Saint John Bosco was born in 1815 and was raised by his saintly mother, Margaret. She would play an integral role throughout his entire life. From a very early age, Don Bosco, knew what his life vocation would be, even though others made fun of him.
He had a dream where he was in a field with a crowd of children. The children started cursing and misbehaving. John jumped into the crowd to try to stop them — by fighting and shouting. Suddenly a man (or a woman) with a face filled with light appeared dressed in a white flowing mantle. The man called John over and made him the leader of the boys. John was stunned at being put in charge of this unruly gang. The man said, “You will have to win these friends of yours not with blows but with gentleness and kindness (softly, softly).
He replied to the man, “I’m just a boy…how can you order me to do something that looks impossible.” The man answered, “What seems so impossible you must achieve by being obedient and acquiring knowledge.” Then the boys turned into the wild animals they had been acting like. The man told John that this is the field of John’s life work. Once John changed and grew in humility, faithfulness, and strength, he would see a change in the children — a change that the man now demonstrated. The wild animals suddenly turned into gentle lambs.
At the age of sixteen, John entered seminary with really nothing but the clothes on his back, which was provided by people in his town. He wanted to be a missionary in a foreign land, but St. Joseph Cafasso, a superior of his at the time, told me to unpack his trunk and go and continue his work with the poor boys of the city – Don Cafasso said, “That and nothing else is God’s will for you.”
As his priestly ministry grew so did his flock continue to grow from the original 30-40 boys. He opened up a tailor shop, printing press, and other workshops. He also taught classes on grammar and Latin. He asked St. Francis de Sales to be his intercessor. By 1856, he had 150 boys under his care. He was a master with the youth. He was very patient, even with the toughest and hardest boys. Many young priests came and went because they could not master the ability to speak and teach these young boys.
In 1859, with 22 companions, Don Bosco founded a religious congregation and named it – The Salesians. It was named after his patron, St. Francis de Sales. Within four years of the founding, there were 39 Salesians, at Don Bosco’s death, there were 768. The Salesians spread throughout the Old and New World where 38 houses opened in his lifetime. He also founded an order of Salesians sisters whose sole purpose was the education of young women. This order spread just as fast as the Salesian order for men.
He had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially under her title of Our Lady, Help of Christians. Don Bosco was a master builder as well. He built quite a few churches in his time and often asked the Blessed Mother for guidance and prayers under his favorite title. As desperate at times were when corners were tight, the financial support that he needed always came through.
He died a joyful death on January 31, 1888. 40,000 people viewed his body as his death. You can still view his body today in Turin, Italy. He is one of the incorruptible saints. He was canonized a saint in 1934.
A few of his sayings are:
To Parents: “Without confidence and love, there can be no true education. If you want to be loved…you must love yourselves, and make your children feel that you love them.”
To the Youth under his care:
“Do not put off till tomorrow the good you can do today. You may not have a tomorrow.”
“Run, jump, have all the fun you want at the right time, but, for heaven’s sake, do not commit sin!” (from St. Philip Neri).
Saint John Bosco…Pray for Us
Categories: Saints & Angels