What a find!

Donald Bishop, from St Francis de Sales Parish in Hartley, Dartford, Kent, has sent us the following historical note:


The dedication to St. Francis de Sales may seem a little puzzling. It is difficult to relate a 17th century Bishop of Geneva with a small thatched church in Kent. This is what happened. In the later decades of the 19th century, Mrs Clara Davies-Cooke, mother of Beatrice who was a convert and great benefactress of the Parish, was on friendly terms with an Italian priest, Fr. John Bosco, who had spent his life caring for destitute boys and had founded a religious order, the Salesian fathers, to continue the work under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales. Fr. John Bosco, "Don Bosco", died in 1888 and was canonised in 1934. Miss Davies - Cooke was a frequent traveller abroad and collected many relics of the saints. There is a card in the Parish records with a blessing inscribed in his own hand by St. John Bosco.

Blessing from Don Bosco

The words are:

"Mme Clara Davies-Cooke. Que Dieu benisse vous et votre famille, et vous guide tous dans les chemins du paradis. (May 1885) Abbe G. Bosco."

"(To) Mrs Clara Davies-Cooke. May God bless you and your family and guide you all in the ways of paradise. May 1885. Fr J. Bosco."