Salesian Encyclopaedic Dictionary

This dictionary was first published in November 2019 under the auspices of the East Asia-Oceania Region and was compiled over a long period of time covering two Workshops held by translators from the East Asia-Oceania Salesian region, one in 2014 the other in 2019. The second edition has been updated in many respects (some entries added, others altered, one appendix extended further and another removed), and the title altered to reflect the true nature of this dictionary, it’s ‘encyclopaedic’ quality.

July 2021


The Salesian Encyclopaedic Dictionary, with an appendix of very many ‘False Friends’ that exist between Italian and English, is a comprehensive effort to compile a list of terms in current (and sometimes in historical) use in Salesian discourse in English. This second 2021 edition updates some information, includes new entries and an expanded list of ‘False Friends’.

Many (perhaps 99%) of these terms have originated in Italian, some in the Piedmontese dialect, the vernacular of the founding Father and most of his first followers. But as Don Bosco’s charism became established outside of Italy, it was inevitable that new terms would arise with their origins in other languages.

This dictionary, which has developed over many years of careful lexical observation and annotation, is chiefly interested in meanings and usage relating to Salesian discourse in English, and includes terms that have entered that discourse from English and, indeed, other languages.

The dictionary (it is far more than a glossary, hence the description ‘encyclopaedic’) contains a great deal of information. Not only are some terms complicated, containing several meanings, but due to their consistent use in Salesian discourse, may have developed a history of their own and require some explanation. The compilation of terms has borne in mind both the translator and the seeker of knowledge regarding the Salesian charism of St John Bosco. Its use, then, is intended both as a formation tool and an aid for translators. The extensive list of ‘false friends’ will be of particular help to translators, even the best of whom can easily fall into any number of traps of this kind

One Salesian region in particular, the East Asia-Oceania region, has brought translators from the Salesian Family together on two occasions so far (2014 in K’Long, Vietnam, and 2019 in Anisakan, Myanmar). These workshops, as they have been called, have insisted on the value of producing glossaries in the various word pairs that translators in the region are working with. And since English is the ‘lingua franca’ of the region, it was seen to be an essential first step to produce what would effectively be at least a bilingual glossary in the Italian-English language pair, but one not ultimately restricted to that pair should some terms originating from other languages in the region also need to be included.

While this dictionary has resulted mainly from the needs of one Salesian region, it would clearly be at least a part response to the needs of other regions where English is the ‘lingua franca’, and it may well be that a future edition expands to include terms from other languages that have become part of Salesian discourse in those regions: this current dictionary includes several examples of the kind: ‘gaku-’ 学 (Japanese), ‘harambee’ (KiSwahili), ‘silsilha’ (Arabic), ‘wontok’ (Tok Pisin). There will be many other such examples, though not included here.

All entries contain a headword in bold type, followed by one or more glosses (meanings) in brackets. If the term is neither Italian or English in origin, a brief language reference is offered in square brackets, using the ISO two-letter or three-letter language codes, e.g. [ar] (Arabic), [fr] (French), [ja] (Japanese), [la] (Latin), [pms] (Piedmontese), [tpi] (Tok Pisin). Where there is more than one word or phrase given as meanings, the first of them is the primary sense of the term in normal Salesian discourse, followed by synonyms that may be appropriate in context. A simple indication of part of speech then follows in italics. If the headword consists of more than one word, the part of speech may be a ‘phrase’ (Noun, Verb, etc.). Information regarding the term follows in a grey-backgrounded box. In some instances, the entry concludes with usage or linguistic notes marked by a 'red flame' and/or a `light bulb' indicating a cross-reference.


1a età (1. youth. 2. first age)

noun phrase

The age between adolescence and maturity and by extension all of the human being’s first age (as opposed to old age).

Different cultures distinguish age groupings in different ways. One would be unlikely to find, in English, terms like first age, second age etc., as recorded here. In fact there are probably only three general groupings in English: young, middle-aged, elderly, and the boundaries are rather flexible for these. Amongst the young category, English might distinguish infants, children, adolescents, young adults.

Having said that, there is, in the UK, the University of the Third Age, so at least that term is recognised as ‘older people no longer in full time work’.

Usage: Expect to find 2a età (the 30-59 age group) and 3a età (see earlier in this comment. It would be capitalised in English as Third Age), and perhaps even 4a età (75 and over).


abbandonato, (1. abandoned. 2. neglected. 3. in a state of dire poverty with nobody to look after them)


Note the term ‘poor and abandoned’ which Don Bosco used, but which was also frequently in use to describe the situation of young people who might also be socially and religiously deprived. This group was Don Bosco’s definitive vocational option.

See also entry for Povero e abbandonato

abito talare (1. cassock. 2. clerical dress. 3. habit)


talare [adj from tallone=heel] as a symbol of the priestly state.

abside (1. sanctuary. 2. apse)


Typical element in Roman architecture in the cella (where the divinity was located) of a temple or basilica… to draw attention to what it contains, hence the liturgical value of the apse in a Christian church.

Architecture: a vaulted semicircular or polygonal recess in a building, especially at the end of the choir of a church

accademia (1. academy. 2. religious entertainment program)


A semi-religious or cultural program often performed on the vigil of a major feast day.

accolitato (ministry of acolyte)


In the ecclesiastical hierarchy, the fourth and highest of the minor orders; after the 1972 reform, it is one of the ministries common to the whole Church (along with Reader or Lector), and can be conferred in a special ceremony, including on lay people. On 10 January 2021 Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter titled {\\em Spiritus Domini}, which modified the Code of Canon Law to allow women, as well as men, to be installed in the ministry of acolyte and lector, or reader, at Mass.

Note that the term nearly always appears in close association with lettorato, '’ministry of Reader`’ or Lector. The one who takes on this ministry is called an accolito or ‘Acolyte’.

The sense in which the term is used in Salesian discourse is almost always that of the instituted acolyte normally, but not essentially, in preparation for priesthood.

See also Lettorato

accompagnamento (1. accompaniment. 2. to move with. 3. to be with. 4. to be on first name terms with. 5. to be trusted by. 6. companionship. 7. guidance)


An act of support by a person for another individual or for a group; to follow up someone, go with someone as a companion. Note also that accompagnamento vocazionale in Italian (see below) might be rendered as ‘vocational guidance’ in English. The extended list of synonyms already suggests that it might be better to avoid the term ‘accompaniment’ where it could cause confusion.

accompagnamento vocazionale (vocational guidance)

noun phrase

In 2009, an adjustment was made to the existing Salesian Ratio (for the prenovitiate section in particular) particularly in the light of new attention being given to vocational accompaniment and the aspirantate’, and ‘spiritual accompaniment’.

ACG (Atti del Consiglio Generale) (AGC Acts of the General Council)

abbreviation, initialism

The official organ for the promulgation of directives of the Rector Major and his Council. Their publication is the responsibility of the Secretary General.

acquisti (purchases)


Accounting terminology

ACS (Atti del Capitolo Superiore) (ASC Acts of the Superior Chapter)

abbreviation, initialism

The term is out of use, as they are now known as the Acts of the General Council AGC (or Atti del Consiglio Generale ACG).

ACS (Archivio Centrale Salesiano) (Salesian Central Archives)

abbreviation, initialism

A central depository which has the function of preservation of the documentary heritage of the Congregation. Distinct from ACS Atti… above.

ACSSA (Associazione Cultori della Storia Salesiana) (1. Salesian History Association. 2. Association for those who Cultivate Salesian History)

abbreviation, initialism

Set up by decree of the Rector Major on 9 October 1996.

ad gentes [la] (ad gentes)

noun phrase

‘Ad Gentes’ is the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church. Passed by the bishops assembled by a vote of 2,394 to 5, it was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965. The title means ‘to the nations’ in Latin, and is from the first line of the decree, as is customary with Roman Catholic documents.

One difficulty with taking ‘ad gentes’ out of its original linguistic context, to develop it into an over-arching missionary approach, is that it can be interpreted ethnocentrically. It is ‘missionary activity proper’, in the view of Redemptoris Missio, and is directed to peoples among whom the Church has not been firmly established and whose cultures have not yet been influenced by the Gospel, people who are found in certain geographical areas for the most part.

ADMA (Associazione Di Maria Ausiliatrice) (Mary Help of Christians Association, Clients of Mary Help of Christians (out of use), Devotees of Mary Help of Christians (out of use)

abbreviation, acronym

A Public Association of the Faithful. Don Bosco founded the group ‘to foster veneration of the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to Mary Help of Christians’. Association of the Devotees of Mary Help of Christians (hence the ‘D’ in ADMA), is now out of use in favour of the simple Association of Mary Help of Christians, or Mary Help of Christians Association.

The Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, wrote a “Letter on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Association of Mary Help of Christians (ADMA) – 18 April 1869”, and in it he traces the history of the term (as well as the reality) of this association. With regard to ‘devotee’, he points out that ‘This little word, antiquated and somewhat out of fashion nowadays, is the key to entering into the burning heart of the relationship that links Don Bosco with the Help of Christians.’

Don Bosco himself traced out the origins of the group in a leaflet entitled “Association of the Devotees of Mary Help of Christians canonically erected in the Church dedicated to Her in Turin with historical information about this title by the priest John Bosco.” He attributed the origin of the Association to “repeated requests,” coming “from all parts and from people of all ages and every condition” during and after the construction and the consecration of the church. He referred to the associates as “those united in the same spirit of prayer and piety paying homage to the great Mother of the Saviour invoked with the beautiful title of the Help of Christians.”

ad multos annos (ad multos annos remains untranslated.

adverbial phrase

A refrain with a semi-liturgical significance. The more complete phrase is *ad multos annos vivat and it is usually sung: ad multos annos vivat, plurimosque annos vivat, vivat, vivat, vivat. In fact, its origin is Christian and goes back to a time when the newly consecrated bishop sang this three times to his consecrator; or in the case of an abbot at his investiture, once only.

ad nutum (ad nutum [la] remains untranslated.)

adverbial phrase

Used of an ecclesiastical office whose bearer may be removed from that office by his or her appointer at will, without need for further explanation. Literally meaning ‘at the will of’, it is a term used in Canon Law to refer to a person appointed for the time that the Superior remains in office, or until he changes his mind.

adorazione (1. adoration. 2. worship)


Act expressing homage paid to a divinity or person thought to be divine. In the Catholic religion, an act expressing homage to God. Desramaut includes the term amongst his 100 key words of Salesian spirituality. Salesians begin their understanding of the term from Francis de Sales who sees adoration as a daily thing, in any circumstance. Adoration before the Bl. Sacrament is very much part of Salesian tradition.

ADS (Asociación Damas Salesianas) [es] ([Association of] Salesian Women, DAMAS, ADS)

abbreviation, initialism

Association of Catholic lay women founded in 1948 in Caracas, Venezuela. A Private Association of the Faithful in ecclesiastical terms. Often referred to by the shorter title (capitalised) DAMAS, not an acronym but a shortened version. Has official membership of the Salesian Family. The Salesian assistant to the DAMAS is called the ‘Spiritual Director’.

AEO Asia Est-Oceania (EAO East Asia-Oceania)

abbreviation, initialism

Current Salesian Region. Essentially, the region is the old Australia-Asia region minus South Asia, but in 2008 at GC26, Myanmar (MYM) was added in from the South Asia Region. AEO/EAO and other Salesian regions are better known as initialisms rather than acronyms (in speech the letters are pronounced, rather than pronouncing them as a word). The initialisms for current member circumscriptions of the region are: AUL (Province, includes Pacific Delegation), CIN (Province), FIN (Province), FIS (Province, includes the Pakistan Delegation), GIA (Province), KOR (Province), MYM (Vice-Province), INA (Vice-Province), PGS (Vice-Province), THA (Province, includes the Cambodia Delegation), TLS (Vice-Province), VIE (Province, includes the Mongolia and North Vietnam Delegations).

It is important to note that while this region frequently makes use of an initialism (EAO), this is not an official abbreviation, for in fact none of the Salesian regions have an official abbreviation, and perhaps only the East Asia-Oceania makes frequent reference to itself this way. Provinces, on the other hand, do have official abbreviations (either acronym or initialism, as seen above)

See also sigla.

affidamento [(entrustment)


Distinguish from ‘consecration’, especially, for example, when speaking of the prayer of (entrustment) to Mary Help of Christians.

See also consacrazione.

afflictis lentae celeres gaudentibus horae [la] (Time passes slowly for those who are sad and fast for those who are cheerful.)

verb phrase

John Bosco saw this inscription on the sundial at the seminary in Chieri when he first entered there, and determined to make his time pass quickly! (The sundial in question is no longer on the wall of the courtyard, though a second one is still visible on the adjacent wall).

agiatezza (1. comfort. 2. ease. 3. life of ease. 4. well-being)


Social and financial circumstances corresponding to well-being.

See also imborghesimento.

Albera Paolo (Albera, Paul)

proper name

Paul Albera was the second successor of Don Bosco, a fact predicted by the Saint of Valdocco himself. Elected Rector Major at the death of Fr Michael Rua (1910) he dedicated himself particularly to the spiritual formation of the members of the Salesian Society, spelling out directives for interior life. This care was also mirrored in the social field in his wish that educational work be pursued beyond the schools and colleges by more stringent and consequent bonds.

He brought together Congresses of Past Pupils and Cooperators with precise aims: to forge fraternal bonds which would augment the fruits of the education received and which wouldfacilitate mutual assistance; to diffuse the Christian spirit throughout family, society and especially amongst young people; to promote and put in place, eventually, private and public initiatives aimed at supporting the many works of assistance, religious and social outlook that have come into existence in the name of Don Bosco. He carried this through most effectively amidst the difficulties of the first World War when it was necessary to organise huge works of charity and assistance in different nations at war.

allegria (1. cheerfulness. 2. happiness)


A lively, happy state of mind understood as a Christian virtue. Part of the trio allegria, studio-lavoro, pietà (cheerfulness, work-study, piety) frequently employed by Don Bosco with the sense of being a virtue, hence his including it in recommendations to Dominic Savio who asked what he had to do to become a saint. Don Bosco would also often remind a youngster to sta allegro, be happy.

ambiente (1. setting. 2. neighbourhood. 3. environment. 4. circle 5. climate. 6. atmosphere)


We are likely to find the Italian term ambiente, which we can often though not always translate with ‘setting’, in frequent use in Salesian discourse today. It will often be in combination with an adjective such as popolare, in which case the phrase might be rendered as ‘ordinary folk’, or ‘ordinary poor people’, or ‘working class’, according to circumstance, another way of saying ceti popolari, which we find in the Italian version of the Constitutions. But it is worth noting the huge change that took place in the SDB renewed Constitutions (1984).

While previously the term ambiente (setting or environment, but this time the English text translates it as ‘neighbourhood’) wasn’t found anywhere, the new text repeats it often, with a variety of glosses in English:

Cons. 41: We give practical expression to the redeeming love of Christ by organising activities and works of an educational and pastoral nature designed to meet the needs of the neighbourhood and of the Church.

Cons. 57: The Salesian community is… open to the cultural milieu in which it carries out its apostolic work.

Cons. 77: every community is sensitive to the conditions of its neighbourhood.

Reg. 11: The Oratory… should be organised as a service to the neighbourhood.

Reg. 14: A Salesian school… services to meet local needs.

Reg. 17: The aspirantate… keeps itself open to the neighbourhood.

Reg. 60: Our works should be open and available for the needs of the neighbourhood…

Reg. 89: The house of the novitiate should be in contact with social and apostolic realities of the neighbourhood.

ambiente pastorale (pastoral animation setting) noun phrase

Refers to the multiple activities or educative and pastoral arrangements to be found across all our works and the more traditional sectors indicated above.

By way of summary we can indicate: animating vocation ministry, especially for apostolic vocations; animating missionary and various kinds of voluntary work; youth ministry recommendations with regard to Social Communication. The Salesian mission is also carried out through certain other significant settings like the Salesian Youth Movement and various fields of specialised activity at local or provincial level: services of Christian formation and spiritual animation, or groups and leadership services in the leisure time area.

ambito (1. sector. 2. area. 3. dimension)


This term is used by the Salesian Sisters in a particular way, to indicate what the SDBs call a settore or sector. The Sisters refer to these areas of the Salesian mission as an ambito, e.g. Youth Ministry, Social Communication, etc.

See also settore

amici di Don Bosco (1. Friends of Don Bosco literally, or more broadly, 2. Salesian sympathisers)

noun phrase

Unofficial grouping to cover those who sympathise with and act closely according to Salesian principles (and in collaboration with Salesians) but who are not members of an official Salesian Family group. The term is particularly useful in non-Christian contexts, though not only.

It is arguable, at least in English, if the term is to be capitalised or not as Friends of Don Bosco. Doing so immediately implies a degree of membership qualification that does not, in fact, exist (at least not yet)

amicizia (friendship)


Keen and mutual affection between two or more people. The term is one of the 100 words of Salesian spirituality selected by Desramaut. Salesian understanding of friendship is normally quite positive, drawing from Francis de Sales but also Don Bosco’s friendship experiences (e.g. Jonah, his Jewish friend, Comollo, in MO). Don Bosco was not afraid to speak of friendship between Salesians and their pupils. It is also true to say that there was a long period of negative associations of friendship in Salesian tradition from Fr Rua until Fr Viganò, when once again the term receives a positive approach.

Amicizie (Le) (Friendly Societies)

noun phrase, _Proper name

Secret societies generally dedicated to the defence of the Catholic faith and the institutional Church, at first chiefly through the spreading of good books. Founded by Jesuits, at least two groups, the Amicizia cattolica and the Amicizia sacerdotale, were less secret in Don Bosco’s time. The pastoral and doctrinal concerns of the latter group were to be found expressed through the activities of the Congregation of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary in their work of renewal of moral theology in Piedmont and the founding of the Pastoral Institute in Turin, hence Don Bosco’s good understanding of their interests.

amministrazione dei beni temporali (administration of temporal goods)

noun phrase

A term which deals with the structural aspect within Salesian communities, cf. C. 108 and the corresponding Regulations. The Salesian Society has the ability to acquire, possess, administer and alienate temporal goods (Congregation, province, house level). Temporal goods are regarded as means through which to achieve the apostolic aims of the Congregation.

amorevolezza (1. loving-kindness. 2. loving concern. 3. affection. 4. kindness. 5. patience)


Being loving: love of parents for children; affectionately benevolent, an affectionate act, demonstration of affection, benevolence. In the Italian lexicon familiar to Don Bosco, the term amorevolezza was not identified so much with ‘love’ or the theological virtue of charity, but rather with a range of little relational virtues, attitudes or behaviours shown by gestures, help, gifts, availability. It is the kind of affection shown by a parent or by husband and wife. It is this common-garden sense of the term that Don Bosco employed, but then added an understanding that moved towards a more deeply Christian understanding of the term.

Usage: In English it could be written as loving kindness, loving-kindness, or even as a single word: lovingkindness. There tends to be a progression over time for two words used as a kind of compound. They start off as two words, then a hyphen is introduced, and finally they become a single word. In a strictly Salesian context we might write ‘lovingkindess’, but in a more general context, probably ‘loving-kindness’.
See also ragione and religione.

anagrafe (register or today, perhaps a database)


Registration of population in a municipality. More specifically in the Salesian case, a Census Register from 1847-69 which recorded the names of boarders accepted at Valdocco each year.

Note that there was an older list called the repertorio domestico or house list, a somewhat rough handwritten list of names from 1847-53.

angeli (custodi) (Guardian angels)

Noun phrase

Why include angels here? Desramaut asks this question in selecting the term for his 100 words of Salesian spirituality. He finds that Don Bosco from early days of his ministry invoked and used the Church’s understanding of the Guardian Angels. Devotion to the Guardian Angels was the title of one of his very first written works. Rua and Albera continued mention of the devotion. Then silence, for the most part. Desramaut hopes for a ‘return of the angels’ in Catholic spirituality.

animatore (1. leader. 2. animator)


Someone who gives life, impetus, movement to something.

In Salesian usage ‘animation’ is a characteristic style of leadership.

Codified in Salesian texts since Vatican II, animation is a quality, a service, a style, something which is a capacity of individual Salesians (capacità dell’animazione), of leadership, something to be exercised in the community, e.g. the animazione della comunità (animation of the community), or the animazione del CEP (animation of the Educative and Pastoral Community). We speak of something also more structured as in the servizio di animazione (service of animation) or even organismi di animazione (animation structures, animation bodies such as commissions).

animatore spirituale (spiritual animator)

Noun phrase

The term is used of the priest who is responsible for an ADMA group (MHC Association).

Usage: It would normally be capitalised in English.
See also ADMA

annali (annals)


Historical narration of political or otherwise important events, arranged by years. Salesians immediately think of the full title Gli Annali della Società Salesiana. These “Annals of the Salesian Society” are a set of 4 hefty volumes with a total of 2887 pages.

annuario (yearbook, directory, annual)


A regular publication usually yearly but not always, with news, statistics. The yearly general listing of Salesians and Houses in the Congregation.

In fact, annuari existed in the Salesian Society from 1870, and contained an elenco generale. At some stage this became simply the Elenco. It was known as this until 2002, then subsequently as Annuario.

Usage: Despite the official change to Annuario, many Salesians still commonly refer to the Elenco.
See also elenco.

ANS (Agenzia iNfo Salesiana) (1. Salesian News Agency. 2. Salesian Information Agency)


ANS produces Salesian information to feed Salesian media and disseminates its products amongst media, in the service of the Salesian mission. The acronym ANS now stands for Agenzia iNfo Salesiana (Salesian Information Agency) – it comes from the earlier, Agenzia Notizie Salesiane but was retained for sake of continuity with a slightly altered reference.

In English, however, we still tend to speak of the Salesian News Agency, since ‘Information Agency’ is not common parlance in English. It is an unusual phenomenon that an acronym retains its initials but the meaning changes, yet, as noted above, this is precisely what has happened with ANS.

apostolato (apostolate)


The work of someone who dedicates themselves to spreading religious truths, moral, social, political teachings. According to Catholic Church teaching, every baptised member has apostolate as a duty.

At one point the term ‘apostolate’ appeared to be a likely gloss for pastorale as in pastorale giovanile glossed as ‘Youth Apostolate’, but they are not the same. Hence ‘Youth Pastoral Ministry’ came into being at one stage (now the preferred term is simply Youth Ministry) as a gloss for the specific nature of Salesian ministry for the young. ‘Apostolate’ has a wider meaning, since ‘apostolic’ means to work for the growth of the Church. We also speak of our {\\em impegno apostolico} (apostolic commitment), something which arises from and is inspired by pastoral charity.

Desramaut includes ‘apostolate’ among his 100 key words of Salesian spirituality, but devotes most of his discussion to its newer significance in terms of new evangelisation.

arancel (1. arancel system. 2. stole fees) noun

‘Arancel’ is a Spanish word for the rate of taxes, fees, or tariffs to be paid, like a system or court costs or customs fees. The term does not appear in Canon Law or the Catechism, or in any major magisterial document of the Holy See. In some Spanish-speaking countries, then, the ‘arancel system’ in the Church refers to an outdated practice of paying priests or other ministers for specific sacraments or services, in place of the minister receiving a stipend or salary from the diocese.

Sometimes this is known as the practice of ‘stole fees’ – and is dangerously close to simony, and often is, in fact, exactly that. It is also prejudicial against the poor, who might not be able to afford something which is supposed to be free. For this reason, the practice is nonexistent in many parts of the church and being phased out where it still can be found, like parts of the Philippines.

This term is found only in the Philippines when it is in reference to tithing or donations for ecclesiastical services.

artigiani (1. working boys. 2. artisans. 3. apprentices) Noun (pl)

An artigiano is someone who carries out an activity (including of an artistic nature) for production (or restoration) of goods through manual work, or in a workshop.

Now fallen out of use; to indicate either a young worker or lowly craftsman or, in the plural, young people in welfare institutions who were set on the road to craft-type activities. It is in this latter sense that the artigiani of Don Bosco are to be understood. He was also closely associated with the Collegio degli Artigianelli (Home for Young Apprentices), a work promoted by Fr Cocchi who formed a society of priests and ‘young laymen’ to work for the education of ‘so many youngsters, mostly orphaned and abandoned, that roam the city… and to start them on a profession or trade.’ This was the Charitable Society [to care] for Orphaned and Abandoned Young People. It was established on 11 March 1850.

AS Asia Sud (SA South Asia)

Initialism, Noun phrase

Current Salesian Region consisting of the Indian Subcontinent (not including Pakistan) with Sri Lanka.

It is important to note that while this region sometimes makes use of an initialism (AS or SA), this is not an official abbreviation, for in fact none of the Salesian regions have an official abbreviation, and perhaps only the East Asia-Oceania makes frequent reference to itself this way.

AA.SS.CC. (Associazione Salesiani Cooperatori) (1. Salesian Cooperators Association. 2. Association of Salesian Cooperators)

abbreviation, initialism

Association founded directly by Don Bosco, to help him in ‘the work of the oratories’, whose members may be lay or clerical, but who do not take any vow by virtue of their membership. The current official term for the Salesian Cooperators Association in Italian is Associazione Salesiani Cooperatori, though it bore the title Associazione Cooperatori Salesiani for most of its existence.

At one time the word pia (pious) was prepended, believing this was Don Bosco’s term – it was, but only to distinguish it from certain Masonic sects and usually only viva voce. In fact, Don Bosco initially adopted the term Associazione salesiana, hoping to include its members as external members of his fledgling Society.

Linguistic note: When an acronym is of a plural entity, Italian doubles the letters to indicate its plural nature, hence AA.SS.CC.
See also Pia (Società).

ascesi (1. asceticism. 2. self-discipline)


Interior action aimed at acquiring perfection and ascending to God through self-denial, constant practice of virtue, prayer (especially as mental prayer or meditation).

The English gloss has an unfamiliar ring about it – part of the problem of contemporary spirituality, undoubtedly! One problem of the English words ‘ascetic’, ‘asceticism’, is that they conjure up images of Mahatma Gandhi or the like (or certain holy pictures of Don Rua?).

It would be worth reading what Desramaut has to say about this term in Salesian and Christian spirituality – he counts it among his 100 important terms. Asceticism implies a degree of spiritual combat. In Salesian terms, we find it expressed through the reverse side of the picture in Don Bosco’s Dream of the Ten Diamonds, as explained later particularly by Fr Rinaldi (ASC 55 1930) and Fr Viganò (ASC 300 1981).

Usage: The most frequent problem in linguistic terms is the occasional habit of transliterating the Italian to produce ‘ascesis’, the Greek term. This is quite unfamiliar in English! Therefore, ‘asceticism’ is the preferred gloss.

ascritto (1. enrolled member. 2. novice)


Part of a group; accepted as a member of an association. Don Bosco’s first descriptions of the Salesian Society did not envisage a traditional novitiate, so he did not speak of novizi but rather of ascritti.

ASF (Apostole della Sacra Famiglia) (Apostles of the Holy Family)

abbreviation, initialism

From their website: ‘We, the Apostles of the Holy Family, therefore describe ourselves as people called by God to practise the evangelical counsels and to work within his Church, with the total consecration of our being, to foster the integriyt and holiness of the family through family ministry and the education of the young.’ Member group of the Salesian Family.

Founded in 1889 in Messina by Cardinal Guarino (1827-1897), Archbishop of Messina and subsequently Cardinal. He wanted the group to support his particular pastoral commitment to protecting the sacred nature of the family. He called the group after the family of Nazareth, the model image of perfection for every Christian family, and placed families under the protection of the Holy Family.

ASMOAF (Australian Salesian Missions Overseas Aid Fund)


ASMOAF has, as its mission, support for the vocational teaching of underprivileged young people in developing countries, in order that they find employment and become self-sufficient, contributing members of their nation. The Australian Salesian Missions Office has been part of the Provincial Economer’s domain since the 1960s. It was granted tax deductible status for donations for the relief of poverty in developing countries in 1986. The Australian Salesian Mission Overseas Aid Fund (ASMOAF) was set up as a Trust in 2000.

aspirantato (1. aspirantate. 2. juniorate)


In a joint document released in 2011 by the Councillor for Formation and the Councillor for Youth Ministry (on the experience of the aspirantate), the term ‘aspirant’ has now a preferred target group, viz., young men interested in Salesian consecrated life who have already completed some post-secondary studies. This does not rule out other candidates but is rather a statement of preference.

The term does not appear in the Constitutions (but in the Regulations instead) or the Ratio. Don Bosco in his own time made reference to ‘Apostolic Schools’ (Meeting of Superior Chapter, June 5, 1884), a model which he had heard of in France and which was a kind of junior seminary to prepare very young candidates for novitiate or seminary entrance.

Usage: The term should not be confused with ‘seminarian’. A seminarian could be an aspirant, but not all aspirants are seminarians. The term aspirantate will normally be understood in religious circles (meaning Religious Congregations) but is rare outside that. It is obviously a derivation from ‘aspirant’.

assistente ecclesiastico (ecclesiastical assistant)

Noun phrase

A canonical term for the Salesian priest who is officially responsible for the VDB or the CDB.

Usage: The term is more likely to be capitalised in English.

assistenza (assistance)


A style of presence to young people which meets all their real needs; a form of human development. Total charitable activity on behalf of young people. Codified in Salesian terminology since Don Bosco. Key element of presence as part of Preventive System of Don Bosco. The term is really the forerunner of ‘preventive system’, a term Don Bosco did not use as such before 1877, when he needed to give a theoretical basis to his activity. So its true content is extensive in the light of that.

‘Assistance’, from the Latin ad-sistere, implies ‘being there’ physically, therefore a presence, but not any kind of presence. It is an active presence, part of the Salesian style also known as ‘animation’. The classic expression of Don Bosco “Here in your midst I feel completely at home” expresses well the concept of Salesian presence-assistance.

Usage: It might also be known as a combined word: presence-assistance. From the concept of assistance we have the Italian (assistente) and English ‘assistant’. ‘Assistance’ and therefore ‘assistant’ have very specific Salesian meaning as described above, so are not to be confused with the more common meaning of ‘assistance’ or ‘assistant’.
See also sistema preventivo.

associati (associates)

noun (pl.)

A term used by Don Bosco as a first reference to what finally became cooperatori, Cooperators. Associati is to be seen in conjunction with congregati (SDBs)

associazionismo (group-mindedness)


The phenomenon whereby individuals gather in groups or associations and, by extension, the set of active associations in a particular field. A very difficult and abstract idea for translation into English! Meeting in groups is the basic idea. In Salesian usage, it refers to a typical aspect of Don Bosco’s Preventive System, encouraging young people to join groups which promote their own activity and leadership (protagonismo), as represented historically by the sodalities, bands, sports etc.


abbreviation, acronym

An acronym for Assemblea Straordinaria, or extraordinary assembly, e.g., of the Sacred Heart community in Rome (Sacro Cuore).

attuario (1. notary. 2. actuary. 3. registrar. 4. clerk)


The Italian term attuario was originally in reference to an officer in the Roman Imperial army who looked after provisions etc. In English, an ‘actuary’ is a statistician who computes risks, rates, etc. especially for insurance purposes, according to probabilities derived from population statistics, etc.). But neither of these are what an actuary does in a Salesian context. He is closer to the now obsolete meaning of a registrar or clerk. It is probably better to use the gloss ‘notary’, in English, which is more easily understood and is also a role of the Provincial Secretary.

See also notaio.

AUL (Australia-Pacific)


A Salesian Province in the EAO Region. While the official initialism used is AUL, it designates the Australian Province and the Pacific Delegation (Delegations do not have a separate set of initials).

AustraLasia (austraLasia)

Noun, portmanteau term

An e-newsletter founded in response to the need to link Salesian provinces in the then Asia-Australia (now the East Asia-Oceania) region in November 1997.

austraLasia has developed into a substantial digital/online service under the umbrella of a website known as BoscoLink.

Usage: The term requires a capital ‘L’ in the middle: it could be understood as austra (Link) asia. Hence it is a portmanteau term, a single morpheme combining two or more morphemes.

Auxilium Christianorum [la] (1. Help of Christians (literally). 2. Our Lady Help of Christians. 3. Mary Help of Christians)

Noun phrase

The Latin is often glossed as Ausiliatrice or Maria SS. Ausiliatrice in Don Bosco’s Italian.

Don Bosco’s personal devotion to Mary transcended all titles, both the traditional historical titles and titles tied to local popular shrines.

It was solidly founded on the Church’s traditional Mariology (Mother of God, of Christ, Theotokos) and on traditional popular devotion as simply ‘Our Lady’ (the Madonna). His devotion to Mary under particular titles, including Immaculate Conception and Help of Christians, appears as an aspect of his perception of Mary’s basic presence in the Church.

However, his devotion to and use of the term ‘Help of Christians’ came later – after 1860. Neither in his ‘History of the Church’ (1st ed. 1845) nor in his ‘History of Italy’ (1st ed. 1866) is there any mention of the Help of Christians. The inscription on the frieze inside the great church he saw in his dream in 1844 read “Hic domus mea, inde gloria me”, not “Auxilium Christianorum”.

Nor is the title in the early editions of the Companion of Youth (1st ed. 1847). It would seem that it was the apparition and miraculous events of Spoleto 1862 that precipitated his interest and use of the term. Archbishop Arnaldi of Spoleto officially bestowed the title Auxilium Christianorum on the apparition. Don Bosco’s narration of his dream of the Two Columns (May 30 1862) seems clearly connected with the event, since one of the columns bears the insciption ‘Help of Christians’. This, along with Spoleto, was tied to political, revolutionary and anticlerical events in Italy. In 1868 Don Bosco indicated that there was a ‘very special reason why the Church in recent times wished to invoke Mary as Help of Christians.’

Usage: Given the specific reference to ‘Christians’, and given also the familiar reference to the briefer Ausiliatrice in other European languages, many Salesians in countries where Christianity is in a minoroty, or where there might be other particular difficulties, refer to ‘Mary our Help’ or something similar. The English ‘Help of Christians’ does not translate the Italian Ausiliatrice but the Latin form – or would it be better to say that the Italian Ausiliatrice does not translate the Latin Auxilium Christianorum?

Azione Cattolica (Catholic Action)

Noun phrase, Proper name

Organisation of Catholic laity for special and direct collaboration with the apostolate of the Church’s hierarchy. It has precedents in various Catholic associations that arose in the 19th century in various countries. The movement was strengthened at the international congress at Malines (1863) then consolidated under Leo XIII and his successors, especially Pius XI (Encyclical Ubi arcano Dei, 1922). Now extended throughout the world, though more centralised in Latin nations and decentralised in English-speaking countries.

The term comes into existence well after Don Bosco but as E. Ceria notes, what else were the Cooperators if not ‘lay people, canonically associated (with the Salesians) to spread, and keep alive, dependent on ecclesiastical authority, Christian life in family and society?’ The beatification of Andrew Marvelli by JP II in 2004, August, adds to this notion that of the Past Pupil. The beatifications on that day were all of members of Catholic Action from 1924 onwards.


barrarotta (barrarotta or barra rotta)


A game played in Italy in Don Bosco’s day and long thereafter in Salesian traditon. Similar to a game in English called ‘releaso’ or even to ‘red rover’, inasmuch as two teams face each other at some distance.

Barrarotta needs a referee, because someone has to determine who left their baseline first, since that person can always be ‘tigged’ and captured by anyone from the other team who leaves after them.

basilica (basilica)


(In Roman times) a large rectangular building, typically with an aisle on either side of its long nave, and often with an apse at one or both ends; used as a meeting place and for the dispensing of justice.

Assigned by formal concession or immemorial custom to certain more important churches in virtue of which they enjoy privileges of an honorific character (not always clearly defined). There are ‘Greater’ or ‘Lesser’ basilicas.

The best known basilica in the Salesian world – and the first – was the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin. Another is ‘Sacro Cuore’ (Sacred Heart) in Rome. In recent years St John Bosco’s at Cine Città and the Church of St John Bosco at Colle Don Bosco have been assigned the honour of being ‘minor basilicas’ (as are the aforementioned basilicas).

BCS (Biblioteca Centrale Salesiana) (Salesian Central Library)

abbreviation, initialism

Formerly located in the General House but now housed as part of the UPS Library, it is identified with the preservation and making available of books and publications regarding Salesianity to the Salesian and non-Salesian world.

beatificazione (beatification)


The act by which the pope declares that a Servant of God can be publicly venerated as Blessed. Also refers to the religious ceremony at which this happens; it differs from canonisation, of which it is a preliminary step; ‘process’, ‘cause of beatification’: the procedure by which the ecclesiastical authority evaluates the qualifications required to declare a deceased person as Blessed (Italian beato).

Usage: Generally, in English, the term (along with the person who is beatified) is capitalised as ‘Cause of Beatification’, and reference to the beatified individual is ‘Blessed’.
See also Servo di Dio.

benefattori (1. benefactors. 2. donors)


Someone who does good for others, a philanthropist. Almost a technical term for Don Bosco, since he regarded his benefactors as working partners, not just money-suppliers.

Biblioteca degli scrittori latini (Library of Latin Authors)

noun phrase

A collection of literature published by Don Bosco in 1866.

Biblioteca della gioventù salesiana (Library of Italian Youth)

noun phrase

A collection of literature published by Don Bosco in 1869.

bimestrale (Bimonthly)

adverbial phrase

The problem is that bimonthly can mean once every two months or twice a month! In the publishing industry, however, it is generally accepted that if a magazine or journal is bimonthly, it comes out every two months. This would be the case, for example with the rivista bimestrale known as the Ricerche Storiche Salesiane

birichino (1. cheeky, lively youngster. 2. scamp. 3. rascal. 4. mischievous. 5. naughty)


Synonyms in Italian might be monello, discolo, or at least the term as used by Don Bosco may appear in association with these.

blog (blog)


Blog could be described as a blend (web + log) or as a short form. The word can function as a noun or a verb in English. From the base word ‘blog’ we also derive blogger and blogging. A website or part of a website usually maintained by an individual, often with entries in reverse chronological order. It may be commentary or personal reflection. Many members of the Salesian Family run blogs. When a blog appears on an institutional site (as in, say, there is a potential conflict between the seemingly inherent personal nature of a blog and the institution it represents by nature of its being part of that site. usually requests that a blog on its site involves more than one person with administrative rights.

bogianen (also bogia nen). pms


A popular nickanme for the Piedmontese, aascribing to them a resolute character, one that will not budge in the face of difficulties. It probably originates from the actions of Savoyan soldiers during the battle of Assietta, a significant episode of the War of Austrian Succession that took place on July 19, 1747. They did not give up in the face of overwhelming odds.

borgata (hamlet)


A small area of habitation, perhaps a collection of just a few homes or farms (usually stretching both sides of the road or around a crossroads), connected to areas with an essentially rural economic base, of which it is the heart. In some large cities (Rome, Milan), a grouping of residential buildings in a suburban location but without the close relationship of continuity, at least originally, with the suburbandistricts of the city of which it is also an administrative part.

