St. John Bosco had a serious sickness in July 1846 which nearly brought him to the grave. He needed a good convalescence and in the second week of August he went to his family in Becchi. While he was away Father Borel took charge of the oratory. But soon, Father Borel needed help from other priests. To replace one Don Bosco, five to six priests were needed. And soon the priests realized that it was not easy to look after more than four hundred boys. The boys, however, deeply missed Don Bosco. They travelled to visit him and sent him affectionate letters, begging him to return.
After a few months of rest, Don Bosco really wanted to return to Turin, but his friends kept telling him that he needed to stay away from the oratory for at least a year or so to avoid a relapse. However, the separation from the boys was too painful for Don Bosco and eventually he was allowed to return with the condition that, for a time, he would limit himself only to be present among the boys to direct and advise them. Don Bosco promised, but soon he was at work as just before.
When talking about this one day, he said, “At first, I really intended to obey and keep my promise. But when I saw the Father Borel and his assistants could not possibly cope with everything, and that, occasionally, on Sunday and holy days, many of the boys were unable to go to confession or receive religious instruction, I felt I couldn’t stand by idly any longer. So I took up my accustomed activities, and now it is twenty-five years and more since I have not had any need of doctors or medicine. This makes me believe that well regulated work does not harm a person’s health.”
Don Bosco was no longer the chaplain of the hospital founded by Marchioness Barolo and he had to settle in the house near the oratory. In that neighbourhood were some disreputable tenants and in order to protect himself from suspicion, Don Bosco needed someone to stay with him. After some hesitations, Don Bosco asked his mother, “Mamma, why don’t you come and stay with me for some time? I have rented three rooms at Valdocco, and soon I may give shelter to some abandoned boys. You once told me that if ever I became rich you would never enter my house. Look at me now: I am a poor man and full of debts, and it is risky for a priest to live alone in that place.” Margaret spent a few minutes in thought and said, “If you think that is God’s will, I will come.”
On Tuesday, November 3, 1846 Don Bosco and his mother came to Turin. At their new home, mother and son sang together. A boy heard their singing and the news of Don Bosco’s arrival spread like wild fire.
In order to keep up with the expenses of the oratory, Mamma Margaret and Don Bosco sold some pieces of land and vineyards which they still owned in their native village. Margaret also sent for her bridal trousseau. She sold part of it and used the rest to make vestments for the chapel. Margaret said, “When I looked at those things in my hands for the last time and was about to sell them or covert them to something else, I felt a little perturbed, but as soon as I became aware of it, I told myself: ‘Come now, what better use could they possibly have than providing food and clothing for poor boys, and honoring the heavenly Bridegroom in church?’ Afterwards, I felt so happy that if I had had a hundred other trousseaus, I would have given them all up without any regrets.”