of which are relevant to us today. He was canonized in 1934.
His prophetic dreams, which began in childhood, guided his ministry and gave insights on future events. On May 14, 1862, Don Bosco dreamed about the battles the Church would face in the latter days. In his dream, the Pope at that time would anchor the ‘ship’ of the Church between two pillars, one with a statue of Mary (Auxilium Christianorum or ‘Help of Christians’) and the other with a large Eucharistic Host.
Devotion to Our Lady Help of Christians was a tradition that went back to the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, when all of Christendom in Europe was saved when Catholics throughout Europe prayed the Rosary. Pope St. Pius V placed the title Our Lady Help of Christians in the litany of Loreto that same year to thank Our Lady for the victory of the Christian fleet over the Muslims.
In the Battle of Vienna, 1683, Emperor Leopold I of Austria took refuge at the Shrine of Our Lady Help of Christians at Pasau. On September 12, 1683, the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, Vienna was freed from the Ottoman Turks by the intercession of Our Lady Help of Christians with the aid of the armies of Poland under King Jan III Sobieski.
In 1815 Pope Pius VII, being held captive by Napoleon, organized a Rosary Novena to Our Lady Help of Christians for his release. On May 24th 1814, Pius VII was freed and he returned to Rome. In gratitude for his freedom he established the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, which is celebrated on the 24th of May.
Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us and defend us!