What a find!Donald Bishop, from St Francis de Sales Parish
in Hartley, Dartford, Kent, has sent us the following historical note:
THE "ORATORY OF ST. FRANCIS DE SALES".
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.
"Mme Clara Davies-Cooke. Que Dieu benisse vous et votre famille, et
vous guide tous dans les chemins du paradis. (May 1885) Abbe G.
"(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.