The relic statue of St John Bosco, better known as Don Bosco, will be touring Australia as part of the celebrations of the centenary of the arrival of the Salesians on Australian soil. The Salesians first set foot in Australia at Fremantle, Western Australia, on 30 March 1923.

The wax replica of the saint is contained in a glass casket and comes from the Salesian Province of Hong Kong, where it was made by Gianpiero Zoncu at the time of Don Bosco’s beatification in 1929. A small piece of brain from the saint was removed and placed in this wax replica before being securely concealed in the large glass casket.

John Bosco was born on 16 August 1815 in a farmhouse near a small village east of Turin in northern Italy. From the time of his childhood, he felt a strong desire to help young people in need. Pursuing this mission from God, he was ordained as a priest in Turin in 1841, at the age of 26, and dedicated his entire life to helping young people to become ‘good Christians and upright citizens’. Having worked untiringly with the young for more than 40 years, Don Bosco died on 31 January 1888 in Turin. He was declared a saint by Pope Pius XI on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1934, and is the patron saint of young people.

In Catholic Christianity, a relic is an object of great reverence, helping to remind individuals of the holiness of a saint and the fulfilment of God’s work through their life. A relic can consist of anything from the bones of a saint to an object that the saint came in contact with during his or her lifetime.

The 400-kilogram glass casket containing the wax replica of St John Bosco will be received by the Salesian Province Centre in Ascot Vale, Victoria, at the end of June. It will be on tour and displayed for prayers and homage at various Salesian works in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart and Perth from July to September 2023.

The relic will stay at the Catholic Leadership Centre in East Melbourne during the Salesian Biannual Educational Conference in August. It will also journey with the Salesians and many lay members to the Centenary Retreat in the last week of September at the Foothills Conference Centre in Mooroolbark.

The relic statue of St John Bosco will be farewelled from Australia during the concluding Mass of the centenary celebrations, to be led by Archbishop Peter A Comensoli on Saturday 30 September at St Margaret Mary’s parish in North Brunswick at 11am.

Australian tour of the relic statue of St John Bosco, July–September 2023

3–7 July: Salesian Province Centre, Ascot Vale, Victoria

8–11 July: Don Bosco House, Clifton Hill, Victoria

12–14 July: Salesian College, Chadstone, Victoria

15–19 July: Don Bosco Retreat Centre, Lysterfield, Victoria

20–21 July: St Joseph’s College, Ferntree Gully, Victoria

27–31 July: Don Bosco Hostel, Don Bosco Youth Centre, Thien An Educational Centre and St Margaret Mary’s parish, Brunswick, Victoria

3–8 August: Sunbury College and Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, Sunbury, Victoria

6 August: Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish, Ringwood, Victoria

10–13 August: APSPA Conference, Catholic Leadership Centre, East Melbourne, Victoria

16–22 August: St John Bosco parish, St John Bosco Primary, St John Bosco College and Dunlea Centre, Engadine, NSW

23–28 August: Our Lady of the Rosary parish and Don Bosco Youth and Recreation Centre, St Marys, NSW

29–31 August: St Mark’s College, Port Pirie, South Australia

1–5 September: Ss Peter and Paul’s parish and Xavier College, Gawler, South Australia

7–11 September: Dominic College and St John’s parish, Glenorchy, Tasmania

16–20 September: St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth, Western Australia

25–30 September: Centenary Retreat, Foothills Conference Centre, Mooroolbark, Victoria

30 September: Concluding Centenary Mass, St Margaret Mary’s parish, North Brunswick, Victoria

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Main image: St John Bosco in 1887.