Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI and Don Bosco's Dream...

I like to attribute paintings and if anyone knows the artist and year of this, please add a note in the combox or email me at

There is a remarkable resemblance in a painting which depicts one of St. John Bosco's dreams, and Pope Benedict at WYD 2008 (and I don't mean the photo below, but his approach to dealing with the problems facing the Church - Eucharistic and Marian focused).

I have become greatly interested in the life of Don Bosco, enough so that I just so happen to be reading a book called, Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco nightly. Previously, I had read about St. Dominic Savio - Teenage Saint (used), one of the many young people who reached a high degree of sanctity through this very holy and giving priest (Don Bosco also wrote about Savio) .

Fr. Stephen Leake - a Salesian priest of St. John Bosco, on his blog Da Mihi Animas, has a good post up with with one of the many dreams of St. John Bosco depicted in the top picture. These dreams were quite prophetic and something he had throughout his life. Many times, direction was set for him through these dreams. He was also able to see the state of the souls of some who entrusted to him, and of those he sometimes encountered, through these dreams. This enabled him to head off serious matters for individuals in many cases.

In his blogpost, Father starts out with an intro and then dives into the dream itself.

On May 30, 1862, Don Bosco recounted that in a dream he had seen an immense sea on which a great many ships were arranged for battle against a larger and taller ship. He also saw others that were defending the tall ship. These are Don Bosco's words as taken from volume VII of the Biographical Memioirs:

Theflagship commander - the Roman Pontiff- standing at the helm, strains every muscle to steer his ship between the two columns, from whose summits hang many anchors and strong hooks linked to chains. The entire enemy fleet closes in to intercept and sink the flagship at all costs. They bombard it with everything they have: books and pamphlets, incendiary bombs, firearms, cannons. The battle rages ever more furious. Beaked prows ram the flagship again and again, but to no avail, as, unscathed and undaunted, it keeps on it course. At times, a formidable ram splinters a gaping hole in its hull, but immediately, a breeze from the two columns instantly seals the gash.

"Meanwhile, enemy cannons blow up; firearms and beaks fall to pieces; ships crack up and sink to the bottom. In blind fury, the enemy takes to hand-to-hand combat, cursing and blaspheming. Suddenly the Pope falls, seriously wounded. He is instantly helped up, but struck a second time, dies. A shout of victory rises from the enemy, and wild rejoicing seeps their ships. But no sooner is the Pope dead than another takes his place. The captains of the auxiliary ships elected him so quickly that the news of the Pope's death coincides with that of his successor's election. The enemy's self-assurance wanes.

"Breaking through all resistance, the new Pope steers his ship safely between the two columns; first, to the one surmounted by the Host, and then the other, topped by the statue of the Virgin. At this point, something unexpected happens. The enemy ships panic and disperse, colliding with and scuttling each other.

"Some auxiliary ships, which had gallantly fought alongside their flagship, are the first to tie up at the two columns. Many others, which had fearfully kept far away from the fight, stand still, cautiously waiting until the wrecked enemy ships vanish under the waves. Then they too head for the two columns, tie up at the swinging hooks and ride safe and tranquil beside their flagship. A great calm now covers the sea."

Go read the full post with additional comments by Fr. Leake

The book I mentioned earlier, Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco, has a chapter devoted to this which I found online under the title, Two Columns in the Sea. It not only contains Don Bosco's account, but the limited interpretation that he offered at the time.

One cautionary note is that we have to be careful with interpretations of Don Bosco's dreams other than those offered by the priest himself. So, when others offer interpretations, there has be be some due care taken. The dream itself, as told by Don Bosco is worthy of some meditation.

You might also enjoy my series on St. Dominic Savio with excerpts from the book by Peter Lappin. I have one more post to make to complete the 9 days with Dominic Savio I had promised.

And, how can we forget that magnificent address the former Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI gave as the conclave began. Recall this...

How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth. Every day new sects spring up, and what St Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Eph 4: 14) comes true.

I would like to add that Pope Benedict XVI has named this the Year of St. Paul!

Further reading

Pope Benedict XVI rises above labels in WYD 2008 addresses...

Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!