(ANS – Rome) – For the Christmas greetings 2023 and New Year 2024 by Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime, Rector Major of the Salesians, a large detail of a painting by the painter Giuseppe Rollini (1842-1909) depicting the Archangel Gabriel was chosen.
The idea was put forward by the coordinator of the Casa Don Bosco Museum in Valdocco, Turin, Dr. Ana Martín García, who explains: "The Archangel Gabriel painting currently exhibited in the permanent collection at the Casa Don Bosco Museum, has been attributed in recent studies to the school of artist Giuseppe Rollini (1842-1904), a former student of the Oratory. This artist lived at the Oratory of St Francis de Sales in Valdocco around 1860, while attending painting courses at the Albertina Academy in Turin. His work, of great technical skill, offers a great versatility of themes and includes historical, sacred, portrait, and landscape painting. Having trained with Enrico Gamba and Andrea Gastaldi, he collaborated with Alessandro Vacca on the decoration of the Medieval Village of Valentino (National Exhibition of Turin, 1884) and worked on the Cathedral in Pinerolo, the Church of the Royal Park in Turin and the Sanctuary in Cussanio, Fossano."
From a more purely Salesian point of view, Dr. Martín García adds that "Rollini had a father and a patron in Don Bosco. The direct contact with the saint left an important mark on his professional career, as evidenced by his artistic production. Rollini did wall paintings and large altarpieces in churches built from scratch under the direction of Don Bosco, such as the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin, the Church of St John the Evangelist, also in Turin, and the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Rome. As a portrait artist, he left an important testimony for the history of the Salesian Congregation, immortalising the face of Don Bosco (1880 and 1888), Mamma Margaret (1885), that Fr. Vittorio Alasonatti (1899) as well as Fr. Michael Rua (1905)."
The image chosen for the greetings thus also becomes an exhortation to all its recipients to know and visit the Casa Don Bosco Museum, custodian of the most precious finds in Salesian history.
Completing the greetings in the inner pages are a message taken from the Pope's homily delivered to the new Cardinals and to the College of Cardinals in the Eucharist on October 4, 2023, in which the Holy Father invites the Church to take on the same blessing gaze of the Saviour ("We belong to Him and— let us remember—we exist only to bring Him into the world" is the conclusion of the quotation); and the best wishes of the 10th Successor of Don Bosco, accompanied by the hope for "the end of the wars in the world”).
Finally, this year's greeting card of the Rector Major is also characterized by the presence on the title page of a double coat of arms: in addition to the usual one of the Salesian Congregation, there is also that of Cardinal Fernández Artime.