- Fr. Paolo Albera was the second successor of Don Bosco and he died on 29th October 1921.
- To commemorate this Salesian historical event of one of the main stones of the Salesian identity, the Rector Major declared 2021 – 2022 the Year of Fr. Albera and the opening of different events like an International Convention dedicated to Fr. Paolo Albera that took place in Italy on 30-31 of October and the Paolo Albera Exhibition that is available on PDF (click here), as well as the Don Albera Museum online.
- The contents of the Exhibition and of the booklet are the work of Salesian Brother Paolo Vaschetto, in collaboration with Aldo Giraudo of the UPS, and Fr Silvio Roggia of the Formation sector of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
Father Paolo Albera was born in None, Piedmont, Italy on 6th of June 1845. The 6th child of a farmer family. He knew Don Bosco when he was 13 at the church of his town. On 18 October 1858 he joined the Don Bosco’s youth center in Valdocco. He was among the first 22 Salesians to make religious vows. In 1863 Don Bosco sent him as assistant and teacher to the newly opened boarding school of Mirabello Monferrato, where one of his pupils was Luigi Lasagna, future Salesian missionary and bishop in Brazil. He was ordained as a priest on 2 August 1868 in Casale Monferrato. Don Bosco chose him to begin a new Salesian work in Marassi in 1871, and one year later, in 1872, the entire school and youth center was moved to Sampierdarena near Genoa in 1872. In 1875 Don Bosco opened a house for late vocations in Sampierdarena with Albera as director. It was the first place in the vocation of Philip Rinaldi who would become a good friend of Albera for the rest of his life. In 1881 he was designated superior of the Salesians for France. In 1891 he returned to Turin as a member of the general council, in the position of Catechist General (or spiritual director general). In 1900, Don Rua as special visitor to the Salesian Houses of the Western Hemisphere.
After the death of Don Rua in 1910, the General Chapter elected Fr. Albera as the second successor of Don Bosco. He continued the policies of Don Rua to increase the number of Salesian houses in the world. But he would face a difficult time with the World War I, when many young Salesians were brought to the armies, many of them into enemy troops of the time. One of those young Salesians was Renato Ziggiotti, his future successor.
In 1913 he visited the houses of Austria, Poland, Yugoslavia, United Kingdom and Belgium and he opened a Salesian presence in Hungary. But during the war many Salesian schools were converted into fittings or hospitals. Fr. Albera began to write letters to the military units around Europe where he knew there were Salesians. But the European war did not stop the growing of the Salesian order in other continents. In 1914 he approved the opening of missions in Rio Negro (Brazil), Germany and China. In 1915 Pope Benedict XV elevated the first Salesian cardinal: Giovanni Cagliero. In 1920 the Salesians arrived to Gran Chaco in Paraguay and to Assam in India as well as Central America and Cuba.
On 29 October 1921 Paolo Albera died in Turin, having been Rector Major of the Salesian Society for 11 years.