The Becchi, where Don Bosco grew up, is an example of a borgata. Somewhat larger is a borgo, such as we might call a suburb or perhaps better, a district in English. In Don Bosco’s case, the nearby Borgo Dora was an example, an industrial area with very poor, overcrowded housing, next to Valdocco, Turin.

BS (Bolletino Salesiano) (Salesian Bulletin)

abbreviation, initialism

Magazine founded in 1877 by Don Bosco as a means of informing his benefactors and Cooperators of Salesian work and maintaining them in the Salesian spirit.

The magazine continues today, usually under the same title (but occasionally under a different one, such as Don Bosco Today (UK), Don Bosco Ajourd’hui (France)) in more than 60 languages.

buona notte (goodnight, or good night)

noun phrase

A few words said towards evening, arising from a tradition begun by Don Bosco’s mother at the Oratory and continued by Don Bosco.

Usage: May also be spelt as two words: good night. Depending on circumstances, and it is certainly the case in the East Asia-Oceania region, the Goodnight (sometimes also referred to as the Goodnight talk), can become a Good morning or Good afternoon talk.

buon cristiano…​ (Good Christian…​) The entire phrase is (in Italian) buon cristiano e onesto cittadino, normally translated as ‘good Christian and upright citizen’, although Don Bosco used several versions of this along the lines of ‘civilisation and religion’, ‘civilisation and evangelisation’, ‘fostering the good of humanity and religion’.

noun phrase

A shorthand phrase used by Don Bosco to represent his educational manifesto, traditional in flavour but ever open to new interpretation (Cf. P. Braido, Prevenire, non reprimere, p. 231). Don Bosco had almost certainly heard variants of this phrase from prominent religious educators before him (e.g. Lodovico Pavoni 1784-1849) who founded the Congregation of the Sons of Mary Immaculate in Brescia some years before him.

Don Bosco had a broad set of intentions in mind when he used this phrase. Effectively, he meant everything that young people need in order to live their human and Christian life to the full: clothing, food, somewhere to live, work, study, free time; joy, friendship; active faith, God’s grace, following a path to holiness; involvement, energy, being part of society and Church.

Usage: The Italian term onesto, while of course it can mean ‘honest’, has a broader sense of being an upright person, and this is closer to Don Bosco’s intent when he speaks of the onesto cittadino. We often see the phrase translated as ‘… honest citizen’ but this is a restrictive interpretation.


Cafasso Giuseppe (Joseph Cafasso)

proper name

A member of the Turinese clergy, he was first encountered by young John Bosco when the former was a 1st year student of theology at the seminary. Don Bosco tells us that it was from Cafasso that he first learned of the importance of the liturgy as the priestly theatre and recreation. When Don Bosco enrolled at the Convitto Ecclesiastico, Cafasso was a professor of theology there. By 1846 he was the Rector. Don Bosco says of Cafasso that his secret was his tranquility, always smiling, always courteous, always kind. Cafasso was one of the important sources of the Salesian style and the Preventive System.

Linguistic note: Interesting to note that Don Bosco occasionally spelt the name as ‘Caffasso’

Cagliero Giovanni (John Cagliero)

proper name

As a boy, a member of the first group to be invited to form the Salesian Society at the Oratory. On 26 January 1854, Cagliero, Rua, Rochetti, Artiglia, together with Don Bosco, gathered in his room at his request and the proposal was made to exercise practical charity towards their neighbour. This event was also the first when the name ‘Salesian’ was applied. He became the first Salesian bishop while Don Bosco was still alive. Later, he became cardinal. He led the first missionary expedition. There is the famous photo of Don Bosco handing him the Constitutions on the occasion of the departure to Argentina in 1875.

Cagliero Project (Cagliero Project)

proper name

A project providing long term meaningful volunteer placements working with disadvantaged young people in a Salesian setting. The Cagliero Project gives young Australians an opportunity to devote six to twelve months in volunteer service to youth overseas and in Australia.

Calosso, Don (Giovanni Melchiorre Calosso)

proper name

The young John Bosco’s priest-friend whom he loved more than a father, by his own estimation.  Don Calosso set him on his way as a young student, but also in terms of spiritual direction.  The death of Calosso and subsequent events were also decisive in Bosco’s spiritual journey.

camerette (Don Bosco’s rooms)


Reference to the rooms built by Don Bosco and where he lived at the time at the Oratory.

These days converted to a museum in memory of Don Bosco.

Canção Nova [pt] (Canção Nova Community)

proper name

A Private International Association of the Faithful in canonical terms and member of the Salesian Family, Canção Nova has as its main objective “to evangelise through media”: TV, Radio, Internet and audiovisual products, book publication and sales, CDs, videos amongst others.

In 1977, during a meeting with young people, Fr Jonas Abib SDB made an appeal to those present:`"Who would like to give a year of their lives to God?`" Surprisingly, many said yes. On 2 February 1978, 12 young people began to live in community, in Lorena (SP, Brazil). The Canção Nova Community came from this.

It has full time and part time membership, the latter being part of their normal family, professional and social life but lived with missionary intent. The group was accepted into the Salesian Family in 2009.

cancelliere (1. registrar or possibly, notary. 2. chancellor (Italian title for various state roles). 3. Chancellor (university, Germany…​)


Originally the person responsible for the gates to the court, then became a title for clerks, officials, dignitaries. If we were to always translate this term as ‘chancellor’ in English it could lead people to believe it is a far more important term than it is! Hence the choice of ‘notary’, which is closer to the original meaning expressed in the definition above. There are times. however, when context will indicate ‘chancellor’ as the correct gloss. Not to be capitalised, unless it is in reference the Rector Major as Grand Chancellor of the UPS.

CG, CI Capitolo (generale CG), (ispettoriale CI) (General) (Provincial) Chapter)

noun phrase

Can. 631 §1 In an institute the general chapter has supreme authority in accordance with the constitutions. It is to be composed in such a way that it represents the whole institute and becomes a true sign of its unity in charity. Its principal functions are to protect the patrimony of the institute mentioned in Can. 578 and to foster appropriate renewal in accord with that patrimony. It also elects the supreme Moderator, deals with matters of greater importance, and issues norms which all are bound to obey.

Cons. 146 The general chapter is the principal sign of the Congregation’s unity in diversity….

Cons. 147 The general chapter has supreme authority over the Society and exercises it in accordance with the law….

Cons. 170. The provincial chapter is the fraternal gathering in which the local communities strengthen their sense of belonging to the provincial community…. It is also the representative assembly of all the confreres and local communities. It deliberates about matters which regard the province, with the exception of whatever is entrusted by the Constitutions and Regulations to other organs of goverment. Often capitalised as General Chapter GC or Provincial Chapter PC.

capitolo della casa (House Chapter)

Noun phrase

Now out of use and replaced by House Council or Community Council.

capitolo superiore (superior chapter)

noun phrase

The name given to the group of councillors who, under Don Bosco, made up the central government of the Society. In 1966 the group was enlarged and its name changed to Superior Council. Finally, in 1984, the central government was reorganised and the name was changed to General Council.

The term is now out of use and replaced by CG Consiglio Generale or GC General Council.

Car ij mè fieuj [pms] (My dear children)

noun phrase

A Piedmontese phrase regularly used by Don Bosco to address either his boys or his Salesians.

carisma (1. charism. 2. spirit of the founder)


In religious language, grace in general as a gift bestowed by God; in Christian theological language, sanctifying grace given to all believers through baptism, or a gift granted a person for the benefit of the community, and hence an attitude of service of others. In this case there is a distinction between natural and supernatural gifts.

While the term goes back to St Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians), one can search in vain for it in Salesian literature until 1977, when Fr Viganò became Rector Major, hence we could also indicate this term as a neologism in Salesian discourse. It came into its own as a result of the Second Vatican Council and in particular the subsequent documentation on consecrated life and the ‘founding charism’ or ‘charism of the founder’, though Vatican II itself spoke rather of the ‘spirit of the founder’, other terms like ‘charism of the founder’ coming later. At this point it became much clearer that as consecrated life is not part of the Church’s very constitution, but a result of gifts of the Holy Spirit, there is a distinction between the ‘ecclesial structure’ and the ‘charismatic structure’. Consecrated life, religious life belong to the latter. This is an important distinction in the Church’s life today.

Usage: When we speak of the carisma salesiano or Salesian charism, context will decide whether we are speaking about the charism of St Francis de Sales or of Don Bosco, but a charism that can be lived out by all members of the Salesian Family (be that of St Francis de Sales or Don Bosco)

carità (charity)


The love that unites human beings to God and among themselves, in the Christian understanding of the term. For Catholics, charity is one of the three theological virtues, and according to St Paul, the greatest of them. Desramaut includes the term among his 100 key words of Salesian spirituality. From the very beginning, from the famous ‘promise of charity’, Don Bosco spoke of the exercise of charity toward one’s neighbour as the purpose of his incipient Society.

Mention should be made here of a very specific use of the word ‘charity’ by Don Bosco, which we now know as the promise of charity. On 26 January 1854, according to a note by Fr Rua, four young men along with Don Bosco came together in Don Bosco’s room and were invited to undertake a proving period in the practical exercise of charity toward neighbour, which would then be a promise but ultimately would be vowed.

Instead of using the word ‘novitiate’ which may have frightened them off, Don Bosco cleverly used ‘proving time’.

carità pastorale (pastoral charity)

noun phrase

An apostolic impetus that makes us seek souls and serve God alone. (C. 10 SDB Constitutions). Salesian Constitution 10 goes on to describe pastoral charity as ‘characterised by that youthful dynamism which was revealed so strongly in our Founder and at the beginnings of our Society.’

The Charter of Salesian Identity indicates that pastoral charity, which finds its source and model in the Good Shepherd, was a constant inspiration for Don Bosco in his work as an educator and evangeliser, guiding his life, prayer and missionary impulse. (Charter of Identity, 24 May 2011).

carta della missione…​ (Carta della Missione della Famiglia Salesiana. Salesian Mission Statement)

noun phrase

Inspirational document produced in 2000 for the entire Salesian Family From the presentation of the document on 25 November 2000: it offers ‘the orientation and sensitivity of the Groups of the Salesian Family in terms of apostolic mission.’ We can describe it as an inspirational text. It calls for a commitment from each of the Family Groups that is characterised as a Salesian commitment.

Usage: One sometimes hears reference to ‘card`, as in '`Mission card’ or ‘Identity card’, which in the latter case is a separate document.

Certainly the first makes little sense in English; the second does make sense (people hold identity cards after all) but the nature of the document is more a ‘charter’ than it is a mere legal document. The Italian carta covers a range of possible meanings: card, documents, charter, certificate.

That said, it is also true that there has been some confusion in translation of carta over the years, and we are now saddled with terms that might leave one unsure just which ‘charter’ is being referred to. In the case of the Year 2000 document, it is called the ‘Salesian Mission Statement’. Cf. the following two entries.

carta di comunione…​ (Carta di comunione nella Famiglia Salesiana. 1. Common Identity Card. 2. Salesian Identity Card. 3. Charter of Communion)

noun phrase

On 31 January 1995, the then Rector Major, Fr Egidio Viganò, gave the Salesian Family the ‘Common Identity Card’ (Carta di Comunione in its original Italian title), and some years later, his successor, Fr Juan Edmundo Vecchi, gave the Family the ‘Common Mission Statement’. These two documents helped the various groups to deepen their common spirituality and apostolate. The ‘Common Identity Card’ should not be confused with the ‘Charter of Charismatic Identity of the Salesian Family’ announced at the concluding session of the 28th Salesian Family Spirituality Days (January 2012).’

The Common Identity Card (See previous entry for comment on use of ‘card’) is a contribution of reflection on the Salesian spirit, presenting ‘the fundamental elements which build up unity in Don Bosco’s spirit’. The Salesian Family is a vast movement comprising congregations, institutes and associations, both religious and lay, that have grown out of the heart and pastoral experience of Don Bosco’s charism. Besides the first groups founded by Don Bosco himself, others have emerged over time which are seen to share a common mission with them: namely, the evangelisation and education of young people, especially the most needy.

carta d’identità carismatica (The full Italian title is Carta di Identità carismatica della Famiglia Salesiana di Don Bosco or Charter of Charismatic Identity of the Salesian Family)

noun phrase

What is described in this Charter, which includes and integrates the two previous ones, is the charismatic identity of the Salesian Family, that is, everything that refers to the mission, spirit, relationships, formation, methods of education and evangelisation. Certainly also the history of the charism, considered in its origins and in its development, is part of identity; in fact, an identity without memory, having no roots, is without a future. For this reason, the Charter gathers the experience of the different Groups of the Family, summarising the identity of the Salesian charism that is the heritage of all. The Charter of Charismatic Identity of the Salesian Family of Don Bosco is dated 31 January 2012.

Usage: See ‘carta della missione’ above for comment on terminology used in these various charters.

casa (house)


Can. 608: A religious community is to live in a lawfully constituted house, under the authority of a Superior designated according to the norms of law. Each house is to have at least an oratory, in which the Eucharist is celebrated and reserved, so that it may truly be the centre of the community. Can. 609 §1: A house of a religious institute is established, with the prior written consent of the diocesan Bishop, by the authority competent according to the constitutions.

Usage: The Italian word, but perhaps the English word as well, has broader meaning also of ‘home’. It is worthwhile recalling this factor (the ‘family’ feel of casa), since there is a tendency today to speak more often of our opere, ‘works’. An authoritative commentator on Don Bosco’s times, especially on life at the Oratory, A. Caviglia, points out that Don Bosco’s Oratory had to be a home, i.e. a family, not just a collegio or boarding establishment/school. Note the expression casa che accoglie… ‘a home that welcomes’, in C. 40.

The various ‘Lives’ (of young people) that Don Bosco wrote also stress this family atmosphere. It is essential to the Preventive System. (A. Caviglia, La vita di Besucco francesco… pp. 157-58.

casa annessa (1. House attached [to the Oratory]. 2. the annex. 3. home attached to the oratory)

noun phrase

The home or hostel or shelter and boarding house (established in 1847 and attached to the Oratory.) Don Bosco’s preferred name for this boarding house is ‘Home Attached to the Oratory’ (Casa annessa all’Oratorio di SFdS). In 1847, Don Bosco began a work of rehabilitation of youngsters deprived of a place to live, by taking up some more space in the Pinardi House. It began simply as a place from where they could attend school or go to work in the city. It gradually became a boarding school and was the beginnings of the convitto-collegio experience.

casa di beneficenza (house of charity)

noun phrase

An example is the Regia Opera di Mendicità Istruita or the Royal work for the education of the Poor, which gave basic education (mainly to girls) in Turin in the 1850s.

The term was in use in Don Bosco’s time, and he often made appeals to existing charitable institutions, be they religious or secular, for financial assistance. But it became crucial in 1879 when Don Bosco was fighting a Leftist Government in order to keep his secondary classes (ginnasio) open at the Oratory. The Government looked upon his school as a ginnasio privato or private secondary school (with strict regulations regarding teacher certification etc.), whereas Don Bosco wanted to argue it was either a ginnasio privato gestito da una casa di beneficenza or secondary school run by a house of charity or a scuola paterna (or istituto paterno) or home school. This would have meant spending less money on teacher qualification. He even presented a petition to the King, Le scuole di beneficenza dell’Oratorio di S. Francesco di Sales davanti al Consiglio di Stato. Oratory classes were closed because of his non-conmpliance and were not re-opened until he complied with the request for teachers who were properly accredited. Don Bosco lost this battle!

Casa Don Bosco See Museo Casa Don Bosco

casa generalizia (1. General House. 2. Generalate)

Noun phrase

House belonging to the Father or Mother General of a religious order. To be distinguished from the Direzione Generale, though this latter is housed in the Casa Generalizia Sacro Cuore, Rome.

Usage: Note that in English the term covers the whole establishment. In Italian, there is a clearer distinction between the direzione generale and the casa generalizia which tends to be the community as such, including members who do not work in the Direzione Generale.

casa madre (Mother House)

noun phrase

Refers to Turin, Valdocco, always, whereas occasionally these days the Casa Generalizia (Rome) is referred to as the Casa del Padre, or the ‘Father’s house’, though this latter term is now more likely to be restricted to being a synonym of Heaven. News of a deceased confrere is often described as him going alla Casa del Padre.

Casa Pinardi (Pinardi house)

noun phrase

Reference to the beginnings of the Oratory and the famous snatch of conversation recorded by Don Bosco between himself and Pancrazio Soave offering a laboratorio ‘laboratory’ instead of an oratorio, ‘an oratory’ (Recorded in the Memoirs of the Oratory). It was really a tettoia or a shed hanging off the back of a building, and eventually Don Bosco bought the entire building. None of the actual Pinardi Shed remains, but its location is designated more or less by the Pinardi chapel at Valdocco.

Cascina (Biglione) ([Biglione] farmstead)


The term cascina refers to a sizeable farmstead and to the farmlands connected with it. (Source: Lenti, Don Bosco History and Spirit Vol 1 p. 34).

The cascina was a social-agricultural unit usually of moderate size (say, 20 acres), with one central building that originally housed an extended family. The man who ran the farm and lived with his family in a section of the farmhouse was called a massaro (sharecropper).  In the case of the Biglione cascina at The Becchi, they lived in Turin and employed a tenant farmer who lived at the cascina. The tenant farmer was termed a mezzadro or ’half sharecropper’, since according to unwritten Piedmontese law, he worked for half the produce. Francis Bosco was this person at the Biglione cascina.

casetta (i Becchi) ([The Becchi] cottage, small house)


The place where Don Bosco grew up (his home) at The Becchi is referred to in Italian as the Casetta. Now turned into a museum. It was not where he was born — almost certainly that was in the Biglione farmstead. But the Casetta was a small building nearby that his father bought and refurbished for his family.

Usage: In some English-speaking countries we cannot use ‘little house’ (which has the connotation of ‘outhouse’), or cottage with less savoury meanings.

catechismo (1. catechism lesson. 2. catechism. 3. catechetics)


“… this Congregation was just a catechism.” (Don Bosco, Cenno Istorico). Here the term embraces the activities, content of Don Bosco’s particular way of instructing young people to be ‘upright citizens and good Christians’. (2) Summary of religious doctrine often in the form of question and answer. Don Bosco’s very first description of his congregation was of a group of people who gave catechetical instruction or that had that as its prior aim.

CDB  (Volontari Con Don Bosco) (CDB Volunteers With Don Bosco)

abbreviation, initialism

The CDB Volunteers are consecrated lay Salesians. They recognise the Rector Major, successor to Don Bosco, as the centre of unity. The group, which has official membership of the Salesian Family, has a Central Moderator (Responsabile Centrale in Italian) with a Council, and a (Salesian) Ecclesiastical Assistant appointed by the Rector Major. The first group came into existence in 1987 in Venezuela, but there were another three groups in 1991 in Malta, Paraguay and Sicily. They were brought together by Fr Viganò in 1993 at the General House, and for this reason they regard that community as their ‘Mother House’. The group is seeking recognition as a Secular Institute. They claim that they draw their charismatic inspiration from Don Bosco’s original idea of the ‘extern Salesian’.

Ceferino Namuncurá (Ceferino [Zephyrinus] Namuncurá)

proper name

Ceferino Namuncurá was born on 26 August 1886 in Chimpay, on the banks of the Rio Negro. His father Manuel, the last great cacique (leader) of the Indigenous Araucan tribes, had surrendered three years earlier to the troops of the Argentine Republic. After eleven years of life in the open countryside, Manuel Namuncurá sent Ceferino to study in Buenos Aires, so that tomorrow he could defend his race. The family atmosphere in the Salesian college made him fall in love with Don Bosco and want to become a Salesian priest.

Bishop Cagliero accepted him among the group of aspirants in Viedma, capital of the Apostolic Vicariate, to begin the study of Latin.

Because of his poor health, the Salesian bishop decided to take Ceferino to Italy so he could continue his studies in a more serious way and in a climate that seemed more suitable. But an illness undiagnosed at the time, perhaps because he never complained, undid him: tuberculosis. On 28 March 1905 he was taken to the Fatebenefratelli hospital on the Tiber Island in Rome. Too late. He died peacefully on 11 May. Since 1924 his mortal remains have been in his homeland, at Fortín Mercedes, where crowds of pilgrims come to venerate him.

Declared Venerable 22 June 1972; beatified on 11 November 2007 during the pontificate of Benedict XVI.

Usage: In the US the tendency is to Anglicise names but in any number of instances, saints ‘from the South’ with Spanish names, remain that way (e.g. Juan Diego), hence ‘Ceferino’. Some think otherwise and argue that since the Beatified’s feast falls on 26 August and Pope St Zephyrinus (also Zeffirin), after whom he was named, has a memorial on that day (though not in the Universal Calendar), then we should adopt ‘Zephyrinus’.

In the US the tendency is to Anglicise names but in any number of instances, saints ‘from the South’ with Spanish names remain that way (e.g. Juan Diego), hence ‘Ceferino’. Some think otherwise and argue that since the Beatified’s feast falls on 26 August and Pope St Zephyrinus (also Zeffirin), after whom he was named, has a memorial on that day (though not in the Universal Calendar), then we should adopt ‘Zephyrinus’.

celebret [la] (celebret)


A document from the Bishop or Religious Superior allowing a priest to celebrate Mass.

Cenno istorico (Historical Outline)

noun phrase

Presented in Rome 1874, its full title was Cenno istorico sulla Congregazione di S. Francesco di Sales e relativi schiarimenti (Historical Note on the Congregation of St Francis de Sales and certain clarifications). Don Bosco describes the beginnings of the Oratory as developing from the fact that he took over Father Cafasso’s catechetical instruction in the room (chapel) adjoining the sacristy of the Church of St Francis. The beginning was with two young adults (in this document, by contrast with the Garelli version in his Memoirs) towards the end of 1841. At the same time he was concentrating on young adults who had been released from prison.

centri vocazionali (vocational centres)

noun phrase

Depending on context this term may refer to a centre for religious or priestly discernment or for a more general discernment for young people as to their life direction.

Usage: In English, care must be taken in context to avoid this referring to ‘job preparation’ or ‘vocational training’, a common understanding of ‘vocational’ in general parlance. In Italian, this will be more likely to be referenced as formazione professionale.

Cenni storici (Historical Outlines, Historical Sketches)

noun phrase

Document(s) of an official nature written by Don Bosco, bearing the date 1862, wherein he describes the beginnings of the Oratory and the kind of young people who first drew his attention and his commitment. Don Bosco wrote several cenni storici as preambles to major documents, e.g.  to the articles of the Constitutions, to applications for both diocesan and pontifical approval of the Congregation. In the 1862 version, Don Bosco describes the beginnings of the Oratory as a response to the situation of young people on the streets, in factories, and in prison – all at risk for want of religious instruction.

Note the need to distinguish from Cenno istorico

Centro Catechistico Salesiano (Salesisan Catechetical Centre)

noun phrase

Founded in 1939 by the then Rector Major, Fr Peter Ricaldone.

Centro di animazione di tempo libero (leisure centre)

Noun phrase

Not necessarily the same entity as a youth centre, however.

Centro di formazione (education centre)

Noun phrase

Usage: For translators, the Italian term may be a ‘false friend’.  Rarely if ever does it refer to a place for initial or ongoing Salesian religious formation (these are called Study Centres).  Instead the term refers more to what we in English would call ‘education’. However, the term may often be applied to a centre of Salesian formation (or Christian formation) for lay people. One might normally expect centro di formazione to be followed by the adjective professionale, or in other words a vocational studies/training centre.

Italian is much more likely to speak of formazione where English might use ‘education’, but the terms formazione and educazione are often interchangeable in Italian.

See also formazione.

Centro di Studi Don Bosco (Don Bosco Study Centre)

Noun phrase

Founded at the UPS in 1973 as part of the post-conciliar development of a scientific historical study of the Salesian charism.

centro giovanile (youth centre)

noun phrase

GC21 nos. 121ff.: An environment for older youth (giovani as distinct from ragazzi), is attentive to their needs, is based very much on group relationships, personal contacts and commitment. It often has a variety of activities like sports, cultural activities.

Usage: Be aware that there is actually a distinction in theory between Oratory and Youth Centre (cf. R. 11, 12) but it rarely applies in practice. There is also, according to GC21 a third term, the combination of Oratory-Youth Centre. This is an environment open to all ages and appropriately managed for each age group. GC21 nos 121 ff. offer descriptions and definitions of both entities.
See also oratorio.

CEP (Comunità Educativa-pastorale) (also _comunità educativo-pastorale:) EPC Educative and Pastoral Community)

abbreviation, initialism

cf. C. 47; GC24, nos. 149-179): the Salesian way of animating, showing leadership in every educational circumstance intended to realise Don Bosco’s mission. It is not a new structure added to other kinds of management and involvement in works or pastoral sectors, nor is it just organisational management or a technique for getting people involved. It is a set of individuals (young people and adults, parents and teachers or educators, religious and lay, representatives from other church and civic institutions and can also include representatives of other religions, men and women of good will) all working together to educate and evangelise young people, especially the poorest of them, in Don Bosco’s style. This set of individuals is one of concentric circles, depending on the degree of shared responsibility individuals have for the mission.

Linguistic note: We see two versions of the Italian above, one where the ‘educativa’ follows the rules of Italian syntax (feminine form) and another, ‘educativo-pastorale’ where the tendency is to follow a morphological rule whereby ‘o’ becomes a linking vowel (following a neo-Latin pattern). The question of compound adjectives in Italian is a vexed linguistic issue, and because of that we should not draw any conclusions about one form having a different meaning to the other. Instead, in English, there seems little sense in adopting an Italian compound adjectival form that is far less common in English (hence ‘pastoral and educative community’ rather than ‘educative-pastoral community’.

Ceria, Eugenio (Ceria, Eugene)

proper name

An early biographer of St John Bosco.

See also Memorie Biografiche (early volumes) and the Annali for which he was responsible.

ceti popolari (1. working classes. 2. ordinary people. 3. poor people in general)

noun phrase

Category of citizens characterised by a particular social and civil condition, hence ceto popolare the popular class. ‘Poor people in general’ is the translation used in C. 29. Don Bosco used other terms like basso popolo or lower class.

Chávez Villanueva, Pascual (Chávez Villanueva, Pascual)

proper name

Fr Pascual Chávez Villanueva was elected Rector Major by the 25th General Chapter, 3rd April 2002; he was the ninth successor of Don Bosco and the first non-Italian of non-Italian parentage to lead the Congregation (Fr Vecchi was Argentinian but of Italian parentage).

chierico (cleric)


In the Church’s language, a person with responsibility for spiritually guiding the faithful (as opposed to a lay person) 2. In common usage, a young man on the way to the priesthood, having donned the cassock or clerical habit.

In Salesian circles the term ‘cleric’ has been applied rather in the second definition provided above rather than in the strict canonical sense. Don Bosco’s ‘clerics’ (who were not officially clerics in canon law) were often no more than 16 years of age. Even today, Salesians refer to ‘clerics’ meaning young men in stages of formation leading to priesthood (but they may not be ‘clerics’ in the strict canoncial sense, at least not yet).

Usage: Note the abstract noun ‘clericalism’, which has negative connotations.

cholera asiaticus [la] (cholera [Asian strain])

noun phrase

An acute infectious disease caused by the vibrio bacterium. Carriers are crucial to the spread of the disease, individuals who are healthy or who have recovered but carry the bacterium in their intestines. Human faeces carry the bacteria.

The cholera pandemic that struck Turin in the 1850’s, summer 1854 to be precise, striking the Borgo Dora in a particularly bad way. 1,438 of the 2,533 struck down, died. The parish in which the Oratory was located lost 53% of its people. Like the earlier pandemics, cholera spread from the Ganges delta of India (hence the ‘asiaticus’). It had high fatalities among populations in Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. In 1854, which was considered the worst year, 23,000 people died in Great Britain.

Of course, these days we are very much aware of pandemics, especially other ones supposedly of the ‘asiaticus’ variety!

Cinque lustri (Don Bosco’s Early Apostolate)

proper name

Clearly, the title ‘Don Bosco’s Early Apostolate’ is not a translation of cinque lustri (a lustro is a 5-year period, so 5 x 5 = 25 years). Cinque Lustri di storia dell’Oratorio salesiano fondato dal sacerdote D.Giovanni Bosco was written by Fr Giovanni Bonetti and first translated into English under the title ‘Don Bosco’s Early Apostolate’ in 1908. It was then republished for the canonisation as ‘St John Bosco’s Early Apostolate’. It has long been out of print.

circoscrizione (circumscription)


“Normally the circumscriptions of our Society are provinces and vice-provinces, As regards other eventual juridical circumscriptions, their internal structure and representation at the General Chapter will be defined in the decree of erection, in line with Salesian spirit and tradition” (SDB Constitutions C. 156).

The broader term found in general ecclesiastical usage is ‘ecclesiastical circumscription’, but while in frequent use (e.g. in the Annuario Pontificio or in important communications such as Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to Chinese Catholics) it is so broad an understanding of limitation that it begs for clearer definition.

Ecclesiastical circumscriptions may be territorial or they may be personal. They may be more theological than structural in intent – as for example the definition of a Diocese as portio populi Dei, implying a community of people, a Bishop, a presbyterate, but not territory, at least not essentially.

Circumscriptions can be structural and juridical, or the term might even be used in a broad sense of a communal ecclesiastical grouping. The Salesian C. 156 quoted above indicates the eventual existence of circumscriptions other than provinces or vice-provinces. These are called ‘special circumscription’ in English (circoscrizione a statuto speciale in Italian) and each is determined by the decree which sets it in place.

CISI (Conferenza delle Ispettorie Salesiane di Italia)  (Conference of Italian Salesian Provinces)

abbreviation, acronym

civiltà (1. civilisation. 2. development. 3. advancement. 4. culture. 5. progress)


The particular form in which the material, social and spiritual life of a people manifests itself (or possibly more than one people strictly related to one another) – be it for the entire extent of its life or for a particular period of its historical evolution. In the more common and traditional use of the term, it is often a synonym of ‘progress’, by contrast with barbarism, pointing to a degree of perfection in social order, institutions.

Linguistic note: The Italian term civiltà, especially as used by Don Bosco (we find it as early as 1848 in his Il cristiano guidato), is not easily rendered in English, other than by a now archaic sense of ‘civility’. Today, ’civility’ is more an individual trait, something akin to urbanity, but the meaning in which we find it still, in Italian, has a more collective, social aspect, ‘civilisation’ then, but even that does not quite do the term justice.

clima di famiglia (1. family atmosphere. 2. family spirit)

noun phrase

A Constitutional term (C. 47), synonymous with ‘family spirit’ and descriptive of the educative community.

CMB (Comunità della Missione di Don Bosco) (CMB Community of the Mission of Don Bosco)

abbreviation, initiailism

A private Association of the Faithful as understood in Canon Law, which gained membership of the Salesian Family in 2010. They describe themselves as a new form of Salesian community made up of lay people: young adults, adults and families who seek to live according to the inspirations of the Gospel, following a Rule of Life. The group has its general headquarters in Bologna at the Salesian Parish of the Sacred Heart. It came into existence in 1988 in formal terms (though founded in 1982 in the Diocese of Bologna by a group of lay people following the intuitions of the Holy Spirit) and was juridically set up in 1994. The group is part of the Salesian Youth Movement  in Italy, Madagascar, Burundi, Argentina. Its three key features are unity, charity towards the young and the poor, and living simply in a Salesian family style.

CNOS (Centro Nazionale Opere Salesiane) ( National Centre for Salesian Works)

abbreviation, acronym

An entity with legal status in Italy.

coadiutore (1. brother. 2. coadjutor)


The definitive Regulations printed in 1877 make a clear distinction between a ‘coadjutor’ who might have been simply a domestic, and the Salesian coadjutor brother. The term ‘coadjutor’ is found for the first time in the register of the names of the pupils at Valdocco in December 1854, where it appears next to the name of the 30-year-old Alessio Peano, but apparently implies nothing of a religious nature. It was a delicate touch on the part of Don Bosco in respect of those whom others used call simply ‘servants’. For Don Bosco, this person was something more, a collaborator. There were coadjutors with vows and those who were simply paid workers, as time went on. It was only in 1883 that GC3 reserved the term officially for lay Salesians.

Usage: ‘coadjutor’ is one of several variants in use in English today. Many English-speaking provinces prefer just ‘brother’; occasionally one hears ‘lay brother’. And yet another variant is ‘coadjutor brother’.

The question of terminology in this regard was raised at the 3rd General Chapter (1883). Its origins are from the Latin Fratres coadiutores, an ecclesiastical term from earlier times (glossed as Lay Brother in English). It fails to pick up Don Bosco’s clever concept of the true Salesian expressed by the lay dimension. The term ‘Lay Salesian’ (Italian salesiano-laico) has gained some currency in recent times and seems more adequate.

See also laico.

cocca (gang)


The term employed around the 1850s, 60s to describe the gangs in Turin and particularly around the Valdocco neighbourhood. Hence the Cocca Gambero (Crab Gang), Cocca Moschino (the Moschino district was one of the most unruly).

collaboratore (1. co-worker. 2. collaborator. 3. colleague. 4. contributor. 5. lay mission partner…​)


Someone who works together with others to produce something, bring about, in development, carrying out an activity.

Usage: Note that ‘collaborator’ still carries negative connotations in some parts of the English-speaking world. It is helpful to look at the forums in, to realise that collaboratore is almost never glossed as ‘collaborator’ in English. An alternative term could be ‘lay partner’ or ‘co-worjer’ or even, depending on the degree of collaboration, ‘lay mission partner’. This latter term, sometimes abbreviated as LMP, is in common use among Salesians in the Philippines.

collegio (boarding school, college)


Over time, the term ‘college’ in current Italian usage was increasingly applied to educational institutions, including secondary institutions, characterised by pupils and often teachers, too, living under the same roof. This type of college developed during the Counter-Reformation through the work of various Religious Orders and of a different nature: educating children of the poorer classes, forming the leadership class, clerics, etc. Don Bosco’s use of collegio was typical of the definition provided above. ‘The Annex’ or '`House Attached`’ was effectively the beginnings of the collegio for Don Bosco.

Usage: Be aware that in the US, ‘college’ would be an inaccurate rendition, applying as it does only to a post-secondary institution.

Linguistic note: collegio gives rise to collegializzazione in Italian, or the process whereby Don Bosco’s schools outside Valdocco did their best to copy the Valdocco experience of students and teachers living under the one roof.

colloquio (friendly talk)


In the strictly Salesian sense colloquio is the friendly (and regular) personal chat between the Rector of the community and his members. What Salesians once called the rendiconto. Some still use this latter term, including its English gloss ‘manifestation’.

See also rendiconto.

compagnia (sodality, company)


A traditional religious association, especially a parish form. Was Don Bosco influenced by the Compagnia di Gesù (Society of Jesus or Jesuits) in his use of this term? The term ‘company’ reflects the post-Tridentine nomenclature of religious associations. English favours such terms as ‘association’, ‘society’ and ‘sodality’ to express this, and possibly ‘sodality’ was the most common in English-speaking Salesian circles to express the groups encouraged by Don Bosco at his Oratory.

The youth associations sponsored by Don Bosco fall into two main periods, each with its specific context. The earlier associations were created for the boys’ oratory, in response to the needs of the oratory population. The later associations were created for the Home Attached to the Oratory, with special (but not exclusive) reference to the student community and in response to its spiritual and educational needs. They include the following sodalities or associations: St Aloysius Sodality, the Immaculate Conception Sodality, the Blessed Sacrament Sodality, the St Joseph’s Sodality, the Mutual Aid Society, the Altar Boys Society.

There was also the ‘Adjunct’ Conference of St Vincent de Paul.

compagno (1. friend. 2. companion)


Those who find they are together with others in particular circumstances, or for a long time in their life, or carrying out the same activity.

Usage: While it is nearly always possible to translate compagno with ‘companion’, the sense of the term in English can often be simply ‘friend’ or ‘schoolmate’, and this might be the best way to go first off.

Comollo, Luigi (Comollo, Louis)

proper name

John Bosco’s best friend as a boy, whom he met in the 5th year of high school (Retorica, Ginnasiale) 1833-4. The first biography from Don Bosco’s pen is the life of Comollo, whose burial site has been discovered under the sanctuary in the Church in Chieri next to what was the seminary there (now a government school).

comune (1. municipality. 2. district. 3. city. 4. town)


In the Italian legal system the Comune or Municipality is the basic territorial and representative body.

See also mandamento.

comunicazione sociale (social communication)

noun phrase

Inter Mirifica, Vatican II, introductory paragraph: Among the wonderful technological discoveries which men of talent, especially in the present era, have made with God’s help, the Church welcomes and promotes with special interest those which have a most direct relation to men’s minds and which have uncovered new avenues of communicating most readily news, views and teachings of every sort. The most important of these inventions are those media which, such as the press, movies, radio, television and the like, can, of their very nature, reach and influence, not only individuals, but the very masses and the whole of human society, and thus can rightly be called the media of social communication.

A sector which constitutes one of the apostolic priorities of the Salesian mission (cf. C. 43). For Salesians, then, it goes back to the charismatic beginnings of the Congregation, Don Bosco’s work of the oratories, which extended to activities such as the spreading of good literature, theatre, academies, music…​ and publishing. At one point he said ‘Our publications tend to form an ordered system, broadly encompassing all classes forming human society’ (In his Circular on spreading good literature).

