Tag Archives: Don Bosco

Dogs: possible means of “unusual events”! (part 3)


Statue of Don Bosco and the GrayAfter around 4 months since we have published our last article on this topic (for those who would like to read it again, click HERE for a direct access) and after approximately one year and a half from our first work about this fascinating matter regarding dogs as possible means of “unusual events” (for those who would love reading our first publication, please click HERE), we decided to deal again with the story of Don Bosco and the Gray dog, in order to provide you with further and interesting information.

Wait a minute! Do you remember the story that inspired us address the topic of miraculous phenomena related to the presence of dogs, which we sometimes find in the anecdotage of some Saints’ lives? The all idea came from the story of Mr. Mario Ritaldi from Rome. Should you like to enjoy again or for the first time his video-interview before continuing with the reading of this our new article, you can click HERE.

Well, now we can start!

«I have caressed the Gray».

Mr. Renato CelatoRenato Celato, a Salesian, who has been a reliable and discreet chauffeur of four Rector Majors, witnessed a “mysterious” meeting.

In May 1959, the urn containing the body of Don Bosco, during its way back from Rome to Turin on a special van incognito, made a stop in La Spezia, at the church of Our Lady of the Snow…

What do you remember about the mysterious dog that you saw beside the urn of Don Bosco?

I could see, touch and caress that mysterious dog. All happened on May 5 or 6, 1959, after the inauguration of the great church of Cinecittà (Rome). We were on our way back from Rome and were carrying the urn of Don Bosco, that had remained in Rome for a few days. Pope John XXIII had also come to see it… The urn of Don Bosco had remained for two days in the basilica of Saint Peter, while we were organizing its return trip to Turin… We arrived at La Spezia at The Gray crouching (general view and in detail)around 7:00am, instead of 4:00am. Our confrere, Mr. Bodrato, who was the sexton, had opened the doors of the church at 4:30am and had seen this dog crouching at the entrance. So, he had given a kick to the dog in order to send him away but the dog, without any reaction, had just moved aside, continuing to wait for the arrival of the urn.

Once we arrived, we took the urn into the church and put it on a carpenter table. The dog followed us and crouched under the table. At the beginning nobody cared about it, but then, when people started to gather and some Masses were celebrated, the director began to be concerned and told the policemen who were there: “Send away this dog that is lying under the urn!” The policemen did not succeed, as the dog started gnashing his teeth and looked really angry. The dog remained there until noon, when the church was closed. Then, the dog went out of the church and began to wander among the boys in the courtyard. Of course, the boys were happy to have the dog there and started to caress him, to pull his tail. I joined them too.

We went to have lunch. There were the inspector, all the directors of the inspectorate, the novices and the confreres who had been able to enter. The dining room was upstairs. During lunch, we saw this dog pushing the door with his front legs and coming in. He began to wander among the tables. Don Puddu, secretary of the High Council, gave him a kick, but the dog did not bother and continued to wander. The dog was offered some bread, ham, salami, he just sniffed as he liked that food but did not eat anything. He remained there during all the lunch. Shortly before the final prayer, the dog opened the door and went out.

The Gray crouching (in detail)At about 2:00pm we went back to the church. We had to leave because the journey was still long. The dog was again crouching under the urn. How did the dog get in, as the church’s doors were locked?

We loaded the heavy urn onto the van and the dog was still there near us. I left a photograph in our archive in order to document all that.

We left, heading to Genoa Sampierdarena through the Turchino passage, since there was no highway yet. Don Giraudi, who was in the car with me, every now and then used to ask me: “Please check if the dog is still following us!” The dog was still following the van, even in the city. I saw the dog as far as the third curve of a steep road. Then, the dog disappeared.

E.A. – V.G.

Cover of Salesian Bulletin (April 2016)Interview taken from the Salesian Bulletin, dated April 2016 (Year CXL, n. 4)
“I have caressed the Gray” – Meeting with Mr. Renato Celato (pp. 10-13), by the envoy Jesus Jurado

Dogs: possible means of “unusual events”! (part 2)


We have published our first article on this topic around a year ago (for those who are interested in reading our first publication, direct access is granted by clicking HERE) and now have decided to deepen one of the four examples used in that article. We will deal with Don Bosco and the Gray Dog!

‘Don Bosco and the Gray Dog’, illustration by Andrea F. PhillipsHowever, before starting this new work, please let us remind you what, a year ago and also today, has inspired us to debate about miraculous phenomena related to dogs, and which are found in the anecdotage of lives of some Saints. Well, we have been inspired by the story recounted by Mr. Mario Ritaldi from Rome. So, it could be interesting to watch his video-interview before continuing this reading (for a direct access, please click HERE).

And now we can start our story!

The urn of Don Bosco and the “gray dog”

The following story is a synthesis of what has been recounted by Don Tiburzio Lupo, who was at that time director of the Salesian House in Livorno (Italy) and was an eyewitness of what happened. Don Tiburzio passed away in 2001 at the Mother House in Turin, when he was around 100 years old.

