Michele Rua

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Blessed Michael Rua, S.D.B.
Rua2.JPG
Priest and Confessor
Co-founder of the Salesians of Don Bosco
Born (1837-06-09)9 June 1837
Turin, Kingdom of Sardinia
Died 6 April 1910(1910-04-06) (aged 72)
Turin, Italy
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
(Salesians of Don Bosco)
Beatified 29 October 1972, Rome, Italy by Pope Paul VI
Major shrine Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians
Turin, Italy
Feast 29 October

Michael Rua, S.D.B., (Italian: Michele Rua) (9 June 1837 - 6 April 1910) was an Italian Catholic priest, a student of St. John Bosco and first collaborator in the founding of the Salesians of Don Bosco. He was the first Rector Major of the Salesians, and has been beatified by the Catholic Church.

Early life[edit]

Rua was born in Turin in Italy, in a poverty-stricken neighborhood on the outskirts of the city of Turin. He was the youngest of the nine children of Giovanni Battista and Giovanna Maria Rua. The father, who was the supervisor of a weapons factory in the city, died on 2 August 1845. He then lived with his widowed mother in their apartment in the factory which she was able to keep, and which then employed her. The young Michel attended a school run by the Brothers of the Christian Schools.[1]

Don Bosco[edit]

Not long afterwards, the young Rua met Don John Bosco, a priest working to improve the lives of the children of the neighborhood, who had just built his Oratory of St. Francis de Sales in Valdocco. When he was about ten years of age, one day Bosco told him: "We two shall share in everything in our lives--sorrows, joys, work."[2] He was among the first few with whom Bosco shared the idea of forming the Salesian Society. In 1852, at the age of 15, he joined Bosco's Oratory to complete his education.

Rua made his first profession in 1855 in the new Society of St. Francis de Sales which Bosco was then forming to carry out his vision; he was its first member. For the next 36 years he was Bosco's closest collaborator in the development of the congregation.

Upon the death of Bosco's mother in November 1856, he brought his mother to live at the Oratory, where she was to live for the next twenty years, as a mother to the young Society. In 1858, he accompanied Bosco to Rome to seek the official authorization of the Society by the Holy See. He served as the first spiritual director of the Society at the age of 22 years (1859), even before his ordination as a priest on the 29 July 1860.[3]

Blessed Michael Rua (left) with St. John Bosco during a visit to Barcelona in 1885

Leadership[edit]

At the age of 26, Rua served as the Rector of Mirabello, the Society's first house outside of Turin (1863–65), then returned to Turin to be Vice Rector at Valdocco, and manager of the Letture Cattoliche (Catholic Readings). He was involved in the formation of candidates to the Society, and was the first director of the Salesian Sisters, formally called the "Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians," founded in 1872.[4]

Rua was a constant companion of Bosco on his journeys, and became the Vicar of the Society in 1865. At the explicit request of Bosco, in 1884 Pope Leo XIII designated him to be Bosco's successor and confirmed him as Rector Major in 1888, after Bosco's death. To date he has served the longest term in this office of anyone.[5]

Nicknamed "The Living Rule" because of his austere fidelity, Rua was also known for his fatherly approach and thoughtfulness.[6] As the numbers of members and communities increased he sent Salesians all over the world, showing special care for the missionary expeditions.

In the long journeys which he undertook to visit the Salesian works in Europe and in the Middle East he was a constant source of comfort and encouragement,[citation needed] always referring to the founder of the Society: "Don Bosco used to say… Don Bosco used to do it this way… Don Bosco wanted…”

When Rua died in 1910, at the age of 73, the Society had grown from 773 to 4,000 Salesians, from 57 to 345 communities and from 6 to 34 Provinces in 33 countries around the world.

Veneration[edit]

Rua was beatified on 29 October 1972 by Pope Paul VI. During the beatification ceremony the Pope declared:

The Salesian Family had its origin in Don Bosco, its continuity in Don Rua… He made the example of Don Bosco into a school, his Rule into a spirit, his holiness into a model; he made a spring into a river.[7]

His remains are venerated in Turin in the crypt of the Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians[8] and his feast day is celebrated on the 29 October, the anniversary of his beatification.

Notes[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • A. Amadei. Il servo di Dio Michele Rua. Turin: SEI, 1931.
  • A. Auffray. Don Michele Rua. Turin: SEI, 1933.
  • E. Ceria. Vita del Servo di Dio Don Michele Rua. Turin: SEI, 1949.
  • F. Desramaut, SDB. Vie de Don Michel Rua, Premier successeur de Don Bosco. Rome: Libreria Ateneo Salesiano, 2009.
  • G.B. Francesia. Don Michele Rua. Turin, 1911.
  • Lettere circolari di Don Michele Rua ai Salesiani. Turin: Direzione Generale delle Opere Salesiane, 1965.
  • Sacra Rituum Congregatione. Taurinen. Beatificationis et Canonizationis Servi Dei Michaelis Rua - Positio super Virtutibus. Romae: Typis Guerra et Belli, 1947.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Bosco
Rector Major of the Salesians
1888–1910
Succeeded by
Paul Albera