Usage: The Church, since Vatican II, has regularly employed the term ‘Social Communication’ (mostly in its capitalised form) where many others would say just ‘communication(s)’, but given the more profound content in the Church’s understanding of the term, we do well to stay with it in a number of situations. Social Communication as a term also helps cover much of what is intended by an even less familiar term (in English at least), ‘educommunication’.

Often we find the phrase ‘the means of Social Communication’ (including in many Church documents). There seems less need to stay with this term — ‘means’ is probably a calque, a translation of mezzi. A better expression is ‘Social Communication(s) media’.

comunità virtuale (virtual community)

noun phrase

Social aggregations that emerge from the Internet when enough people carry on public discussions long enough and with sufficient human feeling to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace. A possible inventor of this term and one of its first proponents was Howard Rheingold, who created one of the first major Internet communities, called ‘The Well’ In his book, ‘The Virtual Community’ (1993),

Rheingold defines virtual communities as social aggregations that emerge from the Internet when enough people carry on public discussions long enough and with sufficient human feeling to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace. ''virtual community’ is what is known as a blend, a new word whose meanings combine the original meanings of its component words, virtual + community.

confederazione mondiale (Exallievi/e di Don Bosco) (World Confederation of the Past Pupils of Don Bosco)

noun phrase

conferenza di San Vincenzo de Paoli ([Adjunct) Conference of St Vincent de Paul)

noun phrase

The Conferences of St Vincent de Paul were founded in Paris in 1833 by Antoine Frédéric Ozanam and seven companions, and were first established in Turin on May 13, 1850, with Count Carlo Cays of Gilette and Caselette (later a Salesian and a priest) as director. In the summer of 1854 the cholera epidemic reached its high point in Turin, and was particularly devastating in the Borgo Dora district. On this occasion volunteers from the St Aloysius Sodality and a group of boarders from the House Attached (John Cagliero among them!) joined forces with the local Conference of St Vincent de Paul in caring for the victims of the epidemic. It was a magnificent demonstration of Christian charity and a revelation of what young people could accomplish.(Lenti, Don Bosco: History and Spirit Vol 3).

In 1857 the ‘Adjunct’ Conference of St Vincent de Paul absorbed the Mutual Benefit Society, as it also later incorporated within its structure the Conference of St Francis de Sales that had been started in 1854. It should be noted that Don Bosco wanted the Conferences of St Vincent de Paul established in all his oratories (where they absorbed or united forces with local charitable action groups). The official Organisation of the Conferences supported Don Bosco’s work generously everywhere.

conferenza ispettoriale (Provincial conference)

noun phrase

A group of provinces (term adopted first at the 19th GC).

conferenze di San Francesco di Sales (Conferences of St Francis de Sales)

Noun phrase

The term ‘conference’ in the present context (in accordance with Italian usage) is taken to mean an address by a speaker to an assembled group of people, usually followed by a discussion. The plural ‘conferences’ in this connection implies that several such addresses were given, in one or more successive days. The annual Conferences of St Francis de Sales were held on or around the feast of St Francis de Sales (29 January in those days). Should the feast be shifted to the next Sunday or to some other day, the Conferences would be scheduled accordingly. Occasionally, the Conferences were delayed, even for months, to allow Don Bosco to be present. (Lenti, Don Bosco: History and Spirit Vol 7).

confratello (confrere)


A member of a confraternity, also used by religious.

Linguistic note: The English term ‘confrere’ (plural ‘confreres’) has been anglicised from the French, without accents, and is used in connection with brothers in religious life. The female gender works easily enough in Italian (consorelle) but not so easily in English, where a circumlocution (or just ‘sisters’) is preferred.

confronto (1. Youth gathering (in a Salesian context, capitalised as Confronto). 2. debate or discussion. 4. comparison)


In Italian sports language, competitions, we find terms like international contest, two teams battling it out for victory, but figuratively it applies to an open and balanced discussion on key ideas. We find both those meanings in Salesian usage. In the first instance the context suggest ‘competition’ or ‘contest’, but in the latter context it might well just be ‘youth gathering’.

congregati (associates)


Don Bosco indicated that the congregati included: workers, cooperators, collaborators, benefactors. It is obvious that this term had very extensive boundaries for Don Bosco, going beyond the consecrated Religious in his houses. It is now only of historical interest.

See also associati.

congregazione (congregation)


Was historically a term in broad use (people who congregated, usually for prayer) but now refers mainly to Institutes of Consecrated Life (Congregation with a capital C), religious with simple vows (as distinct from Orders with solemn vows).

The term also has a different reference historically. For Don Bosco, his ‘congregation’, at least in the 1850’s, was the first suggested meaning, i.e. an association of Christians united with him for the good of the youth of the Oratory. It is also interesting to note that the term ‘congregation’ in the Restoration schools could mean a gathering of students on Sunday and Holy Days for religious activities. Don Bosco makes references to such ‘congregations’ in the Memoirs of the Oratory when talking about his own schooling in Chieri. Don Bosco began to refer to his congregation initially as a ‘kind of congregation’ and was unsure what to call its members. He used various terms: allies, associates, benefactors, promoters, cooperators, and these were not gender-exclusive terms, a reality that would give him some difficulty in dealing with Rome.

The ''Congregation of St Francis de Sales’ pre-dates the ''Salesian Society’ which dates its formal existence to the evening of 18 December 1859. The former might be traced back as far as 1841 in general terms but received ecclesiastical approval by a Decree (Archbishop Fransoni) of 1852. It was a mixed group, a congregation of cooperators. We can say, then, that the ‘Congregation of St Francis de Sales’ becomes divided into two families in 1859: one bound by vows and living in community (The Salesian Society) and the other, still known as the Union or Congregation of St Francis de Sales, Promoters or Cooperators) as an external group.

consacrazione (consecration)


(1) The act of dedicating something to the divine (church, chapel). (2) God’s initiative, through the ministry of the Church, in dedicating someone to His service. In its broadest and almost non-religious sense, ‘consecration’ means that something is destined for a certain use. In its religious understanding, it used usually be seen as a human act – so Fr Rua, for example, established the ‘consecration’ of the Society to the Sacred Heart at the beginning of the 20th century.

Salesians for many years referred to the ‘act of consecration to Mary Help of Christians’', which had its origins in the final year of the First World War when the then Rector Major, Fr Albera, consecrated Don Bosco’s Work to Mary Help of Christians on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Church (now Basilica) of Mary Help of Christians in Valdocco, Turin. In 1980 the wording of this prayer, recited daily after meditation around the Salesian world, was changed to ‘we entrust ourselves completely to you’ instead of ''we consecrate… .’ This reflects a change particularly after Vatican II, which recognises that it is God who consecrates.

See also affidamento.

consigliere generale (General Councillor)

Noun phrase

A member of the group which cooperates with the Rector Major in the animation and government of the Congregation (C. 130). Obviously, a General Councillor belongs to the General Council which comprises (in addition to the Rector Major):

the Vicar of the Rector Major,

Sector Councillors: the Councillor for Formation, the Councillor for Youth Ministry, the Councillor for Social Communication, the Councillor for the Missions,

Regional Councillors for: Africa-Madagascar, Central & North Europe, Mediterranean, South Asia, East Asia-Oceania, Interamerica, America South Cone.

Secretary General, though he is not normally referred to as a general councillor.

Not strictly members of the General Council but working directly with it are:

Procurator General

Postulator General

consiglio (Council)


Expect this term to appear in Salesian literature and parlance in at least the following phrases: consiglio generale, consiglio superiore or superior council (now out of use), consiglio ispettoriale provincial council, consiglio della casa/della comunità/locale house/community/local council, consiglio dell’opera council of the work, consiglio mondiale world council – Cooperators.

CdA (Consiglio d’amministrazione) (1. board of directors. 2. administrative council)

noun phrase

This term has only entered the Salesian lexicon in very recent times, and has been borrowed from the Italian business world of the SRL (the Company Limited in English). In the business context the board is appointed by the shareholders and is responsible for the management of the company and represents the company in relations with third parties (customers, suppliers, etc.). The board makes decisions on matters that are not expressly reserved for the shareholders’ meeting by law or the company’s bylaws. This same definition may be broadly applied to many Salesian entities these days that are incorporated or otherwise regarded by society as a business-type enterprise. Very often Mission Offices responsible for collection of and distribution of funds come under this category before the State in which they are located.

consiglio della comunità  [also consiglio della casa] (1. house council. 2. community council. 3. local council)

noun phrase

Prior to General Chapter 19, this body was called a house chapter. GC19 altered the term to house council. By GC21, a synonym, council of the community, existed side-by-side with house council: sometimes the document used one, sometimes the other.

There appears to be no formal indication regarding this usage. By the time the renewed Constitutions were formally in place after GC22, the official term became local council, but in ordinary conversation, house council has continued until this day, even occasionally creeping into English translations of more recent documents (e.g. AGC 389). We occasionally also find community council rather than council of the community (GC24 no. 123).

One could surmise that the persistence of ‘house council’ is to distinguish the term from other kinds of local council (Salesian Family, Cooperators, EPC). ‘House’ makes it immediately clear that it would refer to the Salesian community.

consiglio della CEP (council of the EPC)

noun phrase

Cf. GC24, nos. 160-161; 171-172: the body which animates and coordinates the implementation of the Educative and Pastoral Plan or Project. Its function is to foster coordination and shared responsibility amongst everybody concerned, as a service of unity for pastoral planning within a Salesian work or the EPCs of the various sectors of more complex works.

If there is only one EPC then there will be a single EPC Council which is also then the Council of the Work. If there are as many EPCs as there are sectors then each has its own council, and there will then be a Council of the Work made up of representatives of EPC Councils.

consiglio dell’opera (council of the work)

noun phrase

This brings together the religious community (or at least its governing representatives: rector and local council) and the individuals principally sharing responsibility for sectors of activity.

Animated by the same charism and being part of the same mission they take charge of ensuring that the gift and service of the Salesian charism in all its significance is offered in a particular neighbourhood or area. They jointly share the various responsibilities that arise from managing all the sectors of a work, and they meet not only to organise, decide, and govern but also to be formed and create opportunities for reflection.

consulta (1. advisory council. 2. advisory board. 3. consultative body)


A meeting of a number of people for consultation regarding decision to be taken. In the Salesian context, the advisory council is an administrative group which helps a sector or its department to evaluate, research, study, offer guidelines and materials for regular updating. It does not have all the legal ramifications of the Consigilio d’amministrazione described above.

Linguistic note: The English translation of the Constitutions (1984) employs ‘consultant board’ to translate consulta, but this seems a little odd and possibly determined by wanting to stay close to the actual Italian consulta. That has led to some mistranslations in the past.

contemplazione (contemplation)


Profound concentration of the mind in meditation on divine or spiritual things. In Catholic theology, the lifting up of the mind above any ordinary way of knowing to a simple and affective knowledge of God. The term appears among Desramaut’s 100 words of Salesian spirituality. It can be found in the language of both Francis de Sales and Don Bosco. There is today a renewed understanding of Salesian life as that of the ‘contemplative in action’.

convento (convent)


House where male, female religious belonging to the mendicant orders live. At times the term is used synonymously with '`monastery` which more appropriately indicates a community of monks or nuns.

Usage: In the Philippines, Japan and elsewhere in Asia, Middle East it is often used in reference to male religious communities (possibly because Franciscan male communities are regularly referred to as convents, hence ‘The Conventuals’). In India, a convent school is any English medium school offering elementary education. This would not be the case, for instance, in Australia where a convent school would normally be run by religious women or under the auspices (since now there are so few of this category) of a women’s religious community.

convitto (1. boarding school (more generally) 2. Pastoral Institute (in the case of the Convitto ecclesiastico of Don Bosco fame)


The term was common in the 19th Century to indicate boarding or residential schools. Don Bosco often uses ospizio, also a boarding institution but generally for the underprivileged. The convitto developed into a convitto-collegio or boarding school, for Don Bosco, within a very few years. The Convitto Ecclesiastico was where the newly ordained Don Bosco spent time learning the practical side of his priesthood under the guidance of Fr Cafasso. We would normally call it the ‘Pastoral Institute’ in English, but often, among Salesians, it is left as a capitalised ‘Convitto’.

cooperatore salesiano, salesiano cooperatore (Salesian Cooperator)

noun phrase

Member of the association founded directly by Don Bosco, to help him in ‘the work of the oratories’, whose members may be lay or clerical, but who do not take any vow by virtue of their membership.

Usage: The term in English is '`Salesian Cooperators`’ or just '`Cooperators`. While the change from Cooperatore Salesiano to Salesiano Cooperatore in Italian appears not to be significant for English, it is more evidently so for Italian, where Salesiano is understood in this phrase to be a noun rather than an adjective.
Cooperatore then becomes the qualifier. But a similar linguistically consistent argument follows for English: by rights the term should now be ’Cooperator-Salesian’ (the hyphen marks the issue a little more, suggesting that ‘Salesian’ is in fact being qualified by ‘Cooperator’ (as it is now in Italian). The perception is not this, of course, so in a sense the ‘problem’ has now been transferred to English!
See also AA.SS.CC..

coordinatore generale (Coordinator General)

Noun phrase

The term is applied to the world leader of the Salesian Cooperators and in this form as as General Coordinator, to several other leaders of lay member groups of the Salesian Family (Witnesses to the Resurrection TR, based in Italy, The Disciples, based in India.)

cortile (1. courtyard. 2. playground)


As it functioned at the Oratory: one of Don Bosco’s original creations, an area (probably surrounded by buildings and connected to them large enough to allow a great number of young people to take part in games.

Don Bosco occasionally used the term ‘recreation park’ (giardino di ricreazione) but only for pragmatic reasons to help outsiders understand. The typical playground those days was small, too small for Don Bosco’s purposes. His concept of recreation made the playground what it was: active, choice, presence of the educators through assistance.

Cor unum et anima una [la] (Of one heart and mind)

noun phrase

We find the phrase first of all in Don Bosco’s introduction to the Life of St Dominic Savio. We then find it again in the Letter from Rome where he is addressing the problems of the Oratory spirit. Again it appears in his Spiritual Testament as a description of the way members of a community should be in unity with their rector. Yet again in Don Bosco’s letter ai soci salesiani on the approval of the Constitutions and which becamne the introduction to the Constitutions at the time. It was repeated by General Chapters, especially from GC20 onwards. No surprise then to find the same phrase in the renewed Salesian Constitutions.

costituzioni (Constitutions)

noun (pl.)

Can. 587 §1 To protect more faithfully the vocation and identity of each institute, the fundamental code or constitutions of the institute are to contain, in addition to those elements which are to be preserved in accordance with can. 578, basic norms about the governance of the institute, the discipline of the members, the admission and formation of members, and the proper object of their sacred bonds. The term came into use from the 13th Century. Prior to that it was simply called a ‘Rule’.

Cristologia salesiana (Salesian Christology)

Noun phrase

A term first coined by Fr Pascual Chávez.

criterio oratoriano (Oratory criterion)

noun phrase

Fundamental criterion (or criteria in plural) drawn from the Oratory experience and codified in C. 40. From this we also get cuore oratoriano or oratorian heart, a part of common Salesian parlance since Fr Viganò or more correctly since GC21 (but still Fr Vigano speaking).

cronaca della casa (house chronicle)

noun phrase

In the Biographical Memoirs we find a conference by Don Bosco to Rectors on 2nd Feb 1876, where he recommends the keeping of a chronicle in each House. A chronicle is a record produced at or near the time of the event. Not to be confused with ‘memoir’, a record produced by an eyewitness at times long after the event.

cronicchetta (Little Chronicle )

Noun (dim)

When we speak of ‘chronicles’ in the present context we are referring to contemporary written reports authored by Salesians close to Don Bosco who witnessed what he said or did. This initiative was no haphazard effort by some individual; on the contrary, it originated out of a common consciousness and concern. Don Bosco: History and Spirit (Vol1).

The hand-written “Little Chronicle” (Cronichetta), is Barberis’ most important record. It is a collection of reports dated from May 10, 1875, to June 7, 1879. With the exception of a few inserted items (in other hands,) it is wholly in Barberis’ own hand. It is, however, as he himself states and as is generally evident from the text, a good copy produced from original notes (not extant,) surely aided by memory and perhaps also by other people’s reports.

cronistoria (1. Chronicles of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. 2. chronicle. 3. historical narrative)


History and spirit of the Salesian Sisters as recorded in the earliest historical documents, 1828-1888. The term is more often left untranslated as Cronistoria.

criteri e norme (di discernimento vocazionale salesiana) (Criteria and norms for Salesian vocational discernment)

noun phrase

A complement to the normative text, ‘Formation of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Principles and Norms.

CSJ Caritas Sisters of Jesus

abbreviation, initialism

“Our Congregation was founded through the work of evangelising the Salesian missionaries that arrived in Japan in 1936 and it was born in Miyazaki in 1937 as a female religious institute, to which the name Caritas was given by Antonio Cavoli, which means [God’s free love that is offered without boundaries]. In the name of the Congregation, they have echoed the Rector Major’s farewell speech (then Fr Rinaldi) to the missionaries sent to Japan, where despite social civilisation being at a high level, knowledge of Caritas as taught by Jesus Christ was missing. Caritas as a unique means to instil ourselves in the souls of these people].”

There are currently 950 sisters across 15 nations who strive to spread Caritas, the merciful love of God. Following this international expansion, in 1998 the Congregation was recognised as a Pontifical Institute, in 2008 the Generalate was transferred to Rome, and in 2009 the name was changed from [Caritas Sisters of Miyazaki] to Caritas Sisters of Jesus which better expresses the charism.

CSMA (Congregation of St Michael the Archangel, Michaelites)

abbreviation, initialism

Religious Congregation of Pontifical Right founded by Blessed Bronislaus Markiewicz in Poland in 1921; member group of the Salesian Family. The spirituality of this religious family is summed up in two sentences: One who is like God! – Work and Temperance.

The first motto points to God as the only meaning in life. The second expresses the charism and style of life of the Michaelites. The Religious Congregation of St Michael the Archangel, in fact, realises its calling through temperance, understood as freedom from any interior or exterior conditioning. Another element that characterises the Michaelites activity is threefold work: spiritual, intellectual, manual.

The Michaelites show a predilection for pastoral work for the young and for children, be it in parishes, or in works for the orphaned and abandoned. as well as parishes, the Michaelites exercise their charism in popular missions, retreats, publishing activities, looking after priestly and religious vocations, running a number of Shrines.

CSSMA Zgromadzenie Sióstr św. Michała Archanioła [pol](Congregation of the Sisters of St Michael the Archangel, Michaelites)

abbreviation, initialism

Congregation of the Sisters of St Michael the Archangel, known popularly as the Michaelites, is a religious institute in which the sisters combine the attitude of contemplative praise of God with active apostolic love carried out in educational, catechetical, charitable and social work, in parish pastoral work and missions.

Founder: Blessed Bronislaus Markiewicz and Servant of God Mother Anna Kaworek.

curatorium (curatorium)


A board of curators or advisory board, (in certain European institutions). A governing board elected or appointed to direct the policies of an educational institution. In Salesian usage the curatori (board of curators) are provincials from provinces which share responsibility for a studentate (e.g. of theology). The purpose is to define rights and duties of provinces, the role of the local provincial and the areas and forms of collaboration.


da mihi animas cetera tolle [la] (give me souls, take away the rest)

verb phrase

Often left in its Latin form, this is the motto adopted by Don Bosco from the time he began the work of the Oratories (his own claim), though it did not become an official motto until the debate, late in his life, over the wording to include in the Congregation’s Coat of Arms, where he insisted on this motto as one which had characterised his work from the beginning.

His claim, in his Life of Dominic Savio, that it was frequently to be heard on the lips of St Francis of Sales, has little evidence behind it. In all of the published writings of Saint Francis of Sales we do not find it once. Instead, Francis de Sales’ close friend, the Bishop of Belley (Jean-Pierre Camus), in his Spirit of St Francis de Sales, a book that no doubt Don Bosco had read as a seminarian at Chieri, quotes Francis as having said this in response to a question whether he would want to be the Prince Bishop of Geneva, given that circumstances did not allow him to take possession of that See. He answered along the lines that all he wanted was the souls of the people, not the rest that went with such an Office.

The phrase itself is a direct quote from Genesis 14:21 (the king of Sodom’s response to Abram).

Usage: Sometimes cetera is spelled with another variant: coetera or even caetera. There is an argument that cetera is the more original spelling, the other being a corrupted form. Very often the full term is shortened to Da mihi animas.
See also stemma.

DBI (Don Bosco International)


DON BOSCO INERNATIONAL (DBI) is a platform created to facilitate a meaningful dialogue between the Salesians of Don Bosco and the European institutions and NGOs.

DBI represents the Salesian Congregation in different international organisations and institutions as a:

  • meaningful presence in eu institutions and eu platforms;

  • communication channel between Don Bosco projects and policies dealing with education, culture and youth that are promoted by the eu institutions;

  • platform that promotes and mentors initiatives and projects planned by local Don Bosco projects in cooperation with various international institutions;

  • coordinator of shared projects and initiatives already existing in several fields of salesian presences.

Usage: The term is sourced from English and not translated into other languages.

DBN (Don Bosco Network)


Don Bosco Network (DBN) is a worldwide federation of Salesian development NGOs founded in 2010 whose vision, mission and actions are based on the values and principles expressed by the Salesian tradition of solidarity with the poor.

The Federation, whose headquarters are in Rome, began networking between 6 NGOs as founding members (more have been added since): VIS (Italy), Dmos-Comide (Belgium), Jugend Dritte Welt (Germany), Jovenes y Desarrollo (Spain), Salesian Missions (USA), Noi per Loro (Italy). Its strategic and operational fields are:

  • policy building and general coordination of the activities of associated members;

  • lobbying / advocacy;

  • training and education;

  • communication.

Usage: The term is sourced from English and not translated into other languages.

DBST (Don Bosco School of Theology, Seminaryo ng Don Bosco)

abbreviation, initialism

‘We are a Salesian Institution and a theological-pastoral community forming priests, religious and laity to be youth ministers and educators in the faith in response to the challenge of New Evangelisation.’

The Don Bosco School of Theology at Parañaque, Manila, was established in 1972 (as the Don Bosco Center of Studies) as a residence for Salesian candidates to the priesthood who were studying theology at the Ecclesiastical Faculties of the Pontifical University of Sto. Tomas, Manila. It was renamed in 2019 as the DBST or Don Bosco School of Theology.

DBVG (Don Bosco Overseas Youth Volunteer Group)

abbreviation, initialism

The DBVG was founded in 1991 in Japan by the late Bishop Francis Mizobe, SDB (at that time, he was the Provincial) and the youth who wanted to do some good for others. One feature of the DBVG is that its members, most of them not baptised, carry out a volunteer experience in a Christian and Salesian context, an evangelising experience which allows them to come into contact with Jesus and his teachings.

decretum laudis [la] (decree of commendation)

noun phrase

When a Congregation has grown in importance and when its spiritual and apostolic maturity is observed, it can be formally approved by the Pope with the decretum laudis, which transforms it into a congregation of pontifical right, subject to immediate and exclusive authority of the Holy See (Drawn broadly from the Dizionario degli istituti di perfezione [Dictionary of the Institutes of Perfection], vol. III, (Milan: San Paolo Edizioni [St Paul Editions], 1977).

It is interesting to note that Don Bosco was seeking approval for the Society of St Francis de Sales precisely at a time when the Church was revising its approach. This, along with certain difficulties Don Bosco was facing in his personal relationships with his Archbishop (Gastaldi) in the last part of the process particularly, meant it was 1874 before he finally gained the last needed approval, the decretum laudis. In 1863, the Holy See decided to reform the processes of approval for new Congregations by introducing what it called the Methodus, which foresaw first a decree of commendation, a form of encouragement to continue with the process, then a decree of approval for the institute, followed finally by the decree of approval of the constitutions.

decuria [la] (group of ten)


In ancient Rome, each of the 10 subdivisions of the military contingent known as the curia was made up of 10 soldiers. Historically, decuria does not appear in the infantry orders but in those of the cavalry.

From the Jesuit Ratio studiorum we know that a class (which might have 50-70 students) had just one teacher, so the Ratio indicated subdivisions in the classroom (decurie) and a hierarchical set of relationships based on ancient Roman tradition. We find the term referred to by Don Bosco when he describes his own schooling. But he later used the same term for his various lay associations (e.g. for spreading good books, disseminating the Catholic Readings, running his lotteries), including derivative terms, e.g. decurione or '`decurion`.

In the scholastic instance, every month the teacher would establish the decurie, that is, he would divide the pupils into groups (decurie) according to merit: there were the primi eximi, the outstanding group, then the mediocri and finally the inacallidi.

Every decuria was led by a decurione, that is, the best pupil in each group, the one who had received the highest points compared to his classmates in that group. Every decuria occupied places in the classroom closer or further away from the teacher, according to merit, and the worthiest pupils also sat on a higher seat than the others and wore a medal on their chest (as a principe or censore or console or decurione). They also wore these medals outside school hours. Then, each month there was the lavoro dei posti, an especially demanding assignment (perhaps a translation from Latin to Italian or the other way around) which was scored according to the number of errors. The results determined which decuria the pupil went into for the coming month and where he sat.

delegazione (delegation)


Cons. 156: It belongs to the Rector Major with the consent of his council, and after adequate consultation with the confreres concerned, to divide the Society into juridical circumscriptions, erect new ones, combine those already constituted, define them in a different way or suppress them…

There is also Cons. 159 with explicit mention of delegations, but it is C. 156 that is currently used as the basis for establishing a delegation. This may change at a future General Chapter, since as things stand, C. 156 is too broad and C. 159 too narrow as a proper basis for this phenomenon.

The term is especially important for the EAO Region, since it currently has 5 of the 10 Delegations in the Congregation: AUL-Pacific, FIS-Pakistan, THA-Cambodia, VIE-Mongolia, VIE-Vietnam North.

Usage: Normally spelt with a capital D in English, and likewise for the Delegate.

Desramaut, Fr Francis (Fr Francis Desramaut [1922-2014])

proper name

Fr Francis Desramaut is included as an entry in this dictionary since frequent reference is made to his ‘100 Words of Salesian Spirituality’.

Fr Francis Desramaut, of the Salesian province of France, died on 1st September 2014. He was one of the three giants of Salesian historical research from the 1950s to the 1990s. Fr Pietro Stella died in 2007, and Fr Pietro Braido also died in 2014. In 2000, Fr Desramaut’s large volume Les cent mots-clefs de la spiritualité salésienne (The 100 Words of Salesian Spirituality) appeared, a very useful synthesis for those interested in the themes of Salesian spirituality, and for preachers.

destinatario (1. beneficiary. 2. the one[s] to whom we are sent, 3. addressee)


In general terms, the person to whom something is addressed. It is not so easy to gloss this word with a single word in English, depending on context. More often than not ‘the ones to whom we are sent’ (destinatari) will suffice, or ‘our charges’.

devozione (devotion)


‘Devotion’ is distinguished from ‘devotions’ as ‘prayer’ is from ‘prayers’. Note its history in Salesian (St F de S) terms – a favoured term of St Francis de Sales with particular meaning, probably closer to what today we would call ‘apostolic charity’. In the longer Christian tradition the term has a rich and also complicated story. There have been long periods when it has meant mainly ‘devotions’, in the plural, and almost a substitute for ‘true religion’. But devotions were also reincorporated or re-upholstered by Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi as legitimate popular spirituality.

Diaconus (D) [la] (Deacon)


Term found in the year book.

dicastero (department)


An organisational arrangement under a sector. We do not use the Vatican-English gloss, ‘dicastery’, in Salesian discourse.

There is an important distinction to be made between between a ‘department’ (dicastero), and a ‘sector’ (settore), the latter being the superordinate concept. Other matters below a department might be called ‘areas’. By way of example, the Social Communications sector has a department which looks after a number of areas. The tendency these days is for a preference to refer to the Sector, which then has it department: Youth Ministry, Formation, Missions, Social Communication Sectors, each with a department. The Economy and Salesian Family do not strictly have a ‘department’ structure.

See also ambito, settore.

dimissione (dismissal)


Dismissal is the process by which a member is separated from the Congregation either by force of law or by a decree of the Superior General. According to canon law there are three cases of dismissal: 1. dismissal ‘ipso facto’ (‘automatically’) (can. 694); 2. obligatory dismissal (can. 695); 3. dismissal on the judgement of the Superior (can. 696).

direttore (rector, director)


The superior of a local community. He must be a priest, perpetually professed for at least five years, and is appointed by the provincial with the consent of his council and the approval of the Rector Major.

He is first in order of responsibility for the religious life of the community, its apostolic activities and the administration of its goods. (C. 176, 177, SDB Constitutions). GC21 clarified the role and figure of the Salesian Rector, recalling the insistence of GC19 that ‘the rector constitutes without shadow of doubt the centre of unity and of initiative of all Salesian work whatever its type or composition.’ It noted the complexity of a role involving religious and spiritual life, apostolic and pastoral work, educational and cultural dimensions, economic and organisational aspects.

Thus GC21 laid down a number of clear criteria: the ecclesial and pastoral nature of the Salesian community; the kind of community spirit explicitly willed by Don Bosco (who called himself the ‘First rector’); Salesian tradition which has as the guide of the community one with priestly ordination and pastoral experience. These criteria enabled GC21 to establish the following priorities: he preserves unity and is custodian of Salesian identity; he is the pastoral guide of the Salesian mission; he directs the work of education and human development that results from the community’s mission; he bears principal responsibility for the overall operation of the work.

These criteria and priorities eventually led to the formulation of the renewed Constitutions regarding the Rector, and the drawing up of a Rector’s Manual, renewed as of 2019.

Usage: rector (en-gb), director (en-us). May often be capitalised as Rector, Director.

direttorio (directory)


The term has a juridical meaning for religious communities – General Directory: contains norms valid for the entire Congregation; directory on specific topics (e.g. the Formation Directory, otherwise known as the Ratio institutionis et studiorum – FSDB). There is also a directory at province level, known as a Provincial Directory cf. C. 171): a prescriptive text which the Provincial Chapter draws up and revises. The principal scope of the directory and its detailed set of norms is to promote and guarantee the charism and Salesianity of each work in the provincial community.

Usage: In the case of a province list of personnel and houses, some provinces also call this a directory (it might be better termed a year book in that case).

Direzione Generale (Opere Don Bosco) (1. Salesian General Administration. 2. Salesian Headquarters)

Noun phrase

Also known as the Sede Centrale. Fundamentally made up of personnel from the St Joseph’s Community of the Generalate, whose specific function is to assist, in various forms of service, the Rector Major with his council in their mission of unity and animation of the Congregation and the Salesian Family. The General Administration consists of at least the following services:

Rector Major and his Vicar, with two secretaries;

Salesian Family administration: World Delegate (Cooperators), Confederal Delegate (Past Pupils), Central Assistant (VDB, CDB), ADMA Spiritual Guide and coordinator;

Departments belonging to various sectors;

Economer General’s Office involving: secretary, admin office, patrimonial office, Gerini Foundation, Don Bosco in the World Foundation, Post Office;

Secretary General’s Office involving: Records office, Juridical office, Archives, Translation;

Regions: a secretary for each;

Historical Institute involving: Director, secretary and one or more members;

Administration and Maintenance: Bursar and general services;

SDB Publishers (Editrice SDB);

Central Library;


Official Spokesperson;

Press Office.

diritto proprio (della Società) (proper law of the Society)

noun phrase

Based on the Church’s universal law, it is made up of the following: the Constitutions, the General Regulations, the Deliberations of General Chapters, the General Directories (which includes the Ratio, the Provincial Directories and other Provincial Chapter deliberations.

di Sales, Francesco (de Sales, Francis)

proper name

Born 21 August 1567 in the de Sales castle at Thoren, Savoy. Died 28 December 1622. The term ‘Salesian’ is initially a reference to this Saint and his spirituality. Which is why we use the expression ‘Salesian of Don Bosco’ to note the distinction. There is also a ‘Salesian Family’, then, quite apart from that pertaining to Don Bosco. The term is originally French (François de Sales). Italian has italianised the entire name. English does not alter the orthography for the surname, but anglicises the Christian name

disciplina religiosa (religious discipline)

noun phrase

Religious discipline means basically a fidelity and consistency in our journey of discipleship as consecrated Salesians. It is a term that needs to be tied to the word disciple. Our sense of religious discipline is to be disciples of the Lord and of Don Bosco.

One of Desramaut’s 100 words of Salesian spirituality.

However we also find the term in adjectival form as a single word (disciplinari, disciplinary) employed in a strictly canonical sense as, for example, when a Major Superior may dispense from single disciplinary articles of the Constitutions. Here disciplinary means a norm or rule that does not touch on the essential nature of the Salesian Identity as outlined in the Constitutions.

docibilitas [la] (willingness to be taught)


The word docibilitas has no single word equivalent in English. Talking about the culture of ongoing formation requires a change in mindset. It involves moving from an approach of updates (aggiornamento) through sessions, retreats or activities of that kind, to a daily reading of experiences and, by extension, understanding that this renewed vision cannot be limited to activities proposed by a permanent formation team, no matter how competent they may be. In both cases, the risk is great to remain mired in concepts and content that are not integrated, to not delve more deeply into personal and community growth.

This change of mindset or mentality in the individual creates a permanent inner willingness, an openness, to allow oneself to be taught. This is docibilitas. This docibilitas can sometimes be confused with docility (docilitas). While docility appears as acquiescence to the will of another, {\\em docibilitas} is in fact letting oneself be freely affected by both life and other people. It also points to the Son receiving Himself from the Father and offering His life as a gift to others. Thus, docibilitas leads the individual to focus more on conforming his or her life to the sentiments of Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5) rather than complying with external acts. This inner attitude predisposes the individual to revisit his or her life while discovering within in it all of the formation resources that daily life reveals.

docile (1. well-behaved. 2. obedient)


The more common meaning is someone who bends easily to the will of the one guiding him or her. While the word can mean ‘docile’ be aware that this may be a ‘false friend’ in context. Its normal translation would be along the lines of ‘obedient’.

dispensazione (dispensation)


The term is applied in Canon Law and in the Proper Law of the Society in a variety of instances. In effect a dispensation is a formal release from certain obligations that can only be granted by the appropriate authority (Rector Major, Holy See, depending on circumstances. There can be dispensation from temporary profession or from perpetual profession in the case of a vowed religious; dispensation from the diaconate or from celibacy for deacon or priest (requires an indult from the Apostolic See and results in cessation of all the obligations deriving from ecclesiastical celibacy, from the duties of the diaconate and from religious vows in the case of a religious).

don (Father, Fr)


An honorific placed before the name or surname of a member of the secular clergy. Don Bosco preferred ‘don’ as a personal reference (sac. or  sacerdote is what he used in correspondence to sign off). The choice of don over padre is linked to the distinction in Italy between diocesan clergy who use don, and religious priests who use padre. Italian often writes the term in lower case e.g. don Bosco. It can also be capitalised, e.g. Don Bosco.

Usage: Bosco, Rua, Albera, Rinaldi and Ricaldone were always referred to as ‘don’ in English texts, without use of first name and with ‘don’ untranslated. From the time of Ziggiotti onwards, reference in English was often to Fr (or Don) Renato Ziggiotti, Fr (or Don) Luigi Ricceri etc. Today the preference is to anglicise the reference, so, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime. But it is also true that earlier Salesian history (and up to the 1930s or thereabouts, perhaps even later), a Salesian candidate for the priesthood, e.g. in practical training, would be referred to as ‘don’.

British spelling rules indicate that Fr does not take a full stop after it. US spelling always includes a period (Fr.).

Don Bosco (Don Bosco, St John Bosco)

proper name

Born 16 August 1815, Castelnuovo d’Asti (now Castelnuovo Don Bosco), Italy. Ordained, 5 June 1841, Turin. Died 31 January 1888, Turin. Canonised 1st April 1934. Feast day 31 January.

Don Bosco: History and Spirit (Don Bosco: History and Spirit)

proper name

Title of a significant historical research by Arthur J. Lenti from SUO, the Westeran US Salesian Province. It is often referred to in this dictionary and is the source of several of its definitions. As Lenti himself describes it:

The chapters that make up this series of volumes are a survey of the life and times of St John Bosco, framed and punctuated by the events that brought both the Western Church and the Western World into modern times.

I call this survey, “Don Bosco, History and Spirit”– “History,” because Don Bosco’s life and work were played out in the context of the fateful events that created a new religious and political world, and thereby also shaped his thinking and action; “Spirit,” because through discernment, interpretation and acceptance he discovered the meaning of this new world and courageously responded to its challenges: his vocation.

Don Bosco Mondo (Jugend. Hilfe. Weltweit) [de] (Don Bosco Mondo)

proper name

Don Bosco Mondo is a German-based non-profit organisation (NPO) committed to supporting disadvantaged youth worldwide. As their advocate, the NPO mobilises personnel, spiritual and financial resources, and it also aims at spreading and increasing the enthusiasm for their joint efforts. Don Bosco Mondo sees school education and vocational training as the key to empowering young people to live independent lives free from poverty. In close partnership with the Salesians of Don Bosco and the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco, assistance is provided to more than 15 million children and adolescents.

DQM (The Daughters of the Queenship of Mary)

abbreviation, initialism

A Secular Institute of Diocesan Right. Recognised as members of the Salesian Family on 12 July 1996.

Founded by Fr Carlo Torre sdb in Thailand in 1954, the Institute was admitted into the Salesian Family on 12 July 1996.

The Institute of Daughters of the Queenship of Mary is a secular institute of diocesan right founded in the spirit of the Apostolic Constitution Provida Mater Ecclesia of Pope Pius XII, issued on 2 February 1947. It was canonically approved by the Archbishop of Bangkok on 3 December 1954.