In May 1959, the urn containing the body of Don Bosco had to secretly travel by a special van to Rome and then from Rome to Turin, and even the stops necessary for the long journey had to be kept completely secret. However, Don Tiburzio was determined to also have the urn of Don Bosco in La Spezia (Italy), and he had to convince his confrère Don Giraudi, who was in charge of the trip. Finally, Don Giraudi was convinced. This would have been the program: a) on May 12, the urn would have secretly arrived from Livorno to La Spezia at around 5:30am; b) confrères and youngsters of the House would have been allowed to see Don Bosco; c) on the same morning the urn would have then left to Sampierdarena, the last stop before returning to Turin.

‘Church of Our Lady of the Snow’, La SpeziaOn May 12, Don Tiburzio and some confreres got up early, and reached Garibaldi street, that was just in front of the church Our Lady of the Snow. They started waiting for the coveted arrival of the urn of Don Bosco. At this point, began the story of the “gray dog”.

A dog, that was half wolf and had gray hair, approached two confrères among those who were waiting there, and started to wander around them. They tried to drive him away, even with stones, but the dog went where Don Tiburzio, Don Oliva and a lady holding a child were waiting. Don Oliva, who was sitting on a bench, began to stroke the dog and the dog crouched beside him, putting his head on Don Oliva’s knees.

The van, together with all the people escorting it, finally arrived, albeit with an hour delay. Following persistent requests coming from Don Tiburzio, Don Giraudi agreed to let the urn be carried into the church for the veneration by devotees. The urn was placed on a steady table in the presbytery, lit by some spotlights and visible from every part of the church.

Less than an hour later, the church was completely full of people, conveyed to venerate the relics of Don Bosco.The number of people continued to increase so that, at approximately 8:00am, the police arrived in order to control devotees’ inflows.

‘The Gray Dog crouched’, illustration by Andrea F. PhillipsMeanwhile, something strange happened. During the seven-thirty Mass, that was celebrated by Don Giraudi, some of the faithful followers informed Don Tiburzio that a dog was crouched on the steps of the balustrade, just on the side of the urn, and prevented people from approaching it. After having tried to move him away from there, the dog – this dog just resembled the dog which was seen before the arrival of Don Bosco’s urn – even crouched under the table on which the urn was. Since no one complained, the dog could stay under the table, all the Mass long.

After the Mass, Don Tiburzio went to the sacristy to accompany Don Giraudi to have breakfast. Suddenly, the dog, quiet and wagging, arrived there and followed them into the refectory. Don Tiburzio tried to chase him away but Don Giraudi then said while smiling: “Leave him alone… Maybe he is the Gray of Don Bosco!”

In the refectory the dog crouched under the table, between Don Giraudi’s feet, refusing any food that was offered him: buttered bread, cheese, salami. All the people there were astonished because, if the dog had been a stray dog, he wouldn’t have refused to eat.

After breakfast, Don Giraudi went to rest for a while and Don Tiburzio then picked up the dog by the scruff of his neck and led him into the courtyard. The youngsters there, who had attended the Mass celebrated by Don Giraudi, were having some free time, but as soon as they saw the dog, they gathered around him and started to stroke him. However, even on this occasion the dog refused to eat what the guys offered him.

After the school bell rang, the dog was taken to the reception. There he crouched truly miserable, and the porter, since the dog refused to move, left him alone. At around 10:00am, Mr.Basilio, who was the factotum of the House, passed by the reception and saw the dog there. So, he picked up the dog by the scruff of his neck and dragged him off the House, then closing the door. After that day, no one saw the dog anymore.

E.A. – V.G.

Dogs: possible means of ‘unusual events’!

As we already mentioned in the section Boundaries > Descendants of Anubis (http://www.liminamortis.org/boundaries/descendants-of-anubis/) concerning the case reported by Mr. Mario Ritaldi (Italy, Rome), in the anecdotage of both lives of Saints and miraculous phenomena we sometimes find the presence of dogs: in some cases positive presences that work to help, in other occasions definitely negative manifestations that come for threatening.

Let’s proceed through four examples, that are really interesting to mention.

Don Bosco and the Gray (dog)

A Piedmontese Saint from XIX Century, founder of Congregation of Salesians, don Bosco found a faithful companion in a big gray dog​​, èl Gris’ in Piedmontese dialect, by many described as a German Shepherd-looking dog that aroused fear; some people instead thought that this dog looked like a wolf: a long snout, pricked ears, gray coat, about one meter tall. This mysterious dog became Don Bosco and the Gray (dog)protagonist of fanciful stories so that don Bosco, in order to clear away possible exaggerations, preferred to directly recount the events about him, at the end of his “Memoirs of the Oratory” (anyway, recent studies confirm that before the Gray, don Bosco was helped, although for a short period, by another dog, with features similar to those of the Gray, called by the boys of the Oratory “the Polish“).

