The Story of John
John was a dreamer. He grew up in a poor family with one brother, and one step-brother. When he was two years old, his father died, leaving his mother, Margaret, to raise the three boys. Even after the loss of his father, John kept on dreaming. One of his first dreams took place when he was nine. He dreamt that he could help change children from wild animals into lambs. He immediately decided to become a priest and to work with children. But he knew he had to have an angle to work with kids. He went to the circus and learned how to walk tight-ropes, do magic tricks, and to be an acrobat. With his new skills he would attract a crowd of kids, entertain them, then talk to them about God and pray with them. He found out that some would only stay for the magic and leave before the preaching and praying, so he switched the preaching and prayer to the beginning, and only those who stayed for the first part could see the show.
When he was thirteen he started earning money to go to the seminary. He worked on farms, in candy stores, and as a tailor. In his late teens he went to the seminary. His first impulse was to go to the missions, but the leader of the seminary showed him the slums of Turin in Italy where many boys (victims of the industrial revolution) were living on the streets,. He invited the boys to the courtyard of the college where he studied to play games, watch his acrobat and magic routine, and to listen to his preaching. When the courtyard became too small he took them to nearby Churches and then to hikes in the country. Soon his group of boys grew to over 800, and no one wanted Fr. John with all those noisy boys. It was rumored that he was a revolutionary, so he was arrested. He quickly converted the police who arrested him and was set free. Some other priests thought he was crazy because priests in those days were expected to work in a parish office not to run around with a bunch of kids. The priests arrived in a carriage and told him to jump in. Sensing their intent to take him to an insane asylum, he jumped in, then quickly jumped out, yelling to the driver, ďTo the asylumĒ. The priests had a quick ride to the asylum without Fr. John. Soon after this he was appointed chaplain to a hospice for girls. He snuck the boys in an old building on the grounds but was dismissed when the boys became too noisy. Fr. John finally found a hayshed on a farmerís property where the boys could gather. But then he caught pneumonia and nearly died. He recuperated at his motherís home then returned with her to the city of Turin where he decided to start a center for his boys in a rough section of town.
Soon Fr. John and his mom had 40 apprentices staying with them. Hundreds more joined them for instruction in the faith, training in the crafts, and sports. Several times rough neighbors tried to kill him but he survived. On several occasions a mysterious grey dog, Gregio, showed up to protect him. No one saw the dog eat or sleep. He just protected him. Fr. John opened more centers for boys, and became famous throughout Europe for his preaching, writing, and miracles. He was the Mother Theresa of his time. To keep up his work, he began an order of priests and brothers, the Salesians, named for his favorite Saint, St. Francis de Sales.
Throughout his life, Fr. John kept dreaming. He had many dreams in which he spoke to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and had visions of the future and insights into what lies beyond the grave in heaven and hell.
When Fr. John Bosco died in 1888, over 40 thousand people visited his body as it lay in state at a Church in Turin. Hundreds of thousands attended his funeral. He was canonized St. John Bosco in 1939. One of this students, Dominic Savio, a heroic fifteen year old was canonized a saint in1954, but thatís another story.
JOHN BOSCO Also known as Don Bosco; Giovanni Bosco; Giovanni Melchior Bosco; John Melchoir Bosco Memorial 31 January Profile John's father died when the boy was 2 years old, and as soon as he was old enough to do odd jobs, he did so for extra money for his family. Bosco would go to circuses, fairs and carnivals, practice the tricks he saw magicians perform, and then present one-boy shows. After his performance, while he still had an audience of boys, he would repeat the homily he had heard earlier in church. Worked as a tailor, baker, shoemaker, and carpenter while attending college and the seminary. Ordained in 1841. Teacher. Worked with youth, finding places where they could meet, play and pray, teaching catechism to orphans and apprentices. Chaplain in a hospice for girls. Wrote short treatises aimed at explaining the faith to children, and then taught children how to print them. Founded the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in 1859, priests who work with and educate boys, under the protection of Our Lady, Help of Chistians, and Saint Francis de Sales. Founded the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians in 1872, and Union of Cooperator Salesians in 1875. Born 1815 at Becchi, Castelnuovo d'Asti, Piedmont, Italy Died 1888 at Turin, Italy Venerated 24 July 1907 by Pope Pius X Beatified 2 June 1929 by Pope Pius XI Canonized 1934 by Pope Pius XI Name Meaning God is gracious (= John) Patronage apprentices; boys; editors; Mexican young people; laborers; schoolchildren; students; young people