Our Lady of the Tower Secret, Turin, Italy (1863)
Our Lady of the Tower, at Fribourg, built on the lands of the heretics, on the very spot where an image of Our Lady had been found.
Don Bosco, the amiable saint of the nineteenth century built a major shrine to Our Lady Help of Christians, tying it in with the past and with the future.
The church was begun in 1863 with the sum of 8 cents. Don Bosco never revealed all that Our Lady had told him in the several visions that preceded this, but he did reveal that she asked him to build a great shrine and that it would be a source of grace to all who came there to pray. The saints do not ask as many questions as other people do; he simply got permission, hunted up an architect who was willing, in the coldly realistic nineteenth century, to begin a church on 8 cents, and said when the work was finished that he had been paid every cent owing to him; but, that he had been confronted in the beginning by a man who many people said was completely mad. The architect must have had real faith even to listen to Don Bosco.
Like everything else accomplished by the great Saint of Turin, the building was beset with difficulties. No one could understand why he insisted on naming it for Our Lady; even his own fellow priests. The money to pay for the project did not come in by the thousands of dollars, or even by the hundreds, but by the penny. Every stone in the building, every bit of decorations, was a gift of love, and sacrifice from some grateful person who had benefitted from Our Lady’s help. The completed building is a testimonial of miracles and a shrine of beauty fit to stand with the world’s finest.
The curious thing about Don Bosco’s shrine to Our Lady, and the one that should cause us thought, is the story of the right-hand tower. There is a large central dome, and on each side of it, a smaller one. On top of left-hand one is an angel holding a banner. The right-hand dome is built the same, but its decoration is an angel offering a crown to Our Lady. One who saw the original sketches of the Church, drawn out in Don Bosco’s own hand, saw on the right-hand tower, a date 19.., indicating that at some time in this warring century there would be a victory over evil to correspond with Lepanto. Our Lady often tells her secrets to the saints, and apparently Don Bosco knew the name and the place, and thought it better not to reveal what he knew. Our Lady of the Tower Secret would take care of it in time; and the left-hand angel bearing a banner labeled LEPANTO would have a counterpart, if mankind proves worthy.
Don Bosco’s church with Our Lady of the Tower was raised to the rank of a basilica by Pope Pius X, Saint Pope Pius X.