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Relics of St John Bosco to come to Africa

The crystal and aluminum urn containing a likeness of the saint and his right arm bone has been displayed in several Italian cities. On June…

The crystal and aluminum urn containing a likeness of the saint and his right arm bone has been displayed in several Italian cities. On June 4, top Vatican officials honoured the saint when the urn was brought to the St. Callixtus catacombs on the Appian Way in Rome.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, participated in a Mass there for St. John Bosco, who was inspired in a boyhood dream to devote his life to children and young people on the margins of society.

Cardinal Bertone praised him for his dedication to young people, “especially those abandoned and threatened,” calling him “a man of action.” He also complimented the Salesian order, of which he is a member, for continuing the saint’s work with communities for orphans and troubled and poor children, Vatican radio reported.

During his lifetime, the saint, commonly known as Don Bosco, often visited the catacombs, a burial site for early Christians that dates to the second century. He was drawn by the “courage and charity” of those first followers of Jesus Christ, the radio report said. Salesians have been the custodians of the San Callixtus Catacombs since 1930.

The urn’s journey began in Turin, in northern Italy, on April 25 in a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Salesian order. It will travel first to Chile, stop in several South American countries, Central America, the United States, Canada, Asia, Africa and back to Europe. The pilgrimage is expected to end in Turin in 2014. The bicentennial of St. John Bosco’s birth in Castelnuovo D’Asti, near Turin, will be celebrated with events in 2015.

Pope Benedict XVI has agreed, at the request of the Father Pascual Chavez Villanueva, the Salesian rector superior, to grant plenary indulgences to those who make a pilgrimage to see and pray before the urn in various locations around the world. Catholic News Service.