Shouts of “Long live Don Bosco” to the accompaniment of loud drums greeted the relic of Saint John Bosco when it entered the premises of the Don Bosco School in Alakananda here on Friday morning.

The city's believers had arrived in hordes at the school premises to pay their respects or just gaze at the wax replica of the saint, which is on a pilgrimage across 130 countries.

“Why are we here? ….to pray to Don Bosco,” said the happy voice of Anna Pinto, a geography teacher from Presentation School, who had brought along a few of her students and waited for over two hours to see the saint. “We've been here since 9'o clock to get good seats, I am so excited to see Don Bosco.”

The relic has been recomposed from the urn that contained the saint's remains since 1929, when he was exhumed and cannnonised. The bones and tissues of the right hand and arm have been taken and placed within the chest of his wax replica.

The relic is slated to be displayed at the Sacred Heart Cathedral on Saturday and Holy Cross School, Ashalayam, on Sunday.

“My nephew will play the role of John Bosco in Holy Cross School on Sunday in their programme organised for the saint, I am going to be there too ...and with the best seats,” she added. Saana, a Class X student, has been reading about Saint John Bosco ever since she can remember. “He is my favourite saint, next only to Saint Antony,” she said, adding that his work in leading the young towards the right path and speaking to them as adults is what tilts in his favour. Saint John Bosco also known as Don Bosco was a priest in 19{+t}{+h} Century Italy who dedicated his life caring for abandoned and mis-directed youth and educating children. He founded the Salesian order which runs several Educational Institutions throughout the world in his name.

“He said that no child is bad, but one's circumstances are what leads one towards behaving badly…this is what I love the most,” she said.

Don Bosco's philosophy ruled out punishment as a method of extracting obedience, “as far as possible avoid punishing…try to gain love before inspiring fear” was his advice to teachers.

The students of the school have known about the visit for a month and were working enthusiastically at the event, greeting guests and ushering them to their seats, dressed in special T-shirts that said “I Love Don Bosco”.

The school principal, Father Binny Issac, felt specially blessed. “I was in Turin, Italy, for three years and could see the relic everyday but seeing it here….this is something else altogether,” he said. The relic which rests in Turin, Italy, began its pilgrimage journey on January 31, 2009, and will return to Italy by 2015, in time for the celebration of Don Bosco's 200{+t}{+h} birth anniversary. It arrived in India in the last week of April at Dimapur, Assam, and will leave the country in November after visiting other Salesian centres.

The relic will be sent to Chandigarh after Sunday but will be in the city again on August 3 where it will be kept at the Don Bosco Technical Institute to receive a grand farewell.

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