More Sayings from the Great Master of Youth – Saint John Bosco

Four years ago, today, I wrote a short blog post about the Great Master of Youth – Saint John Bosco. Since that time, that article, which included 10 sayings from the Italian saint has garnered over 43,461 views [at time of publishing for this post]. It is one of the most popular posts I have written in the past six years. I am often humbled and shocked on the shear mass of individuals viewing this post about Don Bosco on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis.

Since so many people liked that post over the years, here is another one focusing on More Sayings from the Great Master of Youth –

1. “I will take no unnecessary walks. I will make exactingly careful us of my time.

When the salvation of souls is at stake I will always be ready to act, to suffer, and to humble myself. May the charity and gentleness of St. Francis de Sales inform my every action.I will always be content with the food set before me unless it is really harmful to my health.

I will always add water to my wine and drink it only for reasons of health. Since work is powerful weapon against the enemies of my salvation I will take only five hours sleep a night. During the day, especially after dinner, I will take no rest, except in case of illness.

Every day I will devote some time to meditation and spiritual reading. During the day I will make a short visit, or at least a prayer, to the Blessed Sacrament. My preparation for Mass shall last at least a quarter of an hour and so shall my thanksgiving.

Outside the confessional and save in cases of strict necessity I will never stop to talk to women” [one large quote broken down into smaller paragraphs to read].

2. “I have promised God that until my last breath I shall have lived for my poor young people. I study for you, I work for you, I am also ready to give my life for you. Take note that whatever I am, I have been so entirely for you, day and night, morning and evening, at every moment.”

3. “In my long experience very often I had to be convinced of this great truth; that it is easier to become angry than to restrain oneself and easier to threaten a boy than to persuade him. Yes, it is more fitting to be persistent in punishing our own impatience and pride than to correct the boys. We must be firm but kind, and be patient with them.”

4. “You should bear patiently the bad temper of other people, the slights, the rudeness that may be offered you.”

5. “Never read books you aren’t sure about…even supposing that these books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?”

6. “A saint was once asked, while playing happily with his companions, what he would do if an angel told him that in a quarter of an hour he would die and have to appear before the judgment seat of God. The saint promptly replied that he would continue playing because I am certain these games are pleasing to God.”

If you are not familiar with the life of Saint John Bosco, affectionately known to many as Don Bosco, I would encourage you to read the book, Saint John Bosco; A Friend of Youth by F. A. Forbes.

He had a great devotion, like many saints before and after him, to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His particular devotion was to Our Lady, Help of Christians.

If you are in the field of education or a catechist at a parish and working with children from kindergarten to high school, I would encourage you to read, The Educational Philosophy of St. John Bosco. It was a book that completely revolutionized my approach when I was a high school theology teacher.

Saint John Bosco…Pray for Us

“Mondays with Mary” – Dedication of the Basilica of Our Lady, Help of Christians

This Thursday, October 27, is the Dedication of the Basilica of Our Lady, Help of Christians, the immense and stunning basilica that was built by St. John Bosco during the years of 1863 to 1868. In the year 1844, he had a vision-dream where the Blessed Virgin Mary displayed for St. John Bosco a massive church and said,

“This is my house; from it my glory shines forth. You will understand everything when, with your material eyes, you will see in actual fact what you now see with the eyes of your mind.”


In 1863, some nineteen years after his vision-dream, Don Bosco began the process of building the basilica. In another vision, the Blessed Virgin Mary told Don Bosco where the basilica should be built in Turin – on the site where Saint Adventer Solutor and Saint Octavious were martyred. Both men fought as soldiers in the fourth century under the Roman Emperor, Maximianus.

After the foundation of the church was laid, Don Bosco set out to pay the contractor fully aware that he didn’t have that much money. When the contractor received only 8 pennies, he was in shock since he should have been paid with many gold coins. After witnessing the face of the contractor, Don Bosco smiled and said to the man, “the Madonna will see to the payment of her church. I am just the instrument, the cashier. You will see.”

As Don Bosco promised, Our Lady came through with the financial support needed to build her church. Many devout individuals and some very generous supporters donated most of the money necessary for the church. The rest of the money often came in small amounts from people who were granted prayers after asking the Blessed Virgin Mary for intercessions.

Although the basilica is filled with many breathtaking monuments, the most impressive one is the painting above the main altar (see below). Our Lady, Help of Christians is in the center, surrounded by God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, the Apostles and the Gospel writers.

Marian Altar and Painting

Even though there was strong resistance to naming the building in honor of Our Lady, Help of Christians, St. John Bosco finally was able to convince those forces to name the church so. He knew that Our Lady’s help under this title would come in need again, not only in Italy, but for the entire world, just as she had at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571 and in Vienna on September 12, 1683.

On June 9, 1868, the immense basilica was dedicated to Our Lady, Help of Christians. The festivities for dedication lasted nine days. On each day, a Bishop preached while another participated at the festival. The devotion grew so quickly to Our Lady, Help of Christians, that in 1911, Pope St. Pius X elevated the church to a basilica, and thus it became known as – The Basilica of Our Lady, Help of Christians.

The relics of the two aforementioned martyrs are held in the basilica as is the remains, the uncorrupted body of St. John Bosco. There are also 6000 relics from a variety of saints in the crypt of the basilica. I was blessed in the year 2000, the Jubilee Year, to visit the basilica in Turin, Italy, as part of the World Youth Day pilgrimage to Rome.

The Marian Feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians is celebrated on May 24, you can read about it by clicking on the link.

To visit the National Shrine of the Basilica of Our Lady, Help of Christians here in the USA, please click here.

Our Lady, Help of Christians…Pray for Us. 

“Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady Help of Christians

This coming Saturday, May 24, is the Marian feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians. This has always been an interesting feast to me since I developed a devotion to St. John Bosco about ten years ago. It was Don Bosco who often went to the Blessed Virgin Mary under this title asking for intercession. The main church (pictured below) of the Salesian Order in Turin, Italy bears the title, Maria Avxilivm Christianorvm Ora Pro Nobis – Mary, Help of Christians Pray for Us. It was dedicated on June 9, 1868.

Our Lady Help of Christians - Turin, Italy.

Our Lady Help of Christians – Turin, Italy.

Our Lady Help of Christians originated in the sixteenth century with the invocation, Auxilium Christianorum (Help of Christians) during the Battle of Lepanto. It was during the battle in 1571 where the Catholics of Europe prayed the Holy Rosary to defeat the Islamic warriors who threatened Christianity. In praise and thanksgiving for the pivotal outcome of the battle, Pope St. Pius V in 1573, instituted the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7.

Around one hundred years later, Christianity would find itself at odds with the Ottoman Empire. The emperor at the time of the Holy Roman Empire, Leopold I of Austria, took up arms against the Turks on numerous occasions. During one specific occasion, Leopold found himself against 200,000 Turks as they surrounded the city of Vienna.

Recognizing that he needed Heavenly help, he took shelter at Pasau in the Shrine dedicated to Mary Help of Christians. On the feast of Our Lady’s birthday, September 8, a strategic battle plan was devised and a great victory was won on September 12, the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. While praying the Holy Rosary, with the emperor, all of Europe shouted – “Mary, Help!”

On July 5, 1808, the armies of Napoleon arrested Pope Pius VII after they entered the Vatican. Pope Pius VII would be chained and sent first to Savona and then to Fontainbleau where he would remain for three years. During his five years in prison, the Holy Father asked God to free him from captivity. If God answered his prayers and restored him to the Papacy, he would honor the Blessed Virgin Mary with a feast day. On May 24, 1814, Napoleon was forced to release Pius VII. He returned to Rome in great triumph and offering thanksgiving. One year later, the Holy Father instituted the feast, Our Lady Help of Christians, to protect the Papal States.

Although other dioceses adopted this feast day over the years, it is not part of the universal calendar of the Catholic Church. When St. John Bosco founded his order of both men and women religious, he declared to them that the Salesians main objective was to promote the veneration of the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist and devotion to the Mary under this title.

Our Lady Help of Christians…Pray for Us!


New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia –

Catholic News Agency –

10 Sayings from the Great Master of Youth – St. John Bosco

Today we celebrate the patron saint of youth, boys, and editors, St. John Bosco. Well known across the globe as the founder of the Salesian Order, he was also the educator of St. Dominic Savio, one of the youngest canonized saints the Church has in her communion.

Don Bosco

Hailed as one of the greatest teachers of his time, St. John Bosco, or affectionately known to many as Don Bosco, viewed education as the means to help Christian youth find their place in corporate society. He was the master of classroom management, good discipline rooted in liberty, and a strong Catholic identity. For Don Bosco, interpersonal relationships were his primary approach when reaching children. He advised many of his teachers to take this approach with the children under their care.

He was the first priest to introduce daily reception of Holy Communion into boarding schools. When asked by his students how one could live a long and healthy life, his maxim consisted of four things: always have a clear conscience, moderation in eating, live an active life, and surround yourself with good companions.

We could spend a plethora of blog posts talking about his educational philosophy, but for today, I want to provide you with 10 sayings of his when it comes to teaching and life in general. If you are an educator and would like to know his educational pedagogy, I suggest the book, The Educational Philosophy of St. John Bosco. It’s an excellent read and you will surely gather practical insight for your classroom and for life.

Don Bosco said…

1. “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.”

2. “The school was not the end; it was rather the instrumental means for improving the way of life.”

3. “If one is to do good, he must have a little courage, be ready for sacrifice, deal affably with all and never slight anybody. By following this method I have always had significant success, in fact, marvelous success.”

Particularly to Youth he would say…

4. “Act today in such a way that you need not blush tomorrow.”

5. “Do not put off till tomorrow the good you can do today. You may not have a tomorrow.”

6. “Let us strive to fare well in this life and in the next.”

7. “Be slow to pass judgment.”

8. “Do you want your companions to respect you? Always think well of everyone, and be ready to help others. Do this and you will be happy.”

9. “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).

10. “Servite Domino in laetitia!” (Serve the Lord joyfully!)

For me, Don Bosco was a major influence in my teaching when I taught high school theology in both Phoenix and Austin. I have read his educational philosophy a couple of times and often used many of the quotes from above in my classroom. Although my new position at the parish is fantastic, reading through the text and writing this blog post has made me miss teaching a bit, well at least the part of teaching that doesn’t have to do with grading.

Check out the new blog post – More Sayings from the Great Master of Youth – Saint John Bosco 

St. John Bosco…Pray For Us!