On Salesian Lay Brothers

Today, 13 November, we commemorate Bl. Artemedi Zatti, a Salesian Brother.


I think it was in the library of the novitiate where my knowledge and fascination about the Salesian brothers grew more. There’s this booklet in the library entitled “Life Sketches of the First Coadjutors.” It details the life stories of Salesian brothers who helped Don Bosco when the congregation was just starting.

Among the names listed there, there were:

Marcello Rossi, a porter for 48 years.
Dominic Palestrino, sacristan.
Peter Enria, music master and in charge of stage, cook, painter
Camilo Quirino, a polyglot
Maestro Dogliani, a music genius
Andrew Pelazza, director of the press
Peter Cenci, head tailor
Joseph Gambino, head of the Salesian library
Joseph Rossi, General Economer of the Salesian Society

Among the ones in the list, my favorite is Joseph Buzzetti. He was just nine years old when he came to Turin to work as a brick layer. He donned the clerical habit in 1851. But a pistol shot wounded one of his finger so that it had to be amputated. This accident discouraged him from becoming a priest. However, he loved Don Bosco so much that his preoccupation was to make himself useful in the Oratory and soon he became the factotum of the house. He would teach catechism, he was in charge of music and of the choir until 1860 when Don Cagliero took over.

When Don Bosco had some important business at hand and did not know to whom he could entrust it, he would say: “Call Buzzetti!”

If there is one idea that will neatly package and synthesize that book on the life of Br. Zatti, it is this: They all loved Don Bosco: that even in the littlest, humblest, lowliest task they carried out, they did it with the greatest love.

I heard from someone that the greatest form of devotion is imitation. Let us do likewise. Let us live as the first lay brothers and Br. Zatti did.


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