The feast day of St. John Bosco is celebrated on Jan. 31. St. John Bosco is the patron saint of boys and young people.
St. John Bosco was born in Piedmont, Italy in 1815. His father died when he was two years old. God spoke to John in his dreams. The first of his many dreams occurred when he was only nine years old. John found himself fighting a large crowd of rowdy boys. They were cursing and acting badly. They refused to listen to him. Suddenly a man appeared saying;
“Not with blows will you help these boys, but with goodness and kindness.”
Who are you?” John asked.
Then a woman appeared to him saying,;
“Watch what I do, John.”
As John watched, the boys changed to a pack of growling wild animals. Then the woman put out her hand. The wild animals changed again…into a flock of lambs.
“But what does it mean? I’m just a farm boy. What am I to do?”
John cried out, and he burst into tears. The Lady answered him,
“This is the field of your work. Be humble, steadfast and strong!”
John knew he must become a priest. He attended a boarding school and then began studying for the priesthood. John was ordained on June 5, 1841. He said his first Mass at the church of St. Francis of Assisi. He said that he had prayed for the gift of effective speech and believed his prayer was answered.
The ministry of Don Bosco began with a group of teenage boys. (Don is the title given to priests in Italy.) He began by teaching them catechism after Sunday Mass. It began a youth group which would spend each Sunday together beginning with Mass, catechism and a day in the country. They would end the day with another talk before returning to their homes. The group grew quickly. Most of the boys were quite poor. In 1846 Don Bosco bought an old shed in Turin. It became a chapel they named The Oratory of St. Francis de Sales, a saint admired by Don Bosco.
An orphanage and a trade school were also soon established by Don Bosco. More and more priests were beginning to help John in his ministry. Together they founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales in 1859 also known as the Salesians of Don Bosco.
Don Bosco died on Jan. 31, 1888 at the age of 73. Thousands attended his funeral and there was a demand for his canonization. He was canonized by Pope Pius XI.
What tenderness there is in Jesus love for man!
In His infinite goodness,
He established, with each of us,
bonds of sublime love!
His love has no limits.
Quote of St. John Bosco
January is the Month of the Holy Name