The Salesians of Don Bosco
The Salesians of Don Bosco (or the Salesian Society, originally known as the Society of St. Francis de Sales) is a Roman Catholic religious order of priests and brothers founded in the late nineteenth century by Saint John Bosco to care for the young and poor children of the industrial revolution. The order is named for St. Francis de Sales, an early-modern bishop of Geneva.
In 1845, Don Bosco (Don = Father) opened a school for boys in Valdocco, Italy, now part of the municipality of Turin. In subsequent years, he opened several more schools, and in 1857 drew up a set of rules for his helpers, which became the Rule of the Society of St. Francis de Sales, which Pope Pius IX approved definitively in 1873. The order grew rapidly, with houses established in France and Argentina within a year of the society's formal recognition.
The Salesians expanded further into Austria, Britain, Spain, and several countries in South America. The death of Don Bosco in 1888 did not slow the order's growth, and by 1911 the Salesians were established throughout the world, including China, India, South Africa, Tunisia, and the United States. The society continues to operate worldwide; in 2000, it counted more than 20,000 members in 2,711 houses. It is the second largest religious order of priests and brothers in the world.