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St. John Bosco

Saint John Bosco, also known as Don Bosco, was a remarkable Italian Catholic priest, educator, and advocate for the welfare of marginalized youth in the 19th century. His life and work left an indelible mark on the world, and he is revered as a saint for his dedication to helping the young and vulnerable.

​Born on August 16, 1815, in Becchi, Italy, John Bosco grew up in poverty. His father died when he was only two years old, leaving his mother, Margherita, to raise him and his two siblings. From a young age, John exhibited a strong sense of faith and a natural inclination to help others, especially those less fortunate. These qualities laid the foundation for his life's mission.

​At the age of nine, John Bosco had a vivid dream that would shape his future. In this dream, he saw a multitude of young boys who were unruly and wild. The Virgin Mary appeared to him and called him to guide and educate the children, turning them away from a life of delinquency and towards a path of virtue and faith. This dream inspired him to become a priest and a teacher.

​John Bosco faced numerous challenges in his pursuit of the priesthood. He overcame financial difficulties by working as a tailor and a waiter while studying. Despite limited formal education, his determination and strong faith led him to be ordained as a priest in 1841.

​One of his most significant contributions to society was the founding of the Salesians of Don Bosco, a religious congregation dedicated to the education and welfare of disadvantaged youth. The Salesians aimed to provide education, vocational training, and moral guidance to children who were often abandoned or living in dire conditions. His educational approach emphasized kindness, love, and patience in guiding young people toward a better future. This approach became known as the "preventive system," focusing on preventing problems rather than punishing misbehavior.

​Don Bosco established a network of schools, orphanages, and vocational training centers throughout Italy and beyond. His dedication to the welfare of young people garnered the support of many benefactors who helped him expand his mission. He also welcomed many young men into the Salesian order, fostering a community of priests, brothers, and laypeople dedicated to his cause.

​His work extended beyond the classroom. Don Bosco was a prolific writer, and he published numerous books and pamphlets to promote his ideas on education and spirituality. He used these publications to reach a broader audience and inspire others to join his mission.

​In addition to his work with youth, Don Bosco was a tireless advocate for the rights and welfare of workers. He spoke out against the exploitation of laborers and encouraged the development of workers' associations to protect their rights. His advocacy for the underprivileged extended to all aspects of society, making him a respected figure among both the young and the working class.

​Saint John Bosco's life was characterized by his unwavering commitment to the welfare of young people, his dedication to education, and his deep faith. He passed away on January 31, 1888, leaving behind a legacy that continues to influence and inspire countless individuals and organizations worldwide. In recognition of his contributions, he was canonized as a saint in 1934 and is celebrated on January 31st each year as his feast day. His work remains a testament to the power of kindness, compassion, and education in transforming the lives of disadvantaged youth and the world at large.

Marian Encounters

While the saint is not widely known for explicit encounters with the Virgin Mary through visions or apparitions, his life and spiritual experiences were deeply influenced by his devotion to Mary and her role in his vocational journey.

 

Don Bosco's relationship with the Virgin Mary is often described in the context of dreams rather than direct mystical encounters. Throughout his life, he experienced numerous prophetic dreams, which he believed were messages from God guiding him in his mission to work with young people, especially those who were marginalized or at risk.

One of the most significant dreams that involved the Virgin Mary occurred when Don Bosco was just nine years old. As mentioned earlier, in this dream, he found himself in a vast, chaotic playground filled with unruly boys. The Virgin Mary appeared to him, guiding him to restore order and discipline among the boys. The dream left a lasting impression on Don Bosco and influenced his decision to dedicate his life to the welfare and education of young people.

Another notable dream, often referred to as the "Two Columns" dream, featured the Church symbolized as a ship navigating through turbulent waters. In this dream, Don Bosco saw two pillars, one with the Eucharist and the other with an image of the Virgin Mary. The pillars represented the Eucharist and devotion to Mary as sources of strength and stability for the Church in challenging times.

While these dreams may not be traditional encounters in the form of visions, they played a pivotal role in shaping Don Bosco's understanding of his vocational mission. The Virgin Mary, as depicted in his dreams, served as a guiding and protective figure, providing spiritual direction and support for his work with youth.

​Famous Quotes

Some of his most renowned quotes include:

"Do not put off till tomorrow the good you can do today." 
   
"It is not enough to love the young; they must know that they are loved." 
   
"Run, jump, shout, but do not sin." 
   
"In times of darkness, holding hands is often better than making a speech." 
   
"It is not enough to give food and clothing. It is the warmth of the human heart that is needed." 
   
"Without confidence and love, there can be no true education." 
   
"Run to the arms of Mary." 
   
"Give me souls, take away the rest." 
   
"A single bad action can plunge us into misery and bring us great regret." 
   
"A friend is a treasure." 

 

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