Mama Margaret, a True Salesian Hero
It has been 150 years since Mama Margaret died. The intensity of her virtue has been recognized by the church, and she has been declared a servant of God. This year our Rector Major, Fr. Pascual Chavez, SDB, has asked that the Salesian family pray fervently for her cause of beatification and canonization. We invite you to join in this prayer.
Margherita Occhiena was born on April 1, 1788, in Capriglio (Asti), and baptised on the sameday, in the parish church. She remained at home until her marriage to Francesco Bosco, after which she moved to Becchi. Following the premature death of her husband, the twenty-nine year old Margherita had to rear the family alone in a time of severe famine. She cared for Francesco's mother and his son Antonio as well as educating her sons Joseph and John. She was a strong woman, with clear ideas. Decisive in her choices, she led a simple and even severe style of life. However, she was kind and reasonable in the Christian education of her children. She reared three boys of very different temperaments, but she never mortified any of them nor tried to make them the same.
Though she was forced, at times, to make extreme choices (such as sending her youngest son away from home so as not to destroy the peace and to give him a chance to study), she followed the tendencies of each son, with faith, wisdom and courage, helping them to grow in generosity and an enterprising spirit. She accompanied John with special love in his journey to the priesthood and then, at 58, she left her little house on the Colle, and followed him in his mission among the poor and abandoned boys of Turin (1846). Here, for ten years, her life merged with that of her son and with the beginnings of the Salesian Work. She was the first and principal Cooperator of Don Bosco, and, with her practical kindness, became the maternal element in the Preventive System. Even without knowing it, she became the 'cofoundress' of the Salesian Family, which formed so many saints like Dominic Savio and Fr. Michael Rua. She was illiterate but filled with that wisdom that comes from on high and thus she was able to help many street boys who were nobody's children. She put God first, consuming her whole life in the service of God, in poverty, prayer and sacrifice. She died at 68, inTurin, on November 26. Crowds of boys who mourned for her as for a mother accompanied her remains to the cemetery.
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