The Institute has a special relationship with the Salesian congregation, both through its founder and through the spirit handed down to its members. It recognises the Rector Major as successor of Don Bosco, as the father and leader of the entire Salesian Family.

dottore (doctor)

noun, honorific

A dottore (also medico) is a doctor of medicine. But we may meet it in a range of contexts in Italian. There is a wide difference between the use of dottore in Italian and ‘Doctor’ in English. In English, an (academic) Doctor is one who has attained a Ph.D as well as a doctor of medicine. In Italian, anyone who has earned a laurea (college degree) is a dottore/dottoressa. Heads of office departments may be called dottore.

It is also a mark of respect in common parlance for addressing individuals who may not be doctors, neither medically nor academically speaking.


ECG (EAO Coordinators Group)

abbreviation, initialism

The ECG, which came into existence as a result of the 2015 study of the EAO Region by the General Council, helps coordinate the work of the main Salesian Sectors in the region. It first met on 24 August 2016 in Manila.

The group meets with the EAO Regional Councillor and draws up job descriptions, guidelines and protocol for the annual meetings of each sector, considers the EAO calendar of events, and also looks to strengthening communication in the region through effective use of existing media (e.g. austraLasia and BoscoLink.

See also austraLasia.

economia (1. economy. 2. finance. 3. financial administration)


One of the sectors of Salesian activity represented by a General Councillor.

economo (1. economer. 2. bursar. 3. administrator. 4. treasurer)


The person whose task it is to administer the material goods of the community in dependence on the Rector. ‘Economer’ is a loan term in English, borrowed directly from Italian. The term ‘economer’ is found in very few English dictionaries (it will not be found in Oxford, Macquarie, Merriam-Webster…), and is effectively a calque.

Usage: Salesian Provinces where English is spoken as a first language tend not to use the term (except for ‘Economer General’ and ‘Provincial Economer’ which are too ingrained now to alter) and instead, terms like ‘bursar’ or ‘administrator’ or ‘treasurer’ are employed, according to local custom. Many other provinces where English is one of the principal languages, remain with ‘economer’ even at local level.

Linguistic note: The base morpheme ‘econ’ is recognisable, but a translator somewhere along the way has mis-selected the suffix, possibly thinking of a calque on the Italian economo (A calque is a direct translation of a loan term). The Italian term goes back to the origins of the Congregation, however. While the term will always be understood within the confines of Salesian discourse, it may not be so easily understood beyond it.

ecosistema comunicativo (1. communications ecosystem, 2. Salesian Social Communication System SSCS)

noun phrase

The gamut of involvement and personal attitudes of those who agree to create an environment which is a real community of sharing ideals, values, relationships at the level of daily living in a community and a neighbourhood. (From a footnote in the original edition of SSCS).

No 2.1 of the SSCS (Salesian Social Communication System) says, of communication, that ‘Today, however, we can use a more effective metaphor: we can speak of an “ecosystem”. The quality of communication in a determined context is guaranteed by a plurality of interacting factors. It follows that everyone, and also every organism, communicates in a truly effective way if there is consistency between the intentional message and the messages actually sent via what is done and what in fact is.’

Usage: The term ‘communications ecosystem’ (or ‘communicative ecosystem’ in some instances), is not just a Salesian one. Communicative ecology (cf. Wikipedia) is a conceptual model used in the field of media and communications research, to analyse and represent the relationships between social interactions, discourse, and communication media and technology of individuals, collectives and networks in physical and digital environments.

There is also Marshall McLuhan’s 1962 research on ‘media ecology’.

See also SSCS.

editore (publisher)


The one who sees to the printing, publishing of works by other people (books, music, magazines, etc.) Beware of the ‘false friend’. Editore is not an editor but a publisher. Editoria is the publishing industry, while editrice is the publishing house.

Usage: Note that Editrice SDB is more a name than a reality, in the sense that material published under the auspices of the Secretary General are usually ascribed to the Editrice SDB (Salesian Publishing House) even though this is not a physical reality.

educatore (1. educator. 2. teacher. 3. pedagogue)


Someone who educates, especially the young, a guide, instructor, teacher, pedagogue, tutor. When we find the term ‘educator’ in Salesian discourse, and we find it often, we need to bear in mind that the concept in Italian (from which language most of the references have derived) is wider than in English. Whereas in English the concept has a + specialist feature (hence teacher, administrator of a school, someone who has studied the theory, etc.) in Italian, an educatore could be a parent, parish priest or other non-specialist in the field of education as such. A Salesian is an educator (and pastor) by dint of profession, not because of some particular study of the field, though in almost every instance this latter would eventually apply.

Linguistic notes: There are a number of associated terms in Salesian discourse which are traps for the unwary, since they tend to be somewhat special usages. The normal adjectival form in English is ‘educational’, whereas Salesian discourse may often have ‘educative’, as in ‘educative and pastoral community’.

It might also be worth noting here that, especially for derivatives, the Italian concept of education is broader than in English. Italian synonymous terms are istruzione and formazione. Hence we have ''education to love’ (The term finds its basis in the Salesian Constitutions on chastity where the vow renders the person ‘capable of educating them to love and to purity’, but the precise term comes from GC23. 192); ‘education to faith’, a term which was given its particular contemporary force by GC23. And finally, a defining feature of ‘belonging’ as a Past Pupil of Don Bosco is because of the ‘education received’- Here again, the idea derives from the wider concept in Italian – which means that someone who has attended an oratory has equal standing with someone who went to a Salesian school in this regard.

educomunicazione (educommunication)


The complex of policies and activities inherent in the planning, putting into practice and evaluation of processes and products aimed at creating and strengthening communications ecosystems in educational settings, be they face to face or virtual. A term popularised by Ismar Soares (Brazil) and in wider use in Latin American nations, and in some parts of Europe (France and Belgium particularly).

In English it is akin to though not the same as ‘media education’ understood in the wider sense of that latter term as interested in much more than just the question of media literacy. The term has now found its place in Salesian discourse in two ways: in the Salesian Social Communication System, though more by description of its contents than by actual use of the term, and in the constant use of the term by the Salesian Sisters. They have strongly promoted the use of this term and the application of its content.

Usage: There is strong resistance to the use of this term in English generally, not only amongst English-speaking Salesians but also amongst educators. The preferred terms are either ‘media education’ understood in its widest sense, or '`communication education``.

Elementi Giuridici (Juridical Elements, also known as ‘The Red Book’)

Proper name

The full title is: Elementi Giuridici e Prassi Administrativa nel Governo dell’Ispettoria, or ‘Juridical Elements and Administrative Praxis in Governing the Province’. Handbook on juridical matters – also published in an English version.

Elenco (year book, list)


See also annuario.

Episcopus (E) [la] (Bishop)


This Latin term with its abbreviation as ‘E’ is found in the Year Book listing all members of the Salesian Society who have been nominated bishop.

epistolario (collection of letters)


Collection of letters written by or received by an individual, especially an outstanding individual. Reference to the Epistolario (in fact several volumes of such, with critical commentary) is often a reference to the collection of Don Bosco’s letters.

équipe [fr] (1. team. 2. committee)


A French term but also a loan term in Italian, an équipe is a collection of people who collaborate in the same sector of activity.

Usage: Could occasionally be glossed as ‘committee’. The plural is équipes even in Italian, since it is a borrowed term. It is best translated as ‘team’ or similar in English.

erezione canonica (canonical erection)

Noun phrase

A juridical act by which a Salesian presence is recognised as a domus religiosa or religious house. We distinguish between a simple opening and canonical erection. Once a house/community is canonically erected, it then becomes a legitimate juridical person under the authority of a superior. Can. 608.

esclaustrazione (exclaustration)


In Canon Law, the faculty granted by the Holy See or the Ordinary of a place for a member of a religious institute of pontifical or diocesan right to live temporarily outside the cloister, putting aside the religious habit but still bound to observance of the vows and duties of state. It is a form of absence from the community granted by the Superior General or Apostolic See.

esercizi spirituali (1. retreat. 2. spiritual exercises)

noun phrase

An ascetical practice consisting in temporary withdrawal from ordinary occupations in order to dedicate oneself to prayer and meditation, in particular the method outlined by St Ignatius Loyola in his Ejercicios espirituales (1854).

While the term is sometimes glossed as ‘spiritual retreat’, the more normal term is simply ‘retreat’. Context makes it clear that it is a spiritual exercise. The term ‘Spiritual Exercises’ is normally restricted to a retreat that follows the Ignatian method.

See also ritiro.

esercizio della buona morte (1. Exercise for a happy death. 2. monthly recollection)

noun phrase

A spiritual practice that Don Bosco adapted from spiritual and ascetic practice of the time, essentially a monthly examination of conscience followed by confession and communion. The current practice of a monthly recollection has replaced the former practice – and the term.

Usage: Might occasionally be found in its Latin form Bona Mors
See also ritiro.

estasi dell’azione (ecstasy of action)

noun phrase

Going out of oneself towards the other.

Originally a term from St Francis de Sales. The term was taken up again by Fr. Viganò in AGC 332 and 338. He suggests it is the interior side of the da mihi animas. Action sanctified by prayer. It is the Salesian interpretation which leads to art. 12 of the Constitutions: '`contemplative in action``.

Eurobosco (Eurobosco)

proper name

Congress of Salesian Past Pupils from Europe.

Europa Centro-Nord (Central & North Europe)

abbreviation, initialism

A Salesian Region created by GC28, containing the following circumscriptions: AUS-Austria, BEN-Belgium North, CEP-Czech Republic, CRO-Croatia, FRB-France - Belgium, South, GBR-Great Britain, GER-Germany, IRL-Ireland, MLT-Malta, PLE-Poland Warsaw, PLN-Poland Pila, PLO-Poland Wroclaw, PLS-Poland Krakow, SLK-Slovakia, SLO-Slovenia, UKR-Ukraine, UNG-Hungary.

exallievi (di Don Bosco) (1. Past Pupils of Don Bosco. 2. Salesian Past Pupils. 3. Old Scholars. 4. Bosconians. 5. Alumni)

noun (pl.)

Originally, boys who frequented the Oratory at Valdocco in Don Bosco’s time, hence '`Past Pupils of Don Bosco`` is the complete term, still today. The first local Past Pupils Association was formed in Turin in 1870 for the purpose of organising a yearly feast day in honour of Don Bosco.

After Don Bosco’s death, the group continued to do the same in honour of Fr Michael Rua, keeping the same date of June 24. For many years this was the only Past Pupils Association in existence.

The date 24 June was in fact a mistaken date, Don Bosco’s boys at the time thinking he was named ‘John’ after John the Baptist. In 1896, a second Past Pupils Association was formed at Parma (Emilia). Between 1896 and 1908 many similar associations came into existence in places where the Salesian were active.

Although not federated, all these groups were inspired by the idea of keeping alive the principles of their Salesian education and working as active Christians in their various walks of life. In 1908, the idea of forming a world federation was launched, to unite all Past Pupils Associations which had sprung up in Europe and the Americas. In 1909, statutes of federation were drafted and circulated and some 100 local associations formed the World Federation of Salesian Past Pupils.

Usage: While they always remain officially Past Pupils of Don Bosco, the terms used locally, as indicated in the synonyms above, vary. With regard to the term ‘alumni``, the colloquial term '`alums’ can be heard in the US. In Britain, Australia and places where British English reigns, ‘past pupil’ (often capitalised) is more common. The Philippines uses ‘alumnus’, but one also hears ‘Bosconian’ in reference to past pupils. Antigos Alumnos (TLS), Old Boys (CIN), Salesians (KOR) are terms used in the respective Provinces of Timor Leste, China, Korea. There are also Exallieve delle Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice or Past Pupils of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

There is also an occasional use of ‘ex-db’ (or ‘ex-DB’) in parts of EAO (Japan, for example).


famigli (1. domestics. 2. retainers. 3. servants)

noun (pl.)

Many Salesian houses used have lay people (men only) who lived in and performed various services. In an earlier instance, they would have been coadiutori, but once Don Bosco began to develop his concept of the Salesian layman (See also coadiutore) he had to be very careful to distinguish them from mere workers, domestics. Over time, these became known as famigli, from the Italian masculine word famiglio (not to be confused with famiglia, family).

The term is ancient, and possibly one not familiar (excuse the pun!) even to many Italians today. The Italian Wikipedia even has an article on it, describing its feudal origins (from the Latin famulus or a person adopted into a family). But if we are to regard the Wikipedia article as any kind of guide, then we also need to be aware of other uses of the term ‘famiglio’, perhaps closer to the also ancient English word ‘familiar’ (noun), a term for minor devils!

That aside, it is possible to find references to ‘famigli’ in mediaeval monasteries, in the more positive sense of men who had been adopted into the religious family but who did not take religious vows.

famiglia apostolica (apostolic family)

noun phrase

Apostolic (in general): the ardent desire to reproduce the apostolic ideal in which “the company of those who believed was of one heart and one soul… had everything in common, [and] devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers” (Acts 4:35; 2:42).

The Salesian Family is an apostolic Family. The Groups which make it up are all responsible subjects of the common mission, although to different degrees and in different ways. Don Bosco founded the Society of St Francis de Sales and the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and set them up as Religious Congregations, by this stage not contemplative but ‘apostolic’. He also founded the Association of Salesian Cooperators as part of the apostolic family.

According to the intentions of their Founders, Don Bosco’s spiritual sons and daughters, all the other Religious Congregations which belong to the Salesian Family today have a clear apostolic orientation and are part of those Religious Institutes known as ‘apostolic’ institutes. In virtue of each ones particular vocation, individuals belonging to the distinct Groups are ‘sent’, thus called to carry out the common mission according to the role they are entrusted with, and their own abilities and possibilities.

With regard to canonical norms, the Salesians, the Salesian Sisters and the other Religious Institutes take up the apostolic mandate from the ecclesiastical authority and carry it out in the context of the provincial or local communities which are the primary subject of the mission.

famiglia carismatica (charismatic family)

noun phrase

A gift of the Spirit to the Church in view of a mission (Charter of Identity Art 5.). Its deepest and truest roots are found in the Mystery of the Trinity, meaning in the infinite love uniting Father, Son and Spirit, source, model and goal for every human family.

famiglia salesiana (1. Salesian Family. 2. apostolic family of Don Bosco. 3. spiritual and apostolic family of Don Bosco)

noun phrase

Don Bosco inspired the start of a vast movement of persons who in different ways work for the salvation of the young. He himself founded not only the Society of St Francis de Sales but also the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Association of Salesian Cooperators. These live in communion with each other, share the same spirit and, with specifically distinct vocations, continue the mission he began. Together with these groups and with others born later we make up the Salesian Family. (C. 5).

For further information cf. also Carta della Missione… and Carta di comunione… and the most recent document (2012) the Carta di Identità…. This document in particular makes it clear that the term ‘family’ as used in ‘Salesian Family’ describes the links that connect the various Groups, even though with different intensity. It is not simple affinity, or generic sympathy but an institutional expression of inward, charismatic and spiritual communion. It can be described in terms of different levels.

Usage: Normally, in English, the term is capitalised as Salesain Family.

FCMN (Fraternidad contemplativa Maria de Nazaret) [es] (The Contemplative Fraternity of Mary of Nazareth)

abbreviation, initialism

Public Association of the Faithful. Founder: Archbishop Nicolas Cotugno SDB (1934-), Archbishop of Montevideo (1994). Founded: 31 May 1983. Membership of the Salesian Family, 18 July 2016.

Fernández Artime, Ángel (Fr Ángel Fernández Artime)

proper name

Ángel Fernández Artime, Rector Major, 10th Successor of Don Bosco, was born 21 August 1960 in Luanco-Gozon, Asturias, Spain; he made his first profession on 3 September, 1978, the perpetual vows on 17 June 1984, in Santiago de Compostela, and was ordained a priest on 4 July 1987, in León.

A native of the Province of Leon, he earned a degree in Pastoral Theology and a Licentiate in Philosophy and Pedagogy.

He was a Provincial Delegate for Youth Ministry, Director of the School of Ourense, a member of the Provincial Council and the Provincial Vicar, and from 2000-2006, he was the Provincial Superior.

After being part of the Preparatory committee which prepared the 26th General Chapter in 2009, he was appointed the Provincial Superior of South Argentina, based in Buenos Aires. In this capacity he also got to know and work personally with the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, today Pope Francis.

On 23 December 2013, he was appointed Superior of the new Province of Mediterranean Spain, dedicated to Mary Help of Christians. But before he could take on this new role, on 25 March 2014 he was elected by the 27th General Chapter as the new Rector Major of the Salesian Congregation and the 10th Successor of Don Bosco.

fioretti (1. good actions. 2. small acts of sacrifice. 3. little stories)

noun (pl)

The term has a range of meanings in Salesian use – probably today, the last of the three meanings, ‘little stories’, is the most common.  Fioretti salesiani are the kinds of little examples, brief personal edifying stories, mostly, that visiting Superiors like to tell the community.

Figli di Maria (Sons of Mary)

noun phrase

The reference is to late vocations and the Opera dei Figli di Maria or ‘Sons of Mary Program’. More accurately, the Sons of Mary (young men between 16-30) were the fruits of the Opera di Maria Ausiliatrice or Work of Mary Help of Christians, presented to Pius IX in 1874 along with the proposal for the Salesian Cooperators. Both projects were approved in May 1876 by the Pope. Hence the ‘Sons of Mary’ were the fruit of the group’s effort to recruit and educate priestly vocations.


proper name

A technical Salesian term for the annual written collection of statistics sent to the General Administration from the provinces.

FMA (Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice) (FMA Daughters of Mary Help of Christians)

proper name

“Through a gift of the Holy Spirit and the direct intervention of Mary, Saint John Bosco founded our institute as a response of salvation to the profound hopes of young girls. He endowed it with a spiritual heritage that had its inspiration from the charity of Christ the Good Shepherd, and imparted to it a strong missionary impulse.” (FMA Constitutions art. 1).

This religious family has its origins in the heart and mind of St John Bosco and in the creative fidelity of St Mary Domenica Mazzarello. Don Bosco chose the name ‘Daughters of Mary Help of Christians’ because he wanted a living monument of gratitude to his Madonna.

At the persistent request of many people in Turin and as a result of his own perceptions, Don Bosco resolved to take steps in setting up an institute that would reach out to many poor and abandoned girls. He was inspired to do so from his many contacts with female institutes, his deep Marian devotion, the encouragement received from Pope Pius IX and the many inspirations he had in this regard, through ‘dreams’ and significant happenings.

It so happened that in the township of Mornese, situated in the hills of Monferrato, a young woman by the name of Mary Domenica Mazzarello was accompanying a group of young women who along with her were dedicated to helping young girls learn a trade, and while doing so these girls were also guided in their faith development. There were two significant signs conveying the same message: that an educative environment similar to the one for boys at Valdocco, Turin, should be set up for children and young girls. Mary Domenica Mazzarello was a co-foundress who gave life and form to this newly founded institute. On 5 August 1872, the first group of young women, following the example of Mary, in declaring their ‘Yes’ to God’s call, committed themselves to be ‘helpers’ of young people.

Usage: In many if not most English-speaking countries where they are present, the Sisters refer to themselves as ‘Salesian Sisters’ rather than by the longer title of ‘Daughters of Mary Help of Christians’. In German-speaking countries (which also use English) they are more often referred to as ‘Don Bosco Sisters’.

Linguistic note: ‘Daughters of Mary Help of Christians’ is a shorter form. The complete reference is ‘Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians’.

The Institute of Mary Help of Christians “is a living part of the Salesian Family which throughout history relives in different ways the spirit and mission of Don Bosco thus expressing its perennial adaptability. The Rector Major of the Society of St Francis of Sales – as successor of Don Bosco - is its animator and centre of unity.” (FMA C. 3).

Reference is made to ‘Institute’ rather than ‘Congregation’, when speaking of the organisational entity.

Fondazione Don Bosco nel Mondo (Don Bosco in the World Foundation)

proper name

A body belonging to the Salesian Congregation whose purpose is the promotion, support and development of Salesian Missions and work around the world. The group is based at Salesian Headquarters in Rome.

fondo di solidarietà del Rettor Maggiore (Rector Major’s Solidarity Fund)

noun phrase

Monies usually sent to The Centre by the provinces and disbursed according to need, directly by the Rector Major (though after hearing from the province where the request comes from). In practical Salesian language we find the term solidarity used in reference to aid, mostly of the financial kind, or as represented by NGO, Mission Office activity, or as a ‘fund’ (e.g. the Rector Major’s Solidarity Fund). Perhaps we need to be careful not to overly restrict the term’s

application in this sense. It is, by now an established principle of Catholic social teaching (Solicitudo Rei Socialis no. 40). In fact, we find in the Salesian Charter of identity a helpful description of Salesian solidarity which is much broader than that of financial aid:

  1. Education, which is the highest form of solidarity, conceived of and realised accoring to criteria which Salesian assistance suggests.

  2. Civil, social and mission voluntary service, much widespread amongst young people today.

  3. Social and political involvement.

fondo Don Bosco (fondo Don Bosco)

noun phrase

In a library, groups or sets of books or documents collected on a particular topic. A division of the Central Archives referring to material on/by Don Bosco.

Linguistic note: usually lower case fondo rather then upper case Fondo, to distinguish from a financial resource or Fund, as in the case, for example of the Fondo Missioni, an official channel via the General Administration for distributing mission funds.

formazione (1. formation. 2. education)


The act of forming. The process of forming. The manner in which something is formed.

Considered in its essence, and in theological terms, it is the spiritual extent the human being can reach by perfecting his or her God-given gifts, and by developing the spiritual heritage, both past and present in which he/she finds himself.

Each of the definitions listed here becomes important for understanding Salesian formation, since it is active (involving agents), a process, a method and clearly has a theological principle involved.

That said, and because it is such a broad topic, it may best be understood by looking at the several particular aspects under which it is treated (initial formation, ongoing formation, personal life plan) amongst others). If we consider formation from an institutional and ecclesial perspective, we need to include the widest sense of integral formation of the human being (human promotion, education to the faith), then catechism, education more broadly speaking, the catechumenate, for those beginning a life of faith in the Catholic Church, the formation of committed lay people for ministries open to them to exercise.

Then there is the question of formation for religious and Apostolic Life, or for Societies of Apostolic Life, Religious formation in general, formation of candidates for diaconate and priesthood….

Salesian formation takes its starting points from both the individual human being involved, and the project which is the Salesian mission as passed on to us by Don Bosco. Seen this way, Salesian formation continues the work of the founder, and his spiritual fatherhood, fosters fidelity to the unity of the charism and commitment to its further development, and places the gifts of nature and grace in a balanced perspective. Don Bosco is the model (SDB Constitution 97 makes it clear that Don Bosco is a ‘sure guide’) but we also remind ourselves (C. 96) that Jesus too ‘called his Apostles individually to be with him’).

The chief agent of formation is always the individual being formed, and his life experience which he learns from. The method of formation is living and working for the common mission. A valid plan of life is essential for all this to happen. ‘To form’ someone (seeing formation from the point of view of the helping agent) means to accompany that person until he reaches his full development, putting him in active relationship with the mission which he, along with every other Salesian, is entrusted with. This perspective responds to the question ‘formed for what?’

Usage: Italian is much more likely to speak of formazione where English might use ‘education’, but the terms formazione and educazione are interchangeable in Italian, and refer especially to the gaining of attitudes and understanding. In the context of religious life we would speak of ‘formation’. E.g. initial and ongoing formation. In the context of schooling – ‘education’ (e.g. as in formazione professionale, formazione dei giovani).
See also educatore.

formazione professionale (vocational/technical education)

noun phrase

It may not always refer to ‘occupational’ training or education – could be straight ‘technical.’ Formazione, Formazione Professionale are technical terms in Italian education and educational legislation.


gaku- 学 [ja](1. study. 2. learning. 3. science)


This term is essential for understanding the various terms used for our educational works in Japan. The romanised form and the Chinese ideograph are used here as part of the explanation. If we add -en (or -in), meaning essentially a garden or pretty place, but then a building, we get gakuin 学院or school, hence Salesio gakuin, Salesian school. kyu-gaku 共学 is together-learn, or co-education. _ Shugaku_ would be primary school (school for small ones). Kutugaku is Senior High, a three year course. Senmon gaku (from senmon, special) is a Vocational College. Daigaku (dai, big) is university and daigakuin a postgraduate course.

Garelli, Bartolomeo (Garelli, Bartholomew)

proper name

A Salesian traditional story not recounted before the writing of the Memoirs of the Oratory in the mid 1870’s but first recounted in Bonetti’s serialised version in the Salesian Bulletin 1879. The story lends belief to the symbolic date of December 8th for the beginning of Don Bosco’s work. In the original draft for the Memoirs of the Oratory Don Bosco had begun to write an ’N’, not a ’G’ for the surname. Did this mean Nome, or was it another surname? For the purposes of the story it doesn’t matter.

Generala (The Generala)

proper name

A ‘modern’ correction facility for juveniles built in 1845 as part of King Charles Albert’s reforms. It was located some 10 miles south west of Turin, on the road to the little town of Stupinigi.

Loitering, vagrancy and begging accounted for over 50% of the cases referred to the Generala. On the whole, it could be said that in the 1840’s Turin was a city of ‘poor and abandoned’ rather than criminal juveniles.

giardino di ricreazione (recreation park)

noun phrase

Don Bosco employed this term occasionally for public authorities when describing the playground at the Oratory. It was a term in current use for playgrounds at the time but represented a different concept – a small space usually, where youngsters stood around in small groups playing relatively non-physical games under a teacher’s supervision.

Don Bosco’s idea of the playground was very active, where boys could choose their own games, and where the teacher was expected to take part actively, without failing in his/her supervisory role. Don Bosco himself would appear at most recreations – he did so until the 1860s.

See also cortile.

ginnasio (secondary school)


In today’s Italian school system, a course of higher education, consisting of a two-year course (fourth and fifth ‘gymnasium’), which can be accessed after obtaining a middle school certificate, and at the end of which one begins upper secondary; until 1940 there were two secondary school courses, one lower, of three years, corresponding to the subsequent middle school, and a higher one, remaining in the current system, in which the study of Greek is undertaken. But the sense in which it appears in texts relating to Don Bosco’s time or the ‘pre-1940 period’ referred to above, namely, the five year course of secondary studies called ginnasio in the Casati Reform of 1859.

giorno della comunità (community day)

noun phrase

Established as a regular weekly practice in Salesian communities from GC23 onwards.

giovani (1. young people. 2. adolescents. 3. youngsters)

noun (pl)

For Don Bosco, the term had a male only reference. But depending on the context it was a term that might have much more attached to it. An example comes from the famous saying Ho promesso a Dio che fin l’ultimo mio respiro sarebbe stato per i miei poveri giovani (I have promised God that I will be for my poor boys until my last breath).

N Cerrato (Vi Presento Don Bosco LDC 2005) points out that Desramaut’s comment that the original formulation employed poveri orfanelli rather than poveri giovani does not thus discredit the MB version (Vol 18). Don Bosco, he says, was almost certainly speaking Piedmontese where he would have used povri fieuj not the unusual povri orfaneij. Povri fieuj translates as ragazzi or giovani in Italian but carries the Piedmontese meaning of ‘poor and abandoned’ and probably orphaned.

Usage: Expect, especially in texts wrtten by Don Bosco, to find a range of terms such as giovanetto, and/or giovanotto. Indeed, a range of terms that seem largely interchangeable: fanciullini, fanciulli, giovani, giovanetti, giovinetti and even orfanelli, though this latter is more precisely of the ‘poor and abandoned’ type. Opposed to these would be giovani grandicelli which, in at least one text by Don Bosco, is determined as being from 16-30 years of age.

Linguistic note: It is difficult to give precise age ranges for the various Italian terms relating to youth. Many texts talk about bambini, adoloscenti and giovani in the same sentence, suggesting there are three distinct age ranges, whereas to say ‘children and youth’ in English sounds a bit forced: we would normally just talk about ‘young people’, ‘teenagers’ and ‘small children’ if we want to incude the under tens.

In today’s understanding in Italy, a bambino could be 2-10 years, a ragazzo from, say, 11-19 years, while a giovane might be from 20-30 years! This means that the plural term giovani is far more extensive than its English equivalent ‘young people’.

globalizzazione (globalisation)


In the language of economics, globalisation of the markets, a phenomenon of unification of the markets on a global level, permitted by the spread of technological innovations, especially in the field of telematics which have pushed towards more uniform and convergent consumption and production models; also, the political and social consequences of this unification.

When both globalizzazione and mondializzazione appear together in our texts (e.g. ACG 387 p. 15) we have to assume they are synonyms but distinguishable.

It is a relatively new term in Salesian usage – only since Fr Vecchi. There are attempts to distinguish the two concepts such that mondializzazione emphasises the existence of the nation-state and its need to have arrangements with other nation-states. The existence of the UNO then becomes an example of mondializzazione.

Globalizzazione appears to have a more negative feel about it involving the worst aspects of economy, internet and communications, language etc.


Harambee (Harambee)

proper name (Verb in sw)

Harambee is a Kenyan tradition of community self-help events, eg. fundraising or development activities. Harambee literally means ‘all pull together’ in Swahili, and is also the official motto of Kenya and appears on its coat of arms. Harambee events may range from informal affairs lasting a few hours, in which invitations are spread by word of mouth, to formal, multi-day events advertised in newspapers.

These events have long been important in parts of East Africa, as ways to build and maintain communities. Following Kenya’s independence in 1963, the first Prime Minister, and later first President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta adopted ‘Harambee’ as a concept of pulling the country together to build a new nation. He encouraged communities to work together to raise funds for all sorts of local projects, pledging that the government would provide their startup costs. Under this system, wealthy individuals wishing to get into politics could donate large amounts of money to local harambee drives, thereby gaining legitimacy; however, such practices were never institutionalised during Kenyatta’s presidency.

Usage: Used by Salesians since 1993 to refer to a missionary gathering, usually of young people, for mission animation. Normally capitalised in English.

HDS (Hijas del Divin Salvador) (HDS Daughters of the Divine Saviour)

abbreviation, initialism

Female Religious Institute of Diocesan Right, founded by Salesian Bishop Pedro Arnoldo Aparicio (1980-1992), as catechists and teachers they are at the service of poor children and youth whom they aim to educate by the Preventive System. Don Bosco’s motto, Da mihi animas caetera tolle (give me souls, take away the rest), has become Oportet Illum regnare (it is necessary for Christ to reign!).

“Through our educative and pastoral mission we contribute to the mission of salvation at the service of the Particular Church and parishes, dedicating ourselves especially to education of young girls and young women. the Institute achieves these aims principally through religious education and the apostolate of catechetics. Our life and our evangelising and educational activity gives Mary a special role. We entrust ourselves to Her as the ‘Help’ of children and youth.”

“The HDS live an attitude of spiritual childhood made up of simplicity and serene joy. Bethlehem indicates our spiritual road: humility, poverty, not desiring great things, making ourselves always available, opening our souls, our heart and our arms to children and young people, in a Salesian style. A special devotion to the Child Jesus helps the HDS to achieve this meekness and humbleness of heart as taught by Jesus. The witness to poverty, already in the original founding group and written into our purpose of service of children and girls of ordinary people, especially the needy, characterises our commitment and witness.”

“An interesting element of formation and apostolic activity is the collaboration with the Salesians. In different countries we share responsibility with the Salesians in educational and social works.”

Date founded: San Vicente (El Salvador), Christmas 1956-

HH.SS.CC (Hijas de las Sagrados Corazones de Jesús y de Maria) (HH.SS.CC Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary)

abbreviation, initialism

A female religious institute of Pontifical Right.

Founded by Fr Louis Variara at Agua de Dios 1904.

Members of the Salesian Family.

HR (Congregación de Hermanas de la Resurrección) [es] (Congregation of the Sisters of the Resurrection, The Little Community)

abbreviation, initialism

Religious Congregation of Diocesan Right founded in Guatemala by Fr Joseph Puthenpura SDB on 15 September 1977 from a small group of nine volunteers who wished to serve their ‘fellow campesinos’. Date admitted to the SF: 16 July 2004 [Decree 31 January 2006].


identità carismatica (1. charismatic identity. 2. Salesian identity. 3. vocational identity)

noun phrase

Synonymous with ‘Salesian identity’ or the indole propria or special character of the Salesian.

‘Vocational Identity’ is an additional term employed frequently in our texts. In specific terms, the charismatic identity of Salesian of Don Bosco is to make welcome and to share the life of the young especially those who are poorest. It was a term often employed by Fr Viganò.

IJA (Irmas de Jesús Adolescente) (IJA Sisters of Jesus the adolescent)

abbreviation, initialism

Female religious Institute of Diocesan Right, founded by Salesian Bishop Bishop Vicente Priante on 8th December 1938. The Congregation seeks to live out its mission by offering an evangelising response to the concrete problems of Particular Churches: through popular education, family ministry, social activities, and special attention to children and the elderly.

The Congregation began under the name of ‘The Little Sisters of Jesus the Adolescent’ which officially began on 8th December 1938. A group of young girls, refused entry to other Congregations because their parents were in irregular marriages, were ready to respond. The first seven of the Sisters made their profession in 1939. They worked at the seminary in Campo Grande and the hostel for the elderly and abandoned. They ran two parish schools in Corumbá as well as a hostel for the elderly and abandoned. Bishop Priante died on the 4th December 1944. The Sisters had lost their father just six years after the foundation. His successor, Bishop Chaves, also a Salesian, became their guide,and in 1952 entrusted them to Mother Josefina FMA, who was the superior until 1967. A serious crisis followed which reduced their numbers from 74 to 28, but with the General Chapter in 1975 they reorganised themselves.

Date founded: Campo Grande, 8th December 1938.

Date admitted to the SF: 23rd December 1988.

imborghesimento (1. desire for comfort. 2. bourgeoisification. 3. middle-class attitude)


The term occasionally appears in discussions of a less than ascetic tendency in modern religious life. Of the three meanings suggested, the first picks up the real issue: a desire for comfort and ease. The second is simply an attempt to come up with an abstract noun (that probably does not exist in any decent dictionary!). The third should probably be avoided, since definitions of ‘middle-class’ are usually not helpful. They vary so much from culture to culture

Immacolata (Concezione) (Immaculate Conception)

noun phrase

A dogma of the Church concerning Mary’s singular grace in being conceived without sin proclaimed on 8th December 1854.

Often, in Don Bosco’s and subsequent Salesian reference, the term ‘Immaculate Conception’ is shortened to ‘The Immaculate’.

The dogma and the event of its proclamation are especially significant in Salesian history. In the first 20 years of his life, before he had settled on the term Help of Christians, his reference was always to Mary Immaculate. The 8th December, a good ten years and more before the dogma was proclaimed, was the date he assigned to the start of his work.

The proclamation date was also the date Dominic Savio wrote up his simple program of life under Don Bosco’s tutelage at the Oratory. The Sodality of the Immaculate Conception, of which Dominic was a co-founder, became a school of preparation for boys who eventually were the beginnings of the Salesian Society. At Mornese, the Daughters of the Immaculate group of women were the basis for what became the Salesian Sisters.

incaricato (1. person in charge. 2. appointee)


The person, body or other who been assigned to look after something.

Usage: From time to time one see this glossed as English as ‘incharge’ or ‘in-charge’ as a noun. In fact this is a calque, a direct translation of the Italian into a word that is unknown in English (i.e. it does not exist in any dictionary).

inculturazione (inculturation)


The integration of Christian faith in human culture(s).

Note that this is distinct from ‘enculturation’ in English, but that there are linguistic problems associated with the term in translation.

The term begins to appear in Church documents from about 1979 onwards, with a description from Pope John Paul II who saw it, in a comment he made to the Pontifical Biblical Commission, as a term which expressed very well one aspect of the great mystery of the Incarnation.

Its appearance in Salesian vocabulary can be owed in a particular way to representatives from Bangalore (India) at the Special General Chapter 20 (1971-72), which is interesting since it has been claimed that the term really came into existence in 1973 from a Protestant theologian teaching in New York!

The Jesuits took it up at their 32nd General Chapter (1975) translating it as inculturatio (since Latin morphology does not permit enculturatio). The term appears often in the Italian phrase inculturazione del Vangelo (inculturation of the Gospel).

Usage: While the noun form works easily enough in English, there is still some resistance to it as a verb.

Linguistic note: Italian only has the word inculturazione since, like Latin, en- is not a prefix in that language. It may use the word socializzazione to express what English means by ’enculturation’.  However, TRECCANI’s definition of inculturazione is: [der. di cultura, col pref. in-, per traduz. dell’ingl. enculturation]. – In psicologia sociale, assimilazione, da parte dell’individuo, della cultura del gruppo sociale cui egli appartiene, durante il processo di socializzazione, che implica adattamento e dialogo [derives from culture with the prefix in-, translating the English enculturation].In social psychology, assimilation by the individual of the culture of the social group to which that individual belongs, during the process of socialisation, implying adaption and dialogue.

And therein lies the problem.

internato (boarding establishment)


The areas / rooms in a boarding establishment where internal pupils usually live.

Could be a hostel, even a boarding school. Antonym to esternato.

IRIMEP (Instituto Religioso das Irmàs Medianeiras da Paz) [pt] (Religious Institute of the Mediators of Peace IRIMEP)

abbreviation, initialism

A Religious Institute of Diocesan Right.

The institute was founded in 1968 by Archbishop Antonio Campelo, Salesian and Archbishop of Petrolina (State of Pernambuco, Brazil); on his death, in 1984, the ‘Mediatrix Sisters of Peace’, religious belonging to the Institutes of Consecrated Life of Diocesan Right, formally asked to become part of the Salesian Family.

In 1986 Fr Egidio Viganó, then Rector Major, replied to a letter from the same Sisters, and wrote: “I rejoice in your presence in the Church and I congratulate you on the progress you have made (in the meantime) that this experience phase end with the best results.”

As is clearly written in the Salesian Constitutions: “From Don Bosco derives a vast movement of people who, in different ways, work for the salvation of the young.” And this institute “shares the mission of Don Bosco to work for the poor, the abandoned, the people in danger and in areas where poverty is extreme,” said Fr Joan Lluis Playá, who has visited some of the social works that the ‘Messengers of Peace’ are developing in Brazil.

