Relics of St. John Bosco will stop in San Francisco on Saturday, Sept. 11 as part of a worldwide tour commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of the patron saint of youth and students.
A portion of Don Bosco’s right arm bone is encased in a 1,800 pound reliquary. It will be driven to San Francisco’s Sts. Peter and Paul Church from Tijuana, Mexico, a press release from the church reports.
Receiving the relics will be an honor guard including members of the Knights of Malta, the Knights of Columbus, the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, the San Francisco Fire Department and the San Francisco Police Department. After the relics arrive at 11:30 p.m., the church will be open all Saturday night for veneration by the faithful.
On Sunday, Sept. 12 there will be five Masses at the church to emphasize a particular aspect of Don Bosco’s ministry: as a model of service, as an apostle to the young, as a missionary to the world, as a model of holiness, and as someone faithful for the kingdom.
Don Bosco founded the Salesian religious order to minister and to serve young people orphaned and dispossessed by the industrial revolution. He is recognized as the patron of young people, Mexican youth, boys, schoolchildren, apprentices, laborers, stage magicians and editors.
The saint is particularly revered in Latin America and news of his relics’ visit has reportedly generated great enthusiasm, especially among the Latino population of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Sts. Peter and Paul Church was the first place the Salesians established a presence in North America, but the Salesians are not numerous in the United States. However, they serve an important role in other countries. Because of their work, the Salesian founder’s relics were received in some countries by government dignitaries such as the presidents of Nicaragua and Honduras.
The relics have also visited Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Panama, El Salvador, Bolivia, Guatemala and Mexico.
The Salesians are now the third largest men’s order in the Catholic Church, with over 20,000 members in 130 countries. The Salesian Sisters, known as the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, are the second largest order of women religious with 14,000 members in 89 countries.