In the tradition of pilgrimage, the relics of St. John Bosco are being carried into the towns and villages, neighborhoods and centers where the Gospel is announced among the young and the poor today. This pilgrim journey through 130 nations began on January 31, 2009, the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Salesian Congregation. It prepares us for the 2015 celebration of the 200th Anniversary of Don Bosco’s birth near Turin, Italy on August 16, 1815. Relic of Saint John Bosco
The relics of Don Bosco have been recomposed from the urn that contained his remains since 1929 when the body was exhumed for his beatification and canonization. The bones and tissues of the right hand and arm have been taken and placed within a wax replica of St. John Bosco's body, whic in turn is enclosed in a large urn.
The urn was contructed specially for this pilgrimage. It is composed of a large glass box in which the wax replica is placed, and easily viewed. The box is mounted atop a large wood and metal cart. Among the urn's decorations are the words, "Da mihi animas, ceatera tolle," which translates to, "Give me souls, take away the rest," one of Don Bosco's many quotes that guided his ministry from its earliest stages through today. Images of young faces also surround the urn, as well as maps showing where the Salesian Family is present today. Finally, the years 1815 and 2015 are placed near the base, serving as a reminder of the purpose of this Relic Pilgrimage: in 2015, the Salesian Family, and the Church as a whole, will celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Don Bosco's birth in 1815.
The urn weighs 820 kilograms (over 1,800 pounds!). The glass box, containing the relic, is 253 centimeters long (almost 100 inches), 108.3 centimeters wide (over 40 inches), and 132 centimeters tall (over 50 inches). The full urn is tranported via two specially designed and built trucks.
In May 2011, Don Bosco's relics will arrive in India from East. The pilgrimage through India will begin on 1 May 2011, in Dimapur Province. The Relic will visit all Indian Provinces, before it departs for Sri Lanka on November 18, 2011. The sequence of visit to the provinces: Dimapur May 1 – 24, Guwahati May 25 – Jun 28, Kolkatta Jun 29-Jul 19, New Delhi Jul 20-Aug 3, Mumbai Aug 4- 16, Pangim Aug 17-26, Karnataka (INK) Aug 27-Sep 6, Hyderabad Sep 7-22, Kerala (INK) Sep 23-Oct 13, Trichy Oct 14-26, Chennai Oct 27-Nov 18. We invite you to browse these pages for more information about the Relic's visit to South Asia Region, and we hope to see you at one of the many special events that are planned throughout the Relic's visit!
A relic is an object of religious veneration. It can be anything from the bones of a saint to an object which touched a martyr during his or her lifetime. In The Acts of the Apostles, the importance of relics is emphasized: "Meanwhile, God worked extraordinary miracles ad the hands of Paul. When handkerchiefs or cloths that had touched him were applied to the sick, their diseases were cured and evli spirits departed them." Relics to not contain magical powers but they symbolize how God works through the saints even after they have died. During their lives, saints helped draw people closer to God, and after they ceased, the relics continued to inspire individuals to become more devoted to God.
The Church honors God through the relics of the bodies of the saints, the things they used, and the lives they touched. The relic of Don Bosco is being brought to the world so Christians may honor him as a Servant of God, as well as view him as a source of inspiration for those still living.
Why this Devotion to Saints?
It is important to respect and pray to saints for they are role models which all Christians should strive to imitate. Saints were born with Original Sin, the same way all individuals (excluding the Blessed Virgin Mary) are born with Original Sin. They experience the same weaknesses and temptations, but became saints because they were able to overcome these weaknesses with the Grace given to them by God, the same Grace that God gives to each and every one of us.
The lives of the saints serve as examples for individuals to follow so that they too may join the saints and enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Overall, devotion to a saint provides hope and encourages individuals to ask the saints to intercede for them before God.
It is important to note, however, that the devotion and honor given to saints, and their relics, is different from adoration or worship which is reserved for God, and God alone! Devotion and honor of saints is called veneration, and it consists of asking for their intercession before God.
Veneration of Relics Throughout History
The veneration of relics is as old as the Church itself. The earliest reference to relics is found in the Old Testament of the Bible, in 2 Kings 13: 20-21: "Elisha died and was buried. Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. Once, while some Isrealites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. Then the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet."
There are several passages in the New Testament that emphasize the importance of respecting and honoring the body of a saint. For example, when St. John the Baptist was martyred, his followers recovered his remains and took them to a safe place to be honored. Likewise, in the second century, Bishop Ploycarp was burned at the stake for his religious views. Polycarp's followers gathered his bones and put them in a tomb there they gathered to celebrate Mass. During the years of religious persecution, Chrisitians byried the remnants of martyrs in the catacombs of ancient Rome in thech they gathered to secretly celebrate Mass. It then became tradition for a small relic to be placed in the Altar of every church.
Relics are present to remind individuals of the holiness of a saint, and the fulfillment of God's work through the saint. They help to inspire individuals to pray for saints to intercede for them, and to pray to God to give them the Grace to live a holy, faith-filled life.