Fr Eusebio Muñoz, Delegate of the Rector Major for the Salesian Family, expressed his great joy in knowing that “the Salesian Family continues to grow, not only numerically, but above all at the charismatic level, because where there is a member who works as Don Bosco, these work for the salvation of the poorest young people.”

Seventy religious are currently part of the institute, assisted by about 300 collaborators who share with the sisters the pastoral and socio-educational mission. “They were born with the concern to reach the most remote places in the Church, where poverty is really extreme,” added Fr Playá. “I have visited, under the direction of the Rector Major, the places where they carry out their apostolate and they are evidently ‘Salesians’, being missionaries among disadvantaged young people.”

ispettoria (province)


Cons. 157 The province unites the different local communities in one large community. It is canonically erected when the necessary and sufficient conditions exist for promoting in a specific juridical circumscription the life and mission of the Congregation with the autonomy that belongs to it according to the Constitutions.

Salesian English has chosen the more widely known term ‘province’ to designate what is known in a tradition stemming from Don Bosco himself as_ispettoria_ in Italian.

In his earliest Constitutions, Don Bosco made no specific provision for establishing ‘provinces’ as we understand them (i.e. territorial divisions under a canonical major superior), but did divide the Society as it was then into four ‘inspectorates’. Rome called this an ‘uncommon practice’ and requested ‘provinces’ with due ecclesiastical (Holy See no less!) permission. Don Bosco continued to argue that Pope Pius IX had recommended the use of terms more consistent with the spirit of the [secular] times: therefore, rather than call our houses ‘monasteries’, he suggested the terms ‘house’, ‘school’ (collegio), ‘hostel’ or ‘hospice’ (ospizio), or ‘orphanage’; likewise, not ‘Father General’, but ‘Rector Major’, not ‘Prior’, or ‘Guardian’, but ‘Director’, not ‘Provincial’ or ‘Province’, but some equivalent term.

The idea won out, stuck and was reinforced by early General Chapters.

Quite possibly for reasons of the same kind that were used by Don Bosco for choosing ‘inspectorate’, Salesians in an English-speaking context decided that this latter term would be inappropriate for them and chose ‘province’ instead. It is worth noting that in Spain there is a preference for provincia rather than inspectoría, and that France prefers '`province` also.

ISS (Istituto Storico Salesiano) (ISS Institute for Salesian History)

abbreviation, initialism

ISS has been a department of the General Administration of the Works of Don Bosco since 1981. It is a scientific service organised by the Salesian Society for the purposes of study and research into the wealth of spiritual and educational legacy left by Don Bosco, and developed by those who have followed him.

As well as purposes defined in the Statutes, the ISS is called upon to continue the half-yearly publication of the series ‘Ricerche Storiche Salesiane’ and implement the decision of the 26th General Chapter regarding Salesian sources, ‘Let the Rector Major and his Council see to the publication and translation of a collection of the principal Salesian sources.’

istituto (religioso) ([religious] institute)

noun phrase

In ordinary (non-juridical) ecclesiastical language, a generic reference to religious congregations and societies without vows whose members are lay people.

‘Institute’ is the more general term used in Canon Law applied to groups formed around a particular charism. Synonymous terms are ‘institutes of consecrated life’, ‘religious orders’, ‘religious congregations’.

An ‘Order’ is, technically, a group taking solemn vows. A Congregation’s members take simple vows.

Usage: The Salesian Sisters (FMA) normally refer to themselves as an Institute. SDB’s more often than not call themselves a Society or a Congregation.

Linguistic note: In addition to the term ‘religious institute’, expect to find, in Salesian usage:

  • istituto clericale or ‘clerical institute’, a term taken directly from Canon Law. indicating that the service of government of the community, in the Institute’s tradition, is entrusted at all levels to a confrere who is a priest;

  • istituto di diritto pontificio or ‘institute of pontifical right’, which gives the society an exemption, which is not to be seen in negative terms as ‘not’ being responsible to the local ordinary, but in positive terms as fostering the unity of the Congregation worldwide. It also underlines our availability of service to the universal Church.

  • istituto magistrale or ‘teachers college’.

  • istituto Ratisbonne or ‘Ratisbonne Institute’, Salesian seminary and study centre in Jerusalem which used to be located at Cremisan near Bethlehem. Often we see ‘Salesian Monastery Ratisbonne’ in the official title – this is to fulfil Israeli law regarding its financial status.

  • Istituto Salesiano per le Missioni or ‘Salesian Missions Institute’, the juridical entity known as the Istituto Salesiano per le Missioni (Salesian Missions Institute), located at Turin-Valdocco, Via Maria Ausiliatrice no. 32, was the wish of Bl. Philip Rinaldi, 3rd Successor of Don Bosco.

  • Istituto Secolare or ‘Secular Institute’. Amongst the many possible forms of Religious Life in the Church, the Secular Institute is a contemporary form. Part of Consecrated Life, members of a Secular Institute profess the evangelical counsels discretely, almost in hidden fashion by contrast with the visible manner of Religious profession.

  • Istituto Storico Salesiano ISS or ‘Salesian Historical Institute’.

IUS (IUS Salesian Institutes for Higher Education)

abbreviation, initialism

(Originally Istituzioni Universitarie Salesiane). The term now stands for study centres such as the colleges, or centres for higher studies that are guided and administrated by the Salesian Congregation (the Salesians of St John Bosco) around the world: 30 centres in 18 American, Asian and European countries. IUS does not include all the other university academic Salesian centres that are specifically meant for the ecclesiastical formation (philosophy and theology) of members of the Salesian Congregation.

Linguistic note: IUS was simply an acronym until 2001 when, until then, it was the acronym for Istituzioni Universitarie Salesiane. The letters have been retained, but the preferred expanded term no longer directly relates to them acronymically, at least in English, and the term is now officially stated in its English version rather than in Italian. This phenomenon of retaining an initialism but changing the meaning behind it can also be found in ANS.


JTM (Jóvenes del Tercer Mundo) (JTM Jóvenes del Tercer Mundo)

abbreviation, initialism

Jóvenes del Tercer Mundo (JTM) is an NGO committed to the education of youth in less developed countries through cooperation projects influencing integral formation.

Means ‘youth of the third world’. Officially recognised by the Interior Ministry since December 1988, the centenary of the death of Don Bosco. Today it has numerous local centres, spread throughout the Salesian provinces in Spain. The Headquarters is in Madrid. From there it organises campaigns of support and fosters a Christian commitment in a serious struggle against the causes of poverty and social marginalisation in the world. JTM is recognised as one of the major Mission Offices for the Salesian Society, working in collaboration with the Centre in Rome.


No entry currently.


laico (lay [person])


(1) In contrast to ecclesial or religious (as in ‘lay power’ contrasted with ‘religious power’. (2) The identity of the Christian without any further additions. That which pertains to the Christian people.

In the 19th century and for a good part of the 20th, throughout the Western world, the concept of ‘lay’ had a strong accusatory character in reference to Church and religious symbols. This ‘lay’ tendency was especially marked in France and is still very much present in the French legal system and culture.

Within the ecclesiastical context, ‘lay’ includes women and men religious who are not priests (not part of the hierarchical structure, therefore). In this case it is a positive concept, and enables us to speak of lay consecrated, the layperson who has marked him or herself in relation to God by a public or ritual act (consecration).

It is worthy of note that this term was used by Don Bosco himself, e.g. in the first constitutional text 1858 on the scope of the society. It predates the term coadjutor and in fact in that text is more a reference to what Don Bosco called his salesiani esterni (lay people living in the world with his spirit) than it is to coadjutors.

Within the ecclesiastical context, ‘lay’ includes women and men religious who are not priests (not part of the hierarchical structure, therefore). In this case it is a positive concept, and enables us to speak of lay consecrated, the layperson who has marked him or herself in relation to God by a public or ritual act (consecration, but see also consacrazione for a correct understanding of this term).

Usage: There is also a concept of laïcité (French), laicità (Italian), occasionally rendered in English as ‘laicity’. This English term is not a happy one!  English may prefer ‘lay state’ but this would not capture the sense of the word as used by Fr Viganò for example. Hence, we have to stay with ‘laicity’.

Fr Viganò offers three levels of meaning to the term – the most general being that of the universal condition of creation, a second level being that of the Church’s mission, and the third as a lay form of religious life, the Salesian Brother.

The problem here is that the concept (as understood from French society in particular) is more understood in terms of separation of Church and State, so its application in the ecclesiastical (and Salesian) context is a very restricted one and would not be well understood even by many Salesians. In this context the word ‘secular’ may be better understood

See also coadiutore.

laicus (L) [la] (Brother, Coadjutor)


Term used in the Year Book.

lavoro e temperanza (work and temperance)

noun phrase

Motto of the Salesian Society, originally expressed in Latin as labor et temperantia.

Don Bosco called it la parola d’ordine e il distintivo del salesiano (MB XII, 466) i.e. the term which is most distinctive of the Salesian, his badge, if you like.

In contemporary Salesian discourse it belongs to the wider notion of asceticism and the exercise of apostolic charity, which requires detachment, renunciation, sacrifice. An entire Constitution (C. 18 of the SDB Constitutions) is devoted to the concept, in which it speaks of ‘tireless work’ and the ‘strength to control his heart, to master himself and remain even-tempered’. The Charter of Identity speaks of an asceticism of humility, of mortification, of courage and patience, and even of complete abandonment to God.

See also See also charter of identity

lectio divina (lectio divina)

noun phrase

The term is not usually translated. It literally means ‘divine reading’. It has a long pedigree in the Church’s experience.

The term refers in particular to a way of reading the Word of God (hence the ‘divina’) directly or via commentaries. Lectio divina has more recently been encouraged in Salesian spirituality, especially by Fr Chávez.

lettere dimissoriali (dimissorial letters)

noun phrase

Letter from a Bishop or Major Superior to the ordaining Bishop of candidate for ordination, giving the go-ahead for the ordination.

lettorato (Ministry of Reader, Reader, Lector)


Note that English does not attempt to call it ‘lectorate’. The one who takes on this ministry is ‘Reader’. Along with the ministry of acolyte, this ministry too has been opened up to women

See also accolitato.

Letture Cattoliche (Catholic Readings)

proper name

A periodical publication of small books written for common people, of an apologetic nature, and published by Don Bosco.

The Catholic Readings were really the initiative of Bishop Luigi Moreno of Ivrea, but he saw Don Bosco as the man who could carry the project forward, as was in fact the case. It began publication in March 1853.

libellus supplex [la] (Libellus supplex)

noun phrase

The Libellus is the written request with which the Postulator, in the name of the petitioner, officially asks the competent Bishop to initiate the cause on the virtues or the martydrom of the Servant of God (Instruction Sanctorum Mater, 2007). Also called Supplex libellus.

See also positio, transunto.


Not to be confused with the stemma or Salesian coat of arms. The logo is of the General Administration, even though it has now been adopted far more widely as a general Salesian logo. It is a combination of the German and Brazilian Salesian logos.

See also stemma.

luoghi salesiani (Salesian (holy) places)

noun phrase

A reference to the areas where Don Bosco was born and grew up and ministered – Colle, Chieri, Turin etc.


maestro dei novizi (1. Director of novices. 2. Master of Novices. 3. Novice Master)

noun phrase

Officially novice director or director of novices (may be capitalised, does not need to be), but people still commonly refer to the novice master.

Madonna (1. Our Lady. 2. The Virgin Mary)


A favourite term of Don Bosco’s, which continues to our own time, for Mary.

Linguistic note: In origin, the term was used in Italian (before Don Bosco’s time) to mean what today is Signora, or a polite reference to a lady. Today it is always seen in reference to Mary. It will often be simply ‘Our Lady’ in English, or it may remain untranslated.

Mamma Margherita (Mamma Margaret)

proper name

Mother of St John Bosco and regarded as the originator of the Salesian family spirit.

It is important not to generalise the term family spirit which each Congregation lays claim to, but to retain the historical individuality of the Salesian family spirit as experienced with Mamma Margaret at Valdocco, as it is one of the fundamentals behind loving-kindness in the Preventive System.

Usage: We may find a spelling variant in English, where some use ’Mama’ instead of ‘Mamma’

mandamento (District or administrative division)


The Sardo-Piedmontese Kingdom at the time of Don Bosco was made up of Divisioni (corresponding to the French Départments); every Divisione was divided into a Provincia; every Provincia was divided into Mandamenti, and every Mandamento was divided into Comuni. For example: Piedmont was made up of 5 Divisioni (Turin, Novara, Alessandria, Cuneo, Nizz Mare): The Divisione of Turin was made up of 5 Provincie (Turin, Aosta, Biella, Ivrea, Pinerolo, Susa); the Provincia of Turin was made up of 30 Mandamenti. Each Mandamento had its own judge.

martirio (martyrdom)


(1) General: the state of one who endures suffering and death on behalf of belief, principle, a cause.

(2) “Martyrdom is not something that takes place on the spur of the moment” (Pius XII, AAS 32 1950, p. 958). “It is not brought about by the executioner but is a grace worked by the Spirit. Martyrdom is a vocation and is prepared for in mysterious fashion by the whole of life.” (Fr Vecchi, AGC 368).

Mazzarello, Maria Domenica (Mazzarello, Mary Domenica)

proper name

Co-foundress of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians with Don Bosco.

1837-1854. Co-foundress of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians with Don Bosco. Canonised 24th June 1951. In 1981 on the centenary of St Mary Mazzarello, Fr Vigano wrote a special letter called ‘Rediscovering the Spirit of Mornese’.

Usage: We usually Anglicise the first name only, Mary. The term often appears in its Italian form entirely, and Maria Domenica is the form with which most people refer to her when using Christian name only.

The term ‘Mother’ is applied usually to her and to other superiors (provincials and those at world administration level). Today many women religious prefer not to use the term ‘Mother’, but it is still used for the Superior General of the Salesian Sisters at least.

Memorie Biografiche MB (Biographical Memoirs BM)

proper name

An expanded biographical narrative concerning Don Bosco, written in a fairly chronological order and amply documented. (Cf Lenti, Don Bosco History and Spirit Vol 1, p. 89).

One of Don Bosco’s biographers, Fr Lemoyne, had begun creating a reservoir of documentation (known as the Documenti).

He then shifted, probably with the encouragement of Fr Rua, to a further compilation, ordered as a continuous narrative, offering a coherent interpretation of Don Bosco’s life, work and spirit as Founder.

The first 8 volumes (there are 19) appeared between 1898 and 1912. Fr Lemoyne’s ninth volume was published posthumously in 1917. The tenth volume was entrusted to Fr Angelo Amadei. Fr Eugene Ceria completed volumes 11-19 in 1939.

In Lenti’s words, Lemoyne and his successors “have produced an edifying and faithful story for the Salesian Family.”  But it is not a critical biography.

Memorie dell’Oratorio MO (Memoirs of the Oratory MO)

proper name

Full title: Memoirs of the Oratory of st Francis de Sales.

“Therefore I am now putting into writing those confidential details that may somehow serve as a light or be of use to the work which Divine Providence has entrusted to the Society of St Francis de Sales… Now what purpose can this chronicle serve? It will be a record to help people overcome problems that may come in the future by learning from the past. It will serve to make known how God himself has always been our guide. It will give my sons some entertainment to be able to read about their father’s adventures…” (Don Bosco, in his preface to the MO).

Internal evidence suggests they were written between 1873 and 1875, the rest later but by 1877. Don Bosco forbade publication of the work and wrote that it was exclusively for members of the Salesian Society, but he must have realised it would need to be published – at least for them, and gave permission anyway for Fr Giovanni Bonetti to make use of parts of it for his serialised ‘History of the Oratory’ in the Salesian Bulletin from January 1879 onwards.

Is it an autobiography? Not formally. Don Bosco knew that the story of the Oratory could not be told without his own story. Hence he begins from his own childhood. As Fr Lenti describes it, the Memoirs of the Oratory “are to be understood as the product of a Founder’s concerns in a period of consolidation of, and reflection on, his work.” (Don Bosco: History and Spirit Vol 1 . 132).

The Memoirs of the Oratory spans three periods, three decades. Despite the third decade concluding in 1855, the MO in fact ends with 1854 when, according to Don Bosco’s own words, a new story began which, if written down, might have been entitled, ‘Memoirs of the Society of St Francis de Sales’. There is other evidence that Don Bosco actually saw 1854 as a dividing point in the saga of the founding.

The MO are historical but at the same time not! They might be regarded more in terms of parable and metahistory. The work of Fr Aldo Giraudo in this understanding of the MO is a significant contribution.

mensa (annual stipend)


Annual stipend that the State paid to the bishop of a diocese.

The mensa funding came from large vacant ecclesiastical benefices (lands of ancient abbeys that had been suppressed and were administered by the Economato ecclesiastico, a body dependent on the Ministero dei culti, di grazia e di giustizia.

We find reference to this mensa in Don Bosco’s involvement in the question of the exequatur, that is, the government approval for appointment of a bishop, that gave the appointee access to the temporalità (glossed as ‘temporalities’ in English), or in other words allowed him to legally enter into possession of his episcopal see and gain the mensa or stipend.

MGS (Movimento Giovanile Salesiano) (SYM Salesian Youth Movement)

abbreviation, initialism

Made up of groups and associations who recognise themselves in and are raised in Don Bosco’s and Mother Mazzarello’s Salesian spirituality and pedagogy.

While maintaining their individual organisational structure in practice, together they ensure an educational presence of quality, especially in new areas where young people socialise. The SYM is a movement of ‘youth for youth’, defined by reference to a common spirituality and communication between groups which ensures that messages and values are shared. It brings together young people who can be very different from one another in spiritual terms – from those for whom spirituality is a seed yet to sprout to those who consciously and explicitly accept the invitation to Salesian apostolic involvement.

minervale (minerval)


The fee or levy that every pupil had to pay at the beginning of the school year. While long gone in Italy, the Minerval is still paid in France and Belgium at university or private schools.

missio inter gentes [la] (mission among the people)

noun phrase

“Missio inter gentes” is a neologism, therefore it is important to correctly understand the term because it has profound consequences in our missionary activities today.

After Vatican II, unease grew in Asia – a land of ancient religions, rich cultures and myriads of poor people – about “missio ad gentes”. It was perceived as an insensitive monologue that created a relationship of teacher-pupil, foreign missionary-local people. In fact, St. John Paul II had lamented that Christianity is still considered “foreign” in Asia, even though Jesus was born in this continent! (Ecclesia in Asia no. 2).

Unlike foreign missionaries, a growing number of missionaries from Asia and Africa now working in their own continents, have breathed multiculturalism and interculturalism from birth. They have direct personal experience of the poorest contexts since childhood. They see their missionary activity, less as a direct proclamation of the Gospel and more as the incarnation of the teachings and person of Jesus through the witness of love and service.

“Missio inter gentes” is not in opposition but complementary to “missio ad gentes”. What distinguishes “missio ad gentes” from “missio inter gentes” are their two preceding prepositions which specify the attitude towards the “gentes”. The preposition “ad” indicates an attitude which sees the other as the goal, the point of arrival, the receiver. While “inter” indicates being in the midst of people establishing a relational connectedness with them.

“Missio inter gentes” is a way of proclaiming Christ by living the evangelical values. It advocates that missionaries serve people with respect, and humbly share their lives without any trace of arrogance or superiority, just as Jesus did. The charitable activities of individual Christians and the entire ecclesial community reincarnate the face of Christ. It is this lived experience of Christianity, through the action of the Holy Spirit, that could stir up the desire to know the person of Jesus.

“Missio inter gentes” is a missionary approach, applicable in every context, that sees the “gentes” not as targets of our efforts to convert, but as “guests” to whom we can offer hospitality, and “hosts” who can, in turn, welcome us and offer us friendship. This is not a silent, wordless witness. The Gospel is shared by narrating one’s own experience of faith among (inter) friends of other cultures and religions and by whispering the Gospel at opportune and unexpected moments.

The heart of “missio inter gentes” is initial proclamation. Thus, its primary concern is to foster initial proclamation and not to teach Christological doctrines or to convert. Conversion is God’s internal call and the person’s free decision, not our work! By living our life in permanent state of mission, we shall not be timid when the Holy Spirit opens the door for us to proclaim Jesus Christ as the Saviour!

See also ad gentes.

missione (mission)


In 1971, the Special General Chapter explained the new use of The term: “Why ‘mission’ rather than ‘purpose’? The Church adopts the term when speaking of its mystery… to speak of the ‘mission of the Salesians’ means highlighting from the beginning the sense of their vocation and presence in the Church. God calls and sends them for a specific service in the Church” (Acts of the SGC no. 23).

The fundamental meaning of ‘mission’ comes from its Latin root, missio, or ‘sending’, and even while this would have been appreciated by Don Bosco in his time, the only way he would have understood the term would have been in the sense we so often find him referring to it – foreign missions, activity to convert benighted savages, such was the theological understanding of the day.

Until 1972 the Salesian Constitutions spoke only of ‘foreign missions’. By the time the renewed Constitutions were published in 1984, we learn that ‘the mission sets the tenor of our whole life’ (C. 3). After the Second Vatican Council the Church came to appreciate mission and missions as something to be seen within the mystery of the Church.

Mission today is now further specified by speaking of ad gentes (to the people (the old foreign missions) or inter gentes (the idea of inculturation of faith in another culture).

Linguistic note: Note that the term can be used adjectivally, as in ‘mission territory’.

The Salesian mission can be specified more directly by speaking of ‘the mission to the young’ (missione giovanile) or ‘our educational mission’ (missione educativa). Those who work with us, including laity, are referred to as corresponsabili nella missione, those who share our mission, as ‘mission partners’, ‘lay mission partners’. We also speak of the ‘common mission’ (missione comune). The expression is found frequently in the Salesian Constitutions (e.g. C. 44) where it refers to that which calls on our complementary and shared activity in achieving a common purpose. The common mission is the basis of pastoral planning in Christian life, either at the level of diocese or parish or in the case of a particular group with a particular shared mission (e.g. Salesian Family, the Salesian educative community…).

A further issue to note is that the concept is often expressed as pastorale (in Italian), hence pastorale giovanile (youth ministry) for example. In some Salesian documents, even in English we find this term appearing as a calque, that is simply brought into English as if it were a noun.

‘Pastoral’ can be a noun in English but only with a very different meaning: a poem, play, or the like, dealing with the life of shepherds, or simple rural life. Trying to force a restricted religious meaning onto that is not the best way to go.

missioni (Missions)

noun (pl)

Missions are those “particular undertakings by which the heralds of the Gospel, sent out by the Church and going forth into the whole world, carry out the task of preaching the Gospel and planting the Church among peoples or groups who do not yet believe in Christ… The proper purpose of this missionary activity is evangelization” (Ad Gentes, no. 6).

See also ad gentes.

monsignore (1. Bishop (or archbishop). 2. Monsignor (in context))


A title given to the popes, kings and emperors, and in France, to heirs to the throne and certain princes. From the 14th century until 1630, Cardinals had this title and now it is given to patriarchs, bishops, mitred abbots, and all prelates of the papal family.

Usage: In English ecclesiastical terminology a monsignor is not a bishop but a domestic prelate. It is better, therefore, not to confuse the terms and to refer to a bishop as a bishop not as a monsignor.

In Italian, all bishops and archbishops (and presumably domestic prelates too) are called monsignori. There is no need to transfer this nomenclature to English. The abbreivation in English can be Mgr or Msgr but not Mons.

MSMHC (Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians)

abbreviation, initialism

Religious Congregation of Pontifical Right, founded by Bishop Stephen Ferrando SDB in North East India in 1942. “The Congregation devotes itself firstly and especially to the missionary apostolate, therefore evangelisation and religious education, especially of women and children from the villages will always be a priority amongst the apostolic and charitable tasks of the Missionary Sisters.”

The Congregation became a Pontifical Institute on 21 March 1977. It was officially recognised as belonging to the Salesian Family on 8 July 1986.

Museo Casa Don Bosco (Casa Don Bosco Museum)

noun phrase

Remains untranslated, though it might be called the Casa Don Bosco Museum. The Casa Don Bosco Museum is located within the Valdocco complex, Mother House of the Salesians and birthplace of the work of Saint John Bosco. It comprises two sets of exhibits that form a single museum itinerary.

The visit begins at the lead museum, the Museo Casa Don Bosco, and ends with the small {\\em Missioni Don Bosco} Ethnographic Museum. Both museums are located in the same courtyard and together they develop the multiple aspects of the Salesian charism through culture, art, history.

This new museum replaces the simpler museum once just known as the Camerette. It was opened in 2021.

See also camerette.


NANUM (NANUM (Korean for ’sharing’)

proper name

Aside from mission project fundraising, ‘NANUM’ (in Korean ‘Sharing’) Seoul Mission Office is involved in missionary animation, works closely with the Provincial Delegate for Mission Animation, and promotes knowledge of the missions on social media.

The Mission Office is working closely with the ‘Fr John Lee Memorial Foundation’ that was begun after the death of Fr John Lee, Salesian missionary to South Sudan, on 10 January 2010, to help the South Sudan mission. NANUM, which began with a simple focus on SDB missionaries, is now also open to Salesian Mission assistance beyond this ‘original destination’: Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam, Peru and East Timor.

necrologio (necrology in Salesian parlance, though obituary notices would be preferable)


A list of persons who have died within a certain period of time, in the case of the Salesians, from 1859 onwards.

The list is read out (traditionally it was daily) or otherwise provided for each community (very often in digital form these days and made available for perusal by the community).

notaio (notary)


Someone who takes notes during an address, in private and public administration (also functions as secretary). The legal recognition of the role means that documents such as contracts that he draws up have an official status. One of the roles of the provincial secretary.

See also attuario, cancelliere.

notiziario (ispettoriale) ([Provincial] newsletter)


First formally encouraged after the Special General Chapter, the province (or provincial) newsletter is now more than encouraged: it is virtually obligated as one amongst many elements of the Salesian Social Communication System. The expectation is that it becomes a planned item within the province’s overall plan.

The Provincial Newsletter is primarily intended to enable an exchange of news within the province. Note the distinction between the Provincial’s (news)letter (analogous to the RM’s Letter) and the Province Newsletter. The former is normally addressed to the confreres while the latter provides information about the communities and their activities (usually provided by local correspondents and possibly co-ordinated centrally) and other news from the Province for more general consumption.

Usage: It was once a paper item but in many if not most instances now is digital.

nucleo animatore (animating core)

noun phrase

A group of individuals who identify with the Salesian mission, educational system and spirituality and jointly take on the task of calling together, motivating, involving everyone concerned with a work, making up the educative community together with them and carrying out a project of evangelisation and education of the young.

Although the current Reg, 5 speaks of the Salesian community as the animating nucleus of the educative pastoral community, the religious community, as the point of charismatic reference (cf. GC25, nos.78-81) is not the complete animating core in itself but one of its integral parts; indeed it needs to be capable of an expanding dynamic which finds various ways and means of involving everyone who wishes to contribute to the Salesian work. There is only one animating core for the entire work, since it is not a ‘governing structure’ in itself. It can coincide with the Council of the Work and/or the EPC Council, depending on the complexity of the work and the various sectors.

nuova evangelizzazione (new evangelisation)

noun phrase

Redemptoris Missio no. 33: “… where entire groups of the baptised have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel. In this case what is needed is a ‘new evangelisation’ or a ‘re-evangelisation.’”

Often attributed to Pope John Paul II as one of the characteristic terms of his pontificate, that Pope actually attributes the term to Pope Paul VI in his Encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi.

It became a significant ecclesial movement through the 80’s and 90’s and was taken up by Salesian General Chapters. John Paul II first used the phrase himself on March 9 1983 in a speech in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He said the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus required not a re-evangelisation but a new evangelisation. He clarified the term in his 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio, saying it referred to groups who had lost a sense of the living faith. In a letter of Pope John Paul II to the Salesians, he adapts the phrase to refer to Mary Help of Christians as the ‘Star of New Evangelisation’.

Usage: Alternative spelling (US): new evangelization

Novitius (N) [la] (Novice)]{}


Term found in the Year Book.


opera (1. work. 2. presence. 3. community. 4. setting. 5. house)


Would not always be glossed as ‘work’. After all at the heart of it must be a ‘community’. Occasionally glossed as ‘setting’. We often find it glossed as '`presence'`.

Then there are the several Opere (Upper case O) or ‘Works’ that are part of the founding story of the Congregation, including the very ‘Work of the Oratory’ itself, and the ‘Work of Mary Help of Christians’ or the '`Sons of Mary`’. There is also the Opere edite or published works of Don Bosco, but here the term refers to literature.

Linguistic note: opera is a good example of the situation where the semantic range of the Italian term is somewhat wider than for ‘work’ in English. Of course, ‘work’ can be applied to an '`apostolic work`’ in the sense of a particular mission of a community, but perhaps the preference would be to call it either '`apostolic work`’ or specify it by some other term.

oratorio (oratory, festive oratory, youth centre, oratory-youth centre)


As defined in classic Salesian terms: '`a home, a school a church and a playground.`’

Don Bosco had before him earlier experiences and patterns in oratory work (Milan, Rome, even Turin - Fr Cocchi’s Guardian Angels Oratory). But his differed in important respects:

Valdocco was far from a church, so his oratory was not parish-based.

– Most oratories were ‘festive’, i.e. Sundays and holy days, and then only for a short period; he gathered the youngsters all day, then extended the action to day and evening classes during the week.

– Traditional oratories were defined from attendance at church and in parish facilities; instead the boys who came to his oratory came ‘to spend the day with Don Bosco’, wherever that may happen to be.

– Traditional oratories had selective membership; he would have preference for the truly poor and abandoned, and sometimes difficult.

– Traditional oratories gave little time to play and recreation. For Don Bosco, his oratory was a ‘recreation park’.

‘Festive oratory’ needs additional comment: The term implies non-working days, weekends, long weekends and the like. In fact, Don Bosco took up a term already in existence – the oratory and the festive oratory already existed, so what was the distinctive notion that Don Bosco added? It was the fact that in an Italian parish context, the festive oratory was mainly for prayer, and mainly just for an hour or two in the morning or afternoon. Don Bosco made it play and prayer, and open from early morning to late evening! His oratory, then, became truly festive as well as being on Sundays and feast days, the real meaning of festivo in Italian. The daily oratory was actually a slightly later ‘invention’.

Usage: Would most usually be capitalised in reference to Valdocco.

The best description we have of the term is to be found in GC21 nos 121 ff. The discussion notes that ‘oratory’ and ‘youth centre’ indicate different realities in different areas, but both coming from the same pedagogical intuition and spirit. It notes that the two terms are somewhat imprecise even in normative texts. GC21 however, offered its definitions: oratory is aimed at younger children (ragazzi), is for the most part open to the masses with aims and methods that are appropriate to this. By contrast the youth centre is open to older youth. But even this would not be true in every circumstance.

organico (systematic, whole, overall, planned, integral, structured)


One among several definitions for organico in Italian, implying that something comprises distinct but corresponding parts harmoniously arranged in view of the purpose to which they are coordinated.

Usage: In many instances this adjective may not need to be translated and certainly would be best glossed with a term other than ‘organic’. Possible other terms are ‘structured`, '`planned’, ‘integral’, ‘overall’. In the context of the POI or Progetto Organico Ispettoriale, avoid ‘organic’ and either gloss simply as ''Province Project’ or ‘Plan’, or ‘Overall Province Plan’.

Linguistic note: organico as ‘organic’ sounds rather too botanical in English! So, pastorale organico, if it were translated as ‘organic ministry’ might look as if it were an agricultural venture! Instead, it is a holistic, structured, integral ministry.


abbreviation, acronym

An acronym in Italian for a not-for-profit organisation, a Charity organisation. One might see NPO occasionally, but this is problematic, since NPO (nil per os= not by mouth) is a common and important medical acronym.


pareggiamento (equivalent recognition)


Equivalent recognition of non-state schools which ensures that their results are considered to be valid.

The term is usually found in Salesian texts in reference to the scholastic context, meaning equal recognition (e.g., of results) between State and Catholic schools.

parolina all’orecchio (word in the ear)

noun phrase

A simple ploy of Don Bosco’s to pass on a word of comment, encouragement or even reproof in the midst of a game or other activity. Now part of tried and proven Salesian tradition.

passeggiate autunnali (1. autumn walks. 2. autumn outings)

noun phrase

Excursions organised by Don Bosco from Valdocco to his birthplace and surrounds, that took place around the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (first Sunday of October).

In 1848 Don Bosco began taking a group of boys to his birthplace at the Becchi for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, celebrated in the chapel that he had set up in his brother Joseph’s house with external access.

These yearly outings (which included excursions into the countryside around the Becchi), continued with ever-expanding itineraries, including to Nizza Monferrato, until 1864.

pastorale giovanile (1. youth ministry. 2. youth apostolate. 3. youth pastoral ministry)

noun phrase

One of the key sectors of the Salesian mission, under the direction of a General Councillor.

Salesian youth ministry, as central as it is, obviously covers very many areas. These include at least the following:

  1. The Oratory and Youth Centre: An environment of broad acceptance, open to a wide range of young people, above all those most alienated. This is achieved through a diversity of educational and evangelising activities characterised by their focus on the young and strong personal relationships between educator and youngster, capable of becoming a missionary presence in the world of the young and of civil society.

  2. The school and Professional formation Centres for formal education, inspired by Gospel values according to the spirit and pedagogical style of the Saleisans, in order to promote popular education attentive to the most needy, to their professional formation and to accompanying their gradual insertion into the world of work.

  3. Boarding and hostel arrangements: A service for accepting young people without family or who are temporarily estranged from family. Here they find personal relationships, opportunity for commitment and responsibility for young people in daily life, and the life of the group with its various formative educative and Christian opportunities.

  4. A presence to the Tertiary sector through institutes of higher education inspired by Christian values and with a Catholic and Salesian style; hostels and university residences, other services of pastoral animation at this level.

  5. The parish: Characterised by a special attention to young people, above all to the poorest of them, the popular environment where it is to be found, by the presence of a Salesian religious community at its animating heart, and by activity of evangelisation and education to faith strictly integrated with the human development of the person and the group.

  6. Social services and works for youth-at-risk: A family atmosphere of acceptance and education, animated by a community with ‘preventive’ criteria according to the educative style of Don Bosco. This is inspired by the Gospel and has the aim to evangelise, open to the transformation of realities which are socially exclusive and to the building of a culture of solidarity, in collaboration with other social institutions.

  7. Social communication: Through education to an understanding and proper use and utilisation of the media, the development of the communicative potential of persons through the new languages of music, theatre, art etc. Formation to a critical, aesthetic and moral sense, promotion of information and editorial centres in press, radio, television, internet etc. Finally, the service of the Salesian educational and pastoral project.

  8. Other new forms of Salesian presence to the young

    • The Salesian Youth Movement: communion and connection between all youth groups and associations which acknowledge Salesian spirituality and pedagogy, and which take up an educative and evangelising task and commit themselves to share and coordinate amongst themselves.

    • The Salesian Voluntariate: a voluntary activity commited to the human and Salesian development of the young, above all the poorest of them, and active amongst the common folk, according to the style of Don Bosco’s Preventive System and the values of Salesian Youth Spirituality. They carry out their activity in view of the transformation of society and the removal of causes of injustice, and they favour a community experience and the vocational development of the volunteer.

    • Services for vocational guidance: meetings and centres for vocational guidance, communities where this can occur, etc.

    • Specialised services for Christian formation: special education centres, houses of retreat and spirituality, centres for pastoral and catechetical formation etc.

Usage: The form ‘youth pastoral’ is to be avoided, since it is a calque (translated literally from Italian) and would not be recognised easily outside Salesian circles. English regards ‘pastoral’ as an adjective in most instances, and where it is a noun it refers to things other than ministry.

paternità (fatherliness)


This term is a ‘false friend’ inasmuch as it should not normally (unless context were to suggest otherwise) be glossed as ‘paternity’. In Salesian discourse it pretty much always refers to the attitude of fatherliness which is part of the Salesian spirit inherited from Don Bosco.

It was a favourite term of Fr Rinaldi’s, who had been a Superior for something like 48 years, so naturally enough saw Don Bosco’s qualities through that prism. The saying goes: Don Rua – la Regola, Don Albera – la Pietà, Don Rinaldi – la Paternità. Don Ricaldone – il Lavoro i.e. Don Rua — the Rule, Don Albera — Piety, Don Rinaldi — Fatherliness. Don Ricaldone — Work.

patrimonio (1. heritage. 2. legacy. 3. patrimony)


In English, the term ‘patrimony’ is more often applied in a canonical sense to material goods (including land, buildings) of an Institute or House.

When we meet the term in Salesian literature in Italian, however, it almost always means ‘heritage’ in the broad sense of values, charism… Hence we find: spiritual heritage, heritage of values, of Saleisan holiness, precious Salesian inheritance (or heritage), cultural heritage etc. Patrimonio-patrimony, then is a ‘false friend’ to be wary of in translation.

PDO (Planning and Development Office)

abbreviation, initialism

The PDO (Planning and Development Office) is an entity, juridical or otherwise, instituted by the Salesian Provincial Community, fully at the service of the Salesian charism in the province.

The PDO participates in the restructuring, re-shaping and re-dimensioning of the Salesian works. It serves as a link, a bridge, between the consecrated Salesians and civil society in the work of promoting youth development and empowerment, justice, and holistic human development. It is recognised in the province’s Directory with due approval of the Provincial Chapter.

Not every province has a PDO, and the PDO is not the same as a Mission Office (sometimes, though innacurately in linguistic terms, called a ‘Procure’). The PDO assists in the process of the drafting, elaborating, implementing and evaluating of the Overall Provincial Plan (OPP) and the Salesian Educative Pastoral Plan (SEPP) ensuring its sustainability. It undertakes research in the field of children and youth to continuously make relevant the plans and programs of the province.

PEPS (Progetto educativo-pastorale salesiano) (SEPP Salesian Educative and Pastoral Plan. Sometimes known as EPP, without the ‘Salesian’.)

abbreviation, acronym

A basis for planning and evaluating works chosen in line with the Congregation’s basic options: oratories, youth centres, schools, centres for young workers, parishes, missions, which involves objectives, methods, features with due regard to geographical and cultural differences (Cf. GC21 no. 105).