The first meeting took place during a particularly dark evening when, all alone, don Bosco had to cross an abandoned area. He saw a big dog but, since the dog didn’t show him any hostility, don Bosco approached him and began to caress him. The dog fawned on him and then accompanied him, and then disappeared. This fact happened several times.

Towards the end of 1854, on a foggy night, while don Bosco was walking, he realized there were two threatening men proceeding before him, but it was too late to change course. The two men attacked him, wrapping him with a cloak in order to block him. Then the Gray appeared. The dog barked loudly, pushed one of the men using his legs and then jumped to the throat of the other one. The attackers, terrified, asked don Bosco to restrain the dog. Don Bosco called the animal, which kept on barking, and then ran away.

One night Margherita, the mother of don Bosco, tried to dissuade his son from the idea of ​​going out, but don Bosco was determined to go, letting some big and brave boys accompany him. The Gray was lying down at the front door and did not seem willing to move. Don Bosco told him to move for going with him, but the dog, instead of obeying, began to bark and refused to move. Twice don Bosco tried to climb over, but the Gray refused to let him pass. At the end, don Bosco had to desist from his intention to go out. Later, don Bosco acknowledged that that night he was expected by some men who would have attacked him with the aim of killing him.

Don Bosco wrote that he saw the Gray for the last time in 1866 when, having to go for greeting a farmer, the Gray was locked in a room, to avoid the guard dogs of the farmer attack him. When someone, later on, went to bring him food, the dog had mysteriously disappeared. No one ever saw him again.

Don Bosco was asked several times to give an opinion on the nature of the amazing animal and he admitted that the dog was a creature worthy of note in his life. Although saying that the dog was an angel would have certainly made ​​people laugh, nevertheless he had to admit that he was not a common dog. Don Bosco often thought about the origin of that dog and he admitted that he had been a true gift from Providence.

Father Pio and the monstrous dog

Father Pio, whose original name was Francesco Forgione, born in Campania and become a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, is a Saint from last Century and his life is full of many “unusual” events.

Father Pio in 1906 was in the convent of St. Elias in Pianisi (in Campania, Italy). During a summer Father Pionight, since he couldn’t sleep because of the heat, Father Pio heard, coming from the room next to his, footsteps noise of someone who was keeping on walking forth and back.

Padre Pio, thinking that it was Father Anastasio who, like him, could not sleep, thought to call him for talking a bit and so spending some time together. He walked to the window and called the other friar, but then he stopped when he suddenly saw appearing, on the sill of the other window, a dog with a monstrous snout. After a while, while he was still terrified, he saw a big dog entering through the door. From its mouth a large quantity of smoke was coming out. Father Pio fell on the bed and heard the animal talking in dialect: è iss, è isso” (it’s him, it’s him). Then, that ugly dog jumped, with a great leap, onto the window sill and from there jumped again onto the roof of the house that was on the other side, and then disappeared.

Father Pio considered this strange event as the first encounter he had with the Devil (during his life, Father Pio had many other encounters with the Devil).

Our Lady of Divine Love and a “pack of rabid dogs”

The shrine of Divine Love, located on the way Ardeatina, in the area of ​​Castel di Leva (Italy, Rome), is the object of great popular devotion since when a traveler was saved thanks to the image of the Madonna and Child that was painted on the wall of the ancient tower.

It is said that, in the spring of 1740, a pilgrim, going to the basilica of St. Peter, got lost in the Divine Love - The pilgrim and the dogscountryside near Castel di Leva, about 12 km South of Rome. Having seen a few houses and a ruined castle on top of a hill, the traveler went there, hoping to find someone who could give him information to find his way. He was approached by a pack of rabid dogs which surrounded him. The pilgrim, looking up, saw that on the tower of the castle there was an icon representing the Virgin and Child, and on top of them the dove of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, after he had prayed the Virgin to save him from that danger, the dogs, which were going to attack him, suddenly stopped and vanished. Shepherds who were in the area, having heard the cries of the traveler, rushed to the spot and, after having listened to his story, gave him the necessary indications to get to Rome.

The name of the pilgrim is unknown but the news of the incident spread rapidly in the city, so that the place with the icon of the Madonna in Castel di Leva soon became a destination of pilgrimages, which still continue today.

Saint Rocco and his dog

Saint Rocco, who had French origins, lived in the XIV Century and, according to tradition, once his Saint Rocco and his dogparents had died and he had given the poor people all his wealth, left France and went on his journey to Italy. He chose Italy because, along the Via Francigena (road used by pilgrims), he wanted to help sick pilgrims.

At Piacenza (a town North of Italy), while attending the ones sick of the plague in the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, got sick himself. Expelled from the hospital, Saint Rocco arrived at Sarmato, 17 km from the city, where he managed to take shelter in a cave waiting for death.

It was a dog that saved him. The animal in fact, aware of his presence and of his suffering, brought him daily a piece of bread, until he recovered. Saint Rocco, once healed, did not return to France but resumed his activities in favor of the ones sick of the plague – and for all this he is still remembered – and the dog stayed with him.

E.A. – V.G.