Relics of St. John Bosco will travel to five continents


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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Celebrations for the bicentennial of the birth of St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian order and champion of underprivileged children, are underway with a five-continent "pilgrimage" of his relics.

The crystal and aluminum urn containing a likeness of the saint and his right arm bone has been displayed in several Italian cities.

On June 4, top Vatican officials honored the saint when the urn was brought to the St. Callixtus catacombs on the Appian Way in Rome.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, participated in a Mass there for St. John Bosco, who was inspired in a boyhood dream to devote his life to children and young people on the margins of society.

The urn's journey began in Turin, in northern Italy, on April 25 in a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Salesian order.

It will travel first to Chile, stop in several South American countries, Central America, the United States, Canada, Asia, Africa and back to Europe.

The pilgrimage is expected to end in Turin in 2014. The bicentennial of St. John Bosco's birth in Castelnuovo D'Asti, near Turin, will be celebrated with events in 2015.