There is also the PEPS ispettoriale or Provincial level EPP (or SEPP). It defines procedures in the Province and indicates objectives, strategies and common educative and pastoral action guidelines which align the pastoral activity of all works, sectors and pastoral animation settings. It serves as a point of reference for their planning and as an educative and pastoral evaluation tool over this period.

Since its inception in 1978, the EPP (or Salesian Educative and Pastoral Plan/Project SEPP, another variant) has played a vital part in the Congregation’s planning mentality. The EPP was codified in the Regulations in 1984 (R. 4).

Linguistic note: Be it the SEPP, the OPP, the PDO (and any range of acronyms, usually with ‘P’ in them, they are tied into the concept expressed in Italian as progettualità or ‘planning mentality’ in English. This planning mentality is ‘A progressive process towards concrete and verifiable objectives, with clear options regarding priorities and orders of sequence’(Fr Chávez, AGC 407)

pericolante (at risk)


Someone (or something) at risk, about to fall.

When Don Bosco first used the term to describe a certain group of young people there was a decidedly negative reaction. But he means those who are at risk of becoming anti-social because neglected. He occasionally extended the reference to pericolanti e pericolosi, meaning not only at risk but of risk to others!

personal media (Personal media)

noun phrase

An emerging digital communications media, incorporating interactivity in its design, and allowing users not only to consume media products, but also to create them, (Shiregu Miyagawa, professor of linguistics and communication at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). We could probably say today that it has fully emerged!

The term was introduced into Salesian discourse by GC26. In fact it came from the floor during a discussion on social communication, and was offered by a German Chapter representative. The term then found its way into the Chapter documents in a somewhat negative comment: La cultura della personal media può compromettere la maturazione della capacità di relazione, The culture of personal media can compromise the development of the ability to relate.

In the light of the definition offered above however, the discussion of personal media as a formation theme should not be limited to its negative effects, but might objectively consider several other factors: creativity, and the fact that human beings with access to personal digital devices are now creators. And perhaps the most significant issue here is to ask what personal media are in function of. They are in function of social media. The term, as employed at GC26, was occasionally extended by reference to ‘personal and convergent media’.

Pia (Società) (Pious (Society))


The term collocates most typically with Società as in Pia Società or the full term La Pia Società Salesiana. It was dropped from any official reference to the Salesian Society from 1926 onwards, given that by this time ‘society’ was not considered to give any cause for wrong interpretation. Don Bosco used to add it in to make it clear that his ‘society’ was not one of political or even of secret leanings, but a society interested only in good. The Superior Chapter in 1925 decided that Pia would be attached only to the Pia Unione dei Cooperatori Salesiani.

piccolo clero (Compagnia del) (Altar Boys Society)

noun phrase

Akin to the Blessed Sacrament Sodality and almost a section of it, the Altar Boys Society was founded on 2 February 1858, among students, by Seminarian Joseph Bongiovanni. Its purpose was to ensure that religious services were properly performed and to foster vocations to the priesthood among the better students. “It was dedicated to the service of the altar on the feast of the Purification of Mary.”

Linguistic note: The Italian term for ‘altar boy’ is chierichetto.

POI (Progetto Organico Ispettoriale) (OPP 1. Overall Provincial Plan. 2. Provincial Plan. 3. Structural Plan. 4. Strategic Plan)

abbreviation, acronym

The strategic plan for the animation and government of the province, which takes an overall view of its life and mission and presents the fundamental choices that ought guide its organisation.

Usage: Philippines North Province tends to use SPP (Strategic Provincial Plan) rather than OPP. Other English-speaking provinces may well also use other terms.

Linguistic note: The adjective ‘organic’ in English does not sit well with the general English-speaking population. The term ‘Organic Provincial Plan’ is a calque, an item taken directly from its source language (it) and brought into English without much thought to its meaning. ‘organic’ certainly conveys the idea of structure and systematic arrangement. But it is more likely to evoke the notion of biology and organic compounds or even compost heaps!

positio (1. Dossier. 2. Docket)


A positio (Positio super Virtutibus) is a document or collection of documents used in the process by which a person is declared venerable, the second of the four steps on the path to canonisation as a saint. It collects the evidence obtained by a diocesan inquiry into a candidate’s heroic virtues in a form suitable for presentation to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Upon presentation, the positio is examined by a committee of expert historians and theologians, and if they find the evidence presented suitable, they may then make a recommendation to the Pope that the candidate be declared Venerable.

Usage: In his Don Bosco History and Spirit series, Arthur Lenti calls it a ‘docket’.
See also Libellus supplex, Transunto.

Postulatore Generale (Postulator General)

noun phrase

In Canon Law, the ecclesiastical, and the consistorial lawyer, who deals with a cause of beatification and canonisation in the competent court, so called because he ‘postulates’, that is, asks for the proclamation of the candidate as blessed or saint. In the Salesian case, the Postulator General is nominated by the Rector Major.

povero e abbandonato (poor and abandoned)

noun phrase

An expression typical of Don Bosco which refers to any kind of poverty: physical, economic, spiritual cultural, at its broadest. They may be young people up to 25 years of age, but mostly between 12-20. In fact, Don Bosco’s definitive vocational option.

Linguistic note: Don Bosco History and Spirit Vol 4. In the chapter on ‘Purpose’, the term occurs in various grammatical forms: The Latin forms pauperes, pauperiores, pauperrimi (Italian *overi, più poveri, i più poveri/poverssimi) constitute a system having a twofold semantic value.

These forms may be used either in an ‘asbolute’ fashion as quantifiers, or in a ‘relative’ fashion as classifiers. As quantifiers they express the quantity or intensity of a person’s poverty ‘absolutely’, that is without comparison to the poverty of other persons. As quantifiers the three forms express degrees of poverty by reference to a social standard. As classifiers the three forms express degrees of poverty in relation to a person or group. (where ‘poorer’ might mean ‘less well off’). ‘poor, poorer, poorest’ in the chapter on ‘Purpose’, and indeed throughout the Constitutions, are used as quantifiers, not as classifiers. It was not Don Bosco’s intention to classify young people by the criterion of poverty and to choose the poorest of all to the exclusion of others.

See also [abbandonato].

povertà (1. poverty. 2. solidarity with the poor. 3. preferential choice for the most needy. 4. responsible management of resources)


1: the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. 2: voluntary renunciation, as a member of a religious order, of the right as an individual to own property, usually expressed as a vow. 3: an evangelical counsel, thus ‘evangelical poverty’.

All three meanings above are particularly relevant for Salesian life, since Salesians more often than not and by preference, live amongst the world’s poor. But it is the third meaning which comes most to the fore in Salesian discourse today.

The problem begins when we have to explain what poor and poverty mean – these are quite elastic terms in our languages today, with implications not only economic and social but psychological, cultural. From Don Bosco himself, we retain in the renewed Constitutions the following reference: that we ‘follow the Saviour who was born in poverty…’, in other words, Don Bosco begins with a reflection on evangelical poverty, and this is the term we use most often today when speaking of the vow of poverty.

Cardinal Raul Silva Henriquez SDB, famously commented at Vatican II on evangelical poverty (fruit of grace) and socio-economic poverty (fruit of sin).

The theme of evangelical poverty became central to the 26th General Chapter, where it was closely linked to the cetera tolle of da mihi animas cetera tolle: ‘The detachment from everything that makes us insensitive to God and hinders the mission.’

There are any number of current terms which are effectively synonymous with evangelical poverty and which we find in contemporary Salesian literature: solidarity with the poor, preferential choice for the most needy, reesponsible management of resources.

progetto (project, plan)


(1) An idea, mostly accompanied by a study relating to the possibilities of realising this idea in practice. (2) An actual plan.

In Salesian discourse, especially in Italian, there is a wide variety of ‘projects’, drawing substantially from the first definition indicated above, i.e. the emphasis on an idea possibly accompanied by plans for its realisation. But there are also much more concrete plans. Certainly in English we need to determine which of the two definitions we are really talking about, in context.

Usage: It has to be said that the English language prefers to emphasise the second definition – the concrete plan, and in fact to use the term ‘plan’ by preference.

That said, we need to consider what is at stake in each use of the term in context: the ‘Project of Life’ is a commentary on the Constitutions, and here ‘project’ is the term that was used, so ‘Project of Life’ exists in fact, and then by extension we speak often of a ‘personal project of life’, though we might just as easily speak of a ‘personal plan’.

The Italian POI or Progetto organico ispettoriale seems better rendered in English as OPP or ‘Overall Provincial Plan’, especially as organico is not best rendered literally in English as ‘organic’, and ‘plan’ seems more appropriate in this context.

We have already had ‘Project Africa’ and it shall remain as such. We have ‘Project Europe’ too. These two ‘projects’ would seem to draw more from the first definition than the second. But there are many more! EPP, ‘Educative and Pastoral Project’, or SEPP, ‘Salesian Educative and Pastoral Project’, the '`Gospel project of life, the '`Project of animation and government of the Rector Major and his Council.

progetto personale di vita (personal life plan)

noun phrase

A way of bringing together one’s desires, energies and values in a personal project of life, in which one assumes responsibility for one’s growth and lives to the full the deepest motivations of one’s vocation (FSDB 69).

A (written) plan where the individual depicts the kind of person he wishes to be and the process for achieving this. This approach was mandated by the Ratio and further emphasised by the 25th General Chapter no. 16, but we already find it in the 1984 Constitutions and Regulations, R. 99, though not clearly defined in this latter instance.

programmazione di animazione [ispettoriale] (Provincial animation plan)

noun phrase

The yearly application of the Provincial SEPP drawn up each year by the Provincial Council, with collaboration from the works. Serves as a provincial point of reference for drawing up the annual general plan for the works.

programmazione generale dell’opera (General plan of the work)

noun phrase

Annual application of the SEPP of the work (or possibly of individual SEPPs for the various sectors and settings of a work). The Council of the Work draws this up with collaboration from the EPC Councils of the various pastoral sectors.

promessa di carità (promise of charity)

Noun phrase

A proving period, designated by Don Bosco, during which selected individuals would engage in the practical exercise of charity toward neighbour, which would then be a promise but with the intention (on Don Bosco’s part) that it would lead to a vow.

On 26 January 1854, according to a note by Don Rua, four young men along with Don Bosco came together in Don Bosco’s room and were invited to undertake a proving period in the practical exercise of charity toward neighbour, which would then be a promise but ultimately would be vowed. Instead of using the word ’novitiate’ which may have frightened them off, Don Bosco cleverly used ‘proving time’.

protocollo (See Ufficio anagrafico)

protomartire (Protomartyr)


The first martyr in any cause, especially St Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

The Salesian proto-martyrs are Saints Aloysius (Louis) Versiglia and Callisto Caravario.

On 25 February 1930, Salesians Bishop Louis Versiglia, vicar apostolic of Shiu Chow, China, and Fr Callistus Caravario, pastor of the Lin Chow mission, were murdered at Li-Thau-Tseul in the district of Lin Chow by Communist pirates while journeying in the company of several female catechists, whose human dignity they defended successfully at the cost of their own lives. The Salesian Family observes their feast day every year on their ‘heavenly birthday.’

On 1st October 2000, St John Paul II canonised 120 martyrs who shed their blood for the Faith in China between 1648 and 1930. Of these, 87 were Chinese and 33 were missionaries. Their collective memorial day is 9 July.

Chronologically, the last two of these martyrs – the only ones after the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 – were Bp. Versiglia and Fr. Caravario.

PVA (Progetto di Vita Apostolica) (PAL Project of Apostolic Life)

abbreviation, initialism

Official document of the Salesian Cooperators containing the Statutes and Regulations.

Previously known as the Regolamento di Vita Apostolica RVA or ‘Regulations of Apostolic Life RAL’,


Quadro di riferimento…​ (Full title Quadro di riferimento per la pastorale giovanile salesiana, Salesian Youth Ministry Frame of Reference)

proper name

A tool (set of basic inspirations and action guidelines) offered by the Youth Ministry Department to enlighten and guide the pastoral process for each Provincial and local EPC. It guides the pastoral activity of each Provincial and local Youth Ministry Delegate and their teams. And it contributes to the formation of everyone – Salesians, educators – who share responsibility for the Salesian mission.

quarto settore (fourth sector)

noun phrase

The ‘fourth sector’ is an emerging sector of the economy which consists of ‘for-benefit’ organisations that combine market-based approaches of the private sector with the social and environmental aims of the public and non-profit sectors.

Over the past few decades, the boundaries between the public (government), private (business), and social (non-profit/non-governmental) sectors have been blurring, while a fourth sector of organisations has been emerging.

quinquennio (1. quinquennium. 2. five year period)


A period lasting five years and typically applied to the period of five years following priestly ordination, but could equally apply to Brothers after Final Profession. Effectively, an extension of initial formation even though that period is formally complete.


ragione (reason)


Part of the trinomial which forms the basis of the Preventive System (reason, religion, loving-kindness), the term refers to a sense of balance and measure in personal relationships.

See also amorevolezza, religione.

ratio [la] (Ratio)


Full term is Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis et Studiorum which ‘sets out in an organic and instructive way the complexus of principles and norms concerning formation which are found in the Constitutions, General Regulations and other documents of the Church and of the Congregation’(R. 87).

The Ratio has a long history! Introduced by the Jesuits in 1599 as a needed curricular guide for their rapidly expanding network of schools, the Ratio Studiorum laid out the organisation of Jesuit institutions to the smallest detail, while establishing a uniform course of study over at least 13 years.

Vatican Council II mandated a Ratio for preparation of candidates to the priesthood, and subsequently for the Permanent Diaconate. In the renewal of consecrated life that flourished after the Council, all Congregations developed a Ratio. The first Salesian Ratio was published in 1985 and revised in 2000, with some subsequent minor additions since. GC28 asked that it be fully revised, and this process is underway.

regione (region)


A group of provinces assigned to a General Councillor who is therefore known as a regional councillor. The constitution of the groups of provinces is made by the general chapter. (C. 154 of the SDB Constitutions).

Current Salesian regions (2019) are:


America South Cone

East Asia-Oceanía

South Asia

Central & North Europe



The regional structure, from the definition, is clearly very flexible since there is no further determination of its structure, and no specific criteria for its make up in either the Constitutions or the Regulations. Indeed the precise term ‘region’ appears only once in the Constitutions and Regulations, and then in the plural (C. 77). Certain possible, though not obligatory features, however, can be inferred from the tasks of the Regional Councillor: interprovincial structures, regional offices of documentation. Curiously this is not the case for another structure known as the ‘provincial conference’, which is given more precise description in the regulations.

regionale (consigliere) (regional (councillor))

noun phrase

Member of the General Council whose task it is to “promote a more direct liaison between the provinces and the Rector Major and his council. (They) look after the interests of the provinces assigned to them. (They) foster in the general council a knowledge of the local situations in which our mission is carried out.”

The Regional is a relatively new institution in the Congregation and pertains more to the notion of animation or fraternal communion than of government; the Regional, even though often termed ‘regional superior’ in common parlance, is not a superior per se, canonically speaking. He does function in this role by specific appointment as a Visitor on behalf of the Rector Major, however.

Regionals (and therefore regions) were introduced by the 19th General Chapter. Tasks of the Regional are (1) to promote a more direct link between provinces and RM and council (2) look after interests of provinces assigned to them (3) ensure knowledge of local situations in council discussions. (C. 140)

Usage: The term ‘‘regional’ (without councillor) functions as both a noun – the person (the Regional) and an adjective. Very often capitalised as Regional (Councillor). Alternative spelling (US) Councilor

regolatore (moderator)


E.g. of General or Provincial Chapter.

Linguistic note: Italian may also speak of a moderatore, but he is likely to be one who controls a particular session under the general direction of the regolatore. English is more likely to extend the phrase to ‘moderator of a session’ or similar, e.g. ‘chairman’ while still saying ‘moderator’ for the one who gives the Chapter its general direction.

religione (religion)


The second term in Don Bosco’s trinomial: Reason Religion and Loving-kindness.

The term indicates that Don Bosco’s pedagogy is essentially transcendent, in so far as the ultimate educational objective at which it aims is the formation of the believer. For him the properly formed and mature man was the citizen with faith, who places at the centre of his life the ideal of the new man proclaimed by Jesus Christ and who bears courageous witness to his own religious convictions.(JP II (Iuvenum Patris 11).

It is evidently not a question of a speculative and abstract religion, but of a living faith rooted in reality and stemming from presence and communion, from an attitude of listening and from docility to grace. As he liked to put it ‘the columns of an educational edifice’, are the Eucharist, Penance, devotion to Our Lady, love for the Church and its pastors. His educational process was a pathway of prayer, of liturgy, of sacramental life, of spiritual direction: for some it was the response to the call to a special consecration (how many Priests and Religious were formed in the Saint’s houses!); for all it was a perspective and a path to holiness. Don Bosco was a zealous priest who always referred back to its revealed foundation everything that he received, lived and gave to others. This aspect of religious transcendence, the cornerstone of Don Bosco’s pedagogical method, is not only applicable to every culture but can also be profitably adapted even to non-Christian religions.

See also amorevolezza, ragione.

rendiconto (1. friendly talk. 2. manifestation)


‘Faithful to Don Bosco’s recommendation, each confrere meets frequently with his superior for a friendly talk’ (C. 70).

Be careful to distinguish this use of the Italian term rendiconto from its other meaning, namely, ‘financial report’.

Usage: rendiconto may still be used among English-speaking Salesians, but its earlier gloss, ‘manifestation’ has largely died out.
See also colloquio.

repertorio domestico (house list)

noun phrase

The repertorio domestico tells us that people other than young boarders stayed at Valdocco, e.g. two priests and a seminarian who paid their way.

See also anagrafe.

responsabile (maggiore) (Centrale) (Central) Moderator (General))

noun phrase

The person in charge of the VDB or CDB, or CMB.

Usage: The term would be impossible to gloss adequately in English by retaining the responsabile in some transliterated English form (e.g. Responsible). So the solution is to use the better understood ‘Moderator General’ (but in the case of the VDB they prefer ‘President General’) or, in the case where the Italian term is Responsabile Centrale, Central Moderator.

Linguistic note: We have become accustomed to ‘Rector Major’, but are definitely not accustomed to ‘Responsible Major’! The problem is that while ‘Rector’ is at least a noun in English, ‘responsible’ is an adjective.

Rettor Maggiore (Rector Major, Superior General)

noun phrase

Superior of the Salesian Society, successor of Don Bosco, father and centre of unity of the Salesian Family (C. 126).

Usage: The choice of this term goes back to Don Bosco himself, who wished to avoid terms like ‘Father General’ or ‘Superior general’, since these smacked too much of religious organisation that was unpopular in a rapidly secularising united Italy. Hence he chose an unfamiliar term.

Linguistic note: The plural form is probably ‘Rectors Major’ but by analogy with ‘sergeant major’ could also be ‘Rector Majors`’. However, since '`Rector’ is the chief element in the term it most likely receives the plural indicator.

rettorato (term of office as Rector (Major))


The office of Rector (Major). Should not be glossed as ‘rectorate’, but rather the longer phrase suggested: term of office as Rector (Major). While it is most often used of the Rector Major’s term of office, it could also apply to the Rector of a community.

Ricaldone, Pietro (Ricaldone, Peter)

proper name

Rector Major from 1932 to 1951.Peter Ricaldone, the fourth successor of Don Bosco, governed the Salesian Congregation for around twenty years. A man with notable gifts of intellect and government, he gave considerable impulse to the spiritual and professional formation of Salesians, to the development of institutes of higher culture (witness the Pontifical Salesian University – UPS), missionary expansion, to catechetical and apologetic animation, to publishing and Mass Media enterprises, and to many other sizeable initiatives.

Faithful to the spirit of Don Bosco, he was a man of exceptional religious and organisational temperament. Twice he travelled the world, bringing with that his depth of direction, capacity for heartfelt understanding, and the gradual promotion of local people as well as consideration for emigrants. He multiplied the numbers of professional institutes, assuring them everywhere of the necessary specialised technical personnel. His concern was for the whole Congregation to the point where he saw professed numbers double over a few short years, but always strictly faithful to its origins.

During the ’30’s at the time of the Spanish Revolution, he animated and comforted, often in secret, with a heart and spirit that took him beyond the divisions of that event. He was also the author of well-received publications. His publishing and socially-minded work in this respect shines out particularly in an Agricultural Library (Biblioteca Agrariana Solariana) of 140 volumes in which, from the time of his leadership in Spain, he had updated current concepts in this arena. He wrote for workers and contractors. And throughout his life he published other works, reinforcing the notion of Don Bosco the Educator not just in theory but in practice.

In the difficulties of World War II (1939-1945) he established, in 1941, that in every Salesian Province there might be a house for young orphaned or refugee children, and that at least some very needy youngsters be received free of charge in each institution.

Ricceri, Luigi (Ricceri, Luigi)

personal name

Rector Major from 1965 to 1977, Luigi Ricceri was a Sicilian. From the moment of his election he clearly and succinctly declared what would become his basic program of government: ‘Forward with Don Bosco alive today, in order to respond to the needs of our time and the expectations of the Church.’ He pursued this intention consistently through to the end of his mandate, on the eve of which Fr Ricceri again reaffirmed: ‘The objects of our mission is the young, thrust by our era into a position of central importance. They have become an explosive and uncontainable force.’

His period as Rector Major, at a time of social and cultural upheaval, was accompanied by and tested right from the start by the strong youth reactions of the 60’s.

Besides the young themselves, these times also involved the many institutions connected with them: schools and associations, educators and legislators, state and ecclesial bodies. This ‘dynamic fidelity’ to the spirit of the Founder is a recurring and emerging theme in the Superior’s words and writings, but above all in the concrete initiatives offered in his frequent and well-focused journeys abroad, and in the meetings with those responsible for religious and other sectors. Amongst other things, Fr Ricceri transferred the General Administration of the Salesian Society to Rome – bringing to fruition an idea already contemplated by earlier Rector Majors. In doing so he split it off from the Mother House in Turin and inserted it more decisively at the spiritual, geographic and organisational heart of the Church.

Rinaldi, Filippo (Rinaldi, Philip)

personal name

1856-1931. Followed Fr Albera as Rector Major. We refer to Fr Rinaldi by his Anglicised Christian name. He was beatified in 1990.

Fr Philip Rinaldi’s witness of life was an embodiment of the freedom he experienced in the gift of self, the unconditional trust in the love of God the Father of which he was a tangible sign. The human and spiritual events of his life were marked, ever since he was a boy at the Salesian school at Mirabello, by the meeting with Don Bosco. Don Bosco was a father who would accompany his vocational journey and stamp the quite original style of his entire life. Fr. Rinaldi lived in the light of Don Bosco, interpreting the Salesian charism through the category of fatherliness as an expression of authenticity and vocational fruitfulness.

From his youth, he rejected every temptation to entrust himself to occasional spiritual fathers. Even as a young priest he was given responsibility, until in time he became the successor of Don Bosco himself. And at all times he was on guard against this temptation, confirming and consolidating the educative and pastoral experience that had come from the young people’s Saint.

Indeed, intimately shaped by this charismatic experience of a regenerating and liberating fatherliness, Fr Rinaldi immediately became a point of reference for many individuals and institutions to a point where he had extended the fatherly heritage he had received from Don Bosco in a truly prodigious way. The fact that as a young priest he had been given great responsibility, such as the accompaniment and formation of adult vocations, is a sign of how he lived and interpreted authority in spiritual terms at every stage of his life, across such a range of duties and roles, from Rector to Provincial, from Prefect General to Rector Major.

We see a first side of this spiritual fatherliness in his intention and determination to safeguard and preserve the core of the Salesian charism as it emerged from the cradle of Valdocco and was embodied in new and diverse contexts and settings. It was not only a good to be preserved, but one that needed to flourish in all its expressions, and he gave strength and vigour especially to translating the charism into a lay setting, with special attention to Past Pupils and Cooperators, as well as inaugurating a new form of secular consecration with the planting of the seed which would flourish as the Secular Institute of the Volunteers of Don Bosco.

ritiratezza (1. detachment from the world. 2. climate of recollection. 3. flight from the world. 4. withdrawal from the world)


Not a common term today in Italian, but common enough In Don Bosco’s time. It becomes a key interpretative concept for Don Bosco’s personal spirituality.


ritiro (1. recollection. 2. retreat)


In Salesian usage the ritiro would normally apply to the monthly or quarterly recollection.

RSS (RSS (Ricerche Storiche Salesiane) noun phrase.

A journal that comes out every two months (bimonthly) on religious and civil history, published by the Istituto Storico Salesiano

See also ISS.

Rua, Michele (Rua, Michael)

proper name

1837-1910, first successor of St John Bosco. Beatified 1972.

Michael Rua was born in Turin on 9th June 1837, the last of nine children. His father, who worked in a munitions factory, died when he was only eight. Michael would have gone to work in the arms factory in Turin, but in 1852 he met with Don Bosco, who suggested Michael join his school at the Oratory and he did.

Michael Rua joined the other first Salesians at seventeen, and, inspired by Don Bosco’s example, he spent his days at the youth club, morning and evening classes, supervising theatre or music rehearsals, gymnastics, lively outdoor games, solitary study, along with frequent reception of the sacraments.

Rua was Don Bosco’s closest collaborator in the development of the new Salesian congregation over the next thirty-six years. He made his first profession in 1855, was the first spiritual director of the Society at the age of 22 years (1859), was ordained priest in 1860. At 26 he became the rector of the college at Mirabello in Emilia-Romagna, the first Salesian foundation outside Turin.

When Don Bosco died, Pope Leo XIII, honouring his request, designated Michael as his successor. Nicknamed ‘The Living Rule’ because of his austere fidelity, Fr Michael Rua was also known for his fatherliness and goodness. As the numbers of members and communities increased, he sent Salesians all over the world, showing special care for the missionary expeditions. When Michael Rua died on 6th April 1910 at the age of 73, the Society had grown from 773 to 4000 Salesians, from 57 to 345 communities, from 6 to 34 Provinces in 33 countries.

ruota (turntable)


Two disks at the ends of an axle with the space between them divided by radial panels. The definition only describes the physical appearance. The ruota would have been found in Salesian houses where the Sisters did the cooking and other domestic services. It goes back to a canonical requirement of separation, and the ruota ensured that items (food, clothing, whatever) could be placed on one side, then swung around to be taken from the other side, without the persons involved seeing each other.

There is a rather darker history to what was also known as the ruota degli esposti, a ‘baby hatch’ where a new mother would leave an unwanted infant for the nuns to care for. The ruota can also be found at the entrance to some convents of enclosed nuns for prayer intentions to be left.

A Piedmontese term for the ruota that might be found in Salesian historical texts is tarabacola.


Sacro Cuore (Sacred Heart)

proper name

(1) A devotion. (2) A building.

In terms of the devotion, Don Bosco mentions the devotion to the Sacred Heart in his Giovane Provveduto, but it is not a strongly prominent element in his spirituality. Fr Rua, following the Church’s leanings at the time (1900) issued an instruction on the devotion for Salesians and consecrated the Congregation to the Sacred Heart.

In terms of a building, the church Built by Don Bosco in Rome, and now the location of the Rector Major and his Council and the General Administration of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

SAL (Sisters Announcers of the Lord)

abbreviation, acronym

Religious Congregation of Diocesan Right.

Founder: Bishop Ignazio Canazei inspired by Bishop Luigi Versiglia.

Foundation date: Shiu Chow (China), 30 May 1931. Salesian Family membership: 28 July 2005 (decree 31 January 2006) in AGC 393 (2006) 97.

sala della comunità (parish hall)

noun phrase

The concept of the parish hall (there could be a better translation) as found in the Italian term here, does not exist in English. It really means a place where many things could happen ‘film, video, theatre, music, tied to the role of the parish as a community of faith.’ Umberto Eco credits Don Bosco as having founded, in the Oratory, a concept akin to what the sala della comunità is intended to be.

Salesian Missions Australia (Salesian Missions Australia)

proper name

The Salesian Missions Australia office supports the vocational teaching of underprivileged young people in developing countries, in order that they find employment and become self-sufficient members of their nation. The Australian Salesian Missions Office was established in the 1960’s to support a variety of Salesian education projects in developing countries.

Salesian Theological Institute Ratisbonne (Salesian Theological Institute Ratisbonne, Salesian Monastery, Studium Theologicum Salesianum Sts Peter and Paul)

proper name

Salesian Seminary and Study centre in Jerusalem which used to be located at Cremisan near Bethlehem.

The building, 130 years old, is the property of the Holy See and was administered initially by the Congregation founded by a Jewish convert to Christianity (he converted in France), Fr Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne.

The female branch of the Congregation is known as the Sisters of Sion.

Often we see ‘Salesian Monastery’ in the official title in documents intended for within Israel – this is to fulfil Israeli law regarding its status. The Houses at Cremisan and at Beit Jamal are also known as monasteries. The administration at Ratisbonne seems to prefer the second designation: Studium Theologicum Salesianum Sts Peter and Paul, at least as an official letterhead in Salesian circles.

salesiano (Salesian)

noun, adjective

See Salesiani di Don Bosco, SDB, Società salesiana to follow.

But also note that the adjective ‘Salesian’ pertains primarily to St Francis de Sales! See also di Sales, Francesco.

salesiano esterno (extern Salesian)

noun phrase

“Any person, even one living in the world, in one’s house, in the bosom of one’s family, can belong to this society… He takes no vows, but shall try to practise those portions of the present rule that are compatible with his age and condition.” (from the appendix, later suppressed, in Don Bosco’s Constitutions 1860-73).

Don Bosco’s original thinking and indeed his original intention was to have ‘extern Salesians’ who did not live in community, did not take binding vows. Rome did not accept this idea as part of the Constitutions. Fr Dominic Pestarino of Mornese is a clear example of such a person. Eventually these became the Salesian Cooperators.

Usage: The use of the term ‘extern’ here is somewhat special. As a noun today it would refer to a professional placement (such as occurs with doctors in training), so the Salesian use (although now only of historical interest) is particular if considered as a noun. Perhaps it is best seen as an adjective, as in ‘external Salesian’. (

web name (Salesian Online Resources) is a project resulting from the collaboration of the Don Bosco Study Centre (Pontifical Salesian University, Rome) and the Study Centre of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences “Auxilium”, Rome). The main objective is to make available to everyone a vast selection of original documents in a reliable and citable form: sources, studies, research and digital resources on Salesian history, pedagogy and spirituality. The full-text materials, which can be freely downloaded, are organised by categories, themes, authors, entities, educational structures, Salesian Family groups, and temporal and geographical coordinates.

See also SDL. Another similar site is

salesiani di don Bosco (1. Salesians of Don Bosco. 2. Society of St Francis de Sales (complete official title). 3. Salesian Congregation. 4. Pious Salesian Society (of historical value but out of use). 5. Pious Society (also out of use). 6. Salesians of Don Bosco (the most common title in ordinary use today). 7. Salesians (normally understood as SDBs, within the context of the Salesian Family of Don Bosco, but when ’Salesian’ is understood as an adjective, it could apply more generally to the inspiration of St Francis de Sales as expressed by many religious and lay societies))

proper name

Cf. SDB Constitution 1:

‘With a feeling of humble gratitude we believe that the Society of St Francis de Sales came into being not as a merely human venture but by the initiative of God. Through the motherly intervention of Mary, the Holy Spirit raised up St John Bosco to contribute to the salvation of youth…​ to ensure the continuation of this mission, the Spirit inspired him to initiate various apostolic projects, first among them our Society.’

  1. 2: ‘We, the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB), form a community of the baptised. Submissive to the bidding of the Spirit we are resolved to carry out the Founder’s apostolic plan in a specific form of religious life to be in the Church signs and bearers of the love of God for young people, especially those who are poor.’

At Pope Pius IX’s suggestion, Don Bosco, who up until then (1859), referred to the congregation of St Francis de Sales as involving both ‘interns’ and ‘externs’, adopted the term ‘Pious Society of St Francis de Sales’ to describe the ‘interns’. The Salesian Society in that understanding came into being on December 9/18, 1859.

We know that Don Bosco’s original concept (in a Rule he had sketched out and presented to Pius IX in March 1858), was for a society or congregation which allowed its members to be ‘a religious for the Church and a free citizen in civil society.’ Even as late as 1880 he was still claiming that the Salesians were not a religious congregation but a charitable religious organisation to help abandoned young people and that the Latin word ‘vow’ might be understood as ‘promise’ in Italian! (Cf. Lenti, Vol 3, {\\em Don Bosco History and Spirit}, p. 289).

The founding document of the Salesian Society was drawn up on 18 December 1859. It is interesting to note that its wording speaks of ‘a society or congregation…​ ’

Whatever Don Bosco’s real intentions, thwarted in some ways by his being gradually forced into the ecclesiastical structure, this new ‘society or congregation’, which we should really recognise as ‘The Salesian Society’ was distinct from the ‘Congregation of St Francis de Sales’.

SALVO (Salesian Lay Volunteers)

abbreviation, acronym

Lay volunteer movement started by the FIS province in 2009 on the occasion of the 150th of the Congregation, launched with the assistance of Br. Carlo Bacalla (currently a missionary in Laos, THA).

SALVO relaunched in 2016 with a long-term plan of immersion programs in FIS province, sending the volunteers to EAO region provinces (so far Cambodia, Myanmar) and in the future also aiming to spread to other parts of the Congregation.

Sandor Community (Full title: Blessed Istvan Sandor Community)

proper name

The Salesian Brothers’ Formation House – Blessed Istvan Sandor Community in Parañaque, Philippines, was established in 2013 to provide the Brothers of the East Asia-Oceania (EAO) region a venue for their specific formation.

The EAO Salesian Brother Formation Community is the regional formation center for Salesian Brothers in the East Asia and Oceania Region. It is the only English-speaking centre for the formation of Salesian Brothers. It is also open to Salesian Brothers coming from the regions of Africa-Madagascar, South Asia and Europe and to Salesian Brothers willing to undergo the experience in English. The community offers Salesian Brothers a two-year theological, pastoral and Salesian formation in order to help them be educators and evangelisers of the young in the spirit of St John Bosco.

santità salesiana (Salesian holiness)

noun phrase

(1) In the first instance, a reference to the spirituality of St Francis de Sales. Francis was ahead of his time: Vatican II spoke of the ‘universal call to holiness,’ emphasising that becoming a saint was everybody’s business, not just the professional job of priests and religious. But St Francis de Sales was preaching the universal call to holiness (which is actually grounded in Leviticus 20:26 and Matthew 5:48) back in the Counter-Reformation of the 17th century.

(2) in the second instance, a reference to Salesian spirituality as expressed through the tradition of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

Salesian holiness in terms of the second definition above stands out through the very many figures of holiness officially recongised by the Church in Saints, Blesseds, Venerables and Servants of God.

Scholasticus (S) [la] (Seminarian)


This term is to be found in the Year Book in reference to the Salesian student at a seminary (philosophy, theology).

scientifico (scientific (general))


By extension (of the basic meaning pertaining to ‘science’, activities that apply the technical approaches or various sciences or procedures based on scientific principles.

Usage: The English term ‘scientific’ is somewhat more restricted in its application. As seen from the definition above, the Italian scientifico may be applied to a general range of well-prepared items or discussions, not only science or scientific in nature. Congressi scientifici in the 19th century often dealt with politics rather than strictly with science. Some care needed in translation of this term, then, and in many instances it may not even need to be translated.

scrutinium [la] (scrutiny)


(1) close examination of a voting procedure (e.g. cf C. 153 and the reference to voting for a Rector Major at the General Chapter)

(2) juridical requirement (Canon Law) for ordination, regarding qualities required. Cf. Can. 1051

(3) a more general process of evaluation or assessment of a candidate in initial formation

(4) a community process of examen and evaluation (as in scrutinium paupertatis, scrutinium castitatis, scrutinium orationis).

While the sense of evaluation or assessment certainly exists, in the case of 2nd, 3rd and 4th meanings indicated above, at least in the case of initial formation it would be good not to lose sight of the liturgical and formative sense of the RCIA scrutinium, which is for the elect just prior to Baptism – in other words the individual is already chosen and accepted, and the focus is on Christ and forgiveness of sin.

There is no specific mention of scrutinium castitatis, ‘scrutiny on chastity’, in the C&R.  It is mentioned in the index to the Rectors Manual 1982 but not in the paragraph it refers to – at least not in the precise words. In the planning outline of the RM and Council 2002-8 under the heading of ‘primacy of spiritual life’ there is reference to each province establishing periodic scrutinies on each of the evangelical counsels.

There is no specific mention of scrutinium orationis, ‘scrutiny on prayer’, in the C&R. It is mentioned in GC21 however, which required each community to make a periodical review of its prayer life (GC21 60b).

With regard to the scrutinium povertatis, or ‘scrutiny on poverty’, the term finds mention in a circular letter by Fr Ricceri on poverty, and was then followed up further by Fr Viganò. The concept, rather than the precise term, is contained in R. 65. In recent times, the planning project of the RM and Council 2002-8 specifically indicated that the scrutinium paupertatis should be carried out annually.


abbreviation, initialism

Salesian(s) of Don Bosco.

Until 1947 the members of the Salesian Society used SC in English-speaking countries (Salesiana Congregatio, ‘Salesian Congregation’) or SS in Italy and elsewhere (Societas Salesiana). The 16th General Chapter made the change to SDB with the following comment:

“The initials most in use, S.S. (Societas Salesiana) are already in use by another Congregation; the other, S.C. (Salesiana Congregatio) seems neither clear nor well-accepted. We will adopt S.D.B. (Salesiani Don Bosco), because this is the name we are universally known by, and it recalls the Saint who gives us our name, the Founder and Father. This is also the title by which we are officially recognised in the Annuario Pontificio.” (ACS 143, Acts of the 16th General Chapter, p. 68).

Linguistic note: Clearly the initials SS would have had other problems as well! The initials SDB are usually used without full stops (periods), and often, in keeping with changing customs where lower case is preferred to upper case, we find them in lower case. There is no hard and fast rule for this.

