Come Saturday and lakhs of devotees will head for Matunga to venerate the body relics of 19th century Italian saint, Don Bosco. In a run-up to mark the bi-centennial of his birth on Aug 16, 2015, the saint’s right arm, enclosed in a casket with a statue of his likeness, is being taken to various cities across the globe, as part of a worldwide pilgrimage.
The relic of Saint John Bosco, popularly known as Don Bosco, has already been accorded a welcome to the city at the Cathedral at Vasai and will be brought to the Shrine of Don Bosco’s Madonna in Matunga, for public veneration for four days this weekend.
Fr. Joaquim Fernandes, sdb., said, “The relic is officially sealed in a casket in the presence of Vatican delegates and is placed in the chest of life-size fibre mould of the saint in repose. Born in the Piedmont in western Italy, Don Bosco founded the Catholic order of the Salesians, who are known for their quality educational institutions across the world. The right arm of Don Bosco has been travelling around the world as part of its international itinerary since 2009. We honour the relic because it is a part of the body of a saint and we treasure and have special respect for it. It will be a moment of prayer and paying of homage to the presence that Don Bosco represented. The relic will be received from Auxilium Convent in Wadala and welcomed at our shrine on Saturday at 6 p.m. followed by a Eucharistic celebration by his Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias and public veneration of the relic.”
Famous lighting experts have been roped in to illuminate the entire premise with studio light effects.
Speaking on the logistics for the four-day event, Fr. Edwin D’Souza, sdb., Shrine of Don Bosco’s Madonna said, “All our systems are in place and we are expecting huge crowds of people to visit our shrine. The arrangements started almost six months back. The entire shrine has been spruced up with decorations and lightings.”
He further added, “We usually have school on Saturdays and our holiday on Thursday. However, this week, we have given a holiday to school students on Saturday and have compensated by keeping the school open on Thursday. This way, studies won’t be affected.”
He added, “200 ushers have been appointed to volunteer the moving crowd. Especially, large numbers are expected on August 15 as it coincides with Assumption Day. The visiting devotees will also get to see rare pictures of St. Don Bosco at our exhibition in the premise called ‘The Good News’.”
When asked about the security arrangements, Fr. Edwin said, “We have made elaborate security arrangements for these days and the police have also given us full cooperation in our programmes. Senior police officials including the DCP, ACP and other officers from Matunga have met us. Christians are a peace loving people and I am sure that no one will disturb the peace among us.”
The details and latest photographs of the event is available on www.donboscoamongus.mypov.in