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The Shrine of Don Bosco’s Madonna

posted Nov 2, 2017, 6:08 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 2, 2017, 6:08 PM ]
The Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna is a 'must-see' stop for any one, especially for a Marian devotee who comes to Mumbai. It recently turned 60, but it still looks as fresh as if it were consecrated only the other day. 

The journey from conception to construction is a hymn of gratitude to Our Blessed Mother from her grateful children who heeded the earnest plea of that great visionary, Fr Aurelius Maschio. With generous donations gradually trickling in, it took barely two years for this magnificent Marian monument to be completed. 

On August 5, 1957, Auxiliary Bishop Longinus Pereira blessed the Shrine and declared it open for public veneration. Seven years later, on November 28, 1964, the Shrine was formally consecrated by Archbishop Hubert D'Rosario, SDB, along with seven other bishops who assisted him in consecrating the side altars and the altars in the crypt; and barely a week later, on December 4, 1964, no less a personage than his Holiness, Pope Paul VI, visited the Shrine and blessed the statue of Mary Help of Christians, which to this day is venerated, especially during the Novena and the solemn feast of Mary Help of Christians on May 24. 

The main dome over the sanctuary and the two smaller bell-towers (with electric chimes) over the entrance are typical of Roman church architecture. The façade is marked by an arched doorway, above which is a huge mosaic of the Madonna—the inspiration of all Don Bosco's work. The entire shrine has an exterior of Malad granite, golden-brown in colour with its eye-catching 12 foot-high gilt statue of Mary, Help of Christians standing majestically atop the main dome. 

Over the years, people from all corners of the globe have made their way here, either to fulfil a promise or to make a request, or simply to sit in gratitude, just resting in the soothing and serene environment of her Shrine. None of this would make any sense unless the raison d'etre is known. 

All those who have any association with the Shrine know that these hallowed portals exude much devotion, faith and love. Besides the personal Devotion that draws people here, the vast and lively correspondence even in this digital age continues to meet the need of simple Catholics seeking enlightenment and consolation, encouragement and inspiration. The Shrine's many services and tracts continue to be disseminated, enlivening the faith of Mary's devotees. 

Nothing draws these Marian devotees as much as their Faith in the intercessory power of Mary, the Madonna of Don Bosco. The Novenas conducted at the shrine and the services celebrated are a tribute to the faith of the many who know that it is through Mary that they will most certainly reach her Son Jesus. Christians have returned to the Church, thanks to the Sacrament of Reconciliation that is made available to penitents coming from near and far to avail themselves of God's mercy freely offered. 

Those who are able to come to the Shrine or those who don't find it possible, still find ways and means to bring to our notice that they wish to express their Love and gratitude for favours received, and most of all for the palpable presence of Mary in their lives. 

Several devotees have passed on their devotion to their children and their grandchildren, and it is a delight to see entire families making their way to the feet of Our Lady to rededicate themselves to her and to reaffirm their filial devotion to the Queen and Mother of their homes. 

The greatest treasure of the Shrine is the faith of the countless devotees and penitents who have streamed through its portals over these past sixty years. Young and old, rich and poor, Christians and others... have kept coming back to this beautiful masterpiece of Marian art and devotion to seek solace and serenity. 

Fr Ian Doulton, Editor of Don Bosco's Madonna Magazine, Matunga, Mumbai