John Bosco, known more popularly by his Italian heritage as Don Bosco, educator of youth and founder of the Salesians, had a dream in 1862 during which he perceived that two pillars in a storm-tossed seawould anchor the boat of Peter (i.e. the Church). The tallest, strongest pillar was the Eucharist, and second was the Blessed Virgin Mary. Don Bosco taught that tranquility would not return to the stormy seas until the pope would succeed in anchoring the Church between the pillars of Eucharistic devotion and devotion to Mary. Don Bosco described this dream many times to his students, and in a letter dated February 13,
1863 he wrote to Pope Pius IX about the dream. The pillar surmounted with the host had the inscription, "The Salvation of Believers." The smaller pillar had a statue of Mary at the
top of its column and the inscription, "Help of Christians."
Don Bosco fostered devotion to Mary under the title, Mary Help of Christians (Auxilium Christianorum). In 1863, he began the construction of a large church to which he gave the name, Church of Mary Help of Christians.
It was completed in 1868.
A biographer wrote:
To make Mary loved, to make her known in all her prerogatives, in all her glories, in all the graces she has conferred upon mankind and the Church make Mary known, in short, under the title of Mary Help of Christians, became Don Bosco's particular Marian mission. In Turin itself, the faithful were quick to refer to Our Lady Help of Christians as "Don Bosco's Madonna.
[Source: Edna Beyer Phelan,
Don Bosco, A Spiritual Portrait, New York: Doubleday, 1963, pp 244-5.]
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