Pope Francis may visit the Italian city of Turin in 2015 for the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesians, and for an exposition of the Shroud of Turin, believed to be Christ's burial cloth.
The news has been circulating this week in Turin, the saint's adopted home where he founded the Salesians, focusing on his feast day, celebrated Jan. 31. St. John Bosco dedicated himself to the betterment of the youth in Turin, and founded the Salesian order to educate the young poor and to prepare them for an occupation.
His 200th birthday will be celebrated Aug. 16, 2015, and a reliquary containing a portion of his right arm has been touring the world since 2010 in preparation for the anniversary.
The Salesian order founded by St. John Bosco is found in 131 countries at more than 1,800 apostolates. The order includes more than 15,000 members, of whom 10,500 are priests.
Pope Francis has already shown his appreciation for the order with his Jan. 19 visit to Rome's Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Praetorian Barracks parish, which is staffed by Salesians. The parish was founded by St. John Bosco a year before his death, and staffs an attached boarding school.
Behind the basilica are the “camarette,” or “little rooms” where St. John Bosco stayed on his last trip to Rome, when the parish was dedicated, from April 30 to May 18, 1887.
It is located near the Termini train and metro stations, and serves an area filled with migrants, refugees, homeless persons, and itinerants.
Having gone to Sacred Heart at the Praetorian Barracks, Pope Francis may now show his support for the Salesians by visiting their home of Turin, in northern Italy some 90 miles from Milan.
According to Torinese media, Pope Francis would visit both Turin and Milan, which will hold the International Expo in 2015.
The Pope met Jan. 17 with Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, who is managing the expo, along with Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture. The Salesians will host several events at the expo.
Should he visit Turin, the Pope would be expected to visit Valdocco, the Salesians' headquarters and site of St. John Bosco's burial; the Shroud of Turin; and perhaps to visit extended family – Pope Francis' father was born in Portacomaro, a town an hour outside of Turin.
According to a Salesian source, the Pope would go to Turin May 24, for the feast of Mary Auxiliatrix, patron of the Salesian Sisters.