SDL (SDL Salesian Digital Library)

abbreviation, initialism

The Salesian Digital Library was first launched in 2007, and is under the auspices of Salesian Headquarters (originally at the Pisana, now at Sacro Cuore) as a complementary site to the Congregation’s own official website, It uses an open source, free digital library software backed by UNESCO, known as Greenstone, and the aim of SDL has been to include Salesian material in digital form in any human language in which it exists. Currently at least 30 languages are represented.

See also

secolarità (secularity)


The generally positive employment of this term in Salesian literature is a phenomenon of Vatican II. Prior to that, the term had the sense of fuga mundi, flight from the world, and was generally a negative thing. Salesian secularity is a phenomenon that we now see in groups such as the Volunteers of Don Bosco VDB and the Volunteers With Don Bosco CDB. It does not stop there – there are many other groups along these lines. As used in Salesian texts from Fr Ziggiotti onwards. In Fr Ricceri’s period of leadership the SGC took up consideration of the range of terms: ‘secularisation’, ‘secularity`, '`secularism’. The first of these is indicated as an historical process by which men and women take up responsibility in the world. Note that ‘secularity’ most often collocates with consecrated or consecration, in post-Vatican II texts, therefore is seen as a positive dimension of human existence. Not to be confused with secularisation (as now understood in negative terms) or with secularism which, in both English or Italian are perceived to be negative.

secolarismo, secolarizzazione (secularism, secularisation)


This group of terms, as used in Salesian texts, has a negative sense, the opposite to the primacy of the religious dimension in our lives. Secularism is seen as a radicalisation of secularisation, the elimination of the sacred from things.

secolarizzione (secularisation)


A term with specific meaning in Canon Law. The form of an ‘Indult to leave the Institute’ through which the Salesian priest or deacon passes to the secular clergy and is incardinated, with or without a period of probation, in a Diocese.

It may be ad experimentum, for a period up to five years or it may be pure et sempliciter (pure and simple), by which the Bishop states that he is willing to incardinate the religious immediately without waiting for any time of probation.

sede centrale (central office, headquarters)

noun phrase

A term frequently used to refer to Salesian central headquarters in Rome.

Sede apostolico (Apostolic See, See of Peter)

noun phrase

In Canon Law, the terms ‘Apostolic See’ and ‘Holy See’ refer to the Roman Pontiff and the Roman Curia together as the form of Government of the Catholic Church. A synonym, the ‘See of Peter’, is more personalised but the reference is still administrative.

‘Apostolic See’ is theoretically more embracing in that it could originally have applied to five Sees founded by the Apostles, Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople, Alexandria.

Certainly within Salesian documentation its main reference is to the Roman See. While in practice, Vatican City and the Holy See appear to be identical entities, they are not. Ambassadors are accredited to the Holy See, not to Vatican City. The Holy See does not dissolve on the death of the reigning Pope.

selvaggi (savages, tribal peoples)

noun (pl.)

A definition from a dictionary in Don Bosco’s own time (Dizionario di cognizioni utili, Torino 1864) attempts to describe ‘savages’ as having broad shoulders, enormous heads, black curly hair, short beard, expressionless face, and around three metres tall!

People in a primitive and uncivilised state; wild and fierce; cruel and hostile; brutal and barbarous. (Oxford Reference Dictionary (1980).

Don Bosco retained the term in his reference to some of the native populations he wished to evangelise, drawing his anthropological and ethnographic data most likely from Romantic literature and nineteenth-century encyclopedias.

Linguistic note: The question is how to translate this term today, since ‘savages’ sounds too strong. The term did have an ambiguous feel even for Don Bosco, since there was still the Romantic period sense of the noble savage in the literature of the time, nor should we forget that the concept first came to Don Bosco in the context of a dream about peoples who could be saved, and that one of these people, Ceferino Namuncurá, has already been beatified! Today we might consider glossing the word as '`tribal people`’ or something similar.

sensus ecclesiae [la] (sensus ecclesiae)


Our awareness of being in, and of the Church (from Message of members of 19th General Chapter to confreres, 1965).

Though he may not have used the precise phrase, there is every indication, as Pietro Stella points out in his Prevenire non reprimere, that the ‘sensus ecclesiae’ and fidelity to the Pope were an important aspect of Don Bosco’s work of initiating young people into faith. Catechetics, apologetics, pedagogy all converge for Don Bosco on the importance of young people understanding that only in the Catholic Church will they find salvation, the means of grace: revelation preserved in its fullness and integrity, sacraments administered with the fullness of grace and validity. For Don Bosco extra ecclesiam nulla salus was at the heart of his writing: the Storia ecclesiastica, the Avvisi ai cattolici, the Cattolico istruito, his many apologetic works.

sequela Christi [la] (discipleship, following Christ, walking in Christ’s footsteps)


An ancient term in Christian spirituality, in reference to either the apostolic following of Christ, or the imitatio christi in general Christian life. Today the term is clearly recognised for its use within the context of Consecrated Life.

The Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata does not deal separately with each of the evangelical counsels. It unites them in the single grace of the sequela Christi, limiting itself here and there to the particular significance, values or demands of each. In this way it emphasises the character of a personal rapport with the Lord which belongs to profession and the spiritual dimension of the vows. Each counsel implies specific attitudes and commitments, but ultimately includes the other two as well. It is difficult to think of a consistent and luminous chastity detached from the poverty which consists in the total offering of one’s personal and material goods, or from the obedience of heart which makes one available for the mission, cost what it may. And vice versa. (Fr Vecchi in his letter on Chastity. 1999).

sermon de charité [fr] (charity sermon)

noun phrase

A term used to describe sermons (in France during the 19th century) aimed at inspiring the congregation to donate to charitable works.

Don Bosco employed this approach to gain support for his youth works in France in the late 1800s. His most famous sermon de charité was at the Patronage opened in Nice. To its printed version he attached his summary, for the first time, of the Preventive System. Don Bosco gave the sermon de charité his own typical structure.

Usage: The term could be glossed as ‘charity sermon’ but more often than not it is retained in its original French.

Servo di Dio (Servant of God)

noun phrase

The Catholic whose cause of beatification and canonsation has been initiated. (Instruction Sanctorum Mater, 2007).

A cause can only be introduced if the person has gained fame already for holiness (in general opinion), has practised Christian virtues to an heroic degree and if there are no insuperable obstacles to canonisation. Naturally all these have to be established and eventually proven, hence the ‘process’.

Usage: The term is capitalised in English as ‘Servant of God’.
See also beatificazione.

settore (sector)


A key area of Salesian mission as defined formally by the Salesian Constitutions (cf Italian edition C. 133, 134).

The growth of the ‘sector’ concept in the Congregation is of particular interest for a number of reasons. The concept is one that has always been defined at the highest level of authority (General Chapter) to begin with. Up until the 19th General Chapter a sector tended to be determined by one or other work (schools, technical schools, oratories, catechetics…), or was even based in people (past pupils, cooperators…). From the 20th General Chapter onwards, an even more essential factor predominated – aspects and dimensions of the life and mission of the Salesians which touch on the entire Congregation.

Thus GC 20, 21, 22 defined effectively six sectors (Youth Ministry, Formation, Social Communication, Missions, Economy, to which we need to add the Salesian Family as a sixth), which are represented by a member of the General Council. If we wanted to think in terms of a seventh, we would group the Regional Councillors into a ‘sector’, since they respond to an overall concept touching the entire Congregation which combines elements such as decentralisation and unity, dialogue, shared responsibility, the inculturation of the charism in a determined area. Be they ‘sector’ or ‘regional’ councillors, they play an equal part in the General Council.

The Salesian Sisters do not speak of ‘sector’ but of ambito or ‘sphere of activity, field’, but for practical purposes probably best glossed as ‘sector’ in English.

Usage: Of particular note: the English translation of C. 133 is in error. It refers to the councillors in charge of ‘special departments’, thus introducing a terminological and indeed a conceptual confusion (cf. the note below). The Italian original clearly and deliberately speaks of settore at this point. The mistranslation of the Constitutions then led to a continuation of this terminological confusion in English: the GC25 documents speak of ‘Departmental Councillors’ e.g. no. 108 and then no. 112 tries to address problem areas that arise ‘between the various sectors’. Part of the problem is the very lack of clarity in terminology!

As background material: Cf. ‘The Project of Life…’ pp 910-11]. Cf also the letter of Fr Martin McPake introducing the English Translation of the renewed Rule of Life. The original text was approved by the Apostolic See on 25 November 1984; the translation was approved by the Rector Major Fr Egidio Vigano on 8th December 1984. A second edition incorporating several changes introduced by General Chapters(23,24,25) was presented by the Rector Major Fr Pascual Chavez on 24 May 2003.

It is important here to make a clear distinction between ‘sector’ and ‘department’. The ‘sector’ is tied directly to the charism (an aspect, dimension of), while a ‘department’ is an administrative necessity. One might expect far more flexibility with the notion of department – indeed whether one or other department exists or not) than with a ‘sector’. It might also be said that some care needs to be taken to see that the subordinate concept of ‘department’ does not, in practice, pretend to be its ‘superordinate’, the ‘sector’.

See also dicastero.

settore d’animazione pastorale (1. pastoral animation setting. 2. pastoral sector)

noun phrase

Refers to the educational and pastoral structures in which the Salesian mission is carried out, according to a specific educational and pastoral proposal. Each of these sectors in its own way creates a climate and employs a style of relationships as part of the Educative and Pastoral Community.

The settings/sectors are as follows: The Oratory-Youth Centre; the school and Professional Formation Centre, (what we would often term, in English, the Vocational Training Centre and could include the pre-vocational training centre and hostel accommodation); higher institutes of education (possibly academic centres, colleges – in the North American understanding of this term – and university student residences); parishes and shrines entrusted to the Salesians (may include public churches); various social service works for young people at risk. A Salesian work may well comprise further sectors working together to better express the Salesian mission.

sigla (abbreviation)


The Italian term sigla covers a broader semantic range than just ‘abbreviations’ (it can be an acronym, initialism, but also a leitmotif, theme, or signature in the sense of a personal touch given to something).

However, its main use in Salesian discourse is the three-letter abbreviations given to Provinces (AUL, AUS…​ VIE). Only Provinces or Vice-provinces have such abbreviations. Neither Regions nor Delegations are given any official sigla, though at times within such circumscriptions, people do give them a commonlu accepted abbreviation.

significatività (significance, meaningfulness)


Mandated by GC23 as a criterion for evaluating the value and impact of each Salesian work. The word had appeared earlier during Team Visits.

Linguistic note: The Italian word, significatività, borrowed from the world of statistics, refers to statistical significance, but Fr Vecchi in his comment on the significatività della presenza salesiana, links it to ‘signs’. The word and its use as a criterion gained currency in Salesian usage in the six years preceding GC23. Viganò at one point said that it sums up our global effort at renewal in the Congregation, to become signs (of God’s love) again for young people.

silsila [ar] (chain, connection, link, spiritual genaology)


Silsila or silsilah, means chain, link, connection often used in various senses of lineage. In particular, it may be translated as ‘(religious) order’ or ‘spiritual genealogy’ where one Sufi Master transfers his khilfat to his spiritual descendant. In Urdu, Silsila means saga. (Wikipedia).

This term was applied by Fr Sebastiano D’Ambra PIME, the founder of the Christian-Muslim dialogue movement (1984) to the dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

The term perfectly fits the aim of the movement. The key word is ‘DIALOGUE’. Creating a culture of dialogue is the only way to connect people torn by conflict because of culture and religion. Planting the culture of dialogue is the only path to peace. In the mind of the founder, such ‘culture of dialogue’ leading to peace must necessarily be a spirituality one should embrace. As spirituality it is a life-in-dialogue with God, with self, with others, and with creation.

These four dimensions of dialogue reminded me of the disharmony brought about by original sin [Gen 3:8-19], man’s disharmony with self, with God, with neighbour, and with nature.

Usage: The term may be found in use in the southern Philippines, in the context of Christian-Muslim dialogue, and in Pakistan, which comes under the FIS Province.

sistema preventivo (Preventive system)

noun phrase

'`An integration of beliefs, attitudes, actions, interventions, means, methods and structures which have progressively constituted a characteristic general way of being and acting, both personal and in community, of Don Bosco, of individual Salesians and of the Family.`` (Viganò AGC 290, p.10).

Little Treatise on the Preventive System (March-April 1877). First published by Don Bosco as an appendix to the address composed in 1875 on the occasion of the dedication of the Salesian orphanage in Nice (France). It sets forth concepts and principles that are fundamental in his educational praxis. In spite of the title ‘preventive’, which Don Bosco probably chose in order to situate his method within a general educational category, this little work embodies some (not all, by any means) of the insights gained over many years of experience in education.

If asked to give a brief practical description of the task of the educator, Don Bosco would have compared it to the task of good Christian parents with respect to the education of their children. For at the philosophical and consequent environmental levels, Don Bosco based his educational method on such an affective relationship between educator and pupil as may be found in a good family. This succinctly describes Don Bosco’s way with young people, no matter in what situation he found them. In effect, the key ‘operative’ words of the method were familiarity, affection and trust.

Usage: Often capitalised as Preventive System.

SMA (Sisters of Maria Auxiliatrix)

abbreviation, initialism

Congregation of Diocesan Right founded by Fr M.C.Antony SDB on 13 May 1976, in Tamil Nadu, to ‘look after poor and abandoned young girls.’ The group gained membership of the Salesian Family in 2009 (decree 28 July 2009).

SMI (Sisters of Mary Immaculate)

abbreviation, initialism

Religious Congregation of Diocesan right, founded by Bishop Louis La Ravoire Morrow 12, December 1948 in Krishnagar, India. They were founded originally under the name ‘Catechist Sisters of Mary Immaculate’ in 1922 then refounded as Catechist Sisters of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians but more commonly known as Sisters of Mary Immaculate.

“Our Founder gave us the spirituality of St Teresa of the Infant Jesus, the ‘little way’ of spiritual childhood, and the spirit of Don Bosco: initiative, practice of the preventive system, penance expressed as ‘always upright and smiling.’. Fr Egidio Viganò wrote: ‘Learning through life and reflection about the encounter between Don Bosco the Salesian and St Teresa the Carmelite can be a common good for all of Don Bosco’s family… It points out that it is possible and how it can be so for the Salesian charism to be enriched when it draws values from the '`little way’ and offers all Groups in the Family further reason for giving thanks to God for the inestimable gift that Don Bosco’s spiritual experience represents for the Church. What binds us to the Salesian Family most of all is the person of Don Bosco and his educative system, his love for the young, charity.”

Admitted to membership of the Salesian Family on 10 June, 1992.

società d’allegria (Society for a Good Time, Happy Times Association)

noun phrase

The Happy Times Association was a club of (mostly) teen-age lads. The founding of this society is preferably to be dated in 1833. In his Memoirs, however, Don Bosco dates it in 1832. But at this point his dates are still one year off.

It is in the context of choosing friends, while in Chieri for his secondary schooling, that the Association came into being. John was helping companions with their homework, and he quickly found himself surrounded by a group of youngsters who were attracted to him, “as had been those of Morialdo and Castelnuovo.” Out of this group the Society is formed. Its two basic regulations specify exemplary Christian moral conduct and exemplary performance of scholastic and religious duties.

There’s wholesome fun too, but it isn’t just a ‘Society for a Good Time.’ John is acknowledged as “the leader of a small army,” and his popularity is such that he is in demand to provide entertainment and to tutor other students (for a consideration.).

Linguistic note: This term is a good example of how it is often the case that one should not translate a title literally: ‘Society of cheerfulness’ would sound corny in English.

società di mutuo soccorso (mutual aid society, mutual benefit association)

noun phrase

This Society was an association of working youngsters, established within the St Aloysius Sodality, as insurance against temporary unemployment or sickness.(Lenti, Don Bosco: History and Spirit, Vol 3.

Members paid an enrolment fee of 1.50 lire and a membership fee of 5 soldi (1/4 lira) per week. These contributions were built up as a fund out of which members received benefits in time of sickness or unemployment. Don Bosco established this society to remove working youngsters from the moral and religious dangers that youngsters encountered in mutual aid societies or workers’ unions in the city.

In 1857 the Mutual Aid Society joined the ‘Adjunct’ Conference of St Vincent de Paul established at the Oratory).

Società Salesiana (Salesian Society)

noun phrase

“Our Congregation is approved…​We are no longer private individuals but a Society, a visible body.” (BM IX, 26).

A more formal description of an alternative term, ‘Salesians of Don Bosco’ (rather than a definition, though it contains elements of such) is found in Constitution 2 of the SDB Constitutions: “We, the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) form a community of the baptised. Submissive to the bidding of the Spirit we are resolved to carry out the Founder’s apostolic plan in a specific form of religious life to be in the Church signs and bearers of the love of God for young people, especially those who are poor.”

At Pope Pius IX’s suggestion, Don Bosco, who up until then (1859), referred to the congregation of St Francis de Sales as involving both ‘interns`` and '`externs’, adopted the term ‘Pious Society of St Francis de Sales’ to describe the ‘interns’. The Salesian Society in that understanding came into being on December 9/18, 1859. We know that Don Bosco’s original concept (in a Rule he had sketched out and presented to Pius IX in March 1858), was for a society or congregation which allowed its members to be ‘a religious for the Church and a free citizen in civil society.’ Even as late as 1880 he was still claiming that the Salesians were not a religious congregation but a charitable religious organisation to help abandoned young people and that the Latin word ‘vow’ might be understood as ‘promise’ in Italian! (Cf. Lenti, Vol 3, Don Bosco History and Spirit, p. 289).

The founding document of the Salesian Society was drawn up on 18 December 1859. It is interesting to note that its wording speaks of ‘a society or congregation… .’ Whatever Don Bosco’s real intentions, thwarted in some ways by his being gradually forced into the ecclesiastical structure, this new ‘society or congregation’, which we should really recognise as ‘The Salesian Society’ was distinct from the ‘Congregation of St Francis de Sales’

See also Pia (Societa).

solidarietà (solidarity)


In the broader sense of the term:

(1) General: Community of interests, feelings purposes, or fellowship that arises from such;

(2) a Christian virtue. It seeks to go beyond itself to total gratuity, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It leads to a new vision of the unity of humankind, a reflection of God’s triune intimate life (Solicitudo Rei Socialis no. 40).

Other than the definitions given above, often in practical Salesian language we find the term used in reference to aid, mostly of the financial kind, or as represented by NGO, Mission Office activity, or as a ‘fund’ (e.g. the Rector Major’s Solidarity Fund).

In fact, we find in the ‘Charter of identity’ a helpful description of Salesian solidarity which is much broader than that of financial aid:

  1. education, which is the highest form of solidarity, conceived of and realised according to criteria which Salesian assistance suggests.

  2. Civil, social and mission voluntary service, much widespread amongst young people today…

  3. Social and political involvement…

SOSC (Salesiane Oblates)[(Full name, Salesiane Oblate del Sacro Cuore, or Salesian Oblates of the Sacred Heart)

proper name

Religious Congregation of Pontifical Right founded by Salesian Bishop Joseph Cognata, the Salesian Oblates of the Sacred Heart are a Congregation of active life with a missionary purpose: ‘the coming of the kingdom of God in the most needy places.’ They dedicate themselves particularly to the education of children in pre-schools, and to formation of youth, particularly in regard to catechetics and helping youth groups together with the parish priests.

spirito di famiglia (family spirit)

noun phrase

The Salesian style of life which had its origins firstly at The Becchi and then especially at Valdocco from the time Don Bosco brought his mother there to be with him in his work for poor children.

For Don Bosco family spirit was the result of familiarity, family-style relationships and a home-like way of living and working together. He would say that without familiarity there is no affection, without affection there is no mutual trust and without mutual trust there is no personal contact and therefore no education.

spirito salesiano (Salesian spirit)

noun phrase

In the letter to the Cooperators the Rector Major wrote: ‘When the Regulations speak of “Salesian spirit” they are describing the characteristic features of the Gospel experience tested in the school of Don Bosco as an original style of life. a synthesis of criteria of judgment and of methodology of action.’

It is not a conceptual analysis of relationships with God and one’s neighbour. and neither is it the doctrinal presentation of the spirituality of a state or ministry, but the description of the spiritual features which identify the Salesian vocation. AGC 318. 1986, p. 28.

While the primary reference is to the foundational experience and to the ‘spirit of Don Bosco’, it also includes this spirit as lived and shared over time in his Family. In fact ‘Salesian spirit’ is a criterion for membership of the Salesian Family (ASC 304, 1982, p. 61 ff.).

The Constitutions (especially Chapter 2) speak more of ‘Salesian spirit’ than they do of ‘Salesian spirituality’, since this latter would seem to deal more with the relationship between the Salesian and God, while ‘Salesian spirit’ involves not just the Covenant with God but apostolic consecration, activities of the mission, the life of communion, practice of the evangelical counsels, formation, animation, government.

spiritualità giovanile salesiana (Salesian Youth Spirituality)

noun phrase

GC23 produced a brief outline of Salesian Youth Spirituality with its important dimensions of daily life, encounter and friendship with Christ, gradual introduction to the life of the Church and a life of service.

The term gained prominence through the work of the 23rd General Chapter in 1990. It is a spirituality that is also applicable to adults. Not mentioned explicitly in the GC23 outline, but of foundational importance, it would seem, is the role played by mutual confidence between the young person and his or her spiritual guide.

Usage: May be capitalised as Salesian Youth Spirituality.

Srugi, Sim‘ān (The Venerable Simon Srugi)

proper name

The Venerable Simon Srugi, a Palestianian Arab born, as was Jesus, in Nazareth, but who then lived his entire Salesian life at Betgamal southwest of Jerusalem, is a clear invitation to reawaken in the Church the precious vocation of the consecrated lay person. At times today this is a misunderstood vocation, one that could find its original evangelical perspective in figures such as Simon Srugi. The gift of the lay vocation and the gift of consecration come together in a unique movement of love for God and neighbour, and all this in the simplicity and humility that really does speak of the Gospel to today’s world.

Simon Srugi is a model for the Christians of the Middle East, the “good Samaritan” of our times who teaches us that the presence of Christ’s disciples will be significant only if based on deep faith, if it grows through a serious commitment to communion and is expressed in a simple but constant witness of practical charity. It is significant to see how this saint speaks to us, today’s people: the son of a family of refugees, of a persecuted people, the history of whose family is an intertwining of rites, poverty, orphans, people who found themselves living amidst wars and guerilla skirmishes. He speaks, through his life, to so many Christians who experience similar situations: “I am one of you”.

Srugi’s fraternity extends beyond his community to embrace the people, mostly Muslims, who flocked to him. This is a well known fact, but its full significance must not escape us: in a land where there is usually no love lost between Arab Christians and Muslim, here is Srugi, an Arab Christian, who not only loves his Muslim neighbours but is in turn loved and appreciated by them. Here is a Salesian who knew how to make himself loved, and whose people knew he loved them. In his own simple but unmistakable way, Simon Srugi lived the universal fraternity that Pope Francis is pushing so hard. And like his fellow citizen Jesus, he revealed the merciful face of the Father to all, even to those unable to call God Father.

02.04.1993: with the decree on the heroic nature of his virtues, approved by Pope John-Paul II, he was recognised as Venerable.

Two excellent studies on the life of Simon Srugi, and the community at Betgamal, are available in the ‘Salesian Holiness’ section of SDL.

SSCS (Sistema Salesiano di Comunicazione Sociale) (SSCS Salesian Social Communication System)

abbreviation, initialism

An integrated and unified communication project. (Fr Martinelli to Salesian Bulletin editors, 1998).

The SSCS is also a book, first produced in 2005 by the Department of Social Communication, Rome.

The term ‘system’ was used by Fr Vecchi (2000) to call attention to the pervasive aspect of Social Communication throughout Salesian presence: “Our communities, our works and activities, to which we give rise like every institution, become part of a much wider system of communication…”

SSIHM (Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary)

abbreviation, initialism

Religious Congregation of Diocesan right. Founded in Bangkok Thailand 1937 by Bishop Pasotti. Members of the Salesian Family.

strenna (strenna)


A gift given to relatives, friends, acquaintances, or a firm’s gift to clients or employees for the New Year.

A Salesian tradition from Don Bosco himself whereby the Rector Major offers a ‘gift’ by way of a word or two for the New Year. These days it is usually an ecclesial comment in a sentence or two followed up by a commentary traditionally given to the FMAs on New Year’s Eve.

Usage: It should not be translated as a ‘motto’ or ‘slogan’, since this misses the ‘New Year gift’ aspect of the original term. It is also seen by the Rector Major as a proposed plan of action for the Salesian Family during the coming year.

stemma (coat of arms)


The Salesian Coat of Arms (not to be confused with the Logo), designed by Professor Boidi, appeared for the first time in a circular letter of Don Bosco on 8 December 1885.

Up to the year 1884 the Salesian Congregation, unlike other religious families, had no official coat of arms of its own. However a seal was used on official documents and letters before Don Bosco’s letter of 1885 mentioned above. This seal was a round die one-inch and a quarter in diameter. The figure of St Francis of Sales (bust in frontal view) appeared at the centre, framed round by two laurel branches joined at the bottom. Above the figure, around the rim, were the words, ‘Salesiana Societas.’ Beneath the figure, also around the rim, a text read, Discite a me quia mitis sum [Learn of me, for I am meek (Mt 11:29) – here applied to St Francis de Sales]. In 1884 a proper coat of arms was devised. A preliminary sketch was submitted to the Superior Chapter (General Council) by Father Anthony Sala on September 12, 1884. Fr Sala was the Society’s financial administrator and was at the time supervising the building of the church of the Sacred Heart and connected boarding school in Rome. The move was prompted by a suggestion from the ecclesiastical authorities there. It was thought appropriate and important that the Salesian coat of arms should appear between those of Pius IX and Leo XIII, in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

The original sketch itself was the work of Professor Boidi. It showed a shield on which the escutcheon or field was divided vertically by a large anchor. At the anchor’s right (the viewer’s left) stood the bust of St Francis of Sales, lit by rays from above, and at its left stood a flaming heart. Below the anchor was a wood with snow-capped mountains visible in the background. Two branches of palm and laurel with stems entwined at the bottom framed the oval shield. At the very bottom a waving streamer bore the legend, Sinite parvulos venire ad me (Allow little children to come to me [Mt 19:14; Mk 10:14; Lk 18:16]).

When the matter was taken up in the Superior Chapter the motto, ‘Let little children come to me’, was quickly set aside as already in use by others. Father Giulio Barberis, Catechist General, suggested that it be changed to ‘Temperance and Work’, Father Celestino Durando, Prefect General of Studies, would have preferred Maria, Auxilium Christianorum, ora pro nobis. Don Bosco ended the debate by saying, “A motto was already adopted in the very early days of my work while I was still attending the Convitto Ecclesiastico (Pastoral Institute) and visiting the prisons – Da mihi animas, cetera tolle.” Everybody agreed and applauded, and the historic motto was adopted.

See also da mihi animas…, Logo.

SYA (Salesian Youth Assistants)

abbreviation, initialism

SYA Nature and Rationale Document (2019): The SYA is a group of single young men and women who have spent many years as members and leaders of the Don Bosco Youth Center in the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. They may no longer hold positions of leadership in their respective youth groups and in the Parish Youth Coordinating Council (PYCC) but they are still willing to serve the young. They are still influential contributors, especially in terms of giving advice, peer-to-peer counseling, and general assistance to various youths, whether a member of a youth group or not. They still serve the young but in a more inclusive and mature way.

The group was formed in September 2018. The first few members were only six but eventually three more were added. Soon the members elected their officers. They were officially installed, and consequently recognised as an official parish organisation, during the 6:00 PM mass of 27 January 2019, a Sunday. The founding of the group is not just to offer these former leaders an opportunity to continue their service but also to introduce them to the Salesian Family. By becoming members of the SYA they are included in the Salesian Family as Past Pupils under Bro. Louie D. Domasian, SDB insofar as they have been under the Salesian system of education in the youth center environment. This makes them truly Salesian pupils under the Salesian way of education.

The group may also be considered a ‘bridge that connects Youth Ministry to the Salesian Family.’

synodalità (synodality)


Synodality – the ‘way’, ‘path’ ‘breath’, ‘condition’, ‘key’ for life in faith – is the modus vivendi et operandi with which the Church prepares all its members to share responsibility, develops their charisms and ministries, intensifies their bonds of fraternal love.

The term ‘synodality’ is missing from the documents of Vatican II. Why is that? The word is a neologism, the fruit of subsequent theological reflection. Yet it authentically translates and summarises the ecclesiology of communion expressed by the Council. In fact, the Church of the first centuries ordinarily faced the critical issues it had to deal with as a community by listening to the Spirit.

The renewed ecclesial awareness of the sacramentality of the episcopate and of collegiality represents a fundamental theological premise for an adequate theological interpretation of synodality. Indeed, it makes it possible to see how the concept of synodality is broader than that of collegiality: while synodality implies the participation and involvement of the whole People of God in the life and mission of the Church, collegiality refers to the specific form in which it is defined through the exercise of the ministry of bishops cum et sub Petro.

Paul VI introduced the synod to express the unity between pope and bishops. The bishops who gathered with him would offer support, advice and symbolise their unity and share in international responsibility for the Church. Under his successors John Paul II and Benedict XVI who were much preoccupied with unity of faith in the face of dissent, the Pope and his administration tightly controlled the agenda, process and the outcomes of the synod. While calling for a vibrant church the two popes emphasised the distinctive dignity and descending teaching authority of pope, bishops and priests.

Upon his election Pope Francis has set out to encourage freedom and initiative among Catholics. In his own conduct he paid less attention to issues of authority and doctrine than to outreach to people at the margins of the church and beyond it. His gift for such symbolic actions as mixing freely with people, holding off the cuff press conferences, and visiting prisons and refugee camps, were as important as his words. He has made synods a crowning symbol of his vision. He has encouraged participants to speak their mind, to differ on issues, to consult their people, and to see themselves as shaping the understanding of faith. They model the proper shape of relationships within the church as a whole, which Pope Francis has described as synodality.


teatrino (little theatre)

noun phrase

Little theatre, especially puppets… for children.

The term is both a common one in Italian (e.g. ‘puppet show’) and a rather special one in Salesian history for the importance Don Bosco gave it in his educational approach. He often referred to and in fact encouraged teatrino in contrast to teatro, possibly because he considered the large scale theatre as too worldly. This would be consistent with his view (from first meeting Cafasso as a young seminarian) that worldly shows are not for the priest or religious person.His understanding of teatrino, however, was also conditioned by necessity – especially during the time of the wandering Oratory, or on the autumn walks.

Usage: Perhaps the term can remain untranslated, since ‘little theatre’ does not really convey the intentions of Don Bosco, and there is really no equivalent for it in English. ‘Puppet show’ is not what he meant. ‘Small dramatic scenes’ would be closer to his understanding. ‘Skits’ and the like, so typical of youngsters efforts on stage… but then, we also need to think of the digital age today and how this concept might be conveyed in video and similar.

The Disciples (The Disciples, female branch also known as the Don Bosco Secular Sisters)

proper name

Association for men and women of diocesan right waiting to be approved as a secular institute of pontifical right. The Disciples, a Secular Institute of women, were founded by Fr Joseph D’Souza SDB in India in 1973. In January 2009, the Rector Major and his Council recognised the association as a member of the Salesian Family.

The institute consists of two principal branches (men and women) having their own separate juridical structure. The institute has a President, who is elected by the General Assembly. He is assisted by his Council formed up of the General Coordinator and the respective General Councils of each of the branches. Like other secular institutes, they make the profession of the evangelical counsels. The sisters are sent two by two mostly to the villages for their apostolate. They teach catechism, help in the parishes, run balwadis, etc. The brothers are sent to work mainly in the institutions. They are also working in many of the bishops’ houses. They follow a simple life style based on the Gospel values and are ready to do any work given to them especially in the remote areas.

titoli di appartenenza alla famiglia salesiana (credentials for belonging to the Salesian Family)

noun phrase

A first degree of belonging is that of the Salesians, Salesian Sisters and Salesian Cooperators – the first three groups founded by Don Bosco and which inherit his work directly. These three are a reference point for all the other Groups with regard to spirit, field of mission, apostolic and pedagogical method and activity.

A second degree of belonging involves the many Groups of consecrated life be they religious or secular, and certain Catholic Associations founded by Don Bosco’s ‘sons and daughters’.

A third degree of belonging applies to circles which are part of the vast Salesian movement. They include Friends of Don Bosco, the Salesian Youth Movement SYM, voluntary service groups which take their inspiration from the Salesians/Don Bosco, then teachers, catechists and a whole range of collaborators and co-workers.

The degree of juridical belonging is determined by an official letter of recognition from the Rector Major in response to a specific request.

See also Famiglia salesiana.

TR Testimoni del Risorto (TR Witnesses to the Resurrection)

proper name

Lay Spiritual Movement. On 8th December 1984 the Easter Project was born: TR 2000 (Testes Resurrectionis – Acts 1:21) with its own charter. Thus the TR Movement came about as a place where friends who shared the same ideal and desire could meet: to experience more closely in daily life and in the circumstances of each day, the good news of the Resurrection, as a source of life and happiness.

As a movement it is open to everyone, without limits of age, culture or origin; those who join have a particular experience of faith and friendship, and make up a ‘family of families’, where together they are formed in a culture of life in order to be more effective wherever the Lord calls them. Fidelity to the Risen Christ, then, is the basis of TR spirituality and the style of its membership as expressed in an Easter joy nurtured in the heart, by optimism and hope, in the service of Christ who is present in the poor. This interior attitude is at work deep down and sustains people in their difficulties of real life. Spirit and life of the movement.

The TR Movement (Witnesses to the Resurrection) comprises local cenacles in various parts of Italy that carry out the inspirational principles and aims of the movement. These local cenacles are organised into three divisions: youth, adults, volunteers. The adult division has within its ranks a group of consecrated lay women. At national level each division is represented by a National Coordinator, who refers to the Movement’s General Coordinator. A notable group, in as far as it takes care of matters of particular interest, is the youth division.

Founder: Fr Sabino Palumbieri SDB. Date admitted to the SF: 25th March 1999. National recognition: by the Permanent Council of CEI at its meeting on 22-25 September 2008.

transunto [la] (Transunto, Transumptum)


The original acts (proceedings) of the Diocesan Inquiry into the cause of beatification and canonisation.

A collection of papers, or a folder which has the seal of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on it and which contains the Acts of the Diocesan investigation into the heroic virtues of the person in question.

Usage: The term is rather specialised and tends to be used more often in its original form, since ‘summary’ seems rather too broad.

trattatello (1. essay. 2. treatise)


A word not in use in today’s Italian (it stands for a little {\\em trattato}) but found in Salesian historical reference to Don Bosco’s {\\em trattatello} (essay, small treatise) on the Preventive System

TVET (TVET Technical Vocational Education and Training)

abbreviation, acronym

In ASEAN countries there are 41 Don Bosco TVETs and 15 in other EAO countries – 9 in the Pacific (Oceania), 2 in South Asia (Pakistan) and 2 in East Asia.

Don Bosco Tech ASEAN is the body that coordinates Salesian Technical Vocational Education and Training Centres in Myanmar, the Philippines, East Timor, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. There are other Don Bosco Tech groups in other regions: since 2008, DB TECH INDIA, since 2014 DB TECH AFRICA. The DB TECH ASEAN came into existence in 2019.


ufficio anagrafico e statistico (Registry and statistics office)

noun phrase

Does all the work of gathering and preserving documentation regarding confreres, houses and Provinces in the Congregation.

Usage: Note that there is also an ufficio protocollo or registry office which links the ufficio anagrafico at the Salesian administrative centre (Direzione Generale) to the Salesian Central Archives.

Additionally, there is an ufficio giuridico, or ‘juridical office’.

Linguistic note: Some care needs to be exercised in any translation of the term protocollo in English. Normally it would not be rendered by ‘protocol’. A protocollo can be a file which registers all correspondence, for example, or it could be a file number or code assigned to an item. it is also a term used in reference to a sheet of foolscap.

UPS (_Università Pontificia Salesiana or Pontifical Salesian University)

noun phrase

The Pontifical Salesian University has the Rector Major as its Grand Chancellor.

By his motu proprio Magisterium vitae of 24 May 1973, Paul VI elevated the Ateneo Salesiano to university status and granted it the title ‘pontifical‘. Note that the term ‘pontifical’ comes before the term ‘Salesian’ in English.

urna (casket)


The coffin or container for bodily remains intended for display purposes.

In Salesian discourse, this term would immediately point to the glass container, effectively a reliquary, containing the body of a Salesian Saint such as John Bosco, Dominic Savio, Maria Mazzarello… It is also a ‘false friend’ in the sense that if it is unthinkingly translated as ‘Urn’, this is not at all in keeping with the meaning of the English word ‘urn’ which is a kind of vase, a receptacle which may hold the ashes of the dead (or of a certain cricket match!), or liquids such as water or tea.


vademecum (handbook)


Name and title of a small-format, often pocket-sized volume containing a handbook of ideas relating to a particular subject, and most often to a technique or practical activity.

It may refer to an historical document, the Vademecum, written for novices by Fr Barberis. This is accepted as part of the Salesian Tradition. The General Council has its own vademecum or ready reference describing its various functions for internal use only. A small booklet containing general procedures, regulations of an administrative nature.

VDB (Volontarie di Don Bosco) ((Women) Volunteers of Don Bosco)

abbreviation, initialism

A Secular Institute of Pontifical Right. ‘The Don Bosco Volunteers, in response to the Lord’s call, seek to integrate in their lives three characteristic elements of their vocation: consecration, secularity, Salesianity.’ Fr Viganò described them as “a novel incarnation of the Salesian spirit of Don Bosco.” (from description in The Salesian Family of Don Bosco 1999).

The institute recognises the Rector Major of the Salesians, successor of Don Bosco, as the leader of the Salesian Family. The institute is structured on three levels: central (General Council), regional (Regional Council) and local (Local Council). The legal headquarters are in Rome. Like most members of secular institutes, the volunteers do not live in community, but live in communion of life, united by a strong sense of belonging to the institute. In particular, they find in the group to which they belong, the best environment in which to put communion into practice. It is supported financially by the contributions of the volunteers. Because of its specifically secular nature, it does not have any works of its own.

