Rorate Caeli

Nel mare ora regna una grande calma

On the Feast of Saint John Bosco, it is impossible not to remember one of his most famous stories: his narrative of the "Dream of the Two Columns". Don Bosco told his dream to several listeners, including Don [Blessed] Michele Rua, on the evening of May 30, 1862.

Imagine yourself to be with me on the seashore, or better, on an isolated rock, and not to see around you anything that is not sea. On the whole of that vast surface of water, you see an innumerable fleet of ships in battle array. The prows of the ships are formed into sharp, spear-like points so that wherever they are thrust they pierce and completely destroy. These ships are armed with cannons, with lots of rifles, with incendiary materials, with other firearms of all kinds, and also books, and advance against a ship very much larger and higher than themselves and try to dash against it with the prows or burn it or in some way to do it every possible harm.

As escorts to that majestic fully equipped ship, there are many smaller ships, which receive commands by signal from it and carry out movements to defend themselves from the opposing fleet. In the midst of the immense expanse of sea, two mighty columns of great height arise a little distance the one from the other. On the top of one, there is the statue of the Immaculate Virgin, from whose feet hangs a large placard with this inscription: "AUXILIUM CHRISTIANORUM"; on the other, which is much higher and bigger, stands a HOST of great size proportionate to the column and beneath is another placard with the words: "SALUS CREDENTIUM".

The supreme commander of the large ship is the Roman Pontiff. He, seeing the fury of the enemies and the evils among which his faithful find themselves, determines to summon around himself the captains of the smaller ships to hold a meeting and decide what is to be done.

All the captains come aboard and gather around the Pope. They hold a meeting, but, in the meantime, the wind and the waves gather in storm, so they are sent back to run their own ships. There comes a short lull; for a second time the Pope gathers the captains around him, while the flag-ship goes on its course. But the frightful storm returns. The Pope stands at the helm and all his energies are directed to steering the ship towards those two columns from whose summits hang many anchors and strong hooks linked to chains.

All the enemy ships move to attack it, and they try in every way to stop it and to sink it: some with books and writings or inflammable materials, of which they are full; others with firearms, with rifles and with rams. The battle rages ever more relentlessly. The enemy prows thrust violently, but their efforts and impact prove useless. They make attempts in vain and waste all their labor and ammunition; the big ship goes safely and smoothly on its way. It happens that, struck by formidable blows, the large ship suffers large, deep gaps in its sides; but no sooner is the harm done that a gentle breeze blows from the two columns and the cracks close up and the gaps are stopped immediately.

Meanwhile, the guns of the assailants are blown up, the rifles and other arms and prows are broken; many ships are shattered and sink into the sea. Then, the frenzied enemies strive to fight hand to hand, with fists, with blows, with blasphemy and with curses.

Suddenly, the Pope, gravely wounded, falls down. Immediately, those who are with him run to help him and lift him up. A second time the Pope is struck, he falls again and dies. A shout of victory and joy rings out amongst the enemies; from their ships an unspeakable mockery arises.

But hardly is the Pope dead than another Pope takes his place. The pilots, having met together, have elected the Pope so promptly that the news of the death of the Pope coincides with the news of the election of the successor. The adversaries begin to lose courage.

The new Pope, putting the enemy to rout and overcoming every obstacle, guides the ship right up to the two columns and comes to rest between them; he fastens it with a light chain that hangs from the bow to an anchor of the column on which stands the Host; and with another light chain which hangs from the stern, he fastens it at the opposite end to another anchor hanging from the column on which stands the Immaculate Virgin.

At this point, a great convulsion takes place. All the ships that until then had fought against the Pope's ship are scattered; they flee away, collide, and break to pieces one against another. Some sink, and try to sink the others, while the boats that had fought gallantly for the Pope also bind themselves to those two columns. Over the sea a great calm reigns now.
Translation provided by "Forty Dreams of Saint John Bosco" (TAN Books),
corrected according to the accepted Italian text (web example).