Messina, 2nd March 1913
To the President and members of the Little Clergy (Altar Servants Group)
of the Salesian Oratory of Valdocco.
I have received, my dear sons, the fine letter that your respected President sent me in his name and yours, and I thank you with all my heart.
Yes, in the three years that I received from Our Most Blessed Lady and the Venerable Don Bosco the grace of staying at the Oratory; I was part of your Little Clergy (Altar Servants Group); the memory of it gives me consolation even now and has always done me good. It is not true, however, that I was ever President, but as I was already rather advanced in years and mature, and also had a particular feeling for the Clergy, it obviously happened that dear Fr. Bistolfi, carried away by his affection in the Lord for an old fellow pupil, has made a mistake.
The first Presidents were Fumagalli and then Bianchi, who I think were Salesians, the latter one at least, as I met him about six years ago at Casale Monferrato Station. He was going to Borgo San Martino, which was providential as he lent me the money to return to Tortona as I had none. Then there was Bottazzi, now a priest and vice-rector at the Episcopal Boarding School of St. Clare in Alessandria. Then Giovanni Martinasso my colleague - who, after the third form, went to Foglizzo where the Salesian novitiate then was - and Manassero. I think Martinasso is a missionary; I felt that he would do great good; and after him came Felice Talacchini. They were all young men of great piety and spirituality, studying to enable themselves to do good for souls, and left me a wonderful memory of good example.
Our Most Blessed Lady, in fact, chose several of them, who remained Salesians, and made them her apostles among the primitive peoples. Thus I hope it will be with many of you, my blessed sons, who have received the gift of being in the shadow of Our Most Blessed Lady of Help and of absorbing more closely the spirit of Don Bosco, Don Rua and so many other holy Salesians.
* * *
Dear sons, if you knew what a great grace you have received from the Lord, that of growing up in the Oratory of Valdocco! It is a thing that you will understand later, when you are far away.
Be sure to appreciate this time spent living here, and every day thank the Most Blessed Virgin and the Venerable Don Bosco and your Superiors. Remain close to the Little Clergy, always grateful to your good Superiors for being able to be part of it, and when you come to the altar of Our Lady of Help pray also for me. I also, here or wherever I am, will pray to her for you all that she will bless you all and that you will grow up in the love of the Lord.
You see, I so greatly feel the good that belonging to your Clergy has done for me, that when I am going through Turin and am able to go to Our Lady of Help, I go and kneel in the presbytery, at a place where I used to go when I went out with the Clergy; and there, at the feet of the Most Holy Virgin, I try to become a child again as I was at that time, and to renew the consecration of my whole self to Our Lady and to regain my lost vigour, and I always find a great heavenly consolation there.
I cannot send you my photograph because I do not have one, but I am sending you a card on which I am at the left of Bishop La Fontaine, who is now in Rome, and who will be working for the Beatification of Don Bosco. He took in a group of little orphans after the catastrophe.
I thank you once again. Pay my respects to your most worthy Superiors and also my dear Fr. Bistolfi. I will always be pleased to receive any good news that you may give me from your Little Clergy. I remain in Our Lord and Blessed Mary.
Your most affectionate confrère,
Fr. Luigi Orione
of Divine Providence.