Salesian Pushes the Cause of Don Bosco's Mother

Meets With Pope at Vacation Residence

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LES COMBES, Italy, JULY 13, 2005 ( When welcoming Benedict XVI to the chalet where he is spending vacation, the rector-major of the Salesians asked a special favor.

Father Pascual Chávez asked the Pope to speed up the beatification of Margaret Occhiena, the mother of St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesians.

The rector-major, who spoke in private Monday with the Holy Father in the Salesian-owned chalet, handed him documents and a letter from all Salesian bishops worldwide, in which they request the promulgation of the decree of heroism of “Mama Margaret’s” virtues.

The Salesian family would like Margaret Occhiena to be declared venerable on the 150th anniversary of her death, reported the congregation’s ANS news agency.

Benedict XVI responded that the holiness of Occhiena is so evident that there should be no need for the whole process, showing how familiar he was with her virtues, added the news service.

“We are following the stages of the regular procedure,” replied Father Chávez. The “positio” stating the formal argument for beatification was handed in June 25, 2000, while the examination by the historical experts ended in a positive manner the following Oct. 3.

The Holy Father expressed the hope that the beatification might be possible in 2006, ANS reported.


Margaret Occhiena was born on April 1, 1788, in Capriglio, and remained there until her marriage to Francis Bosco.

After her husband’s premature death, she had to take charge of her family, helping her husband’s mother, and taking care of his son Anthony, and educating her sons Joseph and John.

When John was ordained a priest, she left her home to accompany him for 10 years on his mission among the poor and abandoned young people of Turin.

“Without knowing it, she became ‘co-founder’ of the Salesian Family,” states a biography issued by the Salesians.

“Without knowing how to write, but full of wisdom which comes from on high, she helped many poor street boys, no one’s children. She put God before anything else, giving herself for him in a life of poverty, prayer and sacrifice,” adds a brief biography.

She died at age 68 in Turin, in 1856.

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