Multiplication of Hosts

In 1848, a remarkable event took place that strengthened the resolve of the boys to remain loyal to the Oratory. It was a solemn feast day, most likely the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. About six hundred boys had gone to confession and wanted to receive Holy Communion. Don Bosco started Mass, convinced that the ciborium inside the tabernacle was full of consecrated Hosts. Actually, however, it was almost empty. Joseph Buzzetti, the sacristan had forgotten to put a full ciborium on the altar before the Consecration. He realized his oversight only after the consecration.
As Don Bosco began giving Holy Communion, he was distressed by the small number of hosts for the large crowd at mass. Saddened at the thought that so many boys would be unable to receive communion, he raised his eyes to heaven a moment and just went on distributing Holy Communion. communion
Poor Buzzetti meanwhile, kneeling nearby, deeply regretted the mistake that caused such displeasure to Don Bosco. Imagine Don Bosco’s wonder, and Buzzetti’s as well, when the hosts did not diminish in number. Without breaking them, Don Bosco was able to give communion to all the boys. The few hosts with which he had started, even if broken repeatedly, would have sufficed for only a fraction of the boys. After Mass, Buzzetti, who had not recovered from his surprise, told his companions what had happened and proved it by showing them the ciborium he had forgotten in the sacristy. Some other boys, too, declared that they had noticed what happened. Buzzetti often spoke of this happening to his friends, among whom we ourselves were present, stating that he was ready to swear to its truth.
Don Bosco himself confirmed this fact much later on October 18, 1863. As he was talking with a few of his clerics, he was asked about Buzzelti’s story, whereupon a grave expression came over his face. After a long pause, he answered, “Yes, there were very few Hosts in the ciborium. Yet I was able to give Communion to all who came, and they were by no means few. By this miracle Our Lord wished to show us how pleased He is with frequent and devout Communions.”
Upon being asked how he felt as this happened, he said, “I was deeply moved, but undisturbed. I was thinking to myself that the miracle of Consecration is even greater than that of multiplication. May the Lord be praised in everything”, after which he changed the subject.  Similar multiplications of hosts occurred at least 3 more times in Don Bosco’s life.

Multiplication of Chestnuts

Before the end of 1849 an amazing event occurred that Father John Joseph Franco, SJ, witnessed and described in a letter dated 24th February 1891 to Fr. Lemoyne. In that letter after stating his personal conviction that he could consider it natural for Don Bosco to work miracles because of his extraordinary saintliness, Father Franco added:

Had someone told me that he had indeed performed miracles even more than once, I would not have been surprised in the least. As a matter of fact, I did hear of them, but I do not recall the details. However, I can state having heard that one Sunday, before dismissing a great crowd of boys who had spent the day at the Oratory in happy pastimes, he wanted to treat each one to a handful of boiled chestnuts. He was told that there were simply not enough for all. Undismayed, he began to distribute them himself, giving each boy a generous ladleful. He gave out so many chestnuts that the bystanders realized that they had been multiplied under his hand.   (Father Joseph Franco, SJ)

What really happened is this. One Sunday after All Saints’ Day in 1849, at the close of the monthly retreat day, Don Bosco took all his boys, boarders and non-boarders, to the cemetery to pray for the souls of the departed. He promised them chestnuts on their return to Valdocco. Mamma Margaret had bought three bags, but she cooked only a small amount, thinking it would be enough. Joseph Buzzetti came home ahead of the other boys. When he went into the kitchen and saw the small pot, he immediately told Mamma Margaret that one pot would never be enough for all the boys, but it was loo late to do anything about it. The other boys were already arriving and milling around the chapel door. Don Bosco set himself there and began to hand out the chestnuts that Buzzetti had poured into a basket which he was holding in his arms. Thinking that his mother had cooked all the chestnuts, Don Bosco kept filling every boy’s cap quite generously. Buzzetti became worried. “What are you doing, Don Bosco?” he cried. “We don’t have enough for everybody. If you keep this up, there won’t be enough for even half of the boys.”
“Oh, don’t worry," Don Bosco replied. “We bought three bags and my mother cooked all of them.”
“No, she didn’t. This is all,” insisted Buzzetti. But Don Bosco did not have the heart to give skimpy portions and calmly replied, “Let's keep giving them out as long as they last.” He continued to ladle them out as before, while Buzzetti, visibly worried, watched him continue the distribution until finally there were only two or three portions left in the basket. Only one third of the boys had as yet been served, and there were some six hundred in all. Their shouts of anticipated pleasure now gave way to an anxious silence as the boys nearest to Don Bosco noticed that the basket was almost empty.
Thinking that his mother had economically put aside the rest of the cooked chestnuts, Don Bosco ran upstairs to fetch them, only to find to his surprise that they had not been cooked. Instead of filling the big pot, Mamma Margaret had taken a smaller one that was used for the superiors. For an instant Don Bosco was at a loss. Then, undismayed, he said, “I promised the boys chestnuts and I have to keep my word!” Thereupon he took a scoop and, digging into the basket, scooped up as many chestnuts as it could hold, and he resumed the distribution. At this moment something extraordinary happened. Buzzetti was quite beside himself, for each time Don Bosco dipped his ladle into the basket, he brought it up literally brimming over with chestnuts, while the quantity inside the basket seemed never to diminish. Not two or three, but about four hundred boys received a generous portion. When finally Buzzctti brought the basket back into the kitchen, he noticed that there was still a portion left. Mary Help of Christians had provided a portion also for Don Bosco. Already while the distribution had been in progress, the boys nearest Don Bosco told the others about what was happening and all stood there with bated breath, waiting to see how it would end. When the last boy had received his share, a loud shout broke out in unison: “Don Bosco is a saint! Don Bosco is a saint!” Don Bosco immediately tried to silence them, but this was impossible, as they all thronged about him noisily. To commemorate this wondrous event, Don Bosco prescribed that chestnuts would be distributed to the boys on the eve of All Saints ever afterwards. What could explain such an extraordinary event? None other than this: our Blessed Mother was showing how pleased she was with the Oratory boys.