The Salesian ecclesiastical assistant offers his priestly ministry to all levels of the institute, collaborating in the initial and permanent formation of the volunteers.

The Holy Reserve:

A requirement of the mission of a consecrated secular is to live unobtrusively. The volunteer does not disclose that she is consecrated. This permits her to live an ordinary life like other people. Professing and living the evangelical counsels, the volunteer expresses her fundamental option for Christ while living in the world, and with nothing to distinguish her from others. The Women Volunteers of Don Bosco, responding to the call of the Lord, seek to integrate in their lives the three characteristic elements of their vocation: consecration, secularity, Salesian character. Blessed Philip Rinaldi played a key role in their formation and development.

Vecchi, Juan Edmundo (Vecchi, Juan Edmundo)

proper name

Rector Major from 1996–2002. Juan Edmundo Vecchi Monti, was born at Viedma (Argentina) on 23 June 1931, the youngest of seven children of a family of Italian emigrants who between 1898 and 1906 moved from Emilia Romagna to Argentina in a period in which many Italians dreamed of escaping from the poverty of their own country by finding work and tranquility in foreign parts.

His father, Albino Vecchi, came from Boretto (Reggio Emilia), and his mother Maria Monti from Montescudo (Forlì). They became acquainted in Argentina and were married there. Juan was a nephew of the Blessed Artemide Zatti, a Salesian Brother. Juan got to know the Salesians in Viedma and decided to follow a salesian vocation. He made his first vows at Fortín Mercedes, 29 January 1947, and studied theology at Turin-Crocetta, where he was ordained priest on 1 July 1958. In the same year at Turin he obtained the licentiate in theology.

On his return to Argentina he was Rector at Viedma from ’65 to ’72. In the same year he began his long service - some 30 years - to the Congregation as a member of the General Council. From ’72 to ’78 he was Regional Councillor for the Atlantic part of Latin America; from ’78 to ’90 he was General Councillor for Youth Ministry; from ’90 al ’96 Vicar General; and finally from 20 March 1996 he was the eighth successor of Don Bosco.

He will be remembered as an innovator in youth pastoral work, but also for his outstanding gifts of government. He could listen and give due weight to all suggestions and opinions, and to individual needs. He had a strong sense of fatherliness and of fidelity to the founder’s charism, and was moreover a competent leader and animator of teamwork, sensitive and open to signs of the times. As Rector Major from the time of the GC24, the Chapter on the laity, Fr Vecchi always believed in them and kept up a trusting and sharing relationship with the thousands of lay people who take part in different ways in Don Bosco’s mission for the service of the young.

Noteworthy too was his post-conciliar sensitivity, in which he followed his predecessor Fr Egidio Viganò in believing in a ‘Church-communion’ and in a ‘Church-mission’ for the service of the poor, in a Congregation incarnate in all cultures and reaching out to the poorest and most marginalised of every continent. But as distinct from Fr Viganò, what stands out in Fr Vecchi is the prominence of the anthropological and educative aspect over the theological and spiritual, while the latter characteristic remains high in his personality (cf. his many letters and publications on this latter aspect). The eighth successor of Don Bosco was also a man of communication, a pastoral sector in which he firmly believed and to which he gave strong encouragement.

In the program of his six years as Rector Major, the communication dimension entered every environment, and found concrete expression, among other items, in the renewal and relaunching of the 52 editions of the Salesian Bulletin.

VIA Don Bosco (Via Don Bosco)

proper name

VIA Don Bosco is a recognised Belgian NGO that supports educational institutions and youth employment initiatives in Africa and Latin America. As a Belgian and Salesian NGO, VIA Don Bosco seeks to contribute to the realisation of the right to education for disadvantaged young people and marginalised communities in both the North and the South of the world.

VIA Don Bosco has been in existence for 50 years. Until 2011, the organisation was called DMOS-COMIDE. 2005 – Don Bosco Network (DBN): VIA Don Bosco, under its former name, became one of the founding fathers of the Don Bosco Network (DBN), through which European Salesian NGOs join forces.

vicario (1. vice-(provincial, rector). 2. Vicar of…​)


Someone who exercises authority or substitutes for or represents another person higher up. In ancient times and the Middle Ages, it was the title for a public official.

The Vicar of the Rector Major is the first collaborator of the Rector Major in the government of the Society (Cf. C. 130-132).

Note that vicario, in its wider application, but still associated with Don Bosco, was the title of the public official responsible for law and order in Turin. Michele Benso di Cavour was the Vicario of the city, or City Vicar.

The Salesian vicario is always a priest (since he can take the place of the RM/Provincial/Rector who will always be a priest. Only relatively recently (after the renewal of the Constitutions) was the role of vicario also applied at the local (house) level.

Usage: The Italian term vicario as applied in Salesian government and animation usually needs to be specified since it applies to three levels – world level (of the RM), Province level, vice provincial, and local level (vice rector). In each case the vicario is the first collaborator of the RM/provincial/rector, and can take his place when that person is absent or impeded.

Vicuña, Laura (Vicuña, Laura )

proper name

A significant example of holiness in the Salesian Family and as a result of the work of the Salesian Sisters.

Laura was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1891. Her father was a soldier. When civil war broke out, her father took Laura and her mother to another town across the mountains in Argentina so that they would be safe. Laura’a father died when she was only two years old.

Laura’s mother, Mercedes, had to find some way to support Laura and her new baby sister. After working as a cook for several years, she met a wealthy ranch owner named Manuel Mora. Mora promised Mercedes that if she came to live with him, he would send Laura to a boarding school taught by nuns. Mora did not promise to marry Laura’s mother.

Laura loved school. She was smart and did well. She loved learning about her faith and spent a great deal of time in prayer. On the day of her First Communion, she wrote, ‘Oh, my God, I want to love and serve you all my life’ in her notebook. Some of her classmates shunned her for her piety.

But her happiness at school turned to worry when she returned home for a visit. Her mother and Mora were living as a married couple. Laura knew that this was a sin. She prayed that her mother would leave Mora and begin to live God’s Commandments again.

Mora stopped paying for her education, but given a scholarship, Laura returned to school. She told a priest that she wanted permission to join the convent. Although the priest believed the girl had a true calling from God, he told her that she was too young and would have to wait until she was older to make such an important decision.

As Laura grew older, Mora turned his attention from Mercedes to her. Laura refused his advances and, angered, Mora beat her badly in 1904. Weakened from the beating and already in frail health, she died just a week later at the age of 13.

Seemingly in answer to Laura’s prayer to God, her mother returned to the Church when her daughter died.

On 3 September 1988, Laura Vicuña was beatified by Pope John Paul II.

Usage: The term remains in Spanish and works easily in English that way – but efforts should be made, given the ease of word-processing and font choice today, to retain the ñ. Beatified in 1988 at Colle Don Bosco. The event gave rise to another term, the Hill of the Beatitudes.

VIDES (Volontariato Internazionale Donna Educazione Sviluppo) VIDES International Volunteer Movement for Development and the Education of Women)

abbreviation, acronym

International association of youth volunteers under the auspices of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (or the Salesian Sisters) ( for the advancement of women – acts on behalf of women, children and disadvantaged people of both genders, especially in developing nations.

Viganò, Egidio (Viganò, Egidio)

Proper name

Rector Major from 1977–1995. Egidio Viganò was a native of Lombardy, but deeply rooted in the Latin-American culture because of his long stay in Chile (1939-1971). Strengthened by culturally significant traditions and a good theological school (where he was also a teacher), he took part in Vatican Council II as an expert, bringing to that the pastoral and educative experiences he had gained overseas along with a scientific rigour.

As the Superior General of a relevant Religious Institute and of many other associated groups, he was particularly attentive to the world’s problems and especially the Third World. He systematically shared the Bread of the Council with his confreres through detailed letters formulated as proposals of life (in the Church and for the Church in the charism of Don Bosco). The Pope nominated him as a Consultor for the Pontifical Council for the Family, for the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and for the Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. He was also a member of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, of the preparatory session for the Synod of Bishops of Europe, and a member too of the Permanent interdepartmental Commission for a more equal distribution of the clergy. For two years also he was President of the Union of Superiors General (USG).

Little by little he continued to update himself through his participation in Medellin, Puebla, Rome and their various Synods, and also as president of the Union of Superiors General (USG). Along with two other Superiors General (one Benedictine the other Jesuit) he was assigned by Pope John Paul II as a member of the extraordinary Synod on the 20th anniversary of the Council. Because of this and of other notable experiences and accomplishments, the period of leadership of Fr E. Viganò brought about in the Salesian Family that ‘sentire cum ecclesia’ and that fidelity to the Pope that were such noted and important characteristics of Don Bosco. These characteristics also carried forward in the ecclesial dimension the renewal ‘in fidelity’ to which the Salesian Family was called at the threshold of the Millennium.

As a member nominated by the Holy Father he took part in 6 Synods of Bishops which were celebrated in Rome from 1980 to 1994, in the special meetings in the Vatican in 1981-1982 with cardinals, bishops and superiors general concerned with problems in Central America, while in 1983 he took part in the dialogues of the superiors general with the Holy Father on problems and perspectives of Religious Life in the Church. In 1986 he was invited to preach the annual Retreat to the Pope and the Roman Curia. He gave a particular contribution to the last synod on consecrated life. Struck down by a tumour, he spent the final months of his life in suffering.

Fr Viganò will be remembered also as the celebrated author of numerous publications of spiritual and theological character.

visita (ispettoriale) (straordinaria) ((provincial) (extraordinary) visitation)

noun phrase

PROVINCIAL VISITATION: Once a year he (provincial) will make with particular care the provincial visitation to each community-

EXTRAORDINARY VISITATION: A six yearly visit to a Province arranged by the Rector Major (a visit he may make personally) and normally assigned to a regional or other councillor to conduct in his name. The delegated ‘visitor’ has the delegated power of jurisdiction required by the nature of the visit. (Cf R. 104).

In the case of the Extraordinary Visitation, the person assigned by the Rector Major to carry this out is known as the ‘Visitor’ or ‘Extraordinary Visitor’.

visita d’insieme (team visit)

noun phrase

An initiative that became part of regular practice to promote “the unity of the Congregation as the fruit of communion and charismatic fidelity”(GC25, 88).

The term came into being and was developed through the initiative of the Rector Major from Fr Ricceri’s time. It is not included in the Salesian code of law, that is, it is not prescribed by the Constitutions and Regulations.

The Team Visit aims to accomplish:

  • an assessment of how the Provinces and Region have communicated and assimilated GC26 and put it into practice;

  • the discovery of basic horizons for the Provinces’ and Region’s way forward;

  • the study of one or two topics of particular interest for the Region.

The aims and objectives of the Team Visit are in fact dependent on the Rector Major and his Council.

Usage: The term would normally be capitalised (both words).

visitatoria (vice-province)


Cons. 158 The vice-province is similar to the province. It is established when distance, number or other circumstances require that some houses be detached from one or more provinces, but the lack of personnel, of financial resources or some other reason does not warrant the establishment of a new province.

Usage: The term may be capitalised as Vice-province and may appear without a hyphen as vice province or Vice province and even as Viceprovince or viceprovince.
Linguistic note: The superior of a vice province is called ‘superior’, not ‘provincial’ and certainly not ‘vice provincial’ which is an entirely different provincial’ which is an entirely different role.

vita comune (common life, community life, fraternal life in common, fraternal life in community)

noun phrase

Religious institutes are societies in which the members in accord with their proper law profess public vows and lead a life of brothers or sisters in common (Canon 607, 2).

‘Common life’ for DB was closely linked to the bonds of fraternal charity, obedience. It is something practical rather than doctrinal for him.

Canon Law specifies: two elements of union and of unity among the members can be distinguished:

 — one, the more spiritual: `fraternity' or `fraternal communion', which arises from hearts animated by charity. It underlines `communion of life' and interpersonal relationships;(13)

 — the other, more visible: ‘life in common’ or ‘community life’, which consists of ‘living in one’s own lawfully constituted religious house’ and in ‘leading a common life’ through fidelity to the same norms, taking part in common acts, and collaboration in common services. (Can 602, 607)

The core element common across cultures and situations is ‘living and working together’.

Usage: The description ‘community life’ is more a colloquial reference than an official or even canonical one (the latter refers to ‘fraternal life in community’ by preference. Thus the term is seen more as a common, homely expression for a reality which is integral to religious life, along with its mission and profession of the evangelical counsels, or vows.

vita consacrata (consecrated life)

Noun phrase

“Life consecrated through the profession of the evangelical counsels is a stable form of living in which the faithful follow Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit and are totally dedicated to God who is supremely loved. By a new and special title they are dedicated to seek the perfection of charity in the service of God’s kingdom for the honour of God, for the building up of the Church and the salvation of the world. They are a splendid sign in the Church as they foretell the heavenly glory.” (Canon 573, 1).

An implication of the definition is specified in the following canon. The state of persons who profess the evangelical counsels belongs to the life and holiness of the Church. It is therefore to be fostered and promoted by everyone in the Church (Canon 574). This obligation belongs especially to families.

In the Church there are many institutes of consecrated life that differ according to the grace given to them e.g. the intention of the founders, the nature of the institute, its purpose and spirit and its sound traditions… (Canon 578) these elements are to be included in the constitutions of the institute to protect the vocation and identity of the institute (Canon 587, 1).

The consecrated life by its nature is neither clerical nor lay. If, by the will of the founder, an institute is governed by clerics and implies the exercise of sacred orders, it is called clerical. If, by the will of the founder, the institute is not governed by clerics and does not imply the exercise of sacred orders, it is called lay (Canon 588).

The institute can be either pontifical or diocesan. It is pontifical if it has been established by the Apostolic See. It is diocesan if it has been established by the diocesan Bishop (Canon 589). Each institute taking into account its special character is to define in its rule or constitutions how the evangelical counsels and the common life are to be lived in the institute. (Canons 598-602) For example, the foundational documents of the community define whether it is contemplative or apostolic.

Usage: There is often, in common speech, confusion or misuse of terms in relation to consecrated life. At the 1994 Synod on consecrated life (“The Consecrated Life and Its Role in the Church and in the World.” The word “consecrated” was used in place of ‘religious’ because it is a broader concept that includes hermits, virgins, secular institutes, and new forms of consecrated lay persons who do not live in a religious community), the Synod members (Cardinal Hume posed seven questions) asked for clarification. What emerged from this important Synod was at least this: Consecrated life was seen as an essential aspect of ecclesial communion. An important and useful distinction was made between ‘consecration as such’ and various concrete forms of consecration. Consecrated life is more than a structure in the Church; it is a structure of the Church which calls all to holiness.

volontariato (voluntary service)


‘A service of solidarity, made gratuitously and freely by a young person [but there are older people who offer themselves and their services in the same way], sent and welcomed by a community, integrating him/herself into the educative and pastoral project of a Salesian presence or promoted by it, with a sufficient continuity of time, motivated by the faith, with the missionary style and according to the pedagogy and spirituality of Don Bosco.’ (From the PDMA Manual published in 2018 by the Missions Department, annex on Salesian Missionary Volunteering). The four key elements are a) a service of solidarity, b) Freedom, c) Gratuity, d) Sufficient continuity.

PDMA (Provincial Delegate for Missionary Animation) is a key reference person for the Volunteer Movement locally.

It is noted that in the Salesian context voluntary service has developed considerably in recent decades, so much so that some Salesian works begun in the last 25 years would not be what they are without the valuable service of the volunteers. At present in the Salesian world there is a great variety of experiences considered ‘voluntary service.’ It is difficult to make a complete list. We shall mention some of the more common ones.

The freely given service of leaders, catechists and other collaborators in the oratories and youth centres and in Salesian parishes. Some of these provide a full time service while others a regular but intermittent service.

  • Social voluntary service among the poor.

  • Voluntary service in educational contexts.

  • Voluntary service of a directly evangelising nature.

  • Voluntary service as a specifically vocational form of activity in a Salesian centre.

  • Voluntary service as a vocational choice of life, for an unlimited period.

  • Group experience, normally outside one’s own environment and for a short time – from two weeks to three months – to carry out a specific project. Often these experiences are carried out in Salesian contexts in developing countries.

  • Voluntary service for a considerable length of time (about a year) outside one’s own environment in works in the same Province.

  • Voluntary service for a short period of time (three months to a year) or for a longer period (more than a year) in other countries in mission territories entrusted to the Congregation.

  • Civilian (social) service supported by the State, that can take the place of military service.

From the variety in this list, to which could be added other experiences, it can be seen that in different parts of the Salesian world, not everyone has the same thing in mind when they speak about ‘Salesian voluntary service.’ For this reason we feel the need to establish certain criteria for the organisation and the promotion of this rich and promising phenomenon. As Salesians, we want to discover these riches, and recognise the challenges, bearing in mind the current social and ecclesiastical context, within the context of history and of Salesian values.

VSDB (The Vistation Sisters of Don Bosco)

abbreviation, initialism

A religious Congregation of Diocesan Right.

Founder: Bishop Hubert D’Rosario SDB (1919-1994), Bishop of Shillong (1969-1994). Date of foundation: 31 May 1983.


wantok (system) [tpi] (Wantok (system))


In Tok Pisin, the ‘lingua franca’ of Papua New Guinea, wantok means ‘one talk’ – meaning the language of the tribe or clan that a person belongs to. The Wantok system and Wantokism make up the traditional welfare system that evolved around that tribe. It has evolved into an omnipresent approach to life in Papua New Guinea, and thus affects the lives of Salesian communities and their work.

And indeed, the PGS Vice Province has adopted the term for its annual youth gathering, Wantok Don Bosco.

The Wantok system has a significant impact in every area of life in PNG. Wantoks who gain a position of responsibility are expected to look after their wantoks… whether that be in their own small business such as a trade store or small workshop, in an existing business, in the Civil Service or as a politician.

Seen positively, wantokism is a system where people depend on, care for, and help each other in many aspects of society. While traditionally family and clan members were obligated to provide support for each other, the ‘wantok system’ today performs a set of broader roles. It acts, for example, as form of social security, whereby families look after their sick or elderly family members. The wantok system has a set of underlying values for its practices. Three such values are protection (physical and social), accountability (to kin) and that allegiance to wantoks outweighs other considerations. When the wantok system operates well in the village and traditional society, it helps maintain a community’s wellbeing, and provides a form of social glue or strength for the community.

In the modern context, the wantok system is now under pressure, especially in the urban areas. Not only are these social connections stressed by the concentration and complexity of urban lives, but the expectations and pressures from wantoks can also lead to the abuse of office by employees, managers, public servants and politicians. Often, migrants respond by striving to focus on their individual family rather than the clan, allowing them to accumulate wealth away from the bounds of social obligations. Regardless, the ‘wantok system’ is often held to blame (by Papua New Guineans and outsiders) for a variety of problems within contemporary life in Papua New Guinea – most prominently corruption and nepotism but also, as wantoks start placing untenable pressures on better-off relatives, the breaking down of traditional kinship relations.


Currently no entries.


Currently no entries.


Zatti, Artemide (Zatti, Artemides)

proper name

Artemides Zatti was born in Boretto (Reggio Emilia) on October 12, 1880. He experienced difficulties and sacrifices from an early date. By the age of nine he was already earning his living as a day labourer. Poverty forced his family to emigrate to Bahia Blanca, Argentina. Here Artemides began to attend the parish run by the Salesians and developed great confidence in the Parish Priest, Fr. Carlo Cavalli. Advised to become a Salesian, he was accepted as an aspirant by Bishop Cagliero and, at the age of 23, entered the house of Bernal. Among other things, he was entrusted with the care of a young priest who was suffering from tuberculosis.

Artemides caught the disease. He was sent to the hospital of San José. While there, the priest, doctor, Fr. Evarisio Garrone, followed him, in a special way. With him, he asked and received the grace of a cure from Mary Our Help. On his part, he promised to dedicate his whole life to the care of the sick. He was cured and kept his promise. At first, he looked after the hospital Pharmacy. After the death of Fr. Garrone, he was totally responsible for the hospital, which became the scene of his holiness. In 1913 he directed the building of a new hospital, which later, to his great disappointment, was demolished in 1941, to make room for the episcopal residence for the new diocese of Viedma. In 1950, a fall from a stairs forced him to retire. A few months later he showed symptoms of cancer.

He died on March 15, 1951. His remains lie in the Salesian Chapel of Viedma. John Paul II beatified him on April 14, 2002, in Rome.

zelo (zeal)


The Greek term zelos means ardour, the act of emulating something (or someone). In religious terms it is a strong sense of ardour, directed to God or for the salvation of souls – in this sense then we hear it used as applied to Don Bosco. We see phrases in Salesian discourse such as tireless zeal, the zeal for souls, zeal of the Da mihi animas. Fr Chávez, following the UISG (Superiors General) meeting in 2004, began to use the synonymous term'`passion’ much more frequently.

Ziggiotti, Renato (Ziggiotti, Renato)

personal name

Renato Ziggiotti rose to the top after an authentic experience of coming up through the ranks as soldier, then teacher and animator amongst the young. After his experience as a General Councillor and Vicar he took up the reins of the Congregation in the difficult post-war years, spurring it on to unity by means of a fervent spiritual life and the charism of Don Bosco.

Fr Ziggiotti was the first Salesian Rector Major after the generation formed directly in the school of Don Bosco, Founder, and he saw it as necessary to ‘fall in again’. His service was exceptional. His postwar period as Rector Major was marked by – other than the normal activities of government – his extraordinary journeys around the world that carried him into direct contact with the reality of the Congregation, helped him to know all of the confreres, gave him ways to confirm and encourage daring programs.

Above all he spurred the Congregation on to rebuild the unity of communities which the wartime events had disturbed through years of separation and segregation. He knew how to rebuild in democratic style, almost heartily, but no less incisively. If he had the gift of command that betrayed something of its ‘military’ origins, it revealed nevertheless a great interiority. He drew life from God, from the Church, from the Madonna and from Don Bosco. As a result he lived for his confreres and their mission. So little did he see himself as important that after the Second Vatican Council – in which he participated with mind and heart as a true son of the Church – he humbly retired as superior and withdrew to the Sanctuary of Don Bosco on the Becchi Hill, as its first Rector, and then to his beloved Veneto, where he remained until his death.


Sometimes an Italian word can be correctly translated by looking for similarities with English words, but in many cases the word has a different meaning. False friends are words which look or sound similar to an English word but differ significantly in meaning. Some false friends have more than one translation between Italian and English, and so it is very important to recognise the different possible meanings of some English words compared to their Italian ‘friend’. The use of loanwords, too, often results in the use of a word in a restricted context, which may then develop new meanings not found in the original language, thus also creating a false friend.





Mostly means house or residence and this is how it should be translated!. It could be ‘habitation’ but the English sense of this is usually something like insediamento in Italian



Mostly means a stroke, a fit, damn! Could be ‘accident’ but that would normally be incidente


Means to fix, arrange

‘To accommodate’ would normally be alloggiare



Not an addict but an employee! An addict would be a tossicodipendente or someone who is preso da (taken up with) something



Not an addict but addition! See above for ‘addict’

ad hoc

ad hoc

Means specially made. ‘Ad hoc’ as we use it in English would be _improvvisato’



Means a tributary. ‘Affluent’, as we use it in English would be ricco



Means to face someone. ‘affront’ (cause affront) as we use it in English would be oltraggiare, offendere



Means a diary. ‘Agenda’ as we use it in English would be ordine del giorno



Means death throes, not agony, even if death throes might involve agony. ‘Agony’ is dolore, angoscia, atroce



Means food or as alimenti mean alimony. ‘Ailment’ is malanno



Means to bore. (To) annoy is translated as irritare, dar fastidio



Means to bring forward. ‘Anticipate’ would be prevedere, aspettarsi



Does not mean to profit but to take advantage of. ‘To profit from/by’ is to ricavare beneficio da



Not appoint but to pin something (together) or to point at. ‘Appoint’ is nominare



Means topic. ‘Argument’ in Italian would be discussione, litigo



Means to fix, manage. ‘Arrange’ as we use it in English would be sistemare, disporre



Means to wait for. ‘Attend’ as we use it in English would be frequentare



Means a penthouse or top-floor flat. ‘Attic’ as we use it in English would be soffitta



Not attitude but aptitude. ‘Attitude’ is atteggiamento

attuale, attualmente

actual, actually

Means current, currently (can mean actual). But ‘actual’ as we most often use it in English would be effettivo, reale. Similarly attualità is not ‘actuality’ but refers to, say, a current affairs program, today’s news



Means leftover, remains (of food). ‘Advance’ could be avvanzare, anticipare, avanzata, anticipato depending on context



Means a warning, notice, caution. ‘Advertisement’ would be annuncio, inserzione



Means a notice, a notification. ‘Advice’ would be consiglio





Means courageous. ‘bald’ is calvo



Means a base (e.g. of a bed). A ‘basement’ is a seminterrato



Means to bandage. ‘To bend’ is curvare, inchinare, piegare



Can mean biological, but more likely to mean organic.



It is a loan word that has changed meaning in Italian and means a garage or parking space. Box is scatola



Means embers. alla brace is barbecued. ‘Brace’, depending on context, would be a rinforzo, sostegno to tenersi forte



Means well done! Clever, good. ‘Brave’ is coraggioso



It refers to hoarfrost. `Brine' would be acqua salata





Means room. ‘Camera’ is macchina fotografica



It might be an English word, but Italian often uses the -ing form of English words as a noun, hence it means camp site! Instead, ‘camping’ is campeggio



Means pure, honest. ‘Candid’ is schietto



Means cellar, basement. ‘Canteen’ is mensa


card (or cart)

Could mean card (and definitely not cart) but more often, in a Salesian context, it will mean charter, document. ‘Card’ could be tessera, biglietto



It means of a chance nature. A ‘casualty’ is a vittima, ferito



Means bail. ‘Caution’ is cautela



Means pit, quarry. ‘Cave’ would be caverna



Means the opposite — warm. ‘Cold’ is freddo



Means resounding, noisy, or even sensational. ‘Clamorous’ in the noisy sense is chiassoso or insistente in the sense of people clamouring for something



Means tail or queue. ‘Code’ is codice



Means consistent (viewpoint). ‘Consistent, consistency’ as in texture would be consistenza



Means boarding school. ‘College’ (US) would be istituto universitario



Means comfort, convenience. ‘Comodity’ is prodotto, merce, materia prima



Means understanding, inclusive, sympathetic. ‘Comprehensive’ is esauriente



It means extortion instead! Concussion in the medical sense would be a commozione cerebrale



Means driver (tram, bus). ‘Conductor’ is bigliettaio (tram), direttore d’orchestra



Could mean this but also partner, co-worker. The negative sense of the word in English would be informatore, collaborazionista



Could be, but in the Salesian sense a friendly chat, conversation. A ‘colloquium’ is a seminario accademico



Means wedding sweets, sugared almonds. ‘Confetti’ as we use it in English is coriandoli



Be aware that it does not always mean confidence. it can refer to a close relationship, intimacy between two people, a good relationship with someone



Means to compare. ‘Confront’ as we use it in English is far fronte a



Means substantial, solid. ‘Consistent’ would be coerente, costante



Means of good value. ‘Convenient’ as we use it in English is adatto, comodo, opportuno



Means custard. ‘Cream’ is panna



Means raw. ‘Crude’ is volgare





Means disappointment. ‘Delusion’ is illusione



Means dismissal, removal. ‘Destitution’ is indigenza



Means distrust. ‘Diffidence’ is sfiducia



Often means an argument or quarrel in Italian, although it can mean discussion. ‘Discussion’ is dibattito



Means bad luck, misfortune. ‘Disgrace’ is vergogna, disonore

disporre di

dispose of

Means to have (something) at your disposal, make arrangements. (To) dispose of is disfarsi di



Could be docile but more likely well-behaved, obedient. ‘Docile’ is also arrendevole, mansueto



Means to ask. ‘To demand’ is pretendere, esigere, insistere



Means cathedral. A ‘dome’ is cupola





Means publisher. ‘Editor’ is direttore, curatore (books)



Means polite, well brought-up. ‘Educated’ is istruito, erudito



Very ofen means upbringing, good manners. ‘Education’ is cultura, formazione, istruzione



Means real. ‘Effective’ is efficace. Hence effettivamente is never ‘effectively’ but ‘really’, ‘actually’



Means emotional. ‘Emotive’ is che desta impressione



Often means simply energy though it could also be energetic. ‘Energetic’ is energico, attivo



Means performance. ‘Exhibition’ is mostra



Means summer. ‘Estate’ is proprietà, tenuta, eredità



Means if necessary, possibly. ‘Eventually’ is alla fine, finalmente





Means annoying. ‘Fastidious’ is esigente, scrupoloso



Means inevitable though can also be fatal. ‘Fata’' is mortale, fatidico



Means farm. ‘Factory’ is fabbrica



Although it is borrowed from English, it has changed meaning to mean a TV drama. ‘Fiction’ is narrativa, un’opera di narrativa



Means ‘at last’, which is similar but not the same as finally. ‘Finally’ is alla fine



Could be, but could also be ‘education’.



Means supply. ‘Furniture’ is {\\em mobili, mobilia}


frequent (v)

Mostly means to attend (e.g. school). `Frequent' can also be frequentare



Means fury. ‘Furore’ is scalpore (sensation) or just entusiasmo





Means brilliant, gifted. ‘Genial’ is simpatico, amichevole


genteel, gentle

Means kind. ‘Genteel’ might be raffinato, distinto while ‘gentle’ could be gentile but also delicato, amabile, amichevole



Means upper secondary studies (in Italy) preceding Liceo. A gymnasium is a palestra



Can mean global but more often overall. ‘Global’ could be mondiale



Means gratuitousness. A ‘gratuity’ (tip) is a mancia



Means backup or support. ‘Gregarious’ is socievole





Means impassable. ‘Impervious’ is impermeabile



Means to personify, play a role. ‘Impersonate’ is fingersi, imitare



Can mean impressive but especially shocking. ‘Impressive’ is notevole



Actually mean uninhabited! ‘Inhabited’ is abitato



Incharge (or in-charge) doesn’t exist. ‘Individual in charge’ does, or ‘appointee’ or similar. An incaricato is also an addetto or employee



Means an accident. An ‘incident’ is an evento



Means imminent, impending. ‘Incumbent’ could be a titolare, beneficiato or, if it is incumbent on someone, then spetta a luia a…​



Means a setback, disappointment. ‘Inconvenient’ is scomodo



Means influence. ‘Influx’ is afflusso



Means insult. ‘Injury’ is ferita, danno



Means an oral exam (school). ‘Interrogation’ is an interrogatorio



Means an order or command! ‘Intimation’ is an accenno



Not really. It means poison, poisoning. ‘Intoxication’ is ubriacchezza



Means insignificant (can mean irrelevant). ‘Irrelevant’ is normally non pertinente





Means wide. ‘Large’ is grande



Means a reading. ‘Lecture’ is conferenza, lezione depending on context



Means bookshop. ‘Library’ is biblioteca



Means a frontier situation. The rather special meaning of liminality in anthropology is disorientamento



Can be language but also style, expression. ‘Language’ can be lingua



Means quirky, temperamental. ‘Lunatic’ is pazzo, matto



Means filthy. ‘Lurid’ is spargiante, pacchiano



Means lustful. ‘Luxurious’ is lussuoso, di lusso





Means warehouse. ‘Magazine’ is periodico, rotoclaco



Means duty, task. ‘Mansion’ is villa, blocco di apartamenti



Means jam (any kind of jam). ‘Marmalade’ is marmellata di argumi



Means brown. ‘Maroon’ is rosso fegato or rosso granata



Means poverty. ‘Misery’ is sofferenza



It might be an English word but it has changed meaning in Italian except when used in the ‘virtual’ sense when it would be ‘flash mob’, so take note of the context.



Means bishop, archbishop…​ ‘Monsignor’ (with its meaning of a special title for a priest) is also monsignore



Means soft. ‘Morbid’ is morboso



Means in arrears (rent!), though it can be used in a familiar sense to mean sweetheart. ‘Morose’ is scontroso





Means to name. ‘Nominate’ is proporre per una candidatura



Means a short story. ‘Novel’ is romanzo





Means a morgue! ‘Obituary’ is necrologio



Means this but also opportunity, bargain. ‘Occasion’ is not always occasione. It could be evento, momento



Means something is needed. ‘Occur’ is accadere, venire in mente



Means orphan but in Italian, an orphan may have lost only one parent, e.g. orfano di padre



Means systematic, holistic, complete. ‘Organic’ is more likely to be biologico, ecologico, naturale



Can be organism but think more in terms of an organisation.



Means oysters. Careful what you order! ‘Ostrich’ is {\\em struzzo}





Means a comparison. ‘Paragon’ is modello di virtù



Means relatives. ‘Parents’ are genitori



Yes, but in Salesian context it refers to ministry or pastoral ministry



Means licence. A ‘patent’ is a brevetto



Means fatherhood, authorship. To be ‘fatherly’ (fatherliness) is essere paterno



Means floor. ‘Pavement’ (footpath) is marciapiede



Means shortage. ‘Penury’ is indigenza



Means oil. ‘Petrol’ is benzina



Means worried. ‘Preoccupied’ is assorto



Means the sanctuary in the church. ‘Presbytery’ is casa parocchiale or canonica



Means contraceptive, condom, ‘Preservative’ is conservante



Means to claim (Pretender to the throne!). ‘To pretend’ is far finta



Means to abuse (use of power). ‘Prevaricate’ is tergiversare



Salesian usage suggests it might be a Mission office. But the noun ‘procure’ does not exist in English and the verb ‘to procure’ has an insalubrious meaning! To be avoided. Call it a PDO or Mission Office.



Means register, register number, registry office. ‘Protocol’, instead, is etichetta, though it would be protocol if it refers to a draft document or treaty. A foglio protocollo on the other hand is a sheet of foolscap



Means sting (wasp, i.e. puntura di vespa). A ‘puncture’ is foratura di pneumatico




question, or questionnaire

Means to argue or quarrel. ‘To question’ is interrogare. A ‘questionnaire’ is a questionario

qui pro quo

quid pro quo

One letter makes the difference! A ‘qui pro quo’ is a mistake, a misunderstanding. ‘Quid pro quo’ is quid pro quo and means ‘tit for tat’, ‘You scratch my back, I scratch yours!’





Means turnip. ‘Rape’ is stupro



Means installment. ‘Rate’ (depending on context) is tasso, livello velocità



Means to carry out or fulfil or achieve. ‘Realise’ is accorgersi, capire



Means container. ‘Recipient’ is destinatario, beneficiario



Means remuneration, salary. ‘Retribution’ is punizione, ricompensa



Means a memory, a reminder. ‘Record’ is disco, or appunto



Means to admit (to hospital). ‘Recover’ is guarire (da), recuperare



Means important, remarkable. ‘Relevant’ is pertinent



Means to think, consider. ‘Retain’ is conservare, trattenere



Means rough and ready. ‘Rude’ is maleducato, offensivo





Means wages. ‘Salary’ is stipendio, which is also a stipend or payment to clergy (also known as a congrua



Means healthy. ‘Sane’ is equilibrato



Means to heart up or in the reflexive to get excited. ‘Scald’ is sbollentare



Means rarely. ‘Scarcely’ is a stento, appena



Means pupil. A ‘scholar’ is a studioso



Means a failure of good manners, unseemly. ‘Inconvenient’ is disturbo, scomodità



Means purpose. ‘Scope’ is ambito, possibilità

scuole pubbliche

public schools

It means state schools. ‘Public schools’ can have other meanings in different parts of the English-speaking world. They could be private schools charging high fees (UK)



Means sensitive or perceptible. ‘Sensible’ is ragionevole, sensato, equilibrato



Means closed, shut, clenched. ‘Serrated’ is seghettato



Might be synergy, but might also be simply ‘teamwork’.



Means nice, pleasant character. ‘Sympathetic’ is more likely to be comprensivo



Means a dinner jacket or tuxedo. ‘Smoking’ is fumare



Means to put up with. ‘Support’ is sostenere



Means gentle. ‘Suave’ is mellifluo, insinuante depending on context



Means wild, influenced by the devil. ‘Spirited’ is animato, focoso



Means to draw up something. ‘Stipulate’ is stabilire (che)



Means foreigner. ‘Stranger’ is sconosciuto, forestiero



Means full of atmosphere, evocative. ‘Suggestive’ is allusivo





Means lieutenant. ‘Tenant’ is inquilino



Might well be territory, but in a Salesian context it can often be glossed simply as ‘local area’



Has changed meaning in Italian and means toasted sandwich. ‘Toast’ is pane tostata, brindisi depending on context



Means awful, terrible. ‘Tremendous’ is fantastico



Means vulgar, indecent. ‘Trivial’ is banale



Means grim, cruel. ‘Truce’ is tregua





Can mean audience but usally hearing. ‘Audience’ is pubblico



Means unofficial. ‘Officious’ is invadente



Means further (in addition). ‘Ulterior’ as in motive would be seconda fine, otherwise recondito



Means lately, of late. ‘Ultimately’ might be in definitiva, in fin dei conti



Can mean urn but would normally be translated as casket when used, for example of Don Bosco’s remains or relics. An urna is also a ballot box in Italian. An urn could also be a vaso





Not vest, but more generally a garment. ‘Vest’ could be a maglia intima, panciotto…​ depending on context



Yes, but also a vice-rector



Means cowardly. ‘Vile’ is brutto, orribile



Means a lout or a boor. A ‘villain’ is a mascalzone



Normally it means potentially. ‘Virtually’ might normally be {\\em praticamente}, althoyugh virtualmente could occasionally be used



Means bad, dissolute. ‘Vicious’ is _ brutale, maligno_



Can mean vocabulary but also often used for a dictionary. A ‘vocabulary’ is a lessico, glossario or list of words



Means to be changeable, fickle. ‘Voluble’ would be loquace





Careful. It refers to a toilet (bowl)! L’ho gettato nel water = I threw it in the toilet



zappare, zapping

zap, zapping

zappare Means to hoe. ‘Zap’ (e.g. on a tv) is known in Italian as fare lo zapping