Saint of the Month: St. John Bosco

Dreams of St. John Bosco. // unknown painter 19th century // Public Domain

Dreams of St. John Bosco. // unknown painter 19th century // Public Domain

St. John Bosco (or Don Bosco) was the patron saint of apprentices, editors and publishers, school children, magicians, and juvenile delinquents. Known world-wide for taking in young boys, he instituted the Society of St. Francis de Sales.

He was born on August 16th, 1815 to a poor/impoverished family in Becchi, Italy. He lost his father when he was very young and was raised along with his brothers by their mother, Margherita. Though he was from an impoverished family, John Bosco attended church regularly and was always devout. His story officially started when John Bosco was nine years old. At that time, he had his first vivid dream, which greatly affected his life. In his dream, he saw a group of boys that were swearing (“blaspheming”) while they played. He went to stop them (by shouting/violently swinging at them) until a man and a woman appeared to him. The man told young John Bosco that as long as he remained meek and charitable, then he would be able to “conquer these your friends.” Soon after, the woman said, “be strong, humble, and robust. When the time comes, you will understand.”

Afterwards, John Bosco (upon witnessing a circus performance that he loved) started to perform his own demonstrations for his neighbors before saying a homily and praying with them. Through these performances, John Bosco had found his calling to the priesthood. Of course, becoming a priest would be very difficult since he required an education which was very expensive back then. Joseph Cafasso (another saint at the time) was willing to help him study to become a priest.

John Bosco joined a seminary and became a priest in 1835 and his first assignment was the City of Turin where there was widespread poverty. During his visit in Turin, he noticed the suffering of young boys in workplaces and prisons. He felt really bad for these boys and knew that something had to be done. So, he went into the streets and met with the young boys. There, he entertained them before sharing a homily and also helped them to find jobs and a home. Eventually, John Bosco’s mother helped out her son with taking care of the boys too (earning his mother the nickname: Mamma Margherita). Throughout his life, John Bosco (along with his mother) lodged about 800 boys and helped them locate good jobs.

One of the most famous things he did was instituting the society (which still exists to this day). Another famous thing that he did was to write a biography about one of his students (who was later canonized), St. Dominic Savio. After these two famous works, he continued to expand his work until he died on January 31st, 1888 and was canonized in 1934 by Pope Pius XI (who had known him personally).

St. John Bosco, pray for us!