Multiplication of Bread Rolls

ON November 1, 1860 Don Bosco petitioned the Department of the Interior for a subsidy. Besides clothing, bread was needed. This too was provided — at times wondrously — by Divine Providence.
congregationOne such instance was described by Francis Dalmazzo of Cavour town near Turin who at this time was a fifteen-year-old secondary school student at Pinerolo. His narration is as follows:

At the start of my rhetoric year, I read some issues of Don Bosco’s Catholic Readings. On inquiry I learned that the writer was a holy priest who had opened a boys’ boarding school in Turin. Then and there I decided to leave my school and go to Don Bosco’s. I entered the Oratory on October 22, 1860. My schoolmates called Don Bosco a saint and told me about extraordinary, wondrous things he had done. Among others, the cleric Ruffino told me that Don Bosco had recalled to life an oratory boy in order to hear his confession, that he had multiplied consecrated Hosts and chestnuts, and that once, when he had taken his boys on a pilgrimage to the Our Lady of the Fields Church, the bells had rung of their own accord on his arrival.
I became convinced of Don Bosco’s holiness, and this belief deepened all the more as I came to know him personally and witnessed his saintliness and the extraordinary deeds God worked through him. Let me give you an example.

Having been brought up on a rather select diet, after a few days I could not easily adjust to the far too frugal meals, and the Oratory’s new way of life, and so I wrote to my mother to come fetch me and bring me home. I refused to stay even one day longer.
On the morning of my departure, however, I decided to go to confession once more to Don Bosco. He was seated in the sanctuary of the church behind the main altar, surrounded by a crowd of penitents. At that time meditation was done before Mass, usually celebrated by Father Alasonatti. After Mass, each boy received a bun for his breakfast.
While I was awaiting my turn for confession during the meditation, the two kitchen helpers came in and told Don Bosco, “Father, there is no bread in the house.”
“Well,” Don Bosco replied, “go to the baker and get some.”
“He won't give us any more. He says he won’t deliver bread unless he is paid, and he really means it!”
“We’ll see,” Don Bosco replied.
I heard this whispered dialogue and sensed that something extraordinary was about to happen. The two kitchen helpers left. When my turn came, I began my confession. The Mass had already reached the Consecration. One of the helpers returned and told Don Bosco, “Mass is half over already. What shall we give the boys for breakfast?”
“Are you here again?” exclaimed Don Bosco. “Leave me to hear confessions.” Then he added, “Look in the pantry and the dining rooms and collect all the bread you find.”
The boy left and I continued my confession, unconcerned about breakfast since I would be going home after Mass. I was just finished my confession, when the same fellow came back a third time and said to Don Bosco, “Mass is nearly over and all we have is a few bread rolls!” Don Bosco calmly went on with confessions while the young man kept pestering him for an answer. After telling him not to worry, Don Bosco concluded, “Put all the bread rolls you have in a basket. In a few moments I’ll come and give them out myself.”
In fact, when he was finished with the boy kneeling at his side, he got up and strode past Our Lady’s altar to the door opening on the playground. Here the boys usually got their breakfast as they filed out of church. The bread basket was lying there. Recalling the great things I had heard of Don Bosco and curious to see the outcome, I went out ahead of him and picked a spot where I’d have no trouble seeing everything. At the door I met my mother, who was waiting to take me home.
“Come, Frankie,” she said. I motioned to her to wait a moment. “Mom, I just want to see something,” I whispered. “I’ll be right with you.” She walked off to the verandah. I bent over the basket and picked up a bun. There were some fifteen buns in the basket — certainly no more than twenty. Unobserved, I placed myself on a step right behind Don Bosco and alertly watched his every move as he began to distribute the bread. The boys kept filing past to get their rolls from him. Some kissed his hand as he smiled and said a kind word to each. Each boy — some four hundred — received a bread roll from Don Bosco. When the distribution was over, I again peered into the basket. To my great astonishment, I saw as many rolls in it as there had been before, though no other bread and no other basket had been brought up. Dumbfounded, I ran to my mother. “Let’s go,” she said.
“Mom,” I replied. “I’ve changed my mind. I’m staying! I’m sorry I bothered you!" Then I told her what I had seen with my own eyes. “I can’t leave this place.” I exclaimed. “It is blessed by God! Don Bosco is a saint!”
This was my one reason for remaining at the Oratory and later becoming a Salesian.

Multiplication of Hazelnuts

In his room, Don Bosco would hear the confessions of some Salesians and also of young men of the fourth and fifth year of high school. He also gathered them together occasionally, and addressed them in an informal manner mostly on the subject of vocation.... The meeting of the 3rd January 1886 was a memorable one.
On a previous occasion, on December 13, Don Bosco had given out hazelnuts to the youngsters. Now he proposed to give out the remaining hazelnuts. In so doing, he worked a miracle similar to others related in the Biographical Memoirs. He had the sack brought to him and was giving out hazelnuts by generous handfuls. The seminarian Angelo Festa, on seeing that the supply was much smaller than on the previous occasion, warned Don Bosco: “Don’t be so generous, or there won’t be enough for all.” “Let me handle this,” was Don Bosco’s reply. The young man who was holding the sack likewise warned him that at that rate most of the boys would not have any. “Keep quiet,” Don Bosco answered, “Are you afraid you won’t get your share?”
This young man was Joseph Grossani, who at certain hours of the day worked as receptionist for Don Bosco. He remembers that the hazelnuts had been brought by a Mrs. Nicolini.
There were 64 young men present. At the rate at which Don Bosco was distributing them, the supply of hazelnuts would soon be depleted. But the boys witnessed something extraordinary.... The level of hazelnuts in the sack did not change. No matter how many were given out, the supply did not diminish.... At the end of the distribution, the sack contained the same amount as before.
The youngsters were thoroughly mystified, and began to ask Don Bosco how he had done it. “Well, I really don't know,” h2e answered with a smile; “but since we are among friends, I will tell you what happened here many years ago.” He then began to tell them the story of the multiplication of the chestnuts and of the consecrated hosts.
Fr. Francesia was the last one on the scene. On seeing the excitement, he wanted to know what had happened. The boys answered that Don Bosco had given out hazelnuts. “Give me some, too!” Fr. Francesia said. Don Bosco replied: “You can't eat hazelnuts because you have no teeth.”
At that moment voices were heard coming from the playground. The choirboys were returning from Valsalice, where they had performed in a program. Fr. Francesia told Don Bosco that they should not be deprived of their share of hazelnuts. “Tell them to come here,” said Don Bosco and dismissed the other boys. He then told Grossani to go look in a barrel nearby. The young man had left the barrel completely empty; but now he found that it contained a good supply of hazelnuts. He took them, added them to the sack, and brought them to Don Bosco. Don Bosco gave out generous handfuls to another 40 youngsters, and finally a big handful to the holder of the sack.
One of the teachers in upper high school was Fr. Lawrence Saluzzo. Don Bosco always required his presence at the conferences; but that time Fr. Saluzzo happened to miss it. Don Bosco saw him in the library and told him: “You shouldn’t have missed the conference this evening.” “Why, Don Bosco,” he inquired. Don Bosco told him, “Ask someone to tell you what happened.” But Fr. Saluzzo begged, “Please, why don’t you tell me?"
Meanwhile Fr. Finco, Fr. Alexander Lucchelli and others in the vicinity joined them. Don Bosco told them what had happened, as though he had been a mere spectator. When the affair became known in the house, everyone was trying to lay hold of some of those miraculous hazelnuts.
Fr. Lemoyne writes: “I made inquiries, and all the youngsters assured me that they had witnessed the event. They were all convinced and agreed that a miracle had taken place." [....]

On the evening of January 31, 1886, the boys asked Don Bosco to tell them a dream; and he related a dream he had had a few years back…
He then sent for the same sack of hazelnuts. The supply had diminished, because meanwhile some people had been helping themselves to them. Naturally the youngsters were watching the sack. But, as the distribution proceeded, the sack emptied. However, the hazelnuts had been enough for all—except for one of the two boys who were holding the sack.
Don Bosco felt inside the sack with his hand and said; “Here is one!” Then, feeling around the bottom of the sack, he drew out another handful, gave it to the boy, and said to him: “Hold them dear.” Then he called the catechist, Fr. Stephen Trione, who was standing behind the boys, and gave him a handful. He called also Fr. Celestine Durando, the dean of studies, from in his office nearby, and gave him some. Finally, Don Bosco said: “I think I’ll give some also to Mazzola and to Bassignana;” and each received a handful. The youngsters watched the miracle in utter amazement, silence and awe.