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ADMA is an Association of lay people who, faithful to Don Bosco’s charism, make their own commitment to live their daily lives imitating Mary and placing themselves as children under her mantle. The paths of Christian formation, prayer, apostolate and service proposed by the Association are simple, characterised by a family style and open to all. Sharing these paths can gradually lead the people who approach them to grow in their desire to join the Association. They are inspired to welcome this as a gift to make their own commitment to take Mary home to live with her help the itinerary of faith to follow Jesus. It is not something formal or superficial but something convinced and intentional. The aspirants are offered a period of preparation which, in the various local realities of the world, takes on different forms and timescales.

As ADMA Primary of Turin-Valdocco, we would like to present, in a series of monthly reflections, a summary of the training path we have adopted and which we wish to share so that each local group can draw from it, ideas to apply in its own context. In particular, the material proposed is intended to underline the essentials that members should seek to live out concretely in their experience of faith.

The different chapters of the training course focus mainly on the spiritual aspects of the Association, recalling the essential ones regarding its organisation. The focus is mainly on the life of faith of the individual member, since the primary aim of the Association, as Don Bosco wanted, is the defence of the faith of the people and the promotion of a journey of holiness. The path is subdivided into 8 stages, which reflect on the articles of the Association’s Rules. Let us begin by proposing the first of these stages.


The starting point of the formation path refers to Article 1 of the Rules of the Association, which has as its theme, ‘The Foundation of ADMA’.

It was Don Bosco himself who founded the Association, on 18th April 1869 and gave it its first regulations. This event must be considered in close correlation with the construction of the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, consecrated and inaugurated less than a year before, on the 9th June 1868. With the construction of the Basilica, Don Bosco literally saw the realisation of his famous dream of 1844, in which the Virgin Mary, in the likeness of a shepherdess, made him see ‘a stupendous and lofty Church’ in whose interior there was ‘a white band, in which in large letters was written: HIC DOMUS MEA, INDE GLORIA MEA’.

Many people, especially the lay faithful, had contributed offerings to the building of the Shrine as a sign of gratitude for the graces received from Mary Help of Christians. Finding himself faced with this reality, Don Bosco decided to bring together the people who spontaneously expressed their Marian devotion in an Association aimed at ‘promoting the glories of the divine Mother of the Saviour, to merit Her protection in life and particularly at the point of death’.

The name that Don Bosco gave to the Association - ADMA - meant Association of Devotees of Mary Help of Christians. It is therefore necessary to dwell for a moment on the meaning of the word ‘Devotees’.

St. Francis de Sales teaches that ‘true devotion’ has to do first and foremost with the love of God. Indeed it is nothing other than the authentic love which we receive from God (grace) and which makes us capable of corresponding to his gifts (charity). This is why ‘devotees’ are those who ‘fly’ on the path of holiness, in that ‘true devotion’ perfects in them every action and every work, from the smallest to the greatest, making them more friendly and sympathetic, more courageous and ready to give of themselves, each according to their vocation and mission in the Church.

Don Egidio Viganò, Don Bosco’s seventh successor of Don Bosco, as the head of the Salesian Congregation, also explains that devotion translates into attitudes of life and apostolic zeal, and invites us thus:

Let us take Our Lady home! In this way, we will be ‘beloved disciples’ because we will take better care of our baptismal sonship and feel more concretely the beneficial effects of Mary’s maternity”.

The Shrine of Mary Help of Christians did not represent for Don Bosco only the construction of a larger church for the evergrowing number of boys of the oratory but a fundamental stage in his spiritual and charismatic growth, an experience that contributed decisively to making him ‘the great apostle of Mary Help of Christians’ throughout the world. After the construction of the Shrine, the ADMA was born as a simple and practical expression of Don Bosco’s entrustment to Mary, recognised in particular as Help of Christians. To the Associates, Don Bosco proposes devotion to Mary as an instrument to deepen and protect the Catholic Faith and to involve them in the apostolic and educative work, valuing popular religiosity and directing it towards evangelical wisdom. In this way, the Associates become a sign of the love of God and Mary, capable of spreading peace and love among people. Faith in Jesus Christ and entrustment to Mary Help of Christians urge them to promote evangelisation in the education of young people, in families and in all spheres of life, with commitment and the witness of life.

All this is only possible by recognising that Jesus and Mary are alive and are present and active in the concreteness of our life, as Fr Viganò reminds us:

“The Resurrection is a concrete fact which has only been realised, until now, in two individuals of our human race: Jesus and Mary![...] We, in proposing to imitate the favourite disciple in his ‘taking Mary home’, intend to deepen with seriousness the strong realism of the Resurrection [...] according to the style of concreteness so much in keeping with Don Bosco’s spirit and so characteristic of his devotion to Our Lady under the title of Help of Christians”.

Gian Luca and Mariangela Spesso

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