The big Painting of Mary Help of Christians in the Basilica in Valdocco
1 - s. Peter the apostle - He has in his hand the "keys of the Kingdom of heaven" according to the word of Jesus.
2 - s. Mark the Evangelist - The lion is his sign.
3 - s. John apostle and evangelist - And beloved disciple. The eagle is his sign.
4 - s. Bartholomew the Apostle - He was skinned. He is holding a knife.
5 - s. Thomas the Apostle - He was killed with a spear. Apostle of the lands of India.
6 - s. Simon the apostle - He was sawed alive.
7 - s. Mattia apostolo - He was stoned. He holds a stone.
8 - s. Judas Thaddeus apostle and relative of Jesus - His head was cut off. He is holding an ax in his hand.
9 - s. James the Less, apostle and relative of Jesus - He was killed with a club.
10 - s. Andrea apostolo, brother of s. Peter - He was crucified.
11 - s. Philip the apostle - He died crucified, like Jesus.
12 - s. Giacomo the elder, brother of s. Giovanni - He is dressed as a pilgrim. He is the patron saint of pilgrims.
13 - s. Matthew the apostle - He is the author of the first gospel.
14 - s. Paul apostle and doctor of the church.
15 - s. Luke the Evangelist - His sign is a bullock.
X - view of the sanctuary and the oratory as it was in Don Bosco's time in 1868.
The picture was conceived by Don Bosco who spoke of it to the painter Lorenzone as of a spectacle he had already seen: the painter pointed out that, to paint such a picture, it would take a square and, to contain it, a church as large as Piazza Castello.
Don Bosco resigned himself to seeing his project reduced. Thus he described it: “The Virgin stands out in a sea of light and majesty. She is surrounded by a host of Angels, who pay homage to her as their Queen. With the right he holds the scepter which is a symbol of his power, with the left he holds the Child who has his arms open, thus offering his graces and his mercy to those who have recourse to his august Mother.
Around and below are the holy Apostles and the Evangelists. They are carried away by sweet ecstasy, almost exclaiming: Regina Apostolorum, ora pro nobis, they gaze in amazement at the Holy Virgin. At the bottom of the painting is the city of Turin, with the Valdocco sanctuary in the foreground and Superga in the background. What has the greatest value in the picture is the religious idea, which generates a pious impression on those who gaze at it ”.
According to the description made by Don Bosco, the picture is an effective representation of the title "Mary, Mother of the Church". It is a great page of Marian catechesis. Mary, as Mother of the Son of God, is the Queen of heaven and earth: the whole Church, represented by the Apostles and the Saints, acclaims her as a powerful Mother and